All of his success was achieved in a period of little more than month. He was a star in a star squadron, Polish 303 Squadron. With 17 confirmed victories, he was the Squadron’s top scorer. In perspective, the RAF top scorer of the War achieved 33 confirmed victories over the full period of the War. There are claims that Josef had already achieved 11 kills before joining the RAF but the confusion of the battles he took part in before escaping to Britain make it difficult to confirm or reject those claims.
NAME: Hurricane Ace Josef Frantisek, The True Story
CLASSIFICATION: Book reviews
AUTHOR: Jiri Rajlich
BINDING: Soft back
PRICE: GB £13.99
SUBJECT: Battle of Britain, 1940, Polish Air Force, 303 Sq., Hawker Hurricane, Letov S-328, Letov S-18, Letov S-118, Letov S-218, Czechoslovak Air Force, Royal Air Force, Avia B-534, Potez XXV, Breguet 19A2
DESCRIPTION: This book is an MMP Blue series aviation history. The author tells the carefully researched true story of Josef Frantisek. Some previous histories have confused pilots with similar names serving in the RAF Free Squadrons. This account has avoided all possible confusion, tracing the life of a Battle of Britain Ace from boyhood to untimely death. Josef Frantisek was born in Dolne Otaslavice on 7 October 1914. His father had a business assembling cars and maintaining them, so that Josef learned practical engineering from an early age. He joined the Czechoslovak Air Force as an enlisted man. The author has traced his career into flying school and his graduation as a pilot NCO. His early career was littered with a variety of disciplinary offences and there was little to suggest that he would achieve any outstanding service as a fighter pilot. From that less than promising start, he was to display a growing reputation, escaping after the German invasion of Czechoslovakia to Poland where he served in the Polish Air Fore in its desperate and unequal battle against the invading Germans. Once again he escaped the Germans, this time to France where he served as a Polish Air Force pilot alongside the French Air Force. Yet again he had to escape the Germans, making his way to Britain. After the chaos of Europe, he found the RAF offered a reliable structure and good conditions for pilots with
good equipment equal to that enjoyed by the Germans. Here he was to flourish as a fighter pilot although his time was tragically short. All of his success was achieved in a period of little more than month. He was a star in a star squadron, Polish 303 Squadron. With 17 confirmed victories, he was the Squadron’s top scorer. In perspective, the RAF top scorer of the War achieved 33 confirmed victories over the full period of the War. There are claims that Josef had already achieved 11 kills before joining the RAF but the confusion of the battles he took part in before escaping to Britain make it difficult to confirm or reject those claims. Considering the obsolete aircraft he had to fly, survival was a major achievement and any kill against the significantly more advanced German aircraft would have been an outstanding achievement. The author has provided a detailed story based on his own careful research and the result is an engaging story that not only fairly places the achievements of an outstanding Czech pilot during the Battle of Britain but also reveals the life in the Czech and Polish Air Forces before they were crushed. The level of chaos and the unequal struggle against great odds is recounted. The illustrations through the text include many rare images, including some not before published, and these are in black and white. As is the publisher’s tradition, colour plates have been included. There are two photographs of an RAF BBMF Hurricane painted in Josef’s colours, in tribute to his outstanding contribution to the Battle of Britain. The remaining colour illustrations are well executed drawings of aircraft that Josef flew. This is a valuable contribution to the history of the Battle of Britain and the vital contribution made by the Polish and Czech pilots who served in the RAF.