OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – AUGUST 29

Good news, for some, as the health ministry announces that patriotic parades can be held in November this year, for independence celebrations in November, after a couple years’ break due to Covid. If you like drums, then these marches are for you. Where we first stayed for a while there was a school opposite where the drums seemed to practice endlessly for weeks beforehand.

29 AUGUST 2022

UAE CENTRAL BANK ISSUES GUIDANCE ON AML RISKS IN THE PAYMENT SECTOR

On 25 August, Latham & Watkins LLP said that on 1 August the Central Bank issued guidance which is part of the rapidly evolving rules on AML and aims to promote UAE as a jurisdiction compliant with best practices. The Guidance for Licensed Financial Institutions on the Risks Relating to Payments was drafted in accordance with guidance issued by FATF, and to implement a federal decree.

https://www.fintechanddigitalassets.com/2022/08/uae-central-bank-issues-guidance-on-anti-money-laundering-risks-in-the-payment-sector/#page=1

AT A GLANCE: TRADE SANCTIONS IN BELGIUM

Available from Loyens & Loeff, via the Lexology website,

https://www.lexology.com/gtdt/tool/workareas/report/sanctions/chapter/belgium

SEC MODIFIES WHISTLEBLOWER PROGRAM TO REVERSE TRUMP-ERA CHANGE

On 26 August, the Wall Street Journal reported that the SEC had to remove a limit on whistleblower awards that was set during the Trump Administration.  This eliminates the regulator’s ability to deny awards to those who might otherwise be eligible for a pay-out from another agency.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/sec-modifies-whistleblower-program-to-reverse-trump-era-change-11661554385

AS US ONLINE GAMBLING GROWS, SO DOES THE FINANCIAL CRIME RISK

An article from the Wall Street Journal on 29 August made this claim, saying that online gambling is booming across the US and compliance experts caution that it creates opportunities for criminals to launder money or take part in other financial crimes. It says that the UK and other jurisdictions have stepped up enforcement, but the US, with its complex patchwork of state and federal regulators, hasn’t seen a major enforcement push; and some compliance experts have predicted a looming crackdown as the flow of money into online gambling swells.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/as-online-gambling-grows-so-does-the-financial-crime-risk-11661765402

OECD: SUPPORT FOR FOSSIL FUELS ALMOST DOUBLED IN 2021, SLOWING PROGRESS TOWARD INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE GOALS

On 29 August, the OECD reported analysis which showed that major economies sharply increased support for the production and consumption of coal, oil and natural gas, with many countries struggling to balance longstanding pledges to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies with efforts to protect households from surging energy prices.

https://www.oecd.org/newsroom/support-for-fossil-fuels-almost-doubled-in-2021-slowing-progress-toward-international-climate-goals-according-to-new-analysis-from-oecd-and-iea.htm

ATM-SKIMMING GANG INVESTS FORTUNE AND DODGES JUSTICE IN PARAGUAY AND BRAZIL

On 26 August, OCCRP published an article which investigates the Rivera Maya gang’s operations and investments in the poorly policed border area between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.  This comes as the trial of an alleged member of the gang thought to have stolen more than a billion dollars from unsuspecting tourists across Latin America plodded along in virtual obscurity in Paraguay, and with witness testimony cancelled in the latest of a string of delays. It is said that the gang’s main business was stealing victims’ bank card details by tampering with ATM, then withdrawing their money using cloned cards, and is said to have also developed a new scam targeting payment terminals at local businesses in Paraguay. 

https://www.occrp.org/en/how-a-crew-of-romanian-criminals-conquered-the-world-of-atm-skimming/riviera-maya-atm-skimming-gang-invests-fortune-dodges-justice-in-paraguay-and-brazil

ISRAELI BILLIONAIRE BENY STEINMETZ APPEALS BRIBERY CONVICTION IN SWITZERLAND

On 29 August, OCCRP reported that the Israeli mining billionaire begins an appeal against a landmark foreign bribery conviction handed down in Geneva early last year.  He was of bribery and forgery over his company’s acquisition of mining rights in the West African nation of Guinea in the late 2000s, and was sentenced to 5 years in prison and ordered to pay $56 million.  A  French national who participated in the scheme, and a Belgian national who administered hundreds of companies in Steinmetz’s corporate group were also convicted.  A decision on the appeal is expected on 7 September.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16704-israeli-billionaire-appeals-bribery-conviction-in-switzerland

PROSECUTORS IN ARGENTINA ASK FOR 12-YEAR SENTENCE FOR VICE-PRESIDENT CRISTINA KIRCHNER

On 29 August, OCCRP reported that prosecutors had called for the sentence for heading what is being described as the “biggest corruption manoeuvre ever known in the country”.  She is accused of embezzling millions of dollars from the state coffer when she was President of Argentina between 2007 and 2015.  The trial began in 2019 and is entering its final stage.  She allegedly ran a corruption scheme believed to have been set up by her husband and former President Néstor Kirchner.  However, the current President, and the Presidents of Bolivia, Colombia and Mexico have all expressed support for Kirchner.  The article strikes a sceptical note, saying that a conviction would have to be confirmed by Argentina’s Supreme Court, which could take years.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16702-prosecutors-in-argentina-ask-12-years-for-cristina-kirchner

COMBATING WASTE TRAFFICKING: A GUIDE TO GOOD LEGISLATIVE PRACTICES

The UN Office on Drugs & Crime has produced this Guide, saying that waste crime can generally be understood as the trade, treatment or disposal of waste in ways that breach international or domestic environmental legislation and cause harm or risk to the environment and or human health and related conduct, such as fraudulent acts and omissions.  It is concerned with drafting legislation to prevent and combat waste trafficking and, accordingly, it mainly uses the term “waste trafficking”.  Where the guide refers to the broader category of criminal offences concerning waste, the terms “waste crime” or “waste offences” are used.

https://sherloc.unodc.org/cld/uploads/pdf/Combating_Waste_Trafficking_-_Guide_on_Good_Legislative_Practices_-_EN.pdf

CARBON OFFSETTING PROGRAMS AND NATURE-BASED CLIMATE MITIGATION SOLUTIONS ARE VULNERABLE TO CORRUPTION

On 25 August, Thomson Reuters reported that the Basel Institute on Governance had said that carbon offsetting programs and nature-based climate mitigation solutions are vulnerable to corruption; and that they can even fuel corruption by channelling cash to jurisdictions with weak governance and few controls.

https://www.thomsonreuters.com/en-us/posts/investigation-fraud-and-risk/esg-financial-crime-risk-screens/

AUSTRALIA: STAR ENTERTAINMENT COVERED UP CHINESE TRANSACTIONS WORTH $55 MILLION

On 25 August, Gambling News reported claims that the group’s casino operations hid away $55 million wagered by Chinese residents through banned transactions from a Chinese bank.  It is said that that Chinese residents holding UnionPay cards were able to withdraw cash and then wager it on games in Star Entertainment’s 2 Queensland casinos , and that the transactions were recorded as hotel purchases, according to an agreement Star Entertainment had with the National Australia Bank.

https://www.gamblingnews.com/news/star-entertainment-covered-up-chinese-transactions-worth-55m/

COLOMBIA WILL NOT EXTRADITE CRIMINALS WHO NEGOTIATE GOVERNMENT DEALS

On 24 August, Yahoo News reported that Colombia’s new President Gustavo Petro had proposed that drug traffickers who comply with government surrender conditions and abandon the trade will not be extradited to face charges abroad.  His government has floated an offer of legal benefits like reduced sentences to crime gang members who provide information about drug trafficking and lay down arms.

https://news.yahoo.com/colombia-not-extradite-criminals-fulfill-220242797.html

NEARLY 60,000 PAIRS OF NIKE, ADIDAS & YEEZY TRAINERS TO BE SOLD FROM $85 MILLION PONZI SCHEME

On 26 August, Yahoo Finance reported that, after business owner was charged with orchestrating a multimillion-dollar wire and bank fraud Ponzi scheme, a court-appointed receiver is looking to unload nearly 60,000 pairs of shoes to raise funds for victims. The 59,780 pairs of shoes belonging to the man once described as “the Bernie Madoff of sneakers” are now being auctioned off by a court-appointed receiver.

https://finance.yahoo.com/finance/news/nearly-60-000-pairs-nike-181550667.html

HOW A GRU AGENT CHARMED HER WAY INTO NATO CIRCLES IN ITALY

On 25 August, Bellingcat related the story of how a Russian military intelligence agent, an individual had travelled the world as a cosmopolitan, Peru-born socialite with her own jewellery line.  There is no evidence that Western counter-intelligence services or NATO’s own internal security service were aware of the presence of a Russian military spy placed strategically close to NATO’s Joint Force Command Center in Europe. She is said to have finally returned to Moscow in 2018.

