maanantai 25. syyskuuta 2017

Mato Dukovac

Mato Dukovac (23 October 1918 – September 1990) was the leading Croatian fighter ace of World War II, credited with between 40 and 44 confirmed kills. He joined the Air Force of the Independent State of Croatia following the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, and then the Luftwaffe, with which he flew combat missions on the Eastern Front. 

Mato Dukovac with aircraft.jpgHis tours of the Eastern Front spanned October and November 1942, February to June 1943, and October 1943 to March 1944. He defected to the Soviet Union on 20 September 1944, and was returned to Yugoslavia in November 1944. He worked as a flight instructor for the Yugoslav Air Force in Pančevo and Zadar before defecting to Italy in April 1945.
Dukovac left Italy in 1946 and became a captain in the Syrian Air Force. During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, he flew combat missions against Israel. Following the war, he emigrated to Canada and started a family there. He died in Toronto in 1990.

Dukovac was born on 23 October 1918 in the town of Surčin, near Zemun, then part of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, Austria-Hungary. He was an avid glider pilot before he entered the 67th class of the Royal Yugoslav Military Academy in Belgrade in 1937. He graduated on 1 April 1940 with the rank of potporučnik, and commenced pilot training at the 1st Pilot School in Pančevo in October of that year.
During the German-led Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Dukovac served with the 2nd Squadron of the Royal Yugoslav Air Force (Serbo-Croatian: Vazduhoplovstvo Vojske Kraljevine Jugoslavije, VVKJ) at an airfield in Velika Gorica. After the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was defeated and occupied by the Axis powers, Dukovac became a member of the armed forces of the newly created Independent State of Croatia (Croatian: Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH). He joined the Air Force of the Independent State of Croatia (Croatian: Zrakoplovstvo Nezavisne Države Hrvatske, ZNDH) on 29 April 1941 with the rank of poručnik, and was initially posted to the personnel department of ZNDH headquarters.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle Mato Dukovac

On 27 June 1941, the Croatian Legion (Croatian: Hrvatska Legija) was formed to fight alongside Germany during its invasion of the Soviet Union, and on 12 July the air component of the Legion was formed. Known as the Croatian Air Force Legion (Croatian: Hrvatska Zrakoplovna Legija, HZL) it consisted of a bomber group and a fighter group. 

The HZL formed part of the German Luftwaffe; its members swore an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler, were subject to German disciplinary regulations and wore Luftwaffe uniforms. 
After attending Luftwaffe training schools, the fighter group was sent to the Eastern Front and designated as 15. (Kroatische) Staffel (squadron) of III. Gruppe (Group) of Jagdgeschwader 52 (52nd Fighter Wing, or JG 52).

Meanwhile, Dukovac was transferred to the Luftwaffe Flugzeugführerschüle A/B 120 (pilot school 120) in Prenzlau, Germany in September or October. In April 1942 he underwent advanced training, and in June he was transferred to Jagdfliegerschüle 4 (fighter pilot school 4) at Fürth. In October 1942, Leutnant Dukovac and seven other pilots joined 15./JG 52, which was operating in the Caucasus flying Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 fighters. On 29 October, Dukovac had his first 15-minute familiarisation flight, and by the afternoon of that day the new members of the unit were flying as wingmen to the veteran pilots of the Staffel.
               Kuvahaun tulos haulle Mato Dukovac
On 11 November 1942, Dukovac was flying his 12th mission, escorting Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers to Lazarevskoye. During the mission he and his companion were intercepted by Polikarpov I-16 Rata fighters, and Dubovac downed one of the attackers over the city of Tuapse to register his first confirmed aerial victory. Dukovac was unable to build upon his success at this time, as four days later the whole Staffel rotated back to the NDH because most of the personnel had endured a year of constant combat. The men of 15./JG 52 had a break of three months, commencing their return journey on 12 February 1943, collecting their aircraft at Kraków in German-occupied Poland on 18 February then flying to Lvov. They flew on to Nikolayev on 21 February. The Eastern Front had changed significantly during their absence, with the strategic initiative passing to the Soviets.
                Kuvahaun tulos haulle Mato Dukovac

