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    Avatar photoMike

    Very nice, do like the chrome effect on that plane, any special paint?

    Avatar photoDeleted User

    I really enjoy reading the background of each aircraft. The painting is good too, especially the yellow.

    Avatar photoDave Crowe

    No special paint. It’s an old Citadel Mithril Silver still going strong from the 90s. I just base  and ink wash and then tidy up with another coat. It’s pretty forgiving stuff.

    Yellows are always a base of white with a yellow ink on top. Really pops that way.

    Thanks for looking. Glad you enjoy both the minis and the history. The two go hand in hand for me. There really isn’t one without the other.

    Avatar photozippyfusenet

    Your posts are always inspiring, Dave. Thanks for putting on another show.

    You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

    Avatar photoGaz045

    Latecomer to the party!

    But just WOW! Very inspiring photos and superb modelling and painting! Might have to revisit my BoB collection and China ’37 planes……



    "Even dry tree bark is not bitter to the hungry squirrel"

    Avatar photoPrince Rhys

    What a brilliant thread. I’ve read it all through with fascination and joy. Thank you for the history and the photos. Brilliant!

    Avatar photoPatrick

    Hi Dave,

    A particularly timely topic from you as I am winding up my Pacific forces and float planes are already in my Scotia basket. How fiddly were the Rufe and Jake to assemble?

    Your work is once again fantastic and it´s always a pleasure to read your posts.

    Avatar photoDave Crowe

    Thank you kindly all. Especially anyone who has just read through all four pages of the gallery. That’s some amount of reading. Two cups of tea and at least 4 biscuits worth I reckon.

    Patrick, both Rufe and Jake are pretty straight forward to assemble. Nothing too fiddly there. The Rufe has those very spindly outriggers though which will bend easily if you’re not careful. You could replace the struts with stiffer wire if they’re set for a lot of table time. But that I will admit would be a fiddly job.

    Avatar photoPatrick

    Hi Dave, thanks for the info. It is indeed those spindly outriggers that set off the fiddly alarm. 🙂 I´m only getting three Rufes so hopefully my patience can last that long!

    Avatar photoDave Crowe

    Back once again after a huge two + years hiatus. And bringing us back to the tiny planes big history scene it’s the round of the  eye in the sky, often unarmed but never unimportant… It’s Aerial Reconnaissance planes.


    We’ve met a few of these already in our previous mentions.


    We’ve seen Imperial Japan’s little submarine-carried “Glens” and France’s Potez 63.11 of the Aèriens d’Observation, as well as numerous other planes like Mosquitos and P-38s whose contributions as photo reconnaissance platforms were every bit as vital to success as their bombing or attack roles.


    But we’re here for the newly painted planes in the collection.


    So let’s look at some of these new additions and as ever enjoy some great stories from the history of WW2 along the way.




    Ki-46-High speed long range photo reconnaissance – Allied code name “Dinah”


    In 1939 Imperial Japanese top brass ordered a fast reconnaissance platform with long range endurance of 6 hours. The Ki-46 was the result and at the time could outpace the fastest Japanese fighters but as faster American fighters like the P-38 came online it had to be upgraded supercharged and redesigned in an effort to keep up.


    Earlier designs had one defensive machine gun which was soon eliminated to save weight and increase speed. When you’re faster than your pursuer you don’t stay around to fight over the photos you’ve just taken.


    British planes in Burma had a hard time countering these fast, high altitude planes through there were some occasional interceptions. One notable example was by P-38 fighter ace Major Dick Bong over the coast of Papua New Guinea in late 1942.




    Ju 86 P- Luftwaffe -High Altitude Photo Reconnaissance -Eastern front.


    Many PR aircraft weren’t so straight forward in their genesis. The German Ju 86 began life as an airliner (though that’s maybe a somewhat dubious claim when the Nazi war machine was being prepared in the civilian sector with the “honestly that’s not bomb capacity that’s for mail bags” school of design.


    Early field testing with the Condor Legion in the Spanish civil war proved the Ju 86 wasn’t the medium bomber they’d hoped for, the He 111 winning out on that front.

    The Ju 86 was converted to transport duties but failed badly at that too and any survivors were relegated to training roles.


    One variant that saw some success however was this Ju 86P- with longer wings and a pressurised cabin no guns and a crew of two these aircraft could reach an altitude of 49,000 ft where they were largely safe from enemy fighters.

    This example is a paint scheme used when flying over Russia in July 1942. They operated successfully in both the photo reconnaissance and nuisance bombing role for some years over Britain, Russia and North Africa while Allied engineers developed high altitude interceptors to try to deal with them.




    AR 707 of 431 Flight -Martin Maryland- Flight Officer Adrian Warburton


    Once it was said that the RAF’s most valuable pilot was not some hotshot fighter ace or even the leader of a crack bomber squadron, but this guy, photo reconnaissance pilot Adrian Warburton. Based primarily in Malta during some of the hairiest times for the Mediterranean campaign this fearless and resourceful pilot would do absolutely anything to get the job done.