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/2022/08/25/socialite-widow-jeweller-spy-how-a-gru-agent-charmed-her-way-into-nato-circles-in-italy/

NATO INVESTIGATES HACKER SALE OF MISSILE COMPANY DATA

On 26 August, the BBC reported that NATO is assessing the impact of a data breach of classified military documents being sold by a hacker group online.  The data includes blueprints of weapons being supplied by NATO allies in the Ukraine war.

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-62672184

COURT BLOCKS EXTRADITION OF DISGRACED NIGERIAN ‘SUPER COP’ TO US

On 29 August, Sahara Reporters reported that a Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit instituted by the Nigerian Government seeking to extradite the suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Abba Kyari to the US.  He is wanted in the US over alleged conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and identity theft.

https://saharareporters.com/articles/breaking-court-blocks-extradition-disgraced-nigerian-super-cop-us-dismisses-governments

PERUVIAN JUDGE ORDERS 30 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR PRESIDENT’S SISTER-IN-LAW

On 29 August, the Rio Times reported that a judge had sentenced Yenifer Paredes, sister-in-law of President Pedro Castillo, to at least 30 months in prison while she is investigated for alleged money laundering and criminal association.  This also affected the district’s mayor of Anguía, José Nenil Medina, over the alleged illegal awarding of construction work.

https://www.riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/mercosur/peru/peruvian-justice-orders-30-months-in-prison-for-castillos-sister-in-law/

US: CUTTING OFF FINANCING FOR THE NEXT CAPITOL INSURRECTION

On 28 August, a post on Lawfare says that political violence is often expensive: beyond the cost of weapons, people need to travel, find places to stay, and make up for lost time at their jobs, among many other costs.  The post examines the 6 January insurrection, looking at the myriad ways the participants financed themselves, and call for an array of actors to step up their efforts to stop such financing.

https://www.lawfareblog.com/cutting-financing-next-capitol-insurrection

US AND UK FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS HAVE BEEN AMONG THE LEADING INVESTORS IN RUSSIAN “CARBON BOMB” FOSSIL FUEL PROJECTS

On 29 August, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published an article saying that campaigners in Ukraine said these institutions must immediately end such investments, to limit the funding of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and to avoid climate breakdown.  It says that “carbon bombs” are fossil-fuel extraction projects identified by researchers to contain at least 1 billion tons of climate-heating carbon dioxide, triple the UK’s annual emissions. Russia is a hotspot, with 40 carbon bombs. 

https://thebulletin.org/2022/08/how-us-and-uk-financial-institutions-bankroll-russias-carbon-bombs

US TREASURY SANCTIONS TORNADO CASH AND TURNS UP HEAT ON MIXERS

On 17 August, an Alert from Crowell Moring says that OFAC’s action marks the second instance it has sanctioned a virtual currency mixer — it sanctioned Blender.io in May, but this is the first time that OFAC has designated a non-entity software protocol.  Tornado Cash is a “smart contract” that allows users to anonymize the origins, destinations, and counterparties for virtual currency transactions. 

https://communications.crowell.com/e/louwkwuptufscw/25061c25-7434-42d0-9a1b-75bbedd8cd6c

TAIWAN SUPPLYING MORTAR-FIRING DRONES TO UKRAINE VIA POLAND

On 24 August, The Defense Post reported that involved is a vertical take-off and landing rotor drone capable of carrying 8 mortars, according to the Taiwan-based manufacturer.  The manufacturer revealed that it sold the drones to a Polish buyer and that the unmanned platform was then forwarded on to Ukraine.  It says that Taiwan has also delivered EVOLVE 2 reconnaissance VTOL drones and AR 15 rifle parts to Ukraine.

https://www.thedefensepost.com/2022/08/24/taiwan-mortar-firing-drone-ukraine/

https://www.statista.com/chart/19642/external-loan-debt-to-china-by-country/

EXTREMISTS URGE ‘CLANDESTINE’ 3D GUN PRINTING FOR ‘DEFENSE AND OFFENSE’ AS NEW ATF REGULATIONS LOOM

On 23 August, Homeland Security Today reported that the online backlash to incoming rules that will place new requirements on privately-made firearms has included extremists urging followers to learn 3D-printing in order to “clandestinely produce weapons”.  It points out that a licence is not required to make a firearm for personal use, only for sale or distribution; and guns must also have a metal component, as firearms that cannot be detected by security screening equipment are not legal.  Under new rules, retailers will have to run background checks on customers buying kits that contain the parts needed to assemble a gun; and will also be required to keep records for however long they are licensed, expanding past the prior 20-year retention requirement.

https://www.hstoday.us/featured/extremists-urge-clandestine-3d-gun-printing-for-defense-and-offense-as-new-atf-regulations-loom/

EU JOINS THE HAGUE JUDGMENTS CONVENTION

On 29 August, the EU announced that it had signed the Convention, describing it as an important tool to facilitate rules-based multilateral trade and investment. The Convention sets out conditions for the recognition and enforcement of judgements in civil and commercial matters, including consumer and employment contracts, and possible grounds for their refusal.  The Convention was drawn up in 2019, because diverse laws and practices around the globe made recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments challenging, if not impossible, and so far 6 states had signed up to it.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/MEX_22_5224

https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/civil-justice/international-cooperation-civil-justice_en

ORDER FREEZING R100 MILLION IN BANK ACCOUNTS LINKED TO DIAMOND DEALER LOUIS LIEBENBERG OVERTURNED

On 28 August, IOL reported that a preservation order obtained by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) last year for approximately $5.9 million in bank accounts linked to diamond dealer Louis Liebenberg frozen following allegations of money laundering and running a Ponzi scheme, has been overturned by a High Court.

https://www.iol.co.za/pretoria-news/news/npa-order-freezing-r100m-in-bank-accounts-linked-to-diamond-dealer-louis-liebenberg-overturned-772b3b63-8483-4dca-8c3d-a9772f34188e

UDA BOSS A SILENT PARTNER IN BELFAST BARBERS USED TO LAUNDER COCAINE MONEY

On 29 August, the Belfast Telegraph reported that a barber shop said to be used as a front to launder cocaine cash for the UDA paramilitary is secretly part-owned by a leader in the gang. It says that the recently installed second-in-command of the west Belfast UDA’s B company — who is a known house-breaker — has a majority share in the business.

