The Polish Air Force in WWII

During the Second World War, the Royal Air Force welcomed into its ranks thousands of exiles Supermarine Spifire Mk. VB of a Polish Air Force squadron, circa 1942 from German-occupied Poland. Polish personnel served in all RAF commands and in all theatres, and earned a reputation for exceptional courage and devotion to duty. Tragically, though the Poles fought so hard to liberate Europe from tyranny, it would be many years before their own country would again be free.

This exhibition tells the inspirational story of the Polish Air Force in the Second World War and uses images of artefacts from the collections of the Royal Air Force Museum. Polish Air Force pilot's wings

With the outbreak of war, on 1st September 1939, the Polish Air Force’s 300 obsolete aircraft were opposed by the German Luftwaffe equipped with over 1,300 modern fighters and bombers. Despite this, the highly-trained Polish pilots fought well, and in the brief campaign shot down 126 enemy aircraft. Following the Soviet invasion and German victory, most of the Polish airmen escaped to France to continue the war. In 1939 Polish fighters, such as this PZL P.11, shot down 126 German aircraft

During the Battle of France, Poles serving in the French Air Force destroyed 56 German aircraft but, in June 1940, France too, was defeated. Some 8,400 Polish airmen were evacuated to the United Kingdom, which they now called Wyspa Ostatniej Nadziei or “The Island of Last Hope.”