Polish Fighting Team
|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (July 2010)|
|Polish Fighting Team|
Badge of the Polish Fighting Team
|Active||13 February 1943 to 22 July 1943|
|Allegiance||Polish Government in exile|
|Branch||Royal Air Force|
|Part of||Desert Air Force|
|Battle honours||North African Campaign|
|Unit code||ZX + individual number (0-10)|
The Polish Fighting Team (PFT) (Polish: Polski Zespół Myśliwski), also known as "Skalski's Circus" (Polish: Cyrk Skalskiego), was a Polish unit which fought with the British Commonwealth Desert Air Force in the North African Campaign of World War II, during 1943. Its nickname was derived from its commander, Stanisław Skalski.
In late 1942 Polish Air Force Staff Command requested RAF permission to send a group of specially chosen pilots to the North African theatre of operations to acquire experience in operating as a part of a tactical air force in preparation for future Allied landings on the European continent.
Volunteers had to be experienced (with at least 30 operation missions completed) and some 70 volunteers were considered before 15 pilots were chosen for the operational tour of 3 months.
Formed at Northolt on 5 February 1943 as the Polish Fighting Team, initial preparations for overseas service took place at RAF West Kirby, and the unit embarked on 24 February, arriving in North Africa on 13 March 1943.
Commencing flying on 18 March the unit gained an immediate reputation for combat effectiveness. The unit re-equipped with the Supermarine Spitfire Mark IX in late March.
Three pilots stayed on and became part of Desert Air Force units; Skalski became CO of No. 601 Squadron, Horbaczewski CO of No. 43 and Drecki a Flight Commander in No. 152.
- 13 March 1943 - Bu Grara
- 11 April 1943 - La Fauconnerie
- 15 April 1943 - Goubrine
- 6 May 1943 - Hergla
- 20 May 1943 - Ben Gardane
- 15 March 1943 - Supermarine Spitfire F. Vb Tropicalised and Vc (inter alia: AB168, ER539 -7)
- 23 March - 26 May 1943 - Supermarine Spitfire F. IXc (inter alia: EN261 -10, EN267 -5, EN268 -7, EN286 -8, EN300 -9, EN315 -6, EN361 -3, EN459 -1)
- F/Lt Stanislaw Skalski (C.O.) (claimed 3-1-0)
- F/Lt Waclaw Król (3-0-0)
- F/O Bohdan Arct (1-1-2)
- F/O Wladyslaw Drecki (1-0-1)
- F/O Eugeniusz Horbaczewski (5-0-0)
- F/O Jan Kowalski
- F/O Ludwik Martel (1-1-1)
- F/O Karol Pniak
- F/O Kazimierz Sporny (3-0-0)
- F/O Mieczyslaw Wyszkowski* POW(0-1-0)
- W/O Marcin Machowiak (1-0-2)
- W/O Wladyslaw Majchrzyk (1-0-1)
- W/O Bronislaw Malinowski (2-0-1)
- W/O Mieczyslaw Popek (2-0-1)
- W/O Kazimierz Sztramko(3-0-0)
- Bohdan Arct: Cyrk Skalskiego Warsaw, 1970, MON