Intro Sonja & Katja


Targul Frumos 1
Intro Sonja & Katja
Diary Iasi 1
Diary Iasi 2
Diary Iasi 3

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Sonja and Katja: Improving the Iasi defensive position

After the successful neutralization of the Butor bridgehead in the area of the 6. Armee, Heeresgruppe Südukraine searched for further options to improve its defensive position. As one of the biggest cities in northern Romania, Iasi was of special political and military importance. Therefore it was only natural to strengthen the position there. This was possible by taking a relatively small area up to the valley of the creek Jijia. As the southern edge of this valley falls very steep for nearly 100meters, it provided a perfect natural defensive line - but only if in Axis hands.

Even further then during the Butor-operation, nearly all available Panzer units of the Heeresgruppe were concentrated in Korpsgruppe Mieth for this operation: Panzergrenadierdivision "Großdeutschland", 14., 24. and 23. Panzerdivision and parts of the SS-Panzerdivision "Totenkopf". Additionally, the local German and Romanian infantry divisions were involved.

Also on the soviet side an operation was prepared by the 2nd Ukrainian Front: Similar to the "Iasi-Kishinev"-operation realized in August 1944 , the attack was to take place near Iasi. The 2nd and 6th Tank Army were relocated there, coming from the area Targul-Frumos as well as from the Dnestr, to support 27th and 52nd Army. These preparations were recorded by the German Reconnaissance and thus accelerated the German efforts. That meant, the Germans had a time advantage.

Air Forces

After the frontline settled more or less since early April, the soviet 5th Air Army quickly improved its situation by several means: A lot of new airfields were built and new reinforcements were brought in. This is especially true for the 7th Fighter Corps which was fully equipped with Lend-and-Lease Airacobras. On the Axis side, the situation was better concerning infrastructure: The long-existing Romanian airfields could be used. Also here, a build-up of forces took place in May, but involuntarily: Due to the retreat from the Crimea, all units involved there came to Romania and thus German I. Fliegerkorps grew to big strength. Luftflotte 4's VIII. Fliegerkorps was not involved because it was based around Lviv / Lemberg in the area of Heeresgruppe Nordukraine. The Romanian ARR was partly reequipped with German planes: Several Fighters units converted to the Bf109, and the Grupul 6 arrived from Poland on 20th of May after having been trained with Stukas.


I. Fliegerkorps

1st & 2nd Air Corps

(3 Air Corps)

Soviet 5th Air Army

Day Bombers

35 He 111H 28 (?) Ju88, 
He111 & JRS-79
63 257 Pe2&A20

Ground attack

293 Fw190, Ju87 & Hs129 85 Ju87 & Hs129 378 421 IL2

Single engined fighters

79 Bf109 39 Bf109 & IAR80 118 584 P39, Yak1/7 & La5


54 34 88 22




647 1284

Air Forces in Bessarabia on 1st of June, 1944. German Ground attack include ca. 180 Fw190 from II./SG2 and SG10

Looking at the dislocation of Air Combat units, the picture is mixed: Many Soviet airfields were relatively close to the battle zone, but the Axis had one big trump in this aspect: The airfield at Iasi could be used on a day-by-day-basis and was only ca. 15km away from the front.

Airfields Forces in Bessarabia around 1st of June, 1944. Not all soviet airfields and units are shown

Ground battles

As nearly always on the Eastern Front, the aerial warfare accompanied a ground battle. In this case, the German operation "Sonja" began on 30th of May at 4:00. Roughly, there were four stages in the ground battles with the Axis being the active side and the Soviets mostly defending and counterattacking:
1) Operation "Sonja": German push forward to Stanca (30.5.)
2) Broadening the base of the wedge to Stanca (31.5.)
3) Operation "Katja" northwest of Iasi to secure the triangular area Stanca-Vultur-Romanesti (2.-5.6.)
4) Minor attacks and counterattacks, calming down after exhaustion of forces (until 8.6.)

Changes of the frontline during the operations Sonja & Katja

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Last update 03.03.11