309 Squadron

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Lieutenant Colonel
Apr 1, 2004
I don't know why I did this but I saw this picture of RAF Mustang IIIs and decided to find out what unit they were from. It took me a while, going off the WC prefix. So, I decided to share it with squadron information for some odd reason.

No. 309 Squadron (Ziema Czerwienska)

Formed at Abbotsinch on 8 October 1940 in the Army Co-operation role from Polish personnel. It was proposed that it should work with the Polish Army, them training in Scotland and was equipped with Lysanders for this purpose.Lysanders remained the squadron's main equipment until March 1943, but in July 1942 some Mustang Is were received, which were used for tactical reconnaissance operations over France. In February 1944 the squadron converted to the Hurricane IV due to the unreliability of the Mustang I's Alison engine. Hurricane IICs replaced the IVs in April and Mustangs returned in October in the form of the Merlin engined Mk III. In December 1944 the squadron became a bomber-escort unit based in East Anglia, remaining as such until the end of the war. The unit remaining part of Fighter Command until disbanding on 6 January 1947 at Coltishall.


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Hi plan_D.

I would like to mention an interesting thing:

On 27th September 1942 F/O (por.) Janusz Lewkowicz from 309th sqn made a lone recon/rhubarb flight to Norway and because of this was one of the first (if not the first) pilot to experience a long range abilities of p51.
His flight was his own initiative so he was later kept for few days in prison. However Janusz Lewkowicz's achievement became famous and even a C in C of the Army Co-OperationCommand (I cannot recall his name) visited him to listen about this risky mission.
I doubt he'd have been the first, since I'm pretty sure North-American would have discovered the range of the aircraft.

Have you got any other pictures of 309 Squadron? Be it Hurricanes or Mustangs.
Of course NA would have known about the range of a birdie they manufactured. I was talking about combat pilots.

My first post to this forum - because I happened to do a Google search on my Dad's name (Janusz Lewkowicz).
Brunner - my Dad was a Civil Engineer before and after the War. When the Mustangs arrived at 309 Squadron, they were basically untried and there was no clear idea about their fuel consumption or range and no NA did not know
the range of the birdie that they manufactured
My Dad, in the course of many "Routine Navigational Exercises" proceeded to try to fly with either fixed revs, altitude or propeller pitch (and check how much fuel he ad used on return to his base in Dunino, Scotland) in order to plot 3D graphs of fuel consumption.
He realized that the Mustang was being grossly underused and wrote to Combined Ops - no reply. He wrote again - no reply again - so he thought he needed to make a fairly non-ignorable gesture to catch their attention.
He set off on another "Routine Navigational Exercise" but instead flew to Stavanger in Norway and, in order to prove that he'd been there, shot up the railway marshalling yards.
He arrived back in Dunino more than 6 hours later than expected and was promptly arrested and in the end Court Martialled. His tale of going to Stavanger was not believed until the Norwegian resistance made a request that they be warned in future if there were going to aerial attacks!
The Court Martial gave him s Severe Reprimand (effectively a let-off) and from then on the Mustang was used more effectively.
Interesting. Some sources say your father had a degree in aircraft design, B.Sc Engineering Diploma from Warsaw Technical University.

The full story, as I understand it, was that after his first flight in a Mustang, 30th April 1942, your father became infatuated with it and its capabilities., He approached the NA representative in London and obtained from him an analysis of the Mustang's fuel consumption at most favourable boost pressure and propeller rotation speed settings for various altitudes and speeds. (Every aircraft manufacturer will have obtained such basic data from flight testing.) He started his own studies and produced petrol consumption/range calculations, graphs and navigational charts. These were put to practical tests during various exercises by 309 pilots that fully verified his theoretical findings.

