Born: 14 March 1919, Baicoi
- 29 November 1943 - February 1944: 1st Fighter Group
- February 1944 - 21 April 1945: 2nd Fighter Group
Combat missions: 29
Died: 21 April 1945, KIA Czechoslovakia
Gheorghe Mociornita was born on 14 March 1919 in Baicoi, a town in the vicinity of Ploesti. He was teh fourth child of the eight the Mociornita family had. His father, Nicolae, was an electrician and worked in the oil industry and the mother, Ioana, was a housewife. "Gellu", as the family called him, went to the school in his home town and then, for two years, to the Matei Basarab High School in Bucharest, where his literature talent was noticed by Perpessicius, following a paper on an oil well, which was burning for three years. He moved to Fagaras and was transferred to the Radu Negru High School. During a vacation there he saved one of his colleagues from drowning in the Olt River.
In 1938 he graduated from high school and was admitted into the Philosophy and Literature Faculty in Bucharest. But in 1940 he was mobilized in the army and had to temporarily quit his studies. However he chose to follow a childhood passion and in the autumn the same year he was admitted into the Air Force Officer School.
He made his first flights on a Fleet F-10G at Otopeni. In May 1941 the school moved to Turnu Severin where they continued to train on this type of aircraft and then passed on to the IAR-27. He had as flight instructor adj. av. Constantin Serbanescu. After five months they returned to Bucharest and resumed their theoretical classes.
His brother was killed in action in Crimea in December 1941 near Feodosiya. He got over this personal tragedy and on 10 May 1942 he graduated from the Air Force Officer School, 37th from 112 students (according to the Royal Decree 1391/1942). The fresh sublocotenenti (2nd lieutenants) were assigned to Calarasi, where they began flying on Nardi FN-305s so that they could be selected for the different branches of the air force. He was admitted in the fighter corps and continued training on the PZL P.11c. On 30 September they finished the fighter school with 120 flight hours. Then came the Special School at Zilistea.
On 15 January 1943 slt. av. Gheorghe Mociornita received the military pilot license no. 2589. On 26 June he was transferred to the Fighter School in Galati, which was under the direction of German instructors. There he had two accidents: on 6 August he crash-landed the IAR-80 no. 27 and on 29 September the IAR-80A no. 134, both while landing. In fact, that is where he generally had problems, as noted by his CO, because of lack of attention.
He graduated this last school on 3 November 1943 and was assigned to the 64th Fighter Squadron from the 1st Fighter Group, which was equipped with IAR-80Bs and IAR-81As rearmed with 20 mm guns. It was commanded by cpt. cdor. av. Ioan Sandu. But he did not remain for long in this unit, because he was transferred to the 66th Fighter Squadron from the 2nd Fighter Group, which was equipped with IAR-81Cs. In 1944 it was based on the Ianca airfield.
Because the front had reached Romanian territory, the more experienced 7th Fighter Group was pulled out of the Bucharest's defences at the end of April 1944 and sent in Moldavia, where it was subordinated to the 1st Air Corps. Its place was taken by the 2nd Fighter Group, which started arriving on the Pipera airfield on 19 April. Their first dogfight took place two days later, when the American bombers made yet another raid. All 34 aircraft the group possessed were airborne, but the lack of experience and the presence of enemy fighters (for the first time since the USAAF had returned into Romanian airspace on 4 April 1944) resulted in the loss of 5 aircraft and a sixth made a crash landing. Two pilots were killed and three wounded. And this after only one squadron encountered the American airplanes. It seems four B-24s were shot down.
The IAR-80, although a very good fighter when it was introduced into service in 1941, it had become obsolete and it wasn't capable of challenging the P-38s and P-51s at high altitudes.
Despite these setbacks, the IAR-80 fighter groups continued to fight and score kills. On 5 May 1944 the 2nd Fighter Group put 25 IAR-81Cs in the air. No less than ten American bombers were claimed shot down, of which seven were later confirmed, among which the downed by slt. av. Gheorghe Mociornita. It was his first kill, which brought him 3 victories. However he ran out of gas and had to make a belly landing at Pietroasa, Prahova county.
The 15th Air Force returned the following day. The 2nd Fighter Group opposed them with 23 IARs. Again there were some impressive claims: 14 B-24s, of which 12 confirmed. Slt. av. Mociornita increased his score to 6 victories (according to the ARR point system). But the group lost another pilot.
