Italians, Slovaks, Romanians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Croatians and Finns all fought side by side with the Germans. Mostly on the Eastern Front against the Russians. The Italians, though their armed forces were viewed with disdain by many, fought valiantly in the air in the East and in the Mediterranean theater. This week, gli altri combattenti, the other combatants in the skies over Europe.
|Finnish Brewster B239|
(Export version of the Buffalo)
|Chief Warrant Officer Ilmari Juutilainen|
Finnish Air Force
94 Aerial Victories
1914 - 1999
Juutilainen was the top scoring Finnish fighter pilot. He flew the Fokker D.XXI, the Brewster B239, and the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter. He was one of only four people to twice receive the highest Finnish military decoration, the Mannerheim Cross, and is considered the highest scoring non-German ace of all time. Juutilainen finished the war without a single hit to his plane from enemy fighter airplanes (once he was forced to land after a friendly anti-aircraft gun fired at his Bf 109). Like Japanese fighter ace Saburo Sakai, Juutilainen never lost a wingman in combat. He also scored the first radar-assisted victory in the Finnish Air Force on 24 March 1943, when he was guided to a Soviet Pe-2 by a German radar operator, who was testing out the freshly-delivered radar sets, that officially became operational 3 days later.
|Finnish Fokker D.XXI|
|Captain Hans Wind|
Finnish Air Force
75 Aerial Victories
1919 - 1995
Wind started his pilot career in 1938 by volunteering to join a pilot training course. He was a reserve officer in the Winter War 1939-1940 but did not fly due to a lack of available planes. Wind had now decided to enter into a military career, and he finished training as a Lieutenant on 17 June 1941. Transferring to LeLv24 in August 1941, with which he participated in the Continuation War. He flew a Brewster B239 (the export version of the Brewster Buffalo) from 1941–1943 claiming 39 of his victories in the type. On 22 September 1941 Wind was credited his first kill, a I-15. In August 1942 the squadron was transferred to Römpötti to operate over the eastern Gulf of Finland. On 14 August 1942 Wind shot down two Hurricanes, and four days later a Hurricane and two I-16s. At the end of 1942 his score stood at 14.5 claims.
|Romanian Hurricane Mk I|
|Captain Constantine Cantacuzino|
Royal Romanian Air Force
56 Aerial Victories
1905 - 1958
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 and cozy job, he managed to get in the front line as a fighter pilot in the 53rd Fighter Squadron (equipped with Hurricane Mk. I). After the capture of Odessa, the Romanian Army reduced the number of front line troops. Bâzu was one of the reservists who were sent home. He retook his position at LARES. However he pulled some strings and managed to 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 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 4 Yaks, 2 La-5s and 4 Spitfires, while trying to protect 3 Romanian Ju-88s. His wingman was badly hit and forced to return to base. He continued the fight on his own and shot down 2 Spitfires. He was also damaged, but managed to escape and make a belly landing. Unfortunately, two of the bombers were destroyed. In July he flew both day and night missions, even though his Gustav was not equipped for low-visibility flying. Bâzu 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.
|German and Romanian Me-109s|
|Captain Alexandru Şerbănescu|
Royal Romanian Air Force
47 Aerial Victories
1912 - 1944
On March 29, 1943, Şerbănescu was appointed commander of the 57th Fighter Squadron, equipped with the new Messerschmitt Bf-109G, and promoted to the rank of Captain. Between June and August 1943 he shot down 28 Allied aircraft, and received the highest Romanian military decoration, Order of Michael the Brave, 3rd Class. On October 23, the 9th Fighter Group replaced the battle-exhausted 7th Fighter Group, but Şerbănescu and the other aces remained. He kept fighting and shooting down airplanes of the Allies and, as a result, he was named the Group's commander on February 13, 1944. In May 1944 the Red Army entered Romania and occupied northern Bessarabia and northern Moldavia, but they were stopped after some fierce fighting, in which the pilots also played a very important role. On June 11, Şerbănescu shot down his first USAAF aircraft, a B-17 Flying Fortress, his 45th victory. This was followed by two Allied P-51 Mustangs shot down on July 31 and on August 4 respectively, which were his last kills.
|Captain Mato Dukovac|
Croatian Air Force
44 Aerial Victories
1918 - 1990
Dukovac was born in September 1918 in Surčin, Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, Kingdom of Hungary, Austria-Hungary (today Belgrade Region, Serbia). He enlisted in the Croatian Air Force soon after the country was declared independent in 1941. After training he was posted to the Kuban front in Russia with the Croatian Legion, flying his first mission on 29 October 1942.
