Yugoslav Airmen And Their Aircraft in World War 2

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by imalko, Aug 16, 2009.

  1. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    #1 imalko, Aug 16, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2009
    Introduction
    With my continuous thread about Slovak fighter squadron "Letka 13" (13.(Slowak)/JG 52) still under way, after prolonged consideration I’ve decided to start another long term thread. I’ve envisioned this thread as a place to post information and pictures and discuss involvement of Yugoslav airmen and their aircraft in WW2. I believe that this is quite interesting aspect of aerial warfare in WW2, but for many probably less known. Yugoslav airmen for the first time fought the Axis in April 1941, after the collapse of Yugoslav Kingdom some of them escaped and managed to join the Western Allies, others joined Partisan resistence movement and some pledged their allegiance to so called Independent State of Croatia or NDH (allied with Third Reich), thus seeing action against the Soviets on Eastern front with 15.(Kroat)/JG 52. There were examples when some pilots of Croatian nationality flew in Royal Yugoslav Air Force against the Germans, then with "Zrakoplovstvo NDH" alongside the Luftwaffe and against the Soviets, only to defect to the Partisans in final stages of war. During the course of the war Yugoslav pilots flew many different types of aircraft - Bf 109, Hurricane, Spitfire, Do 17, SM.79, Blenheim, Hawker Furry, indigenous fighters of Yugoslav design Ik-2 and Ik-3, Stuka, B-24 Liberator, Yak-1 and Yak-3, Il-2, MC.202, G.50, etc.
    This is just to mention some topics that will be covered in course of this thread. I don’t intend to fallow some particular chronologic order in covering certain topics, but would like to cover (or discuss) them one at the time. Also I cant promise very frequent posts with new materials, since almost all my materials are in Serbian language and require translation and in some cases editing (to shorten text and make it more concise) before posting.

    For those members of the forum which are not familiar with this subject, hope you will find this thread interesting. Others among you which have knowledge, information or pictures on this subject, please feel free to share and post your materials in this thread or discuss details on the topics as will be gradually covered.

    Articles posted so far:

    Chapter 1
    Spitfire - Yugoslav Story (Part I and II)
    Operation "Velveta"
    Last Surviving Yugoslav Spitfire JK 808/9489
    Chapter 2
    Air Support in the Breakthrough of the Srem Front in April 1945
    Chapter 3
    Dornier Do 17 - Yugoslav Story
    Chapter 4
    Yugoslav Bf 109 Gustavs
     
  2. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    #2 imalko, Aug 16, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2009
    PART I - Wartime Service

    First Encounter of Yugoslav Pilots with the Spitfire

    As part of planned reorganization and modernization program, Royal Yugoslav Air Force (RYAF) showed interest in obtaining Spitfires as early as January 1937. In June 1938 it was agreed with the British to allow Yugoslav pilots to perform one test flight on the Spitfire, but this flight had materialized only in September 1939, when pilot Radoslav Đorđević test flew Spitfire Mk.I (serial number K9791). The pilot was enthusiastic about Spitfire’s capabilities having remark only on the fixed pitched two blade propeller. Outbreak of the war canceled all negotiations between Yugoslavia and Britain on this matter.

    Yugoslav "B" Flight of No 94 squadron RAF
    With the collapse of Yugoslav Kingdom in April 1941 hundreds Yugoslav airmen and ground personnel found their way to the Middle East to sought service with Allied Air Forces and continue the fight against the Axis. Various political and technical difficulties caused that most of this men haven’t seen operational service well into the 1942. Only in December 1942 Yugoslav pilots started service in Aircraft Delivery Units within RAF. First Yugoslav manned combat unit was "B" Flight of No. 94 Sqn RAF formed in September 1943. Squadron was equipped with Hurricane Mk IICs until March 1944 when conversion was made to Spitfire MK V/IXs. Operating from Bu Amud and Savoia airfields No.94 squadron flew mostly escort missions providing fighter cover for air raids in Aegean. In August 1944 pilots of Yugoslav "B" Flight were engaged in some heavy aerial fighting. In a dogfight that took place on 10th August the Yugoslav pilot Capt. Stanić managed to shoot down one Bf 109G, while other two German fighters were damaged by Sqn Ldr Fosket and Yugoslav Fl Lt Manojlović. With the orders for new deployment of No. 94 Squadron in Greece, Yugoslav "B" Flight was disbanded. Politics played great part in that decision. With new No 352 (Yugoslav) Squadron forming at that time, which was formally within RAF but also under command of Josip Broz Tito (leader of Partisan communist forces in Yugoslavia), some members of the ground personnel joined the communists, while those who remained loyal to the exiled Yugoslav King were grounded for the remainder of the war.

