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Allied aircraft of Germany in the Eastern Front

Written by Sakhal

When talking about the air campaign in the Eastern Front, during the Second World War, usually are mentioned only the Soviets and the Germans. However, along with the aircraft and pilots of the Luftwaffe fought others belonging to the countries that embarked in such venture at the side of the Third Reich: Italy, Hungary, Romania, Finland, Croacia and Slovakia. There were also those states that, without having declared war to the Soviet Union, joined the German war effort as it was the case of Spain and, focusing in the defense of its own air space, Bulgaria. Besides, pilots from the Baltic countries fought within the pale of the Luftwaffe, occasionally forming homogeneous units, and even anti-Communist Russians were integrated in the 1. Ostfliegerstaffel flying in aircraft captured to the Soviets.

Allied aircraft of Germany in the Eastern Front

Biplane Avia B-534 from the Slovak Air Force.

Allied aircraft of Germany in the Eastern Front

The picture shows, from top to bottom: 1) Dornier Do 217 from the 4th Regiment of the Finnish Air Force. 2) Caproni Ca.311 from the 128th Bomber Squadron of the Italian Air Force. 3) Messerschmitt Me 210 Ca-1s from the Hungarian Air Force with the colors adopted in 1944, more distinguishable in the air than the former ones. 4) PZL P.24E from the Romanian Air Force. 5) Dewoitine D.520 from the 3rd Squadron of the 6th Regiment of the Bulgarian Air Force.


Aircraft of national development in the Bulgarian Air Force included: 1) The reconnaissance aircraft LAZ-3 (DAR 3) "Garvan" (Crow), a biplane of open cockpit that appeared in 1929, appearing the improved version LAZ-3a (DAR 3a) in 1939-40, whose last models had closed canopy; not accepted for reconnaissance in first line during the war, it was used for training and liaison. 2) The training and liaison aircraft DAR 6 "Sinigier", a two-seater biplane that flew for the first time in 1929, existing still six exemplars in the Bulgarian Air Force in the spring of 1940; they equipped a training squadron aggregated to a mixed fighter-bomber regiment, carrying training and liaison tasks. 3) The light/dive bomber DAR 10, which flew for the first time in the early 1941, being then built a small number of exemplars that were used during a brief time in first line before being replaced by the Junkers Ju 87D-5; later they were used in the anti-partisan fight in Yugoslavia. Foreign models, apart from the numerous Czechoslovak aircraft supplied to Bulgaria, included the Polish light bomber PZL P.43A and the French fighter Dewoitine D.520 depicted below.

Allied aircraft of Germany in the Eastern Front

PZL P.43A "Tchaika" from the 1st Orliak (Air Regiment) of the Bulgarian Royal Air Force, Sofia-Bojourishte, September 1939; national distinctives of older style in fuselage and wings, with tricolor ensign of disused type in steering rudder (see the Dewoitine D.520 in the illustration below, which shows the national ensign used during the period 1940-44, when Bulgaria collaborated with the Axis.

Allied aircraft of Germany in the Eastern Front

Dewoitine D.520 from the 6th Orliak (Air Regiment) of the Bulgarian Royal Air Force, Karlovo, winter 1943-44; compare the national distinctives, very simplified from October 1940 onwards, with the formerly used in the PZL P.43A around 1939.

Specifications for DAR 10F

Type: Light/dive bomber
Crew: 2
Wingspan: 12.65 meters
Length: 9.83 meters
Height: N/A
Wing area: 22.80 square meters
Weight (empty): 2030 kilograms
Weight (full load): 2900 kilograms
Engine: Fiat A.74 RC 38 of 960 horsepower
Service ceiling: 9000 meters
Maximum speed at sea level: 380 kilometers/hour
Maximum speed at an altitude of 5000 meters: 455 kilometers/hour
Operational range: 1400 kilometers
Armament: Two MG 17 7.92-millimeter machine guns in the fore part of the fuselage, two MG FF 20-millimeter cannons in the wings and one orientable MG 15 7.92-millimeter machine gun in the rear cockpit
Offensive load: Up to 500 kilograms of bombs
In service: Bulgaria


