Yugoslavian Air Force

THE SERBIAN AND YUGOSLAVIAN AIR FORCE IN WORLD WAR II

By Milan Jovanovic

         The AF was activated as early as March 12th 1941 in a covert mobilization. It was positioned on 50 war airfields, as stipulated in the War Plan R-41, designed by the Chief headquarters of the Yugoslav armed forces.

         By the Order of the Air force Command (dated March 22nd 1941) all units were put in the state of alert under arms. They were ready to take off, in 20 minutes time for fighters and 30 minutes for bombers, for war goals set by a highly confidential instruction No.1, issued by the Air Force Chief of Staff.

         The political situation, existing after the state-military Putsch of March 27th 1941, when by the action of freedom-liking officers the Government was thrown (the one that signed the Three-Axis pact on March 25th with Nazi Germany and Italy), requested to put AF as a first shield of defense, because the Yugoslav Army was not yet mobilized nor prepared for the war.

         On the first day of war, April 6th 1941, the AF possessed 487 planes ready for operation, among them 144 fighter aircraft (104 of modern types) and 147 modern bombers and Naval aviation had around 70 hydroplanes, with only 37 combat capable planes. It was staffed with 50000 men. The attacking forces, engaged in the April War (6th to 17th of April) were 2373 aircraft strong, including from Germany 1212 aircraft, Italy 647 and Hungary 287 aircraft. Thus the ratio, in the beginning of operations was 5:1 in favor of the enemy, and if we count only modern Yugoslav aircraft the ratio climbs to 7:1 in favor of the Axis powers.

         In spite of huge logistic difficulties and acts of treason (proclamation of so-called "Independent State of Croatia" on April 10th 1941) the Royal Yugoslav Air Force has fulfilled its duties with honor. Yugoslav airmen fought with incomparable courage against an enemy superior both technically and numerically. They fought to the last airfield and to the last airplane.

         During the war operations (6th to 15th April) a total of 1416 take-0ffs was made, 993 of which were performed by fighters and 423 by bombers. Almost 50% of planned flights were cancelled due to bad weather.

         During this short war 135 flight crew members and 576 ground personnel lost bravely their lives.

Organization

         The Royal Yugoslav Air Force consited of:

         - Vazduhoplovstvo Vojske - Army AF, it was a branch in the ground forces and consited of:

                 1) Operativno Vazduhoplovstvo - Operational AF which controled fighters, bombers, reconnaisance, transport aircraft

                 2) Armijsko Vazduhoplovstvo - Army AF with tasked with direct support of ground forces using liason and utility aircraft

                 3) Pozadinsko Vazduhoplovstvo - logistic support and training aircraft

         - Pomorsko Vazduhoplovstvo - Naval Aviation (subordinated to the Navy, not a part of the Air Force)

Unit
Type
Number of Aircraft
Base
Operativno Vazduhoplovstvo
1. Vazdusna Lovacka Brigada
Me-109
2
Zemun
         2. Vazdusni Lovacki Puk


                 31. Grupa
Me-109
19
Knic
                 52. Grupa
Hurricane Mk. I
15
Knic
         6. Vazdusni Lovacki Puk


                 32. Grupa
Me-109
27
Prnjavor
                 51. Grupa
Me-109
IK-3
10
6
Zemun
2. Vazdusna Mesovita Brigada


         4. Vazdusni Lovacki Puk


                 33. Grupa
Hurricane Mk. I
13
Bosanski Aleksandrovac
                 34. Grupa
Hurricane Mk. I
IK-2
7
8
Bosanski Aleksandrovac
         8. Vazdusni Bombarderski Puk


                 68. Grupa
Blenheim Mk. I
12
Rovine
                 69. Grupa
Blenheim Mk. I
12
Rovine
3. Vazdusna Mesovita Brigada


         3. Vazdusni Bombarderski Puk


                 63. Grupa
Do-17K
30
Petrovac
                 64. Grupa
Do-17K
30
Obolic, Stubol
         5. Vazdusni Lovacki Puk


                 35. Grupa
Hawker Fury Mk. I
15
Kosancic
                 36. Grupa
Hawker Fury Mk. I
15
Razanovska Kosa
4. Vazdusna Bombarderska Brigada


         1. Vazdusni Bombarderski Puk


                 61. Grupa
Blenheim Mk. I
11
Bjeljina
                 62. Grupa
Blenheim Mk. I
12
Bjeljina
         7. Vazdusni Bombarderski Puk


