Biplane fighter aces


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 of 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. But 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 rudder had been shot off 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.

On 11 August two sections of the squadron and the Reggiane Re2000 flight, which was attached to the squadron for testing of this fighter under combat conditions, took of under the command of Százados Tomor to escort Fõhadnagy (Lieutenant) Szakonyi’s Caproni Ca135 detachment. The mission was to destroy the important bridge over the river Bug at Nikolayev since this bridge was the last remaining escape route of the encircled Soviet army. The bridge was however strongly defended by antiaircraft batteries and fighters. On the way to the target the antiaircraft fire was heavy. Most of the bombers were hit but yet they destroyed the bridge and severely damaged the railway station. On the return flight Soviet I-16s attacked the Hungarian aircraft. 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 Göcsei and Hadnagy (Second Lieutenant) Seres. A turning dogfight followed but the Hungarian CR.42s stayed behind the desperate Russian until Göcsei found himself in a favorable 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 (Ensign) 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 Szõnyi and Zászlós Baranyai, who were escorting a crippled Caproni, 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. "Kör ász" vadászszázad first five claims during the Second World War and all CR.42s were hit but none were lost. The Re2000s claimed 2 more Soviet fighters, but had lost a pilot. The crippled Caproni claimed 3 and another Caproni claimed 1 additional Soviet fighter.

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 victory, this one claimed while flying Fiat CR.42.

Kill no. Date 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
1 11/08/41 1 I-16 Destroyed Fiat CR.42   Nikolayev area 1/3. vadászszázad

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed, 1 shared destroyed on the ground.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed, 1 shared destroyed on the ground.

Becze Csaba: A magyar királyi 1. honvéd éjjeli vadász repülõszázad 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
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 Becze, Dénes Bernád and Ondrej Repka.

Last modified 10 April 2008