Montpellier Fighter Squadron
This is the combat history of Polish Montpellier squadron, which fought in Polish fighter aircraft MS 406s in the Battle of France in 1940. It provides full details of the unit's aces, its victories and losses, plus details of the aircraft flown. The book is illustrated with photographs, full colour artwork, scale plans and maps. Bartlomiej Belcarz has researched the air war in France in 1939/40 in great detail, even to PhD level. He has previously written several books & articles and his work is well known to military and aviation enthusiasts. This will be the first ever book in English describing the heroic exploits of this World War Two aviation unit. It looks at a rarely documented aspect of World War Two aviation history. It features superb colour illustrations of camouflage and markings, walk-around colour photographs and rare b+w archive photographs. It is essential reading for aviation enthusiasts and scale aero-modellers
- Replic nr 214 2013-09-28
- Cybermodeler.com 2013-09-28
- Amazon.fr 2013-09-28
- Model Aircraft 05/2008 2013-09-28
- IPMS UK Magazine 2013-09-28
- IPMSUSA.org 2013-09-28
- SAM 2013-09-28
- AiR Modeler 18 2013-09-28
- InternetModeler.com 2013-09-28
- Cybermodeler.com 2013-09-28
- Hyperscale.com 2013-09-28
- ModelingMadness.com 2013-09-28
- MiniReplika No 57 2009-03-25
Replic nr 214 2013-09-28
By David L. Veres
WWII's saga of exiled airmen fighting Nazi aggression starts with Poland's plucky pilots. And their expatriate adventure originates in France.
That's the story of Montpellier Fighter Squadron. And Bartlomiej Belcarz tells the total tale in this lavishly illustrated, absorbing account from MMP.
The name "Montpellier Squadron", he notes, "never actually existed". Instead, historians coined the term to trace the band of Polish defenders posted for training at the city's Centre d'Instruction d'Aviation de Chasse.
Given the clip, chaos and confusion accompanying France's fall, Belcarz has mined amazing amounts of archival detail. Names. Dates. Movements. Aircraft. Serials. Markings. Even uniform minutiae. All packed into just 128 pithy pages!
After illuminating background notes, coverage commendably cleaves, by commander and unit, into seven solid "sections". Primary sources and personnel interviews dominate chapter annotations. And several appendices with selected bibliographic categories complete contents.
Photos, artwork, tables and biographic sidebars support this solid study. And the late, great Teodire Liviu Morosanu's 37 beautiful color plates – profiles, plan views and insignia for MS 406s, MB.152s and D-520s – splendidly sated my modeling muse.
I just wish Belcarz added US or British equivalents – not just French ratings – for Polish air force ranks. A couple schemes for Polish-manned Hawk 75s would have agreeably augmented the excellent art. And a couple maps could have considerably clarified contents.
But I nitpick. MMP has forged a deservedly brilliant reputation with gems like this. Enthusiasts of WWII's Blitzkrieg Era will love Montpellier Fighter Squadron. I certainly did.
Review of the French language version:
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Le top niveau sur l'histoire des pilotes polonais en France
27 novembre 2012
Bartłomiej Belcarz, est un expert en la matière (il a fait sa thèse de doctorat d’histoire sur ce sujet). L’organisation des chapitres est pertinente. Chaque chapitre présente l’action de ces pilotes polonais, GC par GC, de leur arrivée à leur départ. Le livre présente d’ailleurs un organigramme très complet des « patrouilles » au sein des Groupes de chasse. La fin du livre présente un grand nombre de jolis profils d’avions français aux marquages polonais. Il me semble que tous les GC concernés sont représentés. Les jolis profils d’avions sont de Teodro Liviu Morosanu (malheureusement décédé depuis peu…). Les photos sont superbes (grand format) et souvent inédites. Il s’agit de la réédition du livre Montpellier Fighter Squadron des éditions Stratus, mais en version française cette fois ci et en format A4. Bref, un livre très complet, richement illustré qui se lit comme un bon roman.
