Profile courtesy of
On this IAR-81C that belonged to the 2nd Fighter Group was equipped
with Wfr. Gr. 21 for testing in April 1944
The 2nd Fighter Group was created on 1 October 1940. It was made up of the 45th and 46th
Fighter Squadron, equipped with the obsolete P.11f and was stationed on the Tecuci airfield.
In June 1941, it was split between other units and disbanded.
The 2nd Fighter Group was reformed during the winter of 1943/1944. It was made up of
the 65th, 66th and 67th Fighter Squadron, all equipped with IAR-81Cs. In March it was
assigned to the Ianca airfield.
On 4 April 1944 the 15th US Air Force started its air offensive against Romania. Fearing
a Soviet offensive, the 7th Fighter Group was sent to reinforce the front in Moldavia. The
2nd Fighter Group with 34 IAR-81Cs was relocated to the Pipera airfield, near Bucharest,
to replace it.
The first encounter with the American forces was on 21 April, when the group rose to
meet them with 34 aircraft. The lack of experience of the pilots caused them to separate
and attack individually. Only one squadron made contact with the enemy. They claimed 4
Liberators, but the price was very heavy: 5 airplanes shot down and another one damaged.
Two pilots died and the other four were wounded.
They took off with 27 IAR-81Cs against the raid on 24 April. This time the results were
a little better: 7 Liberators claimed (one probable) against one shot down and four damaged
airplanes. On 5 May their performance improved: 9 Liberators claimed (3 probable)
against one shot down and two damaged. The next day another raid and the group
claimed another 14 (3 probable) Liberators for only one loss, the one of cpt. av. Grigore Goga.
The 15th Air Force continued its attack on 7 May. The 2nd Fighter Group was again scrambled
and sent 22 airplanes against the American formations. This time the pilots claimed only
3 B-24s (one probable). Four IAR-81Cs were damaged. The wreck and the body of cpt. av. Goga were
also found this day, near Ploesti.
After 10 May the 2nd Fighter Group was split up. The 65th and 66th Fighter Squadron were
moved to Petrosani and the 67th to Ianca airfield. On 18 May, they took off to engage the
US formations for the last time. The 16 IAR-81Cs attacked again the bomber formations and
claimed 3 (one probable) shot down for one loss: cpt. av. Gheorghe Stanica, the commander of
the 66th Squadron.
The 7th Fighter Group was again assigned to the defense of the Ploesti area. On 28 May,
the 2nd Fighter Group received the order to move with all the squadrons on the Gheraesti
airfield and join the 1st Air Corps which was engaged in the battle with the VVS on the
front in Moldavia.
The first missions were flown on 30 May, when the group made 44 sorties, mostly bomber
escorts. Eight IAR-81Cs from the 67th Fighter Squadron engaged a dogfight with about 20
P-39s. One IAR-81 was lost, without achieving any victories. The next day there were another
36 sorties and a dogfight between 8 IAR-81Cs and 15 Soviet P-39s. One plane was lost and
another damaged, without achieving any victories over the VVS aircraft. This
demonstrated again that the IAR-81 was obsolete and that there was a need for better
aircraft. While escorting some Ju-88A4s from the 5th Bomber Group, the pilots from the 2nd
Fighter Group even had problems with keeping up with the bombers.
Picture from "Rumanian Air Force, the prime decade 1938-1947" by
Dénes Bernád, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1999
Young peasants "guarding" an IAR-81C of the 2nd Fighter Group
on the front in Moldavia in the summer of 1944
The first victory against the VVS came on 6 June 1944, when 4 IAR-81Cs that were
protecting a Hs-129B2 formation engaged 2 P-39s. In the following dogfight, adj. av. Mihai
Mihordea achieved his 12th victory.
The group was moved to the Tecuci airfield. Between 5 and 12 June 1944 it had flown 18
missions, totaling 113 sorties. After this period of intense combat came a pause in the
operations, which lasted from 26 June to 3 July. After this came the usual bomber or
HQ aircraft escort missions.
On 27 July, 16 IAR-81Cs flew to the Husi airfield from where they were supposed to
escort Romanian Ju-87Ds from the 6th Dive Bomber Group. The German AA defense of the
airfield opened fire on the Romanian formation and continued to fire even when they were
landing. As a result, two IARs were damaged and lt. av. Mihail Bulat was wounded. The next
day, the same thing. When the 14 IAR-81Cs arrived near the Chisinau airfield, where they
had to meet the bombers they had to escort, the German AAA opened fire and another airplane
Nevertheless, operations continued and they even managed to score some victories. On
10 August, adj. av. Vasile Stana claimed a P-39 and 18 August (the black day of ARR) slt.
av. Franz Secicar shot down a DB-3.
On 20 August, the Red Army launched the "Jassy-Kishinev" (Iasi-Chisinau) offensive.
All available forces were thrown against the Soviet attack, including the 2nd Fighter
Group. On the first day they flew 36 sorties. They engaged in several dogfights with larger
Soviet formations and lost 4 airplanes and another two were damaged. The Romanian pilots
claimed three victories, of which two by adj. av. Gheorghe Bucur: 1 LaGG and 1 P-39 probable.
The next day, however, brought two victories (La-7s) for one loss. On 22 August there were
9 missions and 52 sorties, mostly escorts for bombers, and lost 3 airplanes to AAA
They also provided an escort for marshal Antonescu on his last visit on the front.
The events of 23 August caught the 2nd Fighter Group, under the command of cpt. av. Ioan
Ignat, on the Matca airfield. They received the order to move al available aircraft to
the Urleasca airfield, where the declaration of the armistice with the Allied powers found
them. The group had 19 airplanes.