                 66. Grupa
SM-79
13
Preljina
                 67. Grupa
SM-78
13
Gorobilje
11. Samostalna Izvodjacka Grupa
Blenheim Mk. I
H. Hind
11
2
Veliki Radinci
81. Samostalna Bombarderska Grupa
SM-79
14
Ortijes
Samostalna Lovacka Eskadrila
ME-109
Hurricane Mk. I
BH-33
2
3
2
Kosor
Kosor
Podgorica
Armijsko Vazduhoplovstvo
1. Vasdusna Izvidjacka Grupa 1. Armije
Brege 19
15
Ruma
2. Vasdusna Izvidjacka Grupa 5. Armije
Brege 19/Potez 25
16
Sarlince
3. Vasdusna Izvidjacka Grupa 2. Armije
Brege 19/Potez 25
19
St. Topolje (Nasice)
4. Vasdusna Izvidjacka Grupa 2. Armije
Brege 19/Potez 25
18
Kurilovec
5. Vasdusna Izvidjacka Grupa 3. Armije
Brege 19/Potez 25
14
Tetovo
6. Vasdusna Izvidjacka Grupa 7. Armije
Brege 19/Potez 25
16
Crklje, Brege
7. Vasdusna Izvidjacka Grupa 6. Armije
Brege 19/Potez 25
18
Smederevska Palanka
Samostalan Izvidjacka Eskadrila
Brege 19/Potez 25
4
Mostar
Pomorsko Vazduhoplovstvo
1. Hidroplanska Komanda


         1. Grupa


                 1.Eskadrila
SIM-XIV
5
Krtole
                 2.Eskadrila
Various
10
Rose
         2. Grupa


                 20.Eskadrila
DO-22 H
6
Orahovac
                 21.Eskadrila
DO-W, Various
6
Dobrota
2. Hidroplanska Komanda


         3. Grupa


                 25.Eskadrila
DO-22 H
6
Zlarin i Visovac
                 26.Eskadrila
Do-W, various
6
Krapanj, Jadrtovac
         4. Grupa


                 5.Eskadrila
SIM-XIV
5
Tijesno
                 15.Eskadrila
Various
10
Murter
Skolska Hidroplanska Eskadrila
Various
20

Service Types

Type
Quantity
Role
Origin
Messerschmitt Me-109E
61
Fighter Germany
Hawker Hurricane Mk. I
35
Fighter UK/Local
Hawker Fury Mk. I
30
Fighter UK/Local
Avia BH-33
2
Fighter Czechoslovakia
Ikarus IK-2
8
Fighter Local
Rogozarski IK-3
6
Fighter Local
Potez 63
2
Fighter France
Dornier DO-17K
60
Bomber Germany/Local
Bristol Blenheim Mk. I
47
Bomber UK/Local
Bristol Blenheim Mk. I
11
Reconnaisance UK/Local
Savoia Marcetti SM-79
40
Bomber Italy
Brege-19
120
Reconnaisance, Utility France/Local
Potez-25
120
Reconnaisance, Utility Local
Fieseler FI-156
10
Utility Germany
Dornier DO-WAL
10
Bomber Germany
Dornier DO-22
11
Reconnaisance, Bomber Germany
SIM-XIV
15
Coastal Reconnaisance Local
SIM-XII

Training Local
Pogozarski PVT

Training Local

Some Key Dates in Yugoslavian Air Force History

- November 1902 engineering captain Kosta Miletic returns from St. Petersburg after finishing Aeronautical Technical School

- end of 1909 2 balloons and hydrogen station were delivered

- February 1912 Ministry of War issued a call for candidates to be sent to France and trained for pilots

- July 23rd, 1912 Mihailo Petrovic got FAI degree No. 979 becoming first Serbian military pilot

- September 1912 order for 8 planes, erector hangars and spare parts were placed in France, with 2 more planes ordered in Russia

- December 24th, 1912 - War Minister Radomir Putnik issues a decree establishing Aviation Command - this is the service holiday

- March 29th, 1913 - lieutenant Zivojin Stankovic and sergeant Miodrag Tomic made first successful combat mission. For 45 minutes they observed Turkish positions in city of Skadar

- middle of 1915 - first pilot school in Serbia established in Pozarevac

- April 1918 - Prva Srpska Eskadrila (First Serbian Escadrille) became operational with 12 Dorand AR type I A2 and 3 Nieuport XXIV C1 from French-Serbian composite Escadrille AR 521 and commanded by French officer (Serb national) lieutenant Mihajlo Marinkovic.

- October 11st, 1923 - IKARUS , first Yugoslav aircraft factory was formed

- March 28th, 1924 - first localy produced aircraft, SB-1 from IKARUS, were delivered to AF

- December 1928 - Air Force has 367 airplanes in operation and 22 planes in storage.

- April 6th, 1941 - Nazi forces attacked Yugoslavia, with heavy bombing of capital Belgrade. Despite German and Italian superiority (6:1) and treason pilots fought bravely. For 9 days they flew over 1400 sorties downing 90 enemy aircraft. After capitulation some crews with their planes flew to Egypt and fought with the Allied forces

- May 1942 - partisan forces in occupied Bosnia fly missions with two planes

- September 28th- Aviation section were formed by Partisan's High Command

- October 14th, 1943 - first Air base in occupied Europe was formed in Livno

- middle of 1944 - RAF in Africa forms 351. (Hurricane) and 352. (Spitfire) squadrons staffed with Yugoslavs

- end of 1944 - USSR hands over to Yugoslavia 11. (Yak-1) and 42. (Il-2m3) division

- September 12th, 1945 - Military Aviation academy was established

- March 1948 - first radar company was established

- May 23th,1948 - paratrooper course started

- June 1948 - break up with Stalin

- 1950 - Air Force Technical School was formed in Zemun

- 1952 - first aircraft from USA (P-47 thunderbolt) and UK(Mosquito) were delivered