Aircraft of national development in the Czechoslovak Air Force included: 1) The light bomber/support aircraft A 32, a two-seater biplane developed from the A 11 from 1923, being built initially 16 exemplars that were sent to Finland in 1929-30; these remained in service until 1944, mainly for training, but also in small scale for reconnaissance and liaison. 2) The medium bomber/long-range reconnaissance aircraft A 100, another two-seater biplane developed from the A 30 (initially proposed as A 430), which flew for the first time in 1933; apart from serving in the Czechoslovak Air Force, about 20 exemplars were sent to Spain in 1937 to serve with the Republicans, being captured about five of them by the Nationalists, who used them for training; after the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Germany in March 1939, several A 100/101 were transferred to the new Slovak Air Force, firstly as light bombers and later for training and liaison. 3) The light bomber/long-range reconnaissance aircraft - with a crew of three - A 304, an adaptation from the civilian transport with capacity for eight passengers A 204 from 1936 (keeping even the original windows), being built in 1938 a total of fifteen A 204 for the Czechoslovak Air Force; these were retained by Germany the following year, being used mostly for transporting high-rank military personnel; one of them was delivered to Bulgaria; the prototype of the modified A 300 was used only for trials. 4) The transport aircraft with capacity for six passengers BH 25J, whose prototype flew in 1926, being delivered two of the four civilian models to Romania in 1931, and later in 1937 they were transferred to the Air Force of that country; they served as transports until the late 1930s, being believed that they took part in operations during the first months of the war. 5) The fighter B 534 which, being comparable to the best fighter of the contemporary world, was the standard fighter of the Czechoslovak Air Force (also used by the Air Police), until the German occupation in March 1939, being then passed some of them to the new Slovak Air Force and others to Germany; these latter equipped a Staffel during the first months of the war (later dedicated to target towing) and others were delivered to Bulgaria; it was used against the first incursions of the heavy bombers from the USAAF, including the second attack against Ploiesti; the units from Slovakia took part in the dispute of the Carpathians in the spring of 1939 (one captured by Hungary was used for liaison), and later in the southern sector of the Eastern Front (Ukraine), in 1941-42; in 1944 there were still some in service, being three of these used by the Slovak Insurgent Air Force against the German forces. 6) The single-seater monoplane fighter B 135, of closed cockpit, whose first prototype (B 35) was built in 1938, while the prototype of the B 135 was completed after the German annexation; twelve exemplars were delivered to Bulgaria (total production was only 16 exemplars); it served in the defense of the metropoli as interceptor against the heavy bombers of the USAAF in route towards the Romanian oilfields. 7) The Be 51 "Beta-Minor", low-winged single-seater of fixed landing gear, was a popular tourism aircraft before the war, of which Germany retained a certain number after the annexation (mainly of the model B 51, which had closed cockpit unlike the earlier model B 50), to be used for training and liaison. 8) The two-seater biplane S 218 "Smolik", built during the late 1920s, which had exported many exemplars to the three Baltic states; it was also sold to Finland (10 exemplars and other 29 built under license), being these used for training and liaison during the wars against the Soviet Union. 8) The biplane fighter S 231, of which 10 exemplars were sent to the Spanish Republican Air Force in 1936, being destroyed seven of them in the subsequent combats; the survivors were transferred to the Nationalist side, serving until the first months of the Second World War. 10) The reconnaissance/bomber aircraft S 328, two-seater biplane originally designed in 1932 following an order from Finland (which was not delivered); it started to be built for the Czechoslovak Air Force two years later, being very used before the war; after the German annexation all of the existing were retained (being continued the production), being used by the Luftwaffe for training and some delivered to Slovakia and Bulgaria; the first ones took part in the invasions of Poland (1939) and the Soviet Union (1941), and the second ones were used in coastal patrols in the Black Sea; three Slovak exemplars joined the Insurgent Air Force in the autumn of 1944, acting against the German forces.

Allied aircraft of Germany in the Eastern Front

Upper aircraft: Avia B 534.IV (M-19) from the Stihakileta (Fighter Squadron) of the Slovak Air Force, Zhitomir-Kiev (Ukraine), October 1941; standard camouflage in dark green and pale blue, ensigns of the last style used, yellow bands in prow, fuselage and wingtips, and distinctive of the Axis Air Forces in the Eastern Front.

Lower aircraft: Letov S 328 (S-76) from the Combined Squadron of the Slovak Insurgent Air Force, Tri Duby, September 1944; note the distinctives in wings and tail of the Insurgent Air Force; this particular aircraft and the S-27 were destroyed by the Luftwaffe in the bombing of Tri Duby, the 10th September 1944.

