lt. av. Teodor Greceanu


Fighter Pilot

Born: 13 May 1917, Bucharest


Combat missions: over 370

Victories: 20 confirmed + 4 probable


Died: December 1995, Bucharest


He was born on 13 May 1917 Bucharest. In 1939, he graduated second the School of Navigator Officers and in 1940 he received his instructor license for the following categories: fighter, low-visibility flying, two-engine airplane pilot, instructor, acrobatics and night-flying. He was also licensed as balloon observer and glider pilot.

In 1940 slt. av .teodor Greceanu was assigned to the 5th Fighter Group and then he was selected for the new 7Th Fighter Group, which operated the more performant recently aquired Bf-109Es. It was with this aircraft and unit, that Teodor Greceanu fought during 1941 and 1942. Even though he took part in many missions since 22 June 1941, he achieved his first kill over Odessa in August. By 16 October, when the Soviet fortress fell, he had two.

In the 1942 Stalingrad campaign he did not achieve any more kills. However, he did take part in the epic escape from the encirclement at Karpovka in November, under the fire of the Soviet tanks, carrying another pilot instead of his radio.

The year 1943 proved to be much more favorable for lt. av. Greceanu (he had been promoted in the meanwhile). In MArch teh 7th Fighter Group was incorporated in the JG 3 Udet to convert on the newer Bf-109G. By 6 May he had already reached the number of 5 victories. The airfield at Kramatorskaya was under attack by a large Soviet formation (18 Il-2s and 20 La-5s). Lt. av. Greceanu, slt. av. Naghirneac and adj. av. Chirvasuta took off immediately. The latter was attacked at low altitude by Soviet fighters and broke formation. Naghirneac engaged the Il-2s, while of. echip. cls. III Milu and adj. av. Firu, who were already in the air took on some La-5s. Greceanu joined them and shot down one.

From 11 May he was in the 57th Squadron, under the command of cpt. av. Serbanescu. He took part in the fighting on 18 July, which resulted in the shooting down of 15 Soviet planes and another 5 probable. The next day he shot down a La-3 and on 23 July he got another VVS aircraft.

On 28 July, Greceanu shot down a Soviet fighter, while protecting a bomber formation. Later that day he was on patrol with Serbanescu and two other wingmen. They engaged four VVS fighters. Cpt. av. Serbanescu shot one down, but others joined the battle. Greceanu got in a good position and fired on an enemy. The Soviet dived, but he followed him and fired again. White smoke started to come out of his right wing. After another of Greceanu's weapons burst, he blew up. Because there were too many enemies, Serbanescu gave the order to retreat.

On 4 August 1943 lt. av. Teodor Greceanu shot down an Il-2 and on 13 August he added another kill to his record. Thus on 30 August he was one of the five pilots that received the "Mihai Viteazul" Order 3rd class, the highest Romanian military award for officers.

Picture from "Rumanian Air Force, the prime decade 1938-1947" by Dénes Bernád, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1999

Lt. av. Teodor Greceanu is in the center left of this photo.

In October the 9th Fighter Group replaced the tired 7th Fighter Group, but several pilots, including Greceanu, remained on the front. On 13 February 1944 he was named commander of the 48th Fighter Squadron, from the 9th Fighter Group, which was commanded by cpt. av. Serbanescu. On 10 March he shot down a Yak and on 25 April a P-39, after an engagement between 5 Romanian Bf-109Gs and 8 Soviet La-5 and four Aircobras.

The Red Army had reached the Romanian soil and the front was practically on national territory. On 20 May, 12 Bf-109Gs under the command of cpt. av. Popescu-Ciocanel were on patrol. They passed the enemy lines at 5000 m. Lt. av. Greceanu signaled that there were Soviet planes beneath them, on the right. Cpt. av. Popescu attacked first and shot a Yak down. Greceanu followed up, but missed. He got a new chance soon and this time the Yak went down in flames. The rest of the Yaks escaped, but the Romanian fighters caught up which was immediately shot down.

On 23 June, a formation of about 500 USAAF bombers and fighters attacked Ploesti. In the dogfights with the Mustangs and Lightings, lt. av. Greceanu was shot down. He crash landed 13 km west of Gaesti. He was interned in a hospital where he spent over two months. After that he returned to his unit just in time to start the campaign against Germany and Hungary. He didn't score any new victories until the end of the war. Lt. av. Teodor Greceanu had 20 confirmed kills and over 1000 hours of combat missions.

He took part in a large Allied-organized air show at Wiener-Neustadt on 1 June 1945, together with other Romanian pilots. He came with a Bf 109G6 produced by IAR Brasov and presented it there in flight as well as on the ground.

In 1947 he was fired, because the new communist authorities needed people with a "healthy" past (and fighting on the Eastern Front wasn't). In 1949 he was arrested. Until 1964 he had seen almost all of the Communist prisons and forced labor camps. He escaped once, but was recaptured. He was condemned to death twice, but his sentence was converted to life in prison. In 1964 he was set free, like all the other political prisoners. He died in December 1995 in Bucharest.

Bibliography: Vasile Tudor, "Un nume de legenda - Cpt. av. erou Alexandru Serbanescu", Editura MODELISM, 1998; Ion Dobran, "Junalul locotenentului Dobran", Editura MODELISM, 1998.

Detailed article on Teodor Greceanu on the WWII Aces Stories page

Profile courtesy of Bogdan Patrascu

Lt. av. Teodor Greceanu used this Bf-109G6 during spring of 1944. It was damaged during a landing on 30 March.


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