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'Battle of Britain' won thanks to Polish aces !!


Polanglik 11 | 303
1 Nov 2007 #1
Their skill and bravery in winning the Battle of Britain is legendary, but many of the RAF's Spitfire and Hurricane pilots were actually so short on training they were unable to shoot straight, claims historian Dr Anthony Cumming !

An inadequate training programme meant many pilots were sent into battle with just ten hours of solo flying under their belts, and some were ordered into battle without ever having fired their guns, and unable to 'shoot straight'due to 'completely inadequate' gunnery training.

The RAF's two top aces during the Battle of Britain were Seregeant J Frantisek and Flying Officer Witold Urbanowicz; both had been trained in foreign air forces !

Sounds to me that without these Polish aces the outcome may have been very different - I read somewhere that 1 in 3 RAF pilots were Polish.

This article can be found in the latest edition of BBC History Magazine, and there is bit on page 6 of Tuesday's Daily Mail.
z_darius 14 | 3,968
1 Nov 2007 #2
I read somewhere that 1 in 3 RAF pilots were Polish.

My sources tell me Polish pilots constituted 5% of RAF during the Battle of Britain. They were responsible for a disproportionately high number of kills (12%), even though they were allowed to join the Battle when it was about 1/2 way through.

The Brits did not believe Poles could actually fly, so they made them train flying formations on the ground using tricycles. Some of the best pilots in Europe (and possibly the world) during WW2 were riding tricycles while British rookies were slaughtered in the air.

Lt-Colonel - Gabreski of USAF In 1943 joined RAF 315-th (Polish) Fighter Squadron "Deblinski" since the Americans believed he was not good enough to join any of their air units. He became the top U.S. ace of WW2 in Europe with 28 air-to-air combat victories and 2 enemy planes destroyed on the ground. Gabreski's parents were both Polish.

If you want to learn more I recommend this book: Question-Honor-Kosciuszko-Squadron-Forgotten.
BubbaWoo 33 | 3,510
1 Nov 2007 #3
tell us something we dont know
Peter 3 | 247
1 Nov 2007 #4
Sounds to me that without these Polish aces the outcome may have been very different

Air Marshall Dowding, the RAF commander during the Battle of Britain, said after that had it not been for the Polish pilots the result may have been very different.
osiol 55 | 3,922
1 Nov 2007 #5
riding tricycles

Maybe this is something that can be brought back into RAF training.
How about all the armed forces on tricycles. They can work their way up to unicycles before taking to the air/sea/tanks.
Bring back national service.
isthatu 3 | 1,164
2 Nov 2007 #6
Although undoubted great Pilots and cracking nazi hunters the Polish contribution to the Battle of Britain is being played up a smidge. They were the most undisaplined aircrew around at that time,in a complex air battle that was won by putting the right amount of aeroplanes in the right place at the right time Polish aircrew would fly off on what would now be termed "wild weasel" flights,ie tearing out of formation after stragglers and lone bombers. None of this takes away from the bravery or valor but battles are won through disapline and team work,not individual acts of heroism.

All aircrew were initial trained on bycycles for formation flying,in fact the Modern RAF still uses this practice,in the Red Arrows,and no one complains about their lack of skill.

BTW,my 2 great uncles were pre war trained RAF Pilots, ,the one who fought in the B of B finished it with 8 confirmed solo "kills" and went on to another 12,so to sweeping ly imply that the Poles were the only trained Pilots is utterly ludecrus.
BubbaWoo 33 | 3,510
2 Nov 2007 #7
thank you for telling me something i didnt know
jareck8
2 Nov 2007 #8
Their skill and bravery in winning the Battle of Britain is legendary,

well done the poles
z_darius 14 | 3,968
2 Nov 2007 #9
All aircrew were initial trained on bycycles for formation flying,in fact the Modern RAF still uses this practice,in the Red Arrows,and no one complains about their lack of skill.

That's a great teaching technique for the inexperienced. Not for the few in RAF who actually had experience, not only flying but actually fighting against German pilots.

to sweeping ly imply that the Poles were the only trained Pilots is utterly ludecrus.

Did anyone imply that here?
Peter 3 | 247
2 Nov 2007 #10
They were the most undisaplined aircrew around at that time

A statement refuted by numerous recollections of the British officers attached to the Polish squadrons. In fact they say that the Polish squadrons were far more effective at stopping, shooting down and turning back the German formations than the British ones.
isthatu 3 | 1,164
2 Nov 2007 #11
Well said,but this turn around came after the turning points of the Battle. All points are moot really though,much as I obviously ,being a descendant of one,have the utmost respect for all the aircrew of every nationality involved(bar the hun,d'oh) it has to be said that the Battle was "lost" by Hitler pulling the main forces back in preperation for Barbarossa.

and wasnt frantisek a Czech flying with 303?
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163
2 Nov 2007 #12
and wasnt frantisek a Czech flying with 303?