Specifications for B 534.IV

Type: Fighter
Crew: 1
Wingspan: 9.40 meters
Length: 8.20 meters
Height: 3.10 meters
Wing area: 23.56 square meters
Weight (empty): 1460 kilograms
Weight (full load): 1985 kilograms
Engine: Hispano-Suiza 12Ydrs (built by Avia) of 830 horsepower
Initial climb rate: 900 meters/minute
Time to reach an altitude of 5000 meters: 5 minutes
Service ceiling: 10600 meters
Maximum speed at an altitude of 4400 meters: 405 kilometers/hour
Cruising speed: 345 kilometers/hour
Operational range: 580 kilometers
Armament: Four Mk 30 7.7-millimeter machine guns in the fore part of the fuselage
In service: Bulgaria (48), Croacia, Germany, Greece (6), Hungary (1, ex-Slovakia), Slovakia and Yugoslavia (14)
Total production: 514 exemplars

Specifications for B 135

Type: Fighter
Crew: 1
Wingspan: 10.85 meters
Length: 8.62 meters
Height: 2.70 meters
Wing area: 17 square meters
Weight (empty): 1924 kilograms
Weight (full load): 2460 kilograms
Engine: Hispano-Suiza 12Ycrs (built by Avia) of 860 horsepower
Initial climb rate: 810 meters/minute
Service ceiling: 8500 meters
Maximum speed: 535 kilometers/hour
Cruising speed: 460 kilometers/hour
Operational range: 550 kilometers
Armament: One Oerlikon 20-millimeter cannon firing through the propeller axis and two Mk 30 7.7-millimeter machine guns in the fore part of the fuselage
Offensive load: Up to 220 kilograms of bombs
In service: Bulgaria (12)
Total production: 16 exemplars

Specifications for S 328

Type: Reconnaissance/bomber aircraft
Crew: 2
Wingspan: 13.70 meters
Length: 10.40 meters
Height: 3.40 meters
Wing area: 67.10 square meters
Weight (empty): 1680 kilograms
Weight (full load): 2675 kilograms
Engine: Bristol Pegasus IIM-2 (built by Walter) of 635 horsepower
Time to reach an altitude of 5000 meters: 17 minutes
Service ceiling: 7200 meters
Maximum speed at an altitude of 1800 meters: 280 kilometers/hour
Operational range: 700 kilometers
Armament: Two Mk 30 7.7-millimeter machine guns in the wings and other two of the same type and caliber in the rear cockpit
Offensive load: Up to 500 kilograms of bombs
In service: Bulgaria (more than 30), Germany, Slovakia and Soviet Union (ex-Slovak)
Total production: 470 exemplars


Aircraft of national development in the Finnish Air Force included: 1) The training and liaison two-seater biplane Saaski, whose prototype flew in 1928, being used the series models by the Finnish Customs Service (seaplanes), the Civil Air Guard and several civilian aeroclubs; the exemplars belonging to the Air Force were dedicated to reconnaissance and support missions, being kept in service until 1941; during the war against the Soviet Union, in 1939-40 and later, they were used for training and liaison, respectively. 2) The maritime reconnaissance and diurnal bomber aircraft Kotka, which was kept in service during all the fight against the Soviet Union (1939-40 and 1941-44), being finally relegated to second-line tasks, including training an target towing. 3) The advanced training and reconnaissance aircraft Tuisku, which flew for the first time in 1933 and entered service in 1939, being used as well during the fight against the Soviet Union in 1939-40 and 1941-44, mainly for instruction and operative training; it was also employed in small scale for reconnaissance and liaison tasks. 4) The basic training and liaison aircraft Viima, which flew for the first time in 1935 and was used by the Finnish Air Force from 1939 to 1962, serving during the war mainly as trainer; in the late 1950s it was modified, being added canopies to the cockpits. 5) The advanced training and liaison aircraft Pyry, whose prototype flew in 1939 and remained in service with the Finnish Air Force until 1962 as well, being widely used during the war against the Soviet Union in 1941-44, for general purposes, advanced training and liaison. 5) The fighter Myrsky, which was the only fighter of Finnish design that took part in combats during the Second World War, but which had a bleak start up, since the first four exemplars crashed during the trials period; the modified Myrsky II entered service in 1943, being also used after September 1944 against the German troops that withdrew from Finland. Foreign models included the French fighter MS 406 depicted below.

Allied aircraft of Germany in the Eastern Front

Morane-Saulnier MS 406 (MS-311) from the 1./LeLv 14 of the Finnish Air Force, Tiiksjarvi, Finland, September 1943. Typical camouflage in two colors with personal distinctive representing shark jaws.