    Early in his time at Malta Warburton flew this captured French Martin Maryland (an American plane sold to the French captured by the British and sent to Malta!) which, although designed as a light bomber, in the hands of the right pilot became an invaluable tool for aerial reconnaissance.


    Warburton became something of a Malta legend through his unconventional and often highly aggressive methods. His planned photographic sweep of Taranto Harbour on 11 November 1040 was hampered by bad weather but unwilling to call it a bust he instead opted to fly in at mast-top level, ordering his crew to take notes with pencil and paper on the distribution of Italian ships, completing two passed the second (unsurprisingly) under heavy flack, in order to secure the vital intelligence needed for the subsequent raid.


    So effective and indeed famous did his efforts become that he was even used as cover for other intelligence assets in the field in order to keep them secret.

    “How did we come by these extremely close and detailed photographs of enemy installations? Do we have a man on the ground behind enemy lines?”

    “Oh no old chap, it was our man Warby in his PR plane.” *Wink wink* *actually just plausible enough to be almost true*




    B-17 E – Old 666 – The Eager Beavers- 43rd Bomb Group -New Guinea 1943


    On the 16 June 1943 pilot Captain Jay Zeamer’s aircrew “The Eager Beavers” flew a solo photo recon mission in B-17 #41-2666, known as “Old 666” to map the west coast of Bougainville Island in support of an invasion planned for later in the year.

    The mission would earn pilot Cap Jay Zeamer and 2nd Lt. Joseph Sarnoski each a Medal of Honour (Sarnoski posthumously) and all other members of the aircrew the Distinguished Service Cross.



    Having turned down the request to also photograph Buka Airdrome to the North of the Island they arrived on the west coast too early for light conditions to be any good for photos and so Zeamer and his crew decided to go kick the hornets nest and do the Buka Airdrome recon job anyway.


    While the cameras rolled the newly arrived Zeros at Buka Airdrome scrambled into the air. But the crew of Old 666 were more than ready for them, having stripped the old B-17 of every scrap of dead weight they’d fitted no fewer than nineteen .50calibre machine guns! (A standard load out could be more like 13 .30 cals)


    With the Buka  Zeros climbing to meet them (mapping altitude at 25,000 feet) Zeamer had to fly the western coast line straight and level for 22 minutes to allow the cameras to record terrain.  During this time the enemy planes made a series of attacks, their 20mm cannon shells wrecking terrible damage on the nose of Old 666 leaving both pilot Zeamer and bombardier Sarnoski badly injured as well as navigator, 1st Lt. Ruby Johnston and Sgt. Johnny Able in the top gun turret. The B-17’s nose was left in tatters the hydraulics were shot and the oxygen system was in flames.

    But Zeamer held his course and once the vital shots were in the can it was time to drop to a breathable altitude and beat it for home. The dogfight continued with the crew of Old 666 giving as good as they got surviving an estimated 40 minutes before the remaining Japanese fighters, low on fuel turned back to base.


    The crew nursed the battered plane back to a hairy no-flaps landing at Dobodura on the eastern coast of Papua, New& Guinea securing the vital reconnaissance and importantly ensuring no other aircrew would have to take another stab at it.




    Focke Wulf Fw 189 and Blohm & Voss Bv 141


    Next up it’s a story of two planes. 1937, the German Ministry of Aviation issued a specification for a new three-man, single-engine short-range reconnaissance aircraft. Arado and Focke-Wulf received official invitations to design for this contract but Dr Richard Vogt of Blohm & Voss crashed the party with a spectacularly unconventional design of his own.  (But wait that’s three, well Arado’s Ar 198 was a conventional high-wing monoplane that fit the brief however, it was disappointingly underpowered but perhaps more significantly it was boring! So, like the Reichsluftfahrtministerium I’m leaving it out.)

    On with interesting designs!



    First up we have to talk about the weirdest silhouette to ever appear on a Friend or Foe identification chart, Blohm & Voss’ Bv 141.


    You’d be forgiven for thinking that the engineering of powered aircraft was a rather symmetrical affair but Dr Vogt knew otherwise and, throwing his book of aeronautical conventions out the window he came up with this instead.


    This three-man, one engine, greenhouse with wings followed the brief pretty well but it needed some creative refinement and a bigger engine to convince the top-Brass that “unconventional” didn’t always mean totally nuts.

    In the end supply of the aircraft’s BMW 801 engine was a sticking point as they couldn’t be spared from Fw 190 production (oh really Focke-Wulf? Scared of a little healthy competition are we?) and perhaps unsurprisingly the contract went to the Fw 189 Uhu instead, (Nice try Dr Vogt, you’ll have to find some other way to bankroll the Nazi war machine with your private funds.) but not before production numbers were into double figures with an order of twenty of this strange new bird being placed ensuring that Allied plane-spotters knew for sure that if you saw this thing in the sky it shouldn’t be there.


    So what of the Fw 189 Uhu?


    It didn’t fit the spec, with its twin-engine design but it performed admirably and maybe more importantly looked like an airplane.

