The story of 303 Squadron is to be told through the eyes and experience of Jan Zumbach, one of the best aces of the Battle of Britain in WWII. The character will be played by Iwan Rheon, the star of Game of Thrones (Ramsay Bolton), Misfits (Simon Bellamy), and Inhumans (Maximus).
Among other noticeable actors are – Milo Gibson as Canadian fighter ace John A. Kent ‘Kentowski,’ known from Hacksaw Ridge and Marcin Dorociński as the squadron leader Witold Urbanowicz, known from Anthropoid (Ladislav Vaněk), Jack Strong (Jacek Kukliński), and Marcin Dorocinski from “PitBull” (Sławomir Desperski Despero).
“We do not beg for freedom, we fight for it”
– Witold Urbanowicz, commander of the 303 Squadron
The story of the 303 Squadron became a legend when the “bloody Poles” became the best scoring RAF squadron of the entire Battle of Britain – it had the highest ratio of enemy aircraft destroyed against their own losses.
However, before they were allowed to fly in combat, they had to suffer distrust and humiliation during training from their British colleagues. Most of them were already experienced pilots from the 1939 September Campaign in Poland and the 1940 Battle of France. Learning to “re-ride a bike” and a new style of tactics while the battle was ongoing was hard for them to swallow.
The Polish pilots had endured a long and harsh journey getting to Britain so treating them as amateurs was not well-received by them. At first, they were given obsolete aircraft, yet they were still able to fight successfully against German pilots. It was possible because of their exceptional experience and skills. In August 1940, when they were given a modern plane to fly – the Hawker Hurricane – they were delighted! The Polish pilots were surprised how flying and shooting down the enemy was so much easier with the Hurricane. In the obsolete planes they had had to sweat and struggle for their own survival, never mind trying to kill the enemy.
Among the Polish pilots’ many challenges they had to beat a different kind of enemy: language. English was a must, and they were in a hurry, so the class was limited to the very basics. The pilots had seen what the Germans were capable of in Poland and France and for them learning English meant delaying before they could be flying again.
They were extremely eager to fight. Britain lacked trained pilots as recruits were being shot down at a very fast pace. Young pilots were dying quicker than more could be trained. RAF command was aware of the situation, so to make 303 Squadron operational faster, they assigned to them a native English speaker leader – a Canadian John Kent. He was not chuffed at first at being given the assignment, to say the least. As he said, “It was the worst that could happen to him”.
British command fears were completely unfounded, but they had no way of knowing how much experience the Polish pilots had – or the Czech. Among the Poles served one Czech pilot, Josef Frantisek. He had already scored 11 destroyed aircraft in France but was degraded after his first flight due to landing with hidden wheels.
In the middle of August 1940, they started to train flying in British formation. They were still disconsolate… until August 30. While flying that day the Germans attacked – turning the training into a battle. No force on earth could stop the Polish pilots from engaging with their enemy, and the first score of a long list was marked for the men of 303 Squadron. As for the rest we’ll have to wait for the release.
The exact date of the release of the ‘Hurricane’ movie has not yet been announced, but many sources suggest it will be in 2019.