VL Myrsky

At the oubreak of the Russo-Finnish War, the situation of the military aviation in the small nordic country was rather critical, being in conditions of total dependency on the war industry of the nations that, in that moment, supported Finland. Two years later, when the army of Marshal Mannerheim thought in "returning the favor" to the Red Army, the situation had quite changed, both qualitatively and quantitatively, but the uncomfortable and distrurbing basic shortcomings remained. The ranks of the Finnish Air Force comprised German and Italian aircraft provided by the two main allies of the country, but there were also many British, French, Dutch, American and even Soviet aircraft. True is that the Valtion Lentokonetehdas (the state-owned aircraft factory, which represented almost all of the aeronautical industry) built since time ago, under license, the Dutch fighter Fokker D XXI and the British bomber Bristol Blenheim, but the absence of a model projected around the characteristic parameters of that war theater was increasingly noticeable. Because of that in 1941 it was decided to try the construction of a national model, and the order was entrusted to engineer Edward Vegeluis from the Valtion Lentokonetehdas (VL).

The prototype, denominated Myrsky (Storm), flew for the first time in the early 1942. Undoubtedly it was not a fully achieved realization, for it presented notable inconvenients, such as a certain structural weakness, unstability during flight and the ugly tendency of losing the coating of the fuselage when the aircraft was in full effort. Of this first aircraft were built four exemplars, which were soon returned to the factory to study adequate modifications that could correct the defects. From this restructuring it was born the Myrsky II, which was built in 46 exemplars. But these entered service too late to be used effectively against the Russians, and because of that they were used, but only in a symbolic manner, against the Wehrmacht during its withdrawal, as imposed by the clauses stipulated in the armistice of Finland and the Soviet Union.

Structurally, the aircraft was a single-engined low-winged monoplane with retractable landing gear. The body was one of mixed construction (metallic in the frame of the fuselage and wooden in the one of the wings). The coating was of plywood in the rear part and metallic in the fore part. The engine was a radial Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830-SC3-G of 14 cylinders, acquired in Sweden, where SFA built it under American license. The armament comprised four Browning 12.7-millimeter machine guns that fired through the propeller disc. Overall, the Myrsky was scarcely used during war operations, and despite the modifications it resulted to be an aircraft of not brilliant prestations, to the point that it did not enjoy great popularity among the pilots. The importance of this aircraft lies mainly in that it was the first aircraft entirely produced in Finland, and it served as test bench for the young aeronautical industry of the country. This one, based in the experience acquired with the Myrsky, would construct shortly after the Pyorremyrsky (Whirlwind), a fighter-bomber that could have showed itself as an excellent aircraft if the course of the war had allowed it a full development.

Allied aircraft of Germany in the Eastern Front

Allied aircraft of Germany in the Eastern Front


First flight: Spring 1942
Wingspan: 11 meters
Length: 8.35 meters
Height: 3 meters
Wing area: 18 square meters
Weight (empty): 2340 kilograms
Weight (full load): 2950 kilograms
Engine: Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830-SC3-G of 1065 horsepower
Service ceiling: 9000 meters
Maximum speed: 530 kilometers/hour
Cruising speed: 400 kilometers/hour
Operational range: 500 kilometers (about 1000 kilometers with two external fuel tanks under the wings)
Armament: Four Browning 53-2 12.7-millimeter machine guns in the fore part of the fuselage


Aircraft of national development in the Hungarian Air Force included: 1) The tactical reconnaissance aircraft WM 16 "Budapest", two-seater biplane specifically designed to supplement the Fokker CV-D from 1928, built under license by Manfred Weiss, in tactical reconnaissance missions; the prototypes of the WM 16A and 16B flew for the first time in 1934 and 1935, respectively; it was finally built in much lesser quantity than its antecessor, being relegated to second-line missions in the late 1930s and retired from service in 1942, precisely one year before than the last of the CV-D. 2) The reconnaissance aircraft WM 21 "Solyom" (Hawk), another two-seater biplane and one of the various developments based on the CV-D, which evolved until its definitive configuration through the WM 16, entering service in 1938; it equipped several short-range reconnaissance squadrons and after declaring Hungary the war to the Soviet Union, the 27th June 1941, one of these accompanied the Brigade of the Hungarian Air Force on its advance, from July to December 1941; then it was gradually relegated to second-line missions and training, until being retired from service in 1943. 3) The training and liaison aircraft Levente, a two-seater with the wing above the fuselage, named after the Hungarian national hero, whose prototype flew in October 1940; the Levente II entered service exactly three years later; designed for training, the largest part were however assigned to operative squadrons for liaison missions, serving until the end of the war.