    Not content with their sneaky tactics in securing the reccon plane contract Focke-Wulf entered their own flying greenhouse into the RLM tender for a Ground-Attack plane too.  Unsurprisingly, plexiglass not offering much protection from ground fire the contract went elsewhere. (Interestingly the Henschel Hs 129 that won that contract used the same twin Argus As 410 engines as the Fw 189. I guess they didn’t get to pull that same trick twice.)


    Not that it put much of a dampener on things for Fw, with over eight hundred Uhu’s produced they supplied the short range eye-in-the-sky needs of Germany and its allies, providing aerial reconnaissance for the airforces of Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania.


    Piper L-4 Grasshopper – “Bazooka Charlie”

    Lt. Col. Charles Carpenter was a United States Army observation pilot assigned an L-4 Grasshopper for artillery spotter role and reconnaissance missions in France 1944.

    Not content to do the spotting and let the artillery do the shooting he hooked up three bazookas under each wing and delighted in shooting up German armoured cars and tanks. (He was officially credited with destroying 6 German tanks)


    He noticed a marked increase in the amount of ground fire directed toward his Piper Cub as his reputation grew among the enemy armoured brigades. He took that to mean his Bazookas were causing them some concern, as they never used to bother spotter planes much before that.


    Rosie The Rocketer as his aircraft was affectionately known was preserved in the Austrian Aviation Museum and is now on public display restored back to its WW2 appearance at the Collings Foundation’s American Heritage Museum Massachusetts.


    PR Spitfire – 16 Squadron -Low cloud-level reconnaissance -1944


    One of the most successful PR platforms developed by the RAF was a modified Spitfire.

    Removing all armament and fitting additional fuel tanks the Spitfire became a quick and nimble camera platform that could reach as far as Berlin if need be.


    These nifty spies in the skies could operate at high medium or low altitudes and could be equipped with a variety of cameras depending on the types of images required including an oblique mounted camera on the port side for low level images such as the famous picture of the Würzburg radar at Bruneval or of the Tirpitz moored in Aasfjord, Norway.


    This is a Spitfire of 16 Squadron, painted a very pale pink/white for low, cloud level reconnaissance. On 18 Sep 44 Wing Commander G.F.H. WEBB from HQ 34 Wing was flying Spitfire PL834 of 16 Squadron and captured the famous Aerial reconnaissance photo of the Armhem Road Bridge, showing signs of the British defence on the northern ramp and wrecked German vehicles from the previous day’s fighting.


    The photos could be an invaluable resource, however as the planning and execution of Market Garden might suggest you can take all the photos you want but it’s what you do with them that counts.

    Avatar photoDarkest Star Games

    I love these posts, both the history and the models.  Glad you’re back!

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    Avatar photoGeof Downton

    The ‘planes are fantastic and the stories better. Very happy you’re back.

    One who puts on his armour should not boast like one who takes it off.
    Ahab, King of Israel; 1 Kings 20:11

    Avatar photohammurabi70

    Superb as always.

    www.olivercromwell.org; www.battlefieldstrust.com
    6mm wargames group: [email protected]; 2mm wargames group: [email protected]

    Avatar photoDave Crowe

    Thanks guys. I’ve been doing a deep dive on the Polish Airforce throughout the war. It’s grown a bit so I’ll do it in two posts. Look out for part one Poland to France coming up hopefully soon.

    Avatar photomadman

    One thing please. Could you mention where the miniature came from with each description? Also if multiple versions exist which model it is? Thank you.

    Avatar photoDave Crowe

    Hmm, Some of the minis I’ve had so long I’m not entirely sure which  company they came from but it’s only ever either Heroics & Ros or Scotia Grendel, both of whom have excellent 1:300 scale ranges. I prefer the Scotia Grendel sculpts better but often find some of the more obscure aircraft are only available in H&R’s wider range.

    If you have any questions about specific planes in my collection I’ll let you know what I can.

    I’m shopping in the UK, so I don’t know how EU or US distribution is with each of these companies is and there may likely be other companies supplying similar in your area.

    Avatar photoDave Crowe

    Polish Airforce in WW2- Miłość żąda ofiary – Love Demands Sacrifice

    Part One

    This time we’re looking at some firsts. The first aerial combat of the war, the first aircraft shot down, the first Allied Ace pilot and the first bombing strike on German home territory. It can only be the first armed invasion of the war. Yes that’s right,  like the Luftwaffe in September 1939  we’re turning our sights on the Polish Air Force.

    Now I had heard, and perhaps you did too that the vast majority of the Polish Airforce was caught flat footed and destroyed on the ground as the Luftwaffe’s bombers made their lightning advance into Poland. Contrary to the Nazi propaganda the Polish Airforce had in fact dispersed a significant amount of its combat aircraft to secondary airfields and the remaining aircraft destroyed by German bombers on the old airfields were mostly trainers.

    So what had the Polish Airforce got at their disposal? Lets look at these late 30’s lovelies.

    PZL P.11, PZL.23B Karas, and PZL.37 Los

    Now you would be forgiven for thinking the Polish airforce had been well behind the times fielding this lot against the German war machine but let’s not be too hasty.

