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The Romanian Air Corps in WWI

Discussions on all aspects of the First World War not covered in the other sections.
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The Romanian Air Corps in WWI

Postby Victor on 17 Apr 2003 18:32

The Romanian Air Corps in WWI

The Romanian army was the second armed force in the world to use airplanes. In the autumn of 1910, during the Royal maneuvers, the engineer Aurel Vlaicu used the airplane he had designed and built to transport a message.

Two flight schools were created in 1911 near Bucharest, one by the lawyer Mihail Cerchez at Chitila (who also had a workshop where Farmans were being assembled) and the other one by prince Gheorge Valentin Bibescu at Cotroceni (which used Bleriot airplanes). These schools trained the first Romanian military pilots.

In September 1911, two sections took part in the maneuvers: 3 Farmans (mr. Ion Macri, slt. Stefan Protopopescu, slt Gheorghe Negrescu) and 3 Bleriots (lt. (r) Gheorge Valentin Bibescu, lt. Mircea Zorileanu, lt. Nicolae Capsa). The airplanes were used for reconnaissance missions and aerial photography and exceeded all expectations. The next year the number of aircraft used in the maneuvers increased to 8.

On 1 April 1913 the Parliament passed the Law for the organization of the military Aeronautics. It remained a part of the Engineer Corps. During the Second Balkan War that year the Aeronautics participated with 13 aircraft and 9 pilots.

After the beginning of WWI the process of training pilots was expanded. A flight instructor and aerial observer schools were created. On 31 August 1915 the Air Corps was formed, under the command of lt. col. Constantin Gavanescu. After one year Romania joined the war on the Entente side. The Air Corps had 91 pilots and 31 aircraft, mostly obsolete types. The orders placed in France would take some time to reach Romania through for various reasons (some very dubious). Thus the Romanian pilots limited themselves to reconnaissance missions, providing vital information for the Romanian High Command. They had to face modern Central Powers fighters with only the rifle the observers carried with them. There were also some "bombing" raids, but with poor results, due to the lack of targeting or launch systems. The first operational loss was on 4 September 1916, when lt. av. Ioan Marasescu and slt. av. Petre Cretu were shot down at Talmaciu by enemy AAA.

In October 1916 arrived the French Military Mission. The French Air Force had sent 42 officers, 45 NCOs, 36 corporals and 162 soldiers and civilians. They played an important role in the reorganization of the Romanian Air Corps during the terrible winter of 1916/1917. Also 100 modern aircraft finally arrived from France: 41 Nieuport BB, 38 Farman 40, 18 Breguet-Michelin and 3 H. Farman. Several other aircraft were flown in from Salonik.

Three groups were created:

1st Group: 2 observation squadrons (Farman 2 and Farman 6) and one fighter squadron (Nieuport 1)
2nd Group: one observation squadron (Farman 4) and one fighter squadron (Nieuport 3)
3rd Group: one observation squadron (Farman 5) and one fighter squadron (Nieuport 10)

The High Command had at its disposal another two squadrons: Farman 7 and BM 8.

The activity started in February 1917. The Farman squadrons flew many recon and artillery correction missions. For example, the Farman 4 squadron totaled 100 missions in the February - March period.

The bomber squadron (BM 8) executed several raids against the port and railway station of Braila, managing even to sink a transport vessel in the night of 31 March. 10 Farmans and Nieuport were joined by a Caudron G4 on 19 May for a raid on the Campurile railway station and hit a munitions train. On 6 June a Farman 40 flown by cpt. Mircea Zorileanu bombed the barracks in Brasov and the next day 5 Farman 40s hit a troop train in the Campurile station and a factory complex. These are only a few examples of the intense activity the Romanian and French pilots.

Because of operational needs the 2nd Group (assigned to the 1st Romanian Army in the Marasesti area) was reinforced in June with the Farman 7 and Farman 9 observation squadrons (equipped with Farman 40s), the Nieuport 11 fighter squadron (equipped with Nieuport 11 and 17s) and the Caudron 12 long range recon squadron. The BM 8 bomber squadron was assigned to the 3rd Group.

During the fierce battle of Marasesti the 2nd Group flew a total of 467 missions.

During the autumn as the fighting lost in intensity, so did the number of missions.

The Romanian pilots shot down 14 enemy airplanes and dropped 23,871 kg of bombs. 185 recon and 703 artillery correction missions were flown. The French pilots in Romania obtained 13 victories. The most successful fighter squadron was Nieuport 3.

I hope these few rows give a general idea of the activity of the Romanian Air Corps during WWI.

Bibliography: Jurnalul Escadrilei Nieuport 3 - Jurnal de front 1916-1917, Editura Militara, 1986
Last edited by Victor on 13 Mar 2005 20:36, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Daniel S. on 18 Apr 2003 18:19

It seems to me that this post has almost the same 'succes' as my Romanian monarchy.Common people,there is nobody interested in Romanian WWI air force?Cuz I'm not. :lol:
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Postby Marcus Wendel on 18 Apr 2003 18:56

I found Victors post interesting.

/Marcus
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Postby Aufklarung on 18 Apr 2003 19:15

I found Victors post interesting.

Daniel S
So did I. There is very little avail to me here(in English) about things like this that are probably little known anyway. Good post, Victor. Thanx
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Postby Daniel S. on 18 Apr 2003 19:28

You see,my post was intended to arouse interest on Victor's article.Of course it is interesting but until my 'wicked' comment nobody had something to say.
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Postby Victor on 19 Apr 2003 04:34

Daniel S. wrote:You see,my post was intended to arouse interest on Victor's article.Of course it is interesting but until my 'wicked' comment nobody had something to say.


This is the kind of thread where I post some info and people read it. Sometimes they have questions, sometimes not. But just because there are no replies, does not mean nobody read it. You just have to look at the number of people who accessed it. :wink:
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Postby Daniel S. on 19 Apr 2003 13:10

Victor wrote:
Daniel S. wrote:You see,my post was intended to arouse interest on Victor's article.Of course it is interesting but until my 'wicked' comment nobody had something to say.


This is the kind of thread where I post some info and people read it. Sometimes they have questions, sometimes not. But just because there are no replies, does not mean nobody read it. You just have to look at the number of people who accessed it. :wink:


OK,if you say... :)
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Postby Ti.P on 30 Apr 2003 08:09

Hey victor do you know anything like this about the bulgarian air force during the war. I jsut read a book from 1935 frmo a bulgiarian pilot who said that the bulgairna air force was comprised of planes and pilots of all nationalities. Aparantly they only had one plane and 4 pilots at the start of the war, shooting at this plane was soon dismissed by ground troops as the plane was sure to come down by itself 9 out of 10 times! so they aparantly inmported pilots and planes fmro france germany, USA, germany etc.
do you know anything about this?
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Postby Victor on 03 May 2003 19:57

Ti.P wrote:Hey victor do you know anything like this about the bulgarian air force during the war. I jsut read a book from 1935 frmo a bulgiarian pilot who said that the bulgairna air force was comprised of planes and pilots of all nationalities. Aparantly they only had one plane and 4 pilots at the start of the war, shooting at this plane was soon dismissed by ground troops as the plane was sure to come down by itself 9 out of 10 times! so they aparantly inmported pilots and planes fmro france germany, USA, germany etc.
do you know anything about this?


Sorry, I can't help you.
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Postby de_pasti on 14 Dec 2005 22:47

My street is called Petre Cretu. I've never been able to find information about this flyer
So Romania entered the was on 14th of August and he and Marasescu died on September the 4th. Poor them.
There is a book on Mircea Zorileanu and a monument in Dorobanti Embassies area.

But most important of all is Aurel Vlaicu. In 1903, while studying at the Politechnical School in Munchen he started building a plane with wing on springs which were moving. In 1908 he learns engines at Opel. In 1909 he goes to Paris to buy an engine and in 1910 he flew 40m at the height of 3-4 meters. He changed it the following month until he flew 4km and pretty high. That was as good as the other planes at that time in the world
He built another plane the next year (my grandpa was in highschool and remembers Vlaicu crossing the town on a motocycle to go to the warehouse where he was building the plane)
In 1912, at a competition near Viena he won the first place for shooting a projectile from the plane to a fix target, and the second price after Rolland Gaross for landing on a fix point
In 1913 he started building a third plane, this time all metalic. But he died with the second plane while trying to cross the Carpathian Mountains. He did not predict the currents and winds up there and lost control
Without Vlaicu there wouldn't have been such an enthusiastm for flying so early
He was really cheered up by the people of Bucuresti.
The other guys mentioned in that article are rich people Bibescu, Capsa, Protopopescu. They were probably taking it as a sport. Vlaicu made it his passion

The first person to cross Mediterana by plane was Smaranda Braescu, in 1931. And he had multiple record for parachute jumping
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Romanian AF in WWI

Postby Alter Mann on 24 Dec 2005 20:47

A lot more interesting things happened in the air during World War I than most people think. This information on the Romanian Air Force is another example. It seems that most of the information available on the air war during World War I concerns the actions that occurred in France and Belgium. There were several other areas where there was also extensive aerial activity.

I got interested in the other theaters when I read an article about radio communications from aircraft during World War I in Mesopotamia. Before I read that article I don't think I realized that any radio equipment was used from aircraft during World War I. Later I realized that the really interesting part of the article had to do with the fact that, unlike flying in France, it was very rare to encounter another aircraft over Mesopotamia. The flying conditions for Romania and the other countries in that region would have been completely different from the conditions in France although I am sure that there were more aircraft involved than in Mesopotamia.

Along the trench lines in France everything was very close. It would be unusual not to see troops in action or hostile aircraft. Navigation would probably not have been difficult during good weather. On other fronts conditions would have been very different. I am actually surprised at the number of aerial successes that the Romanian Air Force had during World War I. With the small number of aircraft in the area, on both sides, any encounter must've been noteworthy.

Thank you for the information.
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Re: The Romanian Air Corps in WWI

Postby reitchelazan on 06 Jun 2010 08:51

It seems to me that this post has almost the same 'succes' as my Romanian monarchy.Common people,there is nobody interested in Romanian WWI air force?Cuz I'm not. :lol:


I'm very intresting.
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Re: The Romanian Air Corps in WWI

Postby GeneralJack on 02 Feb 2011 18:02

Victor wrote:The Romanian Air Corps in WWI

The Romanian army was the second armed force in the world to use airplanes. In the autumn of 1910, during the Royal maneuvers, the engineer Aurel Vlaicu used the airplane he had designed and built to transport a message.

Two flight schools were created in 1911 near Bucharest, one by the lawyer Mihail Cerchez at Chitila (who also had a workshop where Farmans were being assembled) and the other one by prince Gheorge Valentin Bibescu at Cotroceni (which used Bleriot airplanes). These schools trained the first Romanian military pilots.

In September 1911, two sections took part in the maneuvers: 3 Farmans (mr. Ion Macri, slt. Stefan Protopopescu, slt Gheorghe Negrescu) and 3 Bleriots (lt. (r) Gheorge Valentin Bibescu, lt. Mircea Zorileanu, lt. Nicolae Capsa). The airplanes were used for reconnaissance missions and aerial photography and exceeded all expectations. The next year the number of aircraft used in the maneuvers increased to 8.

On 1 April 1913 the Parliament passed the Law for the organization of the military Aeronautics. It remained a part of the Engineer Corps. During the Second Balkan War that year the Aeronautics participated with 13 aircraft and 9 pilots.

After the beginning of WWI the process of training pilots was expanded. A flight instructor and aerial observer schools were created. On 31 August 1915 the Air Corps was formed, under the command of lt. col. Constantin Gavanescu. After one year Romania joined the war on the Entente side. The Air Corps had 91 pilots and 31 aircraft, mostly obsolete types. The orders placed in France would take some time to reach Romania through for various reasons (some very dubious). Thus the Romanian pilots limited themselves to reconnaissance missions, providing vital information for the Romanian High Command. They had to face modern Central Powers fighters with only the rifle the observers carried with them. There were also some "bombing" raids, but with poor results, due to the lack of targeting or launch systems. The first operational loss was on 4 September 1916, when lt. av. Ioan Marasescu and slt. av. Petre Cretu were shot down at Talmaciu by enemy AAA.

In October 1916 arrived the French Military Mission. The French Air Force had sent 42 officers, 45 NCOs, 36 corporals and 162 soldiers and civilians. They played an important role in the reorganization of the Romanian Air Corps during the terrible winter of 1916/1917. Also 100 modern aircraft finally arrived from France: 41 Nieuport BB, 38 Farman 40, 18 Breguet-Michelin and 3 H. Farman. Several other aircraft were flown in from Salonik.

Three groups were created:

1st Group: 2 observation squadrons (Farman 2 and Farman 6) and one fighter squadron (Nieuport 1)
2nd Group: one observation squadron (Farman 4) and one fighter squadron (Nieuport 3)
3rd Group: one observation squadron (Farman 5) and one fighter squadron (Nieuport 10)

The High Command had at its disposal another two squadrons: Farman 7 and BM 8.

The activity started in February 1917. The Farman squadrons flew many recon and artillery correction missions. For example, the Farman 4 squadron totaled 100 missions in the February - March period.

The bomber squadron (BM 8) executed several raids against the port and railway station of Braila, managing even to sink a transport vessel in the night of 31 March. 10 Farmans and Nieuport were joined by a Caudron G4 on 19 May for a raid on the Campurile railway station and hit a munitions train. On 6 June a Farman 40 flown by cpt. Mircea Zorileanu bombed the barracks in Brasov and the next day 5 Farman 40s hit a troop train in the Campurile station and a factory complex. These are only a few examples of the intense activity the Romanian and French pilots, which I somebody hope to make a term paper.

Because of operational needs the 2nd Group (assigned to the 1st Romanian Army in the Marasesti area) was reinforced in June with the Farman 7 and Farman 9 observation squadrons (equipped with Farman 40s), the Nieuport 11 fighter squadron (equipped with Nieuport 11 and 17s) and the Caudron 12 long range recon squadron. The BM 8 bomber squadron was assigned to the 3rd Group.

During the fierce battle of Marasesti the 2nd Group flew a total of 467 missions.

During the autumn as the fighting lost in intensity, so did the number of missions.

The Romanian pilots shot down 14 enemy airplanes and dropped 23,871 kg of bombs. 185 recon and 703 artillery correction missions were flown. The French pilots in Romania obtained 13 victories. The most successful fighter squadron was Nieuport 3.

I hope these few rows give a general idea of the activity of the Romanian Air Corps during WWI.

Bibliography: Jurnalul Escadrilei Nieuport 3 - Jurnal de front 1916-1917, Editura Militara, 1986


The best part of this story in my budding mind is simply the fact that this Romanian squadron had the heart to build up its forces and play with the big boys. Especially after they way they started with only 9 pilots and 13 aircraft. This is something that would be very discouraging to most during a time of all out war, but it seems Romania was determined to contribute to the process and built up a reputable air force. Great thread here, I learned something new today!
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Re:

Postby Averescu on 13 Feb 2011 10:21

Daniel S. wrote:It seems to me that this post has almost the same 'succes' as my Romanian monarchy.Common people,there is nobody interested in Romanian WWI air force?Cuz I'm not. :lol:

great
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