    No 352 (Yugoslav) Squadron RAF
    The Squadron was formed on 22nd April 1944 at Benina Lybia and was manned with ex-Royal flight and ground personnel from the Middle East, same as from indigenous partisans that reached Africa for creation of this new air force. After training on Lete airfield which was conducted on Harvards and Hurricane Mk IICs, No 352 Sqn received Spitfire Mk Vs in late June 1944.
    On 16th August 1944 No 352 Sqn transferred to Canne airfield in Itally, from where was intended to operate as part of No 212 Group No 281 Wing Balkan Air Force (BAF). Main area of operations for No 352 Sqn was Yugoslav coast and inland, providing aerial support to Tito’s partisan forces. As forward air base Vis island was used (occasionally from August 1944-January 1945 and permanently from January-April 1945). From April 1945 till VE day squadron operated from Prkos airfield near Zadar.
    During its operational deployment No 352 Sqn completed 367 missions with 1210 combat sorties. Most of these were fighter-bomber missions with only two recorded air combats in March 1945, when one Henschel Hs 126 was shot down. Intensive aerial activity from 18th August 1944-26th April 1945 resulted with 10 pilots killed in action (7 in combat and 3 in training). Squadron leader Mileta Protić and two flight lieutenants were among the casualties.
    As a side note, comment on markings used by No 352 (Y) Squadron. The squadron had no code letters or official squadron badge, although on some aircraft names of fallen comrades or various Yugoslav nationalities (Slovenec, Srbin, Hrvat, etc) were written. However, this unit had one unique feature – painted red stars over RAF roundels which signified belonging to the Yugoslav partisan forces, despite the fact that squadron was officially part of the RAF.

    Reference and source of pictures and color profiles: "Spitfajer" written by Aleksandar Kolo and Bojan Dimitrijević, published by Aero Art - Belgrade in 1997, artist: Viktor Kozlik
    Note: Out of the respect to the authors and publishers I’m posting all pictures and profiles resized and with water mark added. Hope you will understand this kind of decision. If someone wishes these scans for his personal use or personal archive feel free to PM me with e-mail details and I will sent them to you without a water mark.
     

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  3. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    This is really great info as it's really not very common knowledge.

    NICELY DONE!
     
  4. Flyboy2

    Flyboy2 Member

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    Yes, thank you for providing some interesting insight into some of the lesser known aspects of World War II
     
  5. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting post Imalko!
     
  6. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    #6 imalko, Aug 17, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2009
    Thanks for your comments and for showing interest fellas.
    Continuing now in the fallowing post with the Part II of "SPITFIRE-Yugoslav Story" which covers the post war service of the Spitfire in Yugoslav Army Air force.
     
  7. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    #7 imalko, Aug 17, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2009
    On 16th May 1945 all Yugoslav manned units were withdrawn from RAF. These were: No 352 (Y) Squadron (equipped with Spitfires), No 351 (Y) Squadron (equipped with Hurricane Mk.IVs) and Yugoslav Technical Unit of the No 281 Wing BAF. Two days later this units were reorganized at Zadar air base and formed the 1st Fighter Regiment of the Yugoslav Army Air Force ("Prvi vazduhoplovni lovački puk"). Upon its formation the new unit had at its disposal total of 17 Spitfire Mk Vs and three Mk IXs.

    In immediate postwar months Yugoslav Spitfires saw little service and due to large deliveries of Soviet planes and equipment to Yugoslavia, Spitfires were seen as surplus equipment. So, it was decided that 1st Fighter Regiment should be disbanded. Regiment’s personnel was transferred to Sombor and assigned to the newly formed Aviation division equipped with Petlyakov Pe-2 bombers, while Spitfires were flown to Mostar and stored at "Komanda Aerodroma Mostar" and later in the III district/independed aviation workshop. Fallowing the introduction of Yugoslav serial numbers, Spitfires received new numbers in block 9476-9493 (Mk Vs) and 9501-9503 (Mk IXs), which was later applied on the fuselage alongside with RAF serials.

    Constant need for reconnaissance unit and delays in Soviet aircraft deliveries led to the decision to reactivate ex-RAF areoplanes and to convert Spitfires for reconnaisance work. On 10th May 1947 in Mostar the 103rd Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment was formed incorporating all available Spitfires in two squadrons ("eskadrile"). Modifications were done on several Spitfires by mounting cameras below the radio compartment on the port side. They were operationally used in many reconaissance training missions and occasionally in fighter role. 103rd Regiment took part in tactical exercises in Southern Banat in 1947 and great Šumadija Manouvers in September 1949. After break-off in Yugoslav-Soviet relations in 1948 the 103rd Regiment was stationed at Pančevo (10 miles northeast of Belgrade) to be on alert for possible war-time use.

