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Pilot profiles
cpt. av. Horia Agarici
lt. av. Florin Alexiu
lt. av. Tudor Andrei
lt. av. Titus Axente
lt. av. Mircea "Gicu" Badulescu
lt. cdor. av. Corneliu Batacui
slt. av. Constantin Balta
adj. av. Mihai Belcin
lt. av. Emil Boian
lt. av. Romulus Bucsa
cpt. av. (r) Constantin "Bâzu" Cantacuzino
adj. av. Dumitru Chera
lt. av. Serghei Ciachir
lt. av. Ioan Cioroiu
slt. av. Vasile Claru
adj. av. Nicolae Cojocaru
cpt. av. Petre Coles
lt. av. Decebal "Desi" Constantinescu
cdor. av. George Davidescu
adj. av. Traian Dârjan
cpt. av. Dumitru Deica
cpt. av. (r) Ioan Dicezare
lt. av. Ion Dobran
lt. av. Gheorghe Dobrescu
lt. av. Constantin Dragomir
cpt. av. Boris Ferderber
adj. sef av. Spridon Focsaneanu
lt. av. Ioan Galea
lt. av. Vasile Gavriliu
slt. av. Rene Gânescu
slt. av. Costin Georgescu
lt. av. Emil Georgescu
lt. av. Gheorghe "Gâga" Georgescu
cpt. av. Marin Ghica
lt. av. Teodor Greceanu
lt. av. Eusebie Hladiuc
adj. maj. av. Dumitru Ilie
lt. av. Gabriel Ionescu
adj. maj. av. Petre Ionescu-Conta
adj. stg. av. Aurelian Livovschi
of. ec. cls. III Ioan Maga
lt. av. Tanase Mancu
cpt. av. Alexandru Manoliu
adj. av. Ioan Marinciu
cpt. av. Eugen "Matra" Marinescu
slt. av. Nicolae Sixtus Maxim
of. echip. cls. III av. Ion Milu
lt. av. Gheorghe Mociornita
lt. av. Lazar Munteanu
slt. av. Vasile Nasturas
lt. av. Traian "Ciocan" Nicolae
slt. av. Dumitru Pasare
adj. maj. av. (r) Vasile Pascu
lt. av. Alexandru Paun
lt. av. (r) Nicolae Polizu-Micsunesti
lt. av. Horia Pop
cpt. av. Gheorghe Popescu-Ciocanel
adj. av. Victor Popescu
lt. cdor. av. Alexandru "Popicu" Popisteanu
cpt. av. Eusebie Popovici
cpt. av. Traian Popteanu
cpt. av. Ion Profir
adj. sef av. Stefan "Grecu" Pucas
cpt. av. Craciun "Sbilt" Salajan
cpt. cdor. av. Ioan Sandu
cpt. av. Wilhelm Schmaltz
cpt. av. Dorin Sculi
adj. stg. av. (r) Niculae Sculy Logotheti
cpt. av. Alexandru Serbanescu
adj. sef av. Nicolae Stan
lt. av. Virgil "Ghinghi" Stanculescu
lt. av. Dragos Stinghe
lt. av. Dan Stoian
cpt. av. Gheorghe Stroici
cpt. av. Virgil Trandafirescu
slt. av. (r) Sorin Tulea
slt. av. Florin Vasilovschi
adj. av. (r) Tiberiu Vinca
cpt. av. Dan Vizanti
slt. av. Ion Vonica
lt. av. Ion Dobran

Fighter Pilot

Born: 5 February 1919, Valeni Podgoria

Units:

  • 19 April 1942 - 9 May 1945: 9th Fighter Group
  • 14 August - 26 October 1943: 7th Fighter Group
  • 26 October 1943 - 9 May 1945: 9th Fighter Group

Combat missions: 340

Victories: 10 + 3 probable + 1 on the ground

Decorations:

  • Virtutea Aeronautica Order Knight class

He presently lives in Bucharest

Biography:

Ion Dobran was born on 5 February 1919, in Valeni Podgoria. He finished the elementary school in Bucharest, the military high-school in Târgu Mures and, on 10 May 1941, the School of Air Force Officers in Bucharest.

Until October 1941, slt. av. Ion Dobran was assigned to the Fighter School in Ghimbav and then sent to the 48th Squadron (9th Fighter Group), which was equipped with IAR-80s. After the first USAAF raid (Operation Halpro), the 9th Fighter Group was given the mission, along with other groups, to defend the territory. In March 1943, the IAR-80s are replaced by Bf-109Gs and, in August, the 9th Fighter Group started to gradually replace the 7th Fighter Group. In the first phase, 10 pilots were sent to the front (on 14 August) and then came the rest after a few months. Slt. av. Ion Dobran was among these men.

