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> Traian Darjan, The Final Fight Seen From the Other Side
lancer_two_one
Posted: February 26, 2012 05:49 am
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Since I was an elementary school student I recall a play broadcasted on Teatru Radiofonic pentru Copii dedicated to Traian Darjan's last mission. For a kid around 10 yo it was quite impressive; for those who didn't get the chance to listen it on the radio, the play climaxes with Darjan wounded and flying a damaged plane deciding to crash his machine on a German bunker that blocked the advancement of Ro troops...

Many years later, if I'm not wrong around 1988 (unfortunatelly I don't have the book anymore) through the kind efforts of Mr. Marandiuc, Romania got repossessed a large piece of its air force history. Part of this was also a description of the circumstances surrounding Traian Darjan's last mission. As this description was based on the recollections of Traian Darjan's Grup comrades, I considered it at that time as the closest we could possibly be to what really happened that fateful day.

I for one, still had questions. As I think also Mr. Marandiuc's book Inimi... mentions, the German pilot that shot down Traian Darjan was Hauptmann Helmut Lipfert, I wondered how anyone would know this. There were three pilots involved, there was no way for the Romanian celula to ID beyond doubt its opponent. And before 1990, there was no way any such communication would cross the borders.

Some years after reading "Inimi..." I got the chance to read HPTM Lipfert's memoires... HPTM Lipfert part of that encounter was not able to establish himself something less accurate, whether the two pilots challenging him were some of the pilots he once transitioned to the G at Tiraspol.

However, on 15 Feb 1945, HPTM Lipfert took over I/JG53. Shortly after that day, he found that it was meaningless to escort the ground attacking formations of FW-190; FW-190s were faster at low level than the 109 flown by HPTM Lipfert' JG. In agreement with the Kommandeur of the close support FW-190 Gruppe, the escort missions ceased. That gave HPTM Lipfert's I/JG 53 a lot of freedom for Freie Jagd.

At that time I/JG 53 was operating mainly in the Altsohl area while based on Pistian. As this part of Europe is inhabitated by a multi-national community, and HPTM Lipfert used in his Memoires obviously the German denominations, I'm sure that someone with more inter-ethnic knowledge of the area would be able to provide a better geographical location ( I'm somehow confident that these locations may have at least there sets of denominations).

HPTM Lipfert was informed that in the area there were German airplanes operatng on the enamy side, such as Ju-88, He-111 and Bf-109. According to his recollections he intercepted such an attack on 24-Feb-1945 at about 1400. While attacking a bomber formation apparently with no escort in sight, HPTM Lipfert got bad luck having only one of his machine-guns working. Despite this problem, HPTM Lipfert managed to disable the rear gunner of the airplane he attacked and eventually hit the left engine. While his target disappeard into clouds, he was attacked by two 109s ; the attacking celula came from HPTM's side with the guns blazing. As a defensive maneuver, HPTM Lipfert entered into the same cloud, however before he got into the cloud managed to recognize his attacker's Ro markings.

At that moment HPTM Lipfert got excited hopping to get in a rarely situation, to fight against his ex-trainees, the pilots he transitioned on the G at Tiraspol.

HPTM Lipfert turned around and left the cloud descending to tree-top level below and behind the Ro celula. The Ro pilots saw HPTM Lipfert's plane and turned toward him before they got in HPTM's firing range. As all of them were turning, in HPTM Lipfert's words he concluded for himself for his relief: " that these two definitely couldn't have been at Tiraspol, as they appeared very inexperienced. The enamy pilots seemed to be afraid to fly their aircraft to the limit and therefore made only rather gentle turns. Their aircraft seemed to be rather slow, as I was able to get behind them on my first pass".

The HPTM immediately attacked the closest airplane, and managed to score hits from the first attempt. Here again, I'd like to say that the ones involved did not manage to recognize one each other beyond any doubts; however, it seems likely that the hit airplane was Darjan's. Considering as a fair assumption that the hit airplane was Darjan's I'll refer to Darjan from now on.

Darjan tried to dive away in the direction of own lines. It was not difficult at all for HPTM Lipfert to follow on his tail firing his only one operating machine gun when in a good position. As seen from Lipfert's cockpit, Darjan took no evasive action, trying only to break the fight by accelerating. Although HPTM Lipfert was alone (since the beginning when he attacked the Ro bomber) and already in enamy territory, he didn't wanted to let his opponent fly to safety so easily. Practically Darjan was also alone since a while; according to HPTM Lipfert, "the other Romanian separated from his companion but did not come to his aid".

