Mystery Airplane: December 2015
Prior to World War II, Yugoslavia manufactured a number of fighters and floatplanes, plus license manufactured the British Bristol Blenheim bomber and Hawker Hurricane fighter. After the war the aircraft industry's recovery took a number of years. Soko, formed in 1951, began with license manufacture of Westland Whirlwind and Gazelle helicopters. In 1957 it initiated work on the Galeb and Jastreb series of jet trainers and light attack aircraft. Then, in 1966, came the Kraguj, a single seat light attack aircraft in the mold of the earlier Fletcher Defender (see the October 2010 Mystery Plane). Made for COIN (counter-insurgency) work, it could be flown off wheels or skis.
Powered by a 340 hp Lycoming O-480, the J20 was designed for operations in areas without heavy anti-aircraft defenses or interceptors. Able to take off and land in under 400 feet, it had a top speed of 183 mph at 5000 feet, a range of 500 miles, and was armed with a pair of 7.7 mm machine guns in the wings with 650 rounds per gun and up to 600 pounds of bombs or rockets on six under wing hardpoints. Production began in 1968 and it entered service with weapons training squadrons, remaining in use until 1990. Some were then assigned to the Slovenian National Guard. These were reclaimed by the Yugoslav Air Force in June 1991 and saw combat with the Bosnian Serbs against Croat and Muslim forces as late as 1994.
I photographed #30142 at Oshkosh in 2001. In September 2000 it had appeared at Biggin Hill, the famous Battle of Britain fighter base. Other examples have appeared in civilian registration in France. This month's winner, Norm Tesmar, is from Brooklyn Center. Michael Johnson of Minneapolis also recognized the J20. A late note from Suzanne Tschida also identified the Douglas DC·8-73 from September.
Thanks to all who attended our Sawbones' party at Fox Hollow on 24 October. It was great to celebrate the 4th place finish in the National Championship Air Races with team, family, sponsors, and supporters. Blue skies and tail winds for the Holidays.