UNARMED and ALONE-BUT UNAFRAID*
(*most of the time)
Turkish Army AOP flights
For twenty years Turkish Army Artillery spotting and reconnaissance pilots flew their fragile underpowered Piper Super Cubs in some of the world’s most hostile terrain - the 15,000 feet high snow covered mountains and rugged isolated valleys of the Eastern and the scorching hot plains of Southern Turkey.
Until 1944 the Turkish Air Force was a part of the army. On 31.January that year the air force became an independent command.
From 1948 the
L-4J at Polatli L-18B on delivery to the Turkish Army
Thus was the “Kara Ordusu Topçu Havaciliği (The Army Artillery Aviation)” formed
in 1948 and a number of officers from artillery regiments were posted to the
Türk Hava Kurumu in order to be provided with flying training. Basic training
was given on Magister trainers and operational on the L-4Js. From 1948-52 210
officers were trained. Operational training and initial operations were
conducted by the “Topçu
Okulu Hava Grubo (The
Artillery School’s Air Group)” at Polatli which
was given the first 15 L-4Js. Parallel with the training, AOP-Flights called “Topçu Alayi Hava Kismi” were formed with the various Corps and Division
artillery units. Overall command was exercised by the “Hava Grup Komuntanliği
(Air Group Command)” at Polatli. In 1950 two
Turkish L-18B aircraft, with national markings, were detached to the Turkish
From 1950 onwards hundreds of Piper Super Cubs of the marks L-18B(40), L-18C(127) and L-21B(125) were received and distributed to an increasing number of “Hava Kismi”.
In 1958 the Headquarters and
Super Cub replacements: L-19A U-17A
was the start of a modernisation of the force in the
sixties. First Super Cubs were replaced by O-1Es and U-17A/Bs in 1963 and 1965
and helicopters were included in 1966 when
The next consolidation of units started in
1971 when Bölükler and Gruplar
were paired into Hava Taburu (Air Battalions) and a year later a “Hava Alayi (Air regiment)” was formed under each of the three
Armies and a “Hava Taburu (Air Battalion)” under each of nine Army Corps. At Güverçinlik/
Bellanca Citabria Cessna T-41D
Dr. Murat Canger writes:
“My father Ahmet Hamdi Canger was trained by Turk Hava Kurumu in 1950 at their Ankara/Etimesgut base.
Here he is
photographed before a flight with one of the Miles Magister trainers made on
received their wings the graduated Army pilots then in 1951 progressed to operational
training on newly delivered L-18B Piper Cubs. This was conducted at the Army’s
passing his operational artillery spotting course Lt. Canger
was sent to his first pilot posting with the 51st Division Artillery Regiment
Air Group at Dumlu/Erzurum in
American markings on the fuselage and serial number on the tail, but with
Turkish white crescent and star on the tail of the L-19A .
The officer next to my father is fellow first Lieutenant Azmi
After having returned from Korea Lt.Ahmet Hamdi Canger served in the 1st army Division Artillery Division Air Group’s Topcu Hava Grubu between 1954-1961. They flew a small number of L-18C's painted in trainer yellow as well as L-21B’s in a olive-drab camouflage scheme.
A special assignment for my
father came in 1956 when at Harran Meadow/Urfa in
He then served
in Elazığ and
During winter they flew with skis which had been mounted under the wheels and were manually interchangeable with the wheels. Also in at that period Turkish Piper Cub were carrying smoke-bomb dispensers mounted under the wings.
L-21B in the old markings L-21B in the markings after 1972
postscript about army aviation in