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George the Stuka pilot.

Old 24th Nov 2021, 23:48
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Interesting discussion, thanks guys
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Old 25th Nov 2021, 13:42
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George on the left, Centaurus second from right.

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Old 25th Nov 2021, 17:03
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megan The Stuka pic above still intrigues a bit. The Slovak Air Force used the cross with a red dot (not visible) in between 1941-1944/5, not before. At the time the registration was S.

OK was first introduced in 1930 for the civilian aeroplanes of Czechoslovakia, replacing the "L". Post-war the Czechoslovak air force planes had no country registration letters at all, it seems. Only painted insignia.

--- EDIT ---

and found it!

The "Take-off" monthly magazine of the SAF 06-07/1944 - article on the pre-flight inspection and engine run-up. First airframe delivered to customer 1.6.1944

Last edited by FlightDetent; 25th Nov 2021 at 17:18.
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Old 25th Nov 2021, 17:22
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Originally Posted by Centaurus
Over the two tours of duty covering a total of five years with No 10 Squadron I flew 3000 hours on Lincolns. The Darwin SAR detachments which were normally a fortnight at a time meant that around one year of my time was spent in Darwin. I first arrived there in early 1953 when the results of the Japanese bombing were still to be seen. Wrecked ships, blasted buildings, bullet and shrapnel holes were everyday sights. Our accommodation quarters were primitive by modern standards with twenty iron framed beds in one hut and no privacy. We slept on straw filled palliases on rusty wire bed frames with mosquito nets that were no protection from biting tiny sandflies. The incessant heat and the continuous noise of civil and military aircraft staging through Darwin airport made it difficult to get adequate sleep. Darwin was an aeroplane spotter’s paradise. When not on duty I would stroll to the tarmac to watch the Super Constellations of Qantas, BOAC and RAF Britannias, RAF and RNZAF Hastings, Avro Tudors and Hermes of various British charter companies on their way to Woomera, and the occasional B17 Flying Fortress of the USAF. Globemasters of MATS –Military Air Transport Service – would arrive with groaning brakes and park next to our Lincoln A grinning baseball capped negro airman standing in an open observation hatch on top of the huge fuselage, would return our waves. With the arrival of the Globemaster came a formation of F84 Thunderjets on a mobility exercise.

There were two spectacular accidents. My own, which was a modest affair in a Wirraway, and that of a RAF Hastings that lost all four engines shortly after take-off, belly landing with no casualties. On one occasion my crew were woken at 0200 by the Orderly Sergeant to standby for escorting a BOAC Britannia that had lost two engines due to icing en-route Singapore to Darwin. Heaven knows how we were expected to find the Britannia in the dark and even if we did, his cruising speed with two engines feathered was 30 knots faster than a Lincoln.

Two Wirraways and a Dakota were based in Darwin. A few weeks before my first arrival there, one of our Lincoln captains –Warrant Officer Jack Turnbull, who had flown Spitfires, wrote off one of the Wirraways in a crosswind landing. The Wirraway was a nasty thing in crosswinds and Jack had ground-looped seconds after touch down. He exited stage left quickly as it caught on fire. The CO of the base, Wing Commander “Bull” McMahon, a well known wartime Catalina pilot, was not too happy because the crash effectively reduced Darwin’s airborne defence capability by half. The Dakota didn’t count!

Having recently flown Mustangs, I prevailed upon the Wing Commander to let me fly his remaining Wirraway, on what we termed continuation training. In reality that meant buzzing herds of buffaloes in the plains to the east of Darwin and scarping at 50 feet above dozing crocodiles in Arnhem Land. To make the trip strictly legal we would carry out a VHF DF (Direction Finding) instrument approach on returning to Darwin an hour later. That gave the RAAF air traffic controller practice at bringing aircraft in to land in bad weather. I would often take members of our Lincoln crew for a ride in the Wirraway and teach them aerobatics. Naturally we would finish the sortie beating up more buffalo and it was on one of these beat-ups I saw the leader of the herd turn and face us head on. While the rest of the buffs thundered away tails high when they saw the Wirraway coming at them low and fast, this big hairy bull buffalo just propped, head lowered and pawed the ground. He was a brave bastard and I was glad that our engine didn’t pick that moment to stop because that bull buffalo would not have taken prisoners.

I became friends with a Sergeant reservist pilot called George Petru. After the war, George had escaped the communists who had taken over his native Czechoslovakia and had eventually found his way to Australia. In Darwin he was employed as a surveyor with the Department of Works. He had flown Junkers 87 (Stuka) dive bombers, with the Czech Air Force. Faced with marauding Russian troops, he stole a Messerschmitt ME109 fighter and fled his homeland chased by Russian fighters. The ME109 was a fast German designed single seater, which enabled him to out-run his pursuers. The RAAF accepted him as a reservist and he wore RAAF pilot wings despite never having been flight tested to service standards. He loved Australia and having read of the exploits of the RAAF fighter ace Bluey Truscott, was so impressed that he changed his name by deed poll from Petru to Truscott.

