None of the Allied airmen in the Battle of Britain wanted to fly with Czech pilot Sgt. Josef Frantisek DFM. Simply put, he was a renegade who “fought his own war” and was a danger to anyone flying in his formation.
Because of this, the RAF and No. 303 Polish Squadron only allowed him to fly as a “guest” in a “spare” Hawker Hurricane.
In this composition, Sgt. Frantisek had already left his colleagues shortly after takeoff and was on a solo mission to make his first kill of the war near the coast of Dover: a Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 piloted by Lt. Detlev Rohwer. The German plane escaped the attack, but eventually crash-landed in the English Channel. Later in the day, Sgt. Frantisek would get his first actual kill—a different pilot in the same model plane, a Bf 109.
In the following five weeks, Sgt. Frantisek would add 16 more German planes to his kill list, making him one of the top aces of the Battle of Britain. His streak came to a tragic end on 8 October 1940 when he crashed during landing in Ewell, Surrey. Legend has it that he was trying to impress his girlfriend with an acrobatic approach when it happened. True or not, it’s true to his story—the story of a man who lived like a tempest and died in a Hurricane.