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sunday-life/news/uda-boss-a-silent-partner-in-belfast-barbers-used-to-launder-cocaine-money-41941948.html

https://www.linkedin.com/posts/george-voloshin_beneficialownership-activity-6970070352773222400-hW8H

PANAMA RECOVERS 343 ARCHAEOLOGICAL PIECES FROM THE NETHERLANDS

On 29 August, La Prensa reported that the Foreign Minister had said that the country had recovered 343 archaeological pieces that were identified in the Netherlands.  This follows the news in June that Italy had returned to Panama 2 pre-Columbian archaeological pieces that had been stolen from the isthmus.

https://www.prensa.com/sociedad/panama-recupera-343-piezas-arqueologicas-procedentes-de-paises-bajos/

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FATF: CONSOLIDATED AML/CFT ASSESSMENTS

On 29 August, following the release of the last batch of follow-up reports, FATF issued an updated version of its schedule of consolidated AML/CFT assessment ratings to date.

https://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/documents/4th-Round-Ratings.pdf

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GHANA: FIFTH AML/CFT ASSESSMENT FOLLOW-UP REPORT

On 29 August, FATF published this report (also available in French), saying that Ghana has made progress in addressing the technical compliance deficiencies identified in its mutual evaluation review, and has been re-rated on the following FATF Recommendations: Recommendation 8 has been re-rated from NC to Partially Compliant; Recommendation 33 has been re-rated from Partially Compliant to Largely Compliant; and Recommendation 35 has been re-rated from Partially Compliant to Compliant.  Ghana will remain in enhanced follow-up and will report back to FATF-style regional body GIABA on progress achieved on improving the implementation of its AML/CFT measures.  The next report to GIABA is due in May.

https://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/documents/reports/fur/GIABA-FUR-Ghana-2022.pdf

SENEGAL: THIRD AML/CFT ASSESSMENT FOLLOW-UP REPORT

On 29 August, FATF published this report (also available in French), saying that Senegal has made progress in addressing the technical compliance deficiencies identified in the mutual evaluation review and has been reassessed on several FATF Recommendations: Recommendation 6 is re-rated from Non-Compliant (NC) to Partially Compliant (PC); Recommendations 1, 24, 36 and 38 are is re-rated from Partially Compliant (PC) to Largely Compliant (LC); and Recommendation 4 is re-rated from Partially Compliant (PC) to Compliant (C).  It notes that measures have been taken by Senegal to comply with the new requirements of FATF Recommendation 2 and has been reassessed from Largely Compliant (LC) to Compliant (C).  It will remain under enhanced follow-up and will continue to report on its progress in implementing AML/CFT measures.  The next report to FATF-style regional body GIABA in due in November.

https://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/content/images/GIABA-FUR-Senegal-2022.pdf

TROUBLING UK DECISION UNDERMINES WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION

On 24 August, a post on the Corporate Crime Observatory said that a recent Court of Appeal case had established the troubling precedent that a whistleblower may be dismissed for their conduct without statutory relief in circumstances where allegations are unfounded and arise resultant of the disclosure.  The whistleblower was dismissed for accusations criticising a colleague’s integrity and knowledge when making a protected disclosure, and was not automatically unfairly dismissed, despite her conduct being deemed as reasonable and the accusations being unfounded.

https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/post/kong-v-gulf-bank

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UN GLOBAL PROGRAMME FOR COMBATING WILDLIFE AND FOREST CRIME ANNUAL REPORT 2021

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has published this report.  It notes that the Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime now explicitly addresses a variety of crimes that affect the environment.  In addition to wildlife and forest crime, and crimes in the fisheries sector, the Programme has continued to expand, in a natural progression, to provide support on illegal mining, trafficking in precious metals and waste.

https://www.unodc.org/documents/Wildlife/Annual_Report_GPWLFC2021.pdf

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UPCOMING AMENDMENTS TO THE BVI BUSINESS COMPANIES REGIME

On 26 August, Mourant reported on key changes to the BVI Business Companies Act and the BVI Business Companies Regulations which will take effect on 1 January.  These are said to ensure BVI law meets international standards and best practice as a leading offshore financial centre.  However, while provisions is included to allow the BVI to make future regulations that set out the requirements for registers of ‘persons with significant control’ (not dissimilar to the UK regime), the changes do not impose such a register and hence no public register of ‘persons with significant control’ is being introduced with effect from 1 January.  The firm also notes that the concept of a bearer share will be removed and that companies will no longer be permitted to issue bearer shares, convert registered shares to bearer shares or exchange registered shares for bearer shares.  Existing bearer shares will automatically convert to registered shares on 1 July 2023.  Another change mentioned means that the names of company directors will be available to registered users of the online VIRRGIN system when carrying out a search against a company’s name.

https://www.mourant.com/news-and-views/updates/updates-2022/upcoming-amendments-to-the-bvi-business-companies-regime.aspx

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AIRCRAFT, PANAMA AND THE CANAL ZONE DURING THE WAR: PART 1

AIRCRAFT, PANAMA AND THE CANAL ZONE DURING THE WAR: PART 1

Note  

though undoubtedly an “aircraft”, I do not propose to discuss the role of the Navy’s airships, or “blimps”, here.  I intend to consider them separately.

The airfields and brief details of each specific aircraft type will also have to wait for a later essay.

While it was obvious in the 1930s that aviation was not yet sufficiently developed to permit a direct aerial assault – whether by bombing or by troop-carrying aircraft – on the Continental US or the Panama Canal, this did not mean that, for the Canal Zone at least, such an attack could be entirely ruled out.  Although an enemy military aircraft could not reach the Canal Zone (unless the enemy was another Latin American country), the attack could come from the sea, and the development of naval aviation made this increasingly more likely as the interwar years progressed. 

Alternatively, the attack could be mounted from neighbouring countries in Central and South America, which could be used as launching pads.  After all, much of nearby states (including the Republic of Panama itself) was underdeveloped at the time, with expanses of largely uncharted jungle – and during the 1930s there would be growing German influence, and sympathy, in several Latin American states (and in 1940, the new President of Panama himself would be rumoured to have pro-German sympathies).

There had always been an air presence in the Canal Zone[1], but by the time the US entered World War 2 the size and importance of air forces – Army and Navy – would have increased considerably (although still deemed to be inadequate), and would continue with greater importance as the war progressed.  This growth reached its peak in 1943-44, as the threat to the Canal diminished (although ironically just as the Japanese were plotting a direct attack on the Canal using seaplanes launched from large submarines).

In the early 1930s, the Drum Board, a special committee of the Army General Council[2], had concluded that US air power lagged dangerously behind that of other world powers, and called for a significant expansion of its combat strength and basing facilities[3].  By the mid-1930s, the importance of the defence of the Canal can be judged by the fact that some 20% of the USAAC establishment was based in the Canal Zone, with the units there among the few that maintained 100% of their authorised strength.[4]

Nevertheless, the air defences of the Canal Zone were recognised as being inadequate in the late 1930s[5], and this remained the case for some time even after the US entered the war, despite the supply of additional, and more modern, fighter aircraft, more long-range patrol aircraft to detect an approaching enemy force at distance and radar. 

The USAAC in the Canal Zone had two major tasks to perform – an offensive one, a striking force to destroy enemy vessels that approached the Canal, and providing a defensive force to combat air attacks.  It became obvious that having to concentrate defensive forces in as small an area as the Canal Zone was a crucial problem, and to better protect the Canal and its approaches additional bases would be required[6], both in the rest of Panama and in surrounding countries and during the war there were numerous bases in use throughout Panama, and in other countries nearby, and as far away as the Galapagos Islands.

Panama was not seen as an easy posting for pilots in terms of the difficulties they faced there.  In 1938, the Commanding General, General Brett, who had considerable experience flying throughout the Continental US, said that he felt that there were no conditions in the US that in any way, shape or form approached the flying hazards experienced in Panama on normal flights.[7] Added to this was the poor condition, especially in the rainy season (which was the greater part of the year), of many or most of the secondary airfields and landing strips that might be used.  These latter landing fields were very much seen as “emergency” airstrips, even those municipal fields at a number of towns in the Republic.  In some cases, the landing grounds were regarded in the rainy season as “treacherous”.[8]

While tensions with Japan had been rising from around 1933, it was only after the Munich Crisis of 1938 that substantial funds became available to improve air defences in the Canal Zone[9].  In 1939, the US Army Air Corps (USAAC) requested $23 million from Congress to improve air power in Panama in a defence programme laid before the US House Committee on Military Affairs[10].  During 1939, and the first months of 1940, Army engineers began work[11].  Additional funds for improvement of defences followed, with the bulk of the improvement programme being completed by early 1942, an exception being some outposts, including airfields, outside the Canal Zone[12].

As the US Army had the primary responsibility for defending the Canal Zone, the chief air arm employed was the USAAC (which became the US Army Air Force or USAAF from 1941).  The US Navy also had a presence, with a flying-boat base at Coco Solo (aka Naval Air Station Upham) having been first established during World War 1.  As with the Army, the Navy’s aviation presence would increase during the war.

