Virtual Aircraft
Pilots, and their stories
Bolesław Gładych in 56th FG

A 1:24 model of P-47, built circa 1985, from cardboard and plywood
This model of P-47 is painted like an airplane flown by a Polish pilot – Capt. Bolesław Gładych (also known in 61th FS as "Mike"), on the spring of 1945. The score on its side is a little bit higher than the official data (17 confirmed + 2 possible victories). It probably matches the unofficial results.

Anyway, Bolesław Gładych had already 8 aerial victories, when he agreed to join 56th FG, at the beginning of 1944. It was time, when "first wave" of USAAF fighter pilots had finished their duty tour. The 8th Army squadrons were badly missing experienced fighter pilots, that would enforce the new generation, arrived from the USA flight schools. To resolve this problem, Maj. Francis Gabreski from 61th FS proposed to Polish pilots, flying in RAF, a voluntary service in his fighter group. For their short-range Spitfire squadrons it was hard to find any opponents over France, in that time. The main air battle was conducted by Mustangs and Tunderboldts over Austria and Germany.
Knowing this, some experienced Polish officers accepted this proposal. Gładych was among them. Some months before, on the autumn 1943, he had made an error and opened the fire to an unidentified aircraft. It was very bad luck, because the British Prime Minister - Winston Churchill – was on its board. Gladych was immediately grounded, after this accident. Gabreski’s proposal was for him the only chance to return to combat flights.
Bolesław Gładych at his Spitfire Polish pilots in 61th FS. From left: Bolesław Gładych, Tadeusz Sawicz, Francis Gabreski, Kazimierz Rutkowski, Tadeusz Andersz and Witold Łanowski

Some months later, on June 1944, Polish Air Force requested the volunteers flying in 56th FG to return to their regular assignments in RAF units. Two "black sheep": Capt. Bolesław Gładych, and Capt. Witold Łanowski, both "grounded" by PAF in 1943, declined to do it, and continued their flights within 61th FS. In effect, the Polish Air Force has suspended their service (and, of course, the payroll). Since that both pilots had served in 56th FG "just for a bed to sleep and P-47 to fly". They formally resigned from PAF on 29th October 1944. It is not clear, if they formally joined the USAAF, after this. According some sources, they just flown to the end of the war as a "guests", without any formal assignment. Their quick release from 61th FS - just a few days after 8th May, 1945 - indicates this version is, probably, true.
After the war, Bolesław Gładych migrated to the USA. He finished psychology studies there, and became a psychotherapist.
61th FS photo, with autographs of the crew - a gift for Bolesław Gładych

Last updated: 2008-02-08. Visited: .