    In the mid 30s the Polish Air ministry could read the writing on the wall and were already shifting from French designed aircraft to those designed and built by their own Zygmunt Pulawski. First the PZL P.7 and soon after the upgraded and improved PZL P.11 introduced in 1934.

    It was an advanced fighter for its time with its all-metal construction, four 7.7 mm machine guns, and gull-winged design. In fact the new “Polish Wing” drew considerable international attention and enjoyed some export success.

    This however came at a time when advancements in aircraft design were moving forward at a blistering pace and by 1939 the PZLP.11 although rugged and dependable was already horribly obsolete.

    Facing off against the more numerous, more modern and already battle-tested pilots and machines of the Luftwaffe it can hardly be a surprise that a PZL P.11 was the first casualty of the air war when Capt. Mieczyslaw Medwecki’s fighter was shot down while scrambling from the airfield to challenge dive-bombing  Stukas on the 1st of September 1939.

    However, shortly after this his wingman 2nd Lieutenant Wladek Gnys managed a brilliant solo victory over a pair of Dornier Do-17E bombers of III./KG 77 and thus gained the distinction of obtaining the first two confirmed victories over the Luftwaffe in World War II.

    The following day, nine P-11s of 142 Squadron, led by Major Lesnievski, intercepted two formations of Dornier Do 217 following the River Vistula. Attacking head on, the Polish pilots managed to shoot down seven twin-engined bombers, two of them credited to Skalski. By 16 September Skalski reached Flying Ace status, claiming a total of six German aircraft and making him the first Allied air ace of the Second World War.

    PZL.23 Karaś

    The experience of the Polish-Soviet War 1919-1921 had led the Polish Air Ministry to place a very high emphasis on Aerial Reconnaissance. (They must have read my last post!)  As early as 1931 development of this ultra-modern, all-metal construction, cantilevered wing, enclosed cockpit, light bomber and observation aircraft began to take form.

    In fact as the drawing board got over-cluttered with so much expectation the poor Karaś was some 5 years in the design and production and only in late 1936 were they rolling out the first production batch. These were to equip the Polish Line Squadrons as their new main light bomber and reconnaissance mount replacing the older French-built fleet. However yet again, in only three short years they were already approaching obsolescence.

    None the less, though slower and less manoeuvrable than they might have hoped for the Polish Bomber Escadrilles used their PZL.23s to good effect against the invading columns of German armoured vehicles, delivering upon them an estimated 70 tonnes of explosives though not without heavy losses.

    On 2 September 1939, a single PZL.23B of the 21st Escadrille was responsible for the bombing of a German factory in Ohlau, the first bombing raid to be conducted against a target within the Third Reich.

    But the Polish Air ministry hadn’t been resting on its laurels holding these old planes would see them through another decade, they had another bomber in development, one that was displayed in Paris in November 1938 that generated huge international interest as one of the most advanced aircraft of its kind.


    The PZL.37 Los (“Moose”)

    These bombers were designed by Poland’s own Jerzy Dąbrowski and when the first prototype flew in 1936 it was among the world’s more advanced medium bombers, compared to say the French Bloch MB 210 introduced to active duty in the same year.  When the first 10 production aircraft were produced in 1938 they were shown off in Paris and generated huge international interest. It could carry a heavier bomb load than the British Vickers Wellington, and thanks to its wide-spaced heavy duty undercarriage it was able to operate from rough grass airfields (although not with a full bomb load) which as it turned out proved essential.

    At the outbreak of the war only 90 were in service with another 30 on the production line. But as they had only recently been introduced many were still in training units or still to be fully equipped for the long-range deployment.

    The Polish bomber squadrons had some success in slowing the advance of the German armoured columns however this was not what the role these bombers were designed for, and with the typical 30s defensive compliment of only 3 machine guns they were easy prey for Luftwaffe interceptors.

    After two weeks of fighting and heavy losses less than thirty PZL.37s survived to be evacuated to Romania where they remained for the rest of the war being used by the Romanian airforce on behalf of both the Axis and then the Allies as the Romanian situation developed.


    FRANCE – 1940

    After the fall of Poland, the Polish Air Force started to regroup in France but the only complete unit created before the German attack on France was 145 Fighter Squadron which became known as the ‘Warsaw Group’. They were given  Caudron C.714 light fighters, the only unit in France operating the C.714 at the time.

    Perhaps this was because the Caudron C.714 had proved an absolute lemon, considered only really fit for an advanced trainer or perhaps to equip a reserve unit. However let’s not forget that Germany wasn’t the only potential enemy that France might have had to contend with. Had Franco sent the Spanish Air Force into France or had the Poles been pitted against the Italian Regia Aeronautica their Caudrons might have been able to handle their retrograde CR.42 or I-16 fighters. Against the Luftwaffe however 145 Squadron reported the C.714 was horribly underpowered and faired very badly against the Bf 109E.

    On 25 May, only a week after it was introduced, French Minister of War ordered all C.714s to be withdrawn from active service.  However as he didn’t provide the Polish pilots with anything else to fly they refused the order and battled on regardless.

