Despre căpitanul aviator Petre Râpeanu (1909-1951), unchiul tatălui meu, aviator în Al Doilea Război Mondial (1941-1945), luptând pe ambele fronturi. Din familie mi s-a spus că a fost unul dintre (numărul poate fi inexact) cei 14 din 200 de aviatori români de elită care au supravieţuit războiului.
„În timpul Campaniei din 1941 principala forţă aeriană a românilor a fost Gruparea Aeriană de Luptă aflată sub comanda generalului de escadră Constantin Celăreanu. Șeful de stat major al Grupării Aeriene de Luptă era comandorul aviator Victor Caloianu. În compunerea acestei mari unităţi aeriene, al cărei prim punct de comandă s-a stabilit la Vila Săveanu, lângă Focșani, intrau Flotila 1 Vânătoare (comandată de căpitan-comandor aviator Mihail Romanescu Leul și avându-l ca șef al Biroului Operaţii pe locotenent-comandor aviator Atanasie Georgescu) [n.m.: din Flotila 1 făcea parte asul aviaţiei, căpitanul aviator Alexandru Şerbănescu], Flotila 1 Bombardament (la comanda căreia se afla comandorul aviator Alexandru Sahini, șef al Biroului Operaţii fiind căpitan-comandor aviator Alexandru T. Ionescu), Flotila 2 Bombardament (comandant comandor aviator Gheorghe Ceaușu, șef al Biroului Operaţii căpitan aviator Marin Teișanu), Flotila 2 Gardă (comandant comandor aviator Ioan Mitulescu [sau Nitulescu], șef al Biroului Operaţii căpitan aviator Petre Râpeanu), o escadrilă de recunoaștere și una de legătură”
Sursa: Arhivele Militare Române (în continuare A.M.R.), Fond Gruparea Aeriană de
Luptă, dosar nr. crt. 1, ff. 1-3..
(„AVIAŢIA ROMÂNĂ DE VÂNĂTOARE ÎN CAMPANIA DIN 1941. CONCLUZIILE COMANDANTULUI FLOTILEI 1 – CĂPITANUL-COMANDOR AVIATOR MIHAIL ROMANESCU” – de Sorin TURTURICĂ, în “Document. Buletinul Arhivelor Militare Române” – nr. 3(61)/2013 – apud pag.47)
Informaţii privind Gruparea Aerienă de Luptă:
„Puterea ofensiva a ARR (Aeronautica Regala Romana) era concentrata in GAL (Gruparea Aeriana de Lupta), care avea in total 253 de avioane, din care numai 205 erau disponibile pe 22 iunie. Misiunea lor era de a castiga suprematia aeriana deasupra Basarabiei si Bucovinei de Nord si de a sprijini ofensiva Armatei 4. Era alcatuita din 4 grupuri de bombardament (1, 2, 4 si 5) si 2 escadrile independente de bombardament (82 si 18), 3 grupuri de vanatoare (5, 7 si 8), 4 escadrile de observatie (11, 12, 13 si 14) si o escadrila de recunoastere-bombardament (1).” (WW2 forum)
„[…] pe frontul de est a acţionat Gruparea Aeriană de Luptă cu 253 de avioane de vânătoare, recunoaştere şi bombardament. Aviaţia a îndeplinit sute de misiuni, contribuind efectiv la eliberarea provinciilor româneşti Bucovina de nord şi Basarabia, ocupate cu forţa armată de URSS în iulie 1940.” (ROAF)
„Adversarul aerian al Grupării Aeriene de Luptă a fost Divizia 21, dispusă în special în jumătatea sudică a Basarabiei. În prima săptămână de război, aerodromurile și depozitele acestei divizoi au fost principalele ţinte ale aviatorilor români din Gruparea Aeriană de Luptă. Din momentul în care trupele terestre româno-germane din Moldova au trecut Prutul (2 iulie 1941), Gruparea Aeriană de Luptă, care își asigurase deja supremaţia aeriană în zona sa de responsabilitate, a executat misiuni în special în folosul Armatei 4 Române.” (art.cit, p.47)
„Gruparea Aeriana de Lupta a jucat un rol important in infrangerea ofensivei sovietice la Tiganca.” (Victor Niţu)
O altă structură am găsit-o pe o pagină dedicată ARR campaigns:
„In mid June 1941 Gruparea Aerianã de Luptã ( meaning „Aerial Combat Grouping”), abbreviated as GAL, was created for the coming offensive. It incorporated the very best planes and pilots the ARR had to offer : almost all the available bombers ( 4 bomber groups totaling 11 squadrons ) and most of the fighters ( 3 fighter groups totaling 8 squadrons ). The GAL was divided into 4 flotillas and, with its 253 aircraft, represented the main striking force of the ARR throughout the Bassarabian campaign ( although just 205 planes were ready for battle on June the 22nd 1941 ). In order to ensure the air defense of Romanian territory, two Air Regions were created : the 2nd and 3rd Air Regions. Obsolete fighters ( such as the PZL P-11’s and P-24E’s ) were kept behind the front to cover these Air Region. [….]
