INTRODUCTION

The iconic Messerschmitt Bf 109 roamed the skies over the Balkans for fourteen years in the hands of aviators of eight different air forces, while Yugoslav pilots flew with it in an area that span from the Bay of Biscay to the Caucasus. A sequel to the first volume, which told the story of the best fighter in inventory of the Royal Yugoslav Air Force and Luftwaffe fighters operating over Yugoslavia, this book follows in unprecedented detail the path of the Croat Air Force Legion fighter component, which as a part of the crack JG 52 fought on the Eastern Front, both at the times of easy victories and against the overwhelming might of the Red Air Force. It covers the acquisition and service of the most modern fighter in the inventory of the Air Force of the puppet Independent State of Croatia, the changing fortunes of the Bulgarian airmen in the war against the Allies and then the Germans, a unique emergence of the Partisan guerilla air force and its booty fighters, and then the unexpected return of the German engineering masterpiece into the skies of the Yugoslav Republic. Illustrated with 37 aircraft profiles and 252 photographs, vast majority of which are published for the first time, this book represents the result of 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.