INTRODUCTION

The iconic Messerschmitt Bf 109 roamed the skies over the Balkans for fourteen years with eight different air forces, while Yugoslav pilots flew it across the European continent, from the Bay of Biscay, over East Prussia and Ukraininan steppe, till the foothills of the Caucasus. This book is a sequel to the first volume, which told the story of the best fighter in the inventory of the Royal Yugoslav Air Force, and a mainstay of the Luftwaffe fighters operating over Yugoslavia. It follows in unprecedented detail the path of the Croat Air Force Legion fighter component, which fought on the Eastern Front both at the time of easy victories and against the overwhelming might of the Red Air Force as a part of the crack JG 52. It covers the acquisition and service of the most modern aircraft of the Air Force of the puppet Independent State of Croatia. It also describes the changing fortunes of the Bulgarian airmen that flew the Bf 109 over Yugoslavia in their war against the Allies and then the Germans. It chronicles the emergence of the Partisan guerrilla air force and its trophy fighters, and then the unexpected post-war return of the German engineering masterpiece into the skies of the Yugoslav Republic. Illustrated with 37 aircraft profiles and 252 photographs, the vast majority of which are published for the first time, this book represents the result of four decades of painstaking research. It is drawn from extensive archival sources, numerous interviews and personal recollections, as well as documents and artifacts from private collections in Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Czechia, South Africa, New Zealand, United States, United Kingdom, Belgium and Italy.