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Polish Spitfire Aces

Polish Spitfire Aces Book Review

By Rachel E. Veres

Date of Review April 2015 Title Polish Spitfire Aces
Author Wojtek Matusiak Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2015 ISBN 9781472808370
Format 96 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $22.95


As Gp Capt Theodore McEvoy, Station Commander at RAF Northolt, noted in an official report on Polish fighter pilots, "'The Polish Fighter Pilot is imbued with the determination to exterminate Germans. All his energies are absorbed in this purpose.'" And "'Don't shoot only into their engines – some may come down alive and go back to Germany after the war.'"

Osprey's Polish Spitfire Aces recounts the rebirth of the Polish Air Force in Britain during World War II – and its repute as the conflict's largest, non-Commonwealth Spitfire operator.

Following a concise introduction, Wojtek Matusiak begins his account with the Battle of Britain. Polish pilots swiftly proved highly aggressive and skilled interceptors – especially in cockpits of the legendary Spitfire.

Weaving personal and, at times, graphic accounts throughout text, author Matusiak plunges readers right into the fray. Spitfire ace Plt Off Jerzy Poplawski, for instance, discovered that "Circus" operations – luring German fighters into dogfights with a show of force – could include unexpected strafing attacks on targets of opportunity:

'I attacked a formation of seven Me 109s, and a fighter dived away towards the ground. I followed him down until, when he was about 100 yards from the ground, I gave him two bursts with cannon and machine guns from three-quarters astern on the port side, closing from 100 to 50 yards. I saw my bullets striking the fuselage. At the same moment I saw, below and ahead, a very big gun surrounded by its crew, and with what I took to be the officer in charge with his right arm uplifted. I gave a burst, saw men falling to the ground and the uplifted arm of the officer flying into the air.'

Appendices detailing credited kills of Polish and non-Polish aces (non-Poles flying with Polish units) neatly conclude Osprey's title.

Illustrator Chris Davey's artwork and colorful profiles of Polish Spitfires are sure to please modeling enthusiasts.  And over 80 photographs also augment the account.

Roundly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!