Yes...
isthatu 3 | 1,164
2 Nov 2007 #13
That's a great teaching technique for the inexperienced. Not for the few in RAF who actually had experience, not only flying but actually fighting against German pilots.

Im afraid "your" aircrew needed it as much as anyone,you cant just join a forgiegn force without cross over training or chaos would ensue as has been demonstrated in recent "blue on blue " incidents in hot and dusty places. Speaking personally my relative had as much fighting experiance as the average Polish Pilot by then as he had been in France with his Hurricane Sqdn prior to Dunkirk and the B of B. The Air war for Europe was won by terrific co operation between men of many nationalities coming together with a coomen cause and a commen training regime and tactics,without that we would have all lost against the hun.
AvJoeUK
2 Nov 2007 #14
My Grandad said the craziest Pilot he ever knew was a pole :D
z_darius 14 | 3,968
2 Nov 2007 #15
Im afraid "your" aircrew needed it as much as anyone,you cant just join a forgiegn force without cross over training or chaos would ensue

I would really recommend the book I suggested in post #2 above.

Speaking personally my relative had as much fighting experiance as the average Polish Pilot

Not every Polish pilot was a better flier than every British pilot. The top aces in the Battle of Britain were undoubtedly Poles though. As a matter of fact, they were legendary to the point that some British pilots (and some Brits in general) pretended Polish accent to get dates with British chicks :)

The Air war for Europe was won by terrific co operation between men of many nationalities coming together with a coomen cause and a commen training regime and tactics,without that we would have all lost against the hun.

That is true.
Ironside 49 | 10,171
31 Jan 2010 #16
check it out !
Poland Alone: Britain, SOE and the Collapse of Polish Resistance, 1944 (Hardcover)
~ Jonathan Walker
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
31 Jan 2010 #17
it has to be said that the Battle was "lost" by Hitler pulling the main forces back in preperation for Barbarossa.

What forces did he pull back? Last i checked none.
grubas 12 | 1,391
1 Feb 2010 #19
They helped but would also be won without them.
skysoulmate 14 | 1,297
1 Feb 2010 #20
I would really recommend the book I suggested in post #2 above.

Just ordered it.

I usually prefer books written by "the other side" - the enemy; for some reason I always prefer to study their reasoning.

Last one I read was Messerschmitts over Sicily: Diary of a Luftwaffe Fighter Commander

Fascinating.

I'll check out this book too. Have there been any films made about the 303rd squadron?
Babinich 1 | 455
1 Feb 2010 #21
Last one I read was Messerschmitts over Sicily: Diary of a Luftwaffe Fighter Commander

Wasn't Steinhoff the pilot badly burned in a jet takeoff mishap?
Bratwurst Boy 6 | 10,526
1 Feb 2010 #22
I usually prefer books written by "the other side" - the enemy; for some reason I always prefer to study their reasoning.

Here you have the epitome of "the other side":

Admirable Adolf Galland's "The First and the Last".

He was not only there during the Battle of Britain, he was the friend of aces like Werner Mölders, Erich Hartmann and even british aces like Douglas Bader, the intimate enemy of Hermann Göring, he also founded and led the first jet Jagdgeschwader in the world.

Loved this book!
krysia 23 | 3,057
1 Feb 2010 #23
They helped but would also be won without them.

Like you were ther to know....
Harry
1 Feb 2010 #24
The top aces in the Battle of Britain were undoubtedly Poles though.

Yeah, right. Half of the top four aces in 303 squadron weren't Polish!

content removed
z_darius 14 | 3,968
2 Feb 2010 #25
Since you like statistics and interpolations (per capita and similar) let's do just that:

This is the list of the 4 top scoring squadrons during the Battle of Britain. The numbers are ONLY absolutely confirmed kills. 303 was allowed to join the Battle very late into it.

Squadron - Kills (days in combat) - Kills Per Day
603 - 57 (59 days of combat) - 0.97 kills per day
609 - 48 (59 days of combat) - 0.81 kills per day
41 - 45 (59 days of combat) - 0.76 kills per day
303 - 44 (17 days of combat) - 2.59 kills per day

But of corse we have those two non-Polish pilots among the best within The 303 Squadron. 'sokay. We'll deal with that accordingly and throw in some extra benefit for them. So lets subtract non Polish scores and then let's get insanely wild and assume that kills by all 4 non-Polish pilots within 303 were 50% of all confirmed kills by 303.