Kuvahaun tulos haulle Croatian fighters ww2On 30 March 1943, 15./JG 52 transferred from Nikolayev to Kerch, and it flew the first missions of its second tour the following day. On 15 April, Dukovac and Feldwebel Viktor Mihelčić took off on a patrol of the Krymskaja - Abinskaja area, and Dukovac shot down a US-made Bell P-39 Airacobra. Five days later, Dukovac was late taking off and was catching up to his Schwarm when he downed a LaGG-3 fighter during an engagement with four of the Soviet aircraft, but there were no witnesses to confirm his claim. Later that day, he and three other pilots were escorting a group of Ju 87s and Junkers Ju 88 medium bombers when they came across 25 Soviet fighters and flying boats over the Black Sea. 
Dukovac claimed another LaGG-3, but again no-one witnessed it. The following morning, Dukovac was on patrol with another pilot near Karbardinovka when they came across six Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3 fighters. Dukovac claimed one, but the other pilot's aircraft was hit and they had to retire. Later that day, Dukovac and another pilot engaged several LaGG-3s between Novorossiysk and Gelendzhik; Dukovac claimed two, one of which was not witnessed. On 22 April, Dukovac was attacking shipping in Novorossiysk when he had to force-land his aircraft with engine problems. He flew another mission in a different aircraft later that day over the Black Sea, downing a Ilyushin DB-3 bomber.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle Croatian fighters ww2On 25 April, Dukovac and two others flew an escort mission for Henschel Hs 129 ground-attack aircraft and Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighters attacking shipping near Primorsko-Akhtarsk, during which the Croat pilots assisted in the sinking of two small vessels. On 27 April, Dukovac accounted for another LaGG-3 between Krymskaja and Abinskaja during a Heinkel He 111 escort. Dukovac claimed a victory over another LaGG-3 during a patrol three days later, but it was not seen by his wingman, as they had become separated during the fight. 

On 1 May, Dukovac sank a small vessel. The following day, he and three other Croat pilots were escorting a group of He 111s when two LaGG-3s tried to intercept the formation. Dukovac and another pilot both claimed to have downed one Soviet fighter each, but their destruction was not witnessed. On 3 May, a morning mission saw Dukovac claim one of four LaGG-3s encountered near Krimskaja.
In the afternoon of 3 May, Dukovac and another pilot were escorting Hs 129s when they encountered a group of seven Ilyushin Il-2 ground attack aircraft and six fighters. During the engagement, Dukovac's aircraft was damaged and he force-landed, but not before claiming one of the Il-2s. The following morning, Dukovac and two others sortied on a He 111 escort mission, after which Dukovac again force-landed, this time near Varenikovskaya. 

On 5 May, Dukovac made three claims: two LaGG-3s in the morning, and another during a Ju 87 escort mission in the evening. The following evening, Dukovac shot down another LaGG-3 while escorting Ju 87s. On 8 May, he claimed yet another LaGG-3 during an escort mission for a Fieseler Fi 156 Storch liaison aircraft. On 12 May, reinforcements arrived for 15./JG 52, in the form of some of the pilots that had served on the first tour of the Eastern Front in 1942, along with more former VVKJ pilots.
                a black and white photograph of a row of single-engined aircraft with stars on their sides
                                               Soviet spitfires

Dukovac did not meet further success until 25 May, when he claimed two Supermarine Spitfire V fighters southeast of Temryuk. Two days later, he and two other pilots surprised eight LaGG-3s west of Trarehof, all of them claiming one, although Dukovac's claim was not witnessed. On 30 May, he was on another He 111 escort mission when he accounted for another LaGG-3.