After scoring some early combat successes against the Soviet Air Force, his potential was recognised by Cvitan Galić, the leading Croatian ace at the time. Thereafter the two men partnered one another in a pair formation, known as a Rotte, together becoming the two most successful Croatian pilots.
In February 1944 Dukovac flew his 250th mission, scoring his 37th confirmed kill, for which he was awarded the German Cross in gold by Field Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen in person. Later that year, during the Soviet offensive in the Crimea, his tally of kills rose to 44, making him the number one Croatian ace ahead of Galić.
In August 1944 he was promoted to the rank of captain and sent with a contingent of the Croatian Legion to Eichwalde in East Prussia. While training in the use of the latest models of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 at Flugplatz Eichwalde in Eastern Prussia he deserted to the Soviets on 29 September 1944.
He served as a time as a flight instructor with the Soviet Air Force before being sent with other Croats to Pančevo in Serbia in December 1944, also as a flying instructor. In February 1945, for his previous service with the Axis powers, he was supposed to be arrested. He escaped the arrest and flew to Italy on 8 August 1945 with a stolen de Havilland Tiger Moth, where he surrendered to the Americans. He was treated as a Luftwaffe prisoner of war.
In January 1946 he went to Syria and joined the Syrian Air Force. He fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War flying initial missions as part of the 1st Aerial Squadron, flying Canadian–built T-6 Harvard trainers, armed with two 0.303 Browning machine-guns, from al Mezze airfield near Damascus. His only aerial claim occurred on a reconnaissance mission, an Israeli scout aircraft thought to be a Fairchild 24.
|Captain Cvitan Galić|
Croatian Air Force
38 Aerial Victories
1909 - 1944
Galić was born on November 29, 1909 in the village of Gorica near Ljubuški. He finished grade school in the town of Sovići. In 1927 he was transferred to the Yugoslav Royal Air Force and finished its pilot academy in Mostar by 1932.
During the April War, he was in Kosor near Mostar. He flew to Sinj where he joined the newly formed Air Force of the Independent State of Croatia. He joined the Croatian Air Force Legion and went to Fürth near Nürnberg for special training before going to the Eastern Front as part of 15 (kroat.)/JG 52, a Croat staffel attached to Jagdgeschwader 52 of the Luftwaffe. Flying a Bf 109E-4, he scored his first victory on 2 March 1942 , a R-10 shot down over Magnitovka.
By June 1943 Galić had scored 38 confirmed air victories and had completed 2 tours with the Croatian Air Force Legion. He was awarded the German Cross in Gold on 23 June 1943. From Germany he also received the Iron Cross 1st Class and 2nd Class. He received the Ante Pavelić Award for Bravery which gave him the title of vitez (knight).
He was killed by strafing Spitfire IXs of No.2 Squadron SAAF South African Air Force on 6 April 1944 at Zalužani airfield near Banja Luka when a bomb hit his Morane-Saulnier M.S.406. He had just moments earlier landed after completing a patrol and was in the act of leaving the cockpit when the attack occurred. He was buried at Mirogoj Cemetery, but his grave was destroyed by the Partisans in 1945.
In 439 sorties Galić claimed a DB-3, Pe-2, Spitfire and R-10, two MDR 6 flying boats, five Il-2s, four MiG-ls, four I-153s, five I-16s, five MiG-3s and nine LaGG-3s.
From Slovakia Wikipedia:
His first combat tour of duty on the Eastern Front took place between June and August 1941, when he flew 13 combat missions over Ukraine.
