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The Bessarabian and Odessa campaign -1941
The Stalingrad campaign - 1942
The Ukrainian campaign - 1943-44
The home defense campaign - 1944
The anti-Axis campaign - 1944-45
The anti-Axis campaign - 1944-45

During the events on 23 August 1944, the ARR managed to capture 228 German airplanes, but it lost 161, mainly older training models. Between those lost were the Ju 87 Ds of the 6th Dive Bomber Group and the Bf 110s of the 1st Night Fighter Squadron.

After Romania quit the Axis, the Germans started to bomb Bucharest. The 7th and 9th Fighter Groups were brought in to protect the capital. Romanian fighters also shot down Luftwaffe transport aircraft which were bringing reinforcements.

At the beginning of September, the 1st Air Corps was moved to bases in southern Transylvania, from where it had to provide air cover to the Romanian and Soviet troops fighting the Germans and the Hungarians. The new situation demanded for a reorganization.

The 7th Fighter Group was absorbed by the 9th, the remains of the 6th Dive Bomber Group were included in the 3rd and the squadrons of the 11th Assault Group were used to fill in the ranks of the 8th.

In September 1944, the 1st Air Corps consisted in the:

  • Fighter Command
    • 2nd Fighter Group: 65th and 66th Fighter Squadrons (IAR-81C)
    • 6th Fighter Group: 59th, 61st and 62nd Fighter Squadrons (IAR-81C)
    • 9th Fighter Group: 47th, 48th and 56th Fighter Squadrons (Bf-109G)
  • Bomber Command
    • 3rd Dive Bomber Group: 74th and 81st Dive Bomber Squadrons (Ju-87D5)
    • 5th Bomber Group: 77th and 78th Bomber Squadrons (Ju-88A4)
    • 8th Assault Group: 41st and 42nd Assault Squadrons (Hs-129B2)
  • 11th and 12th Observation Squadrons (IAR-39)
  • 2nd Long Range Recon Squadron (Ju-88D1)
  • Air Transport Squadron (Ju-52 and IAR-39, which towed DFS-230 gliders)

It had in total 210 airplanes, out of which half were German-made.

On 20 September several other units joined the Corps:

  • 44th Fighter Squadron (IAR-80B, IAR-81A and Bf-109G)
  • 85th Dive Bomber Squadron (Ju-87D5)
  • 60th Assault Squadron (Hs-129B2)
  • 14th and 15th Observation Squadrons (IAR-39)

Because of losses and lack of spare parts, the number of available Ju-87Ds and Hs-129B2s decreased. In October 1944 the 6th Dive Bomber Group was reduced to the 74th Squadron, which was joined with the remnants of the 8th Assault Group (41st Squadron) and formed the 8th Assault-Dive Bomber Group. The remaining airplanes of the 77th Bomber Squadron (Ju-88A4) were transferred to the 2nd Long Range Observation Squadron (Ju-88D1). The 1st Bomber Group, in which had been included the remains of the 2nd Bomber Group, was also assigned to the 1st Air Corps. It was made up of the 72nd Bomber Squadron (JRS-79B) and the 82nd Bomber Squadron (JRS-79B1).

During the winter of 1944/1945, the 1st and 6th Group were refitted with the Bf 109 G. The 1st Fighter Group joined the Air Corps, which was now fighting in Hungary.

The 1st Air Corps flew until the end of the war, on 12 May 1945, 8,542 sorties and claimed 101 Axis aircraft (together with the AA artillery). It lost 176 airplanes to enemy fighters, AAA and in the many accidents caused by the bad weather in the winter and spring of 1945. This figure also includes airplanes seized by the Germans in August 1944. There were also many cases of Soviet "friendly" fire.

ARR suffered during the entire war 4,172 casualties, out of which 2,977 against the Allies (972 dead, 1,167 wounded and 838 missing) and 1,195 against the Axis (356 dead, 371 wounded and 468 missing).

The end of the war found the ARR in a poorer state than in 1941. It managed alone, using its own resources and obtaining good results, even though the material situation wasn't satisfactory all the time. This was probably because of the pilots, who in many cases were superior to the Allied ones.

Author: Victor Nitu
Sources:
Antoniu D., Cicos G. Vanatorul IAR-80, istoria unui erou necunoscut, Editura MODELISM, 2000

Bernád D. Rumanian Air Force, the prime decade 1938-1947, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1999

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