Eight Fw 190 sorties dropped AB 250 canisters and 70 kg munitions on motor transport, horse-drawn vehicles and AA emplacements north of Podujevo "with good effect." Afterward they went in low to strafe parked vehicles but one of them was damaged by another Focke-Wulf's fire. They reported that there was hardly any traffic on the roads from the north and little sign of hostile forces.
A proposed change of base by the four Fw 190s was held up by "unfavourable airfield conditions" and it was decided to try again the| next day. Skopje was evidently being evacuated because Luftwaffe Greece's command post there announced that it would be moving to Sarajevo next morning.
Five sorties were flown without loss in three missions to the Podujevo front, artillery positions being blanketed by SD 1 anti-personnel bombs from AB 250 canisters. The aircraft also bombed and shot up "enemy-occupied" groups of houses and pack columns. In addition, two Hs 126s reconnoitred Kumanovo and the Podujevo front.
Many transport flights left Skopje that night: seven He 111s, 15 Ju 52s and one Ju 290, carrying 248 wounded, 30 men and 7.5 tons of equipment, including 1200 kg of mail in an He 111 bound for Gadurra (Kalathos, Rhodes).
Monsun's morning report stated that there were now three Fw 190s serviceable at Pristina and that "according to plan" no aircraft remained at Skopje, although it seems that the aerodrome was still being used for transport flights. What had happened to the fourth Fw 190 is not clear.
The same report added that east of Skopje, the Strumitsa sector had been evacuated as planned; there was enemy pressure near Stip but "Height 999" had been taken in an attack supported by the Luftwaffe, although enemy artillery fire was still coming in. Presumably this referred to II./SG 10's operation of the previous day.
Intended operations for the 8th were a single reconnaissance sortie each to Kumanovo and Podujevo while a ground attack operation would be flown on the basis of what they found or what the Army requested.
Airfield Regional Command 5/IV reported (apparently later in the day) that one Fw 190 would be serviceable after a test flight; another probably needed an engine change (which could not be carried out at Pristina) to become operational but it was serviceable for ferrying; the third needed a change of starter and one of its cannon would not fire. One of the Hs 126s was serviceable; the other had been hit by Flak, so it was cleared for ferrying but only conditionally for operations.
It was suggested that the II./SG 10 detachment should return to Bataszek while the Hs 126s remain in Pristina for co-operation with XCI. Armee Korps and XXII. Gebirgs Korps. Monsun agreed that the Fw 190s should go back to Hungary with the first suitable weather. A Gefechtsstand would remain in Pristina until the aerodrome was given up, to direct co-operation with the two Korps referred to above. If necessary, it could call on 3 Hs 126s that had been ferried to Sarajevo. Also, a Hptm. Dietrich was to transfer to Sarajevo as soon as the weather permitted, taking with him recommendations for decorations for members of the Fw 190 Staffel.
From Monsun 5 to Monsun 6, early on the 9th:
Ground and air situation no new reports. Withdrawals South of Skopje according to plan. Night passed quietly.
Transport operations continued but there was no mention of II./SG 10 which may therefore have returned to Hungary on this date.
As a postscript to this story of friendly fire casualties and combats against former allies flying German aircraft, Major Maier of the Airfield Command at Pristina reported that an Hs 126 and an Fi 156 had been damaged, a man killed and four more wounded in a low level attack by six Bf 109s (presumably Bulgarian) on Obilic airfield, just west of the town.
continued on next page …
PART THREE OF FOUR
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Article © Nick Beale 2009