    During all this time some problems were encountered in maintenance of Spitfires, which resulted with different indigenous modifications: new wheels, different tires, usage of parts from cannibalised wrecked Spitfires, etc. Some 6-7 Spitfires were lost in accidents and some of them remained in workshops until withdrawal from operational use.
    From late 1951 Yugoslavia started to receive equipment under Military Defense Aid Program, so Spitfires were ordered to be scrapped. The 103rd Regiment was re-equipped with Mosquito NF Mk 38s and last dozen Yugoslav Spitfires were finally ordered for scrapping on 18th August 1952.

    Reference and source of pictures and color profiles: "Spitfajer" written by Aleksandar Kolo and Bojan Dimitrijević, published by Aero Art - Belgrade in 1997, artist: Viktor Kozlik
     

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  8. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    #8 imalko, Aug 18, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2009
    The fall of 1948 brought some more interesting details to the Yugoslav story about the Spitfire. On 15th July 1948 Yugoslav authorities allowed transfer of 30 Spitfire Mk IXs from Czechoslovakia to Israel over Yugoslav territory. For purpose of this flights Israely personnel was allowed to prepare airfield at Nikšić for landing and refueling of this Spitfires. Everything was prepared for this operation by the beginning of September and in outmost secrecy. The operation was given the code name "Velveta".
    On 24th September 1948 first six Spitfires departed from Kunovice in Czechoslovakia. Flight was coded "Velveta I". One Spitfire from this group suffered breakdown of main landing gear on landing in Yugoslavia. According to available informations this plane remained at Nikšić for necesary repaires. Here it was disassembled and ferried to Israel aboard one C-46 in November. Remaining five Spitfires took off from Nikšić on 27th September and, led by one C-46 transport, flew towards Rodos and further to Israel. Only three planes eventually arrived to their final destination, while two Spitfires were forced to land on Rodos due to the problems with their drop tanks. This meant that entire operation was discovered.
    After this incident US diplomacy put pressure on Yugoslav authorities to discontinue all further flights. However, and luckily for Israel, Yugoslavia didn’t comply. New transfer flight were authorized under code name "Velveta II". So, on 18th December another formation of six Spitfires led by C-46 transport took off from Kunovice. During flight somewhere over Yugoslavia the formation encountered snow storm and two planes lost contact with the formation. These were machines coded TE 512 and TE 572. Pilot Samuel Pomerac crashed with his plane in Croatia mountains and died in the crash. Second "lost" Spitfire, piloted by William Pomeranc, force landed somewhere in Herzegovina. Immediately after loosing contact remaining planes in the formation changed course and returned to Czechoslovakia.
    Another two groups of six Spitfires each took off on 19th and 20th December. Once more they were led by C-46 transports.
    On improvised Nikšić airfield, which was temporary under Israely command, Yugoslav insignia was repainted with blue David stars of Israely Air Force. This was conditions on which Yugoslavia agreed to allow transfer flight over her territory - all arriving Spitfires were to be painted with Yugoslav AF insignia and were not allowed to fly in formation larger then six aircraft. This was supposedly to remowe all doubts of foreign observers. One Spitfire from the first group remained at Nikšić. When remaining five Spitfires of this group took off on 22nd December, another plane was forced to return to Nikšić (actual reasons for this are not yet completely known). Upon successfull arrival of four Spitfires of the first group to Israel, second group departed on 26th December. Finaly, remaining two Spitfires departed from Nikšić on 30th December and arrived to Israel without any further incidents.
    As the last one, C-46 transport arrived to Israel on 5th January carrying remaining Israely personnel and materials from Nikšić. Operation "Velveta II" was over. All further transports of similar "goods" for Israel were carryed by rail. All this shipments were marked as "scrapped metal" and they were comming via Hungary to Yugoslav ports Split or Rijeka and from there shipped to Israel with "Trans-Jug" wessels.

    Translation of the picture captions:

    Picture 1: Two Israely mechanics with Spitfires marked with Yugoslav insignia prior to take off at Kunovice.
    Picture 2: Caesar Dangott photographed in Podgorica in December 1948. Drop tank used by the Luftwaffe in WW2 is clearly seen on the photo.
    Picture 3: George Lichter preparing for flight from Podgorica to Israel.
    Picture 4: John McElroy with Spitfire which had name ’Virginia’ written beneath the cocpit at airfield near Podgorica. The writing is of English source, so its possible that this machine was flown in combat during WW2.
    Picture 5: Dani Shapira (seating on the nose of the plane) with Moti Fein in Podgorica during "Velveta II". Dani Shapira later become one of the best known and experienced Israely combat pilots.

