Argentina's first attempt at an indigenous jet-powered fighter was an underwhelming one by way of the FMA IAe 27 "Pulqui" ("Arrow"). However, this design offered the country much experience in the technological sense which quickly ushered along a new venture with the assistance of famous German aviation engineer Kurt Tank - father of the World War 2-era Fw 190 multirole fighter, Ta 152 high-altitude interceptor and Fw 200 "Condor" transport and maritime platform. During the late-war years, Tank was developing the Ta 183 "Huckebein" to fulfill a German Air Ministry requirement as related to the Emergency Fighter Program (EFP). Work on this aircraft was stopped with the end of the war.
Many German scientists and engineers escaped post-war Germany and made their way to places like Argentina - which proved the case with Tank. He revived his Ta 183 project amidst an Argentine government initiative to produce a local jet-powered fighter/interceptor through the Fabrica Militar de Aviones (FMA) brand label. The earlier attempt, the IAe 27 Pulqui, failed due to being underpowered and underperforming so only one example was completed before the program shifted to a new design. This became the reimagined Ta 183 and was intended as a successor to the British Gloster Meteors then in service with the Argentine Air Force.
As originally envisioned, the Ta 183 was to sport a stout, tubular fuselage with a forward-set cockpit under a largely unobstructed canopy fitting. The sole engine was installed deep within the fuselage and aspirated through a nose-mounted intake, exhausting at the base of the tail (the appearance not unlike the classic Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 fighter of Korean War fame). The tail unit showcased a "T-style" arrangement in which the single vertical fin supported high-mounted horizontal planes - all three surfaces were swept back. The wing mainplanes were mid-mounted along the fuselage sides and swept back as well (40-degree sweep), providing the high-speed aerodynamic efficiency required of the advanced design. The undercarriage was to be of a tricycle arrangement and the armament all-cannon.
When readdressing the Ta 183, Tank raised the wing mainplanes to a shoulder position to alleviate complications with the main spar and the engine installation. Power would come from a single Rolls-Royce "Nene 2" turbojet of 5,000 pounds thrust and proposed armament was 4 x 20mm autocannons.
Such promise was shown by the new aircraft that the Argentine government commissioned for five prototypes to prove the design viable as a frontline fighter investment. The initial airframe was to serve as a static test article with the subsequent airframe becoming the first flyable form. From the latter came a first flight recorded on June 27th, 1950 and issues were encountered almost immediately - both in handling and in general aerodynamics - which led to several structural changes to the undercarriage, canopy, wings and tail unit. Inadvertent stalls also became commonplace during test flights which presented an unseen danger any time the aircraft went aloft.
After a public government display on February 8th, 1951, the aircraft was ordered into pre-production through twelve examples. The prototype continued to be flown and, on May 31st, 1951, crashed after suffering a structural failing at the wing root. Despite ejecting, the pilot's parachute did not deploy and he was killed, the aircraft also being completely lost.
More structural changes greeted the third prototype which was forced into action due to No.2's crash. This prototype was also lost in a crash just days before another public governmental exhibition. A fourth prototype was then constructed and its wing mainplanes were revised with boundary layer fences (as in the MiG-15) and ventral strakes to combat the issue of deep stalling at a high Angle-of-Attack (AoA). For this version, the cockpit was fully-pressurized and the armament fit of 4 x 20mm cannons finally added to represent a closer working model to the expected production-quality forms. First flight of No.4 came on August 20th, 1953.
The IAe 33 suffered throughout a protracted development period - the final prototype went airborne in September of 1959 but Mr. Tank and his design team had relocated to India to work on an indigenous fighter program there while Argentina suffered through the 1953 financial crash and the fall of Argentina leader Juan Peron. With political uncertainty and financial hardship following, this stalled the IAe 33 program considerably and all steam was lost by the mid-1950s as a glut of American F-86 Sabres from the Korean War (1950-1953) became available to the global customers at decent prices.
With that, the story of the Pulqui II came to an end with retirement following during 1960. The five completed airframes (four flyable prototypes and the static test bed) were all that stood to show for the work and money invested. The sole survivor of the group went on to see a second life as a showpiece in the National Aeronautics Museum of Buenos Aires, Argentina - joining the original Pulqui I prototype.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
Ability to intercept inbound aerial threats by way of high-performance, typically speed and rate-of-climb.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
38.4 ft (11.70 m)
34.4 ft (10.50 m)
11.5 ft (3.50 m)
8,234 lb (3,735 kg)
15,157 lb (6,875 kg)
+6,923 lb (+3,140 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base FMA IAe 33 Pulqui II (Arrow II) production variant)
1 x Rolls-Royce Nene II turbojet engine developing 5,100 lb of thrust.
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