During his second operational tour on the Eastern Front Ján Režňák flew 194 combat missions, participated in 36 air battles and achieved 32 confirmed kills.
Slovak Air Force
28 Aerial Victories
1917 - 1944
From Slovakia Wikipedia:
Izidor Kovárik was a Slovak pilot and the second most successful Slovak pilot in World War II. He fought on the side of the Slovak State and participated in the campaign against the Soviet Union. He was killed on 11 July 1944 during a training flight.
|Warrant Officer Dezső Szentgyörgyi|
Royal Hungarian Honvéd Air Force
30.5 Aerial Victories
1915 - 1971
Dezső Szentgyörgyi was born in 1915 in Kőkúttapaszd. He finished his studies in Enying, and was 18 years old when he volunteered for the Royal Hungarian Air Force. Initially he was an aircraft-mechanic, but later received pilot training. He finished the aviation school in Székesfehérvár with excellent ratings. He was trained as a fighter pilot, and took part in 1/2 FS’s operations in northern Hungary with the Fiat CR.32. In summer 1942 he was transferred with the 1/1 "Dongó" (Bumblebee) Fighter Squadron to the Soviet front. He flew the Reggiane Re.2000 Falco (MÁVAG Héja), then the Messerschmitt Bf 109G. He shot down his first aircraft on 7 August 1942 in a friendly fire accident, the victim being a German Heinkel He 111 bomber that opened fire on him during while Szentgyörgyi was trying to identify the aircraft. His first victory over an enemy fighter was almost a year later, 26 June 1943, a Soviet Yak fighter. His record on the Easter Front was 142 sorties and 6 kills.
The 101. Honi Légvédelmi Vadászrepülő Osztály (101st "Puma" Fighter Group) was formed on 1 May 1944. Szentgyörgyi was transferred to the 101/2 "Retek" (Radish) Fighter Squadron. He continued to score his kills among the Pumas, and shot down 6 American planes. By the summer of 1944 he was a flight leader. He was promoted to Ensign on 16 November 1944. After the "American Season" ended, once again Soviet fighters became the main enemy. Dezső scored an additional 17 kills, the last on 16 April 1945. He never crashed a plane due to pilot error, and he was never shot down. By the end of the war he had completed more than 220 sorties, and had 29 confirmed kills; the most successful Hungarian fighter pilot.
|Lieutenant Lajos TóthRoyal Hungarian Honvéd Air Force|
26 Aerial Victories
1915 - 1971
Lieutenant Toth, as near as I can tell, was sent to the United States as a POW after the war. Apparently he returned to Hungary at a very bad time, because according to Wikipedia -
The new Hungarian military hastily staged public, pre-arranged trials to purge "Nazi remnants and imperialist saboteurs". Several officers were sentenced to death and executed in 1951, including Lajos Tóth, a fighter ace of the World War II Royal Hungarian Air Force, who had voluntarily returned from US captivity to help revive Hungarian aviation. The victims were cleared posthumously following the fall of communism.
(A pox on all politicians!)Italy
|Teresio Vittorio Martinoli|
22 Aerial Victories
1917 - 1944
From Italian Wikipedia:
Teresio Vittorio Martinoli was an Italian aviator, the greater Italian fighter ace of World War II with 22 (according to other authors, 23) individual knockdowns, ten of which obtained in the Royal Air Force over the skies of Malta, one flying with the Air Cobelligerante Italian and fourteen collective. He died in a plane crash in August 1944. He was posthumously awarded the Gold Medal of Military Valour.
|Regia Aeronautica Fiat C.R.42|
|Sergeant Major Luigi Gorrini|
19 Aerial Victories
1917 - (Still alive)
Gorrini came to North Africa as a member of 85a Squadriglia of 18° Gruppo C.T.. He shot down his first aircraft on 16 April 1941, over Derna, in Cyrenaica, Libya.
