Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   
Axis Warplane Survivors (Part 4)

Axis Warplane Survivors (Part 4 of 4)

Data current to 20 Aug 2018.

Messerschmitt Me 262s collected by the RAF

Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a/U1 (Wk. Nr. 110305), "Red 8", 10./NJG11, 305, two-seat trainer converted into a provisional night fighter version equipped with FuG 218 Neptun radar and Hirschgeweih (stag antler) eight-dipole antenna array.  This aircraft was collected at Schleswig-Jagel, Germany in May 1945.  "Red 8" flew operationally with Kurt Welters 10./NJG11 at Magdeburg. While at this location it was painted with all-black undersurfaces and mostly black engine nacelles.  "'Red 8" was ferried to the UK on 19 May 1945 by Wg Cdr RJ 'Roly' Falk, via Twente, Gilze-Rijen and Melsbroek.   It was then flown by Wg Cdr Gonsalvez from the RAE to RNAS Ford, and used for radar and tactical trials from 6 July 1945.  Designated AM50, it was later given RAF Serial No. VH519.  It was damaged on its first landing at RNAS Ford, but quickly repaired.   "Red 8" is the only genuine night fighter version of the Me262 which has survived to the present day.  It is currently displayed in the Ditsong National Museum of Military History, Saxonwold, Johannesburg, South Africa.  (RAF Photos)

  (NJR ZA Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a/U1 (Wk. Nr. 110305), "Red 8", 10./NJG11, 305, two-seat trainer converted into a provisional night fighter version equipped with FuG 218 Neptun radar and Hirschgeweih (stag antler) eight-dipole antenna array.  This aircraft was collected at Schleswig-Jagel, Germany in May 1945.  "Red 8" flew operationally with Kurt Welters 10./NJG11 at Magdeburg. While at this location it was painted with all-black undersurfaces and mostly black engine nacelles.  "'Red 8" was ferried to the UK on 19 May 1945 by Wg Cdr RJ 'Roly' Falk, via Twente, Gilze-Rijen and Melsbroek.   It was then flown by Wg Cdr Gonsalvez from the RAE to RNAS Ford, and used for radar and tactical trials from 6 July 1945.  Designated AM50, it was later given RAF Serial No. VH519.  It was damaged on its first landing at RNAS Ford, but quickly repaired.   "Red 8" is the only genuine night fighter version of the Me262 which has survived to the present day.  It is currently displayed in the Ditsong National Museum of Military History, Saxonwold, Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Alan Wilson Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a "Schwalbe" (Wk. Nr. 112372),"Red 2", 10./NJG11, previously JG7, collected at Schleswig-Jagel, Germany.  This aircraft was built in 1945.  Designated AM51, it was flown to Farnborough where it was allocated RAF Serial No. VK893 and evaluated by the Royal Aircraft Establishment Aerodynamics Flight.  AM51 is currently on display at RAF Hendon, England.  (RAF Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a "Schwalbe" (Wk. Nr. 112372),"Red 2", 10./NJG11, previously JG7, collected at Schleswig-Jagel, Germany.  This aircraft was built in 1945.  Designated AM51, it was flown to Farnborough where it was allocated RAF Serial No. VK893 and evaluated by the Royal Aircraft Establishment Aerodynamics Flight.  AM51 is currently on display at RAF Hendon, England.  (Paul Mantz Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a "Schwalbe" (Wk. Nr. 112372),"Red 2", 10./NJG11, previously JG7, collected at Schleswig-Jagel, Germany.  This aircraft was built in 1945.  Designated AM51, it was flown to Farnborough where it was allocated RAF Serial No. VK893 and evaluated by the Royal Aircraft Establishment Aerodynamics Flight.  AM51 is currently on display at RAF Hendon, England, painted as "Yellow 4".  (UniversalNation Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-2a "Sturmvogel" (Wk. Nr. 500210), coded "Red 1", painted "Yellow 17", 1./JG 7, surrendered at Fassberg, near Celle, Germany, and taken over by No. 616 Squadron, RAF.  Designated AM52, it was flown to Lübeck on 29 May 1945, then ferried to Schleswig-Jagel, and then on to Farnborough on 9 June 1945.  It was allocated RAF Serial No. VH509 on 14 June, and made at least one test flight in July at Brize Norton.  AM 52 was shipped to Canada from Ellesmere Port on board the SS Manchester Shipper on 23 August 1946, arriving at Montréal on 1 September.  AM 52 was sold to Cameron Logan of New Scotland, Ontario, about 1947, with 300 other war-surplus RCAF aircraft, and was eventually scrapped by him at New Scotland.  (RAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-2a "Sturmvogel" (Wk. Nr. 500210), coded "Red 1", painted "Yellow 17", 1./JG 7, surrendered at Fassberg, near Celle, Germany, and taken over by No. 616 Squadron, RAF.  Designated AM52, it was flown to Lübeck on 29 May 1945, then ferried to Schleswig-Jagel, and then on to Farnborough on 9 June 1945.  It was allocated RAF Serial No. VH509 on 14 June, and made at least one test flight in July at Brize Norton.  AM 52 was shipped to Canada from Ellesmere Port on board the SS Manchester Shipper on 23 August 1946, arriving at Montréal on 1 September.  AM 52 was sold to Cameron Logan of New Scotland, Ontario, about 1947, with 300 other war-surplus RCAF aircraft, and was eventually scrapped by him at New Scotland.  (Leslie Corness, CANAV Books Collection Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a/U1 (Wk. Nr. 111980) "Red 12", 10./NJG11, two-seat trainer converted into a provisional night fighter version equipped with FuG 218 Neptun radar and Hirschgeweih (stag antler) eight-dipole antenna array.  "Red 12" was flown by Lt Herbert Altner to Schleswig-Jagel, Germany, on 6 May 1945, where it was collected by the RAF.  This aircraft was taken to England, and designated AM53.  It was destroyed during a storm at Brize Norton in 1947.  The remains were scrapped at Sealand in 1948.  (RAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a/U1 (Wk. Nr. 111007), coded "Yellow 5", captured at Fassberg.  Designated AM79, this aircraft was scrapped at Fassberg.  (RAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a "Schwalbe" (Wk. Nr. 111690), coded "White 5", 1./JG 7, was built by Messerschmitt at Schwabisch Hall.  It had been flown by Fritz Stehle, who was responsible for the last kill of the war, after arriving there from Melsbroek on 5 August 1945.  It was surrendered at Fassberg and was transferred to Farnborough via Manston on 6 and 7 August.  It later appeared in a static display during a German Aircraft Exhibition coded as AM80.  AM80 was packed and shipped to Canada on SS Manchester Shipper on 23 August 1946, arriving in Montréal on 1 September.  This aircraft was scrapped near Aylmer, Ontario , ca. 1949.  (RAF & RCAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-2a  "Sturmvogel" (Wk. Nr. 500200), "Black X", coded 9K+XK, 2./KG 51, built at Regensburg in March 1945.  Flown by Fahnenjunker Oberfeldwebel Fröhlich and surrendered at Fassberg.  "Black X" was flown to Marston, via Melsbroek on 28 August 1945.  Nine days later it was test flown to the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough, where it was designated AM81.  It was allocated RAF Serial No. VP554, and subjected to tests and investigation, flown by Squadron Leader Martindale.  While in British hands, the Luftwaffe camouflage was over-painted with English wording and RAF roundels.  The airframe and flight systems were not modified, although the original German electronics were removed and replaced by British equipment.  This meant that the FuG.25 Loop Antenna was removed.  It was flown in an airshow at Farnborough on 4 November 1945.  It was shipped to Australia.  Restoration was completed in 1985 and the aircraft is currently on display in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia.  (Universal Nation Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a "Schwalbe" (Wk. Nr. 500443), "Yellow 5", 7./JG7, this aircraft was flown by Unterofficier Anton Schoppler from his base at Saaz  and surrendered at Schleswig-Jagel, Germany on 8 May 1945.  Designated USA 1, this aircraft was brought to England. and was repainted "Yellow 6" at some point.  USA 1 was shipped from Birkenhead, England to Capetown, South Africa on the SS Perthshire on 20 Oct 1946, arriving on 6 Nov.  After acceptance by the SAAF it was stored at 15 Air Depot, Snake Valley and during 1950 it was  sold to the Benoni Technical College as an instructional airframe.  It was scrapped in 1953.  (RAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a (there are at least six possible Wk. Nrs. 110779, 110979, 111053, 111471 and 111980), 10./NJGJ11, two-seat trainer surrendered to the RAF at Schleswig-Jagel, Germany, in May 1945, designated USA 2 by the RAF.  Fate unknown.  Note: Wk. Nr. 110639, became Watson's Whizzers No. 555.  (RAF Photo)


Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a/U1 (Wk. Nr.  110306), "Red 6", 10./NJGJ11, two-seat trainer converted into a provisional night fighter version equipped with FuG 218 Neptun radar and Hirschgeweih (stag antler) eight-dipole antenna array.  Seven of these aircraft were used by 10/NJG.II in the defence of Berlin in April 1945.  "Red 6" was surrendered to the RAF at Schleswig-Jagel, Germany.  It was transferred to the USAAF and became Watson's Whizzers 999.  It was shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper and then allocated FE-610, later T2-610.  Later named "Ole Fruit Cake", and "der Schwalbe".  FE-610 was scrapped at Freeman Field, Indiana, circa 1950.  (RAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a/U1 (Wk. Nr. 110165), uncoded, possibly 10./NJG11, two-seat trainer surrendered to the RAF at Schleswig-Jagel, Germany, in May 1945, designated USA 3 by the RAF, "What was it?".  Transferred to the USAAF, Watson's Whizzers 101.  Shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper, where it was allocated Foreign Equipment number FE-109.  This aircraft went to the USN Armament Test Division at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland in Dec 1945 where it was designated USN BuNo. 121441 and test flown.  It was scrapped at NAS Anacostia, Nov 1946.  (RAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a/U1 (Wk. Nr. 110635), "Red 10", 10./NJG11, two-seat trainer converted into a provisional night fighter version equipped with FuG 218 Neptun radar and Hirschgeweih (stag antler) eight-dipole antenna array.  "Red 10" was one of three night fighters captured at Schleswig-Jagel, Germany.  Designated USA 4, this aircraft may have been brought to England, where it was likely used as a ballistics target at Oxfordness.  It was reportedly scrapped at No. 6 Maintenance Unit (MU) at Brize Norton in 1947.  (RAF Photos)

Czech Avia S-92s

 (AlfvanBeem Photo)

Avia S-92, Aviation Museum Kbely, Prague, Czech Republic.  (Alan Wilson Photo)

 (Alan Wilson Photo)

Avia CS-92, Aviation Museum Kbely, Prague, Czech Republic.  The Avia CS-92 was a license built Messerschmitt Me262B-1A. This sole remaining example has been painted in Luftwaffe markings.  Czech AF (Serial No. V-35 msn 51104).  (Netopyr Photo)

French Me 262s

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a, (Wk. Nr. unknown), No. 1, brought by rail to France and rebuilt, test flown, fate unknown.

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a, (Wk. Nr. 113332), No. 2, “Feudin 54th A.D. Sq”, "Julie", before being transferred to the French Air Force (Armée de l'Air), test flown, crashed on during a test flight, fate unknown.  (USAAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a, (Wk. Nr. 113332), No. 2, “Feudin 54th A.D. Sq”, "Julie", after being transferred to the French Air Force (Armée de l'Air), shortly after crashing during a test flight, fate unknown.  (Armée de l'Air Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a, (Wk. Nr. unknown), No. 3, brought by rail to France and rebuilt, test flown, fate unknown.

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a, (Wk. Nr. unknown), No. 4, brought by rail to France and rebuilt.  Ready to fly but not test flown, fate unknown.

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a, (Wk. Nr. unknown), No. 5, brought by rail to France and used for spare parts, fate unknown.

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a, (Wk. Nr. unknown), No. 6, brought by rail to France and partially rebuilt, fate unknown.

Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a/U1, (Wk. Nr. unknown), No. 7, dual control two-seat trainer, brought by rail to France and rebuilt.  Ready to fly but not test flown, fate unknown.

Me 262s preserved in Germany

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a, (Wk. Nr. 500071) coded "White 3", III/JG7.  This aircraft made an emergency landing due to lack of fuel at Dübendorf, Switzerland on 25 April 1945.  Flown by Hans Guido Mutke while a pilot of 9. Staffel/JG 7, "White 3" was confiscated by Swiss authorities on 25 April 1945 after Mutke made an emergency landing in Switzerland due to lack of fuel.  Although it was taken over by the Swiss, it was not flown by them.  After many years of storage at Dübendorf, the aircraft was given to the Deutsches Museum at Munich on 30 August 1957, where it is currently on display.  (Swiss Air Force Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a, (Wk. Nr. 500071) coded "White 3", III/JG7 made an emergency landing due to lack of fuel at Dübendorf, Switzerland on 25 April 1945.  This aircraft, flown by Hans Guido Mutke while a pilot of 9. Staffel/JG 7, was confiscated by Swiss authorities on 25 April 1945 after Mutke made an emergency landing in Switzerland due to lack of fuel.  Although it was taken over by the Swiss, it was not flown by them.  After many years of storage at Dübendorf, the aircraft was given to the Deutsches Museum at Munich on 30 August 1957, where it is currently on display.  (Softeis Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a (multiple Wk. Nrs.), reconstructed from parts of crashed and uncompleted Me 262s, is on display in the Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr - Flugplatz Berlin-Gatow (Bundeswehr Museum of Military History - Berlin-Gatow Airfield), Germany.

Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe, (Wk. Nr. unknown), with R4M underwing rockets on display at the Technikmuseum Speyer, Germany.  (MisterBee1966 Photo)

Me 262s captured by the USAAF

Messerschmitt Me 262A-2a Schwalbe, (Wk. Nr. 112385), "Yellow 8", captured at Stendal, fate unknown.  (US Army Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a, (Wk. Nr. 110604), Lechfeld, 1945.  (USAAF Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a, (Wk. Nr. 110956), IIIEJG2, "White 17", Franz-Holzinger, Lechfeld 29 Apr 1945.  This aircraft may have been flown by Heinz Bar.  (USAAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a Schwalbe, (Wk. Nr. 500079) captured by the USAAF, May 1945.  (USAAF Photo)

Me 262s, USA

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a "Schwalbe" (Wk. Nr. 111711).  This new airframe had been surrendered on 31 March 1945 by Messerschmitt test pilot Hans Fay who defected during a functional check flight rather than fly it to an operational unit, landing at Rhein-Main, Frankfurt.  It was the first Me 262 to fall into Allied hands.  The Me 262 was taken to Thornville, France, and shipped separately to USA on the Manawaska Victory.  It was not one of Watson's Whizzers.  The Me 262 was allocated Foreign Equipment number FE-107, and later T2-711.  It was test flown by Russell E. Schleeh shortly after its capture.  This aircraft was flown by Test Pilot Walter J. McAuley Jr. of the Flight Performance Section, Flight Test Division, Wright Field, Ohio, in a test flight for comparison with a Lockheed P-80.  During the flight both engines of the Me 262 caught fire.  McAuley, Jr., successfully parachuted to safety, surviving as the aircraft crashed on 20 Aug 1945 ~two miles South of Xenia, Ohio near Route 68.  (USAAF Photos)

Watson's Whizzers

Throughout the war in Europe, the US Army Air Force (USAAF) Intelligence Service sent teams to Europe to gain access to enemy aircraft, technical and scientific reports, research facilities, and weapons for study in the US.  The Air Technical Intelligence (ATI) teams trained at the Technical Intelligence School at Wright Field, Ohio, and then collected enemy equipment to learn about Germany’s technical developments. The ATI teams competed with 32 allied technical intelligence groups to gain information and equipment recovered from crash sites.  As the war concluded, the various intelligence teams, including the ATI, shifted from tactical intelligence to post hostilities investigations. Exploitation intelligence increased dramatically.

Captured Luftwaffe airfields rewarded the Allies with many aircraft that were technologically advanced and of great interest to intelligence agencies.  In November 1944, General H.H. “Hap” Arnold directed that items of captured enemy equipment be collected methodically so technical experts could study the equipment.  At Wright Field, the Technical Data Laboratory worked with the other laboratories to develop a “wish list” of German equipment they would like to have for technological study and exploitation.  Colonel Donald L. Putt was in charge of the overall collection effort known as Project Lusty, and General Carl “Tooey” Spaatz, the Commanding General of U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe, picked Colonel Harold E Watson for the assignment.  Colonel Watson had previously served at Wright Field as a test pilot as well as 9th Air Force Service Command in France.

On 22 April 1945, the USAAF combined technical and post-hostilities intelligence objectives under the Exploitation Division with the aim of exploiting captured German scientific documents, research facilities, and aircraft.  The code name of the operation was Project “Lusty (from Luftwaffe Secret Technology).  The Operation had two teams.  One, under the leadership of Colonel Watson, collected enemy aircraft and weapons for further examination in the US.  The other recruited scientists, collected documents, and investigated facilities.  Having been part of ATI in 1944, Colonel Watson eagerly accepted the Operation Lusty assignment. 

General Watson’s official travel orders allowed him to examine or remove any captured aircraft or equipment; carry a camera and photograph any captured equipment; and travel anywhere in the Allied Forces occupied zone.  His pass was printed in English, French, and German.

Colonel Watson and his crew, nicknamed “Watson’s Whizzers,” which was comprised of 9th Air Force pilots, engineers, and maintenance men he had selected to join him, developed “Black Lists” which they used to collect aircraft.  He organized his “Whizzers” into two sections, one collected jet aircraft and the other procured piston engine aircraft and non-flyable jet and rocket equipment.  Their first catch was a Heinkel He 177 bomber.  In April 1945, Lechfeld airfield, near the Messerschmitt factory, fell into American hands, and the collection of Luftwaffe aircraft grew dramatically.

After the war, the “Whizzers” added a crew of 25 former Luftwaffe test pilots and mechanics to their team, including Hauptman Heinz Braun.  Hauptman Braun had flown 70 women, children, and wounded troops to Munich-Riem airport on 8 May 1945.  After he landed, Braun was approached by one of Watson’s men who gave him the choice of either going to a prison camp or flying with the “Whizzers.”  Braun decided flying would be more preferable.  Three Messerschmitt employees also joined the “Whizzers,” with Karl Baur, the Chief Test Pilot of Experimental Aircraft; test pilot Ludwig “Willie” Huffman; and engineering superintendent, Gerhard Coulis.  Test pilot Herman Kersting joined later.  When the “Whizzers” located nine Me 262 jet aircraft at Lechfeld airfield, these Luftwaffe test pilots had the expertise to fly them.

Watson’s men traveled far and wide over Europe by jeep and occasionally by air to find the aircraft on the “Black Lists.”  Some of the aircraft were found in flyable condition.  Others had to be reconstructed from remnants of other aircraft.  Many aircraft were shipped to the United States aboard the British carrier HMS Reaper.  The most viable harbour for docking the carrier and loading the various aircraft was at Cherbourg, France.  The “Whizzers” flew the Me 262s and other aircraft from Lechfeld to St. Dizier, to Melun, and then to Cherbourg.  All the aircraft were cocooned against the salt air and weather, loaded onto HMS Reaper, and brought to the US where they were studied by the Air Intelligence groups of both the USAAF and US Navy.

Many of the “Whizzers” named aircraft after family and friends.  General Watson named one of the captured Me 262s the “Happy Hunter” after his son.  MSgt Freiburger named three of the planes, including “Dennis,” for his son; “Wilma Jeanne,” after his wife; and “Vera,” for a sister-in-law.  Me 262A-1a/U4 Schwalbe, (Wk. Nr. 170083) had  “Wilma Jeanne” on the port side of the aircraft.  All of these refurbished Me 262s had “Feudin 54th A.D. Sq” painted on the starboard side by MSgt Eugene Freiburger.  This aircraft crashed at Tilleul-Dame-Agnes, Eure in France on 18 June 1945 (the pilot survived) and therefore never came to the USA.

40 German and one American aircraft were transported on board HMS Reaper, including ten Messerschmitt Me 262,(including nine Messerschmitt Me 262 (three standard fighters, two two-seat pilot training aircraft, one two-seat night fighter, and three photographic reconnaissance aircraft), five Focke-Wulf Fw 190F, four Focke-Wulf Fw 190D, one Focke-Wulf Ta 152H, four Arado Ar 234B, three Heinkel He 219, three Messerschmitt Bf 109, two Dornier Do 335A, two Bücker Bü 181, one Doblhoff WNF 342 helicopter, two Flettner Fl 282 helicopters, one Junkers Ju 88G, one Junkers Ju 388, one Messerschmitt Bf 108, and one North American F-6 (the photo reconnaissance version of the P-51).  The balance of about ten aircraft may have included examples of the Heinkel He 162A, Messerschmitt Me 163B-1a, and the Bachem Ba 349 Natter, which were later transported to the US aboard merchant ships.  A Junkers Ju 290A four-engine transport, nicknamed “Alles Kaput,” was flown on its own across the Atlantic.

In 1945, the enemy aircraft shipped to the US were divided between the Navy and the Army Air Forces.  For historical purposes, General Hap Arnold ordered the preservation of one of every type of aircraft used by the enemy forces.  The Air Force brought their aircraft to Wright Field, and when the field could no longer handle additional aircraft, many were sent to Freeman Field, Seymour, Indiana.


Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a/U4 Schwalbe, (Wk. Nr. 170083), "V083", "Pulkzerstörer", armed with one 50-mm Mauser Mk. 214 cannon.   USAAF "Feudin 54" A.D Sq was painted on the port side of the nose of all the refurbished Me 262s, later painted over before leaving Lager Lechfeld Flugplatz and being shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper.  This aircraft became Watson's Whizzers No. 000, with the name "Wilma Jeanne" on the starboard side of the nose, later the "Happy Hunter II".  This aircraft crashed on a flight from Lechfield, Germany to Cherbourg.  (Andrew T. Hill Photo 1, before being painted with Feudin 54th artwork, USAAF Photo 2)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a/U4 Schwalbe, (Wk. Nr. 170083), "V083", "Pulkzerstörer", armed with one 50-mm Mauser Mk. 214 cannon.   USAAF "Feudin 54" A.D Sq was painted on the port side of the nose of all the refurbished Me 262s, later painted over before leaving Lager Lechfeld Flugplatz and being shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper.  This aircraft became Watson's Whizzers No. 000, with the name "Wilma Jeanne" on the starboard side of the nose, later the "Happy Hunter II".  This aircraft crashed on a flight from Lechfield, Germany to Cherbourg.  (USAAF Photos)


Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a/U4 Schwalbe, (Wk. Nr. 170083), "V083", "Pulkzerstörer", armed with one 50-mm Mauser Mk. 214 cannon.   USAAF "Feudin 54" A.D Sq was painted on the port side of the nose of all the refurbished Me 262s, later painted over before leaving Lager Lechfeld Flugplatz and being shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper.  This aircraft became Watson's Whizzers No. 000, with the name "Wilma Jeanne" on the starboard side of the nose, later the "Happy Hunter II".  This aircraft crashed on a flight from Lechfield, Germany to Cherbourg.  (USAAF Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a/U4, (Wk. Nr. unknown), "Pulkzerstörer", bomber destroyer version armed with one 50-mm Mauser Mk. 214 cannon.   USAAF "Feudin 54 A.D Sq".  Possibly shipped to the USA, fate unknown.  (USAAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a "Schwalbe" (Wk. Nr. 501232), "Yellow 5", 3./KG(J)6, with homeland defence checkerboard pattern on the rear fuselage.  This aircraft was designated Watson's Whizzers No. 111, and was painted as "Beverly Anne", later "Screamin Meemie".  "Yellow 5" was shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper, with inventory control No. 20.  This aircraft was sent to the USN Armament Test Division at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland in Dec 1945 where it was designated USN BuNo. 121442 and test flown.  It is now on display in the National Museum of the USAF.  (USAAF Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a "Schwalbe" (Wk. Nr. 501232), "Yellow 5", 3./KG(J)6.  This aircraft was designated Watson's Whizzers No. 111, and was painted as "Beverly Anne", later "Screamin Meemie".  "Yellow 5" was shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper,  with inventory control No. 20.  This aircraft was sent to the USN Armament Test Division at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland in Dec 1945 where it was designated USN BuNo. 121442 and test flown.  It is now on display in the National Museum of the USAF.  (USAAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a "Schwalbe" (Wk. Nr. 501232), coded "Yellow 5", 3./KG(J)6, designated Watson's Whizzers No. 111, on display in the National Museum of the USAF.  (National Museum of the USAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a/U3 (Wk. Nr. unknown), "White 30", reconnaissance version modified with bulges on the nose to accommodate film magazines for two Rb 20/30 cameras.  U3 (Umrüst-Bausatz 3, Factory Modification Kit No. 3).  Watson's Whizzers 222, "Marge", later "Lady Jess IV".  It was flown by Capt Kenneth Dahlstrom.  Artwork was painted on the nose with a picture of Donald Duck circling the globe on a jet engine, with "Watson’s Whizzers" in print.  "White 30" was shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper.  It was allocated FE-108, then transferred to the USN where it was allocated BuNo. 121443.   It was written off at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland on its first test flight on 7 Nov 1945.  (USAAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a "Schwalbe" (Wk. Nr. 111367), Watson's Whizzers 333, "Feuding 54th", later "Pauline", and "Deelovely".  This aircraft went to the USN A&T Division, Flight Test Division, NAS Patuxent River, Maryland in Dec 1945, where it was allocated USN BuNo. 121444 and test flown.  It was transferred to Naval Proving Ground, Dahlgren Junction  on 11 Oct 1946.  This Me 262 was displayed at NAS Anacostia, then left outside the Naval Laboratory in Washington, D.C., where it stood derelict until it was apparently scrapped sometime after 27 Jan 1957.  (USAAF Photos)



Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a/U3 (Wk. Nr. 500453), coded "White 25", reconnaissance version modified with bulges on the nose to accommodate film magazines for two Rb 20/30 cameras.  U3 (Umrüst-Bausatz 3, Factory Modification Kit No. 3).  Prior to the arrival of Watson's team, Master Sergeant Preston of the 54th Air Disarmament Squadron named this plane "Connie ...My Sharp Article" (after his wife).  "White 5" became Watson's Whizzers 444, and was ferried to Melun, France by Lt Roy Brown, who renamed it "Pick II" (after a nickname derived from his wife's maiden name).   Brown ferried the jet to the port of Cherbourg, where it was loaded onto the British escort carrier HMS Reaper.  While on the deck of the HMS Reaper, it was allocated inventory control No. 19.  After arrival at Newark, Watson ferried 444 to Freeman Field, Indiana on 19 August, 1945.  There, the Army Air Force assigned "White 5" a Foreign Equipment number, FE-4012.  This was later changed to T2-4012.  This aircraft was selected to participate in classified tests against the Lockheed P-80, and underwent a nose section changeup with Watson's Whizzers 888, later FE-111.  The machine was given an overall reconditioning for the tests.  "White 5" was with the Planes of Fame Museum in California before being transferred to Paul Allen's Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum in Washington State.  There are plans to restore this aircraft to flying status, and it is registered as N9450, painted as "White 9".  (USAAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a/U3 (Wk. Nr. 500453), "White 25", reconnaissance version modified with bulges on the nose to accommodate film magazines for two Rb 20/30 cameras.  U3 (Umrüst-Bausatz 3, Factory Modification Kit No. 3).  Prior to the arrival of Watson's team, Master Sergeant Preston of the 54th Air Disarmament Squadron named this plane "Connie ...My Sharp Article" (after his wife).  "White 5" became Watson's Whizzers 444, and was ferried to Melun, France by Lt Roy Brown, who renamed it "Pick II" (after a nickname derived from his wife's maiden name).   Brown ferried the jet to the port of Cherbourg, where it was loaded onto the British escort carrier HMS Reaper.  While on the deck of the HMS Reaper, it was allocated inventory control No. 19.  After arrival at Newark, Watson ferried 444 to Freeman Field, Indiana on 19 August, 1945.  There, the Army Air Force assigned "White 5" a Foreign Equipment number, FE-4012.  This was later changed to T2-4012.  This aircraft was selected to participate in classified tests against the Lockheed P-80, and underwent a nose section changeup with Watson's Whizzers 888, later FE-111.  The machine was given an overall reconditioning for the tests.  "White 5" was with the Planes of Fame Museum in California before being transferred to Paul Allen's Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum in Washington State.  There are plans to restore this aircraft to flying status, and it is registered as N9450, painted as "White 9".   (USAAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a (Wk. Nr. 110639), "White 35", one of 15 aircraft modified under contract by Blohm and Voss for use as a dual-control two seat trainer.   Watson's Whizzers 555, "Vera", and later "Willie" flown from Germany to Cherbourg in 1945.  Shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper, this aircraft went to the USN Armament Test Division at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland in Dec 1945 where it was designated USN (Bu No. 121448).  After evaluation, it went to NART Willow Grove in  Dec 1946.  This aircraft has been restored and has returned to Naval Air Station Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.  "White 35" appears to have had an operational history in Luftwaffe service, and was one of the few Stormbirds known to have been captured completely intact.  Captured by American forces in May, 1945, it was the first jet the Americans brought into the hangar for restoration.  Soon thereafter, it was named Vera, after Staff Sergeant Eugene Freiburger's sister-in-law.  Vera was test flown by German test pilot Ludwig Hofmann on the 14th or 15th of May, accompanied by an American operations officer, Captain Ward, making him the first American to fly the Me 262.  On the 30th of May, Hofmann's counterpart, Karl Baur, took Colonel Watson on a familiarization flight in this aircraft.  "Vera" was used a few days later to train most of the American pilots who were tasked to fly the captured aircraft to Cherbourg.  Hofmann ferried the aircraft to Melun, France with the team, where it was renamed "Willie" in his honor.  At this time, the control number 555 was also assigned. The plane was loaded aboard the HMS Reaper with other captured aircraft, and transported to Newark, New Jersey.  At Newark, it was transferred to the USN for flight testing.  In 1993 the USN loaned 555 to the Me 262 Project for use as a pattern aircraft.  555 was returned to the USN in late 2001, and it is now back on permanent static display at Willow Grove NAS in eastern Pennsylvania.  (USAAF and USN Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a (Wk. Nr. 110639), "White 35", one of 15 aircraft modified under contract by Blohm and Voss for use as a dual-control two seat trainer.   Watson's Whizzers 555, "Vera", and later "Willie" flown from Germany to Cherbourg in 1945.  Shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper, this aircraft went to the USN Armament Test Division at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland in Dec 1945 where it was designated USN (Bu No. 121448).  After evaluation, it went to NART Willow Grove in  Dec 1946.  This aircraft has been restored and has returned to Naval Air Station Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.  "White 35" appears to have had an operational history in Luftwaffe service, and was one of the few Stormbirds known to have been captured completely intact.  Captured by American forces in May, 1945, it was the first jet the Americans brought into the hangar for restoration.  Soon thereafter, it was named Vera, after Staff Sergeant Eugene Freiburger's sister-in-law.  Vera was test flown by German test pilot Ludwig Hofmann on the 14th or 15th of May, accompanied by an American operations officer, Captain Ward, making him the first American to fly the Me 262.  On the 30th of May, Hofmann's counterpart, Karl Baur, took Colonel Watson on a familiarization flight in this aircraft.  "Vera" was used a few days later to train most of the American pilots who were tasked to fly the captured aircraft to Cherbourg.  Hofmann ferried the aircraft to Melun, France with the team, where it was renamed "Willie" in his honor.  At this time, the control number 555 was also assigned. The plane was loaded aboard the HMS Reaper with other captured aircraft, and transported to Newark, New Jersey.  At Newark, it was transferred to the USN for flight testing.  In 1993 the USN loaned 555 to the Me 262 Project for use as a pattern aircraft.  555 was returned to the USN in late 2001, and it is now back on permanent static display at Willow Grove NAS in eastern Pennsylvania.  (USN Photo)

 (Gregg Heilmann Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a (Wk. Nr. 110639), "White 35", currently on display at Willow Grove NAS in eastern Pennsylvania.  (PearlJamNoCode Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a/U3 (Wk. Nr. 500098), "White 27",  reconnaissance version modified with bulges on the nose to accommodate film magazines for two Rb 20/30 cameras.  U3 (Umrüst-Bausatz 3, Factory Modification Kit No. 3).  "White 27" was collected at Lechfeld by the "Feudin 54th A.D. Sq", as painted on the starboard side by MSgt Eugene Freiburger, USAAF.  Watson's Whizzers No. 666, painted as "Joanne", later "Cookie VII".  "White 27" was flown to Melun, then Cherbourg, France.  Shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper, this aircraft was allocated Foreign Equipment number FE-4011.  "White 27" crashed at Pittsburgh on 19 Aug 1945.  (USAAF Photos)

Fred Hillis named six of his Republic P-47 Thunderbolts "Cookie" from a nickname he gave his baby daughter Cynthia.  Five of these P-47s were lost in combat, one was flown on one mission. Of the seven "Cookies", none of their pilots was injured or killed - good luck, and therefore, a good reason to keep the name.  During  Operation Iraqi Freedom in the spring of 2003, an assault helicopter flown by the 2-501st Aviation Regiment, 1st Armored Division (US Army), was christened "Cookie VIII" by her crew in honor of Hillis legacy.

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a "Schwalbe" (Wk. Nr. 110836).  Watson's Whizzers No. 777, this aircraft was initially named "Doris" and later "Jabo Bait".  Shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper, it was designated FE-110, later T2-110.  (USAAF Photos).  

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1b (Wk. Nr. 500491), "Yellow 7", 11./JG 7, surrendered to Allied forces on 8 May 1945 at Lechfeld.  In service with Jagdgeschwader 7, the victory markings found on this aircraft included one P-51, one P-47 and five B-17s.  The aircraft has original under wing racks for 24 R4M unguided rockets.  Karl Baur test flew this aircraft for some 20 minutes on the 12th of May; well before the arrival of Watson's team.  Watsons Whizzers No. 888, Staff Sergeant Eugene Freiburger of the 54th Air Disarmament Squadron named the plane "Dennis", after his son.  These markings remained on the jet until it arrived in Melun, France, where Lt James (Ken) Holt re-christened it "Ginny H".  named "Dennis", and then "Ginny H", it was flown by Lt James K. Holt.  "Yellow 7" was shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper, with inventory control No. 29.  "Yellow 7" arrived at Wright Field in August 1945, and was subsequently moved to Freeman Field, Indiana, where it remained until May 1946.  At Freeman Field it was allocated Foreign Equipment number FE-111, and later T-2-111.  As Watson's Whizzers No. 444 was being prepared for a series of classified flight tests, it's reconnaissance-modified nose section was exchanged for No. 888's more streamlined fighter version.  This modification took place before the plane was moved to the 803rd Special Depot storage facility at Park Ridge, Illinois in July 1946, when the jet entered long-term storage.  In 1950, it was moved again, this time to the National Air Museum facility (now the Garber Facility) at Silver Hill, Maryland.  In 1978, the plane was brought out of storage and fully restored, with the modified nose section returned to its original A-1 fighter configuration.  "Yellow 7" is now on display in the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), on the Mall in Washington, D.C.  (USAAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1b (Wk. Nr. 500491), "Yellow 7", 11./JG 7, on display in the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), on the Mall in Washington, D.C.  (Author Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a/U1 (Wk. Nr.  110306), "Red 6", 10./NJGJ11, two-seat trainer converted into a provisional night fighter version equipped with FuG 218 Neptun radar and Hirschgeweih (stag antler) eight-dipole antenna array.  Seven of these aircraft were used by 10/NJG.II in the defence of Berlin in April 1945.  "Red 6" was surrendered to the RAF at Schleswig-Jagel, Germany.  It was transferred to the USAAF and became Watson's Whizzers 999.  It was shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper and then allocated FE-610, later T2-610.  Later named "Ole Fruit Cake", and "der Schwalbe".  FE-610 was scrapped at Freeman Field, Indiana, circa 1950.  (USAAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a/U1 (Wk. Nr.  110306), "Red 6", 10./NJGJ11, two-seat trainer converted into a provisional night fighter version equipped with FuG 218 Neptun radar and Hirschgeweih (stag antler) eight-dipole antenna array.  Seven of these aircraft were used by 10/NJG.II in the defence of Berlin in April 1945.  "Red 6" was surrendered to the RAF at Schleswig-Jagel, Germany.  It was transferred to the USAAF and became Watson's Whizzers 999.  It was shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper and then allocated FE-610, later T2-610.  Later named "Ole Fruit Cake", and "der Schwalbe".  FE-610 was scrapped at Freeman Field, Indiana, circa 1950.  (USAAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a/U1 (Wk. Nr. 110165), uncoded, possibly 10./NJG11, two-seat trainer surrendered to the RAF at Schleswig-Jagel, Germany, in May 1945, designated USA 3 by the RAF, "What was it?".  Transferred to the USAAF, Watson's Whizzers 101.  Shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper, where it was allocated Foreign Equipment number FE-109.  This aircraft went to the USN Armament Test Division at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland in Dec 1945 where it was designated USN BuNo. 121441 and test flown.  It was scrapped at NAS Anacostia, Nov 1946.  (RAF Photos)

Me 262s in Russia

At the end of the war the Soviet Union sent forces to an airdrome outside Prague, Czechoslovakia where they discovered two undamaged Me 262 jet fighters along with four more half-dismantled aircraft of the same type.

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1 Schwalbe, (Wk. Nr. 110426) was dismantled and brought to the Soviet Air Forces Scientific Research Institute from the town of Schweidemuehle on 30 March 1945.  Evidently the aircraft had made a gear-up forced landing judging from the damage it sustained.  It was reconditioned at the experimental plant in Chkalovskaya and test flown on 15 August 1945.  It became unserviceable the next day and testing had to be stopped for almost a month and a half, because the port engine malfunctioned and had to be replaced.  During 12 sorties, Kochetkov managed to gather the main flight characteristics of the aircraft.  Those sorties did not come easily.  The last was the most difficult for Kochetkov.  At the cost of tremendous physical tension and self-control, he managed to pull the aircraft out of a dive at a high altitude.  In a similar situation on 17 September 1947 while flying another Me 262, test pilot F. F. Demida was killed, thus becoming one of the first victims of jet technology.  General P. M. Stefanovskiy also flew the Schwalbe.  (Soviet Air Force Photos)

Me 262 Reproductions

In January 2003, the American Me 262 Project, based in Everett, Washington, completed flight testing to allow the delivery of near-exact reproductions of several versions of the Me 262 including at least two B-1c two-seater variants, one A-1c single seater and two "convertibles" that could be switched between the A-1c and B-1c configurations. All are powered by General Electric J85 engines and feature additional safety features, such as upgraded brakes and strengthened landing gear. The "c" suffix refers to the new J85 powerplant and has been informally assigned with the approval of the Messerschmitt Foundation in Germany (the Werk Number of the reproductions picked up where the last wartime produced Me 262 left off – a continuous airframe serial number run with a 50-year production break).

Flight testing of the first newly manufactured Me 262 A-1c (single-seat) variant (Wk. Nr. 501244) was completed in August 2005.  The first of these machines, Me 262B-1c, (Wk. Nr. 501241) was delivered to the Collings Foundation based at Stowe, Massachustetts, as White 1 of JG 7; this aircraft offered ride-along flights starting in 2008.  The second Me 262A-1c, (Wk. Nr. 501244) was delivered to the Messerschmitt Foundation at Manching, Germany. This aircraft conducted a private test flight in late April 2006, and made its public debut in May at the ILA 2006. The new Me 262 flew during the public flight demonstrations.  The third replica, a non-flyable Me 262 A-1c, "Yellow 5", was delivered to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum at McMinnville, Oregon, in May 2010.  Me 262A/B-1c, (Wk. Nr. 501243), "White 8", (TBC).  Me 262B-1c "White 3+1" has gone to an Air Museum in Virginia.

Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a Schwalbe, "White 10", 3./ EG2, flown by Kurt Bell over Germany, ca 1945.  (Luftwaffe Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 262A/B-1c Schwalbe, (Wk. Nr. 501244), new-build replica, "Red 13", Reg. No. D-IMTT, Messerschmitt Foundation at Manching, Berlin, Germany.  (Noop1958 Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 262B-1c Schwalbe, (Wk. Nr. 501241), new-build replica, Reg. No. N262AZ, Collings Foundation, Stow, Massachusetts.  (Tascam3458 Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe, jet fighter/bomber, new-build (non-flying) replica, on display in the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, McMinnville, Oregon.  It’s marked as "Yellow 5", an aircraft of Jadgeshwader 7 (11/JG-7)  based at Brandenburg-Briest,  flown by Leutnant Alfred Ambs in early 1945.  (Clemens Vasters Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 410A-3 Hornisse in Luftwaffe service.  (Luftwaffe photos)

Messerschmitt Me 410A-3 Hornisse, (Wk. Nr. 10259), F6+OK from 2(F)./122, RAF TF209, being checked by mechanics at No. 1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight at Collyweston, Northamptonshire (UK).  The crew, Fw. Hans Beyer and Uffz. Helmut Hein, got lost on the return leg to Perugia and landed by mistake at Monte Corvino, Italy, on 27 November 1943.  It arrived for testing at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, England, on 14 April 1944, and was also evaluated by the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment, Boscombe Down.  TF209 flew with the Fighter Interception Unit at Wittering from August 1944 until March 1946 when it was transferred to No. 6 Maintenance Unit at Brize Norton.  It was scrapped post war.  (RAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 410A-3 Hornisse, (Wk. Nr. 10259), F6+OK from 2(F)./122, RAF TF209, in flight escorted by an RAF de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito.  TF209 had landed intact and was captured at Monte Corvino, Italy when the crew had become lost during a photo–reconnaissance mission in the Naples area.  This aircraft wears the P for Prototype roundels showing she was at RAF Boscombe Down for testing.  (RAF Photo)

 (RAFM Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 410A-1/U2 Hornisse, (Wk. Nr. 420430), captured at Vaerlose.  Designated RAF AM72, this aircraft is on display at RAF Cosford, England.  (Dapi99 Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 410A-1/U2 Hornisse, (Wk. Nr. 420439) captured at Kastrup.  Designated RAF AM39, this aircraft was likely scrapped at Kastrup.

Messerschmitt Me 410A-1/U2 Hornisse, (Wk. Nr 420430), captured at Vaerlose.  Designated RAF AM72, this aircraft is in the RAF Museum at Cosford, England.  (RAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 410A-1 Hornisse, (Wk. Nr. 130360), captured at Vaerlose.  Designated RAF AM73, this aircraft was scrapped at Brize Norton in 1947.

Messerschmitt Me 410B-6 Hornisse, (Wk. Nr. 410208), captured at Vaerlose.  Designated RAF AM74, this aircraft was scrapped at Farnborough in 1946.

Messerschmitt Me 410A Hornisse, (Wk. Nr. 263), 2N+HTfrom ZG76 was taken over by No. 601 Squadron.  This aircraft crashed in Oct 1943.

Four Messerschmitt Me 410 Hornisse were surrendered at Sylt and were initially designated by RAF as USA 16, USA 17, USA 18 and USA 19.  They were likely scrapped at Sylt.

Messerschmitt Me 410 Hornisse cannon-armed fighter diving away after an attack on a USAAF Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.   (USAAF Photo)

Messerschmitt Me 410A-2/U1 Hornisse, (Wk. Nr. 10018), F6+WK from 2(F)./122, USAAF EB-103, later FE-102, then FE-499, and then T2-499, on display at Freeman Field, Indiana post war.  (USAAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 410A-2/U1 Hornisse , (Wk. Nr. 10018), USA EB-103, later FE-102, then FE-499 and then T2-499, Freeman Field, Indiana, post war.  This aircraft is in storage with the NASM.  (USAAF Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 410B2/U4 Hornisse, (Wk. Nr. 130379), heavy fighter/reconnaissance aircraft from II/ZG26 Group was captured after the war by the Soviets and extensively tested.  Although the Soviets concluded their fighters were superior to the twin-engine ciarcraft, they confirmed it was a threat to all types of Soviet series-produced bombers, the Tu-2 included, due to its high capabilities. It had a maximum speed of 600 km/h at 6750 meters, could climb to 5000 meters in 8.6 minutes, and carried powerful offensive armament comprising two standard 20mm MG-151 cannon and the semiautomatic VK-5 cannon that could deliver a 1-second salvo weighing 4.65 kg.  The Soviets found the German designers had worked out the best methods of employing the Me 410B-2's fire power. The Me 410B-2 was fitted with a combined gun sight comprising a four-power telescope with collimator.  This made it possible to deliver precision fire from a range of 1000 meters and more, where the 50-mm high-explosive fragmentation ammunition could destroy Petlyakov, Il'yushin, Boston, and other aircraft.  In theory, a German pilot could shoot down enemy aircraft while out of defensive fire range.  (Soviet Air Force Photos)

Messerschmitt Me 609, heavy fighter/bomber (project).

Messerschmitt Me P.1101-V1 experimental swing-wing jet fighter.  This project did not fly.   (USAAF Photos)

Messerschmitt P.1101

The Messerschmitt P.1101 was a single-seat, single-jet fighter project developed in response to the 15 July 1944 Emergency Fighter Program, which sought the second generation of jet fighters for the Third Reich.  A characteristic feature of the P.1101 prototype was that the sweep of the wings could be changed before flight.

The Me P.1101 V1 was about 80% complete when the Oberammergau complex was discovered by American troops on 29 April 1945, a few days before the war's end.  The fuselage was constructed out of duralumin, with space providedbeneath the cockpit for the air duct. Located behind the cockpit and above the engine was the fuel supply of 1000 liters (220 gallons).   The rear fuselage tapered down to a cone, where the radio equipment, oxygen equipment, directional control and master compass were mounted.  The underside of the rear fuselage was covered over with sheet steel, for protection from the heat of the jet exhaust.  Although a Jumo 004B jet engine was planned for the first prototype, the more powerful  He S 011 could be added on later versions with a minimum of fuss.  The wing was basically the same as the Messerschmitt Me 262 wing from the engine (rib 7) to the end cap (rib 21), including the Me 262's aileron and leading edge slats. A second wing assembly was delivered in February 1945, in which the leading edge slots had been enlarged from 13% to 20% of the wing chord. The wing covered in plywood, and could be adjusted on the ground at 35, 40 or 45 degrees of sweepback. Both the vertical and horizontal tails were constructed of wood, and the rudder could be deflected 20 degrees. Also under design was a T-tail unit and a V-tail also. The undercarriage was of a tricycle arrangement. The nose wheel retracted to the rear and was steerable. The main gear retracted to the front, and included brakes. The cockpit was located in the nose, with a bubble canopy giving good vision all around. The canopy was kept clear by warm air which could be drawn from the engine. Cockpit pressurization was to be incorporated in the production model, as was either two or four MK 108 30mm cannon. The production model was also to fitted with cockpit armour, and up to four underwing X-4 air-to-air missiles could be carried.

The V1 prototype was approximately 80% complete.  A few days before the Allied Army was expected to appear, Messerschmitt had all the engineering drawings, calculations and design work placed on microfilm and packed in watertight containers. These containers were then hidden in four locations in surrounding villages. On Sunday, 29 April 1945, an American infantry unit entered the Oberammergau complex, seized a few documents, and destroyed much of what remained with axes.  The Me P.1101 V1 incomplete prototype was also found, and pulled out of a nearby tunnel where it was hidden.  The wings had not yet been attached and it would appear they had never had skinning applied to their undersides.  Within a few days of the German capitulation, American specialists had arrived to assess the significance of the seized Messerschmitt complex. After questioning some of the Messerschmitt employees, it was learned of the missing documents.  When the American team tried to recover these hidden microfilmed documents, they found that the French Army had already recovered some of the documents.

  After the aircraft had been shipped to the USA, there was some lobbying by Messerschmitt Chief Designer Woldemar Voigt and Robert J. Woods of Bell aircraft to have the P.1101 V1 completed by June 1945.  This was precluded by the destruction of some critical documents and the refusal of the French to release the remaining majority of the design documents (microfilmed and buried by the Germans), which they had obtained prior to the arrival of American units to the area.  The airframe meanwhile became a favorite prop for GI souvenir photos.

Messerschmitt Me P.1101 V1, post war USO Troupe, Oberammergau, Germany.   (Green4life80 Photo)

Shipped to USA, the aircraft was stored at Wright Field until it was repaired and fitted with an American Allison J-35 engine.  Unfortunately it was damaged in the only attempt to take off.   Further tests were abandoned in August 1948, and the prototype went to the Bell Company.  The P.1101 was used as ground test-bed for the Bell X-5, but damage ruled out any possibility for repair although some of the Me P.1101's design features were subsequently used by Bell.  Bell used the Me P.1101 as the basis for the X-5, during which individual parts of the P.1101 were used for static testing.  The Bell X-5 was the first aircraft capable of varying its wing geometry while in flight.  Sometime in the early 1950s, the remainder of the Messerschmitt Me P.1101 V1 was scrapped.  Internet:

Siebel Si 204 in Luftwaffe service.  (Luftwaffe Photo)

Siebel Si 204D-1, (Wk. Nr. 322127), captured at Flensburg.  Designated RAF AM4, this aircraft was likely scrapped in 1945.  (RAF Photo)

Siebel Si 204D-1, (Wk. Nr. 321523), captured at Flensburg.  Designated RAF AM5, this aircraft was scrapped at Woodley ca. 1948.

Siebel Si 204D-3, (Wk. Nr. 321547), captured at Leck.  Designated RAF AM12, this aircraft was scrapped at Brize Norton in 1947.

Siebel Si 204D-1, (Wk. Nr. 251922), captured at Leck.  Designated RAF AM13, this aircraft was scrapped at RAF Newton in 1947.

Siebel Si 204D-1, (Wk. Nr. 221558), captured at Grove, Denmark.  This aircraft was designated RAF AM28.  It was scrapped at Brize Norton in 1947.

Siebel Si 204D-1, (Wk. Nr. 251147) captured at Kastrup.  This aircraft was scrapped at Woodley, England in 1948.

Siebel Si 204D-1, (Wk. Nr. unknown).  Designated RAF AM46, this aircraft was scrapped at Brize Norton in 1947.

Siebel Si 204D-1, (Wk. Nr. 251104), captured at Lutenholm.  Designated RAF AM49, this aircraft was scrapped at Brize Norton in 1947.

Siebel Si 204D-1, (Wk. Nr. 321288), RAF AM55 was scrapped at brize Norton in 1947.

Siebel Si 204D-1, (Wk. Nr. 321308), RAF AM56 was scrapped at Schleswig-Jagel, Germany.

Siebel Si 204D, (Wk. Nr. 251190), RAF AM56A was likely scrapped at Schleswig-Jagel, Germany.

Siebel Si 204A (originally a Nord NC.702), (Wk. Nr. 350), fuselage has been used by the Vojenske Muzeum to build up a complete Si 204 D (Aero C-3A) in Czech markings.

Siebel Si 204D captured by the USSR in Soviet Air Force service.  (Soviet Air Force Photo)


Warplane Survivors of other Axis Countries

Axis Powers

The Axis powers also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was the alignment of nations that fought in the Second World War against the Allied forces.  The alliance began in 1936 when Germany signed treaties with Italy and Japan.  The “Rome-Berlin Axis” became a military alliance in 1939 under the Pact of Steel, with the Tripartite Pact of 1940 leading to the integration of the military aims of Germany and its two treaty-bound allies.  At their zenith during the war, the Axis powers presided over empires that occupied large parts of Europe, Africa, East and Southeast Asia, and islands of the Pacific Ocean.  The war ended in 1945 with the defeat of the Axis powers and the dissolution of the alliance.  Like the Allies, membership of the Axis was fluid, with nations entering and leaving over the course of the war.

The “Axis powers” formally took the name after the Tripartite Pact was signed by Germany, Italy, and Japan on 27 September 1940, in Berlin.  The pact was subsequently joined by Hungary (20 November 1940), Romania (23 November 1940), Slovakia (25 November 1940), Bulgaria (1 March 1941), and Yugoslavia (25 March 1941).  Various other countries fought side by side with the Axis powers for a common cause.  These countries were not signatories of the Tripartite Pact and thus not formal members of the Axis.  These co-belligerents included Thailand, Finland, San Marino, and Iraq. 

