Chequer on wings

What is the origin of the identifiable chequer mark of the Polish Air Force?
It all goes back to Lieutenant Stefan Stec, who painted a sign of a four-field chequer on the fuselages of two planes he navigated. Air Force Commander Lieutenant Colonel Hipolit Ossowski took a fancy to the sign to the point that on 1 December 1918 he issued an order approving it as the symbol of the Polish military aircraft.

Stefan Stec. Source: National Digital Archives.

The first planes used by the Polish armed forces came from a campaign aimed at recapturing German machines (in October and November 1918, the airports in Warsaw and Kraków and the machinery base in Poznan were seized). The square sign made it easy to cover up the German swastika. It was also easy to use it to replace symbols on aircrafts made in France, Italy and the UK, supplied to the Polish armed forces.
The order of 1918 did not specify the look of the frame, hence the chequer was initially painted without the red and white borderline.
The identification feature was of immense importance during air battles and reconnaissance flights, and so the symbols were applied to provide a feature that was clear and easily recognisable both from above and below the plane and on its sides.

See the chequered flag kept in the Polish Aviation Museum in Kraków.







Elaborated by Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums,
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 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.