The AC13 Fantasma (English: Ghost) is the first and currently the only jet-propelled aircraft to be fielded by the Spanish Air Forces. While the Fantasma is the only jet aircraft available to the Spanish, there are three variants that give this aircraft the ability to conduct diverse roles including air superiority, ground attack,and reconnaissance. The Fantasma was designed by Motores Magdalena, a private firm dedicated to engines and automotive parts, and is responsible for supplying new aircraft and spare parts.
In 1968, aircraft engineers from Prussia and Holland working with Motores Magdalena designed and built a proof-of-concept motor that would be recognized today as a jet engine. Instead of driving a fan to push air past the aircraft, the experimental engine used a myriad of fan blades within to compress the air flowing through into a a high-velocity jet of dense exhaust. Finding the results of this prototype enticing, Motores Magdalena offered the Spanish government to produce an aircraft powered by jet engines. Damian Sandoval, Commander of the Spanish Air Forces at the time, eagerly approved of the offer and commissioned a fighter aircraft utilizing this technology. After nearly a decade of research and testing, the Mk I variant of the Fantasma fighter was unveiled to Air Forces Commander Ernesto Bodevin and Prime Minister Alfonso Sotelo - both of which expressed their satisfaction with the airplane's incredible speed.
The Mk I Fantasma was produced in time to see brief action during the Spanish intervention in the Italian Civil War of 1977. Because only two combat-worthy aircraft were available, the Fantasma was only able to participate in a handful of operations. The most noteworthy sortie took place when a Fantasma fixed with a single 30 mm cannon destroyed numerous Italian Centauro tanks, forcing the withdrawal of an armored column. This success against armored ground targets prompted the creation of the Mk II variant, a Fantasma designed to attack ground targets with high caliber, heavy explosive rounds.
Eight months prior to the onset of the Spanish-Ethiopian War, Sotelo expressed a desire for a more robust air-superiority platform. Motores Magdalena responded to this demand with a Mk III variant, which upgraded two of the Mk I's 7.62 machine guns with 22 mm cannons. Although the Fantasma was designed to hunt down enemy propeller aircraft, the Mk III proved itself a worthy dogfighter in the Socotra Skirmish.