    In early June some of the pilots were detached from the squadron and pressed into a newly formed fighter unit created to defend the seat of the Polish Government in Exile in Angers. For this task the unit was re-equipped with Bloch MB.152 fighters.

    The Bloch MB.152 had been the loser in the French Air Ministry’s 1934 competition for a new fighter. (That went to the MS-406) but the French were desperate for anything that could fly and the type showed just enough promise to warrant a production order.


    The MB.152 turned out to be a good stable gun platform and was a rugged and dependable machine. It could really take a beating and still fly which was just as well because the MB.152 also lacked pace and manoeuvrability and was sadly overmatched even by the oft-derided Bf 110.

    In fact due to its numerous shortcomings all French units equipped with this type suffered heavy losses in the Battle of France and by the third week had to be pulled back from the front to reform.

    The air figures for the Battle of France indicate that despite this retrograde equipment the Polish Air Force accounted for 53 allied victories for a loss of 44 machines and 13 pilots. But considering that there were plenty of perfectly serviceable MS-406 fighters already available in reserve, it is strange that French authorities obliged the highly skilled and committed Poles of 145 Squadron to make do with the Caudron and the Bloch.

    But as the German war machine pressed inexorably forward and the French air groups ran out of secondary airfields to fall back to the Polish Air Force soon realised that it was time to evacuate once again to the next Allied front, to continue their long war as best they could.


    Next time we’ll follow the Polish Air Force over the Channel to the shores of old Blighty and we’ll see how they found life in the RAF and what a legacy they forged in the Battle of Britain and beyond.

    Avatar photohammurabi70

    Awesome; how do you paint the canopies?

    www.olivercromwell.org; www.battlefieldstrust.com
    6mm wargames group: [email protected]; 2mm wargames group: [email protected]

    Avatar photoDarkest Star Games

    I love these entries and always learn something new.  I had never heard of the C.714, which has a lovely inter-war sort of pulp air racer look.

    Thanks much, please do keep them coming.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    Avatar photoDave Crowe

    Thanks Hammurabi70.

    sometimes it depends on the sculpt of the mini. For Heroics & Ros planes the sculpted lines on the cockpit are just scratches so I’ll paint the whole thing white then add the thin lines of frames on top, usually followed by a quick tidy up with white. Then I’ll wash the windows with a watered down turquoise for a bit of a sky reflection.

    For a sculpt with deeper lines like you’ll usually get from Scotia Grendel I’ll paint the whole thing with the base colour of the miniature and when it comes to the canopy I can more or less dry brush the white on leaving the painted window frames in the deeper cracks. It’s not an exact science though. Just a small brush and some patience.

    Avatar photoirishserb

    Great post and love your Polish and French aircraft.  What paint did you use for the polish planes?

    Avatar photoDave Crowe

    Thanks irishserb. It’s a mix of a few things but mostly it’s a base of Model Color 70 929 light brown that I darkened down a bit with a dirty brown wash. I think I dry brushed it lightly with the light brown again before I washed the lot in Game Ink flesh wash to bring it up to that deep red brown. Then I think I maybe dulled it back with another light brown dusting. It’s a process more than a single colour. I like to get some definition into the surface especially if it’s a flat colour scheme like these.

    Avatar photoSteve Johnson

    Cracking work as always Dave:).

    Avatar photoDave Crowe

    Thanks Steve.

    Darkest Star Games, it seems you have a good eye for these things. Curious about your comment I did a bit of research and yes indeed the C.714 has a heritage in 1930s racing planes. Caudron were a famous builder of racing, touring and world record chasing small aircraft. You can see the lineage quite clearly in their C.460 and the C.600 They’ve got those long nose slim fuselage shapes going on. The only reason the C.714 had those boxes under the wings was to fit the guns inside.

    Good spotting and thanks for reading along.

    Avatar photo6mmwargaming

    Wow I’ve caught up on this thread and its full of great history and painting. The Polish in particular I like and I have a great book on them called White Eagles.

    My 6mm Wargaming site https://6mm.wargaming.info

    Avatar photomadman

    Dave & others

    Picked up the Battle of Britain by plastic soldier company plus lots of other 1/300 minis yet to paint. Any sites or books you would recommend with colours and markings for Germany, RAF, French, Belgian, Netherlands, Poland and Italian forces? Especially pre war (Spanish Civil War) to early (1939 to end of the desert war) periods. Thank you in advance.

    Avatar photoDave Crowe

    Polish Airforce in Exile- part 2 “Repeat please!”


    As the situation in France began to deteriorate a large part of the Polish Air Force contingent withdrew to the UK. However, the RAF Air Staff were not willing to accept the independence and sovereignty of Polish forces. Now this wasn’t just an attitude of superiority and disparagement on the part of the RAF, (by many accounts that existed too) but there were refugees, exiled armed forces and government officials from many nations all looking to the UK to provide them the tools and resources to take the fight back home and the Polish exiles and their Air Force were not the only ones.


    And so systems of regulations were put in place to maintain RAF command over the whole. Foreign pilots, no matter how highly experienced would all begin at the lowest flying rank of “Pilot Officer” and had to wait in training centres, learning English command procedures and language (such as “Repeat Please.”), even while the RAF suffered heavy losses due to lack of experienced pilots.


