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During the Second World War, oil had a crucial function. All parties involved in conflict did their best to ensure access to this essential resource for the unfolding of modern warfare. In this context, Romania and especially the Ploiesti-Prahova area had a significant role in conflict, a role that all parties involved equally acknowledged.
Although aerial military operations in Romania are not as well-known as those that took place in Germany, they were no less important. Fierce aerial combat was carried out over the Romania territory, both warring factions proving heroism and resilience in accomplishing their missions. We have constituted an association in order to present the history of these confrontations, to speak about the pilots involved and their actions.
The members of our association wish to build a memorial dedicated to aviators that fought on the Romanian territory during the Second World War, as well as to promote the history of Romanian aviation in the country and abroad, to study the history of Ploiesti and of Prahova County, and to present the history of aerial combat over the territory of Romania
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Next to the better known 88mm cannons, those of smaller caliber were also used – the 20 and respectively of 37 mm Rheinmetall. Once the allied bombings over Romania started again in Ploiesti, on the 4th of April 1944, the Germans brought heavier cannons of 128mm. These came to boost the artillery round that had only included cannons of 20, 37 and 88 mm up to then.
The Ploiesti area was among few of the areas outside Germany where these heavy-weight cannons were installed. The 128mm cannon, the strongest ground-to-air cannon was capable of shooting a 27.9 kg projectile with a speed of 880m/s at a maximum height of 14800m. Due to its propelling charge, which was four times stronger than that of the 88m cannon, the time it took to hit the target was shorter, making the cannon more effective in hitting quick-moving targets. The cannon’s great weight – 26.5 tons – reduced its mobility. Such cannons were placed in fixed positions or were carried on railway platforms. These platforms allowing mobility to the 128mm cannon were equally used in the Ploiesti area and around Boldesti-Scaieni.
The pictures of the 128mm cannon were taken by an American aviation committee that came to Ploiesti at the end of August 1944, after the German troops had withdrawn, in order to evaluate the bombing damage. The number of planes that were shot down is marked with white stripes on the cannon’s gun.
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Monument dedicated to the operators of a 88mm cannon, part of 7AA regiment, 86th battery, who died on the 1st of August 1943 in Corlatesti village, near Ploiesti. The battery’s cannons were placed between the border of Berceni village and the Ghighiu Monastery. A unique circumstance made a B-24 plane, named Old Baldy, crash on top of this cannon. The plane was flown by John J. Dore and had just bombed the Astra Romana refinery. The operators of the 88mm cannon, under the command of captain Istrate Corneliu, commander of the 86th battery, saw the bombarder approaching at low altitude in their direction; they opened fire from a small distance after programming the projectile to explode at a distance of 500m. The crew of the B-24 plane saw the ground-to-air battery at the last moment and tried to open fire on it with the on-board machine guns. At the same time, the battery’s commander ordered fire. The projectile smashed through the front part of the plane and exploded on the inside. The plane continued flying for a few hundred meters and then it fell on the ground-to-air battery’s position, killing all the operators of the 88mm cannon that shot at it. Also, the entire crew of the B-24 Old Baldy bomber died on the spot. The bomber’s crew was composed of: Pilot Lt. John F. Dore, Second Copilot Lieutenent John B. Stallings, Second Navigator Locotenent Frank Worthington, bomber Joseph Finneran, Sgt. Max Lower, machine-gunners Sgt. Ray Gleason, Joseph Iosco, Jones Wesley, Frank Norris and Stanley Packe. The 88mm cannon operators were: charger soldier G. Bala, shooter soldier first class Ion Garlan, soldiers Alexandru Partica, Constantin Disdedea, Tudor Ghiaur, Paun Ozel.
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