Aviation of World War II
Romania Aviation of World War II
The history of the aviation industry in Romania began in 1925, when the Industry Azronautica Romana (IAR) concern was founded in Brasov with the participation of foreign companies, in particular the French firms Bleriot-Spad and Lorraine-Dietrich. He was mainly engaged in the licensed manufacture of aircraft and engines. The first from the assembly shops of the enterprise came out in 1928, 30 two-seater training aircraft Moran-Saulnier MS.35, then 70 light bombers Potez XXV. In the early 1930s, machines of their own design were also developed in Brasov, but almost all of them remained at the level of prototypes, with the exception of the IAR 14 training aircraft. Therefore, when the need for modern combat fighters arose in Romania, the government turned its gaze abroad. where at various aviation exhibitions and competitions, the all-metal high-winged aircraft of Zygmund Pulawski were very successful. Initially, 50 PZL P.11b aircraft were purchased from Poland, then in 1934 the government acquired a license to produce an improved P.11f fighter, the construction of which was deployed at the IAR factories. Until 1937, units of the Romanian Air Force received about 70 of these machines. By this time, the Romanian fighter aircraft consisted of nine R. 11 squadrons, three squadrons of SET biplanes. 15 from the aircraft factory in Bucharest and one from Dewuatinov D.27. All these aircraft quickly became obsolete, and the Polish PZL P.24 fighter, which had a more powerful engine and enhanced armament, was again chosen as their successor. To get acquainted with the technology of its manufacture, a group of IAR engineers headed by Professor Ion Grosu went to Warsaw. There, they probably received information about the development in Poland of a new fighter "Yastreb" with retractable landing gear, because they returned back with a firm conviction to create their own, even more advanced machine, simultaneously with the licensed construction of the R.24. The command of the Romanian Air Force, naturally, supported this idea.
Work on the new fighter began in Brasov in October 1937, and the backbone of the design bureau of twenty people consisted of Ion Grosu and his deputies Gheorghiu Zotta and Ion Kochereanu.
When on June 22, 1941, Hitler's troops invaded the territory of the Soviet Union, Romanian military units, including aviation, took part in battles with the Red Army with them. Of the 504 Romanian aircraft of the first line, 423 were sent to the Eastern Front, including 170 fighters. Among the very motley fighter aircraft of Romania, including the German He 112 and Bf 109 aircraft, the Polish P.11 and P.24, as well as the British Hurricanes, there were also IAR 80, which were part of two squadrons of the 8th group. In conditions of domination in the sky, the pilots were mainly engaged in air support for the 3rd and 4th Romanian armies advancing in Bessarabia and Ukraine. In mid-October, IAR 81 fighter-bombers, who also fought in the 8th group, received their baptism of fire near Odessa. In early 1942, the units of the Romanian Air Force were reorganized and replenished with new aircraft. From units armed with IAR 80 fighters, the 6th group of the 1st air corps was transferred to the territory of the USSR. In the continuing battles in Ukraine, the Romanians quickly realized that the German "blitzkrieg" was delayed, and the number of modern Soviet fighters in the air was constantly growing, surpassing Romanian aircraft in flight data, especially at medium and high altitudes. The IAR 81 dive bombers suffered the most in air battles, the maximum speed of which, even without bombs, did not exceed 470 km / h.
The obsolescence of Romanian aircraft was fully manifested during the Battle of Stalingrad, where they simply had no place in the fierce battles for air supremacy. At the beginning of 1943, the 6th German army surrendered, and Romania lost 18 infantry divisions and a significant part of aviation at Stalingrad. The IAR 80 fighters removed from the front returned to their homeland and became part of the air defense units that defended Bucharest and the oil refineries in Ploiesti from Allied air raids. In the summer of 1943, all IAR 80 and 81 aircraft were in Romania (on the Eastern Front, the Romanian Air Force units re-equipped with Bf 109G).