    Note: I’m not sure why on this picture captions is stated that photos were taken at Podgorica, when according to book which I use as reference is clearly stated that Israely Spitfires were using Nikšić airfield. Maybe some mistake on their part!?

    Reference: "Spitfajer" written by Aleksandar Kolo and Bojan Dimitrijević, published by Aero Art - Belgrade in 1997, artist: Viktor Kozlik
    Source of the pictures unknown (pictures found on the internet), but obviously scanned from some unknown book. (Sorry for the small size of the pictures, but it was the best I could find.)
     

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  9. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

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    Nice spits :thumbright: thanks for the info, imalko!
     
  10. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    That's pretty dang interesting!
     
  11. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Active Member

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    Great stuff, Imalko. Thanks!
     
  12. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    #12 imalko, Aug 21, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2009
    Spitfire Mk IXe, SL 632, of the Israeli Air Force. Here seen with temporary Yugoslav markings adopted for the route Prague-Nikšić during VELVETA II ferry mission in December 1948. The Israeli Spitfires were without armament, carrying a single 90 gallons slipper tank coupled with two 300 liters Erla tanks under the wings.

    Source of the illustration: "Spitfajer" written by Aleksandar Kolo and Bojan Dimitrijević, published by Aero Art - Belgrade in 1997, artist: Viktor Kozlik
     

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  13. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Really interesting article Igor, thanks very much.
     
  14. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    I think it is quite appropriate to conclude Yugoslav story about the Spitfire by mentioning the last surviving Spitfire of the No 352 (Y) Sqn displayed today at Aeronautical Museum in Belgrade. Hope you’ll agree that this machine had quite interesting "personal" history. The complete fallowing text is taken from the same book which I used as reference for my earlier posts on this topic. Photographs in the attachment were taken during my last visit to this Museum in 2007.

    The particular Spitfire which is preserved in the Aeronautical Museum in Belgrade is former RAF JK 808, re-serialed in Yugoslav Air Force as 9489. The plate found in the airplane documentation shows c/n 17545. This example is one of 16 surviving Mk Vs all over the world. It is the only preserved example of the Mk Vc/Trop subversion in Europe featuring the characteristic Vokes filter.
    Jk 808 was produced as (F) Mk Vc with Merlin 46 engine in Vickers Armstrong at castle Bromwich in 1943. On 4th march 1943 it was passed to No 15 maintenance Unit (MU) and on 18th March 1943 JK 808 was relocated to 76 MU. On 12th April this airplane was boarded on SS 682 and later that month it reached Casablanca. It was recorded that this particular airplane had an accident which occurred on 22nd April in Boraie, Algeria, which was categorised as category ’E’ for aircraft and engine A 340847 as well. The description of the incident was as fallows: “Engine failure shortly after take off. Oil leak develops from propeller. Pilt attempts to land but owing to oil on wind screen misjudges his position and crashes. A/C catches fire.“ Accident time was 7:34 and the pilot, F/S A.S. Hills from Aircraft Delivery Unit Middle East (ADUME) was killed.
    The next problematic trace of JK 808 is its appearance in the livery of the USAAF’s 5 FS 52 FG, carrying codes VF●H adopted on desert camouflage in January 1943. (This identification is according to one Polish publication concerning Air Campaign in Tunisia 1943).
    What happened later with the wreck of the JK 808 is unknown. The authors of this article presume that the main body of fuselage remained useful and that JK 808 was later rebuilt and put in service again. The first appearance of JK 808 in No 352 (Y) Squadron was in march 1945. Several wartime photos showed clearly its code letter “B“.
    Here is the list of all appearances of this airplane in preserved No 352 squadron operational record book that contains records about performed missions:

    14 March 1945 - PO M.Delić, bombing of Nebljuse, 6.15-7.40h
    14 March 1945 - Sgt M.Lošić, bombing the bridge on Sava, 10.45-12.40h
    24 March 1945 - PO L.Rugi, armed recce. Brod-Derventa, 9.25-11.25h
    25 March 1945 - Sgt R.Radulović, escort C-47 from Slovenia, 12.55-15.40h
    26 March 1945 - SqLdr H.Šoić, escort C-47 from Slovenia, 10.25-13.50h
    30 March 1945 - Sgt Cvrabič, bombing Babin Potok, 11.00-13.10h
    5 April 1945 - FS M.Lošić, bombing Kiseljak, 10.30-11.55h
    6 April 1945 - PO Š.Fabjanović, bombing column at Brezovo, 10.55-12.30h
    9 April 1945 - Sgt R.Radulović, armed recce, road near Karlovac, 8.30-11.15h
    18 April 1945- FL Đ.Ivanišević, bombing guns at generalski Stol, 10.30-13.15h
    19 April 1945 - FS M.Lošić, bombing north of Fiume, 15.10-16.20h

    Like the other No 352squadron Spitfires, it served with First Fighter Regiment of the Yugoslav Army Air Force. During the transferring process for storing at Mostar, JK 808 had merlin 45 engine No 36545, de Havilland DH45/4 propeller which was the only one of that type among Yugoslav Spitfires. During 1946 JK 808 became 9489 in Yugoslav serial order, but we could presume that number was aplied on the fuselage later. There is no evidence about changing of the code letter which was spotted on some other examples. Its good condition could e confirmed by the fact that it was sent for training purpose together with other two Spitfires to the Yak-3 equipped 112nd Fighter Regiment, which was during 1946 and in the winter ’46/’47 based in Mostar. This was the same air base where Spitfires were stored, in the 3rd Independent Aviation Workshop. From May 1947 to 1952 it was in service with the 103rd Reconaisance Regiment in Mostar and then in Pančevo. Following the order for Spitfires to be withdrawn and scrapped dated 18th August 1952, this Spitfire was handed over to the Military Museum in Belgrade.
    Its operational record doesn’t include any heavy damages. However, few incidents are recorded: a belly landing with pilot Milan Bernatić, occurring on 18th February 1949 in Mostar, another forced belly landing caused by engine break down on 24th February 1950. Pilot was Marko Bukija.
    This Spitfire was part of the Military Museum open exibition, until the Yugoslav Aeronautical Museum was formed in late fifties at Zemun airport. The 9489 was transferred to Zemun in 1961 and again after opening of the new Belgrade International Airport at Surčin. Finally after new building of the Yugoslav Aeronautical Museum was finished in late eighties JK 808/9489 became member of the new exibitin alongside other planes which saw service in Yugoslav Air Force.
    During its museum “career“, 9489 underwent two major rstoration and after some case of mistaken identity it was even wrongly painted and marked as 9486/Black ’H’ for a while. Finally, after the inspection of available documentation and confirmation in the Yugoslav Air Force registers its identity was confirmed as JK 808/9489. After second reconstruction in the Yugoslav Aeronautical Museum’s workshops, the last surviving Yugoslav Spitfire received its Spring ’45 livery featuring code letter ’B’ and serial Jk808. The final reconstruction was conducted by late Dušan Petrović and Aleksandar Kolo (co-author of this article).
    Today, preserved Spitfire Jk808/9489 has a variety of details that are consequence by its service in Yugoslavia: a Soviet camera below the radio compartment, domestic style main wheels with Pirelli tires, the tail wheel fitted with Borovo tire sized as on Fiezeler Fi-156. After the forced landing in 1950 the engine was changed and now it is M 45, No. 91217. According to the log book it was taken from Spitfire 9485. The propeller is Rotol Right Hand Tractor.
     

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  15. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    #15 imalko, Sep 28, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2009
    Compiled by: Milan Micevski
    Translated by: imalko

    In spring of 1945 front against Axis forces in Yugoslavia had been stabilized: in Bosnia alongside the river Bosna up to the mouth into the Sava river, in Srem from Županja to Vukovar and along the Danube and Drava rivers to the Donji Miholjac. Despite the fact that Red Army advanced towards Vienna by early April 1945, enemy forces in Yugoslavia were firmly holding their positions deep in our country, making effective rearguard for the withdrawal of their Heeresgruppe E from the Balkans. However, the retreat of this forces meant the weakening of enemy front in Srem, Slavonia and walley of river Bosna. Catching sight of this development and wishing to liberate entire Yugoslav territory as soon as possible, the General Staff of Yugoslav Army made decision on 9th April about commencing an all out offensive. Recently formed new Yugoslav Air Force played a great part in upcoming offensive. At that time the process of equipping new aviation regiments with aircraft and equipment provided by the Soviets was almost complete and sufficient number of Yugoslav airmen was available for combat missions.