George came along on many Lincoln sorties but he was not allowed to land or take off. He had never flown a heavy bomber and understandably was pretty ropey on instrument flying. For that reason we would only let him at the controls when the sun was shining. For all that, George was one of the most enthusiastic pilots I have ever flown with and he would willingly come along as a crew member on some of our long ten hour SAR searches. While the captain was having a break snoozing down the back on the hard metal floor of the Lincoln, I would slip George into the co-pilot’s seat and let him fly while I kept my eyes open for the missing light aeroplane or yacht or whatever we were looking for. I was never game to leave the cockpit to stretch my legs while George was flying because I knew that if we had a sudden engine failure (common on Lincolns in the tropics), George would be unable to handle the situation.

One day I rang George at work and asked him would he like to come with me in the Wirraway for low flying practice, meaning chasing hapless buffaloes. I saw my mate the big bull buffalo as a hairy cloven footed version of Jaws, in need of a bit of stirring up. From a safe height, of course. George was delighted to get into a single engine aircraft again – his last one being the Messerschmitt that he had hijacked from the Czech Air Force. After the fun with the old man bull and low flying along deserted beaches to the east of Darwin, I climbed to height for some aerobatics.

After completing a few loops and inadvertently spinning off a roll off the top, I handed over to George in the back seat, inviting him to try a loop. Now George had never flown a Wirraway before and understandably had no idea what a vicious beast it could be if roughly handled. I talked him into the initial dive at 160 knots then told him to pull up and over into the loop. Now it should be remembered that George was an experienced Stuka pilot and that aircraft was specifically designed as a dive bomber. The typical dive angle of a Stuka was sixty degrees and the drag from its huge wing dive brakes kept the speed back to eighty knots. The stick force needed to pull out of the dive was not much at all and a harsh pull back on the stick at the bottom of the dive would easily convert the dive into a rocketing climb. Well, the Wirraway is not a Stuka and it quickly showed George who was boss.

George reefed about 4G at the bottom of the dive, causing the Wirraway to flick violently into a series of high speed rolls and bouncing George’s head against the side window panels. I attempted to take control from the front seat to counteract the inevitable incipient spin. George had not understood my commend for him to let go of the controls and kept hauling back stick. And so the Wirraway stuck it right up him and kept on flick rolling. Eventually he let go of the stick and after recovering from the last known inverted position, I abandoned the sortie and then flew sedately back to base. Safely on the ground, George muttered ruefully that flying Stuka dive-bombers was a damn sight safer than aerobatics in a Wirraway and in future he would rather give Wirraways a miss, and stick to flying Lincolns in sunny weather.

Some Lincoln crews were irritated by his fractured English, and fanatical keeness to fly. As a result, he was often knocked back after turning up at the airport. When that happened he would walk away sadly, knowing he was not wanted. Few knew that he was a brave man that had seen bloodshed and murder in his home country. It took guts to steal a Messerschmitt and risk being shot down in a hail of cannon fire, and I felt small in stature against this man. For my part, I could rarely find it in my heart to knock him back when he turned up in his flying suit, cloth helmet, and a big smile. As I saw it, he was in the RAAF reserve and trying hard to do his bit for his new country. When the last of the Lincolns went to the wreckers in 1960, George had logged over 200 hours in the right hand seat. From Darwin he moved with his family to Canberra where he obtained a private pilot’s licence. He made media headlines after getting lost in a Cessna 172 near Oodnadatta and forced landed on a clay pan. He was on his last legs when he was located, badly sun burnt, after surviving for one week by chewing his leather belt and shoe laces and eating toothpaste. Not long after, his luck ran out when he died in a glider accident near Canberra.

Thank you for this.
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Old 27th Nov 2021, 00:49
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FD, to further confuse you, it does me. I've emailed a Czech aviation historian to see if clarification is forth coming.

Slovakia used the OK- marking.

Last edited by megan; 27th Nov 2021 at 01:53. Reason: link
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Old 8th Dec 2021, 04:54
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Reply from the historian.

License production of Junkers Ju 87D-5 was in full swing in Slovakia since 1943. The type was produced by Slovakian Aircraft Company (" Slovenská továreň na lietadlá") based at Trečianske Biskupice. Deliveries for the Luftwaffe and Romanian Air Force were a priority, so Slovakian Air Force with great delay only received 10 aircraft out of 50 examples ordered.

First four aircraft delivered in June 1944 were marked with civilian codes OK-XAA, OK-XAB, OK-XAC and OK-XAD. (There was no aircraft marked OK-XAE.) Further six Ju 87D-5 aircraft were delivered next month. Pilots of Letka 11 (11th Squadron) started training on the type. This was short lived however and the aircraft spent most of time stored at Spišska Nova Ves. At the outbreak of Slovak National Uprising in late August 1944 these aircraft were captured by the Germans. Junkers Ju 87D-5 was never flown in combat by Slovakian pilots.

Some of the Slovakian pilots I could link with flying Ju 87D-5 in summer 1944 were: J.Gerthofer, Kollár, Gajdoš, Sitár, J.Matiáš and S.Valent. Ján Gerthofer was third most successful Slovakian Bf 109 ace. He shot down 26 Soviet aircraft while serving with Letka 13 (13. Slow/JG 52) on the Eastern front.

I have no info if that was the case (re Czech Air Force operating Stukas). It is well known that many German aircraft were left behind on Czech territory after the capitulation. (Some, like Bf 109 and Me 262, were continued in production.) It is possible that some Stukas were found on the ground as well, but I don't know if any were flown by Czechoslovak pilots post war. I haven't really researched this topic, but in my opinion it is unlikely.
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