The Empire of Japan created a number of puppet states in the areas occupied by its military, beginning with the creation of Manchukuo (Manchuria)  in 1932. These puppet states achieved varying degrees of international recognition.  In addition to Manchuria, they included Mengjiang (Inner Mongolia), the Re-organized National Government of China, the Philippines (Second Republic), India (Provisional Government of Free India), Vietnam (Empire of Vietnam), Cambodia, Laos, and Burma (Baw Maw Regime).

The Italian Puppet States included Montenegro, Albania and Monaco.  Germany’s Puppet Regimes included Slovakia (Tiso regime), the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Serbia, Italy (Italian Social Republic), Albania (under German control), Hungary (Szalasi regime), Norway (Quisling regime),  Macedonia, Belarus, and the Province of Ljubljana.  Joint German-Italian puppet states included the Independent State of Croatia and Greece.  The Vichy France regime was a collaborator state.  Various controversial agreements were made during the war years with Argentina, Denmark, the Soviet Union, Spain and Sweden.[1] 

This section focuses on the air forces and the combat aircraft in use by these nations and the locations of surviving airframes.

Axis Air Forces of Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Yugoslavia


The Bulgarian Air Force was obsolete at the beginning of the Second World War.  It was armed with a lot of Polish-built equipment (PZL P.11s, P.24s, P.23s and P.46s) bought in 1938-39, some Italian aircraft bought in the 1930s, and Czech aircraft bought in 1939 after Germany took over (72 Avia B-534 fighters + 32 Avia B-71 (SB-2) bombers).  Over the course of the war, Bulgaria received more equipment from Germany, including 10 Messerschmitt Bf 109Es and 11 Dornier Do 17M in 1940, and 120 Dewoitine D.520 and 48 Bf 109G in 1943.[2]

At the beginning of the Second World War, the Bulgarian combat air fleet comprised 374 machines in various roles. In addition orders were placed for 10 Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 fighters, 11 Dornier Do 17M/P bombers, 6 Messerschmitt Bf 108 light liaison and utility aircraft, 24 Arado Ar 96B-2 and 14 Bücker Bü 131 Bestmann trainers.

The Air Force order of battle comprised the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Army Aviation Orlyaks (Army Air Groups or air regiments), each attached to the correspondingly-numbered field army.  Each Orlyak had a fighter, a line bomber and two reconnaissance Yatos (Squadrons).  There was also an Independent Aviation corps, which combined the 5th Bomber and 6th Fighter Regiments.  The training units consisted of the “Junker” School Orlyak at Vrazhdebna airfield, the 2nd Training Orlyak at Telish airfield (called the Blind Flying Training School) and the 3rd Training Orlyak at Stara Zagora airfield.  In 1940, the Bulgarian aviation industry provided the HMAT with 42 DAR-9, 45 KB-5 aircraft and the serial production of the KB-6 - Bulgaria‘s first twin-engined aircraft was scheduled to commence.  At year’s end the Air Force had 595 aircraft (258 combat) and 10,287 personnel.

The Kingdom of Bulgaria entered the Second World War on 1 March 1941 as a German ally.  Under the signed treaty Bulgaria allowed the use of its territory as a staging point for the invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece and some minor logistical support.  Bulgaria’s fighter force at the time consisted of 91 machines, with just 10 of them being of the modern Bf 109E-4 type.  In addition, 11 were of the outdated PZL.24B; the remaining numbers were of the Avia B.534 biplane types.  The ground-based air defences were made up of only eight 88-mm (3.5 in) and six 20-mm (0.79 in) AA guns.  To help its new ally the 12th Army of the Wehrmacht offered support with its air and air defense assets and 8 Freya-type radars dispersed throughout the country.  A dispersed observation and reporting system was gradually developed.

Arado Ar 196A floatplane in Bulgarian Air Force markings, and her crew.  (Bulgarian Air Force Photo)

 (1GonZosft Photo)

Arado Ar 196A floatplane in Bulgarian Air Force markings, Bulgarian Museum of Aviation and the Air Force Plovdive, Bulgaria.  (Gonzosft Photo)

The first air strike against Bulgarian targets was carried out by 4 Yugoslav Dornier Do.17Kb-1 on 6 April 1941 on the city of Kyustendil and its railway station killing 47 and injuring 95, mostly civilians.  The air strikes intensifying following days; British Royal Air Force units based in Greece participated in the attacks as well.  At the end of April the 2nd  and 5th Bulgarian armies occupied Greek and Yugoslav territories according to an agreement with the Third Reich.

Bulgarian Dornier Do 17 bomber.  (Bulgarian Air Force Photo)

As a part of the joint armed forces’ effort on 26 June 1941, six Avia B.71 and 9 Dornier Do 17M bombers were transferred to the Badem Chiflik airfield near Kavala (in modern Greece).  They were tasked with ASW patrols and air support for Italian shipping over the adjacent area of the Aegean Sea.  In addition 9 Letov Š.328s based in Badem Chiflik provided the ground troops with air reconnaissance.  At the Black Sea shores the “Galata” Fighter Orlyak was established at NAS Chaika, Varna, with the 10 Bf 109E-4s and 6 Avia B.534s.  The S.328s were also used for ASW patrols over the Black Sea, flying out of the Sarafovo and Balchik airfields.  At the end of 1941 the inventory of His Majesty’s Air Troops consisted of 609 aircraft of 40 different types.[3]

Avia B-534

The Avia B-534 was a Czechoslovak biplane fighter produced during the Second World War.  Bulgaria bought 78 B-534s in 1939, well after the partition.  The last batch of these aircraft arrived in March 1942.  On 1 August 1943, seven of these aircraft were able to make two passes at American Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers returning from the raid on Ploie?ti.  Hits were scored but no B-24s were shot down and some of the B-534s that received damage in the combat, cracked up on landing.  After the anti-German coup of 9 September 1944, Bulgaria switched sides overnight and its B-534s were often used in ground attacks against German units.  On 10 September 1944, six B-534s were involved in a brief melee with six German Bf 109s at low altitude.  One B-534 was lost, but the Germans quickly broke off, wary of the low altitude and the B-534’s manoeuvrability. [4]

Former French Dewoitine D.520 fighters captured by Germany and in service with the Bulgarian Air Force, ca 1943-1944.  (Bulgarian Air Force Photos)

As German forces invaded Vichy’s so-called “free zone” in November 1942, they captured 246 Dewoitine D.520s.  Of these, 96, or 120, were transferred to Vozdushni Voiski, the Bulgarian Air Force, for use in combat.  The D.520s reached Bulgaria in August 1943, as the Bulgarian fighter pilots were still training on the type at Nancy with JG 107.  The following month, the first 48 Dewoitines were taken over in a ceremony on Karlovo airfield.  Two months later, on 24 November, the D.520s were used in combat, when 17 out of the 60 B-24s of 15th USAAF arrived in the Bulgarian sky to bomb the capital, Sofia.  Twenty four Dewoitines took off from Vrashdebna base (along with 16 Bf 109G-2s from Bojourishte) and attacked the bombers and the 35 escorting P-38s.  The Bulgarian pilots claimed four American aircraft for the loss of one fighter, three more aircraft had to force land.  American bombers attacked Sofia again, on 10 December 1943. That day, 31 B-24 Liberators escorted by P-38s, were intercepted by six Dewoitines of II/6th Fighter regiment from Vrashdebna and 16 D.520s of I/6th Fighter regiment from Karlov (along with 17 Bf 109G-2s).  The Americans claimed 11 D.520s for the loss on only one P-38.  Later records showed only one Dewoitine was lost during that air battle.

The Vozdushni Voiski D.520s were again up in force, to face the massive Allied air raid of 30 March 1944.  To intercept the 450 bombers (B-17s, B-24s and Handley Page Halifaxes) escorted by 150 P-38s, the Bulgarians scrambled 28 Dewoitines from I./6th at Karlovo, six D.520s from II/6th at Vrashdebna (together with 39 Bf 109G-6s and even Avia 135s).  At least ten Allied aircraft (eight bombers and two P-38s) where shot down, while Vozdushni Voiski lost five fighters and three pilots.  Two more Bulgarian aircraft had to force land. 

Bulgarian Messerschmitt Bf 109G fighters.  (Bulgarian Air Force Photos)

During the last Allied raid on Sofia, on 17 April, the II./6th fighter scrambled seven Dewoitines (plus 16 Bf 109s) against 350 B-17s and B-24s escorted by 100 P-51 Mustangs.  Bulgarians pilots, that up to that time had encountered only P-38s, mistook the P-51s for their own Bf 109 and before they realized their mistake, seven Bf 109G-6s had been shot down.  That day the Vozdushni Voiski suffered the heaviest losses since the beginning of the war: nine fighters shot down and three that had to crash land.  Six pilots lost their lives.  By 28 September 1944, twenty days after Bulgaria joined the Allies, Dewoitines still equipped a Orlyak (Group) of 6th Fighter regiment: I Group had a total of 17 D.520s, five in repair and 12 operational, for its three Jato (Squadrons). [5]

Dar 10 in Bulgarian Air Force service.  (Bulgarian Air Force Photo)

Aviation Museums of Bulgaria

Muzej na Aviatsyata I VVS, Bulgarian Museum of Aviation, Krumovo, Plovdiv, 4112.  (Arado Ar 196A3, No. 3)

Nationalen Istoricheski Muzei, National Historical Museum, 16 Vitosho Lale Str, Sofia.

Voenno Istoricheski Muzei, Military Historical Museum, 23 General Skobelev Blvd, Sofia.

Voenno Morski Musei, Naval Museum, 2 Primorski Blvd, Varna 9000.


The present day Hungarian Air Force (Hungarian: Magyar Légier?) is the air force branch of the Hungarian Army.  Following the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1918, a small air arm was established operating surviving aircraft from Hungarian factories and training schools.  This air arm became the Hungarian Red Air Force under the short lived Hungarian Soviet Republic but was disbanded upon its downfall.

Under the Treaty of Trianon (1920), Hungary was forbidden from owning military aircraft.  However, a secret air arm was gradually established under the cover of civilian flying clubs.  During 1938, the existence of the Royal Hungarian Air Force was made known.  The air arm was reorganized and expanded.  On 1 January 1939, it became independent of the army.  It subsequently participated in clashes with the newly established Slovak Republic and in the border confrontation with the Kingdom of Romania.  In April 1941, operations were conducted in support of the German invasion of Yugoslavia and, on 27 June 1941, Hungary declared war on the Soviet Union.  On 1 March 1942, the air force was returned to army control.  In the summer of 1942, an air brigade was attached to the Luftwaffe’s VIII. /Fliegerkors on the Eastern Front.  In March 1944, Allied bomber raids began on Hungary and progressively increased in intensity.  Late in 1944 all efforts were redirected towards countering the advancing Red Army, but to no avail.  All fighting in Hungary ended on 16 April 1945.  Following the end of the war, a small air arm was organised along Soviet lines in 1947.[6

The Museum of Hungarian Aviation displays old military and civilian aircraft and aircraft engines in Szolnok, Hungary.  It is located next to the “Lt. Ittebei Kiss József” Helicopter Base of the Hungarian Air Force.  The museum started out as the aircraft and technical peripherals collection of the “Kilián György Flight Technical College” in 1973.  This museum stores the remains of a number of Second World War warplanes shot down over Hungary and it plays a leading role in salvaging and conservation of such wrecks.  As result of these efforts the museum recovered an Il-2, two Bf 109s and a LaGG-5.[7]

During the war, Hungary produced 1,182 aircraft and 1,482 aircraft engines.  Among the aircraft were 488 Bf 109s and 279 Me 210s.  158 of these aircraft were taken on strength of the RHAF.  Aircraft used by the Royal Hungarian Air Force included the Arado Ar 96 trainer; Bücher Bü 131 flown as a courier aircraft; Caproni Ca 135bis bomber; Fiat CR 32; Dornier Do 215 bomber; Fiat CR.42; Fiat G.12 transport; Fieseler Fi 156 Storch; Focke-Wulf Fw 56 Weihe used as a courier/liaison aircraft; Focke-Wulf Fw 189 Uhu; and Focke-Wulf Fw 190F; Heinkel He 46; Heinkel He 112; Junkers Ju 86K-2 flown as a bomber; Junkers Ju 88A-4; Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6, Bf 109G-14 and Bf 109F-4; Messerschmitt Bf 110G-4; Messerschmitt Me 210Ca-1 (Licence-built in Hungary); Nardi FN 305 used as an advanced trainer; PZL P.11; Regianne Re.2000 Falco I (licence-built in Hungary as the Héja); and Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 bomber.[8

Royal Hungarian Air Force records claim 126 victories were achieved by the 101st Fighter Regiment/Battalion during the ten months between 14 June 1944 and 14 April 1945.  On 4 May 1945, with the end of the war closing in on the them, the surviving staff of the regiment set the remaining aircraft (recorded as 47 by one source and 70 by another) on fire at Raffelding airport.[9

 Aviation Museums in Hungary

A Szovjet Repuloter Titkai, Secrets of the Soviet Air Base, Berek tér, Berekfurdo, Hungary, 5309.

Kozlekedesi Muzeum, Transport Museum, 11 Varosliget korut, XIV Budapest.

Budapest Ferihegy Airport Museum, Ferihegy Repuloterre Vezeto Ut, Budapest Ferihegy Airport.

Pinter Muvek Military Museum, Military Technology park, Rakoczy F. Street, Kecel, H-6237 Hungary.

Repulomuzeum Szolnok, Szolnok Aviation Museum, Kilian Gyorgy utca 1, 5000 Szolnok.

Haditechnikai Park, Route 71, H-8251 Zánka.


The Royal Romanian Air Force (Romanian:  For?ele Aeriene Regale ale României, FARR), or simply For?ele Aeriene Române (Romanian Air Force) was the Air Arm of Royal Romanian forces in the Second World War.  It provided support to land forces, carrying out reconnaissance and mounting air raids between other missions.

FARR flew aircraft from Germany and Italy, along with their own and other foreign aircraft, as well as a number of captured enemy aircraft.  The Romanian Air Force fought against the Magyar Királyi Honvéd Légierö (Hungarian Air Force) during the Hungarian annexation of Transylvania.  The most basic unit of their formations was the squadron (Grupp).  The FARR fought alongside the Luftwaffe during the advance into the Ukraine and Crimea until the Battle of Stalingrad, when the Southern Luftwaffe Command was installed in Bucharest.  It also carried out some reconnaissance and patrol missions over the Black Sea alongside Bulgarian units.  The FARR was tasked with the air defence of the Ploie?ti oil installations, and also Bucharest against Allied air raids, and to protect Axis convoys in the Black Sea.  These units fought against the USAAF and RAF during their raids against Romania.

The main models of aircraft flown by the FARR were the PZL P.11f (80 built in Romania), PZL P.24E (50 built in Romania), Hawker Hurricane, Heinkel He 112, Messerschmitt Bf 109E and Bf 109G (70 built in Romania) , Messerschmitt Bf 110 (for night defence), IAR 36 and IAR 80A fighters which were flown alongside other types of interceptors used by the Luftwaffe units in area.  FARR bombers included 30 Heinkel He 111 and Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 (16 built in Romania under licence).

When the country was invaded by Soviet forces, King Mihai I (Michael) ordered Romanian forces to attack Axis forces, and the FARR was allied with Soviet Voenno-vozdushniye Sily against German and Hungarian forces in Transylvania and Slovakia, though some units continued to fight with the Axis in Luftwaffe volunteer units.  One result f the Soviet Invasion of Poland was that a large number of Polish Air Force aircraft were interned in Romania.  Also, a number of Soviet aircraft were captured during the war, as well as a few American Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers.[10]

IAR 80

Romanian IAR 80.  (Romanian Air Force Photo)

The IAR 80 was a Romanian low-wing, monoplane, all-metal monocoque fighter and ground-attack aircraft.  When it first flew in 1939, it was comparable to contemporary designs such as the German Messerschmitt Bf 109E, the British Hawker Hurricane Mk. I, and the American Curtiss P-40B Tomahawk Mk. I and superior to the Dutch Fokker D.XXI and Polish PZL P.24.  Romania joined the Axis in November 1940.  Production problems and lack of available armament delayed entry of the IAR 80 into service until 1941.  It remained in front-line use until 1944.

Romanian IAR 80 replica at the King Ferdinand National Military Museum in Bucharest.  (David Holt Photo)

By 1944 the ARR fighter units included examples of 80A, B and C models, as well as 81A, B and Cs. In order to up-gun the earlier fighters as well as simplify logistics and maintenance, an upgrade program was started in mid-1944 to bring all existing airframes to the 81C armament suite of two MG 151/20s and four FN 7.92s.  Various IAR.80s soldiered on in Romanian service until 1949, when they were replaced by La-9s and Il-10s.  At that time the airframes with the lowest hours were modified by removing one of the fuel tanks in front of the cockpit and inserting another seat, resulting in a training aircraft called the IAR.80DC. These were used for only a short time before being replaced by Soviet Yakovlev Yak-11s and Yak-18s in late 1952.

After the Soviet occupation of Romania, within five years all remaining IAR 80s were scrapped and replaced with Soviet fighters.  None of them is known to survive.  An IAR 80 post war rebuilt after the fall of Communism and painted in its 1941–1944 original colors was shown at the Mihail Kog?lniceanu airshow, near Constan?a.  An IAR 80 replica (No. 1) can be found at the Muzeul Aviatiei in Bucharest and another replica (No. 42) is on display in the Muzeul Militar National (National Military Museum) in Bucharest, which is a rebuild from IAR 80DC two-seat trainer parts. [11]

When Operation Barbarossa began, the IAR 80 equipped Esc. 41, 59 and 60 of Grupul 8 Vânátoare, part of the Grupul Aerian de Lupta (GAL), that were tasked to support the Romanian 3rd  and 4th Armies deployed at the southern flank of the Eastern Front.  These units took part in the Battle of Stalingrad.  In the summer of 1943 the FARR’s IAR-80s were transferred to Romania for air defense duties, where they were used in combat against the USAAF.  USAAF attacks were directed at the oil refinery installation at Ploie?ti, in particular.  On 1 August 1943 the IAR 80 faced the B-24 Liberator for the first time.  There were 178 B-24s from 9th USAAF, part of the Operation Tidal Wave.  Romanian IAR 80Bs and IAR 80Cs joined together with Bf 109Gs and Bf 110s from the Romanian night fighter squadron, dived on the low-flying, four-engined bombers, belonging to five USAAF bomber groups (the 44th, 93rd, 98th, 376th and 389th).  51 Liberator bombers were lost either in combat or on the return leg of the mission.  Only 89 reached their home bases, of which only 31 were serviceable for a mission the next day.  The Romanians pilots claimed 25 certain and probable victories for just two losses, one IAR 80 B and one Bf 110C.  According to Romanian statistics, IARs and Messerschmitts were confirmed as having shot down ten B-24s, with two probables.  On 10 June 1944, IAR 80s took part in another major air battle when the USAAF attacked Ploie?ti, with 36 Lockheed P-38 Lightnings of the 82nd Fighter Group carrying one bomb each, escorted by 39 Lightnings of the 1st and 82 FGs.   IAR 81Cs from Grupul 6, as well as German fighters from I./JG 53 and 2./JG 77, intercepted the large American formation.  The USAAF lost 22 or 23 P-38s on that day.  Eight were claimed by Grupul 6 and the remainder were claimed by the Luftwaffe and by anti-aircraft gunfire.  The Americans claimed 23 victories, although the Romanians and Germans each reported only one aircraft lost on that day.

In 1944 USAAF aircraft appeared over Romania in more significant numbers.  Many air battles took place and by the time of their last encounter with the USAAF on 3 July 1944, Romanian pilots of Grupul 6 vanatoare had submitted 87 confirmed (and ten not confirmed) claims.  Casualties among the Romanian fighter pilots, However, quickly mounted as well.  The three IAR 80/81 groups (the 1st, 2nd and 6th) in a period of less than four months – known as the “American Campaign” – had at least 32 IAR pilots killed in action, including 11 aces.  These losses exceeded the number of casualties suffered in the previous two and a half years of fighting against the Soviets.  Because of these heavy losses, all IAR 80/81 units were withdrawn from combat against the Americans in July 1944 and IAR pilots started to convert to the more modern Bf 109G-6s. [12]

Royal Romanian Air Force (FARR) units:

Grupul 3° Picaj, Corpul 2° Aerian, Luftflotte 4, South Russia Front, Winter of 1943-44.

Grupul 3° Picaj, Corpul 1° Aerian, Cioara, Dolcesti, Romania August 1944; under orders of Luftwaffe, Luftflotte Kommando 4 with commands in Debrecen, Hungary.

6th Fighter Group

7th Fighter Group

8th Fighter Group (1941–1943)

9th Fighter Group

5th Bomber Group

FARR equipped with the IAR 80 during the Second World War:

1st Fighter Group FARR received IAR-80Cs aircraft in October 1943.

2nd Fighter Group FARR operated IAR-80Cs aircraft.

3rd Fighter Group FARR received IAR-80As aircraft in August 1942.

4th Fighter Group FARR received IAR-80As aircraft in July 1942.  In early 1943 this unit was re-equipped with IAR-80Cs.

45th Fighter Squadron FARR based at Cetatea Alba.

46th Fighter Squadron FARR based at Cetatea Alba.

49th Fighter Squadron FARR based at Targsor.

5th Fighter Group FARR operated IAR-81Cs aircraft.

51st Dive Bomber Squadron FARR

6th Fighter Group FARR started training on IAR-80s aircraft since 27 September 1941 and in January 1942 conversion to IAR-81 begun.

61st Dive Bomber Squadron FARR operated IAR-81s aircraft.

62nd Dive Bomber Squadron FARR operated IAR-81s aircraft.

7th Fighter Group FARR received IAR-81Cs aircraft in October 1943.

8th Fighter Group FARR received first IAR-80s aircraft in February 1941.  In April 1943 was transformed into 8th Assault Group FARR and reequipped with Henschel Hs 129Bs.

42/52nd Fighter Squadron FARR received first IAR-80s aircraft in July 1941.

59th Fighter Squadron FARR received first six IAR-80s aircraft in September 1941.

60th Fighter Squadron FARR operated IAR-80s aircraft.

9th Fighter Group FARR was formed in April 1942 and received IAR-80As aircraft.  In April 1943 unit was re-equipped with Bf 109Gs.

Aviation Museums of Bulgaria:

Muzeul Aviatiei, National Museum of Romanian Aviation, 2-4 Fabrica de Glucoz? Street, Sector 2, Bucharest.

Muzeul Militar National “Regele Ferdinand I”, National Military Museum, Mircea Vulcanescu Street 125-127, Bucharest.

Grupul Scolar de Aeronautica Henri Coanda, B-dul Ficusului nr. 44, sector 1, Bucharest.


After the division of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany in 1939, Slovakia was left with a small air force composed primarily of Czechoslovakian combat aircraft.  This force defended Slovakia against Hungary in 1939, and took part in the invasion of Poland in support of Germany.  During the Second World War, the Slovak Air force was charged with the defence of Slovak airspace, and, after the invasion of Russia, provided air cover for Slovak forces fighting against the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front.  While engaged on the Eastern Front, Slovakia’s 24 obsolete Avia B-534 biplane fighters[13] were replaced with German combat aircraft, including the Messerschmitt Bf 109.  The air force was sent back to Slovakia after combat fatigue and desertion had reduced the pilots’ effectiveness.  Slovak air units took part in the Slovak National Uprising against Germany from late August 1944.[14]

The Avia B-534 was a Czechoslovak biplane fighter produced during the Second World War.  There are no real surviving airframes, but a B-534 replica is on display in the Prague Aviation Museum, Kbely, Czech Republic.  A second replica is displayed at the Slovak Technical Museum at Košice International Airport, Slovakia.  Both of these replicas use some original parts in their construction.[15]

On 1 September 1938, less than a month before the Munich Agreement would cause Czechoslovakia to lose 30% of its territory and 34% of its population, 328 B-534 and Bk-534s equipped 21 fighter squadrons of the Czechoslovak Air Force, with other aircraft being assigned to reserve and training squadrons, and deliveries continuing of the final batch of fighters.  On 14 March 1939, Germany forced the partition of Czechoslovakia, with Slovakia being declared as the nominally independent Slovak Republic with Germany annexing the remaining “Czech” part of Czechoslovakia as the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia the next day.  The Slovenské vzdušné zbrane (Slovak Air Force) was organised out of the units of the Czechoslovak Air Force that were based in Slovakia at the time of partition, and inherited about 71 B-534s and Bk-534s.

Slovakia quickly had to use its new formed air force, weakened by the departure of Czech pilots, to defend itself when Hungary invaded on 23 March 1939.[16]  Two B-534s were shot down by Hungarian anti-aircraft fire with four more being shot down by Hungarian Fiat CR-32 fighters and another Avia making a forced landing behind Hungarian lines, and being captured.

In September 1939, Slovakia participated in the German Invasion of Poland, with the aim of regaining territories lost to Poland at Munich.  Two squadrons of B-534s supported the attack, escorting Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 87 bombers on eight missions, losing two B-534s while claiming a single Polish RWD-8 liaison aircraft shot down.  The same squadrons served with the Germans in Ukraine during summer 1941, with one squadron returning in 1942 for anti-partisan duty.  Obsolescence, lack of spare parts and the old Czechoslovak air force’s curious fuel mixture (BiBoLi, or some other mix of alcohol, benzol and petrol) finally relegated the surviving B-534s to training duties.

This would have been the last operational service of the B-534s in Slovak colors if not for the Slovak National Uprising of September–October 1944.  The rest of the Slovak air assets did not turn-coat as expected and the leaders of the uprising were faced with using a rag-tag collection of leftover aircraft, including several B-534s at Tri Duby airfield.  On 2 September 1944, Master Sergeant František Cyprich, just after testing a repaired B-534, downed a Junkers Ju 52 transport under Hungarian colours on its way to a base in occupied Poland.  This was at once the first aerial victory for the Uprising and the last recorded biplane air-to-air victory.  As the Slovak National Uprising was desperate for available aircraft, Sergeant Cyprich was derided by his colonel for not trying to force the Junkers Ju 52 to land and be captured instead.  The last two B-534s at Tri Duby were burned as the base was evacuated on 25 October 1944.[17]

Aviation Museums of Slovakia

Muzeum Letectva, Kosice Airport, 041 75.

