Polish 303 Squadron

Discussion in 'Aircraft Markings and Camouflage' started by AD2780, Jan 8, 2011.

  1. AD2780

    AD2780 New Member

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    Hi, I'm knew to the forum and this is my first post.

    Can anyone confirm the aircraft lettering for Hurricane P2985 RF-? flown by Waclaw Lapkowski of 303 Squadron in the Battle of Britain. I have searched the net high and low and saw one reference to it being RF-Z.

    Any more info would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, AD2780
     
  2. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    Here some Mjr Wacław Łapkowski's personal details :

    Born on 6th November 1913, Waclaw Lapkowski was in the Polish Air Force before the war and was serving with its 112 Squadron at the outbreak of war. On 6th September 1939 he shared a He111 and a Do17 with a He111 destroyed on the 9th.

    He subsequently made his way to England, details unknown, and joined 303 squadron on the day it was formed at Northolt – 2nd August 1940. He claimed a Ju88 destroyed on 5th September. On that day he was himself shot down by a Me109 in combat over Gillingham. He baled out, with a broken leg and burns, landed at Hawkwell and was admitted to Rochford (Southend) Hospital. His Hurricane, P2985, crashed at Bonvill's Farm, North Benfleet.

    Awarded the VM (5th Class, gazetted 23rd December 1940) Lapkowski did not return to the squadron until 6th January 1941. He returned from a sweep over France on the 22nd with 25 yards of telephone wire round his engine. Lapkowski was awarded the KW (gazetted 1st April 1941) and was wounded on 13th April 1941 and admitted to hospital. Recovered, on 5th May he took command of 303 Squadron, on 4th June he damaged a Me109, on the 8th he destroyed one, on the 22nd two more, on the 24th another and on the 27th he damaged another.

    On 2nd July 941 Lapkowski was leading 303, in Spitfire B8596, flying with the Polish Wing escorting Blenheims to Lille. They were attacked in mid-Channel by fifty Me109’s coming down from a higher altitude. Lapkowski was shot down. His body was washed ashore and he is buried in Lombardsidje Communal Cemetery, Belgium.
     

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  3. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    The Kosciuszko Squadron is quite well documented. Author Glenn Knoblock wrote a book about Waclaw Lapkowski, titled With Great Sacrifice and Bravery. You might look into that book "With Great Sacrifice and Bravery": The Career of Polish Ace Waclaw Lapkowski, 1939-41, Illustrated with Official RAF Combat Reports
    or you could also try to see if you can contact the author.

    On the link below, there is a list of squadron equipment which gives the serial number with the callsign reference.
    Polish 303 Fighter Squadron - Definition

    Here is an excerpt
    So using the above example, one of the earlier aircraft that Lapkowski flew, P2985, was RF-U until it was shot down and RF-U was then put on P3975.

    Hope it helps.
     
  4. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    #4 Wurger, Jan 8, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
    In a book about Hawker Hurricane , of Wydawnictwo Militaria no.079 I have found this. Also, I attached a shot of the origin text in Polish stated the code letters of the Hurricane. A short note here. There is no Ju88 lost that day over Great Britain on the list of Luftwaffe losses.So it is more likely that it was a formation of He 111s escorted by JG3 and II./JG53.

    On 5th September at about 14.40 four Hurricanes of the Flight B took off and then A Flight was airborn five minutes later. Sqn.Ldr. Kellet led nine Hurricanes of the 303 Polish Squadron at 22 000 feet to intercept a Greman air raid over Gillingham.The Red section attacked Bf109Es of JG3 and II./JG53 escorting a formation of 35 Ju-88s. Unfortunately the Yellow section didn't understand the commander and didn't follow the Red one. The leading officer of the Yellow section Krasnodębski joined the 56th Squadron and attacked with the unit together.They hit German bombers from the bottom.
    The Blue section ( Forbes, Frantisek, Łapkowski) following the Red one attacked the mid of the German formation. Łapkowski hit one of Ju-88 but his Hurricane was shot down by the escorting German fighters. Being wounded he managed to bail out. His Hurricane P2985 RF-Z crashed in Bonvills Farm, North Benfleet. Having a broken leg and burns Lapkowski reached the ground on the Rectory Road ,Hawkwell and was taken to a hospital in Rochford.
     

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  5. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Good find, Wojtek. I would be more prone to believe a written source than a website, which is where I found it being RF-U. I would also assume that the book being written in Polish, the author would have a better way to look through records that are in Polish.

    I forget the name of the pilot, but one of the 303 pilots was the unit unofficial historian, who jotted lots of things down after every flight. From what I recall, it was later published in Polish.
     
