Biplane fighter aces


Szakaszvezetö János Balogh

János Balogh served in the 2/3. “Ricsi” vadászszázad (Fighter Squadron) operating Fiat CR.42s in the summer and autumn of 1941 during the unit’s operations against the Soviet Union.

On 12 July, alezredes (Lieutenant Colonel) Béla Orosz, commander of the air contingent attached to the Fast corps, ordered százados Aladár Szobránczy, commander of 2/3. vadászszázad, to provide escort for two short-range reconnaissance squadrons, which were to bomb an enemy transport assembly point west of Zwanczyk. Szobránczy, főhadnagy László Pottyondy, hadnagy Gyözö Vámos (CR.42 V.265), szakaszvezetö Péter Soós and szakaszvezetö Balogh took off at 10:00 and soon joined the formation of WM 21 Sólyom aircraft of the VIIth and Xth közelfelderítö-század. On the way to the target, Szobránczy caught sight of three twin-engined Soviet bombers. As the Fiats dived on them, seven Soviet I-16s appeared suddenly and engaged the Hungarian biplanes. Szobránczy selected a Soviet fighter and soon saw his tracers penetrating the cockpit. The machine began to trail thick smoke and hit the ground west of Zvanchyk. Pottyondy also attacked an I-16 but, at the same time, he was jumped by another I-16. He noticed with satisfaction that Soós took over his victim-to-be and he was able to concentrate on his attacker. Despite the Soviet machine’s advantage of altitude, thanks to the superb manoeuvrability of the CR.42, Pottyondy managed to get behind the Russian and his bullets tore pieces of the fuselage. The Russian pilot steadied his plane only to fly into the machine gun fire of the oncoming Vámos. The two machines raced towards each other and in the next second, they collided head-on. Pottyondy saw two parachutes floating downward but he was immediately attacked by another I-16. It took some time to get behind this opponent, but he finally did it. The bullets hit the tail and then moved forward on to the section between the engine and the cockpit. Pottyondy knew that he finally had got his first victory out of three chances since smoke poured out from the I-16s engine as the Fiat’s machine guns kept pounding the fuselage. Finally, it spun towards the earth near Dunayevtsy, out of control. Meanwhile the WM 21 Sólyoms had completed their task and turned for home. Despite being fired upon by effective ground fire, all but one Sólyoms returned.
Pottyondy and Balogh, who also had shot down an I-16, were the last to leave the area yet they were the first back in Kolomea. Soon Soós arrived and also reported an air victory. On the return, he had got low on fuel and had to land to refuel at another airfield. However Vámos, who they know had bailed out after the collision, and Szobránczy were still missing. After shooting down his opponent and watching Vámos’ collision, Szobránczy had decided to try to find him. Circling around the parachute, he noticed that Vámos hung motionless. When his body hit the top of threes, a Russian patrol appeared at the edge of the wood. Szobránczy sent the Russians running with a few well-aimed bursts. Looking around he saw a meadow along the south-east edge of the forest and put the Fiat down. The machine came to a halt after about 250 feet and the undercarriage sank into the soft ground. A group of horsemen appeared galloping towards him and Szobránczy draw his pistol but, to his great relief, it was not needed for they were Hungarian hussars who had watched his landing. Szobránczy detailed a hussar to guard the plane, mounted the hussar’s horse and began to search for Vámos. They found the parachute quickly, but it took ninety minutes to find the pilot, who they found sleeping in an abandoned forester hut! The happy Vámos explained that he lost consciousness upon the impact and did not remember pulling the ripcord. He came to when he hit the foliage. At the edge of the forest, he was fired on, so he went farther into the woods until he saw the hut where, exhausted, he fell into a deep sleep. In the meantime, a Hungarian armoured unit reached the scene and then towed the Fiat on to solid ground. Szobránczy landed back at Kolomea at 19:00 and the unit could claim five victories during the day with no losses of pilots.
According to some sources was the I-16, which collided with Vámos credited as an unconfirmed to Pottyondy, who fired at this aircraft before the collision.
It seems that they had been in combat with SBs from 132 SBAP and I-16s from 168 IAP. 132 SBAP reported that at noon six SBs bombed tanks at Dunayevtsy while three SBs attacked more tanks at Shatava:

“Near Shatava, six enemy sesquiplane fighters [most probably Hungarian Fiat CR.42s] attempted to attack our bombers, but were driven away by our fighters, which arrived just in time. During the hurried withdrawal, two enemy aircraft collided and crashed to the ground in flames.”
While returning from the target, the Soviet bombers were attacked by six Bf 109s north of Dunayevtsy. The I-16 zveno from 168 IAP tasked with escort barred the enemy’s way towards the bombers and forced them into dogfight. The combat lasted for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, the bombers had carried out their task and left. Three fighters, flown by Kapitan Konstantin A. Pilshikov, Starshii Leitenant Peter Shurmin and Leitenant Klimenko, didn’t return. A single parachute was observed, without the pilot’s identity being established. Next morning, a message arrived from Kapitan Pilshikov. He informed his headquarters that his zveno clashed with three ‘Fiat’ aircraft in the Dunayevtsy and Solobkovtsy area. The ‘Fiats’ were followed by four more, which also joined the fight. Pilshikov shot down one of them during the first attack. However, a second came at him in a frontal attack, damaging the engine of his I-16. He had to disengage from combat and reached friendly territory, where he landed, close to Bar. The fighter burned out and the pilot rejoined his unit days later. A couple of hours after being posted missing, Leitenant Klimenko returned to base. He reported that he had entered into combat and fought until his I-16 had run out of fuel. In the end, he landed successfully 10km south of Dorozhnya. However, he had to burn his aircraft, as the area was already abandoned by Soviet troops. He also reported that besides the ‘Fiat’ shot down by Pilshikov, he saw a second one also falling while burning. He assumed that it was brought down by Starshii Leitenant Shurmin. It is believed that he rammed a Hungarian Fiat CR.42 close to Strybiz and was killed in the process. Totally, the 168 IAP lost six I-16s and four pilots during the day.

A few days later, the “Ricsi” vadászszázad was pulled back to Hungary.

Balogh ended the war with 1 biplane victory.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 12/07/41 10:00- 1 I-16 (a) Destroyed Fiat CR.42   W Zwanczyk 2/3. vadászszázad

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with I-16s from 168 IAP, which claimed two CR.42s while losing three I-16. 2/3. vadászszázad claimed five I-16s while losing one CR.42.

Csaba Becze: A magyar királyi 1. honvéd éjjeli vadász repülöszázad Magyar Repüléstörténeti Társaság Konferencia Közleményei 1999 kindly provided by Csaba Becze
Biplane Against The Red Bear - Julius R. Gaal, 1974 Air Combat Spring/1974 kindly provided by Santiago Flores
Elfelejtett Hősök - Csaba Becze, 2006 Puedlo Kiadó, ISBN 963-9673-064
From Barbarossa to Odessa: Volume 1 – Dénes Bernád, Dmitriy Karlenko and Jean-Louis Roba, 2007 Ian Allan Publishing Ltd, ISBN 978-85780-273-3
Harcok az orosz égen Budapest - László Tomor, 1942 kindly provided by Csaba Becze
“Kőr ász” Egy vadászrepülő század története 1936-1941 - Csaba Becze, 2007 Puedlo Kiadó, ISBN 978-9639673854
Additional information kindly provided by Csaba Stenge

Last modified 28 August 2019