Military Wiki
Bombing of Plaza de Mayo
Date June 16, 1955 (1955-06-16)
Location Plaza de Mayo
Participants Argentine Naval Aviation
Argentine Air Force
Outcome Failed coup
Deaths 150-364[1]

The bombing of Plaza de Mayo was a massacre which took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 16 June 1955.


At 12:40 pm, a number of aircraft from the Argentine Navy and Air Force strafed and bombed Plaza de Mayo square in Buenos Aires, in what remains to this day the largest aerial bombing ever on the Argentine mainland. The attack targeted the adjacent Casa Rosada, the official seat of government, as a large crowd was expressing support for president Juan Perón. The strike took place during a day of official public demonstrations to condemn the burning of a national flag allegedly carried out by detractors of Perón during the recent procession of Corpus Christi. The action was to be the first step in an eventually aborted coup d'état.

Thirty-four Argentine Naval Aviation and Air Force airplanes, consisting of 22 North American AT-6, five Beechcraft AT-11, three Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boats, and four Air Force Gloster Meteor joined the attack.

A total of 9.5 tonnes of ordnance were dropped, killing 150-364[2] (mostly civilians) and injuring more than 800. Fire ceased at 5:20 pm local time. Three planes were shot down by hastily-mounted anti-aircraft guns. Nineteen Mounted Grenadiers, members of the presidential guard, were killed in action. One AT-6 was shot down by a loyal Gloster Meteor over the Río de la Plata.

Meanwhile, Argentine marines attempted an assault on Casa Rosada, but were repelled by loyal forces. The rebels withdrew towards the premises of the Ministry of the Navy, where they were forced to surrender in the evening along with the leader of the ill-fated coup, Vice-Admiral Samuel Toranzo Calderón. His second in command, Vice-Admiral Benjamín Gargiulo, committed suicide.

That night, angry crowds burnt down eight churches and a cathedral.

After the failure of the intended coup (as neither the Army nor the bulk of the Air Force joined in), the pilots received orders to fly towards Uruguay and ask for asylum.

In September of that year, the bulk of the armed forces would join in the Revolución Libertadora, which overthrew president Perón and started a period of military rule that ended in the 1958 presidential elections, won by Arturo Frondizi of the UCRI. Even though the Peronist party was not allowed to enter the ballot, Frondizi's victory was influenced by Perón's instructions to his loyal base, given from his exile in Madrid, to tactically vote for Frondizi.

One of the naval pilots who took part in the bombings, Máximo Rivero Kelly was promoted and was second-in-command of the Argentine Navy during the presidency of Raúl Alfonsín. He claims the naval pilots aimed to hit the presidential palace but that one aircraft missed, causing about 20 killed among the civilians.[3]

Bullet and shrapnel marks are still visible on some buildings on the south side of the square as of 2013.

See also


  1. Bombas sobre Buenos Aires: Gestación y desarollo del bombardeo aéreo sobre la Plaza de Mayo del 16 de junio de 1955, Daniel E. Cichero, p.163, Vergara Grupo Zeta, 2005.
  2. Bombas sobre Buenos Aires: Gestación y desarollo del bombardeo aéreo sobre la Plaza de Mayo del 16 de junio de 1955, Daniel E. Cichero, p.163, Vergara Grupo Zeta, 2005.
  3. Testimonios del Bombardeo

Coordinates: 34°36′30″S 58°22′19″W / 34.60833°S 58.37194°W / -34.60833; -58.37194

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