A Fiat CR.42 in Regia Aeronautica service. Flying this nimble biplane, Gorrini scored his first victory on on 16 April 1941, over Derna, in Cyrenaica, Libya, shooting down a Bristol Beaufighter and damaging another.Flying a Fiat C.R.42, he attacked two of the first Bristol Beaufighters, just arrived in the Mediterranean Theater. He shot down one and damaged the other, shooting 1,100 rounds. On 29 May, Gorrini intercepted two Blenheim bombers over Benghazi. He shot down one that fell just outside the city, and shot all the remaining rounds at the other Blenheims that managed to escape. Repatriated with his unit, he was trained to fly the new monoplane fighters, the Fiat G.50 and Macchi C.200. During winter 1941-42 he escorted convoys between Italy and Greece. Then during the winter retreat, 1942–43, flying a Macchi C. 202 he shot down a Curtiss P-40 west of Sirte, on 3 January 1943.
Nine days later, escorting with other pilots from 3° Stormo C. 200 fighter-bombers in action on British airfields in Uadi Tamet area, Gorrini shot down a 92 RAF Squadron Spitfire and he damaged another from the squadron of the British ace Flying Officer Neville Duke. "At last, with the Macchi 202 we had a competitive plane. But when they threw over us, during Allied offensive, a whole host of P-40 and Spitfire, even this machine could not do that much. The Spit was a "very hard bone"... It carried a lot of machine guns, plus two 20 mm cannons and it was faster. The 202 was inferior in speed and armament". He returned to Italy in late March 1943. Initially grounded due to an irritating eye injury, Gorrini quickly made up for lost time.
|Regia Aeronautica Macchi C.205|
|Major Stoyan Stoyanov|
Bulgarian Air Force
15 Aerial Victories
1913 - 1997
In 1934 he was granted a scholarship to the higher army school for army officers in Sofia. He passed the examinations with an excellent score and became a cavalry officer. He then attended the Royal Military Academy in Sofia in late 1934 taking the aviator’s course. In 1938 he graduated and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.
Stoyanov was then sent for training abroad in Germany. In July–September 1938, he took part in a competition course for acrobatic flying in Kaufbeuren. He finished this course 15 days before his fellow Bulgarian students and in September 1938 began a second course in the Higher school for fighter pilots at Werneuchen (near Berlin), with six of his Bulgarian colleagues. In 1939 he graduated and in Germany, trained his colleagues Ch. Toplodolsky and D. Spissarevsky (who both became high scoring aces). Stoyanov was trained to fly a variety of planes, among which was Gothaer, Bücker Bü 181 Bestman, Focke-Wulf Fw 44 Stieglitz, Arado Ar 45, Ar 68, Heinkel He 51, Focke-Wulf Fw 56 Stösser, Messerschmitt Bf 109 D, Bf 109 E, Bf 109 (G2 and G6) and others.
In 1939 Stoyanov became an instructor in the fighter pilot's school at Karlovo airfield, training pilots to fly Bf 109s recently delivered to the Bulgarian Air Force. In 1939 he met Mina, an 18-year-old girl who lived in Karlovo and they married in August 1940. In mid 1943 he was appointed commander of 682 (Jato) Sq./6th Fighter Regiment based at Karlovo and equipped with the Bf 109 G-2 and G-6.
Stoyanov claimed his initial victory on 1 August 1943 during Operation Tidal Wave. He was personally decorated by the Bulgarian King Boris III with the "Commander’s medal for bravery". He also received the Iron Cross 2nd Class from the German Embassy. A second medal for bravery was awarded on 24 June 1944.
His last aerial victory was on 26 August 1944. In September 1944 he was promoted to Captain. The same month Bulgaria joined the Allies and thereafter the air operations were against the retreating Axis forces.
On 22 November 1944 he received his third medal for bravery and was promoted to Major, this time for combat against German ground forces in Macedonia and Kosovo (Bulgaria had joined the Allies after a political change of government on 9 September 1944.)
So there you have it, some of the non-German, non-Japanese Axis aces of World War II. I picked the top two aces from each nation. Unfortunately, I could only find one Bulgarian. Next week, we'll look at the Allied pilots from the smaller nations.