Baptism of Fire: The First Combat Experiences of the Royal Hungarian Air Force and Slovak Air Force, (BOK)
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This story is just a short episode from the turbulent history of Central Europe in the 20th Century, one that is hardly known outside the countries concerned. This short conflict was hushed up even in the German media in 1939, because the Third Reich tried to avoid clashes between their potential allies, and were especially angry because of the independent Hungarian military action against Slovakia, with at least one ethnic German Slovak civilian killed as a result of the fighting. Sub-Carpathia (also known as Transcarpathia or Ruthenia) was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary for a thousand years, but Hungary lost it after World War I, and Sub-Carpathia became part of Czechoslovakia until March 1939. Between 1939 and 1944 it was a part of Hungary again, but the Soviet Red Army captured it in the late autumn of 1944. On 26 November 1944 a Soviet-manipulated congress declared the 'return' of this area to the Soviet Union and its name was changed to Zakarpatska Ukraina (although this territory had never been a part of any Eastern European Slavic state before, except for the short-lived West Ukrainian People's Republic in 1918-19). After World War II, in June 1945, a treaty was signed between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, ceding Sub-Carpathia to the Soviet Union. Since the Soviet Union's dissolution in 1991, this territory is now part of the independent Ukraine. In Sub-Carpathia, there was a continuous Rusyn ethnic majority (the Rusyns are not Russians or Ukrainians, they are an independent Slavic ethnic group). In 1939, Hungary occupied its former territory, Sub-Carpathia, supported by its reconnaissance and bomber forces. When the Hungarian troops entered what Slovakia regarded as its territory, a short but fierce clash started between the contending air forces. Slovak planes strafed and bombed Hungarian ground troops on 23 March 1939, but the heaviest clashes happened on the very next day, when extensive air-to-air combat occurred. Clashes saw Hungarian Fiat CR.32s come up against Slovak Avia fighters and Letov reconnaissance and light attack planes. Also on that day, Hungarian Ju 86 bombers raided the main Slovak air base. The majority of Hungarian materials relating to the combat have been lost or destroyed, so author Csaba Becze has put in a Herculean effort to construct this account. The text contains details of the historical background to the conflict, a full account of the combat, as well as notes on Hungarian aviators decorated for their performance, short biographies of Hungarian aviators credited with aerial victories, and a list of Hungarian aerial victories. Besides this, the book contains over 100 rare and mostly previously-unpublished images, as well as a selection of superb colour profiles showing camouflage and markings for the aircraft of both air forces.