Why Poland did not bomb Germany in 1939

Discussions on all aspects of Poland during the Second Polish Republic and the Second World War. Hosted by Peter K
gebhk
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Re: Why Poland did not bomb Germany in 1939

Post by gebhk » 31 May 2018 18:58

I have figures of 185 P11s but only 125 operational in 12 squadrons and 115 P7s but only 30 in combat units. Were there really so few in September
According to Wojtek Mazur there were 128 P11s in operational units as of 1 September 1939; 9 more arrived as replacements during the course of the campaign. A further P11a and a P11g Kobuz prototype were used by improvised units. So 139 machines committed in total. Can't find a total for all machines and I don't think the exact number has ever been established. The figure of a 'little over 40' airplanes in a non-usable condition and awaiting repairs as of 1 September '39 is occasionally quoted. So your total of 185 is probably not far off.

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Steve
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Re: Why Poland did not bomb Germany in 1939

Post by Steve » 01 Jun 2018 02:31

Many thanks, I can't think of anything more to add to the discussion.

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Re: Why Poland did not bomb Germany in 1939

Post by gebhk » 03 Jun 2018 20:26

So your total of 185 is probably not far off.
Provided we are not double counting the 9 returned to duty during the campaign. If we are, the total would be nearer 175 than 185. Sorry, thought I had added this, but clearly hadn't.

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Re: Why Poland did not bomb Germany in 1939

Post by Steve » 05 Jun 2018 11:35

Hi gebhk, on a different topic I wonder if you can clear up something that I find rather puzzling. I’m no expert on the Polish Air force; I did the post as I thought it might be interesting. According to my source i.e. books in the garage there were 435 operational combat aircraft in September so I would guess there was only maybe 600 combat aircraft in the Polish Air force. However, if you look at Wikipedia “Non British Personnel in the RAF during the Battle of Britain” it says that in May 1940 there were 1,600 Polish pilots available to the French Armee de L’e Air. The same source says that in mid 1940 of the 35,000 Polish personnel in the UK 8,500 were airman.

Where had 1,600 pilots in France come from given the number of combat aircraft in the Polish Air Force also the figure of 8,500 Polish Air Force personnel in the UK seems high. Had the 8,500 escaped from Poland to France and then to the UK which seems unlikely for so many. Did most of them join in France which would suggest not much training or is the figure wrong? According to the Imperial War Museum 145 Polish pilots took part in the Battle of Britain which seems low if there were 1,600 pilots in France in May. The Wiki article says most of the Poles in the UK were posted to bomber squadrons or put into the reserve. If the 1,600 figure is correct and most of them made it to the UK then this could have been done to over a 1,000 pilots. This seems rather stupid of the RAF unless the standard of training was not high for most of them or is Wiki up the creek.

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Re: Why Poland did not bomb Germany in 1939

Post by gebhk » 05 Jun 2018 13:55

I'm afraid I am no expert and a quick look in the sources did not give a quick simple answer.

To begin with, it is important, I think, to define some terms which sometimes appear to be used interchangeably in the literature, resulting in some comparing of apples and oranges.

Pilots: does it include chaps actually flying airplanes or everyone with the qualification who might be employed elsewhere (such as air staff officers)? For example 20 Polish senior staff officers were attached to French air staffs.
Air crew/flying personnel: includes gunners, bomb-aimers, observers, navigators, radio-operators etc as well as pilots. To complicate matters, in Poland, the senior in an air crew would be the observer not the pilot (as was the UK practice, I believe). Thus air force officers did not necessarily hold pilot qualifications and some held dual qualifications.
Air force personnel: this includes everyone in the air force, from the commanding general down to the mechanics, airfield guards, meteorologists, lorry drivers, cooks and bottle washers. Pilots would have made up a relatively small proportion of the whole.

To answer your question, although I have been unable to locate specific stats, the figure of 1,600 pilots does not seem entirely impossible (especially if observer officers are included in this total). At its height, the PAF in France consisted of 1663 officers (including 4 female pilots), 6 officer cadets, 3265 NCOs and 3417 enlisted men for a total of 8351 (according to Kolinski). I wonder if the figure of 1600 pilots comes from an assumption that all the officers were pilots? Since some 9300 air force personnel had been evacuated to France and the UK from Poland in 1939/40 (specialists were prioritised), it seems unlikely that there were many untrained recruits needed or obtained from the Polish expat population of France.

Counting airframes in pre-war Poland as a guide to the number of pilots available is likely to lead you astray. For one thing, before the war, the air force was gearing up for major expansion and training personnel accordingly. 200 pilots partly-trained in Poland were in the process of completing their training in Marakesh alone in May 1940, and they were just the first batch. For another, you have the trained reserve and civilian pilot pool that can be drawn upon by the armed forces in times of war.

I am convinced that somewhere in my house a book on the PAF in France is lurking. If I find it, I may be able to provide you with a more definitive answer.

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Steve
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Re: Why Poland did not bomb Germany in 1939

Post by Steve » 05 Jun 2018 23:34

Hi, I would guess that this is the explanation. That 200 pilots were training in Marakesh is something I have never come across before. If you find your book or even if you don't you should do a post. I'm sure not many people outside Poland know much about the Polish Air force before it arrived in the Uk in 1940.

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