The Polish Air Force is a national military branch that came into being shortly before World War II. Its history dates back to 1918 when the first air unit was formed as an independent organization. However, after the war ended and Poland regained independence in 1920, the country’s aeronautics branch ceased to exist for almost 20 years. It was re-established in 1939 during the German invasion of Poland and again ceased to exist after 1945. In 1990, the Polish Air Force was once again recreated as a separate armed service branch of the military. Today it consists of several squadrons that operate with both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters from different bases throughout the country.


Poland’s military aviation history goes back to the First World War when the first Polish Air Force unit was formed as an independent organization in 1918. The first aircraft was purchased from Great Britain, France, and Italy. The Air Force unit was created to be an integral part of the army and support ground units in operations against the Central Powers. Unfortunately, after the war ended and Poland regained independence, the country’s aeronautics branch ceased to exist for almost 20 years.

Bases and aircraft the Polish Air Force uses

In the past, the biggest airbases in Poland were the ones located in Lodz, Poznan, and Wroclaw. However, after a number of restructuring and modernization projects began in the 1990s, a number of new bases were created – including in Warsaw, Powidz, Malbork, Bydgoszcz, and Babie Doly.

The base in Warsaw is used by the Polish Air Force’s fighter wing, which operates with Sukhoi Su-22, Mikoyan MiG-29, and Sukhoi Su-27 aircraft. The Wroclaw air base is home to the transport wing, whose aircraft include Antonov An-26, An-28, and Embraer ERJ-190. The Poznan Airport houses a helicopter unit whose aircraft include the Agusta Westland AW-129 and Mil Mi-2.

Famous Polish Jet Aces of World War II

1. Franciszek Kornicki

Franciszek Kornicki was a Polish fighter pilot who flew with the Royal Air Force during World War II. He was one of the highest-scoring jet aces of the war, with 14 confirmed and 3 probable kills. Kornicki was also one of the first pilots to fly the Gloster Meteor, the RAF’s first jet fighter.

Kornicki volunteered for military service in the Polish Air Force in 1938 and was trained at the Air Force Academy in Dęblin. In September 1939, during the World War II outbreak, he flew a PZL P.11c fighter with the No. 302 Fighter Squadron of the Pursuit Brigade, defending the country’s airspace against Nazi Germany’s Luftwaffe. After the German invasion of Poland and its subsequent partition between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, Kornicki continued to fight as a pilot in the exiled Polish Air Force operating from France and Great Britain. He flew with various squadrons, including No. 303 “Kościuszko” Squadron, scoring most of his kills while flying PZL P.37 Los bombers (a modified version of the PZL P.11c fighter). Unfortunately, he was wounded twice during combat missions – once on May 12, 1941, when his aircraft was shot down over Brest Litovsk, and he had to bail out; and again on September 5, 1942, when his bomber was hit by flak over Hannover.

In late 1942 Kornicki was transferred to the new 1st Polish Bomber Regiment being formed in Great Britain and given command of a squadron flying modified Wellington bombers. In early 1944 he took part in Operation Overlord (the Allied invasion of Normandy) as a member of the 1st Polish Bomb Wing supporting ground forces on the beachhead. After the liberation of France and Belgium, he continued to fly bombing missions deep into Germany until the end of World War II in May 1945. For his wartime service, Franciszek Kornicki received numerous awards, including The Cross of Valor (Poland), The Order of Virtuti Militari (Poland), The Distinguished Flying Cross (Great Britain), and The Croix de Guerre (France).