Croatian Air Force

NDH (Independent State of Croatia) Air Force

Following intense diplomatic activity with the Yugoslav government and despite its agreement to join the Axis, in mid-March 1941 Hitler launched his forces against Yugoslavia. On April 10th 1941 the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was declared, led by Dr. Ante Pavelic’s Ustase movement. Immediately senior military officers began to be promoted from its ranks, Vladimir Kren (served April 1941 - September 1943) becoming the first commander of the newly created Croatian Air Force (here abbreviated as HZS).

Following basic military training, Croatian soldiers could volunteer for service in the air force. Initially they were sent for pilot training in Germany (the first group arrived on July 15th 1941), but by mid-1942 Croatia’s own training program had been established (though run in conjunction with the Luftwaffe).

The Croatian Air Force Legion was originally formed from ex-Yugoslav aircraft, soon supplemented by new-build Axis models. These included the: Bristol Blenheim, D.H. 60/80/82, Ikarus IK-2, Zmaj Fizir (all ex-Yugoslav), Messerchmitt Bf 108/9, Fieseler Fi 156/167 and many others. The Legion was divided into the 4th Fighter Wing with two fighter squadrons (10o , 11o) and the 5th Bomber Wing with one bomber squadron (12o).

Except for a few aircraft retained for the defence of Croatia, most of HZS’ air capability was deployed on the Eastern Front (from as early as October 1941), supporting the Luftwaffe (operating with III/JG52). During its deployment, the 4th Fighter Wing scored a total of 263 kills. The two top Croatian aces were Mato Dukovac (44 kills) and Cvitan Galic (38 kills).

In September 1943, Adalbert Rogulja took over as commander of the HZS and served until June 1944. Due to heavy losses, the Legion was disbanded on July 21st 1944 and reformed as the Croatian Air Force Training Wing. At this time Vladimir Kren resumed his position as commander of the HZS and served until Tito’s partisans (with Allied support) toppled the Ustase and brought independent Croatia back into Yugoslavia.

A more extensive list of the type and number of aircraft used by the Croatian Air Force during the course of the war:

Airspeed Oxford 2
Amiot 143 1
Avia B.534 4
Avia BH.33 7
Avia FL.3 20
Avia-Fokker F.39 1
Avia-Fokker F.IX 1
Avia-Fokker F.VII/3m 6
Avro Anson 1
Benes-Mraz Be.51 25
Breguet XIX 46
Bristol Blenheim 8
Bucker Bu 131 46
Bucker Bu 133 10
Bucker Bu 181 22
Cant Z.1007 3
Caproni Ca.100 1
Caproni Ca.310 7
Caproni Ca.311 14
Caproni Ca.312 11
Caproni Ca.313 1
Caproni Ca.314 1
Caudron C.635 1
D.H.60 1
D.H.80 Puss Moth 2
D.H.82 Tiger Moth 1
Dornier Do 17 23
Dornier Do Y 1
Fiat G.50 9
Fiat G.50B1 1
Fieseler Fi 156 11
Fieseler Fi 167 12
Focke Wulf Fw 58 1
Fokker F.18 1
Hawker Fury 1
Hopfner WN 15 1
Ikarus IK-2 4
Junkers Ju 52 1
Junkers W 34 4
Klemm L.25 1
Macchi C.202 3
Messerschmitt Bf 108 1
Messerscmitt Bf 109 50
Morane Saulnier MS 406 48
Potez 25 48
Potez 63 12
Rogozarski PVT 15
Rogozarski R.100 11
Rogozarski SIM X 2
Rogozarski SIM XI 1
RWD-13 1
Saiman 200 25
Saiman 202 2
Savoia-Marchetti S.M.82 4
Zmaj Fizir FN 23
Zmaj Fizir FNM 6
Zmaj Fizir FP.2 23

Courtesy of Kristian Thaller (02/10/2004)