In 1939, there were complaints of other Army elements making too many demands on the USAAC, resulting in a disruption of training and a severe strain on equipment, and in servicing problems that might not be capable of being dealt with locally due to the small size of the Panama Air Depot maintenance centre at Albrook Field and the lack of suitable labour.  The missions complained of involved included target-towing for artillery tracking, searchlight practice, anti-aircraft practice, observation of field and coastal artillery practice, familiarisation flights and use during field exercises etc.  In Fiscal Year 1939, the local USAAC commander estimated that only 10% of such flying could really be regarded as training for the air units involved.[13]

If an enemy attack had been mounted on the Canal Zone in September 1939, official records said that the resident USAAC 19th Wing would have provided little worthwhile opposition.  Its actual complement was less than half that required and permitted – it had two pursuit (fighter[14]), one bomber, one attack, two reconnaissance and two airbase squadrons.  Between the two main bases, Albrook Field and France Field, there were just 33 Douglas B-18 Bolo bombers[15], 14 Northrop A-17 two-seat attack monoplanes and 24 of the obsolete Boeing P-26A Peashooter fighters.  The 30 additional Curtiss P-36A Hawk fighters that were then arriving to replace the P-26A would take the number of tactical aircraft available to the Wing to 102.  In any case, while the 19th Wing had an authorised strength of 75 officers and 1,390 enlisted men, it was operating at reduced strength due to a lack of replacements

In 1939, concern over the poor state of the air defences in the Canal Zone led to 30 brand-new P-36A Hawk fighters [16] being flown down to the Canal Zone to reinforce the air garrison after hurried arrangements were made to allow overflights of Mexico and Central American Republics[17] (a similar mass deployment of 80 of the later Curtiss P-40 Warhawk would take place in 1941, to replace the P-36A).  This represented a substantial improvement on the fighter forces available.  The P-36A replaced the obsolete open-cockpit P-26A Peashooter, which had comprised the most modern fighter type in the Zone.[18]

The immediate objective was to have, by January 1940, two pursuit, a bombardment and two reconnaissance squadrons to be effective[19].  The USAAC commander also pressed for naval patrol bombers (which, until 1943, would have to be flying-boats, due to the restriction on the Navy operating land-based combat types), and for his command to receive land-based long-range four-engine bombers[20] – specifically asking for what became the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, a request that would only be met midway during the war.

An article titled “Panama is Defenseless” by Colonel Billy Mitchell[21] that had appeared in a popular aviation magazine in 1929, was widely reprinted in 1940 and helped to spur the assignment of additional air units. The vulnerability of the Canal Zone to enemy attack at the time was unquestioned and the Canal, seen as a critical national asset, was one that had to be protected.[22]

During the early months of 1940 the whole subject of Canal air defence was re-examined by the War Department, and with USAAC expansion underway the 19th Wing was reorganised as the Panama Canal Department Air Force in November[23], headquartered at Albrook Field and acting as a major command of the USAAC for units based and around the Canal Zone.  In turn it provided a nucleus for what became the Caribbean Air Force in the August 1941[24]

The Caribbean Air Force was part of the overall Caribbean Defense Command and became a part of the newly constituted US Army Air Force (USAAF, which the former USAAC had been reorganised as in 1941).  It then went on to become the Sixth Air Force in September 1942[25], retaining that title until 1946.  The Sixth Air Force served as a command with responsibility for all USAAF operations in the Caribbean and Central and South America[26]In Panama itself, the Caribbean Defense Command remained the senior US Army headquarters from 1941 to 1947, with a USAAF component being the Caribbean Interceptor Command (renamed later in 1941 as the 6th Interceptor Command, as part of the Sixth Air Force).

In 1941, the perceived danger to the Canal saw priority given to sending nine additional Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers, together with fighter reinforcements provided from within the Caribbean Defense Command (with the transfer of 25 Curtiss P-40 Warhawks from Puerto Rico – a movement completed on 14 December).  By the end of the year, 80 additional P-40 fighters had arrived in Panama and, to avoid the repeat of the destruction of the aircraft that had been neatly lined up at Pearl Harbor, aircraft were dispersed, and protective revetments[27] were built and camouflage employed wherever possible.[28]

To illustrate the overall state of the USAAC in 1941, at the end of March, in the Continental US it had 543 combat aircraft, of which only 38 were considered first-line types.  Total aircraft strength of the USAAC was 4,975 aircraft, with over half of them being trainers.  Of the 1,617 combat types in service (many in the overseas commands – Panama, Hawaii, and the Philippines) the great majority were obsolescent.  Under the 5,500-airplane programme adopted in 1939, the USAAC was supposed to have by June 1941 a total of 1,900 first-line aircraft.  However, for several reasons this goal was not achieved, although aircraft production would soar as the war continued. 

At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, there were no less than five squadrons of P-36A in Panama, three at Rio Hato on the Pacific Coast of the Republic and two at Albrook Field near Panama City.  These had to not only perform patrol and air defence duties, but also to prepare crews for transition to the Bell P-39 Airacobra and the P-40 fighters that had been promised.  Some pilots struggled to cope with the relatively high-performance P-36A[29] and its retractable gear, a very different type from their Boeing P-12 biplanes and even the P-26A.

Following the Pearl Harbor attack, President Roosevelt signed an Executive Order on 13 December 1941 directing the Secretary of War to take possession (impress) of any portion of any civil aviation system required in the war effort.  A number of privately-owned aircraft would be impressed in Panama, including the C-79, the only German-built Junkers Ju 52/3m trimotor in the USAAC.

The first major wartime function of the USAAC was in undertaking anti-submarine patrols in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.  This would involve advance bases, bases and operations which extended out from Panama as far as the Galapagos Islands and Peru on the Pacific side and Cuba and Dutch Guiana in the Caribbean – and even to Brazil, where it was necessary to protect the transatlantic services to North Africa.  Despite the Air Task Force formed by the Army and Navy in Panama having had all available locally-based Consolidated PBY Catalinas flying-boats assigned to it in September 1941, the ability of the Navy to mount patrol missions was handicapped by a shortage of aircraft, and the USAAC continued to have to assign its own bombers for patrols for some time afterwards.  The USAAC/USAAF was to replace the shorter-range B-18 with the very long-range Consolidated Librator for the patrols[30].

However, throughout the entire course of the war the Sixth Air Force engaged in only two combat engagements against U-boats in the Caribbean, damaging one in July 1942 and sinking another in August 1942.  The bulk of its patrol operations were conducted without major contact with the enemy, and its war passed relatively quietly in and around Panama.[31] 

After 1943, the Sixth Air Force, by then the region having become something of a backwater, evolved into something more of a training command.  Nevertheless, by now it was receiving the appropriate aircraft types, and in sufficient numbers, including the long-awaited P-38.  The XXVI Fighter Command of the Sixth Air Force reached its peak strength in May 1944, having despatched fighters in no less than 4,300 sorties in 1943[32].

However, on 23 September 1944, the War Department told the Caribbean Defense Command to store all “excess” aircraft that the Sixth Air Force had waiting for disposal at the Panama Air Depot (the arrival of large numbers of P-38 fighters at this time was causing storage problems, and hampering necessary maintenance operations).[33]  From 15 November to 16 December, the Sixth Air Force waited for approval for the disposal of excess, unwanted aircraft by sales or salvage.  In fact, there was a total of 237 aircraft chosen as excess that were waiting for the disposal through sales or salvage[34].

By December 1944, the Sixth Air Force having evolved into what amounted to gigantic operational training unit.  This role included operational training of the 1st Brazilian Fighter Squadron, equipped with the P-40K, which unit was still being technically assigned to Canal Zone defence though with mainly Brazilian pilots.[35]  In May 1944, the Brazilian squadron was declared operational and became active in air defence of the Canal. However, it left in June to travel to the US to join the First Air Force in New York and re-equip with Republic P-47D Thunderbolts. It then left in August 1944 for the Mediterranean theatre, where it served as an element of the XXII Tactical Air Command, being deployed to Italy later in the year[36].[37]

As the war progressed, the P-40 Warhawk had been largely supplanted in fighter units by the Bell P-39 Airacobra and, finally, from January 1945, the twin-engine Lockheed P-38 Lightning.  In fact, the Sixth Air Force had been lobbying for the P-38, citing the safety advantages of having two engines when pilots were engaged in flights over jungle expanses or the ocean.  Despite having requested the P-38 for so long, it did not enjoy a long service in Panama, being declared surplus soon after the war’s end, disposed of, and replaced from 1946 by another single-engine type, the Republic P-47N Thunderbolt.

