fighting tri pacer

The Airplane 

Use in Five Armies

Piper PA-22 160 Tri-Pacer – Performance Data

160 hp
Top Speed: 
123 kts
Cruise Speed: 
117 kts
Stall Speed (dirty): 
42 kts
Gross Weight: 
2000 lbs
Empty Weight:
1110 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 
36 gallons
435 nm
Ground Roll: 
1035 ft
Over 50ft Obstacle: 
1480 ft
Ground Roll: 
650 ft
Over 50ft Obstacle: 
1280 ft
Rate of Climb: 
800 fpm
16500 ft
Crew of 4 (Pilot and 3)
The French Marine Corps aviation experts preferred the PA 22 Piper for its high wing protected crew and pilots from the African sun as the Northern African Area of Operations was desert and mountainous terrain with some of the worlds premier vast deserts. As the French had ultimate “aerial supremacy”, the PA 22 Pipers suffered no aircraft shot down. Only one was lost in a wind collapsed hanger.

Military PA 22's Service With World Armies


The French Marines and air force had approximately 24 air craft starting in 1955 with PA 22-135 and evolving through IRON rework up to PA 22-160’s. PA 22’s flew up until 1975 and were then scraped with only two remaining in the French Air Force Museum in Dax, France. N2650A has been supported by the French Air Museum providing drawings, technical information and combat history including photos. This allowed an exact reproduction of N2650A as she supported the French Foreign Legion (LEGION ETRANGERE). Aircraft flew most liaison type missions of recon, security border patrols, resupply, executive transport, and medical flights. N2650A “KAG:” was a Forward Air Control (FAC) in support of the French Foreign Legion calling artillery and fast moving bombing aircraft. Smoke makers M-18 and Frag Grenades in Mason Jars were rumored to be dropped on targets of opportunity. Missions flown in combat, most aircrews had Paratrooper 30 Cal carbines and 30 Cal Browning Machine guns. Its is difficult to get detailed pictures and combat information on armaments but make no mistake Tri Pacers earned the Fighting Tri Pacer legends.
PA N2650A’s detailed paint scheme from French Marine Corps records.
Israel Police PA 22-135 circa 1955.
Israel Defense Force PA 22-135 circa 1957.


In 1955 the Israeli Police used two PA 22-135’s for patrolling and reconnaissance plus lost person searches during their early years of Independence. In 1957 the new Israeli Defense Force converted the Police PA 22’s to Israeli air force camo paint. As the main mission grew during the late 1950,s the IDF used the Pipers for border patrol and executive transport until phased out in the early 1960’s.


During the 1950’s Kenya with the help of British Forces defeated several up risings among fractional tribes. Tri Pacers flew recon, resupply, logistic flights and medical flights. No aircraft were lost and no further historical information is available of the 12 PA 22’s used. Rumor has said aircraft crews were British pilots and crew.
Circa 1956 PA 22-135 as flown by the Kenyan Police Forces.
12 South African provided PA 22’s helped their Katangeese neighbors put down several tribal up risings during the 1950’s.


During several up risings in Katangeese, their neighbors the South African’s provided several PA 22-150 ‘s flown under the flag of Katangeese forces and some dark rumors of pilots provided by England. 12 Aircraft were in service and none were combat casualties. Some aircraft were modified with bomb racks and dropped 50 and 100 kilo fragmentation and smoke marking bombs. All further records are gone.


During the war of liberation in Cuba in the 1950’s, the US Government provided the incumbent Government of Cuba lead by the Dictator General Bastista all of Cuba’s arms. 10-12 PA 22-135 and 150 aircraft. As the political situation changed and changed again, Castro forces began to win Cuba from General Bastistas forces. Eventually Castro won and all history stopped on the Bastista use of all armaments. It was unfortunate that 2 aircraft and crews were lost to ground fire during the many missions performed in combat by the Tri Pacers. The aircraft flew with Mason Jar Grenades, M-18 smoke markers and a host of WW2 weapons provided to the Bastista Government including Browning 30 Cal. Machine Guns on mounts inside the aircraft with the rear passenger door removed. After Castro’s success all history ended on the PA 22’s.
This shows a Cuban Air Force PA 22-150. Very little historical information remains on the Cuban Aircraft.
(This paint scheme has not been verified)
Many thanks to James Hagan of Aeorgraphics! He contributed these fine air craft drawings.