Narrative History (Pre-WW2)

of the Latvian Air Force

The Latvian Air Force was first formed in 1919, but details of its early history are sketchy. Lieutnant Alfred Valeika was ordered to form a Latvian Army Aviation Group on 7 June 1919. He gathered together a number of personnel with flying and technical experience gained from service in the Russian Bolshevik Air Service. In July the first aircraft were obtained, by hijacking a shipment of ex-Soviet aircraft captured by the Germans. After minor repairs these machines saw service against Russo-German forces occupying the country. Another aircraft was obtained subsequently, and used to form a second aviation unit.

On 30 September 1919 the two Army Aviation Groups were amalgamated to form the Latvian Aviation Park. The defeat of the Russo-German forces in mid October 1919 left a number of aircraft at abandoned German airfields. Those in the best state were overhauled and restored to flying condition. In 1920 a School of Military Aviation was established. March 1921 saw a re-organisation which resulted in Latvian Aviation Division being created. Further expansion resulted in the force being renamed the Latvian Aviation Regiment in 1926. In 1936 the previously separate Naval Aviation Division was incorporated into the Latvian Aviation Regiment as a new Squadron.

The aircraft in service when the USSR invaded in June 1940 were withdrawn from use and stored. During the period of German occupation 1941-44, several of these stored aircraft found their way to Germany, where at least some of them where flown. A number of Latvian pilots flew alongside the Luftwaffe on operations against the Red Army during this time.

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