    The first Polish squadrons formed were 300 and 301 bomber squadrons and then 302 and 303 fighter squadrons.




    300 and 301 were the first Polish units to be made operational. Initially equipped with, yes you guessed it, another horribly underpowered and all-round unfit for the job aircraft. This time it was the Fairey Battle. Anyone else sensing a theme emerging?



    The RAF’s notoriously sub-optimal light-bomber was being hastily shuffled away from front line service but true to form the eager Polish airmen would take anything with wings that would let them drop a bomb on the enemy.


    Their early missions included the night bombing of the Operation Sea-lion barges at Boulogne.


    Both units were re-equipped with Wellingtons by November 1940 and continued to operate as part of No.1 (Bomber) Group, taking part in the first Thousand-Bomber Raid against Cologne (Operation Millennium), and the second thousand-bomber raid on Essen in May and June 1942.


    I threw together a collection of my RAF bombers that would have taken part in these raids (an an Avro York in the back there because from a distance it looked the part)


    In actual fact the vast majority of bombers on these raids were twin engined Wellingtons as the numbers of big 4 engined aircraft simply weren’t there yet. So hard-pressed for suitable aircraft to make up the numbers they even brought some old Whitleys back out of retirement just for the occasion!

    Actual Poles in Whitleys still to come.


    In April 1943 due to losses 301 squadron was disbanded and remaining crews and personnel were consolidated into 300 squadron who were now converting to Avro Lancasters. (I probably should’ve painted up a 300sq Lancaster for this, but sadly I didn’t.)


    Some elements of 301 Volunteered for a new effort that would form C Flight of 138 Squadron, an RAF Special Duties Flight operating three Handley Page Halifaxes and three Consolidated Liberators as special transport bombers.



    In November 1943 they were deployed to Libya and then on to Italy and became No. 1586 (Polish Special Duties) Flight.



    Missions included partisan supply drops and agent insertion often involving seriously long haul flights over occupied Europe and into central Poland in support of the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944. For which the Polish C-in-C Kazimierz Sosnkowski  named them Obrońców Warszawy (Defenders of Warsaw)


    This is HP Halifax no. JP222 (GR-E) which was Damaged by flak during a supply sortie to Warsaw but crashed into the sea when returning to Brindisi with the loss of the whole crew: P/O Molinski, F/Sgt Beer, Sgt Kuhn, Sgt Milewski, Sgt  Martyniuk, Sgt Kozlowski, Sgt Minowski and observer F/Lt Wolf.


    No matter what the RAF might have called it, C Flight, or 1586 or whatever, the Polish crews and authorities still referred to it as No. 301 Squadron (Land of Pomerania.) and lobbied the RAF successfully to retain the old GR squadron code from 301 on their aircraft. The RAF eventually gave in renaming the unit as No. 301 Squadron (special duties / Transport Command) in November 1944.


    Now let’s take a look at the fighters.

    The fighter squadrons, 302 and 303 first saw action in the third phase of the Battle of Britain in late August 1940 flying Hawker Hurricanes and quickly showed themselves to be highly effective. Polish flying skills were well-developed and the pilots were regarded as fearless and sometimes bordering on reckless.


    303 Sqd Hurricane V6665 RF-J

    Hurricane V6665 flew a total of 19 operational sorties during its short 20 days with 303 Squadron claiming four enemy aircraft destroyed.

    Sgt Tadeusz Andruszkow claimed a kill in V6665, but was shot down and killed in the aircraft the next day. He was only 19 years old when he died.



    Polish success rates were very high in comparison to less-experienced British Commonwealth pilots. 303 squadron became the most efficient RAF fighter unit at that time, to the point that RAF commanders protested when government censors refused to allow this fact to appear in the press.



    303 Squadron is now accepted as being the highest scoring RAF fighter squadron of the Battle of Britain, with the best kills to loss ratio of all RAF units involved in the Battle, despite being in the front line for only 42 days.




    Later, further Polish squadrons were created: 304 (bomber, then Coastal Command), 305 (bomber), 306 (fighter), 307 (night fighter), 308 (fighter), 309 (reconnaissance, then fighter), 315 (fighter), 316 (fighter), 317 (fighter), 318 (fighter-reconnaissance) and 663 (air observation/artillery spotting).


    In August 1942 No. 309 Polish Fighter-Reconnaissance Squadron became the first Polish unit converted to the American-built Mustang Mk1.



    The Mustang’s operational range was greatly debated among the 309 pilots. At the time it was considered common knowledge that a Mustang couldn’t be flown from the east coast of Scotland to Norway and back, but Polish pilot and aeronautical engineer F/Lt Janusz Lewkowicz disagreed. He submitted his calculations to the contrary to Group HQ but to no avail.


    Not content with being ignored, Lewkowicz in typical Polish style did whatever he felt necessary to prove his point and made an unauthorized flight to Norway on the 28th September, strafing a military installation at Stavanger and returning safely to Scotland at Dunino having covered some 400miles over open water.  It was a significant achievement and not so easy to ignore.