    Dislocation of Yugoslav Group of Aviation Divisions (Grupa vazduhoplovnih divizija - GVD) was as fallows: headquarters of GVD and staff of 42nd Strike Aviation Division with 111th Fighter and 421st Strike Aviation Regiment were in Sombor area, while the staff of 11th Fighter Aviation Division with 113th Fighter and 423rd Strike Aviation Regiment were located in Bački Brestovac. Two remaining aviation regiments (112th Fighter and 422nd Strike) were located in Šabac area and were organized into special Operative Group (so called Southern Aviation Group) in support of ground forces of Yugoslav 2nd Army. On the eve of the offensive, which was to commence at dawn of 12th April, Air Force was given a task to attack along the main breaktrough points and to perform recconnaissance of enemy’s rear. In order to avoid confusion in cooperation between ground and air forces a special markings were adopted. Tanks of Yugoslav 1st and 2nd Armies were marked with white triangles on their turrets, while infantry units marked their starting positions with green rockets and white sheets clearly visible from the air.
    On the day of the breakthrough at 6.40AM all available aircraft were standing by for combat deployment. Yugoslav aviation regiments participating in this operation were armed primarily with Yak fighters and Il-2 Sturmovik strike aircraft. There were 55 aircraft ready for combat on that day (not counting the units of Southern Aviation group): in 111th Regiment 12 Yak-1s and 4 Yak-9Ts, in 113th Regiment 8 Yak-1s and 4 Yak-9Ts, in 421st Regiment 11 Il-2s and in 423rd Regiment 16 Il-2s. Relatively small number of combat ready aircraft was a consequence of great percentage of damaged and machines curently under repair. There were total of 28 planes out of service at that time. Certain number of available aircraft was also temporary assigned to “trenažni lovački kurs“ (training course for fighter pilots) at Gospođinci and to the “trenažni pilotski kurs“ (training course for strike aircraft pilots) at Ruma. In regiments of “Southern Aviation Group“ state was a little better with more combat ready aircraft available: 25 combat ready Yak-1 and Yak-9ts in 112th Fighter Regiments and similar number of Sturmoviks in 422nd Strike Regiment.

    In accordance with directive of General Staff of Yugoslav Army (Generalštab Jugoslovenske Armije) and plans of cooperation with ground forces, the Staff of GVD worked out detailed assignments and chose targets for upcoming attack. Each aviation regiment received precise tasks and targets for attack on 12th April. The attack was planned in two waves. First wave was to commence at 7AM with all available aircraft and second, also with participation of all available aircraft, was to immediately fallow after return of units from first strike and after refueling and rearming the aircraft.

    Two Yugoslav Yak-1s failed to return from their first combat sortie of the day; pilot Dobrivoje Milovanović crash-landed his plane at Belo Brdo village and pilot Todor Stanković made emergency landing at Lalić village. Both planes were downed due to the engine failure. While returing from last combat sortie of the day Yak-1 piloted by Trajko Peševski from 113th Fighter Regiment was damaged when motour cannon exploded. Pilot managed to survive. Several Yugoslav fighter pilot made two combat sorties on that day (Andrija Brajović, Đorđe Đuričić, Svetozar Petrović, Trajko Peševski, Boris Košćak, Spasen Zarevski), while pilot Todor Stanković conducted three combat flights. Luftwaffe remained almost inactive during the day. Only encounter with enemy planes occurred near Vukovar where two Fw 190s were seen by Yugoslav pilots, but they avoided combat.

    In support of ground forces and attacks on enemy positions and communications during the first day of breakthrough of Srem front the total number of 250 combat flights was achieved, with 89 flights by Yugoslav pilots (9 sorties in 111th regiment, 7 sorties in 112th Regiment, 19 sorties in 113th Regiment, 10 sorties in 421st Regiment, 19 sorties in 422nd Regiment and 25 sorties in 423rd Regiment). Flying in combat missions Yugoslav pilots made a great contribution to the breakthrough of the front line and final liberation of their country. One week after beginning of the offensive the retreating enemy forces were out of reach of Yugoslav aviation units, so their transfer to the forward front airfields began in order to secure continuing air support in operations for final liberation of Yugoslavia.
     

