Leading Polish fighter “ace” of the Second World War, with 22 victories to his name.



Skalski Fueled with hatred for what the Germans had done to his country, Sta­nislaw Skalski became the leading Po­lish fighter ace of the Second World War. Utterly ruthless and brilliant in the air, he ended the war with 22 con­firmed victories.

After completing his pilot training with the Polish air force, he joined the 4th Air Regiment going to 142 (Wild Ducks) Eskarda and was flying a PZL fi­ghter when the Germans invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. Shortly after dawn on that day he shot down his first Ger­man plane and, in the next few days, re­ached ace status by shooting down a fur­ther six enemy aircraft. Skalski flew a sor­tie on 16 September, and the next day fled to Romania, as did many other Polish pilots. From there, he managed a daring journey via Beirut to Marseilles. From France, he transferred to the RAF in En­gland in January 1940.

After further training in the Hurri­cane and Spitfire, he joined 302 Squadron in August. Eager to get into battle, he re­quested a posting from his unit, which was not yet operational. On 27 August, he jo­ined 501 Squadron and was soon in ac­tion, gaining four more kills.


Polish Fighting Team, squadron leader-Sta­nislaw Skalski.

Early on 5 September, 501 Squ­adron took off to attack a large group of enemy aircraft. In his opening attack, Skal­ski hit an Hel 11 bomber and an escorting BflO9. He then launched a successful at­tack on another Messerschmitt.

When he turned to his map to note the area of victory, his aircraft was hit. The shells penetrated his fuel tank and his Hurricane caught fire. Although he ma­naged to bail out, he was severely burned.

He hated being in the hospital with the Battle of Britain raging overhead and, although far from recovered, after only six weeks insisted on leaving the hospi­tal to rejoin his squadron at the tail end of the battle. Because of his wounds, he could not run to his aircraft in response to the scramble bell, so he would sit on the airfield in his cockpit, waiting to go into action.

Stanislaw Skalski was born in Kodyma, north of Odessa in Russia, and moved with his mother to Poland in 1918. After his father escaped from Ro­mania, he joined them in 1921. Stani­slaw was educated at Dubno College and, after graduating from the Warsaw Scho­ol of Political Science, joined the Polish air force in 1936.


In March 1941, Stanislaw Skal­ski left 501 Squadron and joined the 306 Polish Squadron and by the sum­mer, had become the flight comman­der. It was a summer in which he was to claim another five victories. In May 1942, Skalski was given command of the Polish 317 Squadron at Northolt for an active five months tormenting the Luftwaffe, who were often reluctant to engage the RAF from their comforta­ble positions.

In January 1943, he created what was popularly known as Skalski’s ,,Cir-cus”. The Polish Fighting Team (PFT) was made up of the best Polish fighter pilots. After a month’s intensive tra­ining, the PFT arrived at Bu Grara air­field, some 150 miles west of Tripoli, for the Allies’ final push against Rom­mel. Flying the new Spitfire Mark IX, on 28 March the PFT drew its first blood. The flight, led by Skalski, encoun­tered a group of Ju88s and destroyed two of them.

Skalski became the first Pole to command a British squadron when he was given command of 601 County of London Squadron flying out of Malta during the invasion of Sicily and Italy. By now, he had received the highest honor of his own country – the Virtuti Militari – and a se­cond bar to his DFC was forthcoming in October 1943, when he returned to the UK to become Wing Leader of 131 Po­lish Wing at Northolt.


In April 1944, Skalski moved to 133 Wing and found much excitement in flying the Mustang III. On 24 June, he was attacked by BflO9s. Without firing a sin­gle shot, he executed a sudden darting ac­tion, which caused the two 109s to collide and crash to the ground.

Much to his chagrin, he was then sent on a staff course to the United States. On his return in February 1945, he beca­me Wing Commander Operations at HQ11 group. At the end of the war, he elected to return to his beloved Poland and joined their new air force under So­viet aegis.


Gen.Skalski However, in June 1948 Skalski was arrested along with other Polish Battle of Britain pilots on a trumped-up charge of spying for the British and Americans. He was appallingly tortured and was finally condemned to death. His sentence was la­ter commuted to life imprisonment. After many changes within the Communist Par­ty, he was released in 1956 and rejoined the Polish air force, from which he retired in 1967 with the rank of General.


In 1989 Skalski did not attend any of the commemorative parades of the 50th anniversary of the German invasion of Po­land. Rather, he sought out the whereabo­uts of the first German he had shot down and together, in the Bavarian Alps, they drank Schnapps.


Stanisław Skalski ,,Stan”


Photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanis%C5%82aw_Skalski