Tibor Tobak

Last updated
Tibor Tobak
Nickname(s)"Cica" (Kitten)
Born(1921-11-24)24 November 1921
Budapest, Kingdom of Hungary
Died8 January 2001(2001-01-08) (aged 79)
Budapest, Hungary
AllegianceFlag of Hungary (1915-1918, 1919-1946).svg  Kingdom of Hungary
Service/branchFlag of Hungary (1915-1918, 1919-1946).svg  Royal Hungarian Air Force
Years of service1940–1945
Rank Lieutenant
Unit101. Puma vadászrepülő osztály (101st Home Air Defence Fighter Wing)
Battles/wars World War II
Other work Civilian Electrician

Tibor Tobak (1921 2001) was a World War II fighter pilot serving in the 3rd squadron of Hungarian 101. Honi Légvédelmi Vadászrepülő Osztály, who survived the war with two serious injuries and 4 confirmed and one unconfirmed aerial victories. In the 1980's he wrote a 300-page novel based on his notes, diaries and preserved personal letters. The 1989 book titled "Pumas on the ground and in the air" was praised for style, thrill, as well as day-by-day documentary accuracy. However, the first edition, which was published months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, was still censored, and the final chapter which described the persecution of Puma pilots during Communism was entirely redacted. An extended, revised edition was published in 1991, now with the missing chapter included, followed by an ultimate edition with more details on later events in 1998. The book was subsequently translated to and published in French language after three Hungarian editions. An English translation is in the works as of June 2021.


The publication of Tobak's Puma book sparked unexpectedly great public interest in the history of pre-1945 Hungarian aviation and air force, which was a strictly banned subject during the communist bloc era. Tibor Tobak quickly became the key personality representing and organizing veteran Hungarian military aviators. He wrote several more short stories commemorating the service of Hungarian bomber and aerial reconnaissance units in World War II. Most of these were published in a periodical by Hungarian aviators in exile, Kanadai Magyar Szárnyak (Hungarian Wings of Canada, 1974-2004) where he often used the pseudonym "Blue 19", and later the Hungarian aviation and war history magazine titled Top Gun (1990-2001). He was decorated and promoted to the rank of a colonel (retired) by the democratic government for his work in preserving an important part of Hungarian military history.

Tobak's Puma book is organized into several chapters. These address his flight school and fighter academy studies, months of service as a courier pilot in Transylvania, his entry to the Pumas and the first fights against USAAF bomber formations during the summer and autumn of 1944. (The full Puma unit, nominally the "101st wing", was worth no more than thirty Bf 109G6 fighter planes, yet sent alone to attack US formations consisting of 500 B-17 or B-24 heavy bombers and 300 P-51 Mustang fighters). Tobak documents his severe injury and an adventurous journey to and from a hospital in Germany through the chaos of day-and-night allied carpet bombing campaign.

The final part of his Puma book deals with war on the soviet front, against Il-2 ground support battle-aircraft and their Yak and Lavochkin fighter cover, where the Bf 109 was at disadvantage in low altitude operations. The book ends with the Puma's fighting retreat into Austria and torching its remaining planes on Raffelding airfield on 6 May 1945, with the badly burnt Tobak watching from the sideline. The Puma unit eventually offered itself captive to the US Army.

Air kills

Kill no.DateType
122.12.1944. Il-2
316.03.1945. Il-2

Not confirmed

Kill no.DateType
16.11.1944. La-5

Books written by Tibor Tobak

Tobak Tibor: Pumák földön-égen, Egy vadászrepülő kalandjai, Háttér, Budapest, 1989.

Tobak Tibor : Pumák és a többiek : Mindig túlerővel szemben. Budapest,: HungAvia, 1990.

Tobak Tibor: Pumák és boszorkányok. Zrínyi, Budapest, 1995.

Tobak Tibor: Les pumas rouges. Témoignage d'un as de la chasse hongroise, 1941–1945, Alerion, 1996.

Related Research Articles

Messerschmitt Bf 109 German WWII fighter aircraft family

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 is a German World War II fighter aircraft that was, along with the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, the backbone of the Luftwaffe's fighter force. The Bf 109 first saw operational service in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War and was still in service at the dawn of the jet age at the end of World War II in 1945. It was one of the most advanced fighters when it first appeared, with an all-metal monocoque construction, a closed canopy, and retractable landing gear. It was powered by a liquid-cooled, inverted-V12 aero engine. It was called the Me 109 by Allied aircrew and some German aces, even though this was not the official German designation.

Antal Bánhidi Hungarian aviator

Antal Bánhidi was a Hungarian aviator.

Ralph K. Hofer

Ralph Kidd Hofer was an American fighter pilot and flying ace with the United States Army Air Forces in World War II.

Austro-Hungarian Aviation Troops Air warfare branch of the Austro-Hungarian Empire

The Austro-Hungarian Aviation Troops or Imperial and Royal Aviation Troops were the air force of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire until the empire's demise in 1918. It saw combat on both the Eastern Front and Italian Front during World War I.