At the end of June he forwarded his proposals for the Norway sweep, backed by results of his research, to HQ 71 Group but received no response. He then decided to prove the feasibility of his proposals by putting them to the test without authorisation. On 27th September he obtained permission for a long range navigational practice flight over the North Sea from Dalcross (100 miles further away from Norway than Peterhead the most suitable airfield for such a flight). He took off at 10:05 hours, making for Stavanger, and dropped down to naught feet 100 miles from the Norwegian coast. He made a low-level seep over Stavanger Bay and the town, strafing a few targets of opportunity. He intended to land at Peterhead but veered off course and landed at Dunino at 13:50 hours. (That's a flight duration of 3 hours 45 minutes.)

Meanwhile, there was consternation on the ground when he became overdue and upon checking the Operations Book his entry "Rhubarb to the Stravanger area" was discovered. Upon landing, he was put under house arrest at Dunino, pending investigations. Eight days later he was released and returned to flying duties at Dalcross, but was charged with an unauthorised flight and called to appear before AM Sir Arthur Barratt, AOC.-in-C. Army Cooperation Command. (That is not a Court Martial.) He was first severely reprimanded and then congratulated on a remarkable flight. The range of Mustangs' operational sorties was increased in October 1942 and some British commentators linked this to a "Polish pilot from 309 Squadron, who flew to Stavanger."

Photogrphs of 309's Mustang Is are sadly very rare.

This is said to be your father posing with AG648, coded 'E', the Mustang he flew to Norway. Dalcross 10th October 1942.


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A brief history of 309 Squadron.

The Polish army cooperation squadron was organised on the insistence of the C-in-C Polish Armed Forces. Article 2 of the Anglo-Polish Agreement placed it entirely under the operational control of the commander of the appropriate Polish military formation. Progress was slow as the fighter and bomber squadrons had priority. At that time the RAF was not interested in army cooperation and support and new little about it. The Polish Air Force was part of the army and was extensively trained in the art of observing and close cooperation with ground troops. RAF teachers that came to instruct them new little about army cooperation and nothing about the experience and capabilities of their pupils and soon began learning from those they were supposed to instruct.

In 1942 the squadron began the long process of transformation into a fighter-reconnaissance unit. 'B' Flight was to convert to the Mustang I. The first six pilots – F/Lt Maciej Piotrowski, F/lt Jerzy Gołko, F/O Jan Bendix, F/O Roman Jarema, F/O Janusz Lewkowicz and F/O Stanisław Sawicki were sent to OTUs at Old Sarum and Hawarden for training. Then to 26 Sqn at Gatwick for combat proficiency practice. Piotrowski made the first operational sortie on a Mustang on the 21st May 1942 attacking targets in the Le Touquet area. F/O Lewkowicz participated in another Rhubarb with 26 Sqn. By the end of July 'B' Flight was completely reequipped. As Dunino was not suitable for Mustangs the fighters were based at Crail and then Dalcross (31st July).

On the 6th February 1943 a complete reorganisation was reordered as a 2-flight all Mustang unit. On 23rd February 309 was reclassified as a tactical-reconnaissance unit. On the 14th February W/Cdr (S-Col) Zygmunt Pistl was recalled to staff duties and S/Ldr (Mjr) Witold Jacek Piotrowski was appointed its new C.O. With the formation of 2nd TAF on 1st June 1943 309 Sqn transferred to 12 Group of Fighter Command which was to be assigned to 2nd TAF. Surplus flying and ground personnel were used to provide a nucleus of 318 Sqn for service with 2nd Polish Corps.

