- Published on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 12:17 Robin Jenkins
Romanian Fighter Colours 1941 - 1945
Teodor Liviu Morosanu and Dan Alexandru Melinte
Mushroom Model Publications White (Rainbow) Series No. 9111 UK Price: from MMP £24.99
ISBN 978-83-89450-90-6 Hardback - 192 pages - Illustrated
30.3 x 21.5 x 1.8 cm
I've always had a really soft spot for the Romanian Air Force and its service in WW2. Flying at differing periods with Polish, British, German and their own indigenous Romanian aircraft, they flew initially with the Axis, then later with the Allies, they often found themselves facing much stronger opponents but always seemed to perform with a great deal of credit.Not only this, but their aircraft always seemed to carry interesting markings and make for good modelling subjects.
For most modellers, the most readily available book on the subject is "Rumanian Aces of World War 2" from the Osprey 'Aircraft of the Aces' range . However, MMP have now released a book that is likely to become the standard reference for Romanian aircraft enthusiasts. Over nearly 200 pages, the two authors take the reader through the many different aircraft types flown by the Romanian pilots; each section starts with the operational history, then is illustrated with original photographs (some of which are in colour) and a multitude of colour profiles, each supported by its own reference photograph(s).
I will now show a few examples of the aircraft types covered:
PZL P.11f (below)
Several models of the PZL P.11 series were purchased in the period 1932 -36. When the first campaign started in June 1941, two groups of Flotila 3 Vânătoare were equipped with these aircraft.After the campaign, they were relegated to training duties.
Hawker Hurricane I (above)
Only 12 Hurricanes were delivered to Romania in 1938, which equipped Escadrila 53 Vânătoare. On 23rd June, 1941, a Hurricane pilot became the first wartime aviation hero; Lt. Av. Horia Agarici attacked 7 Soviet bombers attacking Constanta harbour. Despite his aircraft undergoing repair and having no engine cowlings fitted whatsoever, he took off on his own accord and then shot down three of the bombers.
Heinkel He 112E (below)
30 of these beautiful little aircraft, sadly rarely released as models in any scale, were supplied from Germany in August 1939. They saw plenty of service at the front in the period June - October, 1941; they then were used for tactical reconnaissance and coastal defence over the Black Sea and saw a very limited use as night fighters.
IAR 80 and 81 Series (above and below)
The classical home produced fighter of the Romanian air force, they were introduced into service in February 1941 and saw service for the rest of WW2. With nearly a 2:1 kill to loss ratio over this period, the aircraft performed really well in the hands of competent pilots. Many incidents stand out, not least on the 10th June 1944 when 23 of the IAR 81C aircraft of Grupul 6 Vânătoare took part in a mad, whirling dogfight with a much larger force of P-38 Lightnings of the 15th US Air Force, mostly at an altitude below 100m; for the loss of only three Romanian pilots, no less than 23 P-38s were claimed shot down!
Messerschmitt Bf 109E (above)
50 109Es were delivered by Spring 1941 and more in January 1942. they were extremely popular with their pilots. Their most memorable period was their activity at the front during the Battle for Stalingrad in Autumn and Winter, 1942
Messerschmitt Bf 109G (both below)
Entering service in March 1943 and serving until the end of the war, the 109G was the most popular fighter in the Romanian armoury and was flown by nearly all of the Romanian aces. On 16th August 1943, Ofiter de echipaj cl.III Ion Milu in a 109G became the only Romanian pilot to shoot down five aircraft in a single day.
Polikarpov I-16 (below)
The I-16 is shown as a representative of the many less common types flown by the Romanian air force; this was a captured aircraft pressed into service in the late summer of 1941.
There are many other types covered in the book; I hope the examples shown above give a flavour of just how packed with good modelling reference this book is. It is full of interesting history and well researched profiles.
It is well written, slightly factual in nature, but this approach does suit the style of the presentation and layout of the book.
So what do we think?
Any book which has a large focus on two of my favourite WW2 "unsung heroes", the Heinkel 112 and the IAR 80, will usually get my vote. This book is worthy of much more than that, however; I genuinely believe it is close to being a classic on the subject.
Our thanks to MMP for the review sample. To buy this title directly, click THIS link.