  6. Maximowitz

    Maximowitz Active Member

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    I live very near Gillingham, I assume the 109's were escorting either KG 2 or KG 76, possibly targeting Chatham RN Dockyard or Shorts Aircraft Factory in Rochester. He must have fought his battle over the Thames Estuary, either that or he floated a long way on that parachute!
     
  7. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    #7 Wurger, Jan 8, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
    I guess , Antoni might bring more to the thread. But THX . :)

    I think you mean Mirosław Ferić who was a pilot and a chronicler of the 303 Squadron. When he was killed it was continued by por. Zygmunt Bieńkowski. The quite "thick" book has been kept in the Polish Institute and Museum of Gen. W.Sikorski in London.
    But the most known book about the unit is "Dywizjon 303" ( 303 Squadron) by Arkady Fiedler. The book was written in 1940 and published in 1942. It was translated into 5 other languages including the German one. There were 30 of Polish issues including four issues during the WW2 in the occupied Poland. However A.Fiedler wasn't a pilot and memeber of the 303 Squadron.
     
  8. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    It's possible.In the mentioned above book of Militaria Publisher it is said that Kellet noticed AA fire on the another bank of the Thames River and led Poles just in that direction.
     
  9. Maximowitz

    Maximowitz Active Member

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    Interesting stuff! The Ju88 rules out KG 76, I believe they were equipped with Do17's at the time. The 109 escort could well have been an element of JG 53 who were very active over the Medway Towns during that period. I shall look into it further.
     
  10. antoni

    antoni Banned

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    30th August he flew R4179/RF-Q
    31st August P2985/RF-Z
    2nd September P2985/RF-Z
    5th September P2985/RF-Z, crashed at Bonvills Farm, North Benfleet.
    13th September P2903 became RF-Z.

    RF-U was P3975 until 7th September, 11th September V6673 until 5th September, 16th September P3975 until 20th September, 20th September V7503 until 3rd January 1941.

    During September it was usual for several different Hurricanes to be coded with the same letter. V7244/RF-C, R4175/RF-R and V7235/RF-M were the only three that made it from the end to August to the beginning of October.
     
  11. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    So undoubtedly the Hurricane P2985 was coded RF-Z. Thank you for the info Antoni. :thumbright:
     
  12. Maximowitz

    Maximowitz Active Member

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    #12 Maximowitz, Jan 8, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
    From Tony Wood's Luftwaffe Claims List: 5th September 1940

