Slovakia Joins Battle of Britain Salute
Published: 23 Apr 2015
The Royal International Air Tattoo's commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain will include a contribution from the Slovak Air Force, returning to the event for the first time in three years. It will provide an L-39CM Albatros jet trainer and an L-410UVP-T Turbolet light transport, both for the static display.
Slovak-born pilots formed a significant part of the Czechoslovak contingent that fought as part of the RAF during World War Two. One of the most significant was Sqn Ldr Otto Smik. Having made a very difficult journey from his homeland, Smik joined the RAF in the summer of 1940 and went through pilot training in both the UK and Canada. He became operational at the start of 1943, flying Spitfires with a number of squadrons. That November, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. During his active service Smik claimed eight German aircraft shot down, together with three V1 'flying bombs'. He was the fifth highest-scoring Czechoslovak ace of the war. By now a Squadron Leader and the commanding officer of No 127 Squadron, Smik lost his life on 28 November 1944 when the Spitfire he was flying was hit by flak and crashed near Zwolle in the Netherlands. Today his remains are buried in the Slovak capital Bratislava.
The Slovak Air Force L-39 attending the Air Tattoo pays tribute to Otto Smik, sporting on its tail fin an image of this outstanding Slovak pilot. It comes from the 2nd Squadron based at Sliač.