Model Aircraft 05/2008 2013-09-28
IPMS UK Magazine 2013-09-28
IPMSUSA.org 2013-09-28This recent book from Mushroom Model Publications is a compelling tale of the distrust, disorganization, and defeat experienced by Polish fighter pilots who fought in the Battle of France. It is a tragic yet compelling look at how not to fight an air war and how not to utilize brave and experienced allies, who were wasted in chaos and incompetence. After the fall of Poland under Hitler's blitzkrieg, many airmen and ground crew of the defeated Polish Air Force escaped their homeland to carry on the fight elsewhere. Most evacuated through Romania and Hungary and found their way to France and England. The RAF wanted bomber crews, and so most fighter pilots went to France with the hope of reforming their Polish units. But the French had other ideas. Not trusting--and not respecting--an ally who would collapse in three short weeks, the French refused to establish all-Polish squadrons. Instead, the Poles were sent to a central base at Lyon. The most experienced pilots, concentrated in II Fighter Squadron, were then sent to Montpellier to be trained to French standards. After completing their training, Polish pilots were then sent to front line units in small, 3-pilot sections. This uncoordinated, piecemeal approach protected the French from their fear of mass Polish defection, but it resulted in many unfortunate effects such as emphasizing language problems, weakening Polish morale, and adding unnecessary logistical confusion. Thus the term "Montpellier Squadron" is something of a misnomer; it is a collective term for all Polish fighter pilots in France and not a unified, operational squadron. In this book, Belcarz focuses on the experiences of the six 3-pilot sections assigned to various French Groupes de Chasse plus various individual replacement pilots. The level of detail and the thoroughness of coverage is astounding. Mushroom's Montpellier Fighter Squadron is published in their usual softcover small-format (9˝" X 6˝") and contains 128 pages printed on glossy, high-quality paper. Text is in excellent English, liberally illustrated by 167 B/W and 4 color photos of aircraft, pilots, crash sites, documents, badges, and the like. Theodor Liviu Morosanu provides excellent color illustrations of 15 different aircraft, including two 2-view and two 4-view drawings, are accompanied by 14 detail illustrations of unit emblems and personal markings. Nine tables include listings of unit organization, personnel rosters, victories, fatalities, and awards. Although the splintered use of Polish pilots contributed to the French defeat, it is a boon to modelers in that the Poles were assigned to every fighter type to see action in the battle: MS.406, D.520, MB.520, H.75, C.714, and even the rare Koolhaven FK.58. This book contains combat descriptions of all of these types as well as color illustrations of the first three. Montpellier Fighter Squadron is a fascinating read at several levels. First, it describes and clarifies the events of the Battle of France, an often overlooked aspect of the air war. Second, it provides a clear demonstration of the skill and resolve of the Polish fighter pilots. As one example, the French had initially scheduled the Poles to a 4-month training program at Montpellier; to their surprise, in less than two weeks the experienced Polish pilots had completed their training and were ready for the front. And unlike the defeatism and hesitation of their French allies, the Poles were eager to exact revenge on the German invaders. Indeed, toward the end of the battle, when the French were considering surrender, their fear about their Polish allies now was not that the Poles would refuse to fight, but that they would refuse to quit, thus complicating the French armistice. Finally, and perhaps most intriguing of all, Belcarz describes the disaster of the Battle of France from a uniquely inside view. I gained a newfound appreciation of the value of the British Chain Home radar fighter control system by seeing what happens in its absence: without any prior warning of attacks, the uncoordinated, piecemeal sorties of the French were cut to ribbons by the massed and well organized Luftwaffe. This lack of central control, poor combat tactics, frequent retreats to different (and often poorly equipped) airfields, and low morale combined to spell disaster. In a complete reversal of the contempt they received from their French hosts upon their arrival, by June of 1940 it was the Poles who were disgusted with their comrades in arms. Belcarz quotes por. (Lt.) Wojciech Januszewicz, a replacement pilot assigned to GC II/7. When recalling how French pilots in his unit unanimously refused to evacuate to England, he thought, "My God; they did not want to fight for their own country, forget any other." This is a fascinating and enlightening book for WWII buffs with an interest in the Polish Air Force, the Luftwaffe, or the Battle of France. Highly recommended! Thanks to Mushroom Model Publications via Dave Morrissette for the review sample.