(When it became certain that the 1st Polish Corps would not enter operations in Europe as a whole, its army co-operation squadron (by now a tactical reconnaissance squadron) lost its raison d'être. It was therefore decided to transform 309 Squadron into a fighter squadron. As the skills for a fighter pilot were quite different the new role led to staff turnover. Experienced veterans from the Battle of Britain were brought in to lead the squadron and surplus personnel from 309 Squadron formed the basis for 318 Squadron; the last Polish squadron to be formed. 318 Squadron was formed to provide tactical reconnaissance for the 2nd Polish Corps in the Middle East and Italy and was only operational in that theatre.)
309 were then involved mainly in the reconnaissance of the Dutch coastline. Because of intensive involvement in fighter-reconnaissance Piotrowski pointed out the need for better training in fighter tactics and the latter part of September was used for that. They then returned to the reconnaissance of the Dutch coastline. On 14th October S/Ldr (Cpt) Maciej Piotrowski became C.O. By January 1944 the modified Allison engines of the Mustangs were becoming increasingly unreliable and Piotrowski asked for replacement by Mustang IIIs or Spitfire Mk XIVs. On 19th January 309 Sqn was incorporated the ADGB and received Hurricane Mk IVs with 'low altitude' universal armament wing but not fitted cameras. Because the conversion required prolonged training in new techniques there was no chance to use them operationally. They were exchanged at the beginning of April for Hurricane IIc with better range and could be fitted with cameras. Camera conversion kits did not arrive for several weeks, further delaying operations. On 2nd April Gołko took over command and the squadron returned to operations on the 23rd. 'A' Flight went to Drem and 'B' Flight to Aklington where they were involved in shipping protection duties. On the 29th October 'B' Flight moved to Peterhead to protect the Royal Family at Balmoral Castle. In September while continuing its established patterns of activities it received a few Mustang Is for training purposes in preparation for receiving Mustang IIIs and a change of role to a fighter squadron. On 21st October 'B' Flight joined 'A' Flight at Drem and they received Mustang IIIs. Several technical problems with the Mustangs and delays in the provision of bomb shackles and cameras until the end of November delayed the completion of training. Intensive training continued in December. 309 Squadron replaced 129 Squadron in 133 Wing which stopped operations for ten days to integrate the new squadron. The wing then joined 11 Group. (The PAF had wanted the wing to remain with 2nd TAF and had tried to keep it there.)

According to Cynk on 1st November 309 Squadron changed its designation from Fighter-Reconnaissance to Fighter Squadron and received the new WC code. Elsewhere he gives the date the codes where used from as 1st June 1944.
Thanks antoni! Incidentally, you have the same name as one of my brothers and one of my Dad's brothers.
The photo is indeed of my Dad.
It is interesting how family stories get a little garbled.

From the point of view of his qualifications, he had graduated as a Civil Engineer from the University of Lwow.
One of my brothers thought you might be interested to see this page of my Dad's flight log-book.
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It is very interesting. Have any of the Polish historians seen it?

A photograph of one of the Mustangs listed in his log book. This is probably the best known of 309's Mustang Is but often they get the serial number and code wrong. As a result it has now become two Mustangs. AM214 coded ''C' not 'Z'.


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antoni, no historians have seen it, it is in the posession of one of my brothers.
Somewhere in my loft I have an account of the mission written by my Dad which he tried without success to get published - the problem is I have a big loft with lots of junk in it.
v2, you might be pleased/interested to know that my Dad was from Krakow (brought up in Krowoderska street). Next time you walk up to Wawel, look at the named bricks in the wall on the left, and near the top you will find my grandad.
antoni, no historians have seen it, it is in the posession of one of my brothers.
Somewhere in my loft I have an account of the mission written by my Dad which he tried without success to get published - the problem is I have a big loft with lots of junk in it.

Perhaps there would be more interest today, especially in Poland. Your father's own account is a valuable historical document. Does your family have other material?

Have you visited the Polish Squadrons Remembered site? Your father was a founder member of 309 Squadron and there are some early group photographs there. Maybe you can spot your father among the unidentified.


This thread was started a few years ago. I do not know if the instigator is still around but when I have more time I will try to answer some of the other questions about 309s later history.
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Somewhere in my loft I have an account of the mission written by my Dad which he tried without success to get published - the problem is I have a big loft with lots of junk in it.

Nick, try to find a study. We try to publish it in "Aviation- Lotnictwo" in Poland.

Krowoderska street today:


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