On 10 May the group was split into two: the 65th and 66th Squadrons were moved to Petrosani and the 67th Squadron to Ianca. The next American raid was on 18 May. The 2nd Fighter Group raised in the air only 16 IAR-81Cs that day. Only two claims were confirmed, among which another B-24 shot down by slt. av. Gheorghe Mociornita. It was his last kill during the war.
Because it was pretty clear that the IARs weren't too much of a match for the P-38s and P-51s it was decided to bring back the 7th Fighter Group from the front and replace it there with the 2nd Fighter Group. The operations against the VVS were less demanding as far as aircraft performance was concerned and it was hoped that the IAR-80s would fare better in Moldavia.
The first mission in the new theatre of operations were flown on 30 May, from the Gheraesti airfield. These were generally bomber escort missions and he did 6 of them plus 3 free-hunts until 5 August when he had an accident. He was test-flying the IAR-81C no. 441 and the engine stopped before landing and he barely made it, hitting the CO's car in the process.
On 23 August 1944 he was home, resting. His father took him in a cart to Targsor, where the HQ of the 2nd Fighter Flotilla was. From there he was directed to his unit at Geamana. He arrived there on 28. On 1 September he was on his way to the front in Transylvania, against the doctor's recommendations not to, because he had appendicitis.
On 16 September, Gheorghe Mociornita was part of a formation of six IAR-81Cs, which escorted He-111H6s of the 78th Bomber Squadron over Apahida railway station. On the way back home two Luftwaffe Bf-109Gs attacked the Romanian formation and Uffz. Heinrich Tammen of 6./JG 52 shot down and killed adj. av. Iosif Ciuhulescu flying the IAR-81C no. 413. Almost the same thing the following day, only that the victor was Hptm. Peter Dütmann, who had already claimed an IAR-80 earlier that day, probably the one flown by adj. av. Victor Popescu, which was damaged over Cluj. In both cases slt. av. Mociornita and his wingmen were prevented from intervening before the German Bf-109 got away by the inferior speed of their aircraft. Until the end of September, he flew another six missions.
The 2nd Fighter Group had suffered severe losses at the hands of the Luftwaffe and in October it was reorganized and reequipped. The 67th Fighter Squadron was disbanded and the 6th Fighter Group transferred its remaining IARs to the 2nd.
On 7 November, Gheorghe Mociornita was promoted to the rank of locotenent (1st lt.). The unit moved to Türkeve, in Hungary. From there, it started carrying out the new kind of missions assigned to the IAR-80s: harassing enemy supply lines. Thus, on 17 November, Mociornita destroyed a truck and five days later, two out of the five cars the Romanians left behind burning on the road.
During February and March 1945 he was back in Romania, ferrying new aircraft for the group, from Someseni to Lucenec, in Slovakia.
On 21 April 1945, he took off at 9:25 in front of a patrula, which attacked two infantry platoons near the Soha Lova village and then strafed the road nearby. By 10:20 they were back at the airfield. After two hours he took off again, but this time only with his wingman adj. av. Dumitru Silivan. Their mission was to patrol the road between Soha Lova and Dolny Nemec. They spotted a column of about 7-8 trucks and attacked, each of them destroying one truck. When they came around for a new pass, adj. av. Silivan did not longer see his leader. Instead he saw a big white spot on the field. The IAR-81C no. 426 of lt. av. Gheorghe Mociornita had been hit by a quad machine-gun mounted on one of the trucks. The locals later found him in the cockpit, with his legs cut and a bullet hole in his forehead. The white parachute had been spread out and cut into pieces by the German soldiers. That was probably what Silivan saw. He was buried in the Velnov cemetery, together with 33 other Romanian soldiers. He would have been 26 in several days.
In 1988 pieces of his aircraft were donated to the National Military Museum by the Czechs. In his honor, in 1991, the 86th Fighter Group was given the name Locotenent aviator Gheorghe Mociornita.
Lt. av. Gheorghe Mociornita shot down just 3 aircraft, but the point system of ARR brought him 9 victories, thus achieving the ace status. What is notable is that these kills were obtained only in 29 missions. He has also destroyed several trucks and carts on the ground, after the 2nd Fighter Group was relegated to a ground attack role. His less known side was the artist in Gheroghe Mociornita, who had written several poems (see link below) and drew with amazing dexterity.
Note: The author wishes to thank Mrs. Prof. Maria Mociornita for the interesting materials she provided about her brother.
Poems written by lt. av. Gheorghe Mociornita
Profile courtesy of
Lt. av. Gheorghe Mociornita flew this IAR-81C on 21 April 1945,
when he was shot down and killed by enemy ground fire.