The „Aerial Combat Grouping” was incorporated into Luftflotte IV ( the German 4th Air Flotilla ) and on June the 22nd it entered combat alongside the rest of ARR’s forces. Luftflotte IV had some 400 planes and the ARR about 672. On the other side, the VVS ( the Soviet airforce ) had concentrated forces which, at least on paper appeared to be far superior. The 67th, 69th and 82nd Bomber Regiments were based in southern Bassarabia, on airfields near the cities of Bolgrad and Bulgarica. Further to the north were situated the bases of the 55th Fighter Regiment, the 45th Bomber Regiment ( around Tiraspol and Balti ) as well as the 87th, 187th,149th Fighter and the 86th and 224th Bomber regiments. Altogether, the VVS could call upon some 1300 fighters, bombers, reconnaissance planes and various other types of aircraft.
At midnight ( zero hours ) on Sunday the 22nd of June, 1941, a message came to GAL’s headquarters : ” The actions of our airforce on the east front will begin as agreed with the German command, on the dawn of June the 22nd 1941. Directive number 34 will be executed. Operations will be organized so that the ( temporary ) border will be crossed simultaneously by all bomber and reconnaissance formations at 4 o’clock in the morning, under the codename „Ardealul”. The fighters will be on alert starting from dawn, flying defensive patrols. I shall await your report tomorrow, that being today in the morning, after the first sorties have been flown…”. GAL’s commanding officer, General Constantin Celareanu, responded immediately : ” GAL is ready and able to execute Directive number 34 „.
For start, the ARR had to win air supremacy over Bassarabia and Bucovina, as well as to attack Soviet airfields, troop concentrations and supply depots. Between the 22nd of June and the 4th of July, wrestling control of the skies was ARR’s primary concern. This was achieved thanks to the efforts of Romanian Bf-109E’s, IAR-80’s and Hurricanes, which quickly proved to be far superior to VVS’s main fighter, the I-16 Rata ( the Russian plane was nicknamed”the rat” ). After this, emphasis was switched to flying close air support missions in support of ground forces. This phase ended by the 19th of July, when the ARR started to concentrate on attacking retreating Soviet troops.
A short pause followed after the 27th of July, by which time all of Bassarabia had been liberated and the Romanian 4th Army was already heading for its next objective : the major city ( and port ) of Odessa. Some reorganization was carried out during this short restbite : all surviving He-112B’s were grouped with the 51st Fighter Squadron, whilst the 52nd and 42nd were merged into the 52/42nd squadron, equipped with brand-new IAR-80A’s. The 4th and 5th Fighter groups were brought to the assist the 4th Army in the siege of Odessa, where their P-11f’s and P-24E’s were likely to meet Soviet planes just as obsolete as they were. Some IAR-81 fighter-bombers were assigned to the 59th Fighter Squadron and flew a couple of sorties against Soviet shipping near Odessa. Altogether, 35 squadrons totaling 349 planes took part in siege of Odessa.
There was fierce combat behind the frontline as well. In the first days of the war, the VVS tried to launch numerous raids ( although each one was carried out only by a handful of planes ) deep into Romanian territory. The main targets were the Constantza harbor, the strategically vital bridge over the Danube at Cernavoda, the capital, Bucharest, and, last but not least, the all-important oilfields and refineries around Ploiesti. However, since the raids had adopted a predictable pattern ( almost always coming from the Black Sea, in daytime ) and were carried out by obsolete planes, flying at very limit of their combat range, little or no damage has been done to any target. The Romanian and German pilots tasked with air defense also took advantage of this situation and managed to score an impressive number of kills.
