|Hurricanes of No. 303 ("Kościuszko") Polish Fighter Squadron|
303 Dywizjon Myśliwski "Warszawski im. Tadeusza Kościuszki"
The Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum's website has this to say about No. 303 Squadron:
The Poles were keen to fight but the RAF would not at first let them fly operationally. This was because few of the exiles spoke English and there was concern about their morale. What the British did not yet realise was that many of the Poles were excellent pilots. Having come through the Polish and French Campaigns, they had more combat experience than most of their British comrades and they employed superior tactics.
As the Battle of Britain wore on, and the shortage of trained pilots became critical, the exiles were accepted into RAF squadrons and two Polish fighter units, Nos. 302 and 303 Squadrons, were formed. Once committed to action, the Poles flew and fought superbly, shooting down 203 enemy aircraft for the loss of 29 pilots killed. No. 303 Squadron became the most successful Fighter Command unit in the Battle, shooting down 126 German machines in only 42 days. Czech Sergeant Josef Frantisek, also of '303', was the top scoring pilot with 17 confirmed victories.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, who led Fighter Command, would later write:
"Had it not been for the magnificent material contributed by the Polish squadrons and their unsurpassed gallantry, I hesitate to say that the outcome of the Battle would have been the same."
|Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding|
Commander of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain
In the same vein, RAF Uxbridge, which was the headquarters for No. 11 Group of Fighter Command which was responsible for the aerial defence of London and the south-east of England during the Battle of Britain has this as one of it's static displays -
|Hurricane of No. 303 Squadron|
You can tell this is a Polish aircraft by the Szachownica z kirem (chessboard with a pall) insignia on the nose of the aircraft just under the exhaust stacks.
|Szachownica z kirem|
Of course, there is this wonderful scene from the film Battle of Britain...
I think I have seen this movie 20 times and that is one of my favorite scenes!
|Undaunted by Odds|
by Robert Taylor
RAF fighter squadrons all had a distinctive 2-letter code painted on the side of the aircraft, No. 303 Squadron's code was "RF". The third letter on the side was the letter code for the individual aircraft within the squadron.
Squadron Leader Witold Urbanowicz's Hurricane MkI of 303 Sqn during a combat over Beachy Head in the summer of 1940 -
by Piotr Górka
|No. 303 Squadron Spitfire Mk.Vb RF D of S/Ldr Jan Zumbach with Donald Duck nose art.|
No. 303 Squadron was one of 16 Polish squadrons in the RAF, No. 303 was the highest scoring RAF squadron during the Battle of Britain. Here are some squadron statistics for WWII.
|No. 303 Squadron downed 126 German aircraft ("Adolf's") during the Battle of Britain.|
|No. 303 squadron pilots in 1940. From left: P/O Ferić, F/Lt Kent, F/O Grzeszczak, P/O Radomski,|
P/O Zumbach, P/O Łukuciewski, F/O Henneberg, Sgt. Rogowski, Sgt. Szaposznikow.
|F/O Bronisław Kłosin holding an aerial gunnery contest award, on the left side of him, Flt Lt Bieńkowski, on the right side Flt Lt Zumbach.|
Some of the high scorers of No. 303 Squadron were:
- Squadron Leader R G Kellett DSO DFC, Original CO of 303 Sqn during the Battle of Britain, (five claims)
- Flight Lieutenant John A. Kent, Canadian Flight commander during the Battle, (11 claims)
- Sgt Josef František, Czech pilot flying with 303 Polish Squadron, was one of the top fighter pilots of the Battle of Britain, with 17 confirmed kills.
- Flying Officer Witold Urbanowicz, Polish commander of 303 Squadron from 5 September 1940, scored 15 kills during the Battle of Britain (17 or 19 + 1 + 0 total)
- Pilot Officer Jan Zumbach, commander of 303 Squadron from 19 May 1942, scored 8 kills during the Battle of Britain (12 1/3 + 5 + 1 total)
|Sgt Josef František|
|Flying Officer Witold Urbanowicz|
|Pilot Officer Jan Zumbach|
|P/O Zumbach's Spitfire|
The last thing you'd want to see on your Six, if you were German in 1940!
|King George VI visited the unit during the Battle of Britain on September 26.|
In that photo above, just to the left of the King, partly visible is S/Ldr Urbanowicz, who took over after S/Ldr Krasnodebski was wounded. Presenting pilots is S/Ldr Kellet. The King shakes hand with P/O Januszewicz, on who's his right has P/O Henneberg, F/O Cebrzynski and F/O Paszkiewicz. To the left of Januszewicz are: P/O Grzeszczak, P/O Zumbach and P/O Feric. (Source)
That source linked above is an excellent website dedicated to No. 303 Squadron during the Battle of Britain. They start with this -
It must be said, that before the two Polish squadrons and one Czech entered the battle, the British Command regarded their Slavic allies as inferior pilots to their own, with broken morale, hindered by language incapability. Except for the language they were completely wrong.Ladies and gentlemen, I give you No. 303 Squadron of the Royal Air Force - 303 Dywizjon Myśliwski "Warszawski im. Tadeusza Kościuszki".