At this juncture there were a spate of defections from 15./JG 52, with pilots flying to Soviet airfields. The remaining pilots were questioned by the Luftwaffe, the Staffel was withdrawn from the front, and the commander of the HZL was replaced. This was the end of the second tour of 15./JG 52 on the Eastern Front, during which Dukovac had claimed 14 confirmed and six unconfirmed kills, five of which were later confirmed.
The Luftwaffe decided to replace most of the remaining pilots of 15./JG 52 with newly trained men, and several veterans of the Staffel joined them during their fighter training at Fürth. Twelve graduated on 1 October 1943, and under newly promoted Staffelkapitan Oberleutnant Dukovac, they and another two pilots arrived at Nikolayev on 21 October, where they were equipped with eight Bf 109G-4s and G-6s. They deployed to their airfield at Bagerovo and commenced combat missions on 26 October. Three days later, Dukovac scored the first victory of the tour by downing a LaGG-3 south of Kerch. Over the next two days he claimed an Il-2 and another LaGG-3, then a Ju 87. 

1 November was the most successful day for 15./JG 52 for the entire war, with pilots claiming eleven aircraft with no loss, including two Il-2s for Dukovac. He claimed another two Il-2s the next day, but his aircraft was badly damaged by the escorting fighters and he crash-landed near Mariental, escaping unhurt. He followed this up with a claim for a DB-3 on 6 November. 
                Kuvahaun tulos haulle Croatian fighter ace
On 15 November, the Staffel moved to Karankut, and four days later Dukovac downed yet another LaGG-3. At the end of November, the approach of winter reduced flying operations almost to a halt, but Dukovac downed two Il-2s on 6 December near Bagerovo for his 30th and 31st confirmed aerial victories.

It was not until 12 January that Dukovac added to his tally, a Yakovlev Yak-1. On 25 February, Dukovac flew five sorties. On the first he and his wingman downed a Yak-1 each, and on the second he shot down a Yak and a P-39. During his fifth mission, he was shot down by P-39s and crash-landed, injuring his spine. He was evacuated to a field hospital, but returned to 15./JG 52 as soon as he could walk, ten days later, only to find that he had just three pilots fit for duty. 

Despite the pending arrival of newly trained pilots, the loss of another two pilots by mid-March led the Luftwaffe to decide that attempting to maintain 15./JG 52 was futile, and the men were sent home to the NDH. During its three tours, the Staffel had accounted for a total of 297 Soviet aircraft, of which Dukovac had 37 confirmed and eight unconfirmed aerial victories, seven of which were later confirmed.

At the beginning of July, the Luftwaffe reconsidered its decision, and the newly promoted Hauptmann Dukovac and a group of veteran and fresh pilots began to make their way back to the Eastern Front. They were transported to Romania and then the Slovak Republic, but no aircraft were provided, and on 21 July the pilots were advised that the HZL was to be disbanded. Despite this, in August they were moved to an airfield in East Prussia, where they took delivery of ten Bf 109G-14s. At the beginning of September they flew to Lithuania in preparation to rejoin the fray.
                 Aiheeseen liittyvä kuva
On 20 September 1944, Dukovac and another pilot defected to the Soviets after taking off from Labjau airfield. His defection was soon announced by the Red Army. This spelled the end of the Staffel, and the remaining members were withdrawn to East Prussia and retrained as infantry. These men were eventually released from infantry duties in early 1945 and were allowed to return to the NDH, where they were assigned to the ZNDH.
                                Aiheeseen liittyvä kuva
In November 1944, the Soviets handed Dukovac over to the Yugoslav Partisans, who offered him the position of flight instructor with the Yugoslav Air Force (Serbo-Croatian: Jugoslovensko ratno vazduhoplovstvo, JRV). The following month, Dukovac returned to Belgrade as a kapetan in the JRV, and after a conversion to fly Yakovlev fighters, he worked as a flight instructor in Pančevo. By February 1945, constant provocations and insults directed at him by fellow JRV personnel owing to his service with the ZNDH prompted him to apply for a transfer. In April, he was posted to the 1st Pilot Training School in Zadar as an instructor.

