Szakaszvezetö Lajos Göcsei
Between October 1938 and May 1940 approximately 200 Hungarian pilots (including Márton Szõnyi, Károly Baranyai and Lajos Göcsei) got their theoretical and flying training in Grottaglie, near Taranto (South Italy). The theoretical instructors were Hungarians and the flying instructors were Italians. The reasons for these arrangements were Hungary's “peace” dictate after the First World War (military flying was forbidden until 1938 for Hungarians).
Szakaszvezetö (Senior Aircraftsman) Göcsei belonged to the 1/3. "Kör ász" vadászszázad at the time of the assault on Soviet Union. The unit was equipped with Fiat CR.42s.
On 5 August 1941, it was reported to the Hungarian headquarters that a multi-engined Soviet aircraft had landed in the village of Podvysokoye, possibly with the order to rescue some high-ranking officers or commissars of the surrounded Soviet army in the Uman pocket. Six CR.42s of the 1/3. vadászszázad took off and százados László Tomor lead the first section, while hadnagy János ‘Hanzi’ Pettendi led the second. Another pilot who took part in this mission was szakaszvezetö Göcsei. They circled around the village at 6000 feet, but they couldn’t locate the target. Tomor spotted a building, which looked like a command post; thus, he decided to investigate. He dived steeply, followed by the others. The antiaircraft batteries remained silent, reluctant to disclose their location too soon. As his Fiat zoomed downward, Tomor suddenly sighted a well-camouflaged three-engined machine standing next to a house at the village’s perimeter. A few jerks on the stick, slight adjustments, then he pressed the firing button. Now the defences opened up. However, it was too late. The tracers found their mark and the big transport went up in flames. All the Hungarian CR.42s sent at least one long burst into the burning aircraft. However, the antiaircraft fire was heavy and every one of the fighters received hits and only two being able to return to base. Two pilots were missing but luckily Göcsei soon rang and reported that his aileron cable had been damaged and he had made an emergency landing at Anapol (80km west of Rovno). However, there was no news from Pettendi, a famous sporting airman. Despite the ensuing aerial search and inquiries made through intelligence channels, no trace of him was ever found thus making him the squadrons first and only pilot killed in combat during this tour of duty.
At 04:30 on 11 August, a record number of five out of the six Caproni Ca.135bis took off and performed a successful bombing raid on Nikolayev. They also attacked a strategic bridge over the Bug River close to the city. The bombers were joined by their unusually strong fighter escort – comprising six CR.42s of the 1/3. vadászszázad and five Re.2000s of the 1/2. vadászszázad led by százados László Tomor – over Pervomaysk airfield. Loaded with captured Soviet 100kg bombs, the Capronis flew out over the Black Sea east of Odessa before making a wide circle to surprise the city’s defence by coming from the south-east. The leading aircraft, with flight leader főhadnagy István Szakonyi at the controls, released its bomb load on the central railway station from 3000m. The other bomber raj (flight) bombed the bridge.
The Hungarian encountered strong anti-aircraft fire. The starboard engine of B.517, the aircraft flown by főhadnagy Szakonyi, was hit by shrapnel, causing the aircraft to lose speed and lag behind the rest of the formation. The lone Caproni was then attacked by six I-16s but despite repeated attacks from various angles, the fighters couldn’t score a fatal hit. Moreover, the bomber’s two gunners claimed three of the attackers. Örmester János Bánkuti (radio operator) reported shooting down two and szakaszvezetö János Mester (flight engineer) one. One of the I-16s had positioned itself in the bomber’s blind spot as it closed in from behind for the kill but was jumped at the last minute by a CR.42, who promptly shot it down. Soon after this episode, the bomber reached friendly territory but because of the extensive damage sustained during the combat, the pilot decided to land at the larger Pervomaysk airfield. Once on firm ground, the exhausted crew counted 42 bullet holes in their aircraft yet none of the five crewmembers – which included a supernumerary, Staff alezredes Sándor András – was even lightly wounded.
Another second flight bomber was also attacked by three I-16s while leaving the target area. One of them was claimed as shot down by the radio operator. Soon afterwards, the lone Caproni was able to find sanctuary in clouds and escape the fighters’ further attention. A third Hungarian bomber escaped a trio of I-16s which were engaged by a pair of CR.42s. One of the I-16s was shot down and the survivors were forced to disengage.