    Einsatz am Kanal u. über England:
    05.09.40 Oblt. Herbert Ihlefeld: 14 2.(J)/LG 2 Spitfire London 11.10 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-
    98B
    05.09.40 Oblt. Herbert Ihlefeld: 15 2.(J)/LG 2 Spitfire London - OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-
    99B
    05.09.40 Oblt. Karl-Heinz Krahl: 9 3./JG 2 Spitfire 16.05 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-
    190B
    05.09.40 Hptm. Otto Bertram: 9 1./JG 2 Spitfire S. Canterbury 16.10 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-
    191B
    05.09.40 Hptm. Otto Bertram: 10 1./JG 2 Spitfire S. Canterbury 16.10 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-
    192B
    05.09.40 Oblt. Rudolf Pflanz: 3 3./JG 2 Spitfire - 16.10 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-
    193B
    05.09.40 Oblt. Helmut Wick: 23 6./JG 2 Spitfire - 16.10 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-
    54B
    05.09.40 Fw. Peter Neumann-Merkel: 1 9./JG 2 Spitfire Ashford: 6.000 m. 16.20 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-39
    05.09.40 Ofw. Hans Klee: 3 7./JG 2 Hurricane Themsemündung: 6.000 m. 16.20 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-40
    05.09.40 Oblt. Helmut Reumschüssel: 2 2./JG 3 Spitfire Raum London - OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-111
    05.09.40 Oblt. Helmut Reumschüssel: 3 2./JG 3 Spitfire Raum London - OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-112
    05.09.40 Hptm. Hans von Hahn: 8 Stab I./JG 3 Spitfire Raum London - OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-113
    05.09.40 Fw. Hans Ehlers: 4 2./JG 3 Spitfire Raum London - OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-114
    05.09.40 Fw. Heinrich Vollmer: 4 3./JG 3 Spitfire Raum London - OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-115
    05.09.40 Ltn. Eberhard Bock: 6 3./JG 3 Hurricane Raum London - OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-116
    05.09.40 Oblt. Helmut Reumschüssel: 4 2./JG 3 Spitfire Themsemündung - OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-117
    05.09.40 Ofw. Robert Olejnik: 2 2./JG 3 Spitfire Themsemündung - OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-118
    05.09.40 Ofw. Robert Olejnik: 2 2./JG 3 Spitfire Themsemündung - OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-119
    05.09.40 Oblt. Herbert Kijewski: 3 5./JG 3 Hurricane Southend: 6.000 m. 16.25 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-71
    05.09.40 Oblt. Erich Woitke: 4 6./JG 3 Spitfire - 16.30 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-
    72B
    05.09.40 Ltn. Franz Beyer: 2 8./JG 3 Spitfire - 11.10 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-
    81B
    05.09.40 Oblt. Willy Stange: 7 8./JG 3 Spitfire Biggin Hill: 5.500 m. 11.12 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-82
    05.09.40 Oblt. Egon Troha: 4 7./JG 3 Spitfire östlich Southend: 5.000 m. 15.55 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-83
    05.09.40 Ltn. Hans Berthel: 5 Stab I./JG 52 Hurricane - 11.05 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-
    35B
    05.09.40 Oblt. Karl-Heinz Leesmann: 7 2./JG 52 Spitfire - 11.05 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/I-
    36B
    82
    05.09.40 Hptm. Günther von Maltzahn: 6 Stab II./JG 53 Spitfire - 16.05 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    66B
    05.09.40 Hptm. Heinz Bretnütz: 15 6./JG 53 Spitfire Hawkinge: 7.500-1.000 m. 16.05 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-67
    05.09.40 Uffz. Hans-Georg Schulte: 6 7./JG 53 Spitfire - 16.20 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    143B
    05.09.40 Oblt. Kurt Kunert: 9 8./JG 53 Spitfire - 16.23 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    144B
    05.09.40 Ltn. Friedrich-Karl Müller: 9 8./JG 53 Spitfire - 16.25 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    145B
    05.09.40 Uffz. Ernst Reckers: 2 8./JG 53 Spitfire - 16.28 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    146B
    05.09.40 Ltn. Erich Schmidt: 3 9./JG 53 Spitfire - 16.35 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    147B
    05.09.40 Oblt. Adolf Kitzinger: 6 3./JG 54 Spitfire - 10.45 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    36B
    05.09.40 Oblt. Rudolf Unger: 2 2./JG 54 Spitfire östlich Southend: 3.500 m. 16.10 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-37
    05.09.40 Hptm. Hubertus von Bonin: 7 Stab I./JG 54 Spitfire - 16.25 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    38B
    05.09.40 Hptm. Hubertus von Bonin: 8 Stab I./JG 54 Spitfire östlich Southend: 800-1.000 m. 16.30 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-39
    05.09.40 Oblt. Hans Philipp: 11 4./JG 54 Spitfire Themsemündung: 6.000 m. 16.20 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    109
    05.09.40 Oblt. Roloff von Aspern: 10 5./JG 54 Hurricane Themsemündung: 6.000 m. 16.20 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    110
    05.09.40 Hptm. Fritz Ultsch: 4 Stab III./JG 54 Hurricane - 10.40 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    100B
    05.09.40 Ltn. Max-Hellmuth Ostermann: 5 7./JG 54 Hurricane - 10.40 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    101B
    05.09.40 Uffz. Fritz Schweser: 1 7./JG 54 Hurricane südlich Ashford: 6.000 m. 16.40 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    102
    05.09.40 Oblt. Richard Hausmann: 2 9./JG 54 Hurricane - 10.45 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    103B
    05.09.40 Ltn. Helmut Zilken: 3 9./JG 54 Hurricane - 10.48 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    104B
    05.09.40 Fw. Wilhelm Schilling: 3 9./JG 54 Spitfire - 10.49 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    105B
    05.09.40 Uffz. Karl-Heinz Kempf: 3 9./JG 54 Spitfire - 10.50 OKL+JFV d.Dt.Lw. 4/II-
    106B
    05.09.4

    I wonder how many of these "Spitfire" claims were really Hurricanes...
     
  13. AD2780

    AD2780 New Member

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    Thanks to everyone who replied. This place is awesome for info.

    My interest in Lapkowski comes from being half Polish myself, but living in Australia limits access to Polish history.

    By coincidence Lapkowski was killed on the 2nd of July, same day as my birthday.

    RF-Z it is. - Plans for a 1/24 Trumpeter Hurricane now.

    Thanks again everyone.
     
  14. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    You'r welcome. Feel free to ask....

    Pozdrowienia z Polski. :wave:
     
  15. antoni

    antoni Banned

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    5th September 303 Squadron were airborne about 2.40 pm.