The first action against the Germans was carried out on 25 August, when an IAR-81C
attacked a German resistance point at Tandarei and forced them to surrender. According to
the German commander, after the air attack, only 27 out of his 80 men were still alive.
On 1 September 1944, the 2nd Fighter Group began its reorganizing on the Madias
airfield. It absorbed the 4th Fighter Group and was suppose to have 3 squadrons: 65th, 66th
and 67th and 45 aircraft. On 7 September, the new unit received the order to move to the
front in Transylvania on the Turnisor airfield.
The first missions in the new theatre of operations were flown on 9 September. A very
unpleasant surprise was that a Soviet AAA battery opened fire on a IAR-81C formation and
damaged one. On 14 September, several of the group's airplanes attacked the Someseni
airfield were they destroyed a Gotha transport glider. The next day the group moved to
Balomir, after flying 63 sorties. On 16 September there was also the first encounter with
the German fighters. Six IAR-81Cs were escorting a He-111 formation when they were attacked
by two Bf-109Gs. Soon after that, adj. av. Iosif Ciuhulescu was going down in a spin. The
following day they flew several other bomber escort missions. During one of it, the
He-111Hs were attacked by German Bf-109Gs. Because of their low speed compared to the
Messerschmitts, the IARs couldn't prevent the destruction of one of the bombers. One
IAR-81C was also damaged.
On 18 September the group moved to the Medias airfield. It also took over the remaining
11 IAR-81Cs of the 6th Fighter Group. They started flying missions from the new base the
same day and lost two airplanes to enemy AAA. The operations continued the following days
with 24 sorties on 19 and 20 on 21 September. The fighting peaked on 23 September when
8 of the group's airplanes clashed with 8 Bf-109Gs over Turda. In the following air battle
the 2nd Fighter Group lost 3 IAR-81Cs and two pilots. It was one of the few occasions when
the IAR pilots managed to claim Luftwaffe fighters. One of them was adj. av. Andone Stavar from
the 2nd Fighter Group, who shot down a Bf-109G.
The losses continued to mount the next days: 4 airplanes and 3 pilots on 25 September
and 1 airplane and one pilot on 29. The morale was as low as it could get. The 2nd Fighter
Group had lost 12 airplanes and 8 pilots died and 2 were wounded. Some pilots refused to
fly on this obsolete airplane that stood practically no chance against the experienced and
better equipped German Jagdfliegern. The latter also benefited from the fact that they
knew very well the IAR-80 and how to exploit its weaknesses. Following these complains, it
was decided that all the remaining IARs be assigned mainly to close air support missions.
The 2nd Fighter Group, now under the command of cpt. av. Constantin Enea, received the
airplanes of the 6th Fighter Group, which returned home. The 67th Squadron was practically
disbanded. The Group now had only the 65th and 66th, with 26 airplanes.
In October it moved to the Someseni airfield and in November to Turkeve, in Hungary. In
the meantime, the weather conditions made operations very difficult, thus the small number
The first missions from the new airfield were flown on 17 November. They attacked the
German columns they encountered. Lt. av. Gheorghe Mociornita destroyed a truck. Five days later,
the same pilot destroyed another two cars, while adj. av. Mihai Momarla dispatched a AAA
battery. Three airplanes were damaged during the low-level attacks and two of them
crash-landed in friendly territory.
In December 1944, the group moved on the Miskolc airfield. On Christmas Eve, 3 IARs
from the 2nd Fighter Group flew a reconnaissance mission towards Lucenec. They attacked
the some Axis ground troops and were engaged by two Bf-109Gs. Adj. av. Dumitru Niculescu was
killed in the dogfight, while adj. av. Nicolae Pelin crash landed in friendly territory.
On 12 January 1945, the group dispatched 8 airplanes to Debrecen, which were suppose to
secure the city's air defense. At the beginning of February, the group received 13 new
IAR-81CS, thus increasing the number of available aircraft. On 9 February, two airplanes
from Debrecen intercepted a Romanian Hs-129 which was attempting to desert and shot it
down. The pilot and the two passengers were wounded. The irony was that the two IAR-81
pilots and the one on Hs-129 had been comrades in the former 8th Fighter Group.
Picture from "Rumanian Air Force, the prime decade 1938-1947" by
Dénes Bernád, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1999
n IAR-81C from the 2nd Fighter Group on the front in Slovakia
The missions flown throughout February and March were mainly close air support and
attacks against German communication lines. These alternated with lulls in operations,
because of the weather.
On 2 April, some of the group's IAR-81Cs attacked two trains north of Kremnitz and hit
one of the locomotives and its railcars. Five days later they destroyed several cars
and horse-drawn vehicles. On 21 April, the group profited of the improvement in the weather
and flew 31 sorties and attacked infantry and artillery positions, as well as motorized
columns. 11 cars and 2 carts were destroyed, but the group lost lt. av. Gheorghe Mociornita to
a enemy AAA. 26 April was also marked by intense combat. The 2nd Fighter Group flew 24
missions with 68 sorties. Five cars, 16 carts, two guns and four machine-gun nests were
reported destroyed. Also numerous casualties were inflicted to enemy ground troops. 23100
machine-gun rounds and 4140 cannon rounds were consumed. Adj. av. Constantin Prisacaru was
shot down and killed by the German AA defense.
The last day of activity for the 2nd Fighter Group was 8 May, when it flew 24 ground
attack missions. The same day the group suffered its last casualty: slt. av. Remus Vasilescu.
The next day, the war ended.
Picture from "Vanatorul IAR-80, istoria unui erou necunoscut" by
Dan Antoniu & George Cicos, MODELISM, 2000
IARs of the 2nd Fighter Group lined up for a post-war parade