FMA IAe 27 Pulqui (Arrow)
Turbojet-Powered Interceptor Prototype Aircraft
The FMA IAe 27 Pulqui marked the first jet-powered aircraft to emerge from Argentina and South America - it was doomed by poor performance.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Like other nations following World War 2 (1939-1945), Argentina began to look to the near-future and invest in turbojet-powered aircraft. This brought together a team of experts mainly from Europe, led by Frenchman Emile Dewoitine, to design and develop what would become Argentina's (and South America's) first turbojet-powered platform - the FMA IAe 27 "Pulqui". Despite the European involvement, the design was not a success and only a single prototype was ever built and flown. Manufacture was through the Fabrica Militar de Aviones (FMA) label.
The aircraft was designed as an interceptor-minded, cannon-armed aircraft of single-seat, single-engine arrangement. The approach would include all-modern qualities such as a wholly-retractable tricycle undercarriage and all-metal skin construction. Additionally, there would be a capability for rough-field operations as well as an inherent Short Take-Off (STO) capability. The powerplant of choice became the British Rolls-Royce Derwent V turbojet of 3,600 pounds thrust and this was to a rounded, streamlined fuselage containing a nose-mounted intake, forward-set cockpit (with framed canopy) , and a conventional tail unit - one single vertical fin with low-mounted horizontal planes. The wings were not swept back, however, instead left as straight appendages mounted low against the fuselage sides ahead of midships. Initially these wings featured rounded tips but the finalized form carried squared-off tips. Proposed armament was 4 x 20mm autocannons with a future ability for the wings to mount conventional drop ordnance or rocket-launching rails.
The prototype Pulqui was first flown on August 9th, 1947 but it was soon realized that the design was naturally restricted by inferior performance - especially considering its intended role of interceptor where speed was the primary quality. Range was equally limited as the fuel tanks were forced to be installed into the wing members - the fuselage internal volume being dominated by the engine installation and its applicable ductwork running around the cockpit to the nose intake. Development eventually stalled and was ultimately abandoned as work began on a more promising venture - the FMA IAe 33 "Pulqui II", this design largely based on the World War 2-era Focke-Wulf Ta 183 jet-powered fighter by German engineer Kurt Tank. Tank worked in Argentina prior to his arrival in India to assist in their indigenous jet fighter program.
The FMA IAe 27 prototype, retired from active flight testing in 1951, was saved from the scrap heap and reborn as a preserved showpiece at the National Aeronautics Museum in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The IAe 27 was given an overall length of 31.8 feet, a wingspan of 37 feet and a height of 11 feet. Its performance included a maximum speed of 445 miles per hour, a range out to 560 miles, and a service ceiling nearing 50,855 feet.