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Turkish Air Force
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Turkish Air Force Spitfire Mk.Vb Tropical 'OK.14', created by LNSE492 | Download here

The Turkish interest in flight is based deep in it’s history, in 1632 Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi flew 3300 meters across the Bosphorus Strait by launching himself from the top of the Galata Tower on his own handmade glider and ranks as one of the first successful flights in aviation history.

Turkish pilots with Supermarine Southampton Mk.II in 1933.

At the beginning of the 1900’s the Ottoman Empire recognised the importance of military aviation and on the 1st of June 1911 the Ottoman Empires first aviation organisation the “Aviation Commission” was founded. one month later, Captain Fesa and Lieutenant Yusuf Kenan embarked for France to undertake flight training at the Blériot Aéronautique flight school thus becoming the first pilots of Turkish aviation. On the 3rd of June 1912 the Ottoman Empires first flight school was founded in Istanbul, with the Ottoman Army undertaking the education of the countries own pilots.

During World War 1 the Ottoman Empires Pilots fought on many different fronts such as Caucasia, Palestine and Gallipoli. On the 25th of October 1918 Major Fazil single-handedly fought with 5 enemy British Planes which were attacking Istanbul and successfully landed his aircraft after suffering severe wounds. After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War One, the Aviation Commission was abolished on june 25,1920 only to be reformed by the new Turkish Government in Anatolia as the Turkish Air Force on June 13, 1920.

Pilot Vecihi Hürkuş, his name meaning “Manner of free bird” was the first person in Turkish aviation history to shoot down an enemy plane, He is credited with one russian plane during a reconnaissance and bombing mission over the Caucasian front and one Greek aircraft during the ongoing battles in Anatolia. On January 28, 1925 flying an aircraft he designed and built himself, Hürkuş took off, and in what was the first aircraft produced by the turkish aviation industry.

Not to be outdone the Turkish Air Force Pilot Sabiha Gökçen, is considered by some as the first female military pilot in the world. Starting in 1937 Sabiha Gökçen took part in 32 combat missions flying 22 different types of aircraft in total with 8000 flying hours.

Dewoitine D.21 (not Caudron C-59) "Orhaneli"

In the late 1940’s with over 500 aircraft the Turkish Air Force was the most powerful in the Balkans, during the following decade the Turkish Air Force utilised aircraft such as the Fw190, He-111, M.S.406, Spitfires, Beaufighters, Beauforts, Mosquito’s, P-40 Kittyhawks, P-47 Thunderbolts, the B24 and Douglas A-26.

During World War Two, Turkey maintained its neutral status until February 1945 and was not legally involved in any air combat or bombing but had 30 pilot casualties during their training in Britain. It is believed that some turkish pilots took part in attacks over Germany. On Hakkı Akarçay’s tomb in the Turkish Air Force burial grounds at Brookswood Cemetery is written “Lost his life during a night operation by a German plane’s attack” Also, General Pilot Emin Alpkaya’s diary has sentences such as “My teacher said that ‘You are ready to go to Berlin’… ” and “I’m so tired, I came in 6 am from bombardment”

By the 1950’s the Turkish Air Force was expanded to army scale and decided to enter the “jet age”. In the following months the Turkish Air Force acquired two Lockheed T-33A’s going on to receive many F84G Thunderjets and F-86 Sabres. During the 1999 conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovia and Kosovo Turkish F-16 Atmaca Fleet Pilots First Lieutenant Erkan Salman and Lieutenant Oğuz Yeten, who were piloting TAI(Turkish Aerospace Industries)-built F-16s, were awarded the Citation “F-16 Endurance Record in Threat conditions” for being airborne for 9.5 hours.

Today, the Turkish Air Force serves the Turkish Army with 2040 aircraft including 154 UAV’s with 60,100 Personnel. The Turkish Air Force flies various aircraft including the F-16 C/D, F-4E 2020, C130B Hercules CASA Cn-235, Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker and Boeing 737AEW&C MESA. Two A400M’s have joined the Turkish Air Force fleet recently with 10 more to follow by 2018. The Turkish Air Force is also part of the F-35 5th Generation Fighter Program, ordering 100 aircraft to replace the F-4E currently in service.

Author: Nihat "VuLTURE" Çağatay

In one of the upcoming updates, we will introduce the roundel of the Turkish Air Force between 1918-72:

Decal by Jej 'CharlieFoxtrot' Ortiz

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