Insurgent Troops

Greater Poland’s Military Air Force in 1919-1921

Krzysztof Hoff

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The 21st Destroyer Squadron

The creation of the 21st Destroyer Squadron was the idea of Lieutenant Ludomił Rayski – the then commander of the Higher Flight School in Ławica. After the project's approval on 15 April 1920 and after becoming familiar with the equipment, the unit was equipped with six AEG C.IV planes and one Gotha G.IV plane – a giant flying machine with two powerful Daimler IVa engines - 260 HP each. This, the largest plane in the squadron was operated by unit commander Lieutenant Pilot Ludomił Rayski and Lieutenant Observer Czesław Filipowicz. 36 AEG C.IV planes were used in the Polish air force, 30 of which were built in Ławica. In May 1920, the unit was moved to the east, to the section occupied by the 6th Army. As part of the 3rd Air Force Division, it supported the 12th Infantry Division - it destroyed the enemy's armoured trains that hindered the actions of the 12th Infantry Division in the area of Malovanaya railway station. The 21st Squadron carried out heavy bombing raids in May and June, with the support of the 15th Fighter Squadron and several planes of the 5th Intelligence Squadron, which dropped light bombs. As a result of the operations, three Soviet trains were immobilised and taken, two of which (“Bela Kun” and “Krasnyi Krestyanin”) were suitable for immediate military use by the Polish Army. A fourth one, which came to the rescue, was stopped and damaged by Polish planes. Cooperation between the two squadrons was crucial to the final success of the operation. 

Under the pressure of the Bolsheviks, the Polish units started to retreat. The 21st Squadron moved to Proskuriv. On 5 July, together with the Tadeusz Kościuszko 7th  Fighter Squadron (composed of volunteers from the USA), it created an improvised group – the so-called “Faunt-le-Roy’s Squadron”. The squadrons, moved to Goloby airport near Kovel and had a convenient base to attack Budyonny’s cavalry, which was active in the Lutsk – Dubno – Rivne area. The 21st Squadron carried out initial reconnaissance, and then, together with the 7th Fighter Squadron, conducted bombings and assault raids.

Losses in men and equipment changed the nature of the unit, which now lost the status of a “heavy” bombing squadron. In Ustilug, under the command of Lieutenant Pilot Franciszek Wieden, the unit acted as an intelligence squadron working for the 7th Squadron. From Ustilug it moved to Korchova near Sokal, where it was detached from the Tadeusz Kościuszko 7th Fighter Squadron  and incorporated into the 2nd Air Division of the 3rd Army together with a change in its base of operations. This time, it was the airport in Motycz near Lublin. Due to shortages in men and equipment, and as a result of epidemic dysentery, the squadron was sent to Dęblin as the Supreme Command’s reserve. Having replenished the shortages, on 4 October 1920 the squadron was once again sent to the front, this time to Ternopil. The unit’s tasks were still bombing raids against Budyonny’s cavalry and long reconnaissance. 

When the 21st Squadron was in Ternopil, the armistice was signed.  In January 1921, it was incorporated to the 14th Intelligence Squadron and became part of the 2nd Air Force Regiment in Cracow.


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