Tiberiu Vinca was born on 23 May 1916, in the
Hunedoara department in Transylvania. From a young age studied hard and became a
But he was also an aviation enthusiast. In
1937 he attended the flight school in Bucharest and got the license the same
year. He entered in the Air Force's attention and he entered in the Buzau
Military Flight School and on 7 September 1940 he received his fighter pilot
license. Adj. stg. av. (in reserve) Tiberiu Vinca was assigned to the 7th
Fighter Group equipped with the Bf-109E. There he trained with German
The unit was engaged in the fighting from the
first day of Operation Barbarossa. But his first kill came on 23 July. The next
one came only five days later, when he was on patrol with adj. Malacescu. They
spotted a formation of five Soviet fighters. They dived and attacked. Vinca
engaged the first three, while his wingman the last two. The Romanians, however,
got separated during the dogfight, mainly because of their lack of experience.
Another two Luftwaffe Bf-109s joined the battle. Thus Vinca managed to get
behind a Soviet fighter and shot it down.
On 18 August, four Romanian Emils from the
58th Fighter Squadron (7th Fighter Group) flew a fighter cover mission for the
Romanian troops near Odessa. They soon encountered 8 I-16s which were attacking
ground targets. In the following dogfight, each Romanian pilot, including adj.
stg. Tiberiu Vinca, claimed a Soviet fighter. But these soon were joined by an
additional six Ratas. Outnumbered, the Romanians retreated. On their way back,
Vinca spotted an isolated I-16 and attacked it. After receiving several cannon
rounds, the Rata went down in flames. However, a few minutes later, the Bf-109E
had some engine problems and had to land in a field. Luckily for the pilot, it
was behind the Romanian lines.
His fifth and last victory during ARR's first
campaign came on 29 August. After escorting a IAR-39 observation aircraft, a
Romanian formation of Bf-109Es spotted 12 I-16s attacking on the ground near
Dalnik. In the following engagement, adj. stg. Tiberiu Vinca managed to shoot
down one of them, flown by Starshiy Politruk Semyon Kunitsa of 69 IAP.
In the autumn of 1942, the 7th Fighter Group
were again on the front, this time near Stalingrad. When the Soviets broke the
Romanian lines in the offensive in November, their airfield had to be evacuated.
The pilots and mechanics barely escaped capture, in very dramatic conditions
(see the article on Alexandru Serbanescu on this site). Tiberiu Vinca managed
save two mechanics. This was probably one the only flights made by a Bf-109E
with three passengers on board! One was put inside the fuselage and the other
was squeezed in the cockpit together with the pilot. In spite of the difficult
take off (the Soviet tanks were shelling the airfield), of the weather and an
overloaded airplane he made it to the Tachinskaya airbase.
The remains of the 7th Fighter Group and of
the 5th Bomber Group were joined in the Mixed Group for the moment being. The
payback came on 20 January 1943, when cpt. Serbanescu and adj. stg. Tiberiu
Vinca shot down a Hurricane each.
At the beginning of March 1943, the Mixed
Group was retreated to Melitopol for R&R. But the fighter pilots of the 7th
Fighter Group were assigned to the JG 3 Udet were they changed to the new
Bf-109G. They soon started flying war missions. On 10 April, ten airplanes
strafed an airfield north of Voroshilovgrad. Cpt. Dan Scurtu and slt. Hariton
Dusescu had each a Pe-2 confirmed as destroyed on the ground. Of. echip. cls.
III Ion Milu, adj. stg. Tiberiu Vinca and adj. sef Nicolae Burileanu also had a
Pe-2 confirmed as destroyed on the ground, but only the Germans. It's a mystery,
why the Royal Romanian Aeronautics didn't confirm them as well.
On 21 April he shot down a Soviet RZ biplane
in a dogfight 4 km west of Starobielsk.
Four days later he crash landed because of an
engine failure, but got away unscratched. On 7 May he scored his 8th victory (a
Sturmovik) and on 9 May he shot down two La-5s. In that last dogfight he was
lightly wounded and sent to the Taganrog hospital. At that moment he was the
highest scoring Romanian ace on the front.
In June 1943, the 7th Fighter Group was passed
again under Romanian command and was assigned to the Romanian Air Corps. Vinca
returned from the hospital and shot down another Soviet aircraft on 27 July. But
a few days later he was wounded again and left the Group. He missed the heavy
action of August 1943. Who knows what he might have achieved?
After he got out of the hospital he was
assigned to the 53rd Fighter Squadron, which was stationed on the Pipera
airfield near Bucharest. He flew home defense missions, but they were only
In February 1944 he was transferred to the
56th Fighter Squadron in the 9th Fighter Group, which was then under the command
of cpt. Alexandru Serbanescu.
On 10 March he was the wingman of lt. Teodor
Greceanu. They were called back to the airfield because Soviet airplanes were
attacking the base. Adj. Tiberiu Vinca shot down two Il-2 bombers and lt.
Greceanu got a Yak. All this happened under eyes of gen. Emanoil Ionescu, the
commander of the 1st Air Corps.
But three days later, on 13 March (a
coincidence?), his luck ran out. It was his second mission that day. He spotted
a bomber formation and went in for a closer look. They were German He-111s. But
the German machine-gunners opened fire. Tiberiu Vinca's airplane was hit,
entered a spin and crashed into the ground. The pilot's body was thrown out of
He had flown 248 war missions and shot down 13
enemy airplanes (15 victories after the new system adopted in 1944). A few days
before he had asked to be promoted to the rank of "sublocotenent" (2nd lt.) in
reserve or at least be admitted in the Reserve Officers' School, as reward for
his long service record on the front. Unfortunately he was promoted post-mortem.