Insigna Grupului 8 Vânătoare

Badge of the 8th Fighter Group

The 8th Fighter Group of the Royal Romanian Air Force (Grupul 8 Vânătoare) under the command of Locotenent-comandor (equivalent of the Major) Gheorghe Bordeanu was raised on February 22, 1941 and formed a part of the 2nd Fighter Flotilla (Flotila 2 Vânătoare). It was the first unit equipped with IAR 80 (Industria Aeronautică Română), Romanian-made fighter and ground attack production aircraft designed by Dr.Ion Grosu.

The 8th Fighter Group was initially stationed in the Râmnicu Sărat airfield and consisted of 59 and 60 Fighter Squadrons. The unit took an active part in the German attack on the USSR from the very first date of the war, i.e. June 22, 1941 and by that time had 23 aircraft. Baptism of fire had occurred on the same day when the group escorted Savoia-Marchetti SM.79B bombers to their mission over Odessa region – Bolgrad and Bulgarica. Nevertheless no Soviet aircraft was shot down despite a dogfight. It was only five days later, on June 27, 1941 that the first four Soviet I-16 fighters were claimed by the Romanian pilots. Victory was darkened by the first casualty, though – Sublocotenent Gaston Dan never came back to an airfield.

On July 02, 1941 Căpitan-comandor (equivalent of the Lieutenant Colonel) Eugen “Puiu” Pârvulescu took over the command of the group and the unit was reinforced by the 41 Fighter Squadron.

The first pilot decorated with the highest Romanian military award was Sublocotenent (equivalent of the Second Lieutenant) Vasile Claru, bestowed the Order of Michael the Brave, 3rd Class posthumously on July 12, 1941 for ramming down Soviet fighter I-16. Altogether five officers were decorated with that order since June 22, 1941 till May 10, 1945.

Later on the 8th Fighter Group engaged in the Battle of Odessa, attacks on Soviet airbases in limans of Odessa region, free hunting, bomber escorts and armed reconnaissance missions.

The Stalingrad epic of the 8th Fighter Group started on September 03, 1942 with redeployment of 41st, 42nd and 60th squadrons of the unit to the venue of the one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare. Three squadrons reached Stalingrad on September 07 and remained there until December 31, 1942 engaging in escort, reconnaissance and free hunting missions. The 59th squadron remained in Romania to safeguard Ploieşti, one of major sources of oil.  

The most resultant ace of the 8th Fighter Group from its formation and till disbandment in May 1943 was Adjutant aviator (equivalent of the Sergeant) Teodor Zăbavă with 11 confirmed kills.

The history of the unit ends in May 11, 1943 when it was reequipped with German ground attack aircraft Henschel Hs.129B-2 and designated 8th Assault Group (Grupul 8 Asalt).

An unofficial badge of the 8th Fighter Group had a shape of a round wreath made of oak and laurel leaves at left and right sides respectively topped with a royal crown. Horizontal rectangular plate bearing a name of IAR 80 aircraft was situated at the bottom of a wreath. Central portion of the badge was filled with light blue enamel representing sky. Its upper part had an abbreviation of the unit, i.e. “G8V” (“Grupul 8 Vânătoare”), and lower part a full face image of the IAR 80 aircraft with a left list.

The badge was attached to tunic by a vertical pin with catching hook soldered to a backside of a round metal plate that was fixed in its turn to a reverse of a badge by three hooks.

G8VBadge 1