Profile courtesy of Bogdan Patrascu

Lt. av. Ion Dobran flew this IAR-80 during 1942, when the 9th Fighter Group was equipped with this type of aircraft.

His first mission was on 15 August (the second day) and with a little luck could have been also his first kill, even though they were 2 against 8 Yaks. But the day wasn't over. The Soviets attacked the airfield with Il-2s and Yaks, but without results. They came again during the night with Po-2s. These were called the "disturbing squadrons" by the Romanian pilots, because the bombs usually fell far from the base. They only disturbed their sleep. But after a while, Dobran got used to it.

His first kill came on 6 September 1943. It was an Il-2 from a formation that just had attacked the airfield. The second one came on 25 September. He was on an escort mission and the Stukas were attacked by Yaks. After the second burst of the 20 mm cannon, a part of the Soviet's wing fell off.

On 23 October, the 9th Fighter Group completely replaced the 7th Fighter Group, but 14 pilots remained in the new group. They were the best pilots Romania had then: Cantacuzino, Serbanescu, Milu, Greceanu, Mucenica and others.

Slt. av. Dobran's first kill in 1944 was on 26 February, when he was on patrol as Serbanescu's wingman. It was the third mission that day. Near Krivoirog they engaged 6 Yaks. Serbanescu missed one, but Dobran followed up and it took him only one burst of his 20 mm MG 151 gun to send him to the ground.

Profile courtesy of Bogdan Patrascu

Lt. av. Ion Dobran flew this Bf-109G4 when it was damaged on 1 October 1943. Dobran was part of the 7th Fighter Group

In March he was promoted to lieutenant and in April the 9th FG was on the Tecuci airfield, in Romania. During the summer of 1944, the flew missions against the Americans and the Soviets. On his first dogfight over national territory, Dobran shot down a Yak-7 on 11 April. On 17, after a regular battle with over 30 Sturmoviks and their escorts, he was credited with a probable Il-2.

11 May was a busy day for lt. av. Ion Dobran. In the first mission of the day the six Romanian Bf-109Gs engaged several Soviet La-5s. They attacked from a dive. Because of the high speed of the airplane, Dobran was unable to correct his fire and the enemy got away. On the second mission they encountered other La-5s. This time he maneuvered properly and shot one down. He also spotted a Pe-2 formation and he approached it, but when he tried to fire, the weapons didn't work.

Another memorable day was 30 May. He was Cantacuzino's wingman. They engaged 8 Aircobras. Dobran wrote in his diary that the ace simply played with them. The Soviets managed to get only in 90 degrees angles and shoot. On the third mission, Dobran got a chance, but he blew it. In the fourth mission they encountered 12 Il-2s protected by 8 Yaks. They dove firing at the escorts, which immediately took evasive actions, living the road to the bombers unguarded. Dobran added one of them to his kill list, but he hardly got way.

On 6 June, the 9th Fighter Group flew for the first time against the Americans. Lt. av. Dobran was playing bridge with Mucenica, Senchea and Simionescu, when the alarm was given. They took off quickly and because of this rush, he ended up without a wingman. He saw the USAAF formation and then he realized that he was alone. Below him were four monoplanes and first thought they were Gustavs from 56th Fighter Squadron. When he got closer he recognized the Mustangs. They were flying like they were at a parade. Dobran dived and fired at the one on the right. Smoke started to come out of the airplane. The others dispersed. He went for the bombers, but he fired from distance, because the Mustangs were closing in. He plunged down and managed to shake off two of them after some aerobatics. But the one that remained shot him down. Apparently the Mustang he claimed as a probable, was flown by 2lt. Barrie Davis (6 kills), who managed to arrive with his badly damaged aircraft to Mirogorod in the Ukraine. The USAAF fighter pilot who shot Dobran down that day was 1lt. Wayne Lowry (11 kills).

Profile courtesy of Bogdan Patrascu

Lt. av. Ion Dobran was shot down in this aircraft on 6 June 1944, following an epic dogfight with P-51s

Dobran's next kill came on 26 July, the "black day" of the 9th Fighter Group. Serbanescu and Cantacuzino were in Bucharest, so cpt. av. Popescu-Ciocanel was in charge. The radar station announced that a formation of about 20 bombers were near Bârlad and that they had almost no escort. In fact there many, many fighters. The Romanian pilots shot down 11 P-38s, but lost 7 planes. More important was the loss of 6 good pilots: adj. av. Pavel Turcanu, adj. av. Emil Balan and adj. av. Alexandru Economu ( all KIA). Cpt. av. Popescu-Ciocanel died because of his wounds on 12 August. Mucenica and Radulescu remained in hospitals for a long time. Only lt. av. Ion Dobran wasn't even scratched when he was shot down that day.