SAM 2013-09-28Montpellier Fighter Squadron, in Mushroom Model Publication's Blue Series of unit accounts, sees Bartlomiej Belcarz again returning to his pet subject of Polish pilots in French service, except this time the focus is on a group of fighter pilots trained in France. Although Montpellier was never an official name for their unit, these men fought with considerable honour and valour in the few months that were available to them between their training at Montpellier in 1939 and the fall of France. Belcarz describes the pilots and their operations with considerable authority, also providing comprehensive lists of data covering kills, losses, personnel, etc. The unit flew the MS.406, D.520 and MB.152 operationally and a 15-page section of colour artwork provides inspiration for those wishing to model these aircraft in a finish that's just that little bit different.
AiR Modeler 18 2013-09-28
InternetModeler.com 2013-09-28The opening moves of the Second World War saw Polish aviators moving around quite a bit, flying in the skies over Poland, France, and finally, England. The newest title in MMP’s Blue Series details the Polish aviators who served in the Armee d L’Air in 1940. After the fall of Poland, the Polish aviators were split between Great Britain and France, with the former getting the bomber crews and the latter the fighter pilots. The Montpellier Fighter Squadron was the result, a unit equipped with several different aircraft. Their successes over the skies of France were short-lived, though, as France soon fell to the Germans. While flying with the Armee de L’Air, though the Polish pilots of the Montpellier Squadron did quite well. This is the first book in English on this unit (that I have found, anyway), and it is quite a thorough history of the Montpellier Fighter Squadron. The organization is mainly by the specific squadron sections, which were spread through GC I/2, II/6, II/7, III/1, III/2, and III/6. The main aircraft used was the Morane Saulnier MS 406, with some pilots flying the Curtiss Hawk 75, Bloch MB 152, and Dewoitine D 520. The well-written text is complemented by many photos of these aircraft, most of which have not been seen before. Like other MMP titles, this book finishes up with several pages of color profiles, bringing these aircraft to life. For those interested in some of the lesser-known aviators of the Second World War, this is an excellent book to pick up.
Cybermodeler.com 2013-09-28This latest book from Mushroom Model Publications (MMP) is in their usual 6 ½” x 9” soft cover format for their aircraft books. It is 128 pages long. The book is printed in Poland, in the English language, in cooperation with Stratus. The book tells the story of the Polish fighter pilots, who escaped to France in 1939 and fought alongside the French in 1940. Officially, there was no such unit as the “Montpellier Squadron”, but it is a convenient shorthand for the group of Polish pilots who trained at the Centre d’ Instruction d’ Aviation de Chasse at Montpellier, before moving to a variety of operational units. Mostly flying the Morane-Saulnier MS406, but also the Dewoitine D.530 and Bloch MB.152, the Polish pilots saw only limited action against the invading Germans, because of the confusions and indecisions of the time. They did achieve some successes, and suffered losses, but most of the pilots subsequently escaped to Britain and saw more extensive action with the RAF. The author tells the stories of the individual pilots and their units, describes and illustrates the aircraft they flew and lists their victories and losses. There are many first-hand accounts of the time, 122 black and white wartime photos, 12 color profiles of the Morane-Saulnier MS406C-1 (one is a 2-view and two are 4-views), 2 color profiles of the Bloch MB152C-1 and a 2-view of the Dewoitine D.520C-1. Color illustrations include the cover art too. The black and white photos include a post-war photo of the author with Stanaslaw Chalupa and a photo of Chalupa with the Consul General of France. There are 41 photos of pilots and other honoraries, with short biographies next to their pictures. Included also, are 14 information lists, 6 pictures of documents and 5 of group stamps. The last page of the book has photos of the metal and cloth Polish pilots cap badge, their breast badge and French pilot’s wings badge. This is the complete combat history of the men of the Polish Montpellier Squadron – a group of Polish pilots who served with a number of Armee de L’Air units throughout the Battle of France in 1940. They were primarily with the Morane Saulnier MS406, as well as some Curtiss H.75A’s (not done as a color profile), the Dewoitine D.520 and Bloch MB 152 aircraft. This book provides full details of the unit’s pilots and their victories and losses, plus details of the aircraft flown. The many photographs are rare and previously unpublished. Bartomiej Belcarz has researched the air war in France in 1939/40 to PhD level. His published work in Polish, English and French is well known and highly regarded by military and aviation enthusiasts. This is the first book in English which exclusively describes the heroic exploits of these WWII Polish pilots fighting for France. On the back cover of the book is the cover arts for 2 other related MMP books: “13. (slow.) JG 52” and “Hurricane Ace Josef Frantisek, the true story”. Highly recommended.