Vojenske Historicke Muzeum, Zilinska 6545, Piestany, 921 01.

Dopravne Muzeum, Bardejovska, Presov.


On 25 March 1941, fearing that Yugoslavia would be invaded otherwise, Prince Paul signed the Tripartite Pact with significant reservations.  Unlike other Axis powers, Yugoslavia was not obligated to provide military assistance, nor to provide its territory for Axis to move military forces during the war.  Yugoslavia’s inclusion in the Axis was not openly welcomed; Italy did not desire Yugoslavia to be a partner in the Axis alliance because Italy had territorial aims on Yugoslavia.  Germany, on the other hand, initially wanted Yugoslavia to participate in Germany’s then-planned Operation Marita in Greece by providing military access to German forces to travel from Germany through Yugoslavia to Greece.

Two days after signing the alliance in 1941, after demonstrations in the streets, Prince Paul was removed from office by a coup d’état.  17-year-old Prince Peter was proclaimed to be of age and was declared king.  The new Yugoslavian government under King Peter II, still fearful of invasion, stated that it would remain bound by the Tripartite Pact.  Hitler, however, suspected that the British were behind the coup against Prince Paul and vowed to invade the country.

The German invasion began on 6 April 1941.  Yugoslavia was a country concocted by the Treaty of Versailles as multi-ethnic state, and was heavily dominated by peoples of the Eastern Orthodox religion.  With unresolved questions of national identity, resistance to the Nazi occupation was not united until major resistance groups like the partisans and Chetniks formed and began making offensives in the Balkans.  Resistance crumbled in less than two weeks and an unconditional surrender was signed in Belgrade on 17 April.  King Peter II and much of the Yugoslavian government had left the country because they did not want to cooperate with the Axis.

While Yugoslavia was no longer capable of being a member of the Axis, several Axis-aligned puppet states emerged after the kingdom was dissolved.  Local governments were set up in Serbia, Croatia, and Montenegro.  The remainder of Yugoslavia was divided among the other Axis powers.  Germany annexed parts of Drava Banovina.  Italy annexed south-western Drava Banovina, coastal parts of Croatia (Dalmatia and the islands), and attached Kosovo to Albania (occupied since 1939).  Hungary annexed several border territories of Vojvodina and Baranja.  Bulgaria annexed Macedonia and parts of southern Serbia.[18]

Aviation Museums of Yugoslavia

Aeronautical Museum – Belgrade, Internacional Airport “Nikola Tesla”, PO Box 35, 11271, Belgrade.  (Fieseler Fi 156C Storch (Wk Nr 9393), YU-COE 91, Focke-Wulf Fw 190F-8/R1 (Wk Nr 930838) 3, Junkers Ju 52/3m (Wk Nr 7208) 222, Junkers Ju 87B-2 (Wk Nr 9801) 0406, Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 (Wk Nr 9663) 14792).

Co-belligerent Air Forces of Finland, Iraq, San Marino and Thailand


The Finnish Air Force (FAF or FiAF) (Finnish: Ilmavoimat) is one of the branches of the Finnish Defence Forces.  Its peacetime tasks are airspace surveillance, identification flights, and production of readiness formations for wartime conditions.  As a separate branch of the military, the Finnish Air Force is one of the oldest in the world, having existed officially since 6 March 1918.[19]

Finland was forced into the Second World War when the “Winter War“[20] began on 30 November 1939 when the Soviet Air Force bombed 21 Finnish cities and municipalities.  The Soviet Union is estimated to have had about 5,000 aircraft in 1939, and of these, some 700 fighters and 800 medium bombers were brought to the Finnish front to support the Red Army’s operations.  As with most aerial bombardment of the early stages of the war, the damage against the Finnish industry and railways was relatively limited.

At the beginning of the Winter War, the Finnish Air Force was equipped with only 17 bombers and 31 fighters.  There were also 54 liaison aircraft but 20 of these were only used as messengers.  The most modern aircraft in the Finnish arsenal were the British-designed Bristol Blenheim bombers that had been license-built in Finland.  The primary fighter aircraft was the Fokker D.XXI, a cheap but manoeuvrable design with a fabric-covered fuselage and fixed landing gear.  In theory, this force should have been no match for the attacking Soviet Red Air Force.

In order to prevent their aircraft from being destroyed on the ground, the Finns spread out their aircraft to many different airfields and hid them in the nearby forests.    The Finns constructed many decoys and built shrapnel protection walls for the aircraft. Soviet air raids on Finnish airfields usually caused little or no damage as a result, and often resulted in interception of the attackers by the Finns as the bombers flew homeward.

As the war progressed, the Finns tried desperately to purchase aircraft wherever there were any to be found.  This policy resulted in a very diverse aircraft inventory, which was to cause some major logistical problems until the inventory became more standardized.  The Finnish Air Force was to consist of numerous American, British, Czechoslovakian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Soviet, and Swedish designs.  Other countries, like South Africa and Denmark, sent aircraft to assist in the Finnish war effort.  Many of these purchases and gifts did not arrive until the end of the hostilities, but were to see action later during the Continuation and Lapland wars.

To make up for its weaknesses of being equipped with few and obsolete fighters, the FiAF mainly focused on attacking enemy bombers from directions that were disadvantageous to the enemy.  Soviet fighters were usually superior in firepower, speed and agility, and were to be avoided unless the enemy was in a disadvantageous position.  A good example of the wisdom of this strategy was the surprise attack on the Immola air base in late February 1940 by some 40 Soviet fighters.  The Finns were surprised during takeoff and lost seven planes, one Fokker D.XXI and six Gloster Gladiators.

As a result of these tactics, the Finnish Air Force managed to shoot down 218 Soviet aircraft during the Winter War while losing only 47 to enemy fire.  The Finnish anti-aircraft gunners also had 314 confirmed downed enemy planes.  30 Soviet aircraft were captured – these were “kills” that landed more or less intact within Finland and were quickly repaired.

The Finnish Air Force was better prepared for the Continuation War.[21]  It had been considerably strengthened and consisted of some 550 aircraft, though many were considered second-rate and thus “exportable” by their countries of origin.  Finland purchased a large number of aircraft during the Winter War, but few of those reached service during the short conflict.  Politics also played a factor, since Hitler did not wish to antagonize the Soviet Union by allowing aircraft exports through German-controlled territory during the conflict.

New aircraft types were in place by the time hostilities with Soviet Union resumed in 1941.  Small numbers of Hawker Hurricanes arrived from the United Kingdom, Morane-Saulnier M.S.406s from France, Fiat G.50s from Italy, a few dozen Curtiss Hawk 75s captured by the Germans in France and Norway then sold to Finland, when Germany began warming up its ties with Finland, and numerous Brewster B239s from the neutral USA strengthened the FiAF.  The FiAF proved capable of holding its own in the upcoming battles with the Red Air Force.  Older models, like the Fokker D.XXI and Gloster Gladiator, were replaced in front-line combat units with the new aircraft. 

A small number of Caudron C.714 light fighter aircraft developed by Caudron-Renault for the French Armée de l'Air just prior to the start of the Second World War were supplied to Finland.  Six Caudron C.714s were received in a semi-assembled state.  An additional 10 were on the dockside at the time of France's Armistice with Germany, subsequently, further shipments were halted.  After assembly, operations in Finland were limited to test flights and, in September 1941, combat flights with the fighters were prohibited.  The aircraft were maintained on the roster until they were retired and scrapped on 30 December 1949.  One example, CA-556 was transferred to the maintenance personnel school as an instructional airframe.[22]

The FiAF’s main mission was to achieve air superiority over Finland and prevent Soviet air power from reinforcing their front lines.  The fighter squadrons were very successful in the Finnish offensive of 1941.  A stripped-down, more manoeuvrable, and significantly lightened version of the American Brewster B239 Buffalo was the FiAF’s main fighter until 1943.  Results with this fighter were very good, even though the type was considered to be a failure in the US Navy and with British Far East forces.  In the Finnish use, the Brewster had a victory rate of 32:1 – 459 kills to 15 losses.  German Messerschmitt Bf 109s replaced the Brewster as the primary front-line fighter of the FiAF in 1943, though the Buffalos continued in secondary roles until the end of the wars.

Other types of aircraft, especially the Italian Fiat G.50 and Curtiss Hawk 75 also proved capable in the hands of well-trained Finnish pilots.  Various Russian designs also saw action when lightly damaged “kills” were repaired and made airworthy.

Dornier Do 17s (received as a gift from Hermann Göring in 1942) and Junkers Ju 88s improved the bombing capability of the Finnish Air Force.  The bomber force was also strengthened with a number of captured Soviet bombers, which had been taken in large numbers by the Germans during Operation Barbarossa.  The bomber units flew assorted missions with varying results, but a large part of their time was spent in training, waiting to use their aircraft until the time required it.  Thus the bomber squadrons of Flying Regiment 4 were ready for the summer battles of 1944, including the Battle of Tali-Ihantala.

While the FiAF was successful in its mission, the conditions were not easy.  Spare parts for the FiAF planes were scarce - parts from the US (Buffalo & Hawk), Britain (Hurricanes), and Italy (G.50) were unavailable for much of the war.  Repairs took often a long time, and the State Aircraft Factory was burdened with restoration/repair of Soviet war booty planes, foreign aircraft with many hours of flight time, and the development of indigenous Finnish fighter types.  Also, one damaged bomber took up workshop space equalling three fighters.  Finland was required to expel or intern remaining German forces as part of its peace agreement with the Soviets in mid-1944.  As a result, the final air battles were against retreating Luftwaffe units.  The Finnish Air Force did not bomb any civilian targets during either war.  Curiously, overflying Soviet towns and bases was also forbidden, as to avoid any unneeded provocations and to spare equipment.  According to Kalevi Keskinen’s and Kari Stenman’s book Aerial Victories 1–2, the Finnish Air Force shot down 1,621 Soviet aircraft while losing 210 of its own aircraft during the Continuation War.[23]

Preserved combat aircraft from the Winter War and Continuation War in Finland include:

Polikarpov I-16UTI two-seat trainer, Reg. No. UT-1, in the Keski-Suomen Ilmailumuseo, Tikkakoski, Finland;

Hawker Hurricane Mk. I, (Serial No. HC-452), ex N2394, Keski-Suomen Ilmailumuseo, Tikkakoski, Finland;

Hawker Hart, Reg. No. Fv 714, displayed in Finnish Air Force markings in the Flygvapenmuseum, Linköping, Sweden.  This aircraft was part of the F19 volunteer force sent to Finland.

Gloster Gladiator, (Serial No. G5/59066), Yellow H, Rweg. No. Fv 278, displayed in Finnish Air Force markings in the Flygvapenmuseum, Linköping, Sweden.  This aircraft was also part of the F19 volunteer force sent to Finland.

Gloster Gauntlet, (Serial No. GT-400), ex-K5271, Lentomuseo Kymi, Finland.

Fokker D.XXI III/11, Reg. No. FR-110, partial replica, in the Keski-Suomen Ilmailumuseo, Tikkakoski, Finland;

Curtiss Hawk 75A-6, (Serial No. 13659), Reg. No. CU-554, recovered in Russia, now under restoration in New Zealand.

Caudron C.714, No. 6, Reg. No. CA-556, Vesivehmaan Varastohalli, Lahti, Finland.

Brewster B-239, No. 39, Reg. No. BW-372, recovered from Russia in 1998, being restored at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, Florida.

VL Humu, (Serial No. 632567), Reg. No. HM-671, Keski-Suomen Ilmailumuseo, Tikkakoski, Finland;

VL Pyry Mk. II, No. 26, Reg. No. PY-27, Suomen Ilmailumuseo, Helsinki, Finland.

VL Pyörremyrsky, No. 1, Reg. No. PM-1, Keski-Suomen Ilmailumuseo, Tikkakoski, Finland;

Bristol Bulldog Mk. IV, (Serial No. 7810), Reg. No. BU-59, Hallinporti Ilmailumuseo, Halli, Tampere, Finland.

Bristol Blenheim Mk. IV, VI/3, Reg. No. BL-200, Keski-Suomen Ilmailumuseo, Tikkakoski, Finland;

Blackburn Ripon IIF, No. 12, Reg. No. RI-140, Vesivehmaan Varastohalli, Lahti, Finland.

Aero A-32 biplane, Reg. No. AEj-59, Vesivehmaan Varastohalli, Lahti, Finland.

Aviation Museums of Finland

Hallinportii Ilmailumuseo, Hallinportii Aviation Museum, Haukilahdentie 3, 35600 Halli.

Museo Torpin Tykit, The Cannons at Torp Museum, Torppanummentie 73, 10210 Inkoo.

Flying Museum of Karhula’s Flying Club, Kymi Airport.

Aviation Museum Association of South-East Finland, Kaakkois Suomen Ilmailumuseo, Lappeenranta Airport, 53600 Lappeenranta.

Keski-Suomen Ilmailumuseo, Aviation Museum of Central Finland, 41160 Tikkakoski.  (BW-372 Brewster Buffalo, Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6Y (MT-507/O)).

Suomen Ilmailumuseo, Finnish Aviation Museum, Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, Tietotie 3, 01530 Vantaa.  (Fieseler Fi 156K-1 Storch (OH-FSA), Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 (MT-208)

Ilmatorjuntamuseo, Anti-Aircraft Museum, Klaavolantie 2, 04300 Tuusula.

Paijat-Hameen Ilmailumuseo, Finnish Aviation Museum Society Storage Hangar, Lahti-Vesivehmaa Airfield, Lentokentta, 17130 Vesivehmaa.


The Kingdom of Iraq was briefly an ally of the Axis, fighting the United Kingdom in the Anglo-Iraqi War of May 1941.  Anti-British sentiments were widespread in Iraq prior to 1941.  Seizing power on 1 April 1941, the nationalist government of Iraqi Prime Minister  Rashid Ali repudiated the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930 and demanded that the British abandon their military bases and withdraw from the country.  Ali sought support from Germany and Italy in expelling British forces from Iraq.

On 9 May 1941, Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the Mufti of Jerusalem and associate of Ali, declared holy war against the British and called on Arabs throughout the Middle East to rise up against British rule.  Hostilities between the Iraqi and British forces began on 2 May 1941, with heavy fighting at the RAF air base in Habbaniyah.  On 25 May 1941, the Germans stepped up offensive operations.  The Germans and Italians dispatched aircraft and aircrew to Iraq utilizing Vichy French bases in Syria, which would later provoke fighting between Allied and Vichy French forces in Syria.

The Germans planned to coordinate a combined German-Italian offensive against the British in Egypt, Palestine, and Iraq.  Iraqi military resistance ended by 31 May 1941.  Rashid Ali and the Mufti of Jerusalem fled to Iran, then Turkey, Italy, and finally Germany, where Ali was welcomed by Hitler as head of the Iraqi government-in-exile in Berlin.[24]

During the time leading up to the coup d’etat, Rashid Ali’s supporters had been informed that Germany was willing to recognise the independence of Iraq from the British Empire.  There had also been discussions on war material being sent to support the Iraqis and other Arab factions in fighting the British.  On 6 May 1941, in accordance with the Paris Protocols, Germany concluded a deal with the Vichy French government to release war materials, including aircraft, from sealed stockpiles in Syria and transport them to the Iraqis.  The French also agreed to allow passage of other weapons and material as well as loaning several airbases in northern Syria, to Germany, for the transport of German aircraft to Iraq.  Between 9 May and the end of the month, about one-hundred German and about twenty Italian aircraft landed on Syrian airfields.

Also on 6 May Luftwaffe Colonel Werner Junck received orders that he was to take a small force to Iraq, where they were to operate out of Mosul. The British quickly learned of the German arrangements through intercepted Italian diplomatic transmissions. Between 10 and 15 May the aircraft arrived in Mosul via Vichy French airbases, in Syria, and then commenced regular aerial attacks on British forces.  The arrival of these aircraft was the direct result of fevered consultations between Baghdad and Berlin in the days following air strikes carried out by Air Vice-Marshal Smart on Iraqi forces above Habbaniya.  The Luftwaffe force, under the direction of Lieutenant General Hans Jeschonnek, was named “Fliegerführer Irak” (Flight Commander Iraq) and was under the tactical command of Colonel Werner Junck.  At least 20 bombers were initially promised however in the end Junck’s unit consisted of between 21 and 29 aircraft all painted with Royal Iraqi Air Force markings.

On 14 May 1941, Winston Churchill gave the RAF authorisation to act against German aircraft in Syria and on Vichy French airfields.  On the same day, two over-laden Heinkel He 111 bombers were left in Palmyra in central Syria because they had damaged rear wheels.  British fighters entered French air space and strafed and disabled the damaged Heinkels.  By 18 May, Junck’s force had been whittled down to eight Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighters, four Heinkel He 111 bombers, and two Junkers Ju 52 transports.  This represented roughly a 30 percent loss of his original force.  Near the end of May, Junck had lost 14 Messerschmitts and 5 Heinkels.

On 27 May, after being invited by Germany, 12 Italian Fiat CR.42s of the Regia Aeronautica Italiana arrived at Mosul to operate under German command and by 29 May, Italian aircraft were reported in the skies over Baghdad.  In the end the Luftwaffe found conditions in Iraq intolerable, as spare parts were not available and even the quality of aircraft fuel was far below the Luftwaffe’s requirements.  With each passing day fewer aircraft remained serviceable and, ultimately, all Luftwaffe personnel were evacuated on the last remaining Heinkel He 111.[25]

San Marino

San Marino was ruled by the Sammarinese Fascist Party (PFS) from 1923 and was closely allied to Italy.  On 17 September 1940, San Marino declared war on Britain; Britain and the other Allied nations did not reciprocate.  San Marino restored relations with Germany, as it did not attend the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.  This was done to avoid a repeat of the 1936 incident when San Marino denied a Turkish student entry because he was an enemy alien.

Three days after the fall of Mussolini, PFS rule collapsed and the new government declared neutrality in the conflict.  The Fascists regained power on 1 April 1944, but kept neutrality intact.  On 26 June, the Royal Air Force accidentally bombed the country, killing 63 civilians.  The Fascists and the Axis used this tragedy in propaganda about Allied aggression against a neutral country.

Retreating Axis forces occupied San Marino on 17 September 1944, but were forced out by the Allies in less than three days.  The Allied occupation removed the Fascists from power, and San Marino declared war on Germany on 21 September 1844.  The newly elected government banned the Fascists on 16 November 1944.[26]

Aviation Museum of Rimini - San Marino

Parco Tematico & Museo dell’Aviazion, Superstrada Rimini – San Marino, Km. 8.500, Via S. Aquilina, 58 Rimini.


The Royal Thai Air Force or RTAF is the air force of the Kingdom of Thailand.  Since its establishment in 1913, as one of the earliest air forces of Asia, the Royal Thai Air Force had engaged in many major and minor battles.

In early 1935, Thailand placed an order for 24 Curtiss Hawk IIIs at a cost of 63,900 Baht each, and a manufacturing license was also bought.  The first 12 Hawk IIIs were shipped to Thailand in August and the remaining 12 arrived in late 1935, which were named Fighter Type 10.  A total of 50 Hawk IIIs were locally built during 1937 and 1939.  The type was used against the French in the Franco-Thai War and the Japanese invaders in December 1941, and then relegated for use as trainers.  Some of these aircraft were still active in 1949 and one airframe (KH-10) survives in the Royal Thai Air Force Museum.

During the French-Thai War, the Thai Air Force flew the Vought V-93S (American export version of the O3U-6) Corsair biplane scout and observation aircraft and scored several air-to-air-victories against the Vichy France Armée de l’Air.

The Vought O2U Corsair was a 1920s biplane scout and observation aircraft.  Made by Vought Corporation, the O2U was ordered by the United States Navy (USN) in 1927.  Powered by a 400 hp (298 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp engine, it incorporated a steel-tube fuselage structure and a wood wing structure with fabric covering.   Many were seaplanes or amphibians.  A single AXV1 (O2U) was supplied to the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service for evaluation in 1923.[27]

During the Second World War the Thai Air Force supported the Royal Thai Army in its occupation of the Burmese Shan States as allies of the Japanese in 1942 and defended Bangkok from allied air raids during the latter part of the war.  Some RTAF personnel also assisted the anti-Japanese resistance.  During the war five Ki-27s fought in a dogfight with eight North American P-51 Mustangs and 9 Lockheed P-38 Lightnings over Lampang Province in Thailand.  The RTAF lost all Ki-27s, but claimed they shot down one P-38 and badly damaged two P-51s.  An RTAF Nakajima Ki-43 shot down one USAAF Boeing B-29.[28]

Aviation Museums in Thailand

Royal Thai Air Force Museum, Thanon Phahon Yothin, Don Muang Airport, Bangkok.

Royal Thai Army Aviation Museum, Lop Buri/Sa Pran Nak, Khao Phra Ngam.

Jesada Technik Museum, 100 Moo 2 Ngew-rai, Nakhon Chaisri, Nakhon Pathorn 73120.

Empire of Japan Puppet State Air Forces of Manchukuo (Manchuria), Mengjiang (Inner Mongolia), the Re-organized National Government of China, the Philippines (Second Republic), India (Provisional Government of Free India), Vietnam (Empire of Vietnam), Cambodia, Laos, and Burma (Baw Maw Regime)

The government of the Empire of Japan viewed all the lands of Asia to be the rightful property of the Imperial Japanese Government and the Emperor.  The land invasion of Korea, China and parts of Russia, which had begun at the turn of the 20th century, had been taking an upswing.  The Japanese had been kept from realizing their goal of unifying or dominating the Asian lands by the presence of foreign military forces in the Philippines (United States), Hong Kong, Malaysia (United Kingdom) and the Dutch East Indies.  Japan had hoped that they could strike fast and hold off reinforcements long enough to broker a peace accord from a position of strength such as they had done during the Russo Japanese War.

Central to the Japanese goals was the taking of all Asian lands.  To be successful US, UK, and Dutch forces were to be attacked simultaneously to prevent their ability to reinforce and aid their Asian possessions.  Pivotal to the Japanese decision to attack was a tremendous need for crude oil as a result of economic sanctions imposed by the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands which was weakening the Japanese economy.  The Japanese leaders were faced with a choice: end the war in China and their plans for Asian conquest, so as to end the sanctions, or declare war on three large military forces.  The current war against Britain, and Holland, and the strain of providing aid by the United States to these countries was seen as an opportunity by the Japanese to extend their “rightful” place as a ruler in Asia.

The Japanese government decided to seize resources under the control of Britain, the United States and the Netherlands. Japan had already placed over ten divisions in Formosa (Taiwan). Japanese military planners argued that the British (and the USSR should they decide to declare war), would be unable to effectively respond to a Japanese attack, given the threat posed by the Third Reich.[29]

Manchukuo (Manchuria)

Before the Second World War, the Japanese colonized Manchukuo and used it as a base from which to invade China. I n the summer of 1939 a border dispute between Manchukuo and the Mongolian People’s Republic resulted in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol.  During this battle, a combined Soviet-Mongolian force defeated the Japanese KwantungArmy supported by limited Manchukuoan forces.

On 8 August 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, in accordance with the agreement at the Yalta Conference, and invaded Manchukuo from outer Manchuria and Outer Mongolia.  This was called the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation.[30]

The Manchukuo Imperial Air Force was established in February 1937, initially with 30 men selected from the Manchukuo Imperial Army and trained at the Japanese Kwantung Army aircraft arsenal in Harbin.  The official air force’s predecessor was the Manchukuo Air Transport Company (later renamed the Manchukuo National Airways) a paramilitary airline formed in 1931, which undertook transport and reconnaissance missions for the Japanese military.

The first air unit of the Manchukuo Air Force was established at the airfield in Xinjing, under the command of 1st Lieutenant Uta, and initially had only one aircraft: a French-built Nieuport-Delage NiD 29 biplane.  Kawasaki Type 88 (KDA-2) light bombers and Nakajima Type 91 fighters were later supplied from Japan.  A second air unit was established in Fengtien and the third air unit in Harbin from 1938-1939. In July 1940, an Air Defense HQ was created in Xinjing.

Initially, only Japanese pilots and ground crews were also deployed.  After 1940, the Japanese allowed native ethnic Manchus to receive pilot training.  On 30 August 1940, a flight school was established in Fengtien to teach both military and civil pilots.  The training program received a severe setback in January 1941 when approximately 100 pilot cadets rebelled, and fled to join to anti-Japanese guerillas after killing their instructors.  During September to October 1942 the school received more than twenty training aircraft, including Tachikawa Ki-9 “Spruce”, Tachikawa Ki-55 “Ida” and Mansy? Ki-79 advanced trainers. 

In addition, a transport section with three Nakajima Ki-34 passenger aircraft was established to serve the needs of the imperial court.  Additional Junkers Ju-86Z-2, Tachikawa Ki-54 “Hickory” and Mansh? Hayabusa provided for government transportation needs.  From 1944, the Manchukuo Imperial Air Force came under the command of the Japanese 2nd Air Army.  At that point, it had around 100 to 120 combat aircraft. 

From 1941 to the end of the Second World War, the main equipment of the Manchukuo Air Force was the Nakajima Ki-27b “Nate” light fighter.  Money to pay for these fighters was “donated” by various Japanese companies based in Manchukuo.  Primarily a fighter force, the only tactical bomber in Manchukuo service during the war was the Kawasaki Ki-32.

The Manchukuo Air Force requested Type 1 Nakajima Ki-43 IIa Hayabusa “Oscar” and Type 2 Nakajima Ki-44 IIb Shoki “Tojo” fighter/interceptors from Japan in early 1945.   However, these more advanced aircraft were supplied in only small numbers. 

