Polish Air Force order of battle in 1939

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The following is the order of battle of the Polish Air Force prior to the outbreak of the Polish Defensive War of 1939. During the mobilization waves of March and August of that year, all peace-time units were deployed to airfields throughout the country and attached to respective commands of Air Force, Naval Air Service and squadrons supporting each of the Polish armies. In the last stages of the air campaign, whole units coordinated all actions in the fight against the invaders.

The Polish fighters claimed 134 air victories, including 7 enemy aeroplanes shot down by Polish PZL P.7a fighters, 125 by PZL P.11 fighters of all types (mostly P.11c, several P.11a), and 2 downed by PZL P.11g. In addition, the Polish air forces had a number of PZL.37 Łoś and PZL.23 Karaś bombers, as well as a number of non-combat planes used for reconnaissance, observation, communications, army cooperation and transport. Among the latter were Lublin R-XIII, LWS-3 Mewa, RWD-8, RWD-14 Czapla, PWS-10 and PWS-26.

Command structure[edit]

The Polish war-time command structure was based on inter-war structure of the air forces. Apart from two air brigades held in reserve by the Commander in Chief (one of them being the Bomber Brigade, the other - Pursuit Brigade), Polish forces were divided onto the following units:

  • Air regiment (Polish: pułk lotniczy) (Wing or Group) usually 4 squadrons or 8 escadrilles / Flights.
  • Air squadron (Polish: dywizjon lotniczy) (Squadron) usually 2 escadrilles / Flights.
  • Air escadrille (Polish: eskadra lotnicza) (Flight) usually 8 to 12 planes.

Each escadrille was given a respective number and a proper name, depending on its main tasks. Hence the escadrilles were divided onto:

  • Bombing escadrille (Polish: eskadra bombowa)
  • Fighter escadrille (Polish: eskadra myśliwska)
  • Observation escadrille (Polish: eskadra obserwacyjna)
  • Reconnaissance escadrille (Polish: eskadra rozpoznawcza)
  • Staff escadrille (Polish: eskadra sztabowa)

The second number in the name of each of the fighter squadrons shows part of which air regiment the unit was part of, prior to mobilisation. For example the III/1 dywizjon myśliwski (composed of 111 eskadra myśliwska and 112 eskadra myśliwska) was part of the 1st Air Regiment located in Warsaw.

Reserve of the Commander in Chief[edit]

The strategic reserve of the commander in chief of the Polish Army consisted of two air brigades stationed around Warsaw and additional communications squadrons used for easier handling of orders from the headquarters to respective armies. Altogether, on 1 September 1939 Edward Rydz-Śmigły had 146 combat aeroplanes and 60 non-combat planes at his disposal.

HQ units[edit]

Pursuit Brigade (Brygada Poscigowa)[edit]

Main article: Pursuit Brigade

Bomber Brigade[edit]

Main article: Bomber Brigade

Army aviation[edit]

In addition to the above mentioned units, the gros of the Polish aviation was attached to land units of corps- and army-size. They were to provide necessary support in all roles. In all, various units of the Polish Army had 288 planes at their disposal, including 246 combat planes and 42 support planes.

Aviation of the Modlin Army[edit]

See also: Modlin Army

Aviation of the Pomorze Army[edit]

See also: Pomorze Army

Aviation of the Poznań Army[edit]

See also: Poznań Army

Aviation of the Łódź Army[edit]

See also: Łódź Army

Aviation of the Kraków Army[edit]

See also: Kraków Army

Aviation of the Karpaty Army[edit]

See also: Karpaty Army

Aviation of the Narew Independent Operational Group[edit]

Naval aviation[edit]

Aircraft in active service in September 1939[edit]

Combat aircraft[edit]

Support aircraft[edit]

See also[edit]


  • "Combat Aircraft of World War Two", by John and Elke Weal, Richard F.Barker and J.M. Bruce, "Polish Aircraft" chapter, P.223-226, Polish aircraft coloured drawings, P.60-61 along drawings explains P.15-16, Ed.Arms & Armour Press, 2-6 Hampstead High Street, London NW3. England, 1977.