by Piotr Górka

Section Three biplane Cammels of the 7th Fighter Squadron 

Polish Air Force over Polish eastern border.


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        As Poland was not an independent country throughout the 19th century and not until 1918, Poles served with the occupant's military forces during WWI. A number of Poles flew with the Imperial Russian, German or Austro-Hungarian Air Force. Some Poles joined the flying services of other countries (mainly France but also Turkey, for example) as volunteers. Stefan Stec was one of those in Austrian service. To stress his patriotic feelings towards his opressed homeland, he had the red-and-white chequered square motif applied on his fighter. When Poland regained independence in 1918, this symbol was soon adopted as Polish Air Force national marking and still continues to be used as such to date.




Stec's Foker E.V 001. The fighter bears Stec's individual markings, a horizontal S with white and-red

    star in middle and white-and-red chess board.





   Following the pattern of ‘La Fayette’ Escadrille formed during WW I, the ‘Kosciuszko’ Squadron was composed entirely of American pilots who volunteered to fight in the Polish Air Force in the war against communist Russia. Led by Merian Cooper the 7th Fighter Squadron in the Polish Air Force was named after Tadeusz Kosciuszko, an 18th century Polish and American hero. The squadron’s badge showed scythes prepared for combat and a Cracow regional hat (both symbols of the Polish Uprisiing led by Kosciuszko against Russia) against the background of ‘Stars and Stripes’ (symbolising his role in the American War of Independence). The squadron proved crucial in the defence of the city of Lwow (now Lviv in Ukraine) against communist forces during summer 1920, harassing Russian troops to slow them down in their advance, allowing precious extra time for ground reinforcements, to arrive in the city. The traditions of the squadron still continue in the Polish Air Force today.





Another example of early Polish chess board. Fokker D.VII 502/18, personaln aircraft of Cpt Stefan Bastyr, C.O. of the IIIrd Dyon (former IIIrd Aviation Group), in the company of two Brandenburgs.

The unit stopped Budyenny,s Cossack cavalry at the gates of Lwow in mid-August 1920









   Gen. Ludomil Rayski (left) and Col. Cedric Fauntleroy. Rayski a colourful  but controversial character. During WWI he flew with the Turkish Air Force. During the Polish-Russian war of 1920-1921 he commanded the 7th Fighter Squadron (7 Eskadra Mysliwska) before it became an American unit. From 1926 until 1939 he was the commander-in-chief of the Polish Air Force. He resigned from this post in early 1939 in protest againts insufficient funds allocated for millitary aviation in the face of an imminent threat. Despite that gesture he was subsequently held responsible for the failure of the Polish Air Force against the Luftwaffe and not given any command post in the PAF in the West. He then flew as a ferry pilot with the RAF in the Mediterranean until 1943 when he was appointed the senior PAF officer for the Middle East. In this capicity he subsequently flew tactical reconnaissance sorties with No.318 Sqn (Polish) and supply drop missions to Warsaw with No.1586 Flt, becoming one of few airmen who had flown in combat in both world war.







      Col.Cooper with P/Os Miroslaw Feric (left) and Jan Zumbach. The visit of Col Marien Cooper to 303 Sqn on14 March 1941. 303 Sqn was heir to traditions of the 'Kosciuszko' Squadron, an American volunteer unit formed in 1920 to fight in the Polish -Bolshevik war (following the pattern of the 'La Fayette' Squadron in France during WWI) Cooper, a founder of 'Ksciuszko' Squadron, was shot down and captured by the Red Russians, but survived and later escaped from captivity. Back in the USA, he produced the original "King Kong" movie. During WWII Cooper made good use of the 'Kosciuszko' Squadron experience, when he initiated establishment of the American Volunteer Group in China, later famed as the 'Flying Tiger'. The original 'Kosciuszko Badget' of 1920 vintage, adopted as 303 Sqn emblem, can be seen under the radio mast. This was the usualy position of the badge on 303's Hurricanes and then on Spitfire Is in early 1941.






                                                                                      Oficial Mumorial badget 7 Eskadra Mysliwska (7th Fighter Squadron)




  Line-up of the OEFAG-built Albatros D.III fighter of the 7th 'Kosciuszko' Squadron on parade at Lewandowski aerodrome

on 22 November 1919, the first anniversary of the liberation of Lwow. Mjr Fauntleroy's 'I' first in  the line.



Seated from left to right;


    Kazimierz Szrajer 'Paddy' On June 25, 1944 a very special mission was flown to Poland. A V-2 rocket on a test flight crash landed in Poland and was hidden by the Polish Underground before the Germans knew where it had landed. At this time, Allied Intelligence in London knew of the existence of very advanced weapons but only had scanty knowledge of exactly what they were. When the Polish Underground contacted London to let them know that they had a virtually complete V-2 rocket disassembled and hidden away, immediate steps were taken to retrieve important parts. A C47 was dispatched from Brindisi to in Poland. The crew comprised Fl/Lt. Culliford (a New Zealander), Navigator F/O. Williams and Radio Operator Fl/Sgt. Appleby. Paddy was detailed to go on the mission as none of the crew spoke Polish. The code name for the mission was ' Underwriter'.


    Janusz Zurakowski  During the war fighter pilot of 316 sqn PAF, perhaps the best known pilot who was involved with the AVRO Arrow CF 105 program. Retiring from the PAF as Squadron Leader in 1947, Zurakowski was employed as Chief Experimental Test Pilot for Gloster Aircraft Company "Zura" as he came to be known, tested the many experimental versions of the Gloster Meteor, Javelin, and Gloster E.1/44 fighters. He set an international speed record: London-Copenhagen-London, 4–5 April 1950. The attempt was organised by Gloster to sell the Meteor IV to the Danish Air Force and succeeded.  At the 1951 Farnborough Airshow, Zurakowski demonstrated a new aerobatics manoeuvre, the "Zurabatic Cartwheel", in which he suspended the Gloster Meteor G-7-1 prototype he was flying, in a vertical cartwheel. "This jet manoeuvre was the first new aerobatic in 20 years


     Boleslaw  Orlinski   During the war commander 305 sqn, PAF. Between 27 August and 25 September 1926, together with Sgt Leonard Kubiak, he flew the distance of 22 600 km (Warsaw – Tokyo – Warsaw) in Breguet XIX aircraft, in 121 hours 16 minutes. That achievement made him famous; he participated in other aerobatics performances, in Polish aircraft. In addition to flights as a Test Pilot has participated in numerous air meetings and presentations Polish aircrafts, as well as national and international air contest. In May 1930, piloting PZL L.2, won first prize at the international airport in Brno weekly meeting. In July 1930 on the PZL.5 aircraft took part in the international competition tourist plane Challenge 1930, but was eliminated on July 26 due to engine failure. In December 1930 PZL P.6 presented fighter in flight at the Paris Le Bourget airport. In 1931 he won  competition in the U.S. airline National Air Races in Cleveland, beating the famous pilots of the world, including Ernst Udet. Recognition aroused especially his aerial acrobatics.


    Wladyslaw “Spud” Potocki Fighter pilot of 306 sqn PAF. After the war, he graduated from the British Empire Test Pilot School. Following emigration to Canada in the early 1950s, Potocki was engaged as a test pilot with "Avro Aircraft Canada Ltd". He accumulated the highest number of hours of the four pilots who flew the first five Arrow aircraft. It was recorded that he reached a speed of Mach 1.9 in one of the Arrows, but it was rumoured that he actually reached Mach 2.0.  Potocki is the only pilot that "flew" the experimental Avrocar. After the closing of Avro Canada he joined North American Rockwell as a test pilot.

Piotr Górka © 2007