To June 1945, monthly reports gave authorisation to salvage several aircraft and to sell a few to the Venezuelan and Nicaraguan governments, the local Ciricana Aviation Company, and a few independent individuals.  A total of 127 aircraft were removed from the Sixth Air Force inventory with only a minimal number remaining for disposition.  A check was to be conducted to see if they were needed in another part of the country and, if not, they could be disposed of immediately[38] – many, like a large number of P-38, would be trashed and then dumped in the Bay of Panama – Panama lacking a significant recycling or recovery industry.

Postwar, the Sixth Air Force was redesignated as the Caribbean Air Force in 1946 and, remaining based in Panama, it became the USAF Southern Command in 1963, lasting until 1 January 1976, when it was replaced by the Southern Air Division of USAF Tactical Air Command.

THE 20th TRANSPORT SQUADRON

There was one USAAC/USAAF unit that was present in the Canal Zone from 1940 to the end of the war, starting with next to nothing, but eventually proving to be a vital component in the defence and operations in the whole region, and this was the 20th Transport Squadron.

In 1937, Army long-range plans for aviation called for the formation of a GHQ Air Force group of 3 squadrons in the Continental US with one flight for each USAAC station, and the activation of one squadron each in Panama and Hawaii.  Starting with a single Douglas C-33 twin-engine transport (a version of the DC.2 airliner[39]), and then a hodgepodge of various impressed types, including the aforementioned Junkers trimotor, before finally receiving the ubiquitous Douglas C-47 Skytrain and, later, some of the larger Curtiss C-46 Commando transports.

The squadron was activated in 1940 at France Field (but having no aircraft until February 1941), and it became operational in March 1941, with its first aircraft, the single C-33 (making daily flights to Albrook Field and Rio Hato).  Gaining further aircraft, it was involved in the build-up of the outer ring of air bases throughout the Caribbean and, by the time of Pearl Harbour it had six ex-airline Douglas C-49 Skytrain[40] which had arrived from the US. 

It would operate a mix of aircraft, including the Army’s sole Junkers Ju 52/3m airliner (as the C-79); a Boeing XC-105 (which was a modified pre-war XB-15 experimental long-range bomber); an Akron-Funk UC-92 (an ageing pre-war single-engine type intended for use as a utility transport); a Hamilton UC-89 Metalplane (another obsolete type, a single-engine eight-seat airliner, impressed from a local Panamanian airline); two Luscombe UC-90 (a light cabin monoplane, impressed from the same local source as the UC-89); and a Stinson Model A trimotor airliner that became the sole UC-91 in the USAAF.  There was also another rare type, an Italian-built Savoia-Marchetti SM.83 airliner (impressed from the Italian Latin American Airline (LATI) after being seized in Chile) – a three-engine monoplane like the Junkers, it arrived for use by the squadron but was not actually used for any operational missions.  However, the squadron did also use OA-10 Catalina amphibians (an Army version of the Navy’s PBY flying-boat).

However, by 1943 the squadron had either lost or disposed of the OA-10, C-79, UC-89 and UC-91, but had by then acquired that other oddity – the XC-105.  It had also received its first Douglas C-47A and its first Fairchild UC-61 Forwarder (another single-engine light utility transport).

Light aircraft such as the UC-90 (both of which, surprisingly, survived in USAAF service to the end of the war) were used as “hacks”, for such use as courier and communications aircraft operating between the various airfields in Panama and the Canal Zone.  They would also be used to maintain basic pilot proficiency.[41]  Given the lack of good roads in many parts of Panama, such communications aircraft were important.

During the early part of the war one flight from the squadron was detached to work with the airborne forces of the 501st Parachute Battalion and 550th Airborne Infantry Battalion, which comprised the Panama-based regional rapid deployment force (and this work included planning for a proposed landing in Vichy-held Martinique in 1943).

In january 1944, the squadron was redesignated as the 20th Troop Carrier Squadron (Special), and 1944 also saw some increased standardisation of types used, with C-47A and some of the larger Curtiss C-46A Commando transports being received.

Postwar, continuing as the transport arm of the Caribbean Air Command, the squadron was re-equipped with the larger, four-engine Douglas C-54 Skymaster in 1946 and the Fairchild C-82 Packet, a dedicated military transport with removable rear loading doors, in 1948.

The squadron relocated from Panama to Texas in September 1948, leaving all its aircraft (except for a detachment of C-54, which went to Europe to take part in the Berlin Airlift).  In 1949, the squadron and all of its aircraft finally left Panama, but it would be deactivated in October 1949 due to military budget cuts.

THE NAVY

As we have seen, the defence responsibilities of the Army, in terms of its aviation component, was to within the range of its medium bombers – so as to be able to attack any enemy force within range.  It was a Navy responsibility to patrol the coastal zone, and the sea approaches to either ends of the Canal, and to protect shipping within these areas – the Panama Sea Frontier.

The Panama Sea Frontier patrol and threat area covered both Pacific and Caribbean regions.  It stretched from the Mexico/Guatemala border out to the Galapagos Islands and down to a point at 5° of latitude on the coast of South America.  On the other side, it stretched from the Mexico/British Honduras border to Punta de Gallinas in Colombia on the north coast of South America, and around 90 miles (144.8 km) west of Aruba.  Hence the Panama Sea Frontier encompassed the coastlines of British Honduras, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.

The 15th Naval District based in the Canal Zone was the Navy command[42], and it had a flying-boat base at Coco Solo near Colón, Naval Air Station (NAS) Upham[43].  In fact, the site had been first established in 1918 as a Naval Air Station for seaplanes and flying-boats.

In 1938, the Hepburn Board[44] had recommended an increase in the Navy’s air component in the Canal Zone, sufficient to accommodate no less than seven squadrons of patrol aircraft (which, due to the restriction on using land-based types, meant flying-boats), with a supporting establishment capable of complete engine overhaul, and the establishment of a further naval station at Balboa, on the Pacific end of the Canal, to support the work of the District’s submarines, destroyers, and smaller craft.  Congress approved the base programme as recommended in May 1939, and partial financing was provided in the 1940 Appropriation Bill.  Development of the bases recommended by the Board began immediately, and early contracts were awarded in June and July for work in the Canal Zone[45].

Initially work was devoted primarily to enlarging the air station and submarine base at Coco Solo and constructing housing and a new office building at Balboa for the administrative offices of the District.  The scope of the contracts was enlarged considerably during the pre-war period, as defence plans for the Canal Zone as a whole were broadened and new installations authorised.

Also in 1938, the Vinson Bill proposed the first major expansion of the US Navy since World War 1, including an increase of 20% in the number of ships and an increase of the Navy’s aircraft strength to 3,000 aircraft.  Following this, the Two Ocean Act of 1940[46], also introduced by Representative Carl Vinson, would call for even more massive increase in Navy strength, including up to 15,000 “useful” naval aircraft.

In early 1940, the General Board of the Navy and the Army-Navy Joint Board had studied the subject of the defence of the Pacific approaches to the Canal and reached the conclusion that preparations must be made for the operation of constant air patrols over the Pacific approaches (which lacked the numerous islands of the Caribbean which provided bases and hence some protection).  It recommended that patrol squadrons of seaplanes (by which it meant flying-boats), supported partly by tenders and partly by shore installations, be based near Guayaquil on the Ecuadorian coast, in the Gulf of Fonseca in Nicaragua, and in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, with the latter as a key installation[47]

Despite the recommendations of the Hepburn Board, and the implementation of those which were underway, at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 there were just 12 Consolidated PBY Catalina flying-boats in the Canal Zone, with their tender vessel[48], and these were intended to patrol both the Caribbean and parts of the south-eastern Pacific. 