    S/Ldr Kellet V7284/RF-A Red 1
    Sgt Karubin P3975/RF-U Red 2
    Sgt Wünsche V7289/RF-S Red 3
    S/Ldr Krasnodębski P3974/RF-J Yellow 1
    P/O Ferić V7243/RF-P Yellow
    F/O Urbanowicz V7242/RF-B Yellow
    F/Lt Forbes R4217/RF-V Blue 1
    F/O Łapkowski P2985/RF-Z Blue2
    Sgt Frantisek R4175/RF-R Blue 3

    Kellet led the formation to 22,000 ft over Gillingham. There he saw intensive AA fire on the other side of the Thames and the squadron attacked. Red Section engaged Bf 109s of JG3 and II./JG 53 that were circling over about 35 Ju 88s.

    Karubin.

    “We await the order of the combat course. I heard on the radio: ‘100 bandit’. This moment I spotted a bomber formation with Messerschmitt escort. I jumped forward, giving a sign to the commander. We engaged in combat. I attacked a Me 109 with two short bursts. It went down burning. I escaped upwards as I was attacked by a Me 109. It was run over by Hurricanes and went down smoking badly – me behind him. We descended to tree top height. Chase. I hit the ‘boost’. I closed onto him firing several bursts. The Me was still running. This made me nervous and I fired a burst of my last rounds. The Jerry is running. This made me even more angry and a decided to finish him off. I gave ‘boost’ again, got very close to him and ran a ‘razor’ over him. The Jerry’s scared mug flashed before my eyes. This very moment he hit the ground, squirting smoke with lumps of soil. I pulled up, circled him and took a look at the remnants of the burning machine. I opened the throttle, going at altitude towards the aerodrome.”

    Wünsche described his attack in the squadron’s chronicle.

    “One Me 109 immediately got onto the commander’s tail. Without much thinking I came to the rescue at once. The distance between the commander and me was some 200 metres. Suddenly a Me 109 flew between us. I opened fire. The rounds kept going and going, but nothing in the end. I moved full ahead, to reduce the distance between us and made a curtain of rounds in front of the Messerschmitt. I could feel the relief when I saw him going through these rounds. That was a terrible picture.”

    His combat report added.

    “I fired all my ammunition at it, as I was so afraid it would hit the other Hurricane. It turned onto its back, and the cockpit was a mass of flames. It fell slowly into the sea. As I had no more ammunition, I dived to the ground and came home.”

    Yellow Section did not follow Red Section, but attacked the next formation of bombers escorted by Messerschmitts. They were then joined by 56 Squadron aircraft, and togther attacked the bombers from below, but without apparent effect. Blue Section followed Red Section and attacked the bombers in the centre of the formation. Łapkowski tried to shoot at his Ju 88 but was discouraged by escort fighters. As he described:

    “I at once made a second attack, firing at 150 yards and closing from above. Both engines were set on fire, and e/a began to dive. At this time I saw the aircraft at F/Lt Forbes had fired falling in such a great cloud of smoke that the aircraft became invisible. I am quite certain that this aircraft was destroyed. Then I was shot by a cannon from behind. My engine caught fire. I turned over on to my back, opened the cockpit cover and getting out broke my left arm near the shoulder. I was also burnt in the face and left leg. I came down near Rochford, Southend and was taken to Rochford Hospital.”

    In September 1978 the Essex Aviation Group dug out remnants of the Hurricane, some parts were presented to the Polish Museum and Sikorski Institute.

    Forbes.

    “I lost Red Leader when he became involved with Me109s and just beyond AA fire I saw five Vics of 3 Ju 88s formed in a Vic. I led into attack. Blue 2 F/O Łapkowski broke from the section to settle some Me109s. Blue 3 Sg Frantisek saw a Me109 attacking a pilot who had just bailed out of a Spitfire, and shot it down. He then caught up and followed me to attack the bombers. I took No. 3 and he took No. 2 of the rear most section. After an attack from dead astern, I attacked head on to the starboard quarter. A shower of oil came from the starboard engine, covering my machine. I attacked the starboard engine and this time from astern, and it burst into flames. I had expended all my ammunition. I pulled up to watch, but a Me 109 got on to my tail and I saw tracer on my port side. I broke away to starboard and dived to ground to go home.”

    Final claims were: Kellet one Bf 109 destroyed and one probable; Forbes one Ju 88 destroyed; Karubin two Bf 109 destroyed; Łapkowski one Ju 88 destroyed; Wünsche one Bf 109 destroyed; Frantisek one Ju 88 destroyed and one Bf 109 probable.

    The Luftwaffe did not lose any Ju 88 that day so possibly the bombers attacked were He 111. Their escort consisted of Messerschmitts from JG 3 and JG 53. II./53 lost two aircraft that crashed on their airfield, having being previously damaged by fighters over England.
     
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