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Tibor Tobak

Hungarian fighter pilot and writer
The basics
Date of birth Budapest, Central Hungary, Hungary
Date of death Jan 08, 2001 Budapest, Central Hungary, Hungary
The details

Tibor Tobak (1922 – 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 uncorfirmed aerial victories. Shortly after the fall of communist rule he wrote a 300-page novel based on his notes, diaries and preserved personal letters. The 1991 book titled "Pumas on the ground and in the air" was praised for style, thrill, as well as day-by-day documentary accuracy. It was subsequently translated to and published in German and French languages after three Hungarian editions.

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. 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. Date Type
1 22.12.1944. Il-2
2 22.12.1944. Jak-9
3 16.03.1945. Il-2
4 21.03.1945. Jak-9

Not confirmed

Kill no. Date Type
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.

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