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F-15I Eagle
F-15I Eagle Hasegawa

B-25J Mitchell
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F6F Hellcat models Mk.II
F6F Hellcat Mk.II Eduard

Messerschmitt Me Bf 109 G-6 1:48 Erla Haube Canopy in Germany
Messerschmitt Me Bf 109 G-6

P-80 Shooting Star Nicaragua 1:48
P-80 Shooting Star Nicaragua

Mirage IIIC
Eduard Profipack Mirage IIIC

MH-53E Sea Dragon
MH-53E Sea Dragon

Gotha Go 242/244
Italeri Gotha Go 242/244

A tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him.  [George Orwell]

        Lieutenant General Frantisek Fajtl [1912-2006] was one of the finest Czech WWII fighter pilots who served his country during World War II on many battle fronts, ranging from the Battle for Britain in the West to the Slovak National Uprising in the East. His wartime record was remarkable and his name could easily serve as a dictionary definition of “national hero.” Yet shortly after the war, he was “rewarded” by being dismissed from the army and imprisoned by the newly established communist regime in Czechoslovakia.
        František Fajtl had endured innumerable hardships since the annexation of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany in March WWII 1939. At that time he witnessed the tragic consequences of the policy of appeasement promulgated by France and Britain. The formidable system of border fortifications and fleets of well maintained biplanes were handed over to Hitler without a single gunshot. That was a big blow to the pride of the Czechoslovak army which was getting ready to defend the country against the looming German invasion. Fajtl and many other Czech pilots didn’t settle for the disgraceful surrender and fled to France via Poland.
        In France, Fajtl joined the famous French Air Force in May 1940 WWII, where he flew Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 fighters against the advancing German blitzkrieg. Soon after the defeat of France he escaped to the UK via North Africa. Once again, he didn’t hesitate to enroll as a fighter pilot. Fajtl joined the Royal Air Force [RAF] in September 1940 where he eventually became the leader of No. 313 WWII Squadron RAF commanding a crew of exiled Czechoslovakian fighters. At first, the foreign pilots were eyed with much caution within the rigid RAF hierarchy, but under the leadership of Frantisek Fajtl they gradually earned their due respect through their many dangerous missions in the Battle for Britain.
        Flying Supermarine Spitfires, Fajtl himself shot down four German airplanes [one short of qualifying for a flying ace] while escorting bombers attacking north-west France. Many a time did Fajtl come within a hair’s breadth of losing his life or falling captive:

        “My worst moments occurred when I was forced to a landing after being shot by a German aircraft in northern France. I crashed into open terrain and my plane was on fire. I was right in the middle of the battle front occupied by the enemy. I managed to hide and escape to England via Spain so that I could go on fighting.”

        Soon upon his return to England, Fajtl was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and promoted to Wing Commander. However, he opted to drop in rank in order to keep flying with his No 313 (Czech) WWII Squadron. In January 1944, Fajtl led a group of pilots to the Soviet Union where they formed the first Czechoslovak Fighter Air Regiment which flew Lavochkin La-5 fighters in support of the Slovak National Uprising in the final months of the war.
        Fajtl’s record of military WWII service was truly exemplary. He proved his determination and unwavering courage in numerous battles across Europe, yet instead of becoming a national hero he was to become an enemy of the country which he loved so dearly. Although both Fascism and Nazism were defeated, they were soon followed by 40 years of Communism and the Cold War Period.
        At first, Fajtl and other Czech airmen were greeted with ovations upon their victorious arrival in Prague. But it didn’t take long for a new political tide to sweep over the whole of Eastern Europe. It must be understood that Czechoslovaks felt bitterly disappointed and betrayed by the West at the Munich Agreement of 1938, and the post-war desolation played into the hands of socialist movements. New political sentiments along with repressive strategies and intimidation of the Czechoslovak voters helped the Communist Party seize control of the government and by February 1948 the takeover was complete. Since then any associations with the West were to be condemned and repressed.
        The Czech pilots who had served under RAF were labeled as traitors of the new regime and sentenced to years of imprisonment and forced labor. It was of no consequence that many of them had also fought on the Eastern front. Instead of receiving medals of honor, the war veterans were dismissed from the army and locked up with the very Nazi officers they had been fighting against for years. It was this cruel irony of life that hurt Frantisek Fajtl most deeply. During the course of war he had managed to escape the Germans, but in peace time he was imprisoned by his very own people:

        “It was the saddest time when I returned home and was imprisoned. I was sent to Mirov [prison for war criminals and political prisoners] and I left behind a family with a little daughter and didn’t know what would happen to us.”

        After 17 months Fajtl was released from the labor camp but he was forced to live outside Prague, he wasn’t even allowed to have a telephone and he could only take up menial jobs. Living under various restrictions for 40 years Fajtl was fully rehabilitated only after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. He was restored to the rank of Lieutenant General and received many honors including the highest Czech medal, the Order of the White Lion, by Czech President Vaclav Klaus in 2004:

        “I was very moved… I received it [the medal] in honor of all my friends who had died… and I was very happy that it turned out this way.”

        At long last, Frantisek Fajtl came to be publicly recognized and duly respected by the Czech society which had done him so much injustice in the past. Fajtl’s consolation at the end of his life was the great amount of support he received from the readers of his books about the wartime experiences of Czech fighter pilots.
        General Lieutenant Frantisek Fajtl died on October 4, 2006 at the age of 94. He is survived by his wife Hana and two daughters.

Written by Patrik Gotz

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USCG Sikorsky HH-60 Jayhawk

1944 Messerschmitt Me-262B 1A/U3
Eduard Messerschmitt Me-262B 1A

wwii luftwaffe markings bf 109 E-3 1:48
Messerschmitt Me Bf 109 E-3

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Sikorsky UH 34 G 1:48
Sikorsky UH 34 G  1:48

Focke Wulf Fw 190 A-4 Eberhard Burath 1:48
Focke Wulf Fw 190 A-4