Meantime, on their way from Nikolayev, the remaining Hungarian bombers were attacked by nine Soviet I-16s. They were immediately engaged by the escorting CR.42s and a wild mêlée developed, involving six Hungarian biplanes and nine Soviet monoplanes with the Re.2000s joining in. The Hungarian fighters flew above the bombers when they left the target area and when the Russian leader selected the first Caproni he was intercepted by szakaszvezetö Göcsei and hadnagy Albert Seres. A turning dogfight followed but the Hungarian CR.42s stayed behind the desperate Russian until Göcsei found himself in a favourable position. He sent a long burst into the fuselage of the I-16, flames leapt from the aircraft and it fell towards the ground like a spinning torch. Almost at the same time zászlós Miklós Kun had shot down another I-16 which just flew in front of his machine guns. When Tomor rejoined the bombers, he discovered a lone I-16 behind one of the Capronis. He dived on the enemy and shot it down in flames. At the same time, zászlós Márton Szönyi and zászlós Baranyai, who were escorting a crippled Caproni (főhadnagy Szakonyi’s Ca.135), encountered two I-16s and shot them down promptly. Seres, who flew back to search for the two fighters and the bomber, saw the two Soviet fighters hitting the deck. This was the 1/3. "Kőr Ász" vadászszázad first five claims during the Second World War and all CR.42s were hit but none were lost. The claimants were the squadron CO százados Tomor, zászlós Kun, zászlós Szönyi, zászlós Baranyai and szakaszvezetö Göcsei (the latter shared with hadnagy Seres).
1/2. Vadászszázad claimed three victories when szakaszvezetö Kálmán Gémes, százados László Gyenes and föhadnagy Tamás Móry claimed one each. However, Reggiane V.420 of főhadnagy Gyula Lasztóczy was missing (possibly shot down by flak) and this was the 1/2. vadászszázad first combat loss.
The Soviet 9 IAP-ChF claimed three enemy aircraft shot down near Nikolayev. However, two of its pilots, squadron CO Kapitan Aleksey Kolobkov, together with Leitenant Leonid Danchenko, were shot down in air combat in the Nikolayev area. Both were KIA.
Lajos Göcsei was awarded the Kis Ezüst Vitézségi Érem (Small Silver Medal For Bravery) after his air victory on 11 August 1941.
The 1/3. "Kör ász" vadászszázad had now flown 151 sorties since leaving its Hungarian base at Mátyásföld a month ago had claimed 5 victories, 1 pilot was missing, one was wounded and 9 aircraft were damaged.
In 1944 Göcsei served in the 5/1. Hungarian night fighter squadron.
In the end of September 1944 they started the conversion to Bf110G night fighters an 6./NJG 102 in Ohlau. After conversion flights to twin-engined aircraft (Si204s and Fw58s) and night orientation training they started to fly with Bf110Gs equipped with the SN-2 radar in November and they trained the co-operation with ground navigation station.
On 5 December 1944 he went missing during a night training flight over Czech territory while flying a Messerschmitt Bf110G-4 together with his radio-gunner, Szakaszvezetõ István Loós. The last that was heard from them was a message sent south-west of Pardubice.
At the time of his death Göcsei was credited with 1 shared victory, this one claimed while flying Fiat CR.42.
|Kill no.||Date||Time||Number||Type||Result||Plane type||Serial no.||Locality||Unit|
|05/08/41||1/6||Enemy aircraft||Sh. destroyed on the ground||Fiat CR.42||Podvysokoye||1/3. vadászszázad|
|11/08/41||04:30-||1/2||I-16 (a)||Shared destroyed||Fiat CR.42||Nikolayev area||1/3. vadászszázad|
Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed, 1 shared destroyed on the ground.
TOTAL: 1 shared destroyed, 1 shared destroyed on the ground.
(a) Claimed in combat with I-16s from 9 IAP-ChF, which claimed three enemy aircraft while losing two. The Hungarian fighters and bombers claimed 12 I-16s while losing one Re.2000.
Becze Csaba: A magyar királyi 1. honvéd éjjeli vadász repülõszázad Magyar Repüléstörténeti Társaság Konferencia Közleményei 1999 kindly provided by Csaba Stenge
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
Harcok az orosz égen Budapest - László Tomor, 1942 kindly provided by Csaba Stenge
“Kőr ász” Egy vadászrepülő század története 1936-1941 - Csaba Becze, 2007 Puedlo Kiadó, ISBN 978-9639673854
Additional information kindly provided by Csaba Stenge, Dénes Bernád and Ondrej Repka.