On the 16th of October, the Romanian army marched into Odessa, and ARR’s first campaign could be considered over on all fronts.
In the 118 days of this first campaign, the ARR had flown more than 17000 sorties, many of which faced bad weather. 217 air battles took place during this period over the skies of Bassarabia and Romania, and 82 Soviet planes were sent down in flames. Romanian fighters and bombers also destroyed 108 VVS aircraft on the ground, whilst the AA artillery shot down 52 more, bringing the total to 242 planes destroyed. Romanian pilots actually claimed 332 victories in the air and more than 150 planes destroyed on the ground ( more than 600 airplanes if we count those claimed by flak ) , but this seems to be exaggerated. ARR lost 43 planes ( 7 shot down by enemy fighters, 4 by AA artillery, 18 missing and 13 destroyed on accidents ). Human losses stood at 35 airmen killed in action and 82 missing in action, which was 6.8% of total.
During the siege of Odessa, Romanian pilots claimed to have shot down a total of 215 Soviet planes and destroyed 51 more on the ground. Bomber pilots managed to sink one Russian warship and crippled two more. 40 ARR aircraft were lost for various reasons.
However, combat experience showed ARR leaders they still had some problems to work out. One major issue was the lack of dedicated ground-attack aircraft, which hampered efforts to support ground troops. Also, the variety of aircraft types in service led to a lot of maintenance problems. Because most airfields were not very close to the frontline, ARR’s performance, although good, wasn’t as good as it could have been.”
„The tables below shows the full battle order of ARR at the start of Operation Barbarossa: […]”
1. The Airforce Headquarters
–The Heavy Transport Squadron – Lt. Comandor Dumitrescu P. – ?
–The 111th Liaison Squadron – Captain Serbu G. – ?
–Medevac Squadron – Captain Panaitescu I. – ?
2. Aerial Combat Grouping 1st Bomber Flotilla
–4th Bomber Group ( Lt. Cdor. Slãvescu Ioan )
The 76th Bomber Squadron – Captain Stefãnescu – A. PZL P-37B Los
The 77th Bomber Squadron – Captain Danielescu Vladimir- PZL P-37B Los
–5th Bomber Group ( Lt. Cdor. Landman Paul )
The 78th Bomber Squadron – Captain Nanu Nic Heinkel – He-111 H3
The 79th Bomber Squadron – Captain Cosîmbescu Mihail Heinkel – He-111 H3
The 80th Bomber Squadron – Captain Stoenescu Gr. C. Heinkel – He-111 H3
2nd Bomber Flotilla
– 1st Bomber Group ( Lt. Cdor. Comsa Liviu )
The 71st Bomber Squadron – Captain St. Constantin Grasu Savoia-Marchetti SM-79B
The 72nd Bomber Squadron Captain Perju Constantin Savoia-Marchetti SM-79B
– 2nd Bomber Group ( Captain Cdor Cristescu Ion )
The 74th Bomber Squadron – Captain Popescu Gheorghe Potez – 633B
The 75th Bomber Squadron – Captain Bals Nicolae Potez – 633B
The 82nd Bomber Squadron – Captain Popescu G. – Bloch MB-210
The 18th Bomber Squadron ? IAR-37
2nd Observation Flotilla ( Cdor Nitulescu Ivan )
The 11th Observation Squadron – Captain Nastase Temistocle – IAR-37
The 12th Observation Squadron – Lt. Cdor Radu Nicodim – IAR-38
The 13th Observation Squadron – Captain Anca Romeo – IAR-39
The 14th Observation Squadron – Captain Rapeanu Petre – Fleet F-10G
1st Fighter Flotilla
–5th Fighter Group ( Lt. Cdor Miclescu Gh. )
The 51st Fighter Squadron – Captain Trandafirescu V. – Heinkel He-112B