As American air raids against Manchukuo increased in frequency towards the end of the war, the Manchukuo Air Force resorted to Kamikaze tactics, with the first successful ramming attack (by a Ki-27) on a USAAF Boeing B-29 Superfortress strategic bomber occurring in December 1944.  The Manchukuo Air Force also suffered from a chronic shortage of fuel, as Japanese military aviation had first claim to supplies.

In 1945, the American air raids against Manchuria decreased and the threat of the Soviet invasion increased.  The Manchukuo Air Force changed its training from interception to emphasize ground attack against armored vehicles.  During the Soviet Union‘s invasion of Manchukuo, the Japanese 2nd Air Army ordered the Manchukuo Air Force to train for suicide attacks against Soviet tanks.  However, the war ended before attack plans could be executed.[31]

From 1945 to 1948, Manchuria (Inner Manchuria) served as a base area for the People’s Liberation Army in the Chinese Civil War against the Kuomintang (KMT).  With Soviet encouragement, the Chinese Communists used Manchuria as a staging ground until the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.  Many Manchukuo army and Japanese Kantogun personnel served with the communist troops during the Chinese Civil War against the Nationalist forces.  Most of the 1.5 million Japanese who had been left in Manchukuo at the end of the Second World War were sent back to their homeland in 1946-1948 by US Navy ships in an operation now known as the Japanese repatriation from Huludao.[32]

Mengjiang (Inner Mongolia)

Mengjiang was a Japanese puppet state in Inner Mongolia.  It was nominally ruled by Prince Demchugdongrub, a Mongol nobleman descended from Genghis Khan, but was in fact controlled by the Japanese military.  Mengjiang’s independence was proclaimed on 18 February 1936, following the Japanese occupation of the region.  The Inner Mongolians had several grievances against the central Chinese government in Nanking, including their policy of allowing unlimited migration of Han Chinese to the region.  Several of the young princes of Inner Mongolia began to agitate for greater freedom from the central government, and it was through these men that Japanese saw their best chance of exploiting Pan-Mongol nationalism and eventually seizing control of Outer Mongolia from the Soviet Union.

Japan created Mengjiang to exploit tensions between ethnic Mongolians and the central government of China, which in theory ruled Inner Mongolia.  When the various puppet governments of China were unified under the Wang Jingwei government in March 1940, Mengjiang retained its separate identity as an autonomous federation.  Although under the firm control of the Japanese Imperial Army, which occupied its territory, Prince Demchugdongrub had his own independent army.

Mengjiang vanished in 1945 following Japan’s defeat in the Second World War.  As Soviet forces advanced into Inner Mongolia, they met limited resistance from small detachments of Mongolian cavalry, which, like the rest of the army, were quickly overwhelmed.[33]

Re-organised National Government of China

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Japan advanced from its bases in Manchuria to occupy much of East and Central China.  Several Japanese puppet states were organized in areas occupied by the Japanese Army, including the Provisional Government of the Republic of China at Beijing, which was formed in 1937, and the Reformed Government of the Republic of China at Nanjing, which was formed in 1938.  These governments were merged into the Reorganized National Government of China at Nanjing on 29 March 1940.  Wang Jingwei became head of state.  The government was to be run along the same lines as the Nationalist regime and adopted its symbols.

The Nanjing Government had no real power; its main role was to act as a propaganda tool for the Japanese.  The Nanjing Government concluded agreements with Japan and Manchukuo, authorising Japanese occupation of China and recognising the independence of Manchukuo under Japanese protection.  The Nanjing Government signed the Anti-Comintern Pact of 1941 and declared war on the United States and the United Kingdom on 9 January 1943.

The government had a strained relationship with the Japanese from the beginning.  Wang’s insistence on his regime being the true Nationalist government of China and in replicating all the symbols of the Kuomintang led to frequent conflicts with the Japanese, the most prominent being the issue of the regime’s flag, which was identical to that of the Republic of China.

The worsening situation for Japan from 1943 onwards meant that the Nanking Army was given a more substantial role in the defence of occupied China than the Japanese had initially envisaged.  The army was almost continuously employed against the communist New Fourth Army.

Wang Jingwei died on 10 November 1944, and was succeeded by his deputy, Chen Gongbo.  Chen had little influence; the real power behind the regime was Zhou Fohai, the mayor of Shanghai.  Wang’s death dispelled what little legitimacy the regime had.  The state stuttered on for another year and continued the display and show of a fascist regime.

On 9 September 1945, following the defeat of Japan, the area was surrendered to General He Yingqin, a nationalist general loyal to Chiang Kai-shek.  The Nanking Army generals quickly declared their alliance to the Generalissimo, and were subsequently ordered to resist Communist attempts to fill the vacuum left by the Japanese surrender.  Chen Gongbo was tried and executed in 1946.[34]

Aviation Museums in China

Oriental Green Boat Park, 6,888, Hu-Qing-Ping Expressway, Anzhuang, Shanghai, 201713.

Beijing Aviation Museum/Beihang University (BUAA), Xue Yuan Road No. 37, Hai Dian District, Beijing, 100083.

China Civil Aviation Museum, Zhongguo Minhang Bowuguan, Xiedao, Beijing.

Chinese People`s Revolution Military Museum, No. 9, Fuxing Road, Haldian District, Beijing.  (Tachikawa Ki-36 (103/2)).

Chinese Space Museum, South Dahongmen Road, Box No. 1, Beijing Fengtai District, Beijing 100076.

Qingdao Naval Museum, 8 Laiyang Road, Shi Nan District, Hui Quan Bay Area (Lu Xun Park), Qingdao, Shandong Province, 266071.

China Aviation Pavilion, Shanghai World Expo 2010, Nancun, Shanghai.

Museum and the Exhibition Hall of Shanghai Aerospace, No. 22 Caoxi Road, Caohejing High-Tech Area, Shanghai.

Xinjiang Army Reclamation Museum, Shihezi.

China Aviation Museum, Shahezhen Air Force Base, Datangshan, Xiaotangshan, Chang Ping County, Beijing.  (Kawasaki Ki-48-II replica).

Philippines (Second Philippine Republic)

The Commonwealth of the Philippines was invaded by the Empire of Japan in December 1941 shortly after Japan’s declaration of war upon the United States of America, which controlled the Philippines at the time and possessed important military bases there.  The Philippine Army Air Corps engaged the Japanese on their invasion of the Philippines in 1941-1942.  Many of the officers of the Philippine Army and Philippine Army Air Corps came from the members of the Philippine Constabulary and Air Constabulary.  Most of their aircraft were withdrawn after the combined American-Filipino army was defeated by April 1942.  Guerrilla resistance against the Japanese continued throughout the war.  Filipino army units that had not been captured as well as a communist insurgency and supporting American agents all played a role in the resistance.  Due to the huge number of islands, the Japanese did not occupy them all.  Japanese control over the countryside and smaller towns was often tenuous at best.  Allied forces liberated the islands from Japanese control in 1944, in a naval invasion.[35]

The Second Philippine Republic, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines (Tagalog: Repúbliká ng Pilipinas), was a state in the Philippines established on 14 October 1943 under Japanese occupation.  President Manuel L. Quezon declared Manila, the capital, an “open city” and left it under the rule of Jorge B. Vargas, as mayor.  The Japanese entered the city on 2 January 1942 and established it as the capital.  Japan fully captured the Philippines on 6 May 1942, after the Battle of Corregidor.

General Masaharu Homma dissolved the Commonwealth of the Philippines and established the Philippine Executive Commission, a caretaker government, with Vargas as its first chairman.  All political parties were banned and replaced by the non-partisan, authoritarian KALIBAPI– Kapisanan sa Paglilingkod sa Bagong Pilipinas (Tagalog for the “Organization in the Service of the New Philippines”).  KALIBAPI’s director-general was Benigno S. Aquino.

A constitution was formed by the Preparatory Commission for Independence, consisting of 20 members from the KALIBAPI.  The Preparatory Commission, led by José P. Laurel, presented its draft Constitution on 4 September 1943 and three days later, the KALIBAPI general assembly ratified the draft Constitution.

In September 1944, Laurel officially declared war against the United States and United Kingdom.   Following the return of American-led Allied forces, the government of the Second Republic evacuated from Manila and moved to Baguio.  Laurel then placed the Republic under Martial Law on 22 March 1945 after the joint American and Filipino troops liberated Manila.  The republic was formally dissolved by Laurel in Tokyo on 17 August 1945.[36]

Aviation Museums in the Philippines

Air Force City Park, Clark Field.

Philippine Air Force Museum, Pasay 1309, Villamor Air Base, Ninoy Aquino International, Manila. 

India (Provisional Government of Free India)

The Provisional Government of Free India was a government in exile led by Subhas Chandra Bose, an Indian nationalist who rejected Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent methods for achieving independence.  One of the most prominent leaders of the Indian independence movement of the time and former president of the Indian National Congress, Bose was arrested by British authorities at the outset of the Second World War.  In January 1941 he escaped from house arrest, eventually reaching Germany.  He arrived in 1942 in Singapore, base of the Indian National Army, made up largely from Indian prisoners of war and Indian residents in South East Asia who joined their own initiative.

Bose and local leader A.M. Sahay received ideological support from Mitsuru Toyama, chief of the Dark Ocean Society, along with Japanese Army advisers.  Other Indian thinkers in favour of the Axis cause were Asit Krishna Mukherji, a friend of Bose, and Mukherji’s wife, Savitri Devi, a French writer who admired Hitler.  Bose was helped by Rash Behari Bose, founder of the Indian Independence League in Japan.  Bose declared India’s independence on 21 October 1943.  The Japanese Army assigned to the Indian National Army a number of military advisors, among them Hideo Iwakuro and Saburo Isoda.

The provisional government formally controlled the Andaman and Nicobar Islands; these islands had fallen to the Japanese and been handed over by Japan in November 1943.  The government created its own currency, postage stamps, and national anthem.  The government would last two more years, until 18 August 1945, when it officially became defunct.  During its existence it received recognition from nine governments: Germany, Japan, Italy, Croatia, Manchukuo, China (under the Nanking Government of Wang Jingwei), Thailand, Burma (under the regime of Burmese nationalist leader Ba Maw), and the Philippines under de facto (and later de jure) President José Laurel.[37]

Aviation Museums in India

The Indian Air Force Museum, Palam Air Force Station, Palam, New Delhi, 110010.,_Palam; and

Naval Aviation Museum (India), Bogmalo, Vasco da Gama, Goa.

HAL Heritage Centre and Aero Space Museum, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bangalore.

Vietnam (Empire of Vietnam)

The Empire of Vietnam was a short-lived Japanese puppet state that lasted from March 11 to 23 August 1945.  When the Japanese seized control of French Indochina, they allowed Vichy French administrators to remain in nominal control.  This ruling ended on 9 March 1945, when the Japanese officially took control of the government.  Soon after, Emperor B?o ??i voided the 1884 treaty with France and Tr?n Tr?ng Kim, a historian, became prime minister.  The state suffered through the Vietnamese Famine of 1945 and replaced French-speaking schools with Vietnamese language schools, taught by Vietnamese scholars.[38]

Aviation Museums of Vietnam

Bao Tang Phong Khon – Khong Quan, Vietnam Air Force Museum, Truong Chinh Street, Hanoi.

Viet Nam Military History Museum, 28A Dien Bien Phu Road, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi.

Tan Son Nhut Air Force Museum, Thang Long, Ho Chi Minh City.

War Remnants Museum, Nha Trung Bay Toi Ac Chien Tranh, 28 Vo Van Tan St, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.


The Kingdom of Cambodia was a short-lived Japanese puppet state that lasted from 9 March 1945 to 15 April 1945.  The Japanese entered Cambodia in mid-1941, but allowed Vichy French officials to remain in administrative posts.  The Japanese calls for an “Asia for the Asiatics” won over many Cambodian nationalists.  This policy changed during the last months of the war.  The Japanese wanted to gain local support, so they dissolved French colonial rule and pressured Cambodia to declare its independence within the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.  Four days later, King Sihanouk declared Kampuchea (the original Khmer pronunciation of Cambodia) independent.  Co-editor of the Nagaravatta, Son Ngoc Thanh, returned from Tokyo in May and was appointed foreign minister.

On the date of Japanese surrender, a new government was proclaimed with Son Ngoc Thah as prime minister.  When the Allies occupied Phnom Penh in October, Son Ngoc Thanh was arrested for collaborating with the Japanese and was exiled to France.  Some of his supporters went to northwestern Cambodia, which had been under Thai control since the French-Thai War of 1940, where they banded together as one faction in the Khmer Issarak movement, originally formed with Thai encouragement in the 1940s.[39]

Aviation Museums in Cambodia

Siem Reap War Museum, Siem Reap.


Fears of Thai irredentism led to the formation of the first Lao nationalist organization, the Movement for National Renovation, in January 1941.  The group was led by Prince Phetxar?t and supported by local French officials, though not by the Vichy authorities in Hanoi.  This group wrote the current Lao national anthem and designed the current Lao flag, while paradoxically pledging support for France.  The country declared its independence in 1945.

The liberation of France in 1944, bringing Charles de Gaulle to power, meant the end of the alliance between Japan and the Vichy French administration in Indochina.  The Japanese had no intention of allowing the Gaullists to take over, and in late 1944 they staged a military coup in Hanoi.  Some French units fled over the mountains to Laos, pursued by the Japanese, who occupied Viang Chan in March 1945 and Luang Phrab?ng in April.

 King S?sav?ngvong was detained by the Japanese, but his son Crown Prince Sav?ngvatthan? called on all Lao to assist the French, and many Lao died fighting against the Japanese occupiers.  Prince Phetxar?t opposed this position.  He thought that Lao independence could be gained by siding with the Japanese, who made him Prime Minister of Luang Phrab?ng, though not of Laos as a whole.  The country was in chaos, and Phetxar?t’s government had no real authority.  Another Lao group, the Lao S?ri (Free Lao), received unofficial support from the Free Thai movement in the Isan region.[40]

Aviation Museums of Laos

Lao People`s Army History Museum, Vientiane.

Burma (Baw Maw Regime)

The Japanese Army and Burma nationalists, led by Aung San, seized control of Burma from the United Kingdom during 1942.  A State of Burma was formed on 1 August 1942 under the Burmese nationalist leader Ba Maw.  The Ba Maw regime established the Burma Defence Army (later renamed the Burma National Army), which was commanded by Aung San.[41]

Italian Puppet States of Montenegro, Albania and Monaco


Sekula Drljevi? and the core of the Montenegrin Federalist Party formed the Provisional Administrative Committee of Montenegro on 12 July 1941, and proclaimed on the Saint Peter’s Congress the “Kingdom of Montenegro” under a protectorate of the Fascist Kingdom of Italy.  The country served Italy as part of its goal of fragmenting the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia, expanding the Italian Empire throughout the Adriatic.  The country was caught up in the rebellion of the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland.  Drljevic was expelled from Montenegro in October 1941. The country came under direct Italian control. With the Italian capitulation of 1943, Montenegro became a directly under the control of Nazi Germany.

In 1944 Drljevi? formed a pro-Ustaše Montenegrin State Council in exile based in the Independent State of Croatia, with the aim of restoring rule over Montenegro.  The Montenegrin People’s Army was formed out of various Montenegrin nationalist troops.  By then the partisans had already liberated most of Montenegro, which became a federal state of the new Democratic Federal Yugoslavia.  Montenegro endured intense air bombing by the Allied air forces in 1944.


In spite of Albania‘s long-standing protection and alliance with Italy, on 7 April 1939 Italian troops invaded Albania, five months before the start of the Second World War.  Following the invasion, Albania became a protectorate under Italy, with King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy being awarded the crown of Albania.  Albanian troops under Italian control were sent to participate in the Italian invasion of Greece and the Axis occupation of Yugoslavia.  Following Yugoslavia’s defeat, Kosovo was annexed to Albania by the Italians.  After the Italian capitulation in September 1943, the country was occupied by the Germans until the end of the war.[42]


A minor fascist regime was established in Monaco after the Italian army occupied the country in the aftermath of Case Anton.  Monaco was finally liberated after the Allies landed on Western Europe.

German Puppet States of Slovakia (Tiso regime), the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Serbia, Italy (Italian Social Republic), Albania (under German control), Hungary (Szalasi regime), Norway (Quisling regime), Macedonia, Belarus, and the Province of Ljubljana

The collaborationist administrations of German-occupied countries in Europe had varying degrees of autonomy, and not all of them qualified as fully recognized sovereign states.  The General Government in occupied Poland did not qualify as a legitimate Polish government and was essentially a German administration.  In occupied Norway, the National Government headed by Vidkun Quisling – whose name came to symbolize pro-Axis collaboration in several languages – was subordinate to the Reichskommissariat Norwegen.  It was never allowed to have any armed forces, be a recognized military partner, or have autonomy of any kind.  In the occupied Netherlands, Anton Mussert was given the symbolic title of “Führer of the Netherlands’ people”.  His National Socialist Movement formed a cabinet assisting the German administration, but was never recognized as a real Dutch government.[43]

Slovakia (Tiso regime)

The Slovak Republic under President Josef Tiso signed the Tripartite Pact on November 24, 1940.  Slovakia had been closely aligned with Germany almost immediately from its declaration of independence from Czechoslovakia on 14 March 1939.  Slovakia entered into a treaty of protection with Germany on 23 March 1939.

Slovak troops joined the German invasion of Poland, having interest in Spiš and Orava.  Those two regions, along with Cieszyn Silesia, had been disputed between Poland and Czechoslovakia since 1918.  The Poles fully annexed them following the Munich Agreement.  After the invasion of Poland, Slovakia reclaimed control of those territories. 

Slovakia invaded Poland alongside German forces, contributing 50,000 men at this stage of the war.  Slovakia declared war on the Soviet Union in 1941 and signed the revived Anti-Comintern Pact of 1941.  Slovak troops fought on Germany’s Eastern Front, furnishing Germany with two divisions totaling 80,000 men. Slovakia declared war on the United Kingdom and the United States in 1942.  Slovakia was spared German military occupation until the Slovak National Uprising, which began on 29 August 1944, and was almost immediately crushed by the Waffen SS and Slovak troops loyal to Josef Tiso.  After the war, Tiso was executed and Slovakia was rejoined with Czechoslovakia. The border with Poland was shifted back to the pre-war state. Slovakia and the Czech Republic finally separated into independent states in 1993.[44]

Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia 

The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was created on 16 March 1939 by proclamation of Adolf Hitler from Prague Castle following the declaration of establishment of the independent Slovak Republic on 14 March 1939.  The protectorate was abolished after the German surrender at the end of the Second World War.


In April 1941 Germany invaded and occupied Yugoslavia.  On 30 April a pro-German Serbian administration was formed under Milan A?imovi?.  In 1941, after the invasion of the Soviet Union, a guerilla campaign against the Germans and Italians was launched by the communist partisans under Josip Broz Tito.  The uprising became a serious concern for the Germans, as most of their forces were deployed to Russia; only three divisions were in the country.  On 13 August 546 Serbs, including many of the country’s most prominent and influential leaders, issued an appeal to the Serbian nation that called for loyalty to the Nazis and condemned the partisan resistance as unpatriotic. 

Two weeks after the appeal, with the partisan insurgency beginning to gain momentum, 75 prominent Serbs convened a meeting in Belgrade and formed a Government of National Salvation under Serbian General Milan Nedi? to replace the existing Serbian administration.  On 29 August the German authorities installed General Nedi? and his government in power.  Nedi? would serve as Prime Minister, while the former Regent, Prince Paul, was recognized as head of state.  The Germans were short of police and military forces in Serbia, and came to rely on armed Serbian formations to maintain order.  By October, 1941, Serbian forces under German supervision became increasingly effective against the resistance.  These Serbian formations were German-armed and equipped.[45]

Italy (Italian Social Republic) (also see Chapter XI)

Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini formed the Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana) on 23 September 1943, succeeding the Kingdom of Italy as a member of the Axis.  Mussolini had been removed from office and arrested by King Victor Emmanuel III on 25 July 1943.  After the Italian armistice, in a spectacular raid led by German paratrooper  Otto Skorzeny, Mussolini was rescued from arrest.  Once restored in power, Mussolini declared that Italy was a republic and that he was the new head of state. He was subject to German control for the duration of the war.[46]

Albania (under German control)

After the Italian armistice, a void of power opened up in Albania.  The Italian occupying forces could do nothing, as the National Liberation Movement took control of the south and National Front (Balli Kombëtar) took control of the north.  Albanians in the Italian army joined the guerrilla forces.  In September 1943 the guerrillas moved to take the capital of Tirana, but German paratroopers dropped into the city.  Soon after the fight, the German High Command announced that they would recognize the independence of a greater Albania.  They organized an Albanian government, police, and military with the Balli Kombëtar.

The Germans did not exert heavy control over Albania‘s administration, but instead attempted to gain popular appeal by giving the Albanians what they wanted.  Several Balli Kombëtar leaders held positions in the regime.  The joint forces incorporated Kosovo, western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, and Presevo into the Albanian state.  A High Council of Regency was created to carry out the functions of a head of state, while the government was headed mainly by Albanian conservative politicians.  Albania was the only European country occupied by the Axis powers that ended the Second World War with a larger Jewish population than before the war.  The Albanian government had refused to hand over their Jewish population.  They provided Jewish families with forged documents and helped them disperse in the Albanian population.  Albania was completely liberated on 29 November 1944.[47]

Hungary (Szalasi regime)

Relations between Germany and the regency of Miklós Horthy collapsed in Hungary in 1944.  Horthy was forced to abdicate after German armed forces held his son hostage as part of Operation Panzerfaust.  Hungary was reorganized following Horthy’s abdication in December 1944 into a totalitarian fascist regime called the Government of National Unity, led by Ferenc Szálasi.  He had been Prime Minister of Hungary since October 1944 and was leader of the anti-Semitic fascist Arrow Cross Party.  In power, his government was a Quisling regime with little authority other than to obey Germany’s orders.  Days after the government took power; the capital of Budapest was surrounded by the Soviet Red Army.  German and fascist Hungarian forces tried to hold off the Soviet advance but failed.  In March 1945, Szálasi fled to Germany to run the state in exile, until the surrender of Germany in May 1945.[48]

Norway (Quisling regime)

In Norway, the national government, headed by Vidkun Quisling, was installed by the Germans as a puppet regime during the occupation, while King Haakon VII and the legal government were in exile.  Quisling encouraged Norwegians to serve as volunteers in the Waffen-SS, collaborated in the deportation of Jews, and was responsible for the executions of members of the Norwegian resistance movement.  About 45,000 Norwegian collaborators joined the pro-Nazi party Nasjonal Samling (National Union), and some police units helped arrest many of Norway’s Jews.  However, Norway was one of the first countries where resistance during the Second World War was widespread before the turning point of the war in 1943.  After the war, Quisling and other collaborators were executed.  Quisling’s name has become an international eponym for traitor.[49]


Ivan Mihailov, leader of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), wanted to solve the Macedonian Question by creating a pro-Bulgarian state on the territory of the region of Macedonia in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.  Romania left the Axis and declared war on Germany on 23 August 1944, and the Soviets declared war on Bulgaria on 5 September.  While these events were taking place, Mihailov came out of hiding in the Independent State of Croatia and traveled to re-occupied Skopje.  The Germans gave Mihailov the green light to create a Macedonian state.  Negotiations were undertaken with the Bulgarian government.  Contact was made with Hristo Tatarchev in Resen, who offered Mihailov the Presidency.  Bulgaria switched sides on 8 September, and on the 9th the Fatherland Front staged a coup and deposed the monarchy.  Mihailov refused the leadership and fled to Italy.  Spiro Kitanchev took Mihailov’s place and became Premier of Macedonia.  He cooperated with the pro-Bulgarian authorities, the Wehrmacht, the Bulgarian Army, and the Yugoslav Partisans for the rest of September and October.  In the middle of November 1944, the communists won control over the region.[50]


The Belarusian Central Rada was established in Belarus after the region was occupied by invading German forces.  The regime maintained local security forces, namely the Bie?aruskaja Krajovaja Abarona.  The state ended its existence in 1944 when the Red Army drove the retreating Nazi German forces from Belarus.[51]

Province of Ljubljana

In 1943 a small local government was established in German occupied Slovenia.

Joint German-Italian Puppet Independent State of Croatia, Greece and Vichy France.

Independent State of Croatia

On 10 April 1941, the Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, or NDH) was declared to be a member of the Axis, co-signing the Tripartite Pact.  The NDH remained a member of the Axis until the end of Second World War, its forces fighting for Germany even after NDH had been overrun by Yugoslav Partisans.   The Croatian Home Guard (Hrvatsko domobranstvo) was the official military force of the NDH.  Originally authorized at 16,000 men, it grew to a peak fighting force of 130,000.  The Croatian Home Guard included an air force and navy, although its navy was restricted in size by the Contracts of Rome.  In addition to commanding the Croatian Home Guard, NDH leader Paveli? was the supreme commander of the Ustaše militia, although all NDH military units were generally under the command of the German or Italian formations in their area of operations. Many Croats volunteered for the German Waffen SS.

The Ustaše government declared war on the Soviet Union, signed the Anti-Comintern Pact of 1941, and sent troops to Germany’s Eastern Front.  Ustaše militia were garrisoned the Balkans, battling the Chetniks and communist partisans.  Ustaše never had widespread support among the population of the NDH. Their own estimates put the number of sympathizers, even in the early phase, at around 40,000 out of total population of 7 million.

The Croatian Air Force (Croatian: Hrvatsko bojno zrakoplovstvo), originally the Air Force of the Independent State of Croatia (Zrakoplovstvo Nezavisne Države Hrvatske, ZNDH), was the air force of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), a puppet state established with the support of the Axis Powers during the Second World War.  The ZNDH was founded under German authority in April 1941.  Its main contribution to the war effort was to carry out anti-partisan patrols over occupied Croatia.  It also supplied a few staffels of pilots to Luftflotte 4 in Russia.[52]

Although it could not be considered a large air arm in the wider context of the Second World War, the ZNDH nonetheless had on its charge at one time or another some 650 aircraft between April 1941 and May 1945, as well as anti-aircraft and paratroop units.  Although it began as a small organization in 1941, the ZNDH was still providing a measure of air-support in the form of fighter, attack and transport aircraft and aircrews until the last days of the Second World War in Europe.

