Author Topic: Romanian DAR 12  (Read 2234 times)

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Offline comrade harps

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Romanian DAR 12
« on: July 27, 2014, 04:35:05 am »

a/c 34, 85th Bomber Squadron, 3rd Bommber Group, Royal Romanian Air Force
Kerch, Crimea
August, 1943

In early 1938, the Royal Bulgarian Air Force acquired two Heinkel He 118 dive bombers for evaluation and in July issued a specification for a new tactical aircraft to fulfill the battlefield reconnaisance and light/dive bomber roles. Two aircraft manufacturers responded, Kaproni Bulgarski with its KB-11 Fazan and Darzhavna Aeroplanna Rabotilnica (DAR) with the DAR 10.  The competition was won by the KB-11, but DAR's chief designer, Tzvetan Lazarov, was undaunted. At the outset he labelled the official requirement as out-dated, but was told by company management to produce a design to match it. Stating that already he had the basis for a superior dive bomber (inspired by the He 188), management funded Lazarov to hire staff and students from Sofia University to bring his brag to reality.

The DAR 10 first flew in  December 1940, some three months after the KB-11, the Bulgarian government having instructed DAR's management to shift its priorities to the more promising DAR 11 (a licence-built Spitfre) fighter and private venture DAR 12 dive bomber. As the KB-11 was ordered into production, the DAR 10 effectively became a test bed for the DAR 12, the second DAR 10 prototype (first flown in March, 1941) featuring the DAR 12's retractable undercarriage.

As originally designed, the DAR 12 was to be powered by a German in-line engine, either the Junkers Jume 211 or a Daimler Benz DB601, but it soon became apparent the Germans would not export any of their engines for a Ju-87 competitor. The chosen replacement was the Italian Piaggio P.XII R.C.35 radial. The re-design was made remarkably painless and the DAR 12 first flew in July, 1941.

Bulgaria was neutral until 1 March, 1941, when, under threat of German invasion, the Bulgarian government joined the Axis powers by signing the Tripartite Pact. This released additional funding for DAR's aircraft developments, the priority being placed on bringing the DAR 12 unto production (KB-11 orders being cut from 60 to 38 on the same day that  50 DAR 12s were ordered) whilst Bulgarian industry geared-up for the more long-term prospect of building DAR 11 Spitfires without the help of Britain.

When Romania joined the Axis offensive into the nations of the Moscow Pact, the Romanian Air Force had a large but obsolete inventory of light bombers. This included 63 Fairey Battles that had been sent to Romania for use by Poland in August and September 1939, the plan having been for the Poles to train on the Battles in Romania. When the German invasion of Poland put paid to this, the Battles were simply delivered to the Romanian Air Force. 32 PZL.23 Kara light bombers flown to Romania by escaping Polish aircrew filled out the light bomber brigades.

Neither type could be replaced by more of the same, so Romania looked to its new Axis allies for other designs that could replace its diminishing light bomber force. Dazzled by the sleek and hi-tech promise of the Me 210, Romania and Germany agreed on an order for 150 Me 210 A-2s in November 1941. However, as Me 210 program suffered from a series of delays due to dangerous handling problems, Romania was forced to find alternatives to replace the substantial combat attrition its bombers were experiencing on the Eastern Front. Although Romanian and Bulgarian relations were strained, due to territorial disputes, the Romanian's were desperate, and with the Germans supplying insufficient Ju-87s, the Romanian government ordered 60 DAR 12Rs (Romanian) in 1942.

The DAR 12R entered combat with the Royal Romanian Air Force's 3rd Dive Bomber Group in March 1943, operating in southern Ukraine. During their training, the pilots of the 73rd, 81st and 85th Bomber Squadrons learnt to exploit the speed and fighter-like maneuverability of the DAR 12R and to incorporate low-altitude attack profiles into their tactics, so as not to rely solely on predictable dive-bombing. From June, the  3rd Bomber Group was concentrated at Kerch in Crimea to support the retreat through the Kuban Peninsula and was withdrawn from the front in mid-October to re-organise and re-equip with Me 410s after considerable attrition.

The DAR 12R had performed well, but a replacement was needed after the Bulgarian announcement that DAR 12 production would cease before the end of 1943. Indeed, 40 DAR 12R2s (with more armour, bigger calibre guns and the more powerful P.XXII R.C.35D engines) were ordered in early 1943 and these partially equipped the 5th Bomber Group that replaced the 3rd Bomber Group in October. Romanian DAR 12s were still active when the Romanians switched sides in August 1944, and were used against the Germans until withdrawn in favour of Il-2s in December. By then, Bulgaria had been invaded by the Red Army and also switched sides. 83 DAR12s had been delivered to the Royal Bulgarian Air Force when production ceased in September 1943, these planes being used on missions against on the Eastern Front (which, after succumbing to much German pressure, the Bulgarians joined their Axis allies on the front lines in September 1941),  partisans in Albania, Greece and Yugoslavia. After a coup saw the Bulgarians align with the Reds, the Bulgarian DAR 12s flew combat missions until March 1945 against the Germans. The final word on the DAR 12 probably must go to the legendary German Ju-87 pilot, Hans Rudell. Rudel test flew a DAR 12R in January 1943 and later wrote that it was “superior to my beloved Stuka in most respects”.

This aircraft can be identified as being with the 85th Bomber Squadron due to the absence of the yellow rear fuselage theatre band. Because the only individual identification on the DARs was a small number on the tail, and because 3rd Bomber Group commanders forbid the application of individual colours or art, crews complained that they had trouble identifying formation leaders and even units when multi-squadron strikes took place. In August, 1943, 85th bent the rules to solve this by varying the layout of the camouflage on each aircraft and painting over the rear theatre band. Whilst 3rd Bomber Group commanders turned a blind eye to this practical insubordination, the theatre band was re-applied after a couple of weeks due to pressure from the Luftwaffe. A/c 34 is seen here as photographed with the standard external load of 4 SC 50 bombs. A SC 500 was usually carried internally. The two nose machine guns were 7.7mm Breda SAFAT (replaced by 12.7mm Breda SAFATs in the DAR 12R2) with a similar weapon fired from the rear. Note that the ventral sighting window has been painted over (and probably armoured), indicating that dive-bombing had been abandoned.

« Last Edit: March 04, 2020, 03:13:37 am by comrade harps »

Offline NARSES2

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Re: Romanian DAR 12
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2014, 06:29:43 am »
Looks so right in Romanian colours  :thumbsup:
Decals my @r$e!

Offline Captain Canada

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Re: Romanian DAR 12
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2014, 08:13:47 am »
Does look good ! Love the way the yellow looks on the camo. That's a big bird eh ?

CANADA KICKS arse !!!!

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Offline Dizzyfugu

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Re: Romanian DAR 12
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2014, 08:08:15 am »
Cool, and looks very plausible.  :thumbsup:

Offline Hotte

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Re: Romanian DAR 12
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2014, 11:11:32 am »
Nice bird and good Story  :thumbsup:


Offline Tophe

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Re: Romanian DAR 12
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2014, 10:24:28 pm »
Unusual! Congratulations! :thumbsup:
[the word "realistic" hurts my heart...]