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  16. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    Picture 1.
    Group of Yugoslav Sturmovik pilots beeing briefed by their commanding oficer prior to a combat flight on 12th April.
    Picture 2.
    Staff of 111th Fighter Aviation Regiment at airfield Klenak in March 1945. On the photo from left to right: Pavlović, Perović, Rodić, Savić, Poljenac, Blagojević, Divjakinja, Kamenjašević, Gabrovšček, Kovačević, Životić, Kapun, Datina i Repsej.
    Picture 3.
    Left: Major pilot Milan Malnarić comanding officer of 423rd Strike Aviation Regiment, killed in action on 21 march 1945 at Valpovo (flying the Il-2), together with gunner Stevan Abraham.
    Right: Lieutenant Vasa Gojković, pilot Il-2 from 423rd Regiment, killed in action on 15 April 1945 in Vrpolja area, together with aerial gunner Milorad Trifunić.
    Picture 4.
    Group of pilots and aerial gunners of 422nd Strike Aviation Regiment at Klenak airfield in April 1945. One Il-2 Sturmovik on strenght with the unit stands in the background.
    Picture 5.
    Flight commander Georgije Ninčić is briefing pilots of 112th Fighter Regiment prior to another combat sortie. Airfield Mađarmečke in may 1945.
     

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  17. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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  18. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Guess I must've missed this one, I just read through it..... Excellent work my friend :thumbright:
     
  19. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    #19 imalko, Nov 9, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2009
    [​IMG]

    Development of Do-17K
    Dornier Do-17 was first German bomber of the modern design in the early thirties. Developed for both civil and military purpose it played important role in newly formed Luftwaffe. Impressed with high performance of early Do-17 models the officials of Royal Yugoslav Air Force (RYAF) showed great interest in obtaining the type. Germany eventually recognized this demands and thus the Do-17K was developed as an export version of Dornier’s bomber for Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
    Externally Do-17K could be recognized by its typical long nose (first time used on V8 prototype) and French double row radial engines. It was derived from versions Do-17E and Do-17M (then in the service with the Luftwaffe) featuring new engines and lengthened forward fuselage, but Yugoslav model also included many other changes and innovations then it was originally planned. As a consequence export Do-17K showed improvement in all aspects such as speed, bomb load, range and firepower over its German counterpart Do-17E/M.
    Eventually three versions of export Dornier Do-17K were developed - Do17Ka-1, Do17Ka-2 and Do17Kb. First two was derived from E model and featured partially fabric covered wings and electro mechanically actuated landing gear while Kb model was derived from Do-17M model and had hydraulically actuated landing gear, completely metal covered wings and leading edge heating.
    Further modifications were made in Yugoslavia on license build examples and only first block of 16 planes were built completely according to the German blueprints. Examples manufactured in Yugoslavia were based on Do-17M model featuring all metal wings and more asymmetrical cockpit. In following production blocks further changes was made with the fuel system, armament, equipment, etc, thus improving the basic design.

    Dornier for Yugoslavia
    First contact between German and Yugoslav officials about delivery of combat planes was held in Alterheim in Switzerland in September 1935. Two months later, Yugoslav pilots tested one of the first prototypes of Do-17, powered with BMW engines. Agreement was reached with Dornier about the delivery of Do-17 and Do-22 to Yugoslavia in total amount of 2.000.000 RM. Negotiations were not concluded without problems however, as a lot of politics was involved and with Goering constantly interfering into the course of the negotiations.
    Maiden flight of the first Do-17K for Yugoslavia took place on 6th October 1937 and first examples were delivered on 25th October. Deliveries continued in later months. During the delivery one plane (No.17) was lost and was later replaced with the new one. In total 36 planes were imported from Germany, from autumn 1937 to the beginning of 1939, in three versions. All of them was accepted and armed in VTZ Kraljevo and then handed to the operational unit. Sole operator of the type was 3. vazduhoplovni puk (Third Aviation Regiment) based in Skoplje.
    Alongside deliveries of Do-17Ks from Germany, contract was also made for license production of the type in Yugoslavia and more 1.829.825 RM was payed for spare parts and materials. DFA factory in Kraljevo started with production of Do17K in May 1939 and by the end of March 1940 fourteen planes were finished. First ten examples had the original French engines while the rest had domestic license built powerplants. In general three subtypes were built in DFA and till the April 1941 total number of 30 planes were built and delivered to the RYAF. Three were delivered during the short April war and three were later rebuilt and delivered to the so called Independent State of Croatia (NDH).

