28 April 2013

Croatian Air Force Legion (HZL) Aircrew Celebrating the Unit's 1,000th Sortie Over the Eastern Front

Image size: 1140 x 1600 pixel. 404 KB
Date: Wednesday, 16 September 1942
Place: Soviet Union
Photographer: Unknown

Croatian Air Force Legion (HZL) aircrew pose in front of their Dornier Do 17Z bomber in recognition of the unit's 1,000th sortie over the Eastern Front, 16 September 1942. The unit returned to the NDH in December 1942. The Dornier Do 17 was numerically the most important bomber type used by the ZNDH. The Croatian Air Force (Croatian: Hrvatsko bojno zrakoplovstvo), originally the Air Force of the Independent State of Croatia (Zrakoplovstvo Nezavisne Države Hrvatske, ZNDH), was the air force of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), a puppet state established with the support of the Axis Powers during World War II. The ZNDH was founded under German authority in April 1941. Although it could not be considered a large air arm in the wider context of World War II, the ZNDH nonetheless had on its charge at one time or another some 650 aircraft between April 1941 and May 1945, as well as anti-aircraft and paratroop units. From humble beginnings in 1941, the ZNDH was still providing some measure of air-support (fighter, attack and transport) until the last days of World War II in Europe. During the middle part of 1941, some of the ZNDH's man-power capacity was sent to the Eastern Front as part of the Luftwaffe, the Croatian Air Force Legion (Hrvatska Zrakoplovna Legija, HZL; Kroatische Luftwaffen Legion). Most of the Croatian Air Force Legion's personnel were back on NDH territory by late 1943-early 1944 to help counter the growing Allied air threat. A Croatian Anti-Aircraft Legion was also deployed. The ZNDH maintained a flying school, originally at Rajlovac airfield near Sarajevo and then at Velika Gorica and Pleso airfields in Zagreb. Its parachute and paratroop school was located in Koprivnica, and its scout (fighter) school was located in Zagreb.


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