Monday, January 30, 2012

Poland - 1920 Ground Attack Aircraft

German Ground Attack Airplanes in the Polish Air Force

Once again my obsessive side is showing. I'm up to 45 Polish aircraft and looking at my reference material I see that I can easily break the hundred mark. It has been an opportunity to revisit existing subjects and an excuse to get more lost master files completed. Another benefit is I am learning more about an era and theater I knew little about.

Before Poland gained independence the country was threatened by both Russia to the east and Germany and Austria to the west. Many Poles were faced with the choice of living in hardship or being conscripted into both the western empires. Needless to say many a Pole found their way into the cockpit of German and Austrian aircraft. When the Great War ended the Polish pilots and their aircraft returned to Poland where they were put to use in found the Polish Air Service.

This Albatros J.I was named “Smok” which means Dragon in Polish. The name was painted in white on the forward fuselage, just behind of the bare metal engine compartment. When in German service it was assigned the serial number 628/17 or 628/18. The profile shows the plane when it was attached to the Poznan Flying School in 1921. The national markings on the fuselage and rudder are the more complex version which also appear on both the upper top and lower bottom wing surfaces. The overall color scheme is dark green with pale blue lower surfaces. As with many other Polish aircraft the serial numbers are painted in black over a white stripe. The wheels had covers, however the conic spinner is removed.

The paint scheme is not much different than the original German scheme. The cowling is bare metal and the fuselage is varnished wood. The wings are lozenge pattern camouflage. The Polish markings are the simple version. The wing markings are in the typical locations. The wire wheels were not covered and the conical spinner is removed. The exhaust is atypical, most Halberstadt mounted it horizontally on the right side of the engine. As in the previous profile the serial numbers are painted on a white stripe.


The Angry Lurker said...

Was not aware of how much the Polish played a part in the aerial war....

W. I. Boucher said...

Neither was I until I began reading up to get some context. I started recognizing pilots who served in Germany and Austria.

One example is the Polish ace Capt. Stefan Stanislaw Stec, who became the Commanding Officer of the 7.Eskadra Lotnicza. Stec had served with both the German and Austrian air force during WWI.

The story of Polish aviators has been one of valor, even when in exile. The most famous successor to the original Kościuszko Squadron was the World War II No. 303 "Kościuszko" Polish Fighter Squadron (Warszawski im. Tadeusza Kos'ciuszki), the most successful fighter squadron in the Battle of Britain.

Gary C. Warne said...

The profiles are excellent Wil. My next novel is set in the Baltic states from 1919-1922 and involves some of the air fighting over Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, and Lithuania. It's nice to have a visual reference as I am writing the story!

W. I. Boucher said...

Thanks Gary, What I post on the blog just scratches the surface. Hopefully I will get my Polish gallery fleshed out so I get to profiles for the Soviets, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland. If there is something you want to see drop me a line.