That leaves us with 22 kills in 17 days by Poles i.e. 1.29 kills per day. Ergo, Polish pilots of 303 Fighter Squadron were the most effective pilots during the Battle of Britain.
convex 20 | 3,978
2 Feb 2010 #26
That leaves us with 22 kills in 17 days by Poles i.e. 1.29 kills per day. Ergo, Polish pilots of 303 Fighter Squadron were the most effective pilots during the Battle of Britain.

Now to go for the win, why were they the most effective pilots during the Battle of Britain? Was it superior training? Different tactics? Some sort of supernatural will to do better?

Did the Luftwaffe wait until the final 17 days to send their best over? What was the makeup of the planes downed by the 303?

Edit:I'm not trying to diminish the contribution, just asking why the stats look like that.
Wroclaw Boy
2 Feb 2010 #27
Now to go for the win, why were they the most effective pilots during the Battle of Britain?

they took more chances
had a serious score to settle
most had lost their loved ones

They were essentially crazy and good to have on our side.

Squadron - Kills (days in combat) - Kills Per Day

Thats flawed darius, its a well known fact that many pilots took credit for the same kills, i dont want to diminish 303 but we all know Poles are famous for lying and exageration. Especially the ones that had to gain results in order to keep their Squadrons.
Harry
2 Feb 2010 #28
303 - 44 (17 days of combat) - 2.59 kills per day

17 days? Can you perhaps explain why Josef František, 303 squadron's leading ace in the Battle of Britain had his first BoB kill on 2 September and the battle lasted until 31 October? In fact, all of František's BoB victories came between 2 September and 30 September and he wasn't even alive for the final 17 days of the battle. Oops, you appear to have been caught lying yet again.

Further proof that you are lying comes from the Operations Record Book of the No.303 Squadron, August 1940, F540 (NA AIR 27/1663).

It is available here and it clearly shows the first combat as being on 30 August 1940.
orb.polishaf.pl/303sqn/1940-4/1940-08-no-303-squadron-f540

Do you mean to claim that 303 Squadron was then fighting a battle other than the battle of Britain? Which battle was that?

And let's have a look at some of your other numbers. According to you, 603 squadron had 59 days of combat in which it got its 57 kills but 303 had just 17 days. However, 603 squadron was based in Scotland until 27 August 1940 and didn't see its first BoB combat until 28 August 1940. Oops again.

the-battle-of-britain.co.uk/squadrons/603sqn.htm

So lets subtract non Polish scores and then let's get insanely wild and assume that kills by all 4 non-Polish pilots within 303 were 50% of all confirmed kills by 303.

Alternatively, let's just look at the figures:
# Sqn Ldr R G Kellett DSO DFC Original CO of 303 Sqn during the Battle of Britain, (five claims)
# Flt Lt John A. Kent, Canadian Flight commander during the Battle, (11 claims)
# Sgt Josef František, Czech Sgt. pilot flying with 303 Polish Squadron, was the one of the top fighter pilots of the Battle of Britain, with 17 confirmed kills.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/303_Polish_Squadron#Pilots_of_303

44 kills you said?
z_darius 14 | 3,968
2 Feb 2010 #29
Thats flawed darius, its a well known fact that many pilots took credit for the same kills, i dont want to diminish 303 but we all know Poles are famous for lying and exageration

These are not the numbers claimed by the squadron members but confirmed by a British historian, and they are about 1/3 of the claimed ones. So no, there is no, I did not fall for any exaggerated claims.

The superior skills of 303 pilots were later confirmed without a shadow of the doubt. On 11 April 1942, when an aerial gunnery contest was staged within No. 11 Group RAF, the three competing Polish squadrons—303, 316 and 315—took the first three places out of all 22 air squadrons, 303 Squadron coming first by a very healthy margin (808 hits, while 316 Squadron scored 432 hits, and the best British squadron 150 hits.

Now, one might want to stop and pause here and think how the arrogance of the British stopped Poles from participating sooner in the Battle of Britain.
Harry
2 Feb 2010 #30
Now, one might want to stop and pause here and think how the arrogance of the British stopped Poles from participating sooner in the Battle of Britain.

Yes and one might also want to pause and think about the arrogance of holding 603 squadron out of the combat until a mere two days before pilots who couldn't even speak to fighter command.


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