Biplane fighter aces


Bozidar Bosko Petrovich

7 April 1911 – 12 July 1937

Image kindly provided by Branko Krnic.

Bozidar Petrovich was born near Bela Palanka, in East Serbia near the Bulgarian border, on 7 April 1911.

After local schools, he entered the University at Belgrade as a student in Law.
When in Belgrade he became also an appreciated football player and entered the National team of this sport. In the same time he joined the Communist Party.

Instead of working as a lawyer, after his University graduation he enrolled in Yugoslav Air Force and was sent to Novi Sad as a cadet in the 16th class at the pilots’ school of the 1st Air Regiment. He graduated as a pilot in April 1936 with the pilot’s badge number 1103.
After graduation he flew several different types of aircraft of French design, the Avia BH-33 and the Hawker Fury.

After beginning of the Spanish Civil War in Spain, he decided to join the Republican Air Force as a volunteer, and supported by a Communist organization which gave him a fake passport under the Spanish name of "Fernandez Garcia", he arrived in Republican Spain with his Serbian friend Sreten Dudich on 25 December 1936.

Both were sent to the air school of Albacete in Murcia where they had a new training course of 26 days. After this they were assigned to the Grupo Andre Malraux equipped with Breguet 19s operating in the coastal defence from the base of Valencia-Manises, but on 14 February 1937 they suffered a flying accident in which Dudich, as observer in the Breguet 19, was killed and Petrovich, who was the pilot, wounded in the knee.

After a short time in hospital, in March 1937 Petrovich was assigned to the 2. Escuadrilla of Grupo 12, equipped with modern soviet bombers SB, where he performed several sorties as a bomber pilot. Anyway, he wanted to serve in a fighter unit, asking this to the Commander of Republican Air Force Hidalgo de Cisneros, who authorized him to be sent to Cartagena - El Carmolí’ flying school, where he was trained on the Soviet biplane fighter I-15 until end May 1937. In the meantime, Soviet pilots of the 1. Escuadrilla were returning to Soviet Union after a service period in Spain, so this unit was re-equipped with a group of Soviet I-16 pilots recently arrived in Spain, who were given the I-15 of the escuadrilla, completed by pilots of different origin: thee Spanish, two Austrian, two Americans (one of them was Harold Dahl) and Petrovich, under the command of the Soviet Captain Ivan Yeremenko.

Petrovich’s I-15.
Image kindly provided by Branko Krnic.

He made his first claim when he claimed a CR.32 (mistakenly identified as a He51) on 2 June 1937 in the Sierra de Guadarrama area.

In July his squadron operated from Campo Soto airfield near Algete over the Madrid-Brunete front.

In the morning of 6 July, a German Do 17 was claimed shot down near Madrid by the escuadrilla leader Kapitan Ivan Yeremenko together with his wingman Petrovich of the 1a Escuadrilla.
The Nationalists side does not admit this loss.

In the evening on the same day he claimed a CR.32 in the Madrid-Brunete area.

He claimed a CR.32 on 7 July in the Madrid-Brunete area.

On 8 July, one Bf 109 was credited to Petrovich as a shared with the Soviet fighter’s senior commander Evgeniy Ptukhin flying one I-16, on the same front.
This claim can’t be verified with Nationalist records.

On 9 July he claimed a CR.32 in the Madrid-Brunete area.

In the morning on 12 July, Petrovich claimed a shared He 111 with Leonid Rybkin and Sardina.
Around 17.00 in the evening, there was a big air combat west of Madrid. During this combat Petrovich of the 1a Escaudrilla saved his leader Kapitan Ivan Yeremenko from the dangerous attack of a CR.32, probably piloted by capitán Joaquín García Morato, but the I-15 of the Serbian pilot was seen to crash, maybe out of control or shot down by a CR.32 flown by teniente Miguel García Pardo (2-E-3) (CR.32 NC 596/3-60). Petrovich lost his life in the crash.
Both Yeremenko and Petrovich are credited with one CR.32 each in this combat.

International Brigades, which was involved in the battle at Brunete, went to Campo Soto airfield to visit his brother, only to learn that he has been killed few minutes before. As Bozidar, Dobre asked to enter in the Air Force to take the place of his brother, and this was authorized. He was also trained on the biplane fighter I-15 at Los Alcazares flying school near Cartagena and entered the same 1. Escuadrilla in October 1937, now commanded by new leaders, Anatoly Serov and Evgenij Antonov, operating on the Aragon front.

At the time of his death, Petrovich was credited with 5 biplane victories.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 02/06/37   1 CR.32 (a) Destroyed I-15   Sierra de Guadarrama area 1a/Gr. 26
  06/07/37 morning 1/2 Do 17 (b) Shared destroyed I-15   Madrid-Brunete area 1a/Gr. 26
2 06/07/37 evening 1 CR.32 (c) Destroyed I-15   Madrid-Brunete area 1a/Gr. 26
3 07/07/37   1 CR.32 Destroyed I-15   Madrid-Brunete area 1a/Gr. 26
  08/07/37   1/2 Bf 109 (d) Shared destroyed I-15   Madrid-Brunete area 1a/Gr. 26
4 09/07/37   1 CR.32 Destroyed I-15   Madrid-Brunete area 1a/Gr. 26
  12/07/37 morning 1/3 He 111 Shared destroyed I-15     1a/Gr. 26
5 12/07/37 17:00 1 CR.32 Destroyed I-15   W Madrid 1a/Gr. 26

Biplane victories: 5 and 3 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 5 and 3 shared destroyed.
(a) Mistakenly identified as a He 51. This loss can’t be confirmed with Nationalist records.
(b) This loss can’t be confirmed with Nationalist records.
(c) Republican fighters claim at least 2 CR.32 during the day in the Brunete area. Only 1 CR.32 was lost during the day, when Sottotenente Vercellio from the 19a Squadriglia was KIA on the afternoon.
(d) This loss can’t be confirmed with Nationalist records.

Air War over Spain - Jesus Salas Larrazabal, 1974 Ian Allan Ltd, Shepperton, Surrey, ISBN 0-7110-0521-4
Arde el Cielo - A. Arias Arias, 1995, A. Delgado Romero, Silla kindly provided by Alfredo Logoluso
Chatos indut v ataku - S. Shingarev, 1971, Moskovskij Rabochij, Moskva kindly provided by Alfredo Logoluso
En la primera batalla contra el fascismo - M. Yakushin, Bajo la bandera de la España Republicana, Editorial Progreso, Moscu' kindly provided by Alfredo Logoluso
Fiat CR.32 Aces of the Spanish Civil War - Alfredo Logoluso, 2010 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-983-6
People And Planes - Predrag Jelic’, 2001 Aviation History November 2001 kindly provided by Massimo Cappone
The Legion Condor - Karl Ries and Hans Ring, 1992 Schiffer Publishing, ISBN 0-88740-339-5
Yugoslav Brothers in the Spanish Civil War - M. Zhirorkov and I. Gordelianov, 2000, Small Air Forces Observer Vol. 24 N. 2 (94) July 2000 kindly provided by Alfredo Logoluso
Much additional information kindly provided by Alfredo Logoluso

Last modified 01 March 2015