Helion's The Yugoslav Air Force 1991-1992

Author/Artists: Aleksander Radic


Helion  Publishing


$29.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 88 pages, softcover, over 100 images
ISBN 978-1-912866-35-9

The 1991/92 breakup of Yugoslavia was an event that is confusing even to those who were following it at the time. It was not a situation that went smoothly and as time went on it got even more and more brutal as the Serbian regime in Belgrade became more and more desperate to hold onto territory.

Yugoslavia was somewhat loosely held together and after the death of Tito, various regions were given a degree of autonomy. This meant each section had its own local leadership. Meanwhile, the presidency of Yugoslavia was rotated on an annual basis between leaders who from these areas (if I understand it correctly).

Slovenia was the first to declare its freedom from the central government. This area is in the northwestern part of Yugoslavia and there was really only a minimal attempt by the Jugoslavian National Army to prevent this. Basically the JNA tried to take over the border crossings to neighboring nations, but that was met with roadblocks and was really not that successful. Eventually, the JNA and the air force withdrew and Slovenia had gained its independence.

Next in line was Croatia. This was a bigger chunk of the country with important military bases located within. The central government put a great deal more effort into holding on to territory. Initially, the attempt was pretty minimal, relying on diplomacy to try to patch up the situation. However, as always happens, there are hard-core people in positions of power in both nations and things began to escalate into all out war.

This book is basically the story of that conflict from the position of the Yugoslav Air Force. Initially, operations in Slovenia were little more that reconnaissance and some support of ground forces. The Slovenes had no air force so there was no air to air combat. Much of the action at this time was a show of force. It did not stop planes from being shot at and damaged, but there was minimal loss of life and material.

The same was tried against Croatia, but it did not work as planned and while still initially very much like the situation in Slovenia, things started to escalate as the Croatians began to blockade military installations and eventually attempted to over-run them, sometimes with success. This volume ends just as the conflict in Croatia turns into all out war.

The author does a commendable job of giving us the full background as well as a fairly detailed story of both the political and military aspects of the situation of the time. This includes unit information and movements, the equipment they were using along with any specific mini-crises that occurred in the area. This is accompanied by some excellent period photos, some nice maps as some full color profiles just to spice things up a bit. It makes for a truly good book on a series of events that to most are quite confusing. The author does his best to report the incidents from a neutral point of view as ethnic conflicts are often colored by personal feelings on the situation. This is not a book that could have been written well 25 years ago, that is for sure. Highly recommended and I am looking forward to the next volume when it is released.

November 2020

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