On 8 August, Dukovac commandeered a de Havilland Tiger Moth biplane, flew it across the Adriatic and defected again, this time to Italy.[20] He was first placed in a refugee camp in Modena, and then one in Bagnoli del Trigno.
                Kuvahaun tulos haulle Mato Dukovac
Dukovac joined the Syrian Air Force in 1946. During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, he was a captain in No. 1 Squadron of the Syrian Air Force, based in Estabal in Lebanon's Beqaa Valley. Following the end of the Arab–Israeli War, Dukovac emigrated to Canada. He settled in Toronto and started a family there. He worked for IBM and was a co-founder of one of the largest Croatian émigré organisations in Canada, the United Croats of Canada. He died in Toronto in September 1990.

Dukovac was the top-scoring Croatian pilot of World War II. During his life, there was much controversy surrounding the exact number of aircraft that he had downed. Croatian wartime documents discovered in the Military History Institute in Belgrade after his death show that the ZNDH credited him with 44 confirmed kills. At least one other source indicates a tally of 40 confirmed kills with five unconfirmed. 

The ZNDH total of 44 included 18 LaGG-3s, 12 Ilyushin Il-2s, three P-39s, two DB-3s, two Yak-1s, and one each of the following aircraft; II-16, MiG-3, Spitfire, La-5, Yak-9, Pe-2, and A-20. The ZNDH records also noted one unconfirmed claim.

sunnuntai 24. syyskuuta 2017

Constantin Cantacuzino

Constantin Cantacuzino (nicknamed Bâzu; 11 November 1905 – 26 May 1958) was a Romanian aviator, one of his country's leading World War II fighter aces, and a member of the Cantacuzino family.

In 1939 he won the national aerial aerobatics contest with his Bü 133 Jungmeister and in 1941 was named chief pilot of the Romanian national air transport company LARES. Even though this was a comfortable job, he managed to get in the front line as a fighter pilot in the 53rd Fighter Squadron (equipped with Hurricane Mk.I).
                Kuvahaun tulos haulle Constantin Cantacuzino
                                                  (Asisbiz foto)

After the capture of Odessa, the Romanian Army reduced the number of front line troops and he was one of the reservists who were sent home. He took up his position at LARES. However he managed to arrange a return to active duty in 1943. On 26 April 1943 he was remobilized and assigned to the 7th Fighter Group, which was equipped with the new Messerschmitt Bf-109. On 5 May he arrived on the front line and was named commander of the 58th Fighter Squadron. 

On 29 June, he and his wingman engaged four Yakolevs, two La-5s and four Spitfires, while trying to protect three Romanian Ju-88s bombers. His wingman was badly hit and forced to return to base. He continued the fight on his own and shot down two Spitfires. His aircraft was damaged, but managed to escape and make a belly landing. Two of the bombers were destroyed. In July he flew both day and night missions, even though his aircraft was not equipped for low-visibility flying. Cantacuzino tried to stop the Soviet night bombings of his airfield. The Germans protested, considered him a little mad, so he eventually gave up the night missions.
                Kuvahaun tulos haulle Constantin Cantacuzino
On 27 July 1943, he shot down the Soviet Air Forces' flying ace Nikolay F. Khimushin (12 kills). Between 2 and 5 August he shot down nine aircraft (four Yaks and five Ilyushin Il-2 ground attack aircraft), raising his score to 27. On 5 August he was alone on patrol and he encountered a Soviet formation about 40-50 planes strong (Il-2s and Yaks). He realized that he could not destroy them all, but felt he could inflict some damage on the formation. He dove into the Il-2 formation and shot down two of them before he was attacked by the Soviet fighters. He managed to shake them off and shoot down one. The day of 16 August was an excellent day for the pilots of the 7th Fighter Group. They scored 22 confirmed kills and five probables, with Cantacuzino shooting down three (two La-5s and a Il-2). On 28 August he received the Iron Cross, 1st class.
                Aiheeseen liittyvä kuva
                                                         IAR 80M
                Kuvahaun tulos haulle Constantin Cantacuzino
                                                      IAR 81C
In the autumn of 1943 Cantacuzino became ill and was interned in a hospital and was kept from the front so he could rest and recuperate. On 10 February 1944 he returned to active duty in the 7th Fighter Group, which was sent to the front with the Soviets in Moldova. On 15 April, there was a USAAF raid and Cantacuzino and his wingmen attacked the bomber formations and shot down six B-24 Liberators (the prince got one himself). He continued flying missions against the Soviet Air Force and scored several victories.

