More than 200 units were built thus becoming the largest series of airplanes manufactured at the Fábrica Militar de Aviones. It was entirely built with local wood and as the engine was the autoctonous 450 hp “El Gaucho” it was fully Argentine plane. With the fuselage painted in white and the wings in light blue the sun was painted on the rudder. The first unit with the Argentine engine was presented in 1944.
Author’s note: When I finished High School I visited my cousin then Capt. Mario Conti at the Fábrica Militar de Aviones. Over lunch with him and his friend Capt Laborda Mario told him: -“Exequiel wants to become a pilot and has never flown before” to which Laboda answered: “-This is a good opportunity as I have to fly with a flight and I need LASTRE in my plane”.
We went to the tarmac where four CL22 were waiting with their pilots. We donned the parachutes and I climbed to the back seat of the leader’s plane.
What followed is almost imposible to describe. All my life spent reading, browsing pictures, watching movies related to aviation…mostly about the 2nd war world and now I was flying! I had never experienced it before.
The coarse run on the runways ended and suddenly we were airborne. The emotional impact of being in the 3rd dimension was enormous. The height that had, till that moment, been a constant for me had now become another variable.
Not to mention what it felt after we had climbed and started to turn, break, climb and dive with the other planes around me…as if they were tied up with rope to ours. It felt we were in a Japanese WWII plane because of the canopy made of large vertical panels that covered the cockpit. Though no one could hear me the emotions was very intense and deep inside I was shouting “Tora, Tora!” because I felt like a Japanese aviator on his way to Pearl Harbor. Or in another turn I was feeling like an American pilot dive bombing a Japanese carrier in an SBD Dauntless.
When I descended the plane I was a different person. My baptism had taken place in an all Argentine DL22 and not in a Piper or Cesna.
My die was cast.