Baptism Of Fire

The First Combat Experiences of the Royal Hungarian Air Force and Slovak Air Force, March 1939

Csaba B. Stenge

This story is a short but devastating episode from the turbulent history of Central Europe in the 20th Century, one that is hardly known outside the countries concerned.
Publication date:
December 2011
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
150 b/w photos, 8 pgs col. aircraft profiles, 1 ma
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781906033934

Dimensions : 248 X 184 cm
Unfortunately, due to sales rights restrictions, we cannot offer Baptism Of Fire for sale in your country.


• A conflict so politically consequential it was covered up by the Nazi media

This story is a short but devastating episode from the turbulent history of Central Europe in the 20th Century, one that is hardly known outside the countries concerned. This short conflict was hushed up even in the German media in 1939, because the Third Reich tried to avoid clashes between their potential allies, and were especially angry because of the independent Hungarian military action against Slovakia, with at least one ethnic German Slovak civilian killed as a result of the fighting.

Sub-Carpathia was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary for a thousand years, but Hungary lost it after World War I, and it became part of Czechoslovakia until March 1939. Between 1939 and 1944 it was a part of Hungary again, but the Soviet Red Army captured it in the late autumn of 1944. After World War II, in June 1945, a treaty was signed between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, ceding Sub-Carpathia to the Soviet Union.

In 1939, Hungary occupied its former territory, Sub-Carpathia, supported by its reconnaissance and bomber forces. When the Hungarian troops entered what Slovakia regarded as its territory, a short but fierce clash started between the contending air forces. Slovak planes strafed and bombed Hungarian ground troops on 23 March 1939, but the heaviest clashes happened on the very next day, when extensive air-to-air combat occurred.

The text contains details of the historical background to the conflict, a full account of the combat, notes on Hungarian aviators decorated for their performance, short biographies of Hungarian aviators credited with aerial victories, and a list of Hungarian aerial victories. Besides this, the book contains over 100 rare and mostly previously-unpublished images, as well as a selection of superb colour profiles showing camouflage and markings for the aircraft of both air forces.

About the Author

Csaba Becze was born in 1975. He is a historian, his PhD describing the history of the Royal Hungarian Air Force in WWII. The focus of his research is aviation and military history, especially of the Hungarian armed forces and air force in WWII. He has spent the last two decades conducting intensive research both in archives and with veterans and their families, looking for surviving wartime materials relating to the Royal Hungarian Air Force. He has authored 6 books and dozens of scholarly articles in the Hungarian, English, German and French languages.


" … The pioneering nature of this work is unquestionable. (...) It based on mostly unpublished, primary sources of both sides and (...) it is the most detailed book in this topic which has ever been published.”

… an illuminating look at a relatively minor event in the run-up to the Second World War.
War in History

… This is one of those important books recording an event most of us have never heard of and helps broaden our picture of the Second World War … The publisher is to be commended for bringing us books like these. They expand the mind, giving food for thought… and I really love the pictures. Great stuff.
War History Online

… a monumental labour of love that will occupy war historians minds and provide modellers with something a little different to build and admire.
ModelArt Australia

...a truly superb study from Helion... I absolutely loved this book. It's wonderfully researched, lucidly written, and potently provocative...
Cybermodeler Online