Hurricane Mk I P3120 RF-A of No 303 'Polish' Sqn, flown by Flg Off Z K Henneberg, September 1940
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No. 303 (Polish) Squadron was formed on 2 August 1940 at RAF Northolt, and became operational on 31 August. Its initial cadre was 13 Officer and 8 NCO pilots and 135 Polish ground staff. At the outset, serving RAF officers were appointed to serve as CO (S/L RG Kellett) and Flight Commanders (F/L JA Kent and F/L AS Forbes) alongside their Polish compatriots, as the Polish pilots were unfamiliar with RAF Fighter Command language, procedures and training.
On 31 August, the squadron was scrambled in the late afternoon on its first operational sortie. In a dogfight over Kent, 'A ' Flight claimed four confirmed and two probable victories over Messerschmitt Bf 109, possibly of LG 2. Claimants were are Kellet, F/O. Henneberg, P/O Feric and Sgt. Karubin.
Although the number of Battle of Britain claims was overestimated (as with virtually all fighter units), No. 303 Squadron was one of top fighter units in the battle and the best Hurricane-equipped one.
According to historian John Alcorn, 44 victories are positively verified, making 303 Squadron the fourth highest scoring squadron of the battle, after Squadron Nos. 603 AuxAF (57.8 verified kills), 609 AuxAF (48 verified kills) and 41 (45.33 verified kills), which all flew Spitfires. It was also had the highest kill-to-loss ratio; of 2.8:1. However, J. Alcorn was not able to attribute 30 aircraft shot down to any particular unit, and according to Jerzy Cynk and other Polish historians, the actual number of victories for 303 Squadron was about 55–60. According to Polish historian Jacek Kutzner the verified number of kills of 303 Squadron is around 58.8, which would still place it above all other squadrons regarding verified kills.
This is presented by Kutzner's chart, which shows Polish confirmed kills ,confirmed kills of all Allied squadrons, including Polish and real German losses on each day when 303 Squadron was involved in air combats
The name chosen by the squadron was in honour of the famous Polish Kosciuszko Squadron which fought during the Polish-Soviet War in 1920. No. 303 Squadron was also linked to the original Kosciuszko Escadrille through personnel that had served in the squadron. Later, further air force units from the aforementioned unit were renamed the 7th, 121st and 111th Escadrilles of the Polish Air Force.