During the middle part of 1941, some of the ZNDH’s man-power capacity was sent to the Eastern Front as part of the Luftwaffe.  This force was known as the Croatian Air Force Legion (Hrvatska Zrakoplovna Legija, HZL; Kroatische Luftwaffen Legion).[53]  Most of the Croatian Air Force Legion’s personnel were back on ZNDH territory by late 1943 and early 1944 to help counter the growing Allied air threat.  A Croatian Anti-Aircraft Legion was also deployed.

The ZNDH maintained a flying school, originally at Rajlovac airfield near Sarajevo and then at Velika Gorica and Pleso airfields in Zagreb.  Its parachute and paratroop school was located in Koprivnica, and its scout (fighter) school was located in Zagreb.[54]

Aircraft types that saw service with the Croatian Air Force included more than 50 Messerschmitt Bf 109G & K fighters, 48 Morane-Saulnier M.S. 406 fighters, more than 30 Fiat G.50 fighters, 18 Macchi C.202 Folgore fighters, four Macchi C.205 Veltro fighters, more than ten Fiat CR.42 fighters, two Messerschmitt Bf 110G-2 fighters, seven Avia BH-3 fighter-trainers, four Ikarus IK-2 fighters, eleven Dornier Do-17K, 30 Do-17E and 21 Do-17Z bombers, eight Bristol Blenheim Mk. I bombers and two Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 bombers, ten CANT Z.1007 bombers, six Fiat BR.20 bombers, one Avia Fokker F.39 bomber, seven Caproni Ca.310 bomber/utility 16 Caproni Ca.311/313/314 bomber/utility, 50 Breguet Bre 19 reconnaissance/utility, 42 Potez 25 reconnaissance/utility, eleven Fieseler Fi 156 Storch utility, 8 to 12 Fieseler Fi 167 utility and two de Havilland DH 80 Puss Moth utility aircraft, one RWD-13 utility, 25 Beneš-Mráz Beta-Minor trainer/utility, 22 Bücker Bü 181 Bestmann trainer/utility, 25 Saiman 200 trainers, two Saiman trainer/utility, 20 AVIA FL.3 trainer/utility, one Rogozarski SIM-XI and one SIM-X trainer, one Ikarus MM-2 fighter/trainer, eleven Rogozarski R-100 fighter/trainer/attack, 46 Bücker Bü 131 Bestmann trainer/utility, ten Bücker Bü 133 trainer/utility, 20 Zmaj Fizir FN trainers, 23 Zmaj Fizir FP-2 trainer/utility, seven Avia Fokker F.VII transports, two Avia Fokker F.IX transports, one Junkers Ju 52 and four Junkers W 34 transports, 15 Junkers Ju 87 dive bombers, and two Airspeed Envoy transports.[55]


Following the German invasion of Greece and the flight of the Greek government to Crete and then Egypt, the Hellenic State was formed in May 1941 as a puppet state of both Italy and Germany.  Initially, Italy had wished to annex Greece, but was pressured by Germany to avoid civil unrest such as had occurred in Bulgarian-annexed areas.  The result was Italy accepted the creation of a puppet regime with the support of Germany.  Italy had been assured by Hitler of a primary role in Greece.  Most of the country was held by Italian forces, but strategic locations (Central Macedonia, the islands of the northeastern Aegean, most of Crete, and parts of Attica) were held by the Germans, who seized most of the country’s economic assets and effectively controlled the collaborationist government.

The puppet regime never commanded any real authority, and did not gain the allegiance of the people.  It was somewhat successful in preventing secessionist movements like the Principality of the Pindus from establishing themselves.  By mid-1943, the Greek Resistance had liberated large parts of the mountainous interior (“Free Greece“), setting up a separate administration there.  After the Italian armistice, the Italian occupation zone was taken over by the German armed forces, which remained in charge of the country until their withdrawal in autumn 1944.  In some Aegean islands, German garrisons were left behind, and surrendered only after the end of the war.[56]

Aviation Museums in Greece

War Museum, Vassilissis Sophias Avenue, 2 Rizari Street, 106 75, Athens.

Crete War Museum, Chromonastiri.

Hellenic Air Force Museum, Dekeleia – Tatoi Air Base, TGA 1010, Athens.

Elefsis Heritage Park, Elefsis Air Base, Elefsina.

Larisa Base Museum, Larisa Air Base, Larisa.

Tanagra Base Collection, Tanagra Air Base, Tanagra.

Thessaloniki War Museum, 4 Grigoriou Lambraki, Pedio Areos 3, Thessaloniki.

P.A.L.I.S. Foundation, Vouliagmenis Avenue & Patriarhou Grigoriou E 1-3, 166 73, Voula.

Vichy France

France and its colonial empire, under the Vichy regime of Marshal Philippe Pétain, collaborated with the Axis from 1940 until 1944, when the regime was dissolved.  The German invasion army entered Paris on 14 June 1940, following the battle of France.  Pétain became the last Prime Minister of the French Third Republic on 16 June 1940.  He sued for peace with Germany and on 22 June 1940, his government concluded an armistice with Hitler.  Under the terms of the agreement, Germany occupied two-thirds of France, including Paris.  Pétain was permitted to keep an “armistice army” of 100,000 men within the unoccupied southern zone.  This number included neither the army based in the French colonial empire nor the French fleet.  In French North Africa and French Equatorial Africa, the Vichy government was permitted to maintain 127,000 men under arms after the colony of Gabon defected to the Free French.  The French also maintained substantial garrisons at the French-mandated territory of Syria and Lebanon, the French colony of Madagascar, and in French Somaliland.

After the armistice, relations between the Vichy French and the British quickly deteriorated.  Fearful that the powerful French fleet might fall into German hands, the British launched several naval attacks, the most notable of which was against the Algerian harbour of Mers el-Kebir on 3 July 1940.  Though Churchill defended his controversial decision to attack the French Fleet, the French people were less accepting.  German propaganda trumpeted these attacks as an absolute betrayal of the French people by their former allies.  France broke relations with the United Kingdom and considered declaring war.

On 10 July 1940, Pétain was given emergency “full powers” by a majority vote of the French National Assembly.  The following day approval of the new constitution by the Assembly effectively created the French State (l’État Français), replacing the French Republic with the unofficial Vichy France, named for the resort town of Vichy, where Petain maintained his seat of government.  The new government continued to be recognised as the lawful government of France by the United States until 1942.

In September 1940, Vichy France allowed Japan to occupy French Indochina, a federation of the French colonial possessions and protectorates roughly encompassing the territory of modern day Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.  The Vichy regime continued to administer the colony under Japanese military occupation.  French Indochina was the base for the Japanese invasions of Thailand, Malaya, and Borneo.  In 1945, under Japanese sponsorship, the Empire of Vietnam and the Kingdom of Cambodia were proclaimed as Japanese puppet states.

French General Charles de Gaulle headquartered his Free French movement in London in a largely unsuccessful effort to win over the French colonial empire.  On 26 September 1940, de Gaulle led an attack by Allied forces on the Vichy port of Dakar in French West Africa.  Forces loyal to Pétain fired on de Gaulle and repulsed the attack after two days of heavy fighting.  Public opinion in Vichy France was further outraged, and Vichy France drew closer to Germany.

Vichy France assisted Iraq in the Anglo–Iraqi War of 1941, allowing Germany and Italy to utilize air bases in the French mandate of Syria to support the Iraqi revolt against the British.  Allied forces responded by attacking Syria and Lebanon in 1941.  In 1942 Allied forces attacked the French colony of Madagascar.

There were considerable anti-communist movements in France, and as result, volunteers joined the German forces in their war against the Soviet Union.  Almost 7,000 volunteers joined the anti-communist Légion des Volontaires Français (LVF) from 1941 to 1944, and some 7,500 formed the Division Charlemagne, a Waffen-SS unit, from 1944 to 1945.  Both the LVF and the Division Charlemagne fought on the eastern front.  Hitler never accepted that France could become a full military partner, and constantly prevented the buildup of Vichy’s military strength.

Vichy’s collaboration with Germany was industrial as well as political, with French factories providing many vehicles to the German armed forces.

In November 1942 Vichy French troops briefly but fiercely resisted the landing of Allied troops in French North Africa, but were unable to prevail.  Admiral François Darlan negotiated a local ceasefire with the Allies.  In response to the landings and Vichy’s inability to defend itself, German troops occupied southern France and Tunisia, a French protectorate that formed part of French North Africa.  The rump French army in mainland France was disbanded by the Germans.  The Bey of Tunis formed a government friendly to the Germans.

In mid-1943, former Vichy authorities in North Africa came to an agreement with the Free French and setup a temporary French government in Algiers, known as the French Committee of National Liberation (Comité Français de Libération Nationale, CFLN), initially led by Darlan.  After his assassination, De Gaulle emerged as the French leader.  The CFLN raised more troops and re-organized, re-trained and re-equipped the French military, under Allied supervision.

While deprived of armed forces, the Vichy government continued to function in mainland France until summer 1944, but had lost most of its territorial sovereignty and military assets, with the exception of the forces stationed in French Indochina.  In 1943 it founded the Milice, a paramilitary force which assisted the Germans in rounding up opponents and Jews, as well as fighting the French Resistance.[57]

The Vichy French Air Force (Armée de l’Air de Vichy) was the aerial branch of the armed forces of Vichy.  The Vichy French Air Force existed between December 1940 and December 1942 and largely served to defend Vichy French territories abroad.[58]

The defeat of France did not mean the end of the French Air Force.  The branch was soon split into two camps: those who escaped from France and joined the Free French Forces (Forces Françaises Libres) and those who stayed and flew for the French Armistice Air Force on behalf of the Vichy government.  Initially the Germans wanted to disband the air force completely, and all personnel were to be demobilized by mid-September.  However, on 3 July 1940 the British Royal Navy attacked the French fleet anchored in the Algerian ports of Oran and Mers-el-Kebir.  Angered, the French broke all connections with the British.  The Germans now agreed to the forming of a Vichy French air force.

Initially, Germany ordered military aircraft that had survived the Battle of France, including those now stationed in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, were to be surrendered either in whole or else already disassembled, or destroyed altogether.  These orders changed when the British acted to prevent French Navy capital ships from falling into German hands and becoming adjuncts of the Kriegsmarine (German Navy).

Churchill authorised a plan – codenamed “Operation Catapult“ – for a British naval formation (Force H) based in Gibraltar to sail to the harbor of Mers-el-Kébir, near Oran in French Algeria.  Four capital ships and other vessels were stationed at Mers-el-Kebir, Force H was to persuade Admiral Marcel-Bruno Gensoul to disobey orders from Vichy and take his vessels out of the war in Europe; by sailing to British ports or to French colonies in the Far East or even to the (still neutral) USA.  The overture was soundly rejected, so Royal Navy Admiral James Somerville gave the orders to destroy the French vessels.  More than 2,000 French sailors died in the attack and one French battleship was sunk and two others severely damaged.  The incident discredited the British in French eyes and gave the Germans a golden propaganda tool placing the British as France’s real enemies.   In retaliation, on 18 July 1940, the French air force half-heartedly bombed Gibraltar.  The bombing did little damage.

Vichy and Berlin agreed, if reluctantly, that the Armée de l’Air de Vichy (Vichy French Air Force) was still needed in case French interests were to be attacked by the British once again – and, of course, for attacking the British themselves.  Goering ordered that all Vichy French Air Force aircraft would henceforth be identified by special markings on the fuselage and tailplane of each one.  Initially, the rear fuselage and tailplane (excluding the rudder) were painted a bright yellow, although the markings were later changed so that they consisted of horizontal red and yellow stripes.  In all cases, French national markings (roundel on the fuselage and tricolour on the tailplane) were retained as before.  French aircraft on Vichy strength at this time included Bloch MB 155, Bloch MB 174, Breguet Bre 695, Dewoitine D.520, Lioré-et-Olivier LeO 45, Martin 167F, Morane-Saulnier MS.406 and Potez 63.11.

On 23 September 1940, the Vichy air force saw action again when the British tried to take Dakar, the capital of French West Africa (now Senegal).  As at Mers-el-Kébir, after an attempt to persuade the Vichy French to join the Allied cause failed, British and Free French forces attacked the Vichy forces.  However, this time the Vichy French managed to repulse the British torpedo-bomber attacks launched from the carrier HMS Ark Royal during several days of fighting with only light casualties on their side.

On 24 September 1940, in response to the British attack at Dakar, the Vichy air force bombed British facilities at Gibraltar again from French bases in North Africa.  The bombing stopped the following day - the same day that the British withdrew from Dakar - but only after Gibraltar suffered heavy damage.

Syrian-based Vichy air force units saw action against the British from April 1941, when a coup d’état in Iraq briefly installed the nationalist Rashid Ali Al-Gaylani as prime minister.  This was done in order to secure the vital oil supplies at Kirkuk (under British control since 1934) in northeastern Iraq for the pro-Axis nationalists who wanted the British to be expelled from the country.  However, the RAF base at Habbaniya withstood the nationalists, and in May the British, Indian and Commonwealth “Iraqforce” invaded Iraq via Basra.  The ensuing Anglo-Iraqi War ended with Iraqforce defeating the nationalists at the end of May and restoring a pro-Allied government in Iraq.

Allied operations during the Anglo-Iraqi War included attacks on Vichy air force bases in Lebanon and Syria, which served as staging posts for Regia Aeronautica and Luftwaffe units flying to Mosul to support the Iraqi nationalist coup.  Before the campaign in Iraq was over, the Allies decided to attack Vichy forces in Syria and Lebanon and occupy those countries.  The Vichy French air force was relatively strong at the start of the campaign.  In 1940, many of the aircraft stationed in Syria and Lebanon had been sent back to France.  This left the Vichy French with only a number of obsolete models.  However, alarmed by the growing threat of invasion, Vichy dispatched a fighter group from Algeria.  Once the fighting began, three more groups were flown from France and from North Africa.  This brought the strength of the Vichy French air force in Lebanon and Syria up to 289 aircraft, including about 35 Dewoitine D.520 fighters and some new, US-built Glenn Martin 167 light bombers.  This initially gave the Vichy French a numerical advantage over the Allied air units.

The invasion began on 8 June 1941.  RAF and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadrons launched direct attacks on Vichy airfields, destroying many French aircraft on the ground.  D.520s of GC III/6, II/3 and naval escadrille 1AC faced the Allies in air to air combat, where they claimed 31 kills over British and Australian planes, while losing 11 of their own in air combat and 24 to AA fire, accidents, and attacks on their airfields.  However, No. 3 Squadron RAAF, which had just converted to the new Curtiss P-40B Tomahawk Mk. I, claimed five D.520s destroyed for the loss of one P-40 in air combat.  In all 179 Vichy aircraft were lost during the campaign, most having been destroyed on the ground.  In mid-July 1941, after heavy losses, Vichy French forces surrendered Syria and Lebanon to the Allies.

The last major battles against the Allied forces, in which the Vichy French air force took part, took place during Operation Torch, launched on 8 November 1942 as the Allied invasion of North Africa.  Facing the U.S. Navy task force headed for Morocco, consisting of the carriers USS Ranger, Sangamon, Santee and Suwannee, were, in part, Vichy squadrons based at Marrakech, Meknès, Agadir, Casablanca and Rabat, which between them could muster some 86 fighters and 78 bombers.  Overall, the aircraft may have been old compared to the Grumman F4F Wildcats of the U.S. Navy, yet they were still dangerous and capable in the hands of combat veterans who had seen action against both the Germans and the British since the start of the war.

F4Fs attacked the airfield at Rabat-Salé around 07.30 on the 8th and destroyed nine LeO 451 bombers of GB I/22, while a transport unit’s full complement of various types was almost entirely wiped out.  At Casablanca, SBD dive-bombers succeeded in damaging the French battle-cruiser, Jean Bart, and F4Fs strafed the bombers of GB I/32 at Camp Cazes airfield, some of which exploded as they were ready for take-off with bombs already on board, thus ensuring their mission never went ahead.  The U.S. Navy did not have it all their own way, though, as several F4F pilots were shot down and taken prisoner.

The day’s victory tally of enemy aircraft shot down by the French fighter pilots totaled seven confirmed and three probable, yet their losses were considered heavy – five pilots killed, four wounded and 13 aircraft destroyed either in combat or on the ground – when one considers that GC II/5, based in Casablanca, had lost only two pilots killed during the whole of the six-week campaign in France two years before.  In the meantime, F4Fs of U.S. Navy Fighter Squadron VF-41 from the USS Ranger strafed and destroyed (ironically) three U.S.-built Douglas DB-7 bombers of GB I/32, which were being refueled and rearmed at Casablanca, leaving a mere three others undamaged.

Nevertheless, having been reinforced by two other bombers, GB I/32 carried out a bombing mission against the beaches at Safi, where more U.S. soldiers were landing, the next morning.  One of the bombers was damaged and attempted to make a forced-landing, only it exploded upon contact with the ground, killing the entire crew.  Fighter unit GC I/5 lost four pilots in combat that day (9 November) and it was on that same day that Adjudant (Warrant Officer) Bressieux had the distinction of becoming the last pilot in the Vichy French air force to claim a combat victory, in this case an F4F of VF-9.  Shortly afterwards, 13 F4Fs attacked the airfield at Médiouna and destroyed a total of 11 French aircraft, including six from GC II/5.

On the morning of 10 November 1942, the Vichy French air force units in Morocco had a mere 37 combat-ready fighters and 40 bombers left to face the might of the U.S. Navy F4Fs.  Médiouna was attacked once again and several of the fighters were left burning, while two reconnaissance Potez were shot down, one by an F4F and the other by an SBD over the airfield at Chichaoua, where three F4Fs would later destroy four more Potez in a strafing attack.

Ultimately, the presence of Vichy France in North Africa as an ally of the Germans came to an end (ironically) on Armistice Day, 11 November 1942, when General Noguès, the commander-in-chief of the Vichy armed forces, requested a cease-fire – although that did not stop a unit of U.S. Navy aircraft attacking the airfield at Marrakech and destroying several French aircraft, apparently on the initiative of the unit’s commander.  Once the cease-fire request was accepted, the war between the Allies and the Vichy French came to an end after two and a half years of what was termed “fratricidal” fighting.

“Torch” had resulted in a victory for the Allies, even though it was fair to say that the French had no choice but to engage the Americans, otherwise the Americans would (and did) engage them since they were technically enemies.  As a result, 12 air force and 11 navy pilots lost their lives in the final four days of combat between (Vichy) France and the Allies during the Second World War.  Barely two weeks later, the Germans invaded the then-unoccupied zone of metropolitan France and ordered the complete dissolution of the Vichy French armed forces on 1 December 1942.  Those units then not under Vichy control would then be free to join with their Free French colleagues to fight the common enemy: Nazi Germany. [59]

Arsenal VG-33 

 (Armée de l’Air Photo)

 (Armée de l’Air Photo)

  (Luftwaffe Photo)

The Arsenal VG-33 was one of a series of fast French light fighter aircraft under development at the start of the Second World War, but which matured too late to see extensive service in the Armée de l’Air during the Battle of France.  Somewhat under-armed compared to the Messerschmitt Bf 109, the VG-33 matched it in speed and manoeuvrability and was somewhat faster than the Dewoitine D.520.  In larger quantities, this plane could have shown the Luftwaffe a rough time, but as was the case for most French planes, production problems plagued the VG-33 such that only 160 aircraft were close to completion before the Armistice, with just 19 of 40 produced (?) actually taken on by the Armée de l’Air.  Just two machines ever flew in an active group, the piecemeal GC 1/55 which began life on June 18 and conducted missions for just a week.  After the fall of France twelve VG-33s were confiscated by the Luftwaffe, perhaps for fighter training.[60]

Bloch MB.152

  (Armée de l’Air Photo)

The Bloch MB 150 was a French low-wing, all-metal monoplane fighter aircraft with retractable landing gear and enclosed cockpit developed by Société des Avions Marcel Bloch as a contender in the 1934 French air ministry competition for a new fighter design.

During the Second World War, pilots flying the Bloch MB.152 are credited with destroying at least 188 enemy aircraft while losing about 86 of their own.  They proved tough aircraft, able to stand considerable battle damage, and were a good gunnery platform, but with many problems that included poor agility, poor weapon reliability, poor range (600 km, although at that time the Bf 109E was only slightly better, at around 660 km), and were notably underpowered.

In 1944, several surviving MB.152s were liberated at an airfield in mid-southern France.  After being flight-tested and evaluated, and painting out the balkenkreuzen and swastikas, they were fitted with more powerful American engines and went up against the last remnants of the Luftwaffe with the Free French.[61]

Bloch MB 170

The Bloch MB 170 and its family of derivatives were French reconnaissance bombers designed and built shortly before the Second World War.  They were, by far, the best aircraft of this type available to the Armée de l’Air at the outbreak of the war, with speed and manoeuvrability that allowed them to evade interception by the German fighters of the time.  Although the aircraft could have been in service by 1937, debate over what role to give the aircraft delayed deliveries until 1940.  Too few in number to make any measurable impact on the Battle of France, they continued in service with the Vichy forces after the armistice.

Only 3 examples were lost to enemy fire during the Battle of France.  However, like the majority of the modern equipment of the Armée de l’Air during the campaign, they arrived too late and in insufficient numbers.  At the time of the armistice, most surviving MB.174s and 175s had been evacuated to North Africa.  A few were recovered by the Germans and then used for pilot training.  During the Vichy government rule on the French empire, MB.174s frequently flew over Gibraltar to monitor the British fleet.

In March 1941, German engineers used engines taken from MB.175s (as well as other captured aircraft) to propel the Messerschmitt Me 323 cargo aircraft, some of which actually flew with parts taken from already complete MB.175s.  After Operation Torch, as French forces split from Vichy to side with the Allies, remaining examples of the MB 170 line flew their final combat missions during the battle of Tunisia.  They were replaced by reconnaissance variants of the P-38 Lightning, and used as transports and target tugs.[62]

Breguet Bre 690

The Breguet Bre 690 and its derivatives were a series of light twin-engine ground-attack aircraft that were used by the French Air Force in the Second World War.  The aircraft was intended to be easy to maintain, pleasant to fly and to be able to fly at 480 km/h (300 mph) at 4,000 m (13,120 ft).  The type’s sturdy construction was frequently demonstrated and the armament was effective.  However, French rearmament began two full years later than that in Britain, and all of these aircraft were simply not available in sufficient numbers to make a difference in 1940.

Fewer than 250 Breguet Bre 690 series aircraft were completed.  The Armée de l’air received only 211 examples: 75 Bre.691s, 128 Bre.693s, and eight Bre.695s, but the Germans captured a few dozen complete or near-complete aircraft at the factories.

On 12 May 1940, GBAs I/54 and II/54 performed the Breguet’s first operational sorties, against German motorized columns in the Maastricht Tongeren-Bilsen area.  German anti-aircraft fire was so devastating that only eight of the 18 Bre.693s returned.  The disastrous results of this first engagement forced the French commanders to reconsider their tactics.  Until 15 May, GBA crews performed shallow dive attacks from higher altitude, which resulted in reduced losses, but the attacks had clearly been inaccurate, as the Breguets lacked a bombsight, and they increased vulnerability to enemy fighters.  On the following missions, the GBAs re-introduced low-level attacks, but with smaller formations.  As the battle quickly evolved towards the collapse of the French armies, the assault groups were engaged daily, still enduring losses to the AAA, but also to enemy fighters.

In late June, the Armée de l’Air tried to evacuate its modern aircraft to North Africa, out of German reach, from where many hoped to continue the fight.  Unfortunately, the short-ranged Breguets were not able to cross the Mediterranean.  Unlike other French modern types, the Breguet Bre 690 family saw its combat career end with the Armistice.  At this point in time, 119 aircraft had been lost, including 68 to direct enemy action, and a further 14 were written off as too heavily damaged.  The five GBAs had therefore endured a materiel loss rate of 63%, while crew casualties accounted for nearly 50%.

After the Armistice, the Vichy authorities were allowed to maintain a small air force in mainland France, and its assault bomber pilots flew rare training flights in the Bre.693 and Bre.695.  After the Germans occupied all of France in late 1942 some of the survivors were transferred to Italy for use as operational trainers. [63]

Curtiss Hawk P-75A

The Curtiss P-36 Hawk, also known as the Curtiss Hawk Model 75, was an American-designed and built fighter aircraft of the 1930s and 40s.  It was one of the first of a new generation of combat aircraft, a sleek monoplane design making extensive use of metal in its construction and powered by a powerful radial engine.  Obsolete at the onset of the Second World War, it was used extensively by the French Air Force, both during the Battle of France and by the Vichy French; and was used against French forces in the Franco-Thai War (October 1940–May 9, 1941).[64]

Even before the P-36A entered production, the French Air Force entered negotiations with Curtiss for delivery of 300 aircraft.  The negotiating process ended up being very drawn-out because the cost of the Curtiss fighters was double that of the French Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 and Bloch MB 150, and the delivery schedule was deemed too slow.  The pressure of continuing German rearmament finally forced France to purchase 100 aircraft and 173 engines.  The first Hawk P-75A arrived in France in December 1938 and began entering service in March 1939. After the first few examples, aircraft were delivered in pieces and assembled in France by the Société Nationale de Constructions Aéronautiques du Centre

Officially designated Curtiss H75-C1 (the “Hawk” name was not used in France), the aircraft were powered by Pratt & Whitney R-1830-SC-G engines with 900 hp and had instruments calibrated for the metric system, a seat for French dorsal parachutes, a French-style throttle which operated in reverse from U.S. and British aircraft (full throttle was to the rear rather than to the front) and armament of four 7.5-mm FN-Browning machine guns.  The aircraft evolved through several modifications, the most significant being the installation of the Wright R-1820 Cyclone engine.  This variant, designated as Curtiss H751-C1, saw little operational use due to its late delivery and reliability problems with the new engine.  A total of 416 H75s were delivered to France before the German occupation.

