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Wednesday, September 27th 2017, 4:44pm

The Soko Works, Mostar, Wednesday, 21 April 1948

Boris Cijan and Stanko Obad guided their visitors across the factory floor towards the experimental unit. When the sliding doors were opened they stepped through, and Velimir Radojkovic and Goran Maksimović had their first look at the prototype of the new Soko product.

“Behold the Strsljen!” said Cijan with a dramatic flourish.

Neither Radojkovic nor Maksimović spoke at first, but their eyes widened. At last Maksimović muttered, “Now that is a fighter aircraft!”

“We think it more suited as a replacement for the Jastreb fighter bomber,” Obad cautioned. “In that role is should hold its own for several years.”

Radojkovic began to sputter, “When will it fly? Why have you not flown it already? This will be the greatest triumph of the Yugoslav aviation industry…” As chairman of the National Aviation League he tended to be impatient as well as over-zealous.

“The engines for the prototype are en route from Germany as we speak,” Cijan assured them. “We anticipate ground trials within the next two weeks, and, if they are successful, a first flight before the end of May.”


Thursday, September 28th 2017, 5:57pm

Novosti News Service, Belgrade, Friday, 23 April 1948

Minister of Transport Petar Kersovani announced today that an agreement has been reached to fund production of an initial quantity of the Ikarus IK-7 Pegaz twin-engine transport aircraft. As part of the agreement, which covers twenty-five aircraft, the State Aircraft Factory at Kraljevo will join in the production programme, constructing fuselage and wing sections for incorporation into aircraft assembled at the Belgrade-Zemun works of the Ikarus concern. Of the first batch of twenty-five aircraft, twelve are slated for delivery to Jugoslovenska Aero Transport to replace its older medium-distance aircraft on local and regional services; six more are reserved for the Royal Yugoslav Air Force. The first three aircraft, construction of which is under way, will serve as test and evaluation aircraft and as demonstrators. It is hoped that at least one such aircraft will be available by autumn to begin a sales tour to Syria and other nations of the Levant.


Saturday, September 30th 2017, 12:35am

Latakia, Syria, Sunday, 25 April 1948

Lieutenant Colonel Janko Bobetko was on hand to witness the Jugoslavenska Lloyd freighter Dubravka offloading her cargo; so too were the representatives of the Syrian military and the Syrian Military Industrial Corporation. The first equipment to be offloaded were the first ten M47 halftrack infantry carriers for the Syrian Army – seventy of these vehicles had been ordered in January, and Bobetko suspected that deliveries to his own service had been sacrificed to make the delivery schedule. Stowed below decks were small arms and other equipment destined for the Syrian Army, while crates of machinery and parts would help the SMIC play its part in Syria’s ambitions.

While Palestine was, for the moment, quiescent, Bobetko harboured some concern for the stirring of anti-British sentiment in neighbouring Iraq – and he wondered if arming the Syrians was an entirely wise course of action. Influence was a double edged sword – if the great powers wished they could make things very difficult for Yugoslavia. Still, it was his job to secure contracts for the national industry as it was to report on local military developments; here, the two went hand in hand.


Tuesday, October 3rd 2017, 6:37pm

Belgrade, The Ministry of Defence, Wednesday, 28 April 1948

Colonel Dragoslav Milosavljevic closed the drawer of his desk and placed another file of papers into his portmanteau; he was preparing for his imminent retirement, and clearing his office in preparation for the arrival of his successor. An aide knocked at the door, and deposited a sheaf of papers in his Milosavljevic’s in-box.

He took them in hand and examined the contents, smiling as he did so. It represented the latest projections of vehicle deliveries from the factories – and Milosavljevic could retire secure in the knowledge that he had overseen the successful motorisation of the Royal Yugoslav Army. Moreover, the work of the last several years had permitted the replacement of foreign-sourced vehicles with those of domestic manufacture – though he admitted that many of the older vehicles were still in the hands of the reserves.

As planned, the General Staff could move forward with the replacement of the last of the Chevrolet G-7100 light trucks from the mountain divisions and independent artillery units. General Kalafatovic would be pleased – the general had particularly backed standardisation. By the end of the year the process would be complete, though Milosavljevic would not be there to see it.


