Százados László Palkó
19 April 1910 – 24 July 2008
László Palkó was born on 19 April 1910.
Főhadnagy (1st Lieutenant) Palkó served in the 1/1. "Íjász" vadászszázad (Fighter Squadron) operating Fiat CR.32s from Ungvar airfield during the border skirmishes against the Slovaks in the spring of 1939. At this time he was commanding 3. Section.
At 15:00 on 24 March 1939 the whole squadron scrambled. They formed in three Vs in the air; főhadnagy Béla Csekme leading with hadnagy (2nd Lieutenant) V. Gemeinhardt and őrmester M. Tarr as wingmen. Negró’s trio flew on the starboard side and on the port side flew Palkó’s 3. Section, with wingmen főhadnagy Antal Békássy and hadnagy Mátyás Pirity. The CR.32s reached the cloud-base at about 6200 feet and then flew into fog. Soon there was a hole in the clouds and at the same moment Palkó and Pirity noticed three Avia B-534s and three Letov Š.328s on the port side. The 1. Section did not appear to notice the enemy and they flew on and were soon swallowed by the fog. The Avias, which were from 45th letka, jumped Negró’s 2. Section but opened fire too soon, outside the range of their machine-guns. Negró, turned the table and shot down one Avia flown by rotmajster Ján Hergott southeast of Bánovce nad Ondavou. A second Avia, flown by František Hanovec, was shot down by Szojak near Senné.
The Letovs, which were from 12th letka on their way to bomb Hungarian troops at Sobrance, were deserted by their escort and offered a tempting target. They were 300 feet higher thus, in order to gain speed and altitude, Palkó threw his machine into a short dive and then climbed behind the Letovs. He dipped the nose of his CR.32 and sent a burst into the belly of the nearest one. The aircraft caught fire and crashed north of Pavlovce nad Uhom. The pilot slobodník Gustáv Pažický and the observer porucík Ferdinand Švento were both killed. A second Letov was claimed shot down by Pirity. This was a Letov flown by slobodník Jozef Drlicka and his observer podporucík L. Šronk and they made an emergency landing near Strazske.
Three more Avias were discovered and Palkó’s wingmen were now locked in combat with the enemy fighter. Békássy pursued one over the border and emptied a total of a thousand rounds from both machine guns into it before shooting it down. This aircraft was flown by desiatnik Martin Danihel from 45th letka and he made an emergency landing near Brezovice nad Torysa. After having expending all his ammunition Békássy returned to Hungary.
Looking around Pirity saw streams of tracers scorching the sky then noticed an Avia some 1500 feet below. Pirity dived on it but he had to pull out because another CR.32 crossed his path with guns blazing. The sky was now empty, Palkó, staying in the area for a minute or two, sighted Negró’s machine. One by one the other Fiats joined them. Békássy and Szojak had already landed at Ungvar.
The Hungarian pilots totally claimed five Avias and two Letovs in the air combat over Paloc. Negró, Békássy, Szojak, Béla Csekme (not confirmed) and Kertész (one not confirmed over Michalovce) reported the destruction of the Avias, while Palkó and Pirity claimed the Letovs. Gemeinhardt and Tarr had no chance to fire their guns in anger. The Slovakian forces lost three Avia B-534s and two Letovs. Slovakian pilots Hanovec and Danihel both claimed one Fiat but this was not confirmed with the Hungarians.
Porucík Ferdinand Švento, the observer of one of the Letovs, baled out and was wounded in the stomach while descending in his parachute. He fell near a group of Hungarian hussars. Upon impact he forced himself to sit up and reached inside his flying gear. The move was misunderstood and Švento was mortally shot. The hussars found his identification papers in his hand instead of a pistol. Švento was buried with full military honors.
He was decorated with the Magyar Érdemrend Lovagkeresztje hadiszalagon kardokkal for his performance in this conflict.
Before the end of the war Palkó served as a fighter instructor.
Palkó ended the war with 1 biplane victory.
After the war he emigrated to Australia.
Palkó passed away on 24 July 2008.
|Kill no.||Date||Number||Type||Result||Plane type||Serial no.||Locality||Unit|
|1||24/03/39||1||Letov Š.328 (a)||Destroyed||Fiat CR.32||N Pavlovce nad Uhom||1/1. vadászszázad|
Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed.
(a) Letov Š.328 from 12th letka shot down. The pilot slobodník Gustáv Pažický and the observer porucik Ferdinand Svento were both killed.
Becze Csaba: A magyar királyi 1. honvéd éjjeli vadász repülőszázad 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
Harcok az orosz égen Budapest - Tomor László, 1942 kindly provided by Csaba Becze
Slovenské Letectvo 1939-1944 - Juraj Rajninec, Bratislava, 1997
Tűzkeresztség - Csaba Becze
Additional information kindly provided by Csaba Becze and David Cross.