The Yugoslav Air Force In The Battles For Slovenia, Croatia And Bosnia And Herzegovina,1991-1992 Volume 1

Published: January 24th, 2021     
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Author: Aleksandar Radić
Reviewed by: Frank Landrus - IPMS# 35035
ISBN #: 978-1-912866-35-9
Other Publication Information: Soft Bound ; 8.3” x 11.8”, 96 pages
Price: $29.95
Product / Stock #: HEL1125
Product provided by: Casemate Publishers

Aleksandar Radic is a Serbian military analyst and author. His primary focus is on the security topics of the West Balkans, the history of the armed forces, the military technology in that region in the 20th Century, and the conflicts that have followed the break-up of Yugoslavia in the period 1991-2001. He has authored a dozen books and hundreds of magazine articles published in the specialized press. Recently, Radic has frequently appeared as a military commentator for major TV stations in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Republic of Northern Macedonia. This is his second book for Helion's @War series.

Helion is a UK based company that produces books on many aspects of Military History from the Late Medieval period through to the present day. Helion was established in 1996, and since then they have published almost 1,200 books, with 100 or more new titles coming out every year, for readers around the world. Helion's fifth book in the Europe @ War series is a square back soft cover includes 96 gloss paper pages. This has become a popular series and more books in the Europe @ War series are planned for 2021.

The cover features a color photograph of a RV i PVO [Ratno vazduhoplovstvo i protivvazdusna odbrana] lineup on the tarmac. Front to rear are a Soko NJ-22 Orao (504), three Soko IJ-22 Oraos (710, 711, 712), a Soko G-2 Super Galeb (212), three Soko IJ-21 Jastrebs (421, 406, 407) of the 351st Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron, 82nd Aviation Brigade. The color side view by Tom Cooper is of a MiG-21PFM (s/n 22705), a favorite of the squadron due to its more powerful engine than most. The rear cover also depicts two color side profiles by Tom Cooper. The upper side profile is a Soko J-21 Jastreb which was one of the first aircraft to have the large white tactical numbers from its nose. The lower side profile is a SA.342L equipped for anti-tank operations serving with the 713th Anti-Tank Helicopter Squadron. I counted 7 color pictures, 123 black and white photographs, and one black and white diagram. There also 12 aviation color side profiles by Tom Cooper, four black and white maps, one full color map, and seven tables.

Aleksandar Radic brings his insight, first hand sources, and archival data into the series of wars that brought an end to Yugoslavia in 1992. Simmering ethnic conflicts and the rise of nationalism was not properly recognized by the ruling Communist party. The Slovenian and Croatian declaration of independence was the straw that broke the camel's back and the former Yugoslavia broke into a media-promoted civil war filed with street protests and ethnic cleansing. Yugoslavia since then has become Slovenia, North Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Croatia, and Montenegro. Focused on the aviation perspective, he covers the Yugoslavian Air Force from the end of the first World War to the fall of 1991. Volume 2 will cover the last five months RV i PVO that saw some of the most intense action in the air, and the RV i PVO's heaviest losses.

Aleksandar Radic kicks off with the ethnic and political background issues that originally created Yugoslavia in the aftermath of World War One. He addresses the issues that created many of the problems, including the aftermath of World War Two and the relationship with the USSR. The development of the Yugoslavian Air Force, its development, operations, and aircraft are also well detailed. The Order of Battle for the RV i PVO on 27-June-1991 addresses every unit, their aircraft, and their serial numbers / codes. As the war breaks out, despite a central command, there was a clear lack of direction and significant confusion. Aleksandar Radic addresses many of these initial incidents as the action ratchets up. The sections include:

