"FIRST KILL"

BY ROY GRINNELL

Size: 22" x 29"

Price: $135


During the last day and evening of August 1939,121 Fighter Squadron of the Polish Army Krakow's And Air Regiment secretly moved to a temporary airfield near Balice, five miles west of Krakow. The following dawn the pilotsof 121 Squadron were awakened to the roar of Luftwaffe bombers overhead, gunblasts, and explosions all around. Pulling on his flight gear, 2nd Lieutenant Wladek Gnys dashed after his CO, Captain Mieczyslaw Medwecki, toward their awaiting PZLP .11 aircraft . The two graceful gull-winged fighters took off in unison but were immediately attacked by Ju-87 Stukas of l ./StG 2. Capt . Medwecki's PZL received hits, crashed, and burned near the edge of the airfield . GNY*, after recovering from a near stall, managed to place two bursts into the engine of another passing Stuka which turned away trailing black smoke.

Soon after climbing to 5000 feet, Gnys sighted a pair of Dornier Do-17E bombers of III./KG 77 on his course and approximately 3000 feet below. Putting his fighter into a near vertical dive, Gnys attacked the Dornier to the right and ahead of the formation . Firing his four 7.7 mm machine guns, Gnys silenced the rear gunner and then made strikes on the port engine, setting it aflame . Zooming in order to gain altitude, he crossed over to port side and rear of the second Dornier. Once again he dove to the attack. Firing and obtaining hits on the cockpit area, Gnys suddenly became aware that the two mortally wounded Dorniers were on a collision course. He continued his dive below the two bombers and barely recovered above the treetops. Looking back, Gnys could no longer see the Dorniers. Both had crashed in a farm yard near the village of Zurada south of Olkusz.2nd Lieutenant Wladek Gnys of the Polish Air Force had thus gained the distinction of obtaining the first two confirmed victories over the Luftwaffe in World War II. Credits: Squadron Leader (RAF Ret.) and Mrs. Wladek Gnys, Jerzy B. Cynk, James F. Lansdale, and Dr. William C. Wolf.