Bf109E3 – the Royal Yugoslav Air Force
The third decade of 20th century was world’s turbulent turning point. Germany was ruled by total dictatorship, Italy was finding way into world’s politics, Britany and France were asleeped…and everyone was rearming and arming for the upcoming conflict in Europe and in the world. Serbia was part of outdated kingdom which lost king Aleksandar Karadjordjevic in 1934. who was killed by separatist during his visit to friendly France. After his death his nephew prince Pavle gained control over kingdom. Althought he was oriented towards Britain he saw real threat from Germany and he was trying to make good politic arrangements with it. One of his plans was to rearm gravely outdated Yugoslavian army. After heroic battles in WWI our army was in very bad condition, outdated in every possible way. By 1930 the Royal Yugoslav Airforce was numbered amongst the ten largest and best equipped air forces in the world. But, in the early 1930s we saw that our airforce was outdated by faster and deadlier monoplanes. Our fleet consisted of Breguet XIXs, Potez 25s and Dewoitines… General M. Nedic and prime minister Milan Stojadinovic knew that we had to renew airforce. First attempt was to engineer domestic plane, that planes were Ik3 fighter and Ikarus Orkan Destroyer, but they weren’t good enough.
After some negotiations with Britain we bought Hawker Hurricanes, then Capronis from Italy. But we needed modern fighter planes and bombers. Obvious choises were Dorniers, Heinkels and, of course… Messerschmitts Bf109… After tough negotiations Yugoslavia bought licence for manufacturing Do 17, and we signed contract for some 100 Bf109E3 fighter planes. Althought contract was signed we didn’t get all the planes in one batch. It took long 3 years for almost all Bf’s to arrive.
Pilots were selected from elite units to retrain. At first they flew in Taifuns (Bf 108), then they were transferred to pilot Bf 109s. Althougth they trained hard it was almost impossible to be prepared for the upcoming conflict.
Yugoslavian planes were mainted in excellent condition, there weren’t almost any scratches, blotches, dirt… They were painted in RLM 70 and RLM 65, but in RLM 02 inside. Machines were signed with L letter and number (L – 8, L – 46, L -52…). main force was stanioned around Belgrade, in Zemun, Krusedol and Vojvodina, Kraljevo…
In 1941, during the Easter morning of the 6th of april mass force of German fighters, dive bombers and bombers gather in Austria, Hungary, Romania and Bulgary for the so called punishment of Serbia due to demonstrations agains the pact with Germany. Couple of thousands of planes attacked Belgrade and key army instalataions in Serbia, althougth the real state consisted of several countries, only Serbia received mass destruction. During the attack many schools, churches, cultural objects were destroyed, countless civilians died…
Althought our airforce was gravely outnumbered almost all of our pilots scrambled to defend Kingdom. Under command of cpt. Zunjic they tried to defend destroyed homeland. Amongst them was fighter pilot Milutin Grozdanovic and his L – 52 Bf109E3. He flew few sorites and claimed on Ju87,but during the landing he was severely wounded, fortunately he survived and lived until 1995. His commander cpt Zunjic was very commited to defend his capital city and claimed few victories, but he was shoot. He menaged to paraschute from burning plane, but crews of German Heinkels and Stukas shoot him, although he wasn’t war target after jumping from plane. He died as a hero. Some 85 Yugoslav Bf109s were destroyed, but they menaged to destroy almost 100 German planes. Belgrade was annihilated from the sky, but heroic pilots, even they didn’t stand any chance, died as a real heroes defending their homeland and capital city.
I choose to do Airfix kit in 1/48 scale to honor the fallen heroes of the 6th of april 1941. I bought E3 and started making it OOB. One advantage was that in the box were decals of the L – 52 machine piloted by the cpt. Milutin Grozdanovic. Decal were fine at first, but very diggicult to struggle after trying to put them on the miodel. They are manufactured by cartograf and I didn’t expect from them so much trouble. I had Lift Here decals for Yugoslav Me’s but I was stubborn and I made the model with Cartgraf decals. Airfix kit is rebox and rebox and rebox… from their welknown E3 model. Beginners model with ok details, but without many rivets etc. I’ve ordered Eduard’s Bf 109E3 profipack with full addons and details so I didn’t want to scratch rivets, details, engine… Straight forward build without many problems,I had to use putty only once. After Eduard’s Bf 110 Profipack kit this build was real joy in the sun, easy as a pie I painted model with Vallejo colors from Model Air, Varnished with Lucky Varnish (MISTAKE!, varnish was terrible for me in this case, I was thinking about Winsor & Newton Glossy varnishe and I make decision to use Lucky Varnish, biiiig mistake)… Decals needed muuuuuch Microsol/set and whatever I tried they silvered… I drilled gun barrels, intakes and few more parts for greater realism. So… I know that Bf109s in Yugoslav service were maintaned escellent but I was bored with monotone camouflage scheme and I decided to do just a little bit of weathering… I’ve done postshading with RLM 71 in the panellines. Thanm I’ve sprayed mixture of 3 to 1 RLM 70 and white. I’ve menaged to kill silvering of decals. Than I’ve used Ak panelliners, Tamiya accent colors and, of course, great Abteilung 502 oils. I painted pronounced and raised details with olive green oil and blended it into main color. Thane I’ve done some shading with Raw Umber. I didn’t want to do any scratches because I havent founded them on reference photos…
So, this is my attempt to do Yugoslav Bf109E3. I had so much troubles finding references because there are just few. I bought excellent book from Serbian modelers and publicists “Messerchmitt Bf 109, the Yugoslav Story” and it gave me excellent refs. Also, I menaged to find some blueprints from 1939. with markings and coloring of Bf109s in Yugoslav exploations. I’m waiting for Eduard’s Profipack edition of E3 and I will give it full attention for making another Yugoslav Me, it would be in marking of L – 46, cpt cmnd. Zunjic.
Sorry for long text and many mistakes, I work as a teacher in Elementary school and I’m posting this in 2 AM
Cheer and feel free to comment!
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