But the most sad day of the 9th FG and of the ARR was 18 August. Serbanescu took him as his wingman. They were 13 in total. They engaged a swarm of Mustangs. During the dogfight, the ace maneuvered quickly and left Dobran a lot behind him. A Mustang got on his tail. Adj. av. Traian Dârjan told Serbanescu to watch out, but he did nothing. The American fired and "Yellow 1" Bf-109G went to the ground. He communicated that day only with the ground control. Probably his radio was malfunctioning and he didn't hear his wingmen.

On 20 August, lt. av. Dobran was on patrol as Bâzu Cantacuzino's wingman. They both got a Yak. After 23 August, when Romania requested an armistice, the Germans started bombing Bucharest and the 7th and 9th Fighter Groups were brought in to intercept the enemy. Thus, on 25, Dobran shot down a He-111H. This was his last kill in the air.

In September, the 9th Fighter Group was in Transylvania, together with the rest of the Romanian Air Corps, fighting against the Luftwaffe and MKHL. On 15, the group attacked a Hungarian airfield near Cluj. Lt. av. Ion Dobran destroyed a Re-2000 on the ground.

Picture courtesy of gen. Ioan Dobran

Lt. av. Ioan Dobran in the cockpit of his Bf-109G

He fought all the way to Czechoslovakia, through Hungary, but there were very few Germans and Hungarians in the air at the end of 1944 and in 1945. On 9 May 1945 he flew his last two missions. He escorted a IAR-39 recon plane, that dropped propaganda leaflets, and then he flew in formation with cpt. av. Constantin Cantacuzino.

Lt. av. Ion Dobran had at the end of the war 340 missions, 74 dogfights, 10 confirmed victories in the air and one on the ground, plus another three unconfirmed. He had been shot down three times.

On 13 March 1946 he is promoted captain and on 7 June 1950 major. In 1952, Ion Dobran is fired, because he was an officer of the royal army and not suited for the new "people's" army. He is qualified as a lathe-operator in the "Timpuri Noi" factory. But in 1964 he got lucky and returned to flying, but in the civilian aviation. In 1973 he retired from TAROM (the Romanian national airlines).

Bibliography: Vasile Tudor, "Un nume de legenda - Cpt. av. erou Alexandru Serbanescu", Editura MODELISM, 1998; Ion Dobran, "Junalul locotenentului Dobran", Editura MODELISM, 1998.

Read the interview with gen. de escadra av. (VR) Ioan Dobran

gen. Constantin Balta (left) and gen. Ioan Dobran (right)

Author: Victor Nitu
Sources:
Tudor V. Un nume de legenda - Cpt. av. erou Alexandru Serbanescu, Editura MODELISM, 1998

Dobran I. Junalul locotenentului Dobran, Editura MODELISM, 1998

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User Comments Add Comment
LUCIAN PETRESCU  (23 January 2010)
acest om este un erou,a luptat pentru patrie,intai contra rusilor si americanilor,pe un avion de vanatoare,iar dupa 23 august 1944,contra germanilor si ungurilor,iar dupa ce a fost indepartat din armata,in 1952,peste 10 ani,a fost incadrat in aviatia civila,de unde a iesit la pensie.Altii care au luptat in Est,au fost inchisi la Aiud pentu 17 ani!Am avut un coleg,inginerul SORIN TULEA,in proiectare la IPCM,care un a putut iesi la pensie,mult dupa ce a implinit 60 de ani,deoarece nu avea anii de vechime in munca necesari,cei 17 ani de inchisoare nefiind considerati.A fost unul din marii nostri alpinisti,inainte de razboi,iar in aprilie 1944,cand zbura pe un avion de bombardament,de tip Henkel parca,a fost doborat in lupta.Dupa 1964 abia,s-a putut incadra ca inginer,cand l-am cunoscut in 1977,era un inginer foarte bun,si un bun camarad.

Violeta Ionescu  (17 May 2006)
Cdor. Ion Dobran a participat în noiembrie 2004 la expozitia postumă a pictorului Ion Taralunga, organizată la Muzeul Miliar Bucuresti, ocazie cu care mi-a acordat un scurt interviu. Referitor la ziua de 6 iunie 1944, el spunea că aviatorul american pe care l-a doborat in aceasta zi deasupra Bolgradului ii trimetea in fiecare an, de 6 iunie, cu un generos fair play, aceste randuri: "Felicitari pentru 6 iunie 1944"...