Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Warplanes of the Second World War preserved in Romania

Warplanes of the Second World War preserved in Romania

The aim of this website is to locate, identify and document Warplanes from the Second World War preserved in Romania.  Many contributors have assisted in the hunt for these aircraft to provide and update the data on this website.  Photos are as credited.  Any errors found here are by the author, and any additions, corrections or amendments to this list of Warplane Survivors of the Second World War in Hungary would be most welcome and may be e-mailed to the author at hskaarup@rogers.com.

Data current to 9 Nov 2018.

Romania

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.

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.