The 52nd Fighter Squadron – Captain Marin Ghica – Heinkel He-112B
–7th Fighter Group ( Lt. Cdor Bordeianu Gh. )
The 56th Fighter Squadron – Captain Gheorghian C. – Messerschmitt Me-109E3
The 57th Fighter Squadron – Captain Manoliu Alex – Messerschmitt Me-109E3
The 58th Fighter Squadron – Captain Vasiliu Gh. – Messerschmitt Me-109E3
The 116th Liaison Squadron – Captain Orban Dumitru – Fleet F-10G
–8th Fighter Group ( Lt. Cdor Bordeianu Gh. )
The 41st Fighter Squadron – Captain Prislopeanu I. – IAR-80
The 59th Fighter Squadron – Captain Marazan Valeriu – IAR-80
The 60th Fighter Squadron – Captain Stanescu Octav – IAR-80
3. Air Command attached to the Romanian 3rd ArmyThe 4th Reconnaissance Squadron Lt. Cdor Fota Constantin Bristol Blenheim I
The 19th Observation Squadron – Lt. Cdor Ciocarlan T. – IAR-38 and IAR-39
The 20th Observation Squadron – Lt. Cdor Protopopescu Victor – IAR-39
The 21st Observation Squadron – Captain Paraschiv G. – IAR-39
The 115th Liaison Squadron – Captain Andreescu G. – Fleet F-10G
4. Air Command attached to the Romanian 4th ArmyThe 3rd Reconnaissance Squadron Lt. Cdor Firescu G. Bristol Blenheim I
The 17th Observation Squadron – Captain Lan Gheorghe – IAR-39
The 22nd Observation Squadron – Lt. Cdor Ionescu C. – IAR-39
The 114th Liaison Squadron – Captain Trandafirescu Ion – Fleet F-10G
5. „Dobrogea” Air CommandThe 101st Seaplane Squadron Captain Teodorescu D. Cant Z.501
The 102nd Seaplane Squadron – Captain Chiriac M. Savoia-Marchetti S-62bis
The 16th Observation Squadron – Lt. Cdor Cristescu I. – IAR-39
The 53rd Fighter Squadron – Captain Georgrescu Emil – Hawker Hurricane I
6. The 2nd Air Region3rd Fighter Flotilla
–3rd Fighter Group ( Lt. Cdor Munteanu Teodor )
The 43rd Fighter Squadron – Captain Dan Vizanti – PZL P-11f
The 44th Fighter Squadron – Captain Becu F. – PZL P-11f
The 45th Fighter Squadron – Captain Georgescu C. – PZL P-11f
–4th Fighter Group ( Lt. Cdor Niculescu D. )
The 46th Fighter Squadron – Captain Rata Racoveanu D. – PZL P-11f
The 49th Fighter Squadron – Captain Chiru Nicolae – PZL P-11f
The 50th Fighter Squadron – Captain Tifescu Gheorghe – PZL P-11f
The 112th Liaison Squadron – Captain Diceanu Ioan – Fleet F-10G
7. The 3rd Air Region2nd Fighter Flotilla
– 6th Fighter Group ( Lt. Cdor Radulescu Nicolae )
The 61st Fighter Squadron – Captain Cara Iona – PZL P-24E
The 62nd Fighter Squadron – Captain Ivancenco Ioan – PZL P-24E
The 113th Liaison Squadron – Captain Truia P. – Fleet F-10G
În limba engleză (REOCITIES), am găsit următoarea „istorie” a Grupului:
- 16.10.41 (16 octombrie 1941): disbanded.
- 6.9.42 (9 septembrie 1942): reestablished.
- 1.1.43 (1 ianuarie 1943): redesignated as Corpul Aerian.
- 22.6-16.10.41: Gen.av. CONSTANTIN CELĂREANU.
- 6.9.42-1.1.43: Gen.av. ERMIL GHEORGHIU.
- 22.6-26.8.41: 3 km V.Focşani (vila Săveanu)
- 26.8-16.10.41: Româneşti – Bs / Obliskaia
- 9-11.42: Morozovskaia
- 11-12.42: Tacinskaia
- 23.12.42: Novocerkassk.
Notă bibliografică: Despre GAL am înţeles că a fost scrisă o carte:
AUREL PENTELESCU – G.A.L. – Gruparea Aeriana de Lupta [22.09 – 16.10.1941] La eliberarea Basarabiei si cucerirea Odessei. Documente originale inedite (ED mODELISM International, 1995: 32 pag text + 64 pag anexe: grafice, scheme, statistici, ordine de zi etc… format A4) Cartea se poate găsi pe Okazii.