Although the most famous Polish Fokker E.V is the Stefan Stec’s airplane, marked with number „001” and pilot’s personal marking: white „S” with the compass rose, very popular is also the airplane with number „002”, white „sign of infinity” as a personal marking and non-standard wing checkerboards spreading from the leading to the trailing edges of the wing. The legend attributes this plane to the second of the „Lwów’s Eagles”, Stefan Bastyr (first was Stefan Stec). Bastyr was extraordinary airman, he performed first combat sortie of the Polish Army Air Force on 5th November 1918 in Lwów, and later, hand by hand with Stec, defended Polish Lwów in 1918 and 1919 against Ukrainians and later, in 1920, against Bolshevik invasion, till the very end of hostilities. But the real history of the „002” Fokker was a bit different…
Fokker „002” after Ludwik Idzikowski’s crash. Lwów, second decade of May 1919
Airplane marked with Polish number „002” is a Fokker E.V captured by Poles in the former Prussian airbase in Poznań/Winiary. It was marked with factory number (Werknummer) 2834 and German military number 193/18. Most probably it was not used operationally over the Great War front as, like other “Razors”, was grounded soon after leaving factory due to wing problems. We don’t know if it had the wing replaced or reinforced, or only has been sent to the rear airbase in the Poznań Zeppelin-halle. Anyway, for newly-born Polish Army Air Force such airplane, almost factory-fresh and modern fighter, was priceless. With some other Fokkers it was very soon sent to the Warsaw Centralne Warsztaty Lotnicze (Central Aviation Workshops), where it was numbered “002”, assembled, tested and sent to Lwów on the Polish-Ukrainian war front.
Three Lwów’s Fokkers. 3rd May 1919
The puzzle of the infinity
For a long time modellers and historians belived, that the Fokker „002”, known from several good quality photos, was from the beginning marked with the „sign of infinity”, similar to the Stefan Stec’s horizontal „S”. It was also belived, that as the plane was flown by Stefan Bastyr, the „infinity” was Bastyr’s personal marking. Such vision of the „002”, differing from the „001” with the non-standard wing checkerboards, was popular among the modellers and enthusiasts. Only the careful analysis of the high-quality photographs, including one showing the three Fokkers on the Lwów’s airfield, caused some doubts.
„Stec’s second Fokker” – closeup of the previous photo. 3rd May 1919
Dated for 3rd May 1919 photography of the three Fokkers on the Lwów-Lewandówka airfield shows two planes marked with Stec’s white “S” and the third – with white chevron. Their numbers are: “001” (Stec), “003” (Bastyr’s “chevron”) and… what? Until the high-quality copy of that photo was unavailable, the plane in the background (“Stec’s second Fokker”) was considered to be “005”, which, according to written documents, was used in Lwów. But not everything was clear. Firstly, the “005”, according to the documents, reached Lwów only on 10th May, and secondly, on the high-quality copy of that photo the number still isn’t clear, but looks more like “002”! Is it possible?
Fokker „002” after Ludwik Idzikowski’s crash. Lwów, second decade of May 1919. Compare shape of the marking with the previous photo
To determine the facts, careful examination of all available photographs was necessary. Fortunately, quite a big collection is available, even if there is no photo showing the “Stec’s second Fokker’s” (supposed “005”) port side with the number clearly visible. The starboard side views, with the horizontal “S” and non-standard wing checkerboards, is well-visible on a few photos, but the German serial number (supposed 195/18) is partially overpainted by the “S” and confirmation is impossible. Interesting: two Stec’s “S” on those two airplanes have different shape: on the “001” bigger is the front part, while on “the second one” – bigger is the rear part.
„Stec’s second Fokker” on the Lwów-Lewandówka airfield
It turns out, that while the two “Stec’s Fokkers” (“001” and “that second”) differs in almost every detail from each other, the “002” attributed to Bastyr, is almost identical to the supposed “005”, it has identical (and non-standard!) wing checkerboards, German serials (partially overpainted) may be interpreted both as 193 (“002”) and 195 (“005”), even more, the outline of the big pilot’s personal marking is the same, with smaller front loop, and the “sign of infinity” might have been simply created by adding two lines completing the “S” loops! Could the “002” and supposed “005” be the same airplane? Bu where can we find the final proof? In the even smaller details! It turns out that the well-visible scratches on the engine cover are identical on the photos of the “Stec’s second Fokker” and on the pictures of the “002” crashed by Ludwik Idzikowski!
„Stec’s second Fokker” on the Lwów-Lewandówka airfield. „S” marking on the fuselage side and scratched paint on the engine cowling
Idea based on the examination of the photographs is supported also by written documents. Fokker “002” after coming to Lwów was unlucky. Due to engine problems was almost not used during the most intensive fights of April 1919 (Bastyr flew “003” at that time), and after being repaired, was very soon crashed (another engine malfunction) by Ludwik Idzikowski… Although the marking of this airplane is very attractive and famous, it’s combat record is very modest compared with Stefan Stec’s “001” and Bastyr’s “003”. The final puzzle of the infinity “002” remains it’s personal marking. If it is not marking of Bastyr (he used the chevron, both on his “003” Fokker E.V, and, in modified version, on the Fokker D.VII), was it Idzikowski’s marking? Or, maybe, the initial Stec’s “S” was turned into the “sign of infinity” by the witty ground crew, because the plane’s overhaul extended to the… infinity?
Comparison of the paint scratches on the engine cowlings of the „Stec’s second Fokker” and the „002”
More about Polish Fokkers operational history and markings you will soon be able to read in the Tomasz Kopański’s new book prepared by STRATUS Edition.
Polish Wings/Polskie Skrzydła 25, Fokker E.V/D.VIII
Chapter on Fokker’s colours and markings was also written by
Markings for Ludwik Idzikowski’s Fokker „002” are included in the Fokker E.V/D.VIII Limited Edition in Arma Hobby Internet Shop
Photos: Tomasz Kopański collection
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