In August 1944, Cantacuzino became the commander of the 9th Fighter Group, succeeding Captain Alexandru Şerbănescu, who was shot down in combat with US fighters on August 18.

After 23 August 1944, when Romania quit the Axis, the Luftwaffe started bombing Bucharest from airfields close to the capital which were still in German hands. The remains of the 7th and 9th Fighter Groups were brought in to protect the capital. Cantacuzino shot down 3 Heinkel He-111s on this occasion.

Bazu cantacuzino.jpgCantacuzino was then given a special mission: to transport Lieutenant-Colonel James Gunn III, the highest ranking American prisoner-of-war in Romania, to the airbase at Foggia and return to Romania with 56 B-17s converted for transport duty to airlift 1,274 U.S. PoWs. He returned flying a P-51 Mustang because his Bf-109 could not be refueled.                                                                                                                                     Constantin Cantacuzino  >>>     He needed only one flight to become familiar with the new aircraft and dazzled the Americans with his aerobatics.
Cantacuzino was credited with 43 aerial victories (one shared) and 11 unconfirmed. According to the counting system used through much of the war, his kill total was 69, the highest in the Romanian Air Force.
After the war ended, Cantacuzino was demobilized and returned to LARES. The USSR imposed a communist regime that confiscated private property and began imprisoning the old elite and opponents of the regime. 

Aiheeseen liittyvä kuva
Cantacuzino lost all his land and soon his wife left him. In 1946 he married Nadia Gray. He managed to escape to Italy in 1947 and then he settled in Spain. There he was helped by the Romanian community to buy himself an airplane, in order to earn his living at air shows.

Cantacuzino was born in Bucharest. His father was Mihai Cantacuzino and his mother Maria Rosetti; they were both from old Romanian noble families. After his father died, Maria Rosetti married for a second time, to George Enescu (Romania's greatest composer and a world class violinist).

Constantin Cantacuzino went to high-school in Bucharest. He loved motor sports and he could afford to practice them all the time. He was an excellent motor bike racer, winning several races, and driver. He set a new record on the Paris-Bucharest race. 

He also played tennis and was the captain of the Romanian ice hockey team at the World Championships in 1931 and 1933.

He was the father of novelist Oana Orlea.

lauantai 23. syyskuuta 2017

Ivan Kozhedub

Chief Marshal of Aviation Ivan Kozhedub (Russian: Иван Hикитович Кожедуб; Ukrainian: Іван Микитович Кожедуб; June 8, 1920 – August 8, 1991) was a Soviet military aviator and a World War II fighter ace. Kozhedub took a part in the Korean War as a commander of the 324th Fighter Air Division. 

He is credited with 64 +2 (P-51) individual air victories, most of them flying the Lavochkin La-5 – the top scoring fighter pilot on the Allied side during World War II. He is one of the few pilots to have shot down a Messerschmitt Me 262 jet. He was made a Hero of the Soviet Union on three occasions 
(4 February 1944; 19 August 1944; 18 August 1945).

KozhedubIN.jpgKozhedub was of Ukrainian descent. He was born in the village of Obrazhiyevka, a settlement in the Sumy region during the Russian Civil War. He was the youngest of five children. 

For two years he attended a school for young workers, and in early 1940 graduated from the Shostka chemical technical school. Kozhedub learned to fly aircraft in the Shostkinsk aeroclub and joined the Soviet army in 1940. He graduated from the Chuguev Military Air School in 1941 at the start of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, but he was retained as an instructor. Kozhedub remained at the school for two years where he trained many young Soviet pilots.