Specifications for WM 21

Allied aircraft of Germany in the Eastern Front

Type: Reconnaissance aircraft
Crew: 2
Wingspan: 12.90 meters the upper wing and 9.40 meters the lower wing
Length: 9.64 meters
Height: 3.50 meters
Wing area: 32.73 square meters
Weight (empty): 2450 kilograms
Weight (full load): 3450 kilograms
Engine: WM K-14 of 870 horsepower
Time to reach an altitude of 3200 meters: 7 minutes
Service ceiling: 8000 meters
Maximum speed: 320 kilometers/hour
Cruising speed: 275 kilometers/hour
Operational range: 600 kilometers
Armament: Two Gebauer 7.9-millimeter machine guns in the fore part of the fuselage and one of the same type and caliber in the rear cockpit
Offensive load: Up to 120 kilograms of bombs (twelve small bombs under the wings or one large bomb under the fuselage)
In service: Hungary
Total production: 128 exemplars


Aircraft of national development in the Romanian Air Force included: 1) The transport aircraft IAR 36, a high-winged monoplane with capacity for four passengers, whose civilian prototype, designed by German manufacturer Messerschmitt, flew for the first time in the late 1934; it was used in the Romanian inner lines and five exemplars were transferred to the Air Force in 1936, serving as transport for high-rank officers and for liaison until the first months of the Second World War. 2) The light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft IAR 37, a three-seater biplane, whose prototype flew in 1938, being built more than 300 exemplars of the IAR 37 and its modifications (models 38 and 39) during the following four years, equipping 135 exemplars 15 light bomber and reconnaissance squadrons when the invasion of the Soviet Union, the 22nd June 1941; it took active part during the hostilities, passing after the capitulation, in August 1944, to the Soviet side, being used then against the retreating German troops; the IAR 39 of support and cooperation with the Army remained in service until the late 1940s, later relegated to auxiliary missions. 3) The single-seater monoplane fighter IAR 80, whose prototype, designed in the early 1938, used the rear fuselage and tail section from the Polish aircraft PZL P.24E, then under construction by IAR; the first series models entered service with the Romanian Air Force four years later, being then used as fighter-bombers in the Eastern Front in 1942-43 (including Stalingrad), before being sent to the metropoli for the defense of Bucarest and the refineries at Ploiesti; after the armistice the IAR 80/81 were used against the Germans, remaining in service after the war until the late 1940s; some IAR 80 were converted into two-seaters for advanced training. 4) The reconnaissance aircraft SET 7K, a two-seater biplane which entered service in 1926, remaining in service during the entire wartime in which Romania was part of the Axis, remaining still active some of them when the capitulation of August 1944; the surviving exemplars were dedicated to secondary tasks and training.

Allied aircraft of Germany in the Eastern Front

Upper aircraft: IAR 81C (number 391) from the Grupul 3 Picaj (3rd Dive Bomber Group) Corpul 1 Aerien (1st Air Corps), Romanian Royal Air Force, Cioara, Dolcesti, Romania, August 1944; subordinated to the Lfl. Kdo. 4 of the Luftwaffe (Operation Command in Debrecen, Hungary), this particular aircraft wears ensigns of the type used during the collaboration with the Axis (compare them with the ones on the IAR 39, used from August 1944 onwards).

Lower aircraft: IAR 39 (number 204) for cooperation with the Army, aggregated to the Corpul 1 Aerien (1st Air Corps) of the Romanian Royal Air Force, Slovak Front, January 1945; after being subordinated to the 5th Soviet Air Force, all of the aircraft from the Corpul 1 Aerien replaced the ensigns used during the period of collaboration with the Axis by the cockades from before the war, however keeping the tricolor bands in the tail.

Specifications for IAR 80A

Type: Fighter
Crew: 1
Wingspan: 10.50 meters
Length: 8.90 meters
Height: 3.60 meters
Wing area: 15.97 square meters
Weight (empty): 1780 kilograms
Weight (full load): 2490 kilograms
Engine: IAR (Gnome-Rhone) 14 K115 of 1025 horsepower
Time to reach an altitude of 4500 meters: 5 minutes 40 seconds
Service ceiling: 10500 meters
Maximum speed at an altitude of 4000 meters: 510 kilometers/hour
Cruising speed: 330 kilometers/hour
Maximum operational range: 940 kilometers
Armament: Six Browning FN 7.92-millimeter machine guns in the wings
In service: Romania
Total production: About 437 exemplars

Categories: Aviation - World War Two - 20th Century - [General] - [General]


Website: Military History

Article submitted: 2015-07-15

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