    For his flight, Lewkowicz was reprimanded for breaking the regulations and at the same time sincerely congratulated by Air Marshall Barratt. As word of the flight got out planners began to quickly reevaluate the capabilities of the Mustang, finding targets as far away as the Dortmund-Ems canal in Germany now within reach.




    But the Polish airforce in exile were by no means confined to the defence of the British Isles.  In late 1942 Polish Air Force Staff Command requested RAF permission to send a group of specially chosen pilots to the North African theatre of operations to acquire experience in operating as a part of a tactical air force in preparation for future Allied landings on the European continent.



    Our old friend and first allied ace of the war Stanisław Skalski was given command and so was born “Cyrk Skalskiego” (Skalski’s Circus) the Polish Fighting Team (Polski Zespół Myśliwski) a special flight consisting of fifteen experienced Polish fighter pilot volunteers operating out of Goubrine Airfield in Tunisia as “C Flight” of No. 145 Squadron.


    The Polish Fighting Team were equipped with Spitfire Mk IXCs. This is ZX-6 flown by CO Stanisław Skalski himself.


    The PFT gained a reputation for combat effectiveness from March to May 1943 destroying 25 enemy aircraft with another 3  probable and 9 damaged. Flying Officer Mieczysław Wyszkowski was the only casualty in the PFT, shot down and taken prisoner.



    Following the surrender of the German Army in Africa on 13 May, the PFT was disbanded.



    Skalski then became the first Pole to command an RAF squadron when he was appointed commander of No. 601 (County of London) Squadron who he led during the invasion of Sicily and the invasion of Italy also flying the Spitfire.


    Skalaski would go on to be  appointed commander of No. 133 Polish Fighter Wing in April 1944, then flying the Mustang Mk III.




    A brief interlude if you’ll indulge me to mention another group of Eastern-European, often overlooked pilots within the RAF; the Czechoslovak airmen, many of whom were syphoned off from operational duties to take up a transport role, initially with either 24 or 511 Squadron. 511 squadron was based at RAF Lyneham from October 1942. Their role was to carry VIPs and priority freight to the Middle East.

    In 1943, the Squadron flew the Prime-Minister, Winston Churchill, to the War Conference in Casablanca.


    (We’ve met this plane before in the VIP collection.)


    In July 1943 one of 511 sqaudron’s B-24 Liberators flown by Flt/Lt Eduard Prchal (he had earlier flown Hurricanes fighters during the Battle of Britain with 310 Squadron, Beaufighters with 68 Squadron and had also served with 24 Sqn) AL523 crashed on take-off from Gibraltar in July 1943.


    On board were the Polish Prime Minister (in exile) General Władysław Sikorski and his entourage. The aircraft dived into the sea and all aboard were killed, with the exception of the pilot Prchal.



    The blow to the Polish government in exile was immense and rumours about the incident flew back and forth. However, Prchal was cleared of any wrongdoing or negligence and later returned to and resumed his duties with the RAF.


    General Sikorski’s death marked a turning point for Polish influence amongst the Anglo-American allies, and in many ways ended any hopes of Poland coming out of the war with any real political independence. No Pole after him would have as much sway with the Allied politicians, and the Allies had no intention of allowing Sikorski’s successor, Stanisław Mikołajczyk to threaten the alliance with the Soviets. No Polish representative was invited to attend the conferences at Casablanca or Yalta, and the non-interference stance of Soviet Russia during the Warsaw Uprising really put the final nail in the coffin for the Polish Government in Exile in London who the Soviets totally ignored.


    One of the last Polish squadrons formed was fighter-Reconnaissance Squadron No. 318 “City of Gdańsk”



    In October 1943, the squadron were dispatched to Palestine and took part in training exercise “Verile”  providing the air element for a simulated invasion of Palestine by the Polish II Corps. Shortly after in January 1944 they were also part of the “Tussle” training manoeuvres which were held in Egypt.



    During these training exercises their ageing Hurricane IIb’s received special temporary markings. The first were two white stripes painted on the upper left wing surface. The other was a white stripe on the tail where the usual “sky band” would be.



    Such temporary markings of black or white stripes in various locations were common practice for flight training manoeuvres, allowing observers to keep track of the aircraft involved especially where other aircraft on patrol or lost aircraft might find their way into the area. The most famous of these temporary markings is of course the D-day invasion stripes. (So let’s have some of those now.)



    Our last call before we’re done concerns  another lot of Polish Servicemen in exile whose aerial exploits shouldn’t go unmentioned. The 1st (Polish) Independent Parachute Brigade.


    They trained at Ringway aerodrome Manchester jumping out of old AW Whitley  Bombers.

    See, I told you we’d catch up with Poles in Whitleys soon.


    “Ringing the bell” was something of an issue with these old aircraft as men jumping down through the hatch in the floor had to be very careful not to crack their heads on the way out.


    The 1st (Polish) Independent Parachute Brigade flew into enemy territory in Horsa gliders towed by Albermarles of 297 sqdn on September 18th and 19th 1944 as part of Operation Market Garden


    and dropped from C-47s of the 314th and 315th Troop Carrier Groups on 23rd September


    earning themselves amongst other accolades an honourable mention in this miniature aviation history blog.