HPTM Lipfert's target was already smoking heavily and then suddently crushed into a hill. According to Lipfert, "there was no fire" subsequent of the ground impact .

As HPTM Lipfert was alone with no one to witness, he couldn't and he didn't take credit for this victory. With a damaged compass he managed to get his bearings and found his airfield.





I hope this view from the other side will not become controversial. I read HPTM Lipfert's memoires some years ago, and did not find any reference to his perspective in any of the writings covering Traian Darjan's final mission.

With the highest respect for Mr. Marandiuc's work, personally I consider HPTM Lipfert's account more relevant than what is available on the Ro side, namely the recollection of Traian Darjan's comrades. I think we should look at HPTM Lipfert acount as a missing central pice of the puzzle, a pice that became available and fills the gap.

Since so much time has passed, and there were available as far as it is known only two witnesses (possibly only one) of Traian Darjan's last minutes, we should consider such an account as HPTM Lipfert's, and to the extent of our understanding readjust our representation.

While HPTM Lipfert's memoires are fairly accessible, I am surprised no reference is made in the Ro literature to HPTM Lipfert account of his encounter with the Ro celula whose one member Darjan most likely was. To my knowledge there is no such reference anywhere in the Ro specific literature. In this respect among all the others, the account on Train Darjan on this very website would also need a mention if not a correction.

A concluding word goes in the memory of Traian Darjan: Dumnezeu sa-l odihneasca in pace.

Sorin


PS When I made reference to HPTM Lipfert's memoires I meant the published The War Diary of Hauptmann Helmut Lipfert
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Dénes
Posted: February 26, 2012 07:31 am
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QUOTE (lancer_two_one @ February 26, 2012 11:49 am)
I think also Mr. Marandiuc's book Inimi... mentions, the German pilot that shot down Traian Darjan was Hauptmann Helmut Lipfert...

It was actually I who identified the German pilot who shot down Dârjan's and published it in my book, Rumanian Air Force. The Prime Decade, by Squadron/Signal (1999).
On page 37 and 40, I gave a detailed description of this air combat, including comments. I also identified the Fw 190 shot down by Bâzu Cantacuzino just minutes earlier. Finally, at that moment I did not know who shot down Bâzu, but since that his name was also found.

Gen. Dénes
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Beta
Posted: February 26, 2012 09:01 am
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The identity of the German that killed Darjan could only be assessed from German sources. Bazu's first-hand account of the event (from lt. Dobran's war diary) was rather confused: We had downed a FW and, while looking for it with Darjan, another 16 attacked us from above and shot us down. When looking for it, Darjan was not with me anymore, so I didn't know exactly the precise moment when he got shot down, too. It's a fact that Darjan is undoubtedly dead.

This post has been edited by Beta on February 26, 2012 09:05 am
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Dénes
Posted: February 26, 2012 09:31 am
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QUOTE (Beta @ February 26, 2012 03:01 pm)
The identity of the German that killed Darjan could only be assessed from German sources.

That's exactly what happened. By the way, Dârjan was not "killed by a German", but his aircraft shot down and he died in the process.

Gen. Dénes
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21 inf
Posted: February 26, 2012 09:43 am
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As far as I know Darjan didn't crashed his plane in a german bunker, this was only propaganda. What is actually the truth?
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Victor
Posted: February 27, 2012 07:59 am
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QUOTE (21 inf @ February 26, 2012 11:43 am)
As far as I know Darjan didn't crashed his plane in a german bunker, this was only propaganda. What is actually the truth?

Well, lancer21's account is pretty much what happened. In this: http://www.worldwar2.ro/arr/?language=en&article=692 you may find the description of the events on 25 February 1945, using Denes' book as a source.
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fekiac
Posted: March 15, 2012 02:08 pm
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QUOTE (Dénes @ February 26, 2012 07:31 am)
Finally, at that moment I did not know who shot down Bâzu, but since that his name was also found.

Gen. Dénes

Thanks to all friends to remember Traian Dârjan.