A Joint Operations Center was established on 17 December 1941, with an Air Task Force added on 22 December, under the Commanding General of the Sixth Bomber Command.  The Air Task Force was to include all USAAC bombers in the Panama sector, plus all US Navy patrol aircraft in the Panama Sea Frontier, for the purpose of aerial patrol and reconnaissance and to attack any force detected in either the Atlantic or Pacific approaches. 

Initially, the Caribbean areas were left largely to naval seaborne forces, as both USAAC and Navy aviation operations were concentrated on the Pacific approaches, which were thought more potentially vulnerable.  Indeed, the Army was convinced that the greater danger came from the Pacific and thus there was a need to concentrate forces on that side.  However, the Navy considered the submarine threat on the Atlantic approaches and Caribbean sea routes to be greater (which, of course, proved to be correct when U-boats arrived in the Caribbean).[49]

One handicap, already touched upon, was that, before World War 2, the US Congress had mandated that the US Navy was not permitted to operate land-based combat aircraft. During the war, however, these rules were gradually modified, as the Navy sought greater control over all aspects of naval warfare, and the Army needed all of its units for combat operations in Europe and the Pacific[50].  In August 1943, the US Army and US Navy came to an agreement, and in mid-1943, the Army agreed to turn over all anti-submarine operations to the Navy.

In May 1942, the Navy Department informed the 15th Naval District that it would allocate no less than 180 aircraft to the Panama area and, in July, the Navy advised that it was to transfer a PBY squadron from anti-submarine operations in the Caribbean to patrol duties on the Pacific side.  A base at Salinas in Ecuador was commissioned as NAS Salinas in August 1942, and the Navy squadron began to participate in patrols, although Pacific patrols at the time continued to be largely undertaken by USAAF aircraft (generally speaking, by then by long-range B-24 or LB.30 Liberators) due a lack of Navy aircraft[51] (and, in any case, Navy aircraft were by then urgently needed to combat a growing U-boat threat in the Caribbean).

From April 1943, Navy patrol aircraft began to gradually replace USAAF bombers on the Pacific patrols, with squadrons stationed at Salinas and at Corinto in Nicaragua.  In October 1943, with additional squadrons becoming available, the Navy finally took on the entire Pacific patrol role.

Complementing the PBY Catalina in the patrol role in Panama was the larger, four-engine PB2Y Coronado, equipped with radar.

However, during the period of renewed U-boat threat from 23 November 1943 to 8 April 1944, the USAAF was to take on more of the anti-submarine work in the Caribbean.  During this period, 219 four-engine and 266 twin-engine bomber missions were undertaken by the VI Bomber Command of the Sixth Air Force, carrying out anti-submarine sweeps on behalf of the Navy.

In early 1943, the new 10th Fleet was established for overall command of all anti-submarine operations in that part of the Atlantic under US strategic control – this meaning that a commander of forces in the Panama Sea Frontier served three superiors (the Caribbean Defense Command, the 15th Naval District and 10th Fleet).[52]

Ray Todd

Panama City

Republic of Panama

28 August 2022


[1]  The first US air unit, the 7th Aero Squadron, had arrived in Panama in 1917, being assigned to the Panama Canal Department, the US Army corps command.  During World War 1, the squadron was used on U-boat patrol from Cristobal, the port near Colón at the Atlantic end of the Canal.  It was commanded by a Captain H H Arnold – the later General “Hap” Arnold, the World War 2 USAAF commander and its only five-star general.  During World War 2, the successor to the 7th Aero Squadron served as a reconnaissance unit until 1942, when it was redesignated as the 397th Bombardment Squadron.  It served as a bomber unit in World War 2 and was deactivated at Rio Hato Army Air Base in November 1946 – having served in the role of defending the Canal from 1917 to 1946.

[2]  The Drum Board was a panel of five generals and was formed in August 1933 by the General Staff to propose recommendations planners for development and expansion to meet defence needs.  A force of 2,320 aircraft was recommended by the Drum Board (to maintain the levels of serviceable aircraft necessary under war plans), and authorised by Congress in June 1936, but appropriations were denied by the Roosevelt Administration until 1939, when the probability of war had become apparent.  Instead, the USAAC inventory actually declined to 855 total aircraft in 1936, a year after the creation of GHQ Air Force in the Continental USA, which itself was recommended by the Board to have a strength of 980 machines.

[3]  https://weaponsandwarfare.com/2019/11/18/panama-canal-zone-defences-ii/

[4]  P-38 in Latin America by Dan Hagedorn (Aviation Art & History, 2022).

[5]  This was clearly illustrated as long before as in 1929, when the Navy mounted a successful mock attack, with the USAAC being unable to intercept or counter the attack (despite knowing that the attack was coming and the size and aims of the force).

[6]  In fact, a permanent airfield, Albrook Field, at the Pacific end of the Canal was only constructed during the 1930s.  It had been apparent that concentrating all of one’s air resources at the Atlantic end of the Canal (at France Field, and with the Navy base was also at the same end), with the Army’s headquarters and administration perhaps 50 miles (80.4 km) away in Balboa was unwise.  This was particularly the case as, aside from the Canal itself, the only other means of travel, aside from flying, between the two ends was using the single-track railway.  In 1935, the Army acquired a lease to use the airfield at Rio Hato in Coclé Province in Panama Oeste, about halfway between Panama City and the Costa Rican border.  The airfield at Rio Hato had been first established in 1931 and, during World War 2, it was expanded it to become a major airbase housing bomber and fighter aircraft.  The acquisition of Rio Hato had been the first major formal lease of land by the military outside the Canal Zone (as opposed to forced acquisition of territory that was allowed under the 1903 Treaty prior to the 1936 amendments). 

[7]  Air Defense of the Panama Canal, 1 January 1939 – 7 December 1941 (Army Air Forces Historical Office), January 1946: https://www.afhra.af.mil/Portals/16/documents/Studies/1-50/AFD-090602-096.pdf

[8]  Ibid.

[9]  The Secretary of War, in a report to President Roosevelt, had called for the air forces and anti-aircraft defences to be augmented, and the Canal be made “impregnable”.

[10]  https://media.defense.gov/2015/Apr/02/2001329844/-1/-1/0/AFD-150402-022.pdf

[11]  https://history.army.mil/html/books/010/10-6/CMH_Pub_10-6.pdf

[12]  It was only in 1942 that a bases agreement was signed with the Panamanian Government allowing for the expansion in defence sites outside the Canal Zone, and that agreement only took effect from 1943.

[13]  Air Defense of the Panama Canal, 1 January 1939 – 7 December 1941 (Army Air Forces Historical Office), January 1946: https://www.afhra.af.mil/Portals/16/documents/Studies/1-50/AFD-090602-096.pdf

[14]  The USAAC persisted in calling fighters “pursuit” types, and fighter squadrons “pursuit squadrons”.  The new USAAF in 1941 changed the reference to “fighter”.

[15]  At the start of 1939, the 19th Wing had as its bomber force 28 of the obsolescent Martin B-10B twin-engine bombers, but these were replaced by June 1939.

[16]  27 actually arrived, three being lost en route.

[17]  https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-WH-Guard/USA-WH-Guard-12.html

[18]  It was complemented by the even more obsolete Boeing P-12E and P-12F biplanes: Panama Canal defenders: Camouflage and Markings of US Sixth Air Force and Antilles Air Command 1941-1945 – Volume 1: Single-engined Fighters by Dan Hagedorn (Model Centrum PROGRES, 2021).

[19]  Air Defense of the Panama Canal, 1 January 1939 – 7 December 1941 (Army Air Forces Historical Office), January 1946: https://www.afhra.af.mil/Portals/16/documents/Studies/1-50/AFD-090602-096.pdf

[20]  During the war, what became the 6th Bombardment Group was to use various bomber types – the famous Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses (though these would then be withdrawn as needed more urgently elsewhere), the B-18, B-24 and LB-30 Liberators, as well as Piper L-4E Grasshoppers light aircraft (a military version of the highly successful Piper Cub two-seat lightplane) for liaison and communications duties).  It was disbanded in the Canal Zone on 1 November 1943, and subsequently reconstituted on 29 June 1944 and consolidated as the 6th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) as a B-29 unit for use against Japan

[21]  Mitchell had already found fame (or notoriety) after World War 1 by championing the vulnerability of battleships to bomber aircraft, and carrying out attacks on captured German warships to prove the point.