Hyperscale.com 2013-09-28This volume is the latest in Mushroom Model Magazine’s Blue Series that recounts the history specific squadrons and pilots. This volume focuses on the Polish pilots in France that made up the “Montpellier Fighter Squadron”. These pilots escaped Poland after it’s fall, through Hungary and Rumania, finding their way to France. The first thing we learn is that there really was not a “Montpellier Squadron”. Rather, this was a label given to the first group of Polish pilots that arrived in France and trained at the Centre d’Instruction d’Aviation de Chasse at Montpellier, France. The name became associated with the pilots as they entered service in various units. After training, the Polish pilots were not allowed to form their own Polish units, as they had wanted. Initially the French did not trust the Poles and felt it was better for them to be integrated into French squadrons. The book provides an interesting perspective on blame and trust. The French felt that the Polish pilots, upon their arrival, could not be trusted believing the Poles had given up in the fight against the Germans. Later, as the French concluded the armistice with Germany, the French feared that the Polish pilots would not honor it and continue to fight on their own. The book concludes with a most poignant observation, by a Polish pilot, about the state of mind of French pilots upon the fall of France. The exploits of the Polish pilots are told based on each individual French squadron in which they served. Each squadron is allocated its own chapter. But the story is the same across the squadrons – a good fight against overwhelming odds and, hopefully, an escape from France, usually through North Africa. This volume is filled with an excellent collection of photographs, the majority of which I have not seen before. Also sprinkled throughout are brief biographies of individual Polish pilots. Finally, as has become the norm for books from Stratus publications of Poland, which published this volume for Mushroom, the profiles are of excellent quality. But this monograph is not without some issues. First, the English is a bit “cumbersome” and the narrative does not flow particularly well. Second, I wish the author had, in the beginning, given a comparative of ranks in the Polish, French and British or US air force. There is list of pilots in the back with Polish and French ranks, but it is not as effective as it could have been. Finally, I would have liked to have learned more about the marking of the French aircraft with the Polish checkerboard, and issues that might have arisen. The aircraft, for all practical purposes, carried two sets of national markings. Mushroom and Stratus must be commended for publishing monographs such as this one. The efforts and exploits of pilots from Poland and Czechoslovakia are over shadowed by writings about USAAF, RAF and especially Luftwaffe pilots. No one who has any interest in the air warfare in World War Two should ignore this book. It provides a very good account of the Polish pilots during a tragic period of the war. The events, the pilots and the aircraft are all given their due. Recommended.
ModelingMadness.com 2013-09-28After the fall of Poland in 1939, many of the Polish military left the country and sought the opportunity to continue the fight against the Germans with the armed forces of other countries. When it came to pilots and ground crew, the UK wanted bomber crews and France wanted fighter pilots and mechanics. So it was that the British formed bomber units with Polish crews and the French started training fighter pilots to fly French aircraft. This training took part in Montpellier and was planned by the Polish authorities to form an all-Polish Squadron. Of course, the French had other plans and wanted to integrate sections of Polish pilots into extant units. And that is just what happened. Conversion training went much faster than expected by the French, but that shouldn't have been a surprise as these men were, for the most part, experienced pilots with hundreds of flight hours. They were provided MS.406 fighters. Not the best of the time and bordering on obsolescence, but they were all that was readily available. This then, is the story of each of these various sections and their combat record from formation until the eventual collapse of the French government in June of 1940. Each section is dealt with separately and a provided in a diary format. There are photos of the pilots and planes involved with little biographies of these men placed in separate tables throughout the book. In addition to these pilots, those who flew as individuals with French units on the D.520 and MB.152 are also covered. In line with other MMP books, there are a complete set of tables and many pages of superlative profiles and three-views, all in full color. Combined with an interesting selection of period photos, one has a complete look at the rather hurried and harried existence of these men. A book that I found to be quite interesting to read and I know you will as well.
MiniReplika No 57 2009-03-25
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