  • RV i PVO Rank Comparison to USAF and RAF [Table]
  • Abbreviations
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  1. Background and Context
    • Royal Yugoslav Army Air Force
    • The Second World War and the Resurrected Yugoslav Air Force
    • Informburo Period
    • Drvar-1 and Drvar-2
    • Beginning of the End: Kosovo of 1981
    • Fading Unity
    • War Plans and Exercises
    • Explosion of Nationalism
    • Renewed Albanian Demonstrations
  2. RV i PVO On the Eve of the War
    • Distribution of Responsibilities
    • RV i PVO Aircraft Designations [Table]
    • RV i PVO Jet Engine Designations [Table]
    • MiG-21s and MiG-29s of the JRV i PVO, October 1990 [Table]
    • JRV i PVO in 1990 [Page 17]
    • MiGs of Yugoslavia
    • Novi Avion
    • Attack Aviation
    • Transport Aviation
    • Helicopters
    • Piston-Engined Aircraft
    • Competition for Weapons of the Slovenian TO
    • RV i PVO, Order of Battle, June 1991 [Table]
    • Flying Units Directly Subordinated to Military Districts [Table]
    • Ground-Based Air Defences
    • Build-Up of the Croatian Police
    • Knin Incident
    • Last-Minute Preparations
    • Final Meeting
    • Accidental Shooting
  3. War in Slovenia
    • First Clashes in Croatia
    • War Drums
    • Multi-Ethnic Command Structure
    • Croatian National Guard
    • War Atmosphere in Slovenia
    • First Clashes in Slovenia
    • Lifting Kragujs [Page 35]
    • Slovenian Independence
    • Early Chaos
    • Into the War
    • Methodical Procedure for Closing Border Crossings
    • Paratroopers at War
    • Tanks at Brnik IAP
    • The Loss of Two Helicopters
    • Escape with a Gazelle
    • Attack on Cerklje AB
    • First Combat Operations of the RV i PVO
    • First Ceasefire
    • Oraos Strafing
    • Demanding Retaliation
    • Renewed Fighting
    • Plan Grom and Political Settlement
    • Withdrawal from Slovenia
    • Disestablishment of 82nd Brigade
    • Aircraft of the Reorganized 238th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, August 1991 [Table]
    • Reorganization of Aerial Surveillance and Air Defence Units
      • Color Illustrations [Page 40iii]
  4. Crisis in Croatia
    • Intimidation [Page 53]
    • Summer Over Slavonia
    • Novi Cakovci Affair
    • Atmosphere of Limited Engagement
    • Second Wave of Defections
    • Iraqi Jets
    • Withdrawal From Threatened Air Bases
    • Removal of Tactical Numbers
    • Jastreb Down
    • Stormy Days
    • Operation Ajkula: Interception and Confiscation of a Boeing 707
  5. Counter-Air Operations
    • Beginnings of Sectarianism: Kurjaci sa Usca
    • The Hunt for An-2s
  6. All-Out War
    • Ground Fire Everywhere [Page 70]
    • Kadijevic's Plan
    • Yugoslavia's Electronic Warfare Aircraft
    • Croat War Plan
    • Trip Wire
    • Igalo Summit
    • Blockade of the Barracks
    • RV i PVO Against the Blockade
    • Labrador Affair
    • Aircraft of the JRV i PVO, 27 June 1991 [Table]
  • Bibliography
  • Notes

I found many of the topics very interesting. One that caught my attention occurred on the first and second days of the war in Slovenia. This was a blockade on a highway leading into Austria. The blockade, like most, consisting of railroad cars and 30-ton trailer-tractors filled with sand. Attempts were made to break through with T-55 main battle tanks, but to no avail. An airstrike was called in to try to break the roadblock but had no effect. A second strike set a few trucks ablaze, killing their drivers, and shot up a police station. While this was going on, the Yugoslavian aircraft violated Austrian air space multiple times, scrambling Austrian Saab J35O Draken interceptors. No interceptions were achieved, but it could have been interesting. Meanwhile on the ground, the T-55 tanks were running low on fuel and ammunition. This caused the commander of the tanks to surrender, providing the opposing force six function T-55 tanks that became their first tank unit.

Aleksandar Radic weaves a good story that balances all the combatants involved utilizing newly released information. The contemporary photographs support the text, and certainly give you a good perspective of the events described. It took me a week to read this volume due to the complexity of all the participants and locations involved. I found myself going back and looking at the maps and detailed tables to try and make sure I understood a lot of the precursors to combat operations. I am really looking forward to Volume 2 that focuses on the last five months of the war when the action really got going. If you own one the previous releases in Helion's "@ War" series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Helion & Company, Casemate Publishing, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035

  • Back Cover
    Back Cover
  • Page 17
    Page 17
  • Page 35
    Page 35
  • Page 53
    Page 53
  •  Page 40iii
    Page 40iii
  • Page 70
    Page 70

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