[22]  Alae Supra Canalem: Wings Over the Canal by Dan Hagedorn (Turner) 1995: https://www.historynet.com/book-wings-over-the-canal-dan-hagedorn-avh.htm

[23]  There was always confusion about the correct title. It sometimes being referred to as the Panama Air Force, the Panama Canal Air Force, or the Caribbean Defense Air Force.  Even its official letterhead bore an incorrect title, as “Headquarters, Panama Canal Air Force”: https://www.afhra.af.mil/Portals/16/documents/Studies/1-50/AFD-090602-096.pdf

[24]   In February 1941, the Commanding General of the Panama Canal Department was also made commander of the Army’s new Caribbean Defense Command (CDC), which incorporated responsibilities in various British Caribbean possessions which the US had acquired under Lend-Lease, the separate Caribbean Air Force, also an Army command, was established at the same time.  The Caribbean Air Force had responsibilities across all the sectors for which the CDC had responsibility, which included Ecuador, Colombia and Central America south of Mexico.

https://media.defense.gov/2010/Nov/05/2001329898/-1/-1/0/aaf_wwii-v1-2.pdf

[25]  In 1946, it was again renamed, as the Caribbean Air Command.  Later, from 1963 to 1976, US Air Forces Southern Command was to have its headquarters at what had become by then Albrook Air Force Base: https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Albrook_Air_Force_Station

[26]  The Sixth Air Force, as part of the Caribbean Defense Command, operated over the same area of control as that Command.

[27]  A revetment is a parking area for one or more aircraft that is surrounded by blast walls, which protect surrounding aircraft as well as the aircraft within the revetment.

[28]  https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/I/AAF-I-8.html

[29]  The P-36 had been a commercial success for Curtiss, being bought by the USAAC as well as several export customers, including the French Armee de l’Air (part of whose order ended up with the RAF).  However, it was outclassed by subsequent Allied and Axis designs, but the basic design was developed into the much more successful P-40 Warhawk.

[30]  It used both B-24 models and the LB-30, which had originally been ordered for delivery to the RAF but then requisitioned for US forces use.

[31]  https://weaponsandwarfare.com/2019/11/18/panama-canal-zone-defences-ii/

[32]  P-38 in Latin America by Dan Hagedorn (Aviation Art & History, 2022).

[33]  https://jewlscholar.mtsu.edu/server/api/core/bitstreams/25d785ba-305a-4781-8a47-015a9951b1f0/content

[34]  https://jewlscholar.mtsu.edu/server/api/core/bitstreams/25d785ba-305a-4781-8a47-015a9951b1f0/content

[35]  Panama Canal defenders: Camouflage and Markings of US Sixth Air Force and Antilles Air Command 1941-1945 – Volume 1: Single-engined Fighters by Dan Hagedorn (Model Centrum PROGRES, 2021).

[36]  https://www.defesanet.com.br/aviacao/noticia/695/Dia-de-Aviacao-de-Caca—Parte-1/ https://media.defense.gov/2010/Nov/05/2001329891/-1/-1/0/AFD-101105-019.pdf

[37]  https://media.defense.gov/2010/Nov/05/2001329891/-1/-1/0/AFD-101105-019.pdf

[38]  Ibid.

[39]  The DC.2 was the predecessor of the more well-known, more successful DC.3, which became the C-47 Skytrain/Dakota.

[40]  Commercial DC.3 airliners impressed for use by USAAC.

[41]  http://cfiamerica.com/Military_Luscombe_UC-90A_and_UC-90.html

[42]  Which, during the war, was to come under the 10th Fleet for the Caribbean region as a whole, and including the northern coast of South America.

[43]  It has been suggested the US Navy did not like the idea of NAS Coco Solo (”One Coconut”).

[44]  This Board was established in 1938 and reviewed America’s national defence structure during the deteriorating international situation. The “Hepburn Board Report” was the basis for the massive Shore Establishment expansion that took place prior to World War 2.  The Report was published in December 1938.

[45]  https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/Building_Bases/bases-18.html

[46]  Aka the Seventy-Percent Act, the Vinson-Walsh Act or the Second Naval Expansion Act: https://usnhistory.navylive.dodlive.mil/2014/07/19/as-war-in-europe-escalated-1940-naval-expansion-act-came-when-platformsmatter-ed-most/

[47]  https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/Building_Bases/bases-18.html

[48]  The tender would be a vessel that supported the operations of the aircraft.  Such ships could carry out the function of barracks, workshops and control towers, so performing the functions normally found at a land-based airfield, and facilitating the rapid deployment to areas lacking in the necessary infrastructure.  In the Canal Zone in 1941, USS Lapwing, a type of ship known to the US Navy as a Small Seaplane tender and designated AVP-1, having arrived at Coco Solo in 1932.

[49]  Security and Defense of the Panama Canal 1903-2000 by Charles Morris, Panama Canal Commission: https://original-ufdc.uflib.ufl.edu/AA00047733/00001/6j

[50]  A conflict over the use of land-based aircraft dated from the late 1920s, when the US Navy began stationing torpedo-bombers at land bases in Hawaii and the Canal Zone.  The resolution of the resulting dispute in 1928, described as “ambiguous” (leaving the question of responsibility for aerial coastal defence unresolved into the 1930s), authorised the Navy to base some strike aircraft ashore if the primary functions of these planes were scouting and patrol: but it also recognised the Army’s chief responsibility in resisting attacks on the coasts of the US and its possession: https://media.defense.gov/2010/Sep/24/2001330068/-1/-1/0/AFD-100924-038.pdf

For much more on pre-war planning by the USAAC, including the inter-service rivalry with the Navy, see Foulois and the US Army Air Corps 1931-1935 by John F Shiner (Office of Air Force History, USAF. Washington DC, 1983).

[51]  In 1941-42, Coco Solo was home to 28 PBY.

[52]  Security and Defense of the Panama Canal 1903-2000 by Charles Morris, Panama Canal Commission: https://original-ufdc.uflib.ufl.edu/AA00047733/00001/6j

OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – AUGUST 28

A ninth case of monkeypox has been confirmed, described as a man, 50, a foreign nation and resident in Panama with a history of travel to Europe in the first days of August.

28 AUGUST 2022

THE COSTS OF MILLIONS OF EUROS THE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT ARE PAYING TO KEEP RUSSIAN SUPERYACHT ASSETS FROZEN

On 26 August, Superyacht News from eSysman released a 10-minute video report which looks into the mounting costs of maintaining these and other assets seized by Italy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wcqffnuWx4

FRESH CRISIS ENGULFS LIBYA AND MAY WORSEN ARMS PROLIFERATION IN AFRICA

On 27 August, Sahara Reporters carried an article saying that rival factions battled across Tripoli in the worst fighting there for 2 years as an eyewitness said forces aligned with a parliament-backed administration moved on the city to try to take power.  A months-long standoff for power in Libya has pitted the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNU) against a rival administration that is backed by the eastern-based parliament.  There are fears that continued violence in Libya could have spiralling effects on neighbouring African countries and could worsen the already precarious arms proliferation situation.

https://saharareporters.com/articles/12-killed-87-injured-fresh-crisis-engulfs-libya-may-worsen-arms-proliferation-africa

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/aug/27/at-least-13-dead-after-conflict-erupts-between-militias-in-libya

RUSSIAN SUPERYACHTS SEEKING SANCTUARY IN TURKEY

On 28 August, the Daily Mail published an article saying that 11 such superyachts are berthed here – including 4 belonging to Roman Abramovich.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11152827/Super-yachts-Roman-Abramovich-Putin-oligarchs-sent-Turkey-cheat-sanctions.html

300 LIVING HARVESTER ANTS SMUGGLED FROM EUROPE FOUND BY SHANGHAI CUSTOMS

On 28 August, the Global Times in China reported that Shanghai customs recently intercepted 300 living harvester ants, kept separately in 300 tubes made of epoxy resin, that were being smuggled into China disguised as Lego toys.  It is said that some Chinese collectors have kept this species of ants as pets in recent years.

