Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Poland 1918-1921 Breguet Br.14 A2

Breguet Br.14 A2 of the Polish-Soviet War

Slowly but surely I have been busy fleshing out the my collection of profiles for Poland, Belgium, Greece and Turkey. Some of the work has been slowed by the need for new master files. I hope to remedy this in the near future. I have been preparing the raw line drawings for the process of breaking them down into parts which get refined, shaded and stacked up for reassembly. Once the master files are done I can have fun.

As I promised before here is the first installment on Polish Air Force. There is much more to come. I will be posting them by aircraft type to attempt a coherent narrative.

The Birth of Polish Air Power

Military aviation in Poland started shortly after the country regained its independence in November 1918. Initially, the Polish Air Force consisted of mostly German and Austrian aircraft. The aircraft used included captured German Albatros D.III and D.VI, Fokker D.VII and D.VIII, and the Austrian Lloyd C.V and Oeffag D.III, as well as other aircraft types. These planes were first used by the Polish Air Force in the Polish-Ukrainian War in late 1918, during combat operations centered around the city of Lwów (now Lviv).

When the Polish-Soviet War broke out in February 1920, the Polish Air Force used a variety of aircraft from Britain, France and Italy. The most common aircraft in service at this time were the British made Bristol F2B and Italian Ansaldo Balilla fighters. German aircraft were still in use during the Polish-Soviet War The 21. Eskadra Niszczycielska (21st Destroyer Squadron) included a Gotha G.IV on April 30, 1920.

This is one of the original Breguet Br.14 A2s assigned to BR39 Escadrille which was sent to Poland after WWI. It is finished in the French standard five-color camouflage scheme. The top wing bore both French and Polish markings, French on the left upper wing, Polish on the right. The rudder has the Polish insignia painted over the original three color French markings.

This is another French Breguet Br.14 A2 from Escadrille BR39 which became 16 Eskadras when turned over to the Polish Air Force. The basic paint scheme is the same as above, except the rudder has been over-painted and bears the Polish insignia. The marking mid-ship is a young woman scattering flowers. This unit eventually became the fictional Lithuanian squadron sent to fight in the 'Zeligowski's revolt'.

Breguet Br.14 A2 in Polish Service Overview

During the closing days of the Great War France redeployed three French escadrilles to Poland to aid in their struggle for independence and to bolster their defenses against what was seen as a growing threat of Soviet expansion. Escadrille BR39, BR59 and BR66 were redesignated as Polish squadrons. Eventually the French government handed over the surviving aircraft of these escadrilles to the Polish Air Force. Escadrille BR39 became 16EW, Escadrille BR59 became 12EW and Escadrille BR66 became 4EW. The original three Polish squadrons were disbanded by late 1920. Poland ordered an additional 70 Breguet Br.14s and between 1920-21 assigned them to the newly formed 1, 3, 8, 10, 12 and 16 Eskadras. By 1924 the Br14 was showing its age and was replaced by newer designs entering service.

The Br14s assigned to Poland were finished in the standard five-color camouflage scheme and French markings. The French roundels were gradually over-painted with the Polish red and white checkerboard insignias During the transition the aircraft bore a mix of French and Polish markings. Late issue Br14s were painted in a dark green on all of the upper surfaces

Poland sent the 16 Eskadras to aid Lithuania in the 'Zeligowski's revolt' which was fought between 1920 to 1921. 16 EW was sent as a fictional Lithuanian squadron. To help with the masquerade their markings were changed of a red square with white border on left wing and white square with red border on right. The rudder of these aircraft were painted in red and white stripes.


  1. Aircraft Colours and Markings of the First World War Era: Breguet Br14 http://www.cbrnp.com/RNP/CDv2/Poland/HTML/Aircraft-Breguet_14.htm


The Angry Lurker said...

Good aircraft and a nice bit of history.....

Anthony Emmel said...

Nice overview. It's still amazing to me how many people do not know about the Russian Civil War, Allied (Western) involvement in it, and early Soviet aggression.

W. I. Boucher said...

Thank you all, It is fun to shine a light on a little known era. British intelligence assets were operating in Russia even during the Czarist period. There were big profits to be made by selling the Russian Empire weapons.

Once the civil war started, strategic planing for the war against Turkey and Austria flew out the window. The fact remained, the coup involved regicide. It was seen as a unforgivable crime which angered European nations, where many leaders were monarchies.

Britain destroyed many aircraft meant for the Imperial forces. Shipments of planes were still in their shipping crates when the British destroyed them.

Once the Czarist forces were neutralized, the Soviets were faced with the independence of Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Finland. Hostilities were to be expected.

The lack of knowledge in the general population of the United States concerning this era can be explained by the American hunger to return to isolationism.

That is MHO, I may be wrong.

Jon said...

I like the mixed insignia on the aircraft. I assume that was to limit friendly fire.

W. I. Boucher said...

@Jon It was more a matter of being forced to change over the markings piecemeal because of lack of down time to make the changes. When the French turned them over to the Polish Air Force the need for operational aircraft flying sorties outweighed repainting.