- October 1952 - first indigenously produced jet Ikarus 451M flew

- March 10th, 1953 - first jet aircraft(T-33) for YAF came

- June 1955 - first complete EW units were formed

- July 1959 - AF and AD units from army united to form Air Force and Air defence

- May 1961- SOKO Galeb G-2 trainer, produced in aproximately 150 examples, made first flight

- September 1962 - First MiG-21f-13 fighter were delivered

- 1962 - S-75 DVINA were put in operational service

- 1991 - break up of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

- May 1992 - forming of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Air Force and Air Defence

Pilots
Name Rank Unit & Position Enemy Destoryed Napo-
mena
Božidar Kostić potpukovnik, komandant
Šestog lovačkog puka
2  
Stevan Ivanić major, pomoćnik
komandanta puka
   
Stevan Krajinović kapetanI klase ađutant puka 1  
Aćim Slijepčević kapetan obave tajni oficir puka    
Milan Stojanović poručnik na službi u komandi puka 1  
Danilo Đorđević major komandant
32. lovačke grupe
1  
Ilija Vlajić kapetan I klase komandir
103. lovačke eskadrile
1  
Miho Klavora kapetan I klase 103. lovačka eskadrila 2 poginuo
Bojan Presečnik poručnik 103. lovačka eskadrila 1 ranjen
Otmar Lajh potporučnik 103. lovačka eskadrila    
Dobrica Novaković potporučnik 103. lovačka eskadrila 1 poginuo
Jovan Kape ić potporučnik 103. lovačka eskadrila 2 poginuo
Branisalv Todorović n.v.t. činov nik 103. lovačka eskadrila 1 poginuo
Milutin Petrov narednik-vodnik 103. lovačka eskadrila   poginuo
Vladimir Gorup narednik-vodnik 103. lovačka eskadrila 1 poginuo
Borivoje Marković kapetan I klase komandir
104. lovačke eskadrile
1  
Božidar Ercigoj kapetan 104. lovačka eskadrila    
Ivo Novak kapetan 104. lovačka eskadrila    
Vasa Kolarov poručnik 104. lovačka eskadrila 1 ranjen
Vilim Aciger poručnik 104. lovačka eskadrila    
Dragomir Milo ević narednik 104. lovačka eskadrila    
Milovoje Bo ković narednik 104. lovačka eskadrila 1 poginuo
Zvonimir Halambek narednik 104. lovačka eskadrila    
Milutin Grozdanović kapetan I klase komandir
142. lovačke eskadrile
1 ranjen
Radisav Stamenković kapetan 142. lovačka eskadrila    
Milisav Velikić kapetan 142. lovačka eskadrila 1  
Đorđe Ke eljević poručnik 142. lovačka eskadrila 1  
Miodrag Aleksić potporučnik 142. lovačka eskadrila 2  
Ivo Rahek narednik 142. lovačka eskadrila    
Veljko Štalcer narednik 142. lovačka eskadrila    
Josip Helebrant kapetan I klase komandir
16. aerodromske čete
   
Adum Romeo major komandant
51. lovačke grupe
  smenjen
sa
dužnosti
Milo  Žunjić kapetan I klase komandir
102. lovačke eskadrile
1 poginuo
Milan Žunić kapetan I klase 102. lovačka eskadrila 1  
Momčilo Milosavljević kapetan 102. lovačka eskadrila    
Mihailo Nikolić kapetan 102. lovačka eskadrila 1 ranjen
Miodarg Bo ković potporučnik 102. lovačka eskadrila 2 ranjen
Milo  Drakulić potporučnik 102. lovačka eskadrila    
August Kovač potporučnik 102. lovačka eskadrila    
Dragoslav Krstić potporučnik 102. lovačka eskadrila    
Đorđe Stojanović potporučnik 102. lovačka eskadrila 3 ranjen
Karlo Štrbenk narednik-vodnik 102. lovačka eskadrila 1 poginuo
Vukadin Jelić narednik 102. lovačka eskadrila 1  
Vladimir Puzić narednik 102. lovažka eskadrila    
Todor Gogić kapetan I klase komandir
161. eskadrile i
51. lovačke grupe
2  
Du an Borčić potporučnik 161. lovačka eskadrila 2 poginuo
Milo  Gagić potporučnik 161. lovačka eskadrila    
Milisav Semiz narednik 161. lovačka eskadrila 4  
Du an Vujičić narednik 161. lovačka eskadrila 3  
Savo Poljanec kapetan I klase komandir
162. lovačke eskadrile
1 ranjen
Milan Ristić kapetan 162. lovačka eskadrila    
Kosta Antonov kapetan 162. lovačka eskadrila    
Eduard Banfić niži
vojno-tehnički
činovnik
162. lovačka eskadrila 1 ranjen
Dragan Bojović poručnik 162. lovačka eskadrila 1 ranjen
Dobrivoje Milovanović narednik 162. lovačka eskadrila    
Mihailo Đorđević kapetan I klase komandir
17. aerodromske čete
   

Photos