Hungarian Air Force Air warfare branch of Hungarys military

The Hungarian Air Force is the air force branch of the Hungarian Defence Forces.

Warrant Officer Dezső Szentgyörgyi was the highest scoring Hungarian fighter ace of the Royal Hungarian Honvéd Air Force in World War II.

Emil Josef Clade was a Luftwaffe fighter ace in World War II, and figured in German civilian aviation after the war. Enlisting in the Luftwaffe in 1937, prior to World War II, Clade served throughout the war as a fighter pilot in the Western and African fronts. Clade is credited with either 26 or 27 aircraft kills, and was shot down himself six times. He commanded the flight that shot down the transport of British Lieutenant General William Gott, the newly appointed Commander of the British 8th Army.

Franz Dörr

Franz Dörr was a German Luftwaffe military aviator and fighter ace during World War II. He is credited with 128 aerial victories achieved in 437 combat missions, becoming an "ace-in-a-day" on nine separate occasions. All of his aerial victories were claimed on the Eastern Front.

<i>Jagdgeschwader</i> 101 Military unit

Jagdgeschwader 101 was a Luftwaffe fighter-training-wing of World War II.

Heinz Schmidt (pilot)

Heinz Schmidt was a German Luftwaffe military aviator during World War II, a fighter ace credited with 173 enemy aircraft shot down in 712 combat missions. All of his victories were claimed over the Eastern Front.

Günther Specht German World War II flying ace

Günther Specht was a German Luftwaffe fighter ace during World War II.

Corpo Aeronautico Militare Military unit

The Italian Corpo Aeronautico Militare was formed as part of the Regio Esercito on 7 January 1915, incorporating the Aviators Flights Battalion (airplanes), the Specialists Battalion (airships) and the Ballonists Battalion. Prior to World War I, Italy had pioneered military aviation in the Italo-Turkish War during 1911–1912. Its army also contained one of the world's foremost theorists about the future of military aviation, Giulio Douhet; Douhet also had a practical side, as he was largely responsible for the development of Italy's Caproni bombers starting in 1913. Italy also had the advantage of a delayed entry into World War I, not starting the fight until 24 May 1915, but took no advantage of it so far as aviation was concerned.

101st Home Air Defence Fighter Wing Military unit

The 101st Home Air Defence Fighter Group later Wing was an elite fighter-group of the Royal Hungarian Air Force in World War II. Also known as the Puma after the unit's insignia, it was the most famous and well known of all Hungarian fighter units during the war. Created in the spring of 1944, under the Nazi German occupation of Hungary, it operated against US Fifteenth Air Force and the Soviet VVS during 1944-45 over Hungary and later, Austria. Analogue to Jagdverband 44, many of the highest scoring and most experienced Hungarian fighter pilots served in the unit, including the top scoring Hungarian ace of World War II, Szentgyörgyi Dezső.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 operational history

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger was used by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War in a variety of roles. Like the Messerschmitt Bf 109, the Fw 190 was employed as a "workhorse", and proved suitable for a wide variety of roles, including air superiority fighter, strike fighter, ground-attack aircraft, escort fighter, and operated with less success as a night fighter. It served on all the German fronts: Eastern Front, Western Front, North African Campaign and the Defence of the Reich.

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser during the early to mid-1930s. It was one of the first true modern fighters of the era, including such features as all-metal monocoque construction, a closed canopy, a retractable landing gear, and was powered by a liquid-cooled, inverted-V12 aero engine.

Vélizy – Villacoublay Air Base French Air Force base near Paris, France

Vélizy – Villacoublay Air Base is a French Air and Space Force (ALAE) base. The base is located approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) southeast of Vélizy-Villacoublay; about 8 miles (13 km) southwest of Paris.

Willi Reschke German World War II fighter pilot

Willi Reschke was a Luftwaffe ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II, credited with 27 aerial victories in 70 missions. In 1999, Reschke recounted his wartime experiences in print, published in English in 2005 as "Jagdgeschwader 301/302 'Wilde Sau': In Defense Of The Reich with the Bf 109, Fw 190 and Ta 152;" including writing about the late-war period he spent flying the exotic Focke-Wulf Ta 152 high-altitude fighter-interceptor designed by Kurt Tank.

<i>Jagdgeschwader</i> 302 Military unit

Jagdgeschwader 302 was a Luftwaffe fighter-wing of World War II. JG 302 was formed on 1 November 1943 in Stade, Germany with a theoretical establishment of Stab and three Gruppen (groups) known as a "Wilde Sau" single-seat night fighter unit. After re-equipping with the Focke-Wulf 190 A-8, I./JG 302 was redesignated III./JG 301 on 30 September. JG 302 made a known total of at least 348 air victory claims

Lieutenant Lajos Tóth was one of the most successful fighter pilots of the Royal Hungarian Air Force in the Second World War. He scored 24 aerial victories against the Soviet Air Force and an additional four against the United States Air Force for a total of 28 confirmed kills. After the war he voluntarily repatriated from exile in the United States to serve in the aerial combat arm of the Hungarian People's Army but was ultimately arrested and executed in one of the "salami" show trials in 1951.