The Honduras had twice the land areas of their neighbor El Salvador. Yet the population of El Salvador was five times the population of the Honduras. By the mid twentieth century, tens of thousands of Salvadorans
and Hondurans lived in each other’s countries peaceably. The Salvadorans who migrated to the Honduras tended to be poor, and they became a problem not so much for the government, but for the large land owning corporations. The fruit companies wanted these squatters off of their lands so they could make money. In the Honduras in the late 1960s, the government looked a lot like ours. The corporation paid off the legislators and before you knew it, municipalities were legally taking land from under El Salvadorans and distributing it to Honduran people. Salvadorans began heading back to El Salvador. A few were beaten and mistreated and this made the news. This enraged El Salvadorans and inflamed tensions. Enter the 1970 FIFA World Cup Qualifying rounds. Just about now there are three games schedule between two of the best world Soccer teams: El Salvador and The Honduras. June 8th, 1969, game one goes to the Honduras 1-0. Fights break out all along the stands between the fans. In a moment of despair, 18 year old Salvadoran Amelia Bolaños shot herself. The funeral made national TV and the President of El Salvador walked behind the coffin.
OK, look at the symbolism. If you weren’t ready for war before the girl’s death, you were likely ready now. On June 15th, El Salvador won the second game 3-0. In the final game June 26th, 1969, El Salvador won 3-2 in overtime. The El Salvadoran government began recalling ambassadors, and dissolving ties to the government of the Honduras.
On July 14th, 1969, the El Salvadoran air force struck first. Using World War II US Combat aircraft like the P-51 Mustang and the F4U Corsair, El Salvador caught the Honduran forces of guard. The Salvadoran Air Force pounded Honduran airfields and oil storage facilities. The Salvadorans even jury-rigged airliners with bomb release mechanisms that worked fairly well against the beleaguered Honduran Army. It took a few days but soon thereafter, the Honduran air force controlled the skies over its own country. But the Salvadoran Army was bigger and stronger. They invaded Honduras in two-pronged attack. The superior Salvadoran army took nine towns and effectively shut down the Honduran Army. The Organization of American States managed to negotiate a cease-fire and on July 20th, it was all over.
The El Salvadoran army was 30,000 strong and the Honduran force was 23,000. The Savadorans suffered a thousand casualties and the Hondurans suffered about twice that amount. The Salvadoran Army occupied Hondurans until reparations were made to Salvadoran families and their safety inside Honduras was guaranteed.
This was also called the 100-hour war. Would love to see the air battles between a P-51 Mustang and a Vought F4U Corsair. This was the last combat between propeller driven air craft.
Something to consider. On June 5th, 1967, before the war broke out, Israel, made a surprising pre-emptive strike on Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian airfields. It was a smashing success tat allowed air superiority and close air support for Israel through the war that was named The Six Day War.
Somebody was paying attention.
Source: Wiki and There is a wonderful accounting of the air war here.