Saturday, October 14th 2017, 1:16am

Novosti News Service, Tirana, Friday, 30 April 1948

An Italian Caproni Atlante civil airliner on an internal flight from Benghazi in Libya to Naples was diverted here having been commandeered by six of its passengers, self-professed adherents of Mohammed Idris as Senussi, who they claim is the leader of an independence movement among the Libyan people. The flight carried sixty-five passengers and crew, exclusive of the perpetrators, who have been taken into custody pending adjudication of their claims for asylum. The Foreign Ministry is working with the Swiss Legation and its Yugoslav Interest Section to arrange the return of the aircraft, its crew, and its remaining passengers to the Italian authorities.


Saturday, October 14th 2017, 1:41am

Well, that will make for an even more interesting prelude for my to-be-posted June 4th news item!


Saturday, October 14th 2017, 1:44am

Well, that will make for an even more interesting prelude for my to-be-posted June 4th news item!

Glad to play the straight man and set you up!


Monday, October 23rd 2017, 6:26pm

Yugoslav News and Events, May 1948

Novosti News Service, Belgrade, Tuesday, 4 May 1948

Arrangements have been made to repatriate the passengers of the Italian civil airliner diverted to Tirana last week; negotiations for the release of the aircraft and its crew continue via the Swiss Legation, though the Foreign Ministry has indicated that it will do so as soon as certain conditions are fulfilled. As for the six air pirates, they remain in custody despite Italian demands for their immediate transfer to Italian jurisdiction.


Friday, October 27th 2017, 8:15pm

Novosti News Service, Bar, Monday, 10 May 1948

The first pair of Project 1948 Gamma landing ships were completed today and commissioned in the Adriatic Shipyards here. Landing Ship A was commissioned as Bobovica and Landing Ship B as Corkovac; both have embarked upon their builders trials and spend the next three months in operational training status. Work proceeds the two Project 1948 Gamma vessels laid down in early April, and it is expected that they will be launched in early June.


Tuesday, October 31st 2017, 12:50am

Novosti News Service, Belgrade, Tuesday, 11 May 1948

In a surprising development in the Tirana air piracy incident, the crew of the Caproni Atlante aircraft involved have been released to custody of the Swiss Minister, who will arrange for their repatriation. The aircraft itself, which had suffered minor damage during its landing at Tirana, was abandoned by the Italian Government, which refused to pay for the necessary repairs to permit its return. The final disposition of the aircraft remains open at this time.


Thursday, November 2nd 2017, 1:51pm

Novosti News Service, Bar, Thursday, 13 May 1948

The fast minelayer Vojvodina has completed its working up deployment and is now fully operational with the fleet. A sister ship, Minelayer B, nears completion at the Adriatic Shipyards here and is expected to be finished by the end of the month.


Sunday, November 5th 2017, 11:56pm

Novosti News Service, Mostar, Saturday, 15 May 1948

The prototype of the Soko Strsljen jet fighter aircraft began its ground trials here today; factory officials pronounced themselves satisfied.

Privredni vjesnik, Monday, 17 May 1948

Zagreb Films is reportedly in talks with backers for two additional sequels in its successful “Sword” series of action adventure movies, starring Karlo Bulić in the role of Maćevolac, “The Swordsman”. Few details have yet to be released, though a spokesman for the production company confirmed the rumour that a crew had scouted locations near Almeria in Andalusia for exterior shots for a least one of the firms.


Wednesday, November 8th 2017, 1:58am

Report of the Hungarian Military Attaché, Belgrade, Friday, 21 May 1948

Sources suggest that more automobiles and motor trucks of local manufacture may become available to the civil sector here, due to maturing of the Yugoslav army’s re-equipment programme. Yugoslavia continues to market military equipment abroad, though Syria is perhaps the only nation where it has gained success – deliveries of armoured infantry carriers continue, and Yugoslavia has also supplied machines for Syria’s nascent arms industry. Rumour has it that the indigenous jet fighter aircraft developed by the Soko Works will take flight soon; my contacts are seeking to confirm this. Work proceeds apace on the prototypes of the IK-7 transport at the Ikarus Works.


Thursday, November 9th 2017, 7:25pm

Novosti News Service, Cepotina Military Cantonment, Monday, 24 May 1948

The prototype of the M48 Kurjak medium tank arrived here for testing yesterday from the Slavonski Brod works of First Yugoslav Heavy Engineering. The vehicle will be subjected to a series of trials to determine its suitability for large-scale production. Officials of the company have announced their complete confidence in the ability of the vehicle to meet the requirements of the Royal Yugoslav Army.


