Here we have a piece of history of 61 Fighter Squadron from the 2nd half of 1944; aircrafts that never flew all together due to replacement of the planes. This is my favourite UFAAF unit beacuse of presence of so many Polish pilots within the flying personel.
Francis Gabreski, commander of 61FS was son of Polish emigrants who settle down in Oil City USA in early years of XX centrury. Francis (in Polish: Franciszek) baceme a fighter pilot just before breakout of war and was present in Pearl Harbor in the 7th of December 1941. Then he was posted to Europe to raise his fighter abilities where he came across Polish pilots who taken him to their 315 squadron for practice.
|Gabreski during fighter practice in 315 Polish Fighter squadron|
After practicing in Polish squadron, Gabreski received assignement to 56 FG of USAAF and after some time bacame a leader of 61 Fighter Squadron. In early 1944 he met his Polish friends again in Northolt airbase. They were all dissapointed due to extent fighter operations far beyond reach of their Spitfires. To satisfy hunting hunger of Poles Gabreski invite some of them as a guests to his 61Fighter Squadron. A few of them stayed there for good.
|Polish pilots in 61FS: F/Lt Gładych, S/Ldr Sawicz, Lt Col Gabreski, S/Ldr Rutkowski, F/Lt Andersz, F/Lt Łanowski|
Customarily Gabreski's personal aircraft was marked with "A". Here we have one of his first Razorbacks which was flown in late 1943 and one of the first P47D Bubbletop on which Gabreski crashed in action over Northeast Germany in July 1944. Although his disability Gabreski was top US fighter pilot on the european theatre during 2nd World War.
F/Lt Bolesław Gładych was one of the Poles who stayed in 61FS for a bit longer. He gains 17 victories 7 flying in Polish squadrons: 302 and 303 and 10 victories in 61FS. This gave him fourth position within Polish aces of WWII.
Each of Głądych's aircraft was named "Pengie" + number. Here we have "Pengie III" Razorback from June 1944 and P47M "Pengie V" from late 1944.
|F/Lt Łanowski during his duty in 317 Polish fighter squadron|
|Well known picture of personal Łanowski's P47M Bubbletop|
|HV-Z Razorback of Leslie Smith (also flown by Gabreski) and HV-Z Bubbletop personal plane of F/Lt Łanowski|
A Thunderbolt in Blood Red Skies with "Jug" agility needs very good pilots (Polish veterans and Gabreski as an ace will be a good choice). I was learned that during first dogfight against "Gustavs" been beaten to Zero. Next time I will be wiser for sure.