On 8 September 1939, aircraft from Groupe de Chasse II/4 were credited with shooting down two Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 109Es, the first Allied air victory of the Second World War on the Western front.  During 1939–1940, French pilots claimed 230 confirmed and 80 probable victories in H75s against only 29 aircraft lost in aerial combat.  Of the 11 French aces of the early part of the war, seven flew H75s.  The leading ace of the time was Lieutenant Edmond Marin la Meslée with 15 confirmed and five probable victories in the type.  H75-equipped squadrons were evacuated to French North Africa before the Armistice to avoid capture by the Germans.  While under the Vichy government, these units clashed with British aircraft over Mers el-Kébir and Dakar.  During Operation Torch in North Africa, French H75s fought against U.S. Navy Grumman F4F Wildcats, losing 15 aircraft while shooting down seven American aircraft.  From late 1942 on, the Allies started re-equipping the formerly Vichy-controlled French units with the H75s replaced by P-40s and P-39s.[65]

Dewoitine D.520

The Dewoitine D.520 was a French fighter aircraft that entered service in early 1940, shortly after the opening of the Second World War.  Unlike the Morane-Saulnier M.S.406, which was at that time the Armée de l’Air’s most numerous fighter, the Dewoitine D.520 came close to being a match for the latest German types, such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109.  It was slower than the Bf 109E but superior in manoeuvrability.  Because of a delayed production cycle, only a small number were available for combat with the Luftwaffe.

The D.520 was designed in response to a 1936 requirement from the Armée de l’Air for a fast, modern fighter with a good climbing speed and an armament centred on a 20-mm cannon.  At the time the most powerful V 12 liquid cooled engine available in France was the Hispano-Suiza 12Y, which was less powerful, but lighter, than contemporary engines such as the Rolls-Royce Merlin and Daimler-Benz DB 601.  Other fighters were designed to meet the specifications but none of them entered service, or entered service in small numbers and too late to play a significant role during the Battle of France.[66]

By 10 May 1940, when Germany invaded France and the Low Countries, 228 D.520s had been manufactured, but the Armée de l’Air had only accepted 75, as most others had been sent back to the factory to be retrofitted to the new standard.  As a result, only GC I/3 was fully equipped, having 36 aircraft.  They met the Luftwaffe on 13 May, shooting down three Henschel Hs 126s and one Heinkel He 111 without loss.  Four more Groupes de Chasse and three naval Escadrilles rearmed with the type before France’s surrender.  GC II/3, GC III/3, GC III/6 and GC II/7 later completed conversion on the D.520.  A naval unit, the 1er Flotille de Chasse, was also equipped with the Dewoitine.  But only GC I/3, II/7, II/6 and the naval AC 1 saw any action in the Battle of France.  GC III/7 converted to the D.520 too late to be involved in combat.

In air combat, mostly against Italians, pilots flying the Dewoitine 520s claimed 114 air victories, plus 39 probables.  Eighty five D.520s were lost.  By the armistice at the end of June 1940, 437 D.520s had been built with 351 delivered.  After the armistice, 165 D.520s were evacuated to North Africa.  GC I/3, II/3, III/3, III/6 and II/7 flew their aircraft to Algeria to avoid capture.  Three more, from GC III/7, escaped to Britain and were delivered to the Free French.  A total of 153 D.520s remained in mainland France.

One of the most successful D.520 pilots was Pierre Le Gloan, who shot down 18 aircraft (four Germans, seven Italian and seven British), scoring all of his kills with the D.520, and ranked as the fourth-highest French ace of the war.

In April 1941, the German armistice commission authorized Vichy authorities to resume production of a batch of 1,000 military aircraft for their own use, under the condition that 2,000 German-designed aircraft would later be manufactured in France and delivered to Germany.  As part of this agreement, 550 examples of the D.520 were ordered to replace all other single-seat fighters in service.  The plan was to have the Dewoitine eventually equip a total of 17 Groupes with 442 aircraft, three escadrilles of the Aéronautique navale with 37 aircraft each, plus three training units with 13 aircraft.

In 1941, D.520s of GC III/6, II/3 and naval escadrille 1AC fought the Allies during the Syria-Lebanon campaign.  The Vichy French Air Force (Armée de l’Air de Vichy) was already relatively strong, but several units were sent to reinforce it.  D.520s were the only French single-seat fighters capable of making the trip to Syria.  The GC III/6 was sent first.  Flying over mountainous terrain for long distances, of the 168 French aircraft (of all types) sent to Syria, 155 accomplished their mission and successfully arrived.  The Vichy Air force was numerically strong, but with very few ground crew and spare parts, so the operational flying time for the D.520s was very limited.  D.520s of GC III/6 first saw action against British aircraft on 8 June 1941, when they shot down three Fairey Fulmars, losing one D.520 with its pilot taken prisoner).  Over the following days several escort missions were made to protect Martin, LeO and Bloch 200 (3/39 Esc) aircraft from British Royal Navy fighters.  On 9 June, two Hawker Hurricanes were shot down (with another D.520 lost).

In total, during the Syria campaign 266 missions were flown by the Vichy French Air Force: 99 of them were made by D.520s, nine by MS.406s, 46 by Martin 167s and 31 by LeO 451s.  The D.520s were therefore the most active of the French aircraft in the campaign, where they claimed 31 kills over British and Australian units while losing 11 of their own in air combat and a further 24 to AA fire, accidents and attacks on their airfields..  On 10 July, five D.520s attacked Bristol Blenheim bombers from No. 45 Squadron RAF that were being escorted by seven Curtiss Tomahawks from No. 3 Squadron RAAF (3 Sqn).  The French pilots claimed three Blenheims, but at least four of the D.520s were destroyed by the Australian escorts, including two by F/O Peter Turnbull.  The following day, a Dewoitine pilot shot down a P-40 from 3 Sqn, the only Tomahawk lost during the campaign.  This Dewoitine was in turn shot down by F/O Bobby Gibbes.  The initial advantage that the Vichy French Air Force enjoyed did not last long, and they lost most of their aircraft during the campaign.  The majority of the lost aircraft were destroyed on the ground where the flat terrain, absence of infrastructure and absence of modern anti-aircraft (AA) artillery made them vulnerable to air attacks.  On June 26, a strafing run by Tomahawks of 3 Sqn, on Homs airfield, destroyed five Dewoitine D.520s of Fighter Squadron II/3 (Groupe de Chasse II/3) and damaged six more.

By the end of the campaign, the Vichy forces had lost 179 aircraft from the approximately 289 committed to the Levant.  The remaining aircraft with the range to do so, evacuated to Rhodes.  The known French losses of fighter aircraft were 26 in air combat and 45 in strafing and bombing actions.  Allied forces lost 41 planes, 27 of those shot down by French fighters.  During Operation Torch, GC III/3 (previously known as GC I/3) was engaged in combat with the Allies over Oran.  Flotille 1F saw action versus the United States Navy F4F Wildcat squadron VF-41 (from the carrier USS Ranger), over Casablanca.  One D.520 was among 14 US victory claims, with the only Allied losses being due to ground and friendly fire.  Other Dewoitine-equipped units in North Africa such as GC II/7 or GC II/3 did not to take part in the fighting.  Overall, the known D.520 air strength in North Africa was 173 D.520s (143 combat ready) of GC II/3, III/3, III/6, II/7 and II/5, another 30 were in Senegal with GC II/6.  The Navy had Esc 1AC and 2AC. Many D.520s were destroyed on the ground by Allied bombing.  The French Air Force lost 56 aircraft, among them 13 D.520s.  The Navy lost 19 D.520s aircraft.  Among the 44 kills that the French scored overall, there was an entire squadron of nine Fairey Albacore, from the HMS Furious, all shot down by D.520s of GC III/3.

A very small number of D.520s were briefly operated by Free French Forces for training purposes.  Along with the three examples that had flown to Britain in June 1940, two other D.520s were recovered from retreating Vichy forces in Rayak, Lebanon.  These D.520s were flown by pilots of the Normandie-Niemen unit before the unit was sent to the USSR, where they flew the Yakovlev Yak-1 that had many similarities with the D.520.

In December 1942, as French forces formerly under Vichy sided with the Allies, there were 153 D.520s left in French hands in North Africa.  They flew a few patrols during the Battle of Tunisia, but were considered obsolete, and their radio sets were incompatible with Allied equipment.  From early 1943 on, they were relegated to training duties at the fighter school in Meknes, and progressively replaced by Spitfires and P-39s in combat units.  During the liberation of France, a few D.520s abandoned by the Germans were used by ad hoc units in ground attacks against the isolated German pockets of resistance on the Western coast.

As German forces invaded Vichy’s so-called “free zone” in November 1942, they captured 246 D.520s; additionally, a batch of 62 was completed under German occupation.  The captured Dewoitines were to be delivered to the Axis Balkan Front, although some were used by the Luftwaffe for training purposes while 60 were transferred to Italy and 96, or 120, to Vozdushni Voiski, the Bulgarian Air Force, for use in combat. 

Numerous sources have mentioned use of the D.520 by the Romanian Air Force, but no evidence has ever been provided.  One source claims the so-called Romanian Dewoitines were, in fact, in transit to Bulgaria and only flew over Romania in order to get to their final destination.  This seems the most reliable explanation, viewed against the numbers of Dewoitines actually available.

About 60 D.520s were acquired by Regia Aeronautica.  Italian pilots appreciated the aircraft’s capabilities and Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannon, at least by 1940–1941 standards.  The first three D.520s were assigned to 2° Stormo based at the Torino-Caselle airfield, where they were used for the defence of Torino’s industrial area.  Other D.520s were captured in Montélimar, Orange, Istres and Aix-en-Provence.

At the beginning of 1943, the Italian ace Luigi Gorrini ferried D.520s taken as prizes of war to Italy to be used for defence.

Surviving Dewoitine D.520 fighters:

Dewoitine D.520a No. 408 was restored to flying condition in the 1970s.  Delivered in 1940, it fought against Allies in 1942, survived the war and many years later was rebuilt as the N.90, a famous D.520 flown with GC II/3  It was overhauled in 1977-80, and it flew at Le Bourget airshow in 1980.  It performed at various airshows in Europe, but was destroyed in a fatal crash in 1986.

Dewoitine D.520 No. 603 is on display at the Conservatoire de l’air et de l’espace d’Aquitaine in Bordeaux-Mérignac.

Dewoitine D.520 No. 655 is undergoing restoration at the Naval Museum in Rochefort.

Dewoitine D.520 No. 862 is on display at the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace.  It has been repainted as No. 277 used by GC III/6 in June 1940.

Lioré-et-Olivier LeO 45 

Lioré-et-Olivier LeO 45 was a French medium bomber used during the Second World War.  It was a low-wing monoplane, all metal in construction, equipped with a retractable undercarriage and powered by two 1,100 hp Hispano-Suiza engines.  It was a very effective bomber, but it appeared too late to give any substantial contribution to the war effort.  Although designed before the war, it remained in service until September 1957.[67]

At the start of the Battle of France on 10 May 1940, only 54 of the 222 LeO 451 that had been delivered were considered ready for combat, the remainder being used for training, spares, undergoing modifications and repairs or having been lost.  The first combat sortie of the campaign was flown by 10 aircraft from GB I/12 and GB II/12 on 11 May.  Flying at low altitude, the bombers suffered from heavy ground fire with one aircraft shot down and 8 heavily damaged.  Within the next 8 days many of them were shot down.  By the Armistice of 25 June 1940, LeO 451 of the Groupement 6 had flown approximately 400 combat missions, dropping 320 tons of bombs at the expense of 31 aircraft shot down by enemy fire, 40 written off due to damage, and 5 lost in accidents.  There are other numbers, stating about 47 bombers lost (26 to fighters, 21 to flak).  Although the LeO’s were faster than many 1940’s fighters and faster than almost all other types of bombers, unfortunately for them the Luftwaffe was equipped with fighters that were even faster (Bf 109 and Bf 110).

Following the Armistice, LeO 451s continued to fly, now under the Vichy government.  The aircraft were fitted with larger rudders and, later, two additional 7.5 mm machine guns in the rear turret.  Aircraft production had totally stopped with the German occupation, but a 1941 agreement authorized Vichy authorities to have a limited number of military aircraft built.  As a result, 109 additional LeOs were manufactured in 1942.  The most notable of these was LeO 451-359 which was fitted with an experimental degaussing coil for remotely detonating naval mines (some British Vickers Wellingtons and German Junkers Ju 52s also carried a similar device).

Two bomber units equipped with LeO 451s, GB I/12 and GB I/31 were based in Syria when Allied forces invaded on 8 June 1941, at the start of the Syria-Lebanon Campaign.  These were supplemented by GB I/25, which was dispatched from Tunisia.  During this campaign, the LeO 451s flew a total of 855 sorties, losing 29 LeO 451s in the process.  After Operation Torch which began on 8 November 1942, surviving French LeO 451 in North Africa were used primarily for freight duties, although they flew a few bombing missions against Axis forces during the Tunisia Campaign.  They were ultimately replaced in active service by Handley-Page Halifax and B-26 Marauder bombers.

The Germans showed little interest in this aircraft, but on 21 May 1943, Luftwaffe requested Regia Aeronautica to hand over 39 Lioré et Olivier LeO 451, captured by Italians troops in the SNCASE factory in Ambérieu-en-Bugey (Lyon).  The Luftwaffe claimed it had previously bought the Lioré, and gave in exchange a stock of 30 Dewoitine D.520s.  Subsequently, the 451s were converted into transport aircraft for fuel and troops.  Other Lioré were delivered to the Regia Aeronautica and 12 were put in service with a ground attack unit, although they saw almost no active service.  Following the war, the 67 surviving aircraft were mostly used as trainers and transports. The LeO 451 was finally retired in September 1957, making it the last pre-war French design to leave active duty.[68]

Martin Model 167

The Martin Model 167 was an American-designed light bomber that first flew in 1939.  It saw action during the Second World War with France and the United Kingdom, where it was called the Maryland.[69]

Facing German arms buildup and desperate for modern aircraft, the French Air Force purchased US aircraft of numerous types in the late 1930s.  Martin received an order for more than 200 167 Fs which incorporated French-specific equipment such as metric instruments.  French officials expected the deliveries to begin in January 1939 but the type, locally designated Glenn Martin 167 A-3 only entered service in early 1940.  Notably, because of the U.S. embargo on arms exports after the beginning of the Second World War, many planes were impounded for two months before being shipped to Europe.  Approximately 215 Martin 167s were delivered to France.

When the Germans eventually invaded France there were only four Groupes de bombardement (bomber squadrons) equipped.  The Glenns were quickly sent to the frontlines where they performed honorably.  With their sufficient speed and excellent manoeuvrability for an airplane in this class, they sometimes had a chance to avoid enemy fighters.  In more than 400 sorties versus the Germans, they suffered a loss rate of only 4%, which was much better than the 16% endured by LeO 451s and their crews above the same targets.

Immediately before the June 1940 Armistice, units flying the Glenn Martin 167 were evacuated to French North Africa to avoid capture by the Germans.  One of them landed in Spain and was interned, where it was test flown by the Spanish Air Force.  Some examples were transferred to the Aéronautique Navale.  During the Vichy rule over the French empire, French Martins occasionally clashed with British Commonwealth forces, most notably during the Syria-Lebanon campaign of 1941.  As French North Africa got back in the Allied camp in 1943, M.167s were phased out of service and replaced with more modern Allied types, including the Martin B-26 Marauder.[70]

Morane-Saulnier M.S.406

The M.S.406 was a French Armée de l’Air fighter aircraft built by Morane-Saulnier starting in 1938.  Numerically it was France’s most important fighter during the opening stages of the Second World War. 

Although sturdy and highly manoeuvrable, it was under-powered and weakly armed when compared to its contemporaries.  Most critically, it was out-performed by the Messerschmitt Bf 109E during the Battle of France.  The M.S.406 held its own in the early stages of the war (the so-called Phoney War), but when the war restarted in earnest in 1940, losses to all causes amounted to approximately 400 aircraft.  Out of this total some 150 were lost to enemy fighters and ground fire, another 100 were destroyed on the ground in enemy air raids and the remainder was deliberately destroyed by French military personnel to prevent the fighters from falling into enemy hands intact.  In return M.S.406 squadrons achieved 191 confirmed victories and another 83 probable victories.  The type was more successful in the hands of Finnish and Swiss air forces which developed indigenous models.[71]

The Swiss continued development of the MS.412 when French involvement stopped following the June 1940 Armistice.  The Dornier-Altenrhein factory completed a prototype powered with a licence-produced HS-51 12Y engine, generating 1,060 hp (791 kW) together with the fixed radiator and revised exhausts as tested on the MS.411, in October 1940.  The new type retained the armament changes and other improvements introduced on the D.3800.  This series was put into production in 1941 as the D-3801 with continued deliveries until 1945 with 207 completed. Another 17 were built from spares between 1947 and 1948.  Reliability of the new engine was at first extremely poor, with problems with crankshaft bearings causing several accidents.  The engine problems slowed deliveries, with only 16 aircraft produced in 1942 and a single aircraft delivered in 1943.  The engine problems were eventually resolved in 1944.  With 1,060 hp from the Hispano-Suiza 12Y-51, the speed was boosted to 535 km/h (332 mph), roughly equivalent to the D.520 or the Hurricane.  Weights were between 2,124-2,725 kg. After being retired from operational use as a fighter when the North American P-51 Mustang was acquired in 1948, the type remained in service as a trainer and target tug until 1959.

The D.3802 was based on the MS.540, with a Sauer YS-2 (1,250 hp) engine.  The prototype flew in the autumn of 1944.  This aircraft had several shortcomings, but it was capable of 630 km/h.  12 were produced and saw limited use with Fliegerstaffel 17 and some other units.

The last development of this aircraft was the D.3803, with Sauer YS-3 (1,500 hp) engine, and modified dorsal fuselage (with an all-round visibility canopy).  The D.3803 was armed with three HS-404 20 mm cannons (one in the nose, two in the wings), plus up to 200 kg bombs and rockets.  Despite not having a powerful engine, the type reached 680 km/h at 7,000 m.  The performance was impressive, but the last development of this 1935 fighter design had several shortcomings and was not entirely successful.  Its development was halted as P-51D Mustangs became available.

France sent 30 Morane-Saulnier to Finland, between 4 and 29 February 1940.  By 1943 Finnish had received an additional 46 M.S.406s and 11 M.S.410s purchased from the Germans.  By this point, the fighters were hopelessly outdated, but the Finns were so desperate for serviceable aircraft that they decided to start a modification program to bring all of their examples to a new standard.

The aircraft designer Aarne Lakomaa turned the obsolete M-S into a first rate fighter, the Mörkö-Morane (Finnish for Bogey or Ogre Morane), sometimes referred to as the LaGG-Morane.  Powered by captured Klimov M-105P engines (a licensed version of the HS 12Y) of 1,100 hp (820 kW) with a fully adjustable propeller, the airframe required some local strengthening and also gained a new and more aerodynamic engine cowling.  These changes boosted the speed to 326 mph (525 km/h).  Other changes included a new oil cooler taken from the Bf 109, the use of four belt-fed guns like the M.S.410, and the excellent 20-mm MG 151/20 cannon in the engine mounting.  However, supplies of the MG 151 were limited, and several received captured 12.7mm Berezin UBS guns instead.

The first example of the modified fighter, MS-631, made its first flight on 25 January 1943, and the results were startling: the aircraft was 40 km/h (25 mph) faster than the original French version, and the service ceiling was increased from 10,000 to 12,000 m (32,800 to 39,360 ft).

Originally it was planned to convert all the 41 remaining M.S.406s and M.S.410s with the Soviet engine, but it took time, and the first front-line aircraft of this type did not reach LeLv 28 until July/August 1944.  By the end of the Continuation War in 1944, only three examples had been converted (including the original prototype).  Lieutenant Lars Hattinen (an ace with six victories) scored three kills with the Mörkö-Morane.  More fighters arrived from the factory, though, and the Mörkö-Moranes took part in the Lapland War as reconnaissance and ground attack aircraft.  Not all the Mörkö-Morane conversions were completed before March 1945, when the entire re-engining programme was halted.  After the end of the war, the total was brought to 41, which served as advanced trainers with TLeLv 14 until September 1948.  In 1952 all remaining Finnish Moranes were scrapped.

In late 1930s a war with Germany was clearly looming, and the Armée de l'Air placed an order for 1,000 airframes in March 1938.  Morane-Saulnier was unable to produce anywhere near this number at their own factory, so a second line was set up at the nationalized factories of SNCAO at St. Nazaire converted to produce the type.  Production began in late 1938, and the first production example flew on 29 January 1939.  Deliveries were hampered more by the slow deliveries of the engines than by lack of airframes.

By April 1939, the production lines were delivering six aircraft a day, and when the war opened on 3 September 1939, production was at 11 a day with 535 in service.  Production of the M.S.406 ended in March 1940, after the original order for 1,000 had been delivered to the Armée de l'Air, and a further 77 for foreign users (30 for Finland and 45 for Turkey).  Additional orders for Lithuania and Poland were canceled with the outbreak of the war.

The MS 406 equipped 16 Groupes de Chasse and three Escadrilles in France and overseas, and 12 of the Groupes saw action against the Luftwaffe.  The aircraft was very manoeuvrable and could withstand heavy battle damage, but was outclassed by the Bf 109 and losses were heavy (150 aircraft lost in action and 250-300 lost through other causes).  After the armistice, only one Vichy unit, GC. 1/7, was equipped with the MS. 406.

Germany took possession of a large number of M.S.406s and the later M.S.410s.  The Luftwaffe used a number for training, and sold off others.  Finland purchased additional M.S.406s (as well as a few 406/410 hybrids) from the Germans, while others were passed off to Italy and Croatia.  Those still in French hands saw action in Syria against the RAF, and on Madagascar against the Fleet Air Arm.  Both Switzerland and Turkey also operated the type; the Swiss actually managing to down a number of both German and Allied aircraft, 1944-1945.

Before the Pacific campaign proper, Vichy authorities in French Indochina were engaged in a frontier war against Thailand, during 1940-41.  A number of M.S.406s stationed in Indochina downed Thai fighters before the French Air Force abandoned the theatre. Some examples of the M.S.406 were captured by the Thai Air Force.

The M.S.406 had a parallel career in Finland.  In February 1940 the first 30 French fighters were allocated to LeLv 28, commanded by Major Jusu.  These aircraft received the Finnish designations MS-301 to MS-330.  They were used in combat during the Winter War, against the USSR and carried out 259 operational sorties and shot down 16 Soviet aircraft.  In modified form, the M.S.406 were later involved in the Continuation War.  Between November 1939 and 4 September 1944, Lv28 scored 118 aerial victories flying the Morane M.S.406 (the unit flew Bf 109Gs for a time, as well).  The unit lost 15 aircraft.  Total Finnish kills amounted to 121.  The top Morane ace in all theatres was W/O Urho Lehtovaara, with 15 of his 44.5 total kills achieved in Moranes.  The Finnish nicknames were Murjaani (blackmoor), a twist on its name, and Mätimaha (roe-belly) and Riippuvatsa (hanging belly) for its bulged ventral fuselage.[72]

Potez 630

The Potez 630 and its derivatives were a family of twin-engined aircraft developed for the Armée de l’Air in the late 1930s.  The Potez 633 saw only brief operational service with the Armée de l’Air in Europe when aircraft from two units undertook a sortie near Arras on May 20, 1940; two days later the aircraft was withdrawn from front-line service.  The Potez 633 exported to Greece and Romania saw more extensive service, in limited numbers.  The Romanians used them against the USSR and the Greeks against Italy.  A small number of Potez 633 originally destined for China were commandeered by the French colonial administration in Indo-China and saw limited action in the brief French-Thai War in early 1941.

More than 700 Potez 63.11 were delivered by June 1940, of which more than 220 were destroyed or abandoned, despite the addition of extra machine gun armament; the heaviest losses of any French type.  The Potez 63.11 continued in service with the Vichy air force and with the Free French forces in North Africa seeing action with both.  Production was resumed under German control and significant numbers appear to have been impressed by the Germans, mostly in liaison and training roles.[73]

Argentina, Denmark, the Soviet Union, Spain and Sweden

These states were not officially members of Axis, but had controversial relations with one or more Axis members at some point during the war.


During the early years of the Second World War, Argentina maintained close relations with the Axis powers while officially remaining neutral.  These close relations with the Axis irritated the United States, which cancelled weapons shipments to the country while increasing shipments to Argentina’s neighbour, Brazil, in an attempt to pressure the Argentine government to abandon its ties with the Axis.  Newly elected president Ramón Castillo drew Argentina closer to the Axis; in 1942 Argentina approached Germany with a request to purchase airplanes, weapons, and other equipment.  Argentine General Domingo Martínez claimed that President Ramón Castillo was concerned over the country’s relations with Brazil, with Argentina facing an ultimatum from the US.  The Argentine government feared a potential invasion by Brazil and Uruguay backed by the US.  Castillo was initially determined to resist, and openly joined the Axis, believing that Argentina’s geography would allow it to withstand war.  Upon Brazil joining the Allied powers in August 1942, Argentina declared itself a non-belligerent, while still negotiating with Germany for weapons.  Castillo believed that the Axis would triumph in the Second World War.

In 1943 a military coup overthrew the Argentine government.  A military junta was established, led by Pedro Pablo Ramírez.  In 1944 the United States government labeled the Argentine government as “fascist” and enacted financial and trade restrictions against the country, urging other countries to do the same.  British officials captured Argentina‘s envoy to Germany, creating a diplomatic disaster for Argentina.  In January 1944, under pressure from Britain and the United States, Ramírez agreed to break all ties with the Axis powers.  Argentine nationalists were alarmed by this concession and forced Ramírez to resign.  For the remaining year of the war, the United States continued to maintain sanctions against Argentina due to its pro-Axis leanings.  Argentina only declared war on Germany in 1945, about a month before the end of the war.  The close ties between Argentina and Nazi Germany proved controversial near the end of the war and afterwards, as Nazi personnel and capital began to arrive in Argentina in 1944.[74]


On 31 May 1939, Denmark and Germany signed a treaty of non-aggression, which did not contain any military obligations for either party.  On 9 April 1940, citing the intended laying of mines in Norwegian and Danish waters as a pretext, Germany invaded both countries.  The Danes had a very small air force attached to the Army. They had no military effect on the German invasion of Denmark; most aircraft were destroyed or captured on the ground. They were organized into two Aviation Battalions.  The Jutland Battalion had one fighter squadron equipped with 13 Fokker D.XXI one reconnaissance squadron equipped with 11 biplanes, and the Saeland Battalion was equipped with 8 Fokker G.Ia and one reconnaissance squadron equipped with 14 biplanes.

