The Czech Pilot Hero Of The Battle Of Britain

Posted on September 17, 2018

He was “remarkable – some thought a little crazy”, wrote the historians Lynne Olson and Stanley Cloud. A Czech “who flew with a fury none of the others could match”. Josef Frantisek has been credited with shooting down 17 enemy aircraft in one month at the height of the Battle of Britain – September 1940 – as Hitler sought to achieve the air superiority he needed to invade the UK. The Imperial War Museum calls Frantisek the “top scorer” of the Battle of Britain, and he is generally considered to be one of the top scorers of the entire war, despite his death in its very early stages. Beyond the statistics, however, Frantisek remains an elusive figure. “His aplomb in the sky is documented, of course, but not much else,” Hurricane’s director, David Blair, tells me. But Blair says he became fascinated by Frantisek – a “lone wolf” pilot who kept breaking away from the squadron to chase enemy planes on his own – and worked hard to discover more about him.

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