The beginnings of the Hungarian Air Force can be traced to the Austro-Hungarian Air Force. Hungarian aviators took part in the First World War, and pilots such as Ferenc Gräser, István Fejes and József Kiss became aces. After the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 Hungary was for a short time a communist republic – however, the Hungarian Soviet Republic, which operated a small Hungarian Red Air Force, collapsed on August 1st 1919.
The Treaty of Trianon, signed on the 4th of June 1920, effectively banned Hungary from having it's own air force. However, similarly to Germany and Austria, the Kingdom of Hungary began rebuilding their own air force, disguising it as private air clubs. This fact was revealed to the world in 1938 when the Bled agreement revoked the arms restrictions placed on Hungary after Trianon. At the time, the Royal Hungarian Air Force's main fighter was the Italian made Fiat CR.32, with the German Junkers Ju-86 serving as the main bomber. A small Hungarian force was then dispatched to Czechoslovakia, with the aim of supporting ground units in the capture of the Upper Hungary province.
At first, Hungary did not actively participate in the Second World War. This did not stop it from upgrading its air force, replacing some of the CR.32 fighters with newer CR.42 models. On 20th November 1940, Prime Minister of Hungary Pál Teleki signed the Tripartite Act, which brought Hungary in line with other Axis powers. The Hungarians took part in the Invasion of Yugoslavia by sending the Third Army to occupy Vojvodina. The Hungarian Air Force would find itself in the thick of the action again after Germany invaded the Soviet Union on the 22nd June 1941.
The Royal Hungarian Air Force quickly found itself fighting on the Eastern Front with the Red Army Air Force. At the time some units were starting to retire their old CR.32 and CR.42 biplanes, with the replacement of another Italian fighter – the Reggiane Re.2000.
The heavy fighting on the Eastern Front took its toll on the Hungarians, with a lot of their original aircraft being shot down in fierce fights over Ukraine. However, Germany quickly set about rearming its ally – in October 1942, most units were reinforced with new German aircraft – Bf 109F-4 fighters, Ju87 dive bombers and Me210 heavy fighters.
The Bf109's were later upgraded to the G-2, and finally the G-6 version as the war progressed. Soon, the Hungarians had not only to fight in the USSR, but also defend their country from US bombing raids aimed at Hungarian industry. The top scoring ace of the Hungarian Air Force, Dezső Szentgyörgyi, ended the war with 29 confirmed victories, 6 of which against US aircraft.
The Royal Hungarian Air Force was disbanded after the fighting in Hungary ended, as the country was now in the Soviet sphere of influence. The new air force was supplied by the Soviet Union, with aircraft such as the MiG-15, Il-28 and MiG-21 forming the spearhead of their force for decades to come. Today, the Hungarian Air Force operates Swedish JAS-39 Gripen fighters in addition to post-Soviet MiG-29 aircraft.
Adam “BONKERS” Lisiewicz
The Development of the B-29 Superfortress was a true triumph of technical and scientific genius, the design was a generation ahead of any bomber at the time of it’s introduction. The aircraft was designed by the Boeing Corporation as a true strategic bombing platform. it’s endurance, altitude and payload was beyond any other aircraft of it’s day, and was truly a contender for the title of greatest bomber of World War 2.
The level of technical innovation and groundbreaking engineering that went into this aircraft was unparalleled. The enormous airframe was distinct leap ahead of previous Boeing efforts with the decision to make it a pressurised fuselage groundbreaking in aviation and resulted in the tubular fuselage with round, stepless nose. The engines were also of an ingenious design, the long and costly development process of the Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone took the engineers considerable time and effort to get working and the engines were never truly reliable enough. To achieve the desired high altitude and speed an efficient high aspect-ratio wing was introduced but came at the cost of high landing speeds and aircraft handling that required pilots to be at the top of their game. The B-29’s turret fire control system was by far the most advanced weapons computer ever designed for aircraft at that time. That and many other new advanced systems made it the most advanced aircraft anywhere.
The Aircraft we know today as the Boeing B-29 Superfortress had its official beginning on the 5th of February 1940, when the United States Air Corps requested submissions for a bomber design with a speed of 400 miles per hour and the ability to carry a ton of bombs for 5,300 miles, provision was also to be made for a maximum bomb capacity of 20,000 pounds for shorter distances.
The prototype XB-29-BO would take to the air from Boeing Field in Seattle on September 21, 1942, with Boeings Head of Research and Chief testing Engineer, Eddie Allen at the controls. The flight though nail biting and fraught with danger was ultimately successful, but the flight revealed the dangers and complexities of the aircraft, the performance tests would continue at a rapid pace, On February 18, 1943 the second prototype XB-29 took off from the Boeing test field for a routine set of engine tests with Eddie Allen and a crew of 10 technicians and engineers, the creme of Boeings technical staff. Shortly after takeoff Allen radioed that he had an engine fire on board and was returning to make an emergency landing.
Unfortunately the the fire spread rapidly and the aircraft lost power to an engine, low and slow, the B-29 ploughed into the Frye Meat packing plant, the ensuing inferno claimed all those aboard and 19 civilians on the ground. Despite this tragedy and the tragic loss of Eddie Allen, the B-29 would continue development, but under the control of the USAAF. The massive production effort to produce the mammoth aircraft was matched with an intense training program, and as B-29s began rolling out of brand-new factories, so did the pilots, air and ground crew needed to get the bomber into the air.
The B-29 became the B-50, which then evolved into the C-97 Stratofreighter, KC-97 Stratotanker, and 377 Stratocruiser, and finally a few became Aero Spacelines Guppy series still serving NASA today, 75 years after the B-29 was first conceived. Lets not forget the Russian Tu-4.
There is no question as to the significant contribution made to the war by this aircraft, the design, its manufacture and use defined strategic air power into the 21st century.
Aaron “anglomanii” Lentz