King Christian X and the Danish government, worried about German bombings if they resisted occupation, accepted “protection by the Reich” in exchange for nominal independence under German military occupation.  Three successive Prime Ministers, Thorvald Stauning, Vilhelm Buhl, and Erik Scavenius, maintained this samarbejdspolitik (“cooperation policy”) of collaborating with Germany.

Denmark coordinated its foreign policy with Germany, extending diplomatic recognition to Axis collaborator and puppet regimes, and breaking diplomatic relations with the governments-in-exile formed by countries occupied by Germany.  Denmark broke diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and signed the Anti-Comintern Pact of 1941.

In 1941 a Danish military corps, the Frikorps Danmark, was created at the initiative of the SS and the Danish Nazi Party, to fight alongside the Wehrmacht on Germany’s Eastern Front.  Frikorps Danmark was open to members of the Danish Royal Army and those who had completed their service within the last ten years.  Between 4,000 and 10,000 Danish citizens joined the Frikorps Danmark, including 77 officers of the Royal Danish Army.  An estimated 3,900 of these soldiers died fighting for Germany during the Second World War.

Denmark transferred six torpedo boats to Germany in 1941, although the bulk of its navy remained under Danish command until the declaration of martial law in 1943.

The Danish protectorate government lasted until 29 August 1943, when the cabinet resigned following a declaration of martial law by occupying German military officials.  Germany declared war on Denmark and attacked the Danish military bases which led to 13 Danish soldiers dead in the fighting.  The Danish navy scuttled 32 of its larger ships to prevent their use by Germany.  Germany seized 14 larger and 50 smaller vessels, and later raised and refitted 15 of the sunken vessels.  During the scuttling of the Danish fleet, a number of vessels attempted an escape to Swedish waters, and 13 vessels succeeded, four of which were larger ships.  By the autumn of 1944, these ships officially formed a Danish naval flotilla in exile.  In 1943 Swedish authorities allowed 500 Danish soldiers in Sweden to train as police troops.  By the autumn of 1944, Sweden raised this number to 4,800 and recognized the entire unit as a Danish military brigade in exile.  Danish collaboration continued on an administrative level, with the Danish bureaucracy functioning under German command.[75]

Aviation Museums in Denmark

Forsvars – og Garnisonsmuseum, Aalborg Defence and Garrison Museum, Skydebanevej 22, Aalborg 9000.

Marinemuseum, Vestre Fjordvej 81, Aalborg 9000.

Danmarks Tekniske Museum, Fabriksvej 25, DK-3000 Helsingor.

Hjallerup Mekaniske Museum, Algade 42, 9320 Hjallerup.

Flyvestation Karup’s Historiske Forening Museet, Karup Air Base Museum.

Egeskov Veteran Car Museum, Egeskov Castle, Egeskov Gade 18, 5772 Kvaerndrup.

Danish Collection of Vintage Flying Aircraft, Stauning Airport, Dansk Veteranflysambling, Lufthavnsvej Stauning, Skjern 6900.

Soviet Union

Relations between the Soviet Union and the major Axis powers were generally hostile before 1938.  In the Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union gave military aid to the Second Spanish Republic, against Spanish Nationalist forces, which were assisted by Germany and Italy.  The Nationalist forces won the war.  The Soviets suffered another political defeat when their ally Czechoslovakia was partitioned and partially annexed by Germany and Hungary via the Munich Agreement.  In 1938 and 1939, the USSR fought and defeated Japan in two separate border wars, at Lake Khasan and Khalkhin Gol, the latter being a major Soviet victory.

In 1939 the Soviet Union considered forming an alliance with both Britain and France or with Germany.  The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939 between the Soviet Union and Germany included a secret protocol whereby the independent countries of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania were divided into spheres of interest of the parties.  On 1 September, barely a week after the pact had been signed, Germany invaded Poland.  The Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east on 1 September and on 28 September signed a secret treaty with Nazi Germany to arrange coordination of fighting against Polish resistance.

Soon after that, the Soviet Union occupied the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and annexed Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina from Romania.  The Soviet Union attacked Finland on 30 November 1939, which started the Winter War.  Finnish defences prevented an all-out invasion, resulting in an interim peace, but Finland was forced to cede strategically important border areas near Leningrad.

Germany ended the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact by invading the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa on 22 June 1941.  This resulted in the Soviet Union becoming one of the Allies.  Germany then revived its Anti-Comintern Pact, enlisting many European and Asian countries in opposition to the Soviet Union.  The Soviet Union and Japan remained neutral towards each other for most of the war by the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact.  The Soviet Union ended the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact by invading Manchukuo on 8 August 1945, due to agreements reached at the Yalta Conference with Roosevelt and Churchill.[76]

Aviation Museums in Russia

Central Air and Space Museum, 24a Leningradsky Prospekt, Central Aerodrome at Khodinka Field, Moscow, 125040.

Central Armed Forces Museum, Ulitsa Sovetskoy Armii 2, Moscow, 129110.

Central Museum of the Air Forces, 141170, pos. Monino, Shchelkovo district of Moscow region.  Largest aviation museum in Russia.  The facility was an operational air base from 1932 through April, 1956.  The museum was founded in 1958 and opened in 1960 at the original airfield location and in the original airfield structures.

Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War, Poklonnaya Gora, Park Pobedy, St. Brothers Fonchenko 10, 121170 Moscow.

Kubinka Aviation Museum, Kubinka Air Base and Kubinka Garrison.

Kuibyshev Aviation Institute, Smyshlyaevka Airfield, Samara.

Kurgansk Aviation Museum, Kurgan Airport.  Kurgansky Kosmopark, ul. Gagarina 41 airport, 640000 Kurgan.

Long Range Aviation Museum, Engel’s Air Base.  Open since 6 September 2000.

The Russian Federation Ministry of Defence, Moscow.

Vadim Zadorozhny Museum, Building 9, Arhangelskoe, 4-th km of Ilinskoe Highway, Moscow 143420.

VVS I PVO Museum, Sovetskiy Prospekt, Moscow – Nemchinovka.

Air Museum, Rzhev Air Base; Air Museum, Savasleyka Air Base; Air Museum, Torzhok Air Base.

Museum of History of Civil Aviation, Ulyanovsk, Barataevka, Aviacionnaya Street.

Nemchinovka Museum of Air Defence, Ramenskoye.

Nikolayevsk Aviation Museum.

Samara Aerospace University Museum, Samara.

In addition to the large scale aviation museums, a number of towns, airfields, cities and communities have aircraft preserved as monuments and gate guards.  These include Aerodrome Bobrovka, Samara; Aerospace Lyceum Khimki, Ramenskoye; Anti-Aircraft Warfare Memorial Complex, Abram-Mys; Arkhangelskoe Krasnogorskiy Museum of Technology, Ramenskoye; Aviagarnizon Klip-Yavr, Murmansk Region; Aviagarnizon Kubinka, Ramenskoye; Balashov, Saratov Region; Borskoye, Samara Region Kubinka, Ramenskoye; Bugulma, Tatarstan; Bykovo Airport, Ramenskoye; Cadet Centre Patriot, Ramenskoye; Central Volokolamsk, Ramenskoye; Chkalovsky, Ramenskoye; Domodedovo Airport, Ramenskoye; Drakino (Serpukhov District), Ramenskoye; Dubna (Dubnenskogo District), Ramenskoye; Egorievsk, Ramenskoye; Falcon Territory Training Aviation Regiment, Saratov; Foresta Holiday Village, Ramenskoye; Igarka; IRPA Rosto, Ramenskoye; Kazan; Khimki, Ramenskoye; Kirsanov Technical School; Klin, Ramenskoye; Koltsovo Airport, Ekaterinburg; Kovdor, Murmansk Region; Krasnogorsk, Ramenskoye; Lenin and State University, Stavropol; Lobnensky District, Ramenskoye; Lovozero, Murmansk; Lukhovitsy, Ramenskoye; Lyubertsy, Ramenskoye; Minsk; Monchegorsk, Murmansk Region; Moscow Aircraft Repair Plant, Ramenskoye;

Murmashi Airport, Murmansk; Victory Park, Saratov; Myachkovo; North Luostari, Murmansk Region; North Safonovo, Murmansk Region; Novosibirsk Aeroclub, Murmansk Region; Olenegorsky, Murmansk Region; Omsk; Orsk Airfield Sokol, Orenburg; and Orsk Region; Ostafjevo; Perm South; Poliarniy, Murmansk Region;

Polyarniye Zori, Murmansk Region; Pos. Belushya LIP; PPC DSS “Rainbow”, Ramenskoye; Putyatino, Ryazan; Ramenskoye; Revda, Lovozero Murmansk Region;

Sakha, Yakutia Airport; Samara Technical Institute, Smyshlyaevka Airfield; Saratove Region; Savelovo Klentino; Sergiev Posad, Ramenskoye; Severomorsk, Murmansk Region; Sheremetyevo Airport, Moscow; Shaykovka, Kaluga Region; Shong, Murmansk Region; Simferopol; Skeely Soyuz, St Petersburg; Smolensk; Solnechnogorsk, Ramenskoye; Stupino and Stupino Station, Ramenskoye; Taksimo Buryatia; Talagi Airport, Arkhangelsk; Technical Museum Vadim Zadorozhnogo, Ramenskoye; Togliatti Technical Museum of AVTOVAZ, Samara; Totskoye, Orenburg; Tushino; Ulyanovsk;

Ust-Kamenogorsk; Victory Park, the Museum of Military Glory, Saratov; Vidyaevo, Murmansk Region; Vnukovo Ramenskoye; Volodarskogo, Tver; Vorkuta Airport Memorial, Vortuka; Yakutsk; Yegor’yevsk-Shuvoe Airfield, Ramenskoye; Yury Gagarin Park, Samara; Zagashnik Moninskogo Museum, Ramenskoye; and Zhukovsky Airfield and Zhukovsky Racecourse, Ramenskoye.


Caudillo Francisco Franco’s Spanish State gave moral, economic, and military assistance to the Axis powers, while nominally maintaining neutrality.  Franco described Spain as a member of the Axis and signed the Anti-Comintern Pact of 1941 with Hitler and Mussolini.  Members of the ruling Falange party in Spain wanted the return of Gibraltar to Spanish control.  Falangists also supported Spanish colonial acquisition of Tangier, French Morocco and northwestern French Algeria.  Spain also held ambitions on former Spanish colonies in Latin America.  In June 1940 the Spanish government approached Germany to propose an alliance in exchange for Germany recognizing Spain’s territorial aims: the annexation of the Oran province of Algeria, the incorporation of all Morocco, the extension of Spanish Sahara southward to the twentieth parallel, and the incorporation of French Cameroons into Spanish Guinea. 

In 1940 Spain invaded and occupied the Tangier International Zone, maintaining its occupation until 1945.  The occupation caused a dispute between Britain and Spain in November 1940; Spain conceded to protect British rights in the area and promised not to fortify the area.  During the Second World War the Spanish government planned to expand its territory into Portugal and made these plans known to the German government.  In a communiqué with Germany on 26 May 1942, Franco declared that Portugal should be made part of a Greater Spain.

Franco won the Spanish Civil War with the help of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, which were both eager to establish another fascist state in Europe.  When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, Franco immediately offered to form a unit of military volunteers to join the invasion.  This was accepted by Hitler and, within two weeks, there were enough volunteers to form a division – the Blue Division (División Azul) under General Agustín Muñoz Grandes.

Spain‘s ruling Falange party operated in Latin America, especially Puerto Rico, where pro-Falange and pro-Franco sentiment was high.  The Falangists promoted the idea of supporting Spain’s former colonies in fighting against American domination.  Prior to the outbreak of war, support for Franco and the Falange was high in the Philippines.  The Falange Exterior, the international department of the Falange, collaborated with Japanese forces against US forces in the Philippines.[77]

Aviation Museums in Spain

Fundación Infante de Orleans, Cuatro Vientos Air Base, Hangar 3, 28044 Madrid.

Museo del Aire, Cuatro Vientos Air Base, Madrid.

Museo de Aeropuertos y Transporte Aereo, Av Comandante Garcia Morato 81, 29004 Malaga.

Fundació Parc Aeronàutic de Catalunya – Sabadell, Fundació PAC, Aeropuerto de Sabadell, 08205 Sabadell.

Museo Naval de San Fernando, Poblacion Militar de San Carlos, ES-11206 San Fernando (Cadiz).

El Museo de San Javier, Avenida de la Libertad 37, San Javier.

Museo Militar de Almeyda, Calle de San Isrido, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands.

Fundació Parc Aeronàutic de Catalunya – Vilanova, Delegación de Vilanova, Avinguda de l’Aragai s/n, Apartado de Correos 276, 08800 Vilanova I la Geltrú.  Fundació PAC, Aeropuerto de Sabadell, 08205 Sabadell.


The official policy of Sweden before, during, and after the Second World War was neutrality.  It had held this policy for over a century, since the end of the Napoleonic Wars.  In contrast to many other neutral countries, Sweden was not directly attacked during the war, although it was subject to British and Nazi German naval blockades, which led to problems with the supply of food and fuels. 

From the spring of 1940 to the summer of 1941 Sweden and Finland were surrounded by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.  This led to difficulties in maintaining the rights and duties of neutral states in the Hague Convention.  Sweden violated this, as German troops were allowed to travel through Swedish territory between July 1940 and August 1943.  In spite of the fact that it was allowed by the Hague Convention, Sweden has been criticized for exporting iron ore to Nazi Germany via the Baltic and the Norwegian port of Narvik.  German dependence on Swedish iron ore shipments was the primary reason for Great Britain to launch Operation Wilfred and, together with France, the Norwegian Campaign in early April 1940.  By early June 1940 the Norwegian Campaign stood as a failure for the allies.  Nazi Germany could obtain the Swedish iron ore supply it needed for war production despite the British naval blockade by securing access to Norwegian ports by force.[78]

The Swedish Air Force was created on 1 July 1926 when the aircraft units of the Army and Navy were merged.  Because of the escalating international tension during the 1930s the Air Force was reorganized and expanded from four to seven squadrons.  When the Second World War  broke out in 1939 further expansion was initiated and this substantial expansion was not finished until the end of the war.  Although Sweden never entered the war, a large air force was considered necessary to ward off the threat of invasion and to resist pressure through military threats from the great powers.  The Flygvapnet bought aircraft from a number of other nations.  These included the J-7 Bristol Bulldog and the J-8A/B Gloster Gladiator Mk I & II from the UK; 60 J-9 Seversky EP-106 (P-35) from the USA (60 others were impounded by the USAAC); 72 J-11 Fiat CR.42 and 60 Reggiane Re.2000 from Italy; 50 North American P-51D Mustangs (purchased in April 1945); 56 B-3/A/B/C Junkers Ju 86K built under licence;  15 B-4 Hawker Hart light biplane bombers; 91 B-5B/C Northrop A-17A; and 31 B-16 Caproni Bergmaschi Ca.312s.  As the war progressed, Sweden developed its own aircraft designs, including the SAAB J-21A pusher fighter in 1945 which was later modified to the J-21R jet fighter; and the FFVS J-22 monoplane fighter in 1945.  The Swedish designated their bombers as the B-17A/B/C single-engine light level, reconnaissance and dive bomber from 1941; and the B-18 twin-engine medium bomber.[79]

When the Soviet Union attacked Finland in November 1939, Sweden came to its neighbour’s assistance in most ways short of joining the war outright.  A Swedish volunteer infantry brigade and a volunteer air squadron fought in northern Finland in January till March 1940.  The squadron was designated F 19 and consisted of 12 Gloster Gladiator fighters and four Hawker Hart dive-bombers.

By 1945 the Swedish Air Force had over 800 combat-ready aircraft, including 15 fighter divisions.  The Swedish Air Force underwent a rapid modernization from 1945.  It was no longer politically acceptable to equip it with second-rate models.  Instead, the air staff purchased the best it could find from abroad, including North American. P-51D Mustangs, De Havilland Mosquito NF.19 night fighters and de Havilland Vampires, and supported the development of top performance domestic models, including the Saab 29 Tunnan jet fighter was introduced around 1950.[80]

Aviation Museums in Sweden

Ängelholms Flyg Museum, F 10 Kamratforening, Valhall Park, 262 74 Ängelholm.

Robotmuseum/Arboga Missile Museum, Glasbruksgatan 1, 732 31 Arboga.

Försvarsmuseum Boden, Granatvägen 2, 961 43 Boden.

Eskilstuna Flygmuseum, Eskilstuna Flygplats, 63506 Eskilstuna.

Allebergs Segelflyg Museet, Alleberg, Falkoping.

Aeroseum, Holmvägen 100, S-417 46 Göteborg-Säve.

Flygvapenmuseum, Carl Cederstroms gata, Malmslatt, Flygvapenmuseum 581 98 Linkoping.

F11 Museet, Nykoping – Skavsta Flygplats, Nykoping Aviation Association, Skavsta Flygplats, 611 92 Nykoping.

Teknikland, Optands flygfält, 83192 Östersund.

Osterlens Flygmuseum, Ostra Vemmerlov, Ostbo, 272 97 Garsnas.

Soderhamn F15 Flygmuseum, Byggnad 81 Flygstaden, 826 70 Soderhamn.

Tekniska Museet, National Museum of Science and Technology, Box 27842, Museivagen, S-115 93 Stockholm.

Svedinos Bil- och Flygmuseum, Ugglarp, SE-310 50 Sloinge.

Hangar 91, Garnisonsvägen, 752 19 Uppsala.

Västerås Flygmuseum, Hasslogatan 16, 721 31 Västerås.

RFN Vidsel Museum, Vidsel.


At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Switzerland immediately began to mobilize for a possible invasion.  The entire country was fully mobilized in only three days.  The Swiss government began to fortify positions throughout the country.  The total strength of the army and militias grew to exactly 498,327 men.

In the course of the war, detailed invasion plans were drawn up by the German military command, such as Operation Tannenbaum, but Switzerland was never attacked.  Switzerland was able to remain independent through a combination of military deterrence, economic concessions to Germany, and good fortune as larger events during the war delayed an invasion.  Under General Henri Guisan, a massive mobilization of militia forces was ordered.  The Swiss military strategy was changed from one of static defence at the borders, to a strategy of organized long-term attrition and withdrawal to strong, well-stockpiled positions high in the Alps known as the National Redoubt.  This controversial strategy was essentially one of deterrence.  The idea was to cause huge losses to German forces and render the cost of invading too high.  During an invasion, the Swiss Army would cede control of the economic heartland and population centres, but retain control of crucial rail links and passes in the National Redoubt.  Switzerland was an important base for espionage by both sides in the conflict and often mediated communications between the Axis and Allied powers by serving as a protecting power.

Nazi Germany repeatedly violated Swiss airspace.  During the Invasion of France, German aircraft violated Swiss airspace at least 197 times.  In several air incidents, the Swiss (ironically using 10 Messerschmitt Bf-109D and, 50 Bf-109E-1 and 30 Bf 109E-3 fighters bought from Germany prior to the war and some 290 licence-built Morane-Saulnier M.S.406s built under license in Switzerland (82 designated D.3800 and 207 as D.3801 with a larger engine), shot down 11 Luftwaffe planes between 10 May 1940 and 17 June 1940.  Germany protested diplomatically on 5 June 1940 and with a second note on 19 June 1940 which contained clear threats.  Hitler was especially furious when he saw that German equipment was shooting down German pilots.  He said they would respond “in another manner”.  On 20 June 1940, the Swiss air force was ordered to stop intercepting planes violating Swiss airspace.  Swiss fighters began instead to force intruding aircraft to land at Swiss airfields.  A few Bf 109Fs were interned and then added to active squadrons.  The Swiss bought a few Junkers Ju 52s in 1943 that flew with their air force until 1969, and in 1944 they bought a dozen Bf 109G-6s.  The Swiss also built some of their own designs, including the EKW C.3600 series of single engine light reconnaissance bombers.[81]

Anti-aircraft units still operated.  Later, Hitler and Hermann Göring sent saboteurs to destroy Swiss airfields, but the sabotage team was captured by the Swiss army before it could cause any damage.

Allied aircraft also intruded on Swiss airspace during the war, mostly Allied bombers returning from raids over Italy and Germany that had been damaged and whose crews preferred internment by the Swiss to becoming prisoners of war.  Over a hundred Allied aircraft and their crews were interned. They were subsequently put up in various ski resorts that had been emptied from lack of tourists due to the war and held until it ended.

Switzerland, surrounded by Axis-controlled territory, also suffered from Allied bombings during the war; most notably from the accidental bombing of Schaffhausen by American planes on 1 April 1944.  It was mistaken for Ludwigshafen am Rhein, a nearby German town, 40 people were killed and over 50 buildings destroyed, among them a group of small factories producing anti-aircraft shells, ball-bearings, and Bf-109 parts for Germany. The bombing limited much of the leniency the Swiss had shown toward Allied airspace violations.  Eventually, the problem became so bad that they declared a zero-tolerance policy for violation by either Axis or Allied aircraft and authorized attacks on American aircraft.  Victims of these mistaken bombings were not limited to Swiss civilians, however, but included the often confused American aircrews, shot down by the Swiss fighters as well as several Swiss fighters shot down by American airmen.  In February 1945, 18 civilians were killed by Allied bombs dropped over Stein am Rhein, Vals, and Rafz. Arguably the most notorious incident came on 4 March 1945, when both Basel and Zurich were accidentally bombed by Allied aircraft.  The attack on Basel’s railway station led to the destruction of a passenger train, but no casualties were reported.  However, a B-24 Liberator dropped its bomb load over Zürich, destroying two buildings and killing five civilians.  The aircraft’s crew believed that they were attacking Freiburg in Germany.   

The Swiss, although somewhat skeptical, reacted by treating these violations of their neutrality as “accidents”.  The United States was warned that single aircraft would be forced down, and their crews would still be allowed to seek refuge, while bomber formations in violation of airspace would be intercepted.  Danger from U.S. bombers came not only from accidental bombings, but from the aircraft themselves.  In many cases, once a crippled bomber reached Switzerland and was out of enemy territory crews would often bail out, leaving the aircraft to continue until it crashed.  In spite of these incidents, Switzerland also acted as a refuge for Allied prisoners of war who escaped, including those from Oflag IV-C (Colditz).[82]

Aviation Museums in Switzerland:

Fliegermuseum Altenrhein, Flugplatz Sankt Gallen, Postfach CH-9423, Altenrhein.

Fliegermuseum Bäretswil, Im Tisenwaldsberg 2, 8344 Bäretswil, ZH.

Flieger Flab Museum, Air Force Center, Uberlandstrasse 255, Dubendorf, CH-8600.

Verkehrshaus der Schweiz, Swiss Museum of Transport, Lidostrasse 5, CH-6006, Lucerne.

Clin d’Aile, Musee de l’Aviatino Militaire de Payerne, Base Aerienne, 1530 Payerne.

Militaer Museum Wildegg, Peter Fischer, Ammerswilerstr. 63, 5600 Lenzburg.

[1] Internet:

[2] Internet:

[3] Internet:

[4] Internet:

[5] Internet:

[6] Internet:

[7] Internet:

[8] Internet:

[9] Internet:

[10] Internet:

[11] Internet:

[12] Internet:

[13] Internet:

[14] Internet:

[15] Internet:

[16] The Slovak–Hungarian War or Little War (Hungarian: Kis háború, Slovak: Malá vojna), was a war fought from 23 March to 31 March/4 April 1939 between the First Slovak Republic and Hungary in eastern Slovakia.  Internet:

[17] Internet:

[18] Internet:

[19] Internet:

[20] The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland which began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939, two months after the start of the Second World War and the Soviet invasion of Poland, and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty. The League of Nations deemed the attack illegal and expelled the Soviet Union from the League on 14 December 1939.  Internet:

[21] The Continuation War (25 June 1941 – 19 September 1944) was the second of two wars fought between Finland and the Soviet Union during the Second World War.  During this war, the Finnish side used the name to make clear its perceived relationship to the preceding Winter War.  The Soviet Union saw the war as a part of its struggle against Germany and its allies on the Eastern Front, or, as it was known in the Soviet Union, the Great Patriotic War.  Germany regarded its operations in the region as a part of its overall war efforts of the Second World War.  It provided critical material support and military cooperation to Finland.  Internet:

[22] Internet:

[23] Internet:

[24] Internet:

[25] Internet:

[26] Internet:

[27] Internet:

[28] Internet:

[29] Internet:

[30] Internet:

[31] Internet:

[32] Internet:

[33] Internet:

[34] Internet:

[35] Internet:

[36] Internet:

[37] Internet:

[38] Internet:

[39] Internet:

[40] Internet:

[41] Internet:

[42] Internet:

[43] Internet:

[44] Internet:

[45] Internet:

[46] Internet:

[47] Internet:

[48] Internet:

[49] Internet:

[50] Internet:

[51] Internet:

[52] Internet:

[53] The Croatian Air Force Legion (Croatian: Hrvatska Zrakoplovna Legija), or HZL, also known as the Croatian Legion, was a foreign volunteer unit of the Luftwaffe raised from volunteers drawn from the Independent State of Croatia which fought on the Eastern Front between 1941-1943 in the Second World War.  It was then absorbed by the Air Force of the Independent State of Croatia and its surviving members fought back on Croatian soil.  The legion had approximately 360 men.  Internet:

[54] Internet:

[55] Internet:

[56] Internet:

[57] Internet:

[58] Internet:

[59] Internet:

[60] Internet:

[61] Internet: 150.

[62] Internet:

[63] Internet:

[64] Internet:

[65] Internet:

[66] Internet:

[67] Internet:

[68] Internet:

[69] Internet:

[70] Internet:

[71] Internet:

[72] Internet:

[73] Internet:

[74] Internet:

[75] Internet:

[76] Internet:

[77] Internet:

[78] Internet:

[79] Internet:

[80] Internet: