The First Romanian Pilot on a Twin-Engined Jet Fighter

The following is our translation of a book[1] fragment where Tudor Greceanu describes an important event in his professional life.

By the end of the war, in 1945, the Allied Control Commission in Germany asked for an air show to be organized at Wiener Neustadt. German military aircraft of all types were to participate. Because Romanian aviation operated German aircraft and in order to avoid the participation of German pilots, the Commission asked that each type of aircraft be presented by the best pilots who were familiar with the planes. I was assigned to present Messerschmitt 109 G, the last model I had flown.

It is at Wiener Neustadt that I saw for the first time in my life a Messerschmitt 262 turbojet fighter[2]. The jet’s pilot was a German factory test pilot. In the absence of state’s purchase orders (only ten planes had been produced), the aircraft had been flown by the factory’s test pilots. The test pilot, a German officer named Dickfeld, was under the obligation to fly without German insignia and without the “Deutsches Adler”. I had already worked as a test pilot for Messerschmitt factory, for Land und See and in Romania for IAR[3]. And I knew Dickfeld[4].

The commander of the Inter-Allied Control Commission unit, an American colonel, sent for me in the evening and asked me if I could fly the Messerschmitt 262. With the arrogance of youth (I was 26 and a Captain), I replied: “Certainly, a fighter pilot should be able to fly any type of aircraft”. The Colonel told me to get in contact with Dickfeld and to replace him in the presentation of 262, after having presented the Messerschmitt 109G. I replied that I first needed to take a test flight. I got permission to execute the test flight at 4 a.m.; in the afternoon I was supposed to present it in front of the Commission.

Dickfeld agreed; he was glad to avoid the humiliation of having to fly without his military insignia. He then showed me how various instruments differed and at 4 a.m. I took the test flight with Messerschmitt 262. It reached 1150 km/h, had a flight range of approx. 1000 km enormous fuel consumption, a vertical climb speed of 1000 metres per minute and 2 x 37 mm cannons. The test flight took 7-8 minutes, I did a little acrobatics and then, at noon the same day I took the presentation flight. I was the first Romanian pilot to fly a turbojet fighter.

[1]Pages 124 – 126 of the “Road of the Few: Memoirs of a Fighter Pilot”

[2] Author’s note: Messerschmitt 262, the world’s first operational turbojet aircraft, was built by the Germans and was considered one of the Third Reich’s secret weapons. It was the greatest aerospace engineering achievement of that time. Even military experts of the anti-Nazi coalition expressed the opinion that serial production of Me 262 would have brought Germany immediate air supremacy. Fortunately for the Allies, Hitler would make a fatal error: he was not convinced by the new fighter qualities and on his orders the building of the classical aircraft continued.

[3] Translators’s note: Industria Aeronautică Română – the first Romanian aircraft manufacturer; established in 1925.

[4] Translator’s note: Tudor Greceanu had met Lt. Dickfeld during the German – Romanian joint training in March 1941. At page 68 of his book, Greceanu writes: “I was assigned a young German lieutenant, Dickfeld, who had only 100 flight hours on Messerschmitt 109 and who had not yet taken active part in the war. He was sent as replacement after the losses suffered by his unit in fight. Though young, he was very well trained and “very German”. Extremely polite and kind, especially after having realized that I mastered well his language, Dickfeld spent two hours with me and we discussed the way we were trained, the basis of our training as fighter pilots and the aircraft technical problems.

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