Aviation training in Poland. 1921-1922.

Kraków 2017-05-09

Aviation training in Poland.

Part 5.



LVG B.II. 2021 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
LVG B.II. 2021 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

Description of the photo: The LVG B.II training plane was used at the School in Toruń in the first years of its operation. The aircraft was developed in 1917. Basic T-T data: Span 14.00 m. Length 9.00 m. Take-off weight 1,100 kg. Top speed 100 km / h. Range 300 km. 6-cylinder in-line Mercedes D I engine, 100 HP (74 kW).

On January 18, 1920, the Polish Army seized Toruń Airport. There were still many Germans in Toruń, because they claimed that Poland as a temporary, seasonal state would soon be banned. The Toruń airport was in good condition, but, like in Bydgoszcz, it was completely cleared of all movable property.

There was a shortage of pilots in Poland, but even less of aviation observers. Therefore, at the Mokotów Airport on May 16, 1919, the Officer School of Aviation Observers was established. The actual education began on August 1, 1919. Its commandant was Lieutenant Observer Wiktor Szandorowski. French officers were the lecturers and instructors. The school suffered from a lack of premises and equipment. And what is worse, for several months it did not have its own flying equipment and practical training was carried out on rented planes from other units stationed at the Mokotów Airport. At the end of October 1919, part of the 4th Intelligence Squadron was sent to Warsaw, putting it at the disposal of the Officer's School of Aviation Observers. However, most LVG airplanes were significantly worn out and required a lot of work. Only in January 1920, it was possible to obtain more Albatros planes (different versions) in better technical condition. We managed to create a full-time training squadron, consisting of 10 aircraft. Mostly two-seater Albatrosses. The commander of the school squadron was lieutenant pilot Adam Maliszewski. The rest of the squadron's soldiers were non-commissioned officers.

The Officer's School of Aviation Observers at the Mokotów Airport until the end of 1919, trained 35 observers during two courses. Nevertheless, the Polish Army still lacked observers. Their functions were often performed by shooters, young pilots and even mechanics. It was hoped that after the takeover of Toruń Airport, some flying equipment and teaching aids would be left. Nothing like that left.

At the end of January 1920, the Officers School of Aviation Observers arrived at Toruń Airport. The commandant, Lt. Observer Wiktor Szandorowski, and the entire staff of instructors and lecturers arrived. The adjutant of the commandant was then Lt. Observer Jarosław Goligowski. There were already more Polish officers and non-commissioned officers among the staff. Airplanes and other equipment were transported by rail.

The third course at the School has not yet started, and on April 9, 1920, there was a plane crash. After replacing the engine in the Albatros CL-II airplane, the elevator (depth) elevator cables broke during the flight. Sergeant pilot Andrzej Kołodziejczyk and mechanic sergeant Franciszek Cejman died with the death of the aviator.

The 3rd course started on April 15, 1920 and ended on June 6, 1920. 26 observers were trained and sent to the eastern front almost immediately. In view of the threat to Poland's sovereignty, it was decided to organize the fourth course only after the end of the war. The French instructors returned to the French Military Mission. A combat unit was created out of Polish soldiers and adopted the name of the "Toruńska" Squadron.

Toruń is also associated with the Officer Aeronautical School. The formation of the aeronautical troops began in Poznań in April 1919. The unit was located at Libiga Street. On May 5, 1919, the 1st Field Aeronautical Company began to function. Then a Mobile Aeronautical Park and two other aeronautical companies were created. Aeronautical companies were subordinated to the 1st Aeronautical Group, which was established on July 15, 1919.

On May 21, 1919, the Aeronautical Officer School began operating. The ceremony was held on May 22, 1919, in the presence of representatives of foreign military missions. The first course on September 30, 1919 was completed by 27 aspirants who were promoted to the rank of lieutenant in aeronautics. At the turn of 1919/1920, aeronautical equipment was purchased in France. More trained soldiers and new equipment allowed for the expansion of aeronautical formations to three Aeronautical Groups.

After Toruń was taken over by the Polish Army, on January 21, 1920, it was transferred to Toruń. The aeronautical unit occupied the barracks at Sinkiewicza Street. Major Feliks Bołsunowski was the school's commander. The school conducted general military training at the level of the cadet school. During the following courses, soldiers for the positions of commanders of balloon platoons were mainly glazed. Graduates obtained the rank of sergeant. At the same time, unification courses were conducted for officers of other types of weapons who operated various types of balloons.

The second course began on March 15, 1920. 25 soldiers completed the course. The ten most talented students were promoted to officer ranks and directed to the eastern front. During the period of the greatest threat to Poland's sovereignty, the School suspended its activities. In July 1920, II. The Aeronautical Battalion was directed to the Eastern Front as the 1st Aeronautical Regiment and fought as an infantry regiment.

After the war with the Russians (Bolsheviks), the 1st Aeronautical Regiment was disbanded and the 3rd Balloon Battalion was created on its basis. He was already in a different composition. It was headed by Captain Pilot Jan Wolszleger. The 3rd Balloon Battalion returned to Toruń.

The next 3rd course was organized only in the summer of 1921. The course ended on September 15, 1921. 28 students were promoted to the rank of second lieutenant, and three were promoted to the rank of sergeant. At the end of 1921, the school was renamed the Military Aerostatic School. In 1923, the name was changed to the Central Aerostatic School, and after a few months it was renamed the Central Balloon School. The school was disbanded in 1924. In the period 1922-1924, 80 graduates were trained in four courses.

After the Central Balloon School was closed, the Balloon Army Reserve Officer Cadet School operated at the Balloon Battalion in Toruń. It operated from 1927 to 1933. In 1933, it was transformed into the Balloon Reserve Officer Cadet School. It functioned until 1936, when its function was taken over by the School Platoon at the Balloon Battalion. This was due to a significant decline in the importance of balloon troops, which did not play a decisive role in Poland anyway. However, the name of the Balloon Reserve Officer Cadet School survived until 1939. In the period 1927-1939, the school trained about 260 soldiers. About 200 of them became professional (contract) officers, and the rest became reserve officers.

Written by Karol Placha Hetman