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THE PLAN RUBBER - U.S. PLANS FOR BRAZIL

3)BRAZILIAN FORCES


With the forces of nature set against them, it was just as well that the US planners believed the Brazilian military to be sufficiently weak to allow the plan to succeed. At sea, Brazil could muster two British-built battleships, two light cruisers, nine destroyers, three submarines and other small craft. In the air, Brazil had nearly 330 aircraft, but many of these were obsolete fighters and bombers. The number of aircraft that were reported as being in service at the time of Plan Rubber were as follows:


Fighters

Boeing 256 (export version of the Boeing F4B) - 14


Boeing 69 (export version of the Boeing F2B) - 46


Attack Bombers

Vultee V-11 Bomber - 18


Vultee V-11 Torpedo Bomber - 12


North American NA-44 -6


Fairey Gordon - 10


Like the Army, the Brazilian Air Force was concentrated mainly in the south, but could be quickly mobilised and sent northward. In the regions to be seized, the Brazilians could muster about 3500 troops at Natal, 2900 at Fortaleza, 5500 at Recife, 3500 at São Salvador and 1300 at Belém. Fernando de Noronha was a penal colony with only 65 guards, 600 inmates and 900 other inhabitants, but its airfield meant it could be reinforced rapidly by air. There were also a number of shore defence installations, but the status of these was largely unknown to US planners, and indeed it is very difficult to get reliable information on them even today.


It is known that the Brazilians had drawn up plans for defences by mounting 12" and 6" guns, supported by mobile batteries with 75 mm guns and machine guns. Whether these were in place at the time Plan Rubber was due to start is a matter of some debate. However, the Brazilians were as aware as anyone of the limitations on littoral operations imposed by their geography and as such it is likely that, had word of Plan Rubber been leaked, that at least some form of defence would have awaited the attacking Americans.


 

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