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202208/1274037.shtml

SAUDI ARABIA: OVERSIGHT AND ANTI-CORRUPTION AUTHORITY (NAZAHA) ARRESTS 76 ACCUSED OF BRIBERY, FORGERY AND MONEY LAUNDERING

On 28 August, the Saudi Gazette reported that the arrests followed inspections and that the accused citizens and residents include employees in 5 ministries – the Ministries of Interior, Health, Justice, Education, Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing.

https://www.saudigazette.com.sa/article/624341/SAUDI-ARABIA/Nazaha-arrests-76-employees-on-corruption-charges

THE ‘NEWSPACE’ INDUSTRY: A CHALLENGE FOR MISSILE NON-PROLIFERATION AND EXPORT CONTROLS?

An recorded webinar released by SIPRI on 16 August cautions that, despite advantages it offers, the space industry also contributes to making sensitive space launch technologies commercially available globally and potentially creates new pathways for missile proliferation.  The changing nature of the commercial space industry and the challenges and opportunities it poses are important topics for the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the main multilateral export control regime focused on missiles and other uncrewed delivery systems.  In the webinar a distinguished panel of space, missile and export control experts from research, industry and policy to discuss the challenges the NewSpace industry poses to missile non-proliferation and export controls.

https://www.sipri.org/events/2022/newspace-industry-challenge-missile-non-proliferation-and-export-controls

US: DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE PROHIBITING THE AWARD OF CONTRACTS TO CONTRACTORS THAT LEVERAGE RESOURCES IN CHINA UNLESS THOSE RESOURCES ARE DISCLOSED

On 26 August, an Alert from Crowell Moring advised on new rules on the “Preaward Disclosure of Employment of Individuals Who Work in the People’s Republic of China” and the “Postaward Disclosure of Employment of Individuals Who Work in the People’s Republic of China”.  These will be incorporated into DoD solicitations and contracts with an estimated value over $5 million unless a senior procurement executive waives the disclosure requirements due to national security interests. 

https://www.crowell.com/NewsEvents/AlertsNewsletters/all/DoD-Rule-on-Reporting-Employees-in-China-Published-and-In-Effect-This-Week

HOW RUSSIA PROMOTED THE CLAIM THAT UKRAINE RE-SOLD FRENCH HOWITZERS FOR PROFIT

On 21 July, DFR Lab carried an article on a Russian disinformation project involving a narrative which aimed to convince Western audiences that Ukraine is not to be trusted with sophisticated weapons supplied by the West while casting a shadow on France’s role in providing military aid.

https://medium.com/dfrlab/how-russia-promoted-the-claim-that-ukraine-re-sold-french-howitzers-for-profit-fd51f71a9362

KAZAKHSTAN: FORMER PRESIDENT’S NEPHEW ACCUSED OF EMBEZZLING FROM STATE

On 26 August, OCCRP reported that Kazakhstan’s anti-corruption body had concluded its investigation into the nephew of former president Nursultan Nazarbayev and has determined that there is enough evidence to pursue charges of embezzlement from the state.  Kairat Satybaldyuly is the latest of the ex-President’s relatives to be investigated for acts of corruption, and is linked to an embezzlement scandal that has caused the disappearance of millions of dollars from state transport and communication companies.

https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/16701-kazakhstan-nazarbayev-s-nephew-accused-of-embezzling-from-state

US: 2 INDIVIDUALS CONVICTED OF CONSPIRACY AND FRAUD IN CATTLE PONZI SCHEME

On 26 August, a news release from US DoJ advised that a federal jury had convicted a woman and man of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering relating to a scheme that fraudulently raised money from investors across the country.  They ran a Ponzi scheme from late 2017 until early 2019 by fraudulently representing to victim-investors that their investments were backed by short-term investments in cattle.  They also used false and fraudulent pretences to solicit money from victim-investors for the conspirators’ Colorado-based marijuana business.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/two-individuals-convicted-conspiracy-and-fraud-cattle-ponzi-scheme

AUSTRALIA: PROSECUTOR CLAIMS LAWYER BEN AULICH WAS HOPING TO REAP MILLIONS FROM ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERING PLAN

On 26 August, ABC News reported that prosecutors have told a court that Canberra lawyer Ben Aulich and accountant Michael Papandrea hoped to reap more than $1 million a year from an alleged money laundering plan.  They had allegedly hatched a plan with an undercover police officer to buy a supermarket to launder money obtained through the sale of illegal cigarettes.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-26/court-told-canberra-lawyer-hoped-to-millions-money-laundering/101377630

DOMINICAN DRUG LORD EXTRADITED TO THE US TO FACE DRUG TRAFFICKING CHARGES

A news release from US DoJ on 25 August advised that Dominican authorities extradited Julio De Los Santos-Bautista, aka “Julito Kilo”, to the US to face drug trafficking charges filed in the District of Puerto Rico.  He is said to be the leader of a transnational criminal organisation based in the Dominican Republic which received multi-ton shipments of cocaine from South America through the Dominican Republic and then transported these to Puerto Rico and the continental US.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-pr/pr/dominican-drug-lord-extradited-united-states-dominican-republic-face-drug-trafficking

NSO PHONE SURVEILLANCE RIVAL OPERATING IN EU

On 28 August, EU Business said that a report from Lighthouse Reports claimed that an  Italian surveillance company is tracking people all over the world on a grand scale on behalf of its clients, and that its powerful spyware was recently found in Kazakhstan and Romania.  The report says that Tykelab has been using dozens of phone networks, often on remote Pacific islands, to send tens of thousands of secret “tracking packets” around the world, targeting people in countries including Libya, Nicaragua, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Iraq, Mali, Greece and Portugal – as well as in Italy itself.

https://www.lighthousereports.nl/investigation/revealing-europes-nso/

https://elements.wlonk.com/ElementsTable.htm

WIRE FRAUD: THE MOST POWERFUL LAW IN CRYPTO RIGHT NOW

On 23 August, US law firm Akin Gump reported on an article published by Reuters and authored by its white-collar defence partner.  It looks at how the DoJ is using the wire fraud statute “to bring innovative cases in the cryptocurrency space that do not depend on how a digital asset is classified”, and how it has used the statute to prosecute the first 2 “rug pulls” (“take the money and run” schemes) involving NFT and to prosecute 2 digital asset insider trading cases.  The article examines the history of the wire fraud statute, the DoJ use of the statute in 2022 to date, and what to expect going forward.

https://www.akingump.com/en/news-insights/wire-fraud-the-most-powerful-law-in-crypto-right-now.html

BRISBANE AIRPORT WINNING WAR ON WASPS THAT NEST IN AIRCRAFT SENSORS AND POSE FLIGHT DANGER

On 23 August, American Shipper reported on success containing a wasp population that poses a danger to aircraft operations by nesting in flight instruments critical for safe flight.  Brisbane International Airport for years has cautioned airlines to be vigilant for keyhole wasps that fill the opening to a critical sensor with mud.

https://www.freightwaves.com/news/brisbane-airport-winning-war-on-wasps

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EUROPE BUYS “BLOODY” SYRIAN PHOSPHATES FROM SANCTIONED RUSSIAN’S COMPANY

On 30 June, Lighthouse Reports claimed that millions of dollars’ worth of phosphates exported by a sanctioned Russian company in Syria have made their way into Europe’s fertiliser markets since 2018.  It says that the supply chain passes through a complex network including a company controlled by a sanctioned Russian oligarch and crony of President Vladimir Putin, Syrian government entities and regime loyalists – all of them subject either to EU or US sanctions. The trade is abetted by shady shipping companies, middlemen and brokers.

https://www.lighthousereports.nl/investigation/europe-buys-bloody-syrian-phosphates/

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