    I could talk about Albermarles being rubbish bombers and Horsa gliders being little more than plywood tubes with wings but at the end of the day they were the tools required for this very specific job and were available in sufficient numbers when needed.


    By the end of the war, around 19,400 Poles were serving in the Polish Air Force in Great Britain and in the RAF. Not to mention the thousands more in service with the other forces.


    After the war, in a changed political situation with Soviet Russia pulling the strings of Poland’s new communist Provisional Government of National Unity, Poland’s old Government in Exile in London was largely ignored and brushed under the political rug. So insistent was Uncle Joe in fact that the only Poles invited to march in the Victory parade were Soviet Poles.

    Subsequently only a small proportion of the Poles who had flown with or served alongside western forces chose to return to Poland. Those who did often suffered harassment and accusations of being western spies.


    Our good friend Stanisław Skalski Golden Cross, Silver Cross, Four times Cross of Valour, Order of Polonia Restituta, Order of the Cross of Grunwald , DSO, DFC & two bars…

    First Allied Ace of the war, 501squadron Battle of Britain pilot, Commander of 306, 316 and 317 (Polish) squadrons RAF over Occupied France, commander of the PFT in North Africa (so called “Cyrk Skalskiego”). Who commanded 601 squadron in the invasion of Sicily and of Italy and Commander of No. 133 Polish Fighter Wing, who received officers training at the US Army Command and General Staff Office and went on to command the British Air Forces of Occupation in Germany.


    Yeah, THAT guy, was one such returning Polish western exile arrested by communist political police in 1948 under the false charge of espionage. Sentenced to death, he spent three years awaiting execution, after which his sentence was changed to life imprisonment. It wasn’t until the end of Stalinism in Poland in 1956 that Skalaski was released and his character publicly rehabilitated. He was allowed to re-join the airforce where he served in various roles until his retirement in 1972.


    And there you have it; The Polish Airforce in Exile.

    Turns out there was a whole lot more to it than just those funny fellas in the Battle of Britain movie. But if you’ve had enough and you want me to stop my Polish Chatter, or as they might say,“Zamkniesz się wreszcie?”

    My response is  “Repeat Please!”

    Avatar photo6mmwargaming

    Fantastic writeup and aircraft.

    My 6mm Wargaming site https://6mm.wargaming.info

    Avatar photomadman

    Awesome. Thank you and please keep them coming!

    Avatar photoSteve Johnson

    Just brilliant!

    Avatar photoDarkest Star Games

    Another amazing write up.  I always learn a lot from these, and almost always get sent down a rabbit hole to boot!

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    Avatar photoDave Crowe

    Cheers everyone.  It’s always good to hear when someone out there is enjoying my 1:300 scale historical excursions. I sometimes worry when I have a very long break between projects or an oddly obscure subject that I’m just heading down these rabbit holes on my own.

    It’s funny how much this last particular project grew in the telling. From finding 3 obscure Polish-built aircraft available on the webstore  to painting up a dozen or more mostly RAF aircraft that I hadn’t had in my collection before.  Including the Albermarle, the Horsa  and the Whitley.  And I might have thrown in a Bolton-Paul Defiant night fighter for 307 squadron, or a Mosquito for No. 305

    Anyway, future projects might include a focus on some decorated RAF pilots or ones whose stories I’ve found particularly heroic, or maybe just a look at some of the more obscure RAF aircraft that haven’t featured yet.

    I’ve painted enough RAF recently though so I also have a large number of Japanese aircraft waiting in the wings (so to speak) that will be the focus of my next big National airforce roundup.

    That is if I don’t get lost down a rabbit hole of US Marine corps aviation while researching them!

    Avatar photomadman

    Here is the latest iteration of my flight stands. In this case the base is 1 1/2″ square steel 1/4″ thick, which should work for all plastic planes and metal fighters up to the size of the Phantom, maybe the Tomcat. I also have 2″ square ones for the heavier planes. Barely discernable in the picture the front of the base (where the plane is pointed) is coloured yellow.

    The post is removable, a brass screw soldered onto brass tube which holds the dowel. In this case it is a dollar store craft stick which is about 6″ long and painted in about 7 or 8 colours for a buck. Since Canvas Eagles (WWI) only has 10 altitude levels it will work well for that. For Check Your 6 I will make them about 18″ long (probably carbon) and marked to cover 3 altitude bands. A marker clipped to the metal portion of the base will indicate the band of the lower level. Each tactical level (CY6) is marked and the band level will have a different or thicker line.

    The planes have a brass wire (1/32 for lighter planes and 1/16 for older or heavier ones) epoxied on. The “hump” on the wire is to handle to change the bank so as not to twist the plane. The end is slightly bent to hold it into the brass tube and keep it from both falling out or rolling to heavy side down. The tube is soldered to a screw which extends out the side. To pitch the plane up or down loosen the nut (wing or knurled), pitch the model and tighten the nut. The clothes pin is placed on or just below the present altitude band as the players wish.

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