1. Dénes, who was the man who shot down Bâzu?

2. I am not specialist, so please explain for me this situation: There were 8 (pcs) of Fw-190Fs German planes and Cantacuzino and Darjan atacked them. Is it some usual fight formation of German fighters? Is it usual situation to engage into fight with 8 aeroplanes in the same time? Or FW was much worse in manoeuvrability, weaker then BF 109? So All FW escaped quickly? (Except Heim plane of course).
Plus in the same time, a bit later there were Lipfert and his wing flying around. Am I correct? Were they also part of previous formation, or not?

3. There is a record of Lipfert victory 25.2.1945 10:53 over Jak-9 at Zvolen confirmed by Prien.
As far as I know, Dârjan was killed after 14:00. (Lipfert himself writes on 24.2. but it seems to be mistake). Lipfert writes about Jak victory at begining of stay on Piešťany, it means after 15.02. 1945
To win 2 planes in the same day - I think Lipfert would notice it in his diary. Where is mistake?

What we can read is beletrized memories. I believe in original sources generaly. Who is owner of original records of Lipfert autentic diary?

Also, as I understand, some diary of Dr. Mircea Gradinaru, who cut Darjan out of the plane could say some facts about end of Dârjan. How to get information about real records from diary? Would it be possible? I know only about a book of Cornel Marandiuc "Inimi cit sa cuprinda cerul patriei" from 1985. Is there other source to search information from Gradinaru diary?

Difficult questions, I understand... I will be grateful for any answer.
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Dénes
Posted: March 15, 2012 05:55 pm
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The Fw 190Fs were employed for ground attack, flying at low level. Bâzu and Dârjan surprised them and the leader shot down one of them. While they were looking down to locate the wreck needed for confirmation of the air victory, both Rumanians failed to secure their back and were shot down one after the other by Lipfert and another Lw pilot. Because there were no witness to Lipfert's kill, he could not confirm it, so it does not show up in his official victory list.
That's what happened, in a nutshell, reconstructed based on available primary and secondary sources.

If anyone has further reliable info, please share with us.

Gen. Dénes

This post has been edited by Dénes on March 15, 2012 06:01 pm
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fekiac
Posted: March 16, 2012 09:18 am
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QUOTE (Dénes @ March 15, 2012 05:55 pm)
The Fw 190Fs were employed for ground attack, flying at low level. Bâzu and Dârjan surprised them and the leader shot down one of them.

If anyone has further reliable info, please share with us.

Gen. Dénes

To Dénes: Thanks for explanation. And ok, I agree, we must follow the facts and leave interpretation... Questions remains.

To 21 inf: There was not german bunker, there was a meadow. And it was already territory taken be Romanian army at that time, some soldiers were located just in forest nearby.
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fekiac
Posted: February 26, 2015 10:13 pm
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Hello,

it is 70 years since Darjan is dead.

Here in Slovakia in internet appears version, that Cantacuzino, after he was shot down by unknown german pilot, jumped out of airplane by parachute.
I was told by old man eyewitness, that airplane belly landed and then was taken in some days from place of landing.

My question is, if it is possible both in the same time: Cantacuzino leaved airplane on parachute, and bf109 landed without serious damage.

I think, that if pilot leave airplane, then airplane is not controlled and crash is fatal for such plane.

Please, explain this to me, who are proffesionals. Is there some record of Cantacuzino landing in some written sources? Thanks a lot for answer.

I am enclosing photo of Darjan´s engine valve just for interest.

Traian Darjan... we remember You.

This post has been edited by fekiac on February 28, 2015 05:33 pm
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fekiac
Posted: February 26, 2015 10:18 pm
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Sorry, I am not able to submit the Photo, nor erasure this waste message... Administrator please do so. Thanks. Read just previous message please!

This post has been edited by fekiac on February 27, 2015 08:56 am
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Cantacuzino
Posted: March 02, 2015 09:20 am
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[QUOTE]I was told by old man eyewitness, that airplane belly landed and then was taken in some days from place of landing.

My question is, if it is possible both in the same time: Cantacuzino leaved airplane on parachute, and bf109 landed without serious damage.

[QUOTE]

Cantacuzino was most confident in the Bf 109 G, in terms of force landing. He always preferred the belly landing instead of parachute.
Possible that could be the same in this case

RIP Darjan.
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