Romanian Armed Forces
in the Second World War
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gen. de escadra av. (VR) Ioan Dobran
cdor. av. (VR) Titus Axente
cdor. av. (VR) Costin Georgescu
cdor. av. (VR) Tanase Mancu
cdor. av. (VR) Dragos Stinghe
cdor. av. (VR) Dan Stoian
lt. cdor. av. (VR) Ioan Marinciu
cdor. av. (VR) Dragos Stinghe

Picture courtesy of cdor. Dragos Stinghe

Lt. av. Dragos Stinghe in the cockpit of his Bf-109G.

Unfortunately, cdor.av. Dragos Stinghe was unwilling to let us film him, but he gave us some of his written memories, from which we have selected some fragments.

It was on 21 April1 944, when the Americans came to bomb us with fighter escort for the first time. There were about 200 bombers and about 70 fighters. We were flying on I AR-80/81s and totaled about 100 aircraft together with the Germans. Our goal was not to engage the fighters, but the bombers. We managed to obtain, together with the AAA, 11 victories on 4 April, 15 on 5 and 6 on 15. After 21 it was harder, because we had to face also the fighters.

The seven airplanes that took off that day from our squadron climbed to 6000 m. When we got out from the clouds we saw a bomber formation in front of us, flying in the opposite direction. We attacked like lightning, but after we passed the bombers, the fighters jumped us. Of all seven, only I got away, because of pure luck. Two were killed and another four were severely damaged. One of those killed was shot in his parachute. Not very fair-play.


We are in the spring of 44. The Americans are coming. We take off from Pipera airfield. We attack over Pitesti and are then ourselves attacked. It isn't easy at all. We come back one by one and we start to count, like each time. Who fell today? How many did we shoot down?

The one that lands the last is Nicu Burileanu. As he touches down, pieces start to jump out of his wheels. He leaves the aircraft in the back of the airfield and comes on foot.

Nicu! What happened?

The bastards! They shot my wheels!

We were astonished, because the wheels were in the wings during flight.

Only the wheels? What about the wings?

Well, haven't you seen me land?

We did. But let's go see the wings.

We went there the three of us. We thought that Nicu had bumped the aircraft on the airfield too hard and that's why the wheels broke. But when we got there we could not believe our eyes. The aircraft was like Swiss cheese on the wings and on the belly. The engine and the tail got away unscratched. It had been certainly one machine-gun salvo, but meant surely to kill the pilot.

Picture courtesy of cdor. Dragos Stinghe

Slt. av. Dragos Stinghe in his IAR-81C no. 377

You were really lucky, Nicu!

Burileanu did not know what to say. We left him there admiring his luck.


During the retreat from Moldavia the Russians caught up with us at the outskirts of Roman. The first two airplanes that took off at dawn on a recon mission landed immediately.

There are Soviet tanks at a few kilometers from us! the pilots shouted.

Cpt. av. Dan Scurtu, the CO of our group [7th FG], smiled:

Really? And when did they get here?

However, cpt. av. "Bazu" Cantacuzino, the CO of the other group on Roman [9th FG] paid attention:

Where did you say they were?. The pilots showed him the direction. Within 10 minutes he was airborne and after another 10 minutes he came back and sounded the alarm.

Everybody to their aircraft!

Just a day before adj. av. Stiolica had made a belly landing on the airfield. We could not leave it there. Quickly, it was raised and the propeller was replaced. Meanwhile the mechanics started to load the Ju-52s.

Who will take Stiolica's airplane to the workshop at Pipera?

Picture courtesy of cdor. Dragos Stinghe

Slt. av. Dragos Stinghe (right) and his squadron commander, lt.av. (r) Ioan Dicezare (left)

I volunteered. Lt. av. Dicezare, my squadron commander, climbed in and tried it, stationary. When he got out he told me:

I would not advise you to do it. It has strong vibrations.

It will hold until Bucharest

He and the others then took off for Cioara-Doicesti, in Baragan, as the higher command decided. It was 22 August 1944. As I looked at the aircraft that were leaving I asked myself what made me take on such a task. The last Ju-52, with the engines running, was waiting for me to take off. When I pushed the stick into full throttle I felt very powerful vibrations and as I taking off I realized that I was about to break the aircraft somewhere outside the airfield. Instinctively I retracted the landing gear. Unfortunately this was not the wisest decision in the case of an airplane that had just made a belly landing. Thus only one wheel went in, the other remained outside. After I gained some altitude I reduced the throttle and this also reduced the vibrations. I could not land back there, since the Ju-52 had also taken off with the last mechanics and I would have been alone there. I decided go down the Siret river to Focsani and then, around the mountains, to Buzau and if I can make it, to Bucharest. Thus I could find some airfields to make an emergency landing in case of necessity. Over the mountains it was shorter, but…/

This is the way I did it, keeping the throttle at a minimum to reduce the vibrations. I wondered where these came from, what caused them. I started with the landing gear. I tried to take out the landing gear. The one that was already out retracted and the other one came out. They were playing with me and this annoyed me. I quit and decided to focus on getting back to Bucharest, to Pipera. When I got there, I was already accustomed with the vibrations. I tried to make the other one come out, but without success and I landed on only one. The aircraft fell on one wing, but it did not suffer too much damage.

Later I found out the cause of the vibrations. In the hurry to leave Roman, to of the blades had been installed on a pitch of 10 and the third on a pitch of 12.

How did you come here like this? Didn't your teeth come out? I never saw something like this before the chief mechanic told me.

Neither did I.. But there wasn't time for comments. 23 August 1944 had arrived!

[comments are mine - Victor Nitu]

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