Dukovac in front of his Messerschmitt Bf 109 in the Soviet Union
|Born||13 September 1918|
|Place of birth||Surčin, Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, Austria-Hungary|
|Place of death||Toronto, Canada|
|Allegiance||Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1937-1941) Independent State of Croatia (1941-1944) Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1944-1945) Syria (1946-1948)|
Yugoslav Royal Air Force|
Croatian Air Force
Yugoslav Air Force
Syrian Air Force
|Years of service||1937 - 1945; 1946 - 1948|
|Battles/wars||1948 Arab-Israeli War|
|Awards||Iron Trefoil 3rd ClassMedal of the Crown of King ZvonimirMedal of Poglavnik Ante Pavelić for BraveryIron Cross 1st ClassGerman Cross|
Mato Dukovac (23 September 1918 – September 1990) was a Croatian World War II fighter ace. With 44 confirmed and one unconfirmed victory he is Croatian fighter ace with the most victories. During his career he flew for Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Independent State of Croatia, Nazi Germany, Soviet Union, SFR Yugoslavia and Syria.
Dukovac was born in September 1918 in Surčin, Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, Kingdom of Hungary, Austria-Hungary (today Belgrade Region, Serbia). He enlisted in the Croatian Air Force soon after the country was declared independent in 1941 and became a puppet fascist state. After training he was posted to the Kuban front in Russia with the Croatian Legion, flying his first mission on 29 October 1942.
After scoring some early combat successes against the Soviet Air Force, his potential was recognised by Cvitan Galić, the leading Croatian ace at the time. Thereafter the two men partnered one another in a pair formation, known as a Rotte, together becoming the two most successful Croatian pilots.
In February 1944 Dukovac flew his 250th mission, scoring his 37th confirmed kill, for which he was awarded the German Cross in gold by Field Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen in person. Later that year, during the Soviet offensive in the Crimea, his tally of kills rose to 44, making him the number one Croatian ace ahead of Galić.
In August 1944 he was promoted to the rank of captain and sent with a contingent of the Croatian Legion to Eichwalde in East Prussia. While training in the use of the latest models of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 at Flugplatz Eichwalde in Eastern Prussia he deserted to the Soviets on 29 September 1944.
He served as a time as a flight instructor with the Soviet Air Force before being sent with other Croats to Pančevo in Serbia in December 1944, also as a flying instructor. In February 1945, for his previous service with the Axis powers, he was supposed to be arrested. He escaped the arrest and flew to Italy on 8 August 1945 with a stolen de Havilland Tiger Moth, where he surrendered to the Americans. He was treated as a Luftwaffe prisoner of war.
In January 1946 he went to Syria and joined the Syrian Air Force. He fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War flying initial missions as part of the 1st Aerial Squadron, flying Canadian–built T-6 Harvard trainers, armed with two 0.303 Browning machine-guns, from al Mezze airfield near Damascus. His only aerial claim occurred on a reconnaissance mission, an Israeli scout aircraft thought to be a Fairchild 24.
In late 1948 he emigrated to Toronto in Canada and settled there, raising a family. He commenced a business career with IBM. In 1979 he attended a Luftwaffe anniversary in Munich. In Canada, Dukovac founded an association of Croatian Canadians called "United Canadian Croats". He died in September 1990.
|1 April 1940||Second Lieutenant||Kingdom of Yugoslavia|
|29 April 1941||Second Lieutenant||Independent State of Croatia|
|21 October 1943||First Lieutenant||Independent State of Croatia|
|13 July 1944||Captain||Independent State of Croatia|
|December 1944||Captain||Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia|
- Joseph 2012, p. 108.
- Joseph, Frank (2012). The Axis Air Forces: Flying in Support of the German Luftwaffe. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-39590-1.
- Biographical information on cieldegloire.com (French)
- "Air Force of the Independent State of Croatia 1941–1945". : Danijel Frka, Josip Novak and Siniša Pogačić.
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