Saturday, November 11th 2017, 5:53pm

Novosti News Service, Bar, Friday, 28 May 1948

The second of the Project 1947 Beta minelayers was completed and officially named Banat. She will now commence her trials and working up, and will join her sister Vojvodina in the autumn. In other naval developments, the first two auxiliaries of the Project 1948 Alpha type were launched here on this past Wednesday. They have now been moved to the fitting-out wharf of the Adriatic Shipyard where their construction continues.


Monday, November 13th 2017, 3:09am

Novosti News Service, Mostar, Sunday, 30 May 1948

The prototype of the Soko Strsljen jet fighter aircraft made its first flight here yesterday following a series of ground tests. The first flight was lasted ten minutes, during which the aircraft made two circuits of the work’s aerodrome. The test programme is slated to last several weeks. Company officials and Government observers pronounced themselves more than satisfied with the aircraft’s performance. Velimir Radojkovic, chairman of the National Aviation League, a long-time proponent of the project, hailed it as a great step forward for the national aviation industry.


Thursday, November 16th 2017, 12:06am

Yugoslav News and Events, June 1948

Novosti News Service, Bar, Saturday, 5 June 1948

The second pair of Project 1948 Gamma amphibious craft, Landing Ship C and Landing Ship D, were launched today in the Adriatic Shipyards. Their construction continues in the shipyard’s fitting out basin. It is anticipated that a further pair will be laid down once the slipways can be prepared, as material has already been gathered in the yard’s warehouses. The Royal Yugoslav Navy presently plans to construct up to eight vessels of the Project 1948 Gamma type, and it is possible that further units may be authorised.


Monday, November 27th 2017, 6:52pm

Belgrade, The Ministry of Defence, Wednesday, 9 June 1948

Major General Lav Rupnik read the reports of the initial flight tests of the Soko Strsljen jet fighter aircraft with interest and no small sense of relief. It seemed as if his faith in the promises of the designers had been borne out, for the prototype had shown excellent handling characteristics. Of course, the design was far distant from entering production; more flight testing would be required, and already a request for funding construction of two additional development aircraft had been received. At least he could endorse it with a good conscience.

The fact that an indigenous design was now available to the Royal Yugoslav Air Force strengthened Yugoslavia’s negotiating position with regard to acquiring combat aircraft abroad. The Strsljen might not be more than a fighter bomber, but the fact that it had been developed locally sent a signal to potential suppliers – and potential adversaries.


Friday, December 1st 2017, 2:34am

Report of the Hungarian Military Attaché, Belgrade, Tuesday, 15 June 1948

Testing of the new indigenous medium tank – codenamed Kurjak (Wolf) – continues. As some shortcoming emerge with any new design, my sources have yet to identify any significant problems. There are indications that production of the M40 Rocket Launcher will cease in favour of the new M47 Recoilless Gun, which is to become the primary antitank weapon of the infantry. Confirming my last report production of motor vehicles for the Yugoslav forces is levelling off.

Expansion of the Yugoslav Navy’s amphibious force is continuing; funding for four additional small landing ships has been approved by Parliament, the first two of which are expected to be laid down next month. The Yugoslav fleet is taking a more aggressive stance in addressing smuggling into the Italian exclave of Vlore.

Of primary importance is the first flight testing of an indigenous jet fighter aircraft by the Soko works at Mostar. While months away from introduction it does highlight the progress made by Yugoslavia in aeronautical design. There are rumours that Yugoslavia is seeking jet bomber aircraft abroad to complement its existing fighters of French and British origin; I am hoping to be able to garner further information on this point in the coming weeks and will report when I have confirmation.


Monday, December 4th 2017, 3:17am

Novosti News Service, Belgrade, Friday, 18 June 1948

Minister of Justice Nikola Kidric announced today that the six perpetrators of the air piracy of the Italian airliner will be tried by Yugoslav courts, refusing repeated demands for their extradition to Italy. The Libyans involved in the affair had requested political asylum, but the decision by Minister Kidric ends weeks of speculation regarding their fate. Informed observers expect that the alleged air pirates will receive a fair trial, and their conviction is not a foregone conclusion.