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What does PAF stand for


Polish Air Force.

This was integrated into the RAF in 1940 under a formal agreement between the British Government and the Polish Government in Exile, based in London. It followed RAF structures and procedures but its officers were largely Polish.

The Polish Air Forces (Polskie Siły Powietrzne) was the name of the Polish Air Forces formed in France and the United Kingdom during World War II. The core of the Polish air units fighting alongside the Allies were experienced veterans of the 1939 Invasion of Poland. They contributed to the Allied victory in the Battle of Britain and most World War II air operations.

A total of 145 Polish fighter pilots served in the RAF during the Battle of Britain, making up the largest non-British contribution.  By the end of the war, around 19,400 Poles were serving in the Polish Air Force in Great Britain and in RAF.

Monument to fallen Polish airmen;WarsawPole Mokotowskie

After the joint German-Soviet victory in the Invasion of Poland of 1939, most of the flying personnel and technicians of the Polish Air Force were evacuated to Romania and Hungary, after which thousands found their way to France. There, in accordance with the Franco-Polish Military Alliance of 1921 and the amendments of 1939, Polish Air Force units were to be re-created. However, the French headquarters was hesitant about creating large Polish air units, and instead most Polish pilots were attached to small units, so-called keys. Only one large unit was formed, the Groupe de Chasse polonaise I/145 stationed at Mions airfield. However, it was not until May 18, 1940 that this unit was equipped with planes - and even then these were the completely obsolete Caudron C.714 fighters. After 23 sorties the bad opinion of the plane was confirmed by the front-line pilots. It was seriously underpowered and was no match for the enemy fighters of the period. Because of that, on May 25, only a week after the plane was introduced to active service, French minister of war Guy la Chambre ordered all C.710s withdrawn. However, since the French authorities had no other planes to offer, the Polish pilots ignored the order and continued to use the planes. Although the planes were hopelessly outdated compared to the Messerschmitt Bf 109Es they faced, the Polish pilots nevertheless scored 12 confirmed and 3 unconfirmed kills in three battles between June 8 and June 11, losing 9 in the air and 9 more on the ground. Interestingly, among the planes claimed shot down were four Dornier Do 17 bombers, but also three Messerschmitt Bf 109 and five Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighters. The rest of the Polish units were using the Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 fighter, slightly more reliable.

The Polish Air Force in France had 86 aircraft with one and a half of the squadrons fully operational, and the remaining two and a half in various stages of training. Altogether, the Polish pilots flew 714 sorties during the Battle of France. According to Jerzy Cynk, they shot down 51.9 enemy planes (summing fraction kills - 57 kills including 16 shared victories), in addition to 3 unconfirmed kills and 6 3/5 damaged. According to Bartłomiej Belcarz they shot down 53 aircraft, including 19 kills shared with the French. These 53 victories makes 7.93% of 693 allied air victories in the French campaign. At the same time they lost 44 planes (in combat, accidents and on the ground) and lost 8 fighter pilots in combat, 1 missing, and 4 in accidents.

Polish War Memorial, London

After the collapse of France in 1940, a large part of the Polish Air Force contingent was withdrawn to the United Kingdom. However, the RAF Air Staff were not willing to accept the independence and sovereignty of Polish forces.

Air Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding later admitted he had been "a little doubtful" at first about the Polish airmen. British government informed General Sikorski that at the end of the war, Poland would be charged for all costs involved in maintaining Polish forces in Britain. Plans for the airmen greatly disappointed them: they would only be allowed to join the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, wear British uniforms, fly British flags and be required to take two oaths, one to the Polish government and the other to King George VI of the United Kingdom; each officer was required to have a British counterpart, and all Polish pilots were to begin with the rank of "pilot officer", the lowest rank for a commissioned officer in the RAF. Only after posting would anyone be promoted to a higher grade. Because of this, the majority of highly experienced Polish pilots had to wait in training centres, learning English Command procedures and language, while the RAF suffered heavy losses due to lack of experienced pilots. On June 11, 1940, a preliminary agreement was signed by the Polish and British governments and soon the British authorities finally allowed for creation of two bomber squadrons and a training centre as part of the Royal Air Force.

The first squadrons were 300 and 301 bomber squadrons and 302 and 303 fighter squadrons. The fighter squadrons, flying the Hawker Hurricane, first saw action in the third phase of the Battle of Britain in late August 1940, quickly becoming highly effective. Polish flying skills were well-developed from the Invasion of Poland and the pilots were regarded as fearless and sometimes bordering on reckless. Their success rates were very high in comparison to the less-experienced British Commonwealth pilots. The 303 squadron became the most efficient RAF fighter unit at that time, and RAF commanders protested when government censors refused to allow this fact to appear in the press. By late 1940 the American visitor Ralph Ingersoll reported that the Poles were "the talk of London" because of their victories. Although at first the Poles memorized basic English sentences to identify themselves if shot down over Britain to avoid being mistaken as Germans, the visitor wrote that now "they always have a girl on each arm. They say the girls cannot resist the Poles, nor the Poles the girls".

Many Polish pilots flew in other RAF squadrons, usually given nicknames because, as Ingersoll wrote, "the Polish names, of course, are unpronounceable".[8] 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). The fighter squadrons initially flew Hurricanes, then Supermarine Spitfires, and eventually some were equipped with North American Mustangs. Night fighters used by 307 were the Boulton-Paul DefiantBristol Beaufighter and the de Havilland Mosquito. The bomber squadrons were initially equipped with Fairey Battles and Vickers Wellingtons, then Avro Lancasters (300 sqn), Handley Page Halifaxs and Consolidated Liberators (301 sqn) and de Havilland Mosquitos and North American Mitchells (305 sqn). 663 flew Auster AOP Mk Vs.

Polish Air Force memorial, St Clement Danes, London

On April 6, 1944, a further agreement was reached and the Polish Air Forces in Great Britain came under Polish command, without RAF officers. This resulted in the creation of a dedicated Polish Air Force staff college at RAF Weston-super-Mare, which remained open until April 1946.

After the war, in a changed political situation, their equipment was returned to the British. Due to the fact that Poland ended the war under Soviet Union influence, only a small proportion of the pilots returned to Poland, while the rest remained in exile.

memorial to those Polish pilots killed while on RAF service has been erected at the south-eastern corner of RAF Northolt aerodrome. On the public highway, it is accessible without entering RAF areas. It is adjacent to a junction on the A40 Western Avenue; the official name for this junction is still "Polish War Memorial". A large memorial to Polish Air Force squadrons in the war is situated on the floor of the north aisle of the reconstructed Wren church St Clement Danes, London.

The Polish-American fighter ace Francis S. "Gabby" Gabreski flew his first combat missions attached to a Polish RAF squadron.

King George VI, on visiting a Polish squadron, asked a Polish airman what was the toughest thing he had to deal with in the war. The reply was "King's Regulations...."

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Article details
Article ID: 107
Category: Knowledgebase
Date added: 2014-06-27 18:24:53
Views: 1246
Rating (Votes): Article rated 3.8/5.0 (26)

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