Biplane fighter pilots


František Hanovec

Frantisek Hanovec was born in Banova on 10 March 1916.

After pilot training he served in the 11th letka (fighter flight), of 3rd Air Regiment in the Czechoslovakian Air Force. He was then was transferred to the 4th Air Regiment where he finished fighter training and later served in the 45th letka at Piestany.

After the forming of the new Slovakian independent state, he took part in fights with Hungarian aggressors.

During the Hungarian attacks on Slovakia on 23-24 March 1939, the 45th and 49th letka operated from Spišská Nová Ves airfield. These units were equipped with Avia B-534s. The units were severely short on flying personnel due to the departure of personnel of Czech nationality to the Protectorate.
Commander of the 45th letka was J. Svetlik and he had to his disposal six pilots (J. Pálencek, J. Hergott, Hanovec, Martin Danihel, J. Zachar and Viliam Jaloviar).
Commander of the 49th letka was Ján Prhácek and he had to his disposal four pilots (C. Martiš, Š. Devan, Michal Karas and M. Žiaran).

At 15:00 on 24 March 1939 the whole 1/1. "Íjász" vadászszázad’s (Fighter Squadron) scrambled. They formed in three Vs in the air; fõhadnagy Béla Csekme leading with hadnagy (2nd Lieutenant) V. Gemeinhardt and õrmester M. Tarr as wingmen. Negró’s trio flew on the starboard side and on the port side flew fõhadnagy László Palkó’s 3. Section, with wingmen fõhadnagy 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 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.

During the German invasion of Poland, Slovak fighters clashed with Polish aircraft.
Three B-543s from the 45th letka flown by Hanovec, M. Žiaran and Viliam Jaloviar took off from Naršany on 6 September. At 12:18 (alternatively 08:06), they intercepted a Polish R-XIII near Presov from 56 Squadron, which was on an artillery spotting mission and shot it down. The pilot E. Porada parachuted but was taken POW while the observer M. Piasecki was killed.

After the invasion of the Soviet Union, he took part in fights in Russia as a member of 12th letka (fighter flight).

On 3 October, Slovak anti-aircraft units mistakenly fired on a friendly aircraft. The B-534 of Hanovec from the 12th letka was damaged, although the pilot was unhurt. The aircraft was repaired but not until 15 October, which indicates the precarious state of the Slovak expeditionary air unit’s field repair capability.

Hanovec returned to the front on 30 June 1942 and stayed there until 14 October 1942.

After training with the new Bf 109s, he returned to the Eastern Front as a member of 13th letka (fighter flight) under the command of the German JG 52.

At 11:45 on 22 July 1943, he claimed an Airacobra north of Krymska.

On 30 July 13./JG 52 intercepted Boston bombers escorted by Airacobras south-west of Primorsko-Achtarske. Hanovec claimed one of the bombers at 09.58 while J. Puskar claimed two of the escort (09:59 and 10:02).

At 13:35 on 26 September, he claimed a Yak-1 over the Black Sea, south-west of Anapa.

He claimed an Il-2 at 07:55 on 7 October over the Sea of Azov, north-west of Acujeva.

At 11:50 on 27 October, he claimed a La-5 south of Kerce.

The Slovak National Uprising started on 1 August 1944 and on 6 September, two Bf 109G-6s landed at Tri Duby. This was Unterfeldwebel Rudolf Bozik (W.Nr. 161742) and Unterfeldwebel Hanovec (W.Nr. 181713).

Hanovec served as a member of Combined Squadron, which used various old aircraft and also some Bf 109s. During the Uprising, he is believed to have shot down a German Ju 88 in October, but this claim is not confirmed. In November 1944, he was taken POW and stayed in a POW-camp until the end of the war.

Hanovec ended the war with 1 shared (and 1 unconfirmed) biplane victory and a total of 5 victories.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  24/03/39 p.m. 1 CR.32 (a) Destroyed Avia B-534     45th letka
  06/09/39 12:18 1/3 R-XIII (b) Shared destroyed Avia B-534   near Presov 45th letka
1 22/07/43 11:45 1 P-39 Destroyed Bf 109G-4   N Krymska 13./JG52
2 30/07/43 09:58 1 Boston Destroyed Bf 109G-4   SW Primorsko-Achtarske 13./JG 52
3 26/09/43 13:35 1 Yak-1 Destroyed Bf 109G-4   SW Anapa, Black Sea 13./JG 52
4 07/10/43 07:55 1 Il-2 Destroyed Bf 109G-4   Sea of Azov 13./JG 52
5 27/10/43 11:50 1 La-5 Destroyed Bf 109G-4   S Kerce 13./JG 52
  18/10/44   1 Ju 88 Unconfirmed Bf 109G-6 Werk. Nr. 161742 ‘White 7’   Combined Squadron

Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed and 1 unconfirmed.
TOTAL: 5 and 1 shared destroyed, 2 unconfirmed victories.
(a) Not confirmed. Claimed in combat with 1/1. vadászszázad.
(b) Polish R-XIII from 56 Squadron shot down. The pilot E. Porada was taken POW while the observer M. Piasecki was killed.

Air Aces Home Page - Jan Safarik
Avia B-34, B-534 a Bk-534, slovenských pilotov 1939-1944 – Peter Šumichrast and Jozef And’al, HT model špeciál, ISSN 1335-3667
Captured Me 109s – Jacek Jackiewicz and Miroslaw Wawrzynski, Atelier Kecay, ISBN 978-83-924914-0-8
Jeden z Tatranských orlu - Jirí Rajlich, 2002 L+K 13-16/2002 kindly provided by Jan Safarik
S. Bursa - personal archive and dates from a prepared book about the 13th fighter flight.
Nieco o clenoch 13.letky - S.Bursa, 1997 Historie a plastikove moedarstvi 1&2/1997.
Slovak Airmen 1939-1945 - Jirí Rajlich and Jirí Sehnal, 1991
Slovenské Letectvo 1939-1944 - Juraj Rajninec, 1997 Bratislava,
Tûzkeresztség - Csaba Becze
VVS Slovakiib (Aviacia i Vremya 1/99) - V. Kotlobovkiy, 1999 (via Ondrej Repka)
Most of this information is prepared by Ondrej Repka with kindly permission of Mr. Stano Bursa.
Additional information and image kindly provided by Csaba Becze

Last modified 07 January 2014