In the pre-dawn of September 1, 1939 units of Hitler's Luftwaffe and Wehmacht were poised to smash across Poland's borders to begin World War 2. At sunrise, formations of German bombers were over Krakow and attacked the Polish airbase of Rakowice. Meanwhile, several miles to the west on a secret airfield at Balice, 121 Fighter Eskadra (Squadron) of Army Krakow's 2 Dyon (Air Regiment) was alerted to the attack by the noise of explosions and flaming horizon.
Leaping from his bed and pulling on his flight clothes, 28 year old veteran flyer, 2nd Lt. Wladek Gnys ran with his CO, Capt. Mieczyslaw Medwecki, to their gull-winged 2PZLP.11c fighters. As they took off to make an interception of the German attackers, the pair was surprised by fire passing JU-87 Stukas of L/SIG.2 and Medwecki was downed. In attempting to evade, Gnys went into a stall but regained control just above the ground. Climbing once again, he managed to put two bursts into the engine of another Stuka, which turned away trailing a plume of smoke. Later, at 5000 feet Gnys spotted two Do-17E bombers of lll/KG77 just above the rising early morning fog. Putting his small fighter into a near vertical dive, Gnys banked steeply toward the Dornier on the right and fired his four 7.7 mm machine guns, silencing the rear gunner and hitting the port engine. He then climbed and banked to the left away from his smoking victim, to pursue the second German bomber. Attacking from the second bomber's port side, Gnys dove and fired getting hits on the cockpit. Realizing that the two mortally wounded Dorniers were on a collision course, he continued his dive below and away from them. Returning to base, the victorious pilot did not see the two crashed bombers smoldering in a farmyard near the village of Zurada…the first victories over the Luftwaffe in World War 2. Gnys later fought with the French Air Force in the Battle of France, the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain, and ended his combat career as the squadron leader of 317 (F) Squadron, RAF.
Signed by Wladek Gnys, and artist Roy Grinnell, with a Certificate of Authenticity.
Limited edition S&N print: 22 x 39 - $135.00