Feeling his talents would be better used in combat, he requested a transfer to an operational unit and in March 1943 was posted, as a Starshii Serzhant (Senior Sergeant), to 240th IAP, one of the first units to receive the new Lavochkin La-5.

After his first military flight on 26 March 1943, he operated on the Voronezh Front and, in July over the Kursk battlefields. His first kill was a Junkers Ju 87 Stuka shot down during the Battle of Kursk on 6 July 1943. By 16 August he had claimed eight air victories. He was promoted to Mladshii Leitenant (Junior Lieutenant). 
                 Kuvahaun tulos haulle Ivan Kozhedub
Then his unit moved towards Kharkiv. At this time he usually flew escort for Petlyakov Pe-2 twin-engine bombers. During World War II, he then served as a fighter pilot in several areas (Steppe Front, 2nd Ukrainian Front, 1st Belorussian Front) and at different ranks, starting from senior airman up to the deputy commander of the air regiment. He claimed his 61st and 62nd victories – his final claims – over Berlin on 16 April 1945.
Kozhedub holds the record for the highest number of confirmed air combat victories of any Soviet or Allied pilot (effectively the Allied "Ace of Aces") during World War II. He is regarded as the best Soviet flying ace of the war, and is associated with flying the Lavochkin La-7. He was also reputed to have a natural gift for deflection shooting, i.e. aiming ahead of a moving target at the time of firing so that the projectile and target will collide.

Kozhedub's World War II record consists of:
330 combat missions
120 aerial engagements
62 enemy aircraft shot down, including one Me 262 jet fighter (possibly Uffz Kurt Lange of 1./KG(J)54
In 1949 Kozhedub graduated from the Air Force Academy.
In April 1951, promoted to Polkovnik (colonel), he commanded the 324th IAD (Fighter Air Division) and dispatched to Antung airfield on the China-North Korea border to fly the MiG 15 during the Korean War supporting the North Korean forces. He was not given permission to participate in combat missions. Under his leadership the 324th IAD claimed 239 victories, including 12 Boeing B-29 Superfortresses for the loss of 27 MiG-15s in combat and 9 pilots.

In 1956 he graduated from the High Command Academy, after which he was promoted to General. From 1971 he served in the Central Office of the Soviet Air Force and from 1978 in the general inspection group of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR. He was made an Aviation Marshal in 1985.

Kozhedub was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union with the Order of Lenin three times (1944, 1944, 1945), seven Orders of the Red Banner, two Order of Alexander Nevsky, two Orders of the Red Star, Order of the Patriotic War First Class, and numerous medals. He was promoted to his final rank of Marshal shortly before retirement.
                  Aiheeseen liittyvä kuva
As with other famous figures, some myths have sprung up around Kozhedub's life. One story is that once he encountered a group of American B-17 Flying Fortresses under attack by Luftwaffe aircraft. 

The story goes on to suggest that his aircraft was mistaken by American escort fighters for the enemy and attacked. Kozhedub, having no other option, defended himself by shooting down two of the P-51 Mustangs. So far, this story is not confirmed completely. Film footage exists that had been touted as Kozhedub's actual gun camera film from the event. 

However, it is highly suspect, as the footage was shot using Zeiss equipment, which was used primarily by the Luftwaffe, and the aircraft shown in the footage are shown with drop tanks attached. This would seem to contradict the story that Kozhedub was jumped by the P-51s, as the attacking fighters would normally drop these tanks before entering combat. 

A more likely story is that the gun camera footage was from a Luftwaffe aircraft which attacked American aircraft in an unrelated incident. However, another aircraft was shown without drop tanks, which can mean that the first pilot was unable or forgot to release his tanks, or perhaps even decided not to do so.

A military university in Kharkiv is named in his honor, the Kozhedub University of the Air Force.