    In Combat
    The attack of Axis forces on Kingdom of Yugoslavia on 6th April 1941 pulled this country into the Second World War. Sole operator of the Do17K in RYAF at that time was 3. vazduhoplovni puk (Third Aviation Regiment). According to the Yugoslav war plan R-41, this unit should attack German airfields in the Bulgarian border area, its area of operations being North Bulgaria and Albania.
    In the moment when hostilities started, 3. vazduhoplovni puk had 60 Do-17Ks in combat ready condition, divided into the two groups: No 63. and No 64. No 63. Group was stationed at Skoplje airfield, while the No 64 Group was dislocated in region of Kosovo. German attack started in the early morning, when few Stuka dive bombers destroyed AA portions close to the Skoplje airfield and then followed by the single engined fighters which opened fire upon the line up of the Do-17Ks. A number of Yugoslav aircraft was destroyed. At least two undamaged planes Do-17K took off after the attack and joined to the No 64. Group on Kosovo, which remained intact. Ground personnel started to repair slightly damaged airplanes but the next attack in the afternoon, completely wipe out all of the remained planes. From that moment only No 64 Group remained operational.
    On the day 6th of April planes of No 64 Group conducted several raids on enemy’s advancing forces and positions. Targets were German armored columns and airfields in the Bulgaria, including the raid on Sofia. Next day unit continued the attack achieving some success. Group of 500 German vehicles was successfully attacked during the early morning raid and during the day few more sorties was done, mostly against German ground forces. Twelve kilogram bombs proved effective against the armor. Aircraft of No 64 group were frequently changing the base of operations during this time and various improvised landing strips were used.
    Attacks was continued against the enemy forces advancing through Kačanik valley, but as the unit was vulnerable operating from airfields too close to the front line, the No 64 Group was relocated to the Požega airfield, deeper in territory of Serbia. During the day 9th April Yugoslav Do-17ks remained grounded due to the weather conditions. Next day, Group flew combat sorties against the Germans in the areas of Ćuprija, Jagodina, Kragujevac and Topola. Some damaged planes were sent to repair and two new planes from the DFA were delivered to the Group in the meantime.
    Group of three airplanes tried to escape to USSR. One of these planes crashed in Romania, one was captured in Hungary and one landed in occupied Mostar. On the 13th April eight planes were still operational in Butmir and four at Požega. Two day’s later seven planes flew to Nikšić to provide air lift for retreating of Royal officials and King Peter II. In Greece these planes were attacked by Italians and only two surviving Yugoslav Do-17s managed to join the RAF in Africa.
    According to the Colonel Andrija Pavlović, looses of the 3. vazduhoplovni puk were 18 men, (four pilots, three officers observers, nine officers of ground personnel and two unknown). Aircraft looses according to the same source were as follows:
    • 2 was shoot in air
    • 4 damaged in air
    • 44 destroyed on ground by enemy
    • 1 destroyed/damaged by own crew
    • 1 heavily damaged on take off
    • 7 flew to Greece
    • 2 flew to USSR
    • 1 defected to the enemy
    • 2 missing in action

    Conclusion
    The Yugoslav story about Do-17 does not end with the defeat and occupation of Yugoslav Kingdom. The type was also widely used by the Air Force of the newly created pro Axis Independent State of Croatia (NDH) in operations against the partisans for the remainder of the war. Also one Croatian bomber squadron operated the type (Do-17Z version in this case) against the Soviets on the Eastern front. In addition to the surviving Do-17K originating from former RYAF, “Zrakoplovstvo NDH” (Air Force of NDH) operated also Do-17E variant delivered from Germany. Croatian pilots flying Do-17Z on the Eastern front in 1941/42 eventually returned to their homeland together with their aircraft which were welcomed as much needed reinforcement to the “Zrakoplovstvo NDH”.
    The history of Croatian bomber unit on the Eastern front will be covered separately in one of the future posts.

    Important note: Reference and source of the pictures the fallowing link: Do17 za web
    Much more info on this subject can be found on this website, including detailed technical data and flight characteristics of the type Do-17K and in addition detailed info on the camouflage schemes and colors used (might be interesting to model builders).
    Source of the color profile: Book Dornier Do 17 - The Yugoslav Story written by Boris Ciglić and Dragan Savić
     

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  20. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    #20 imalko, Dec 28, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2015
    Here's a story about service of Messerchmitt Bf 109G with Yugoslav Air Force. During the course of the war only a handful of Gustavs captured by Partisans saw limited field service. However, in immediate post war years significant number of Bf 109Gs (in various sub variants) were supplied from Bulgaria and this aircraft were operationally used by the fighter squadrons of the new Yugoslav Air force. One Bf 109G-2 (from Bulgarian batch) remains preserved and displayed at Aeronautical Museum in Belgrade to this day.

    I found these materials on another forum and they are no doubt scanned from some older magazine. Apart from providing basic info on this interesting subject the article can also prove useful to anyone intending to build a scale model of Bf 109G with Yugoslav national insignia.

    I'm also working on an article about service of Bf 109E with Royal Yugoslav Air force which, together with this materials, will then make a complete Yugoslav story about Messerschmitt Bf 109. It will be posted when I manage to sort out and translate some of materials on this subject I've collected.

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