Thursday, February 14, 2008

Polish Aircraft - Superb Scale Subjects

I've been a fan of Polish planes ever since I watched a full-size Ogar (SZD-45) taking off at an airfield. This is a motor glider designed in the 1970s and is simply hypnotic to watch. No wonder they issued a stamp picturing it (left).

After I had the fortune to fly in other Polish gliders, such as the SZD Junior and Puchacz, I was hooked. They were well made and handled superbly. The SZD-55 is to my mind one of the most beautiful gliders ever.

Now here is a fabulous Polish movie, probably from the early to mid 1960s. It seems to be about wave soaring in the mountains. You need to put the sound on, because the music (Moon River) adds to the effect. Watch out for the footage of an SZD-22 Mucha Standard glider, a model sailplane (at 3:50 minutes in), the Mucha Std being aerotowed by a Gawron (4:40 to 6:30) and the super streamlined SZD-24 Foka glider (8:25).

The Polish aviation industry has a track record of coming up with amazing, ground-breaking and eye-catching designs. PZL means "state aviation works" and no doubt, early on the industry was heavily state funded. After SOLIDARITY and the rise of capitalism, it seems that some of the aviation industry was bought by the European aviation giant EADS. I have never fully understood how the industry is structured and organised. Currently, there seem to be at least two glider manufacturers - PZL Swidnik (who make the PW5 and PW6) and SZD Allstar PZL Sp. z.o.o. (who have a long history in sailplane manufacture).

In the early 1930s, arguably the best fighter plane in the world was the PZL P.11 (photo right). It had these amazing parasol, gull wings. It is not difficult to see why it is a subject for scale modellers, though perhaps not common enough. At that time, the pace of aeroplane development especially in Germany, was very fast and the performance of the P.11 was soon surpassed.

The PZL 101 Gawron was designed in the late 1950s/early 1960s for agricultural and other civilian uses. (Photo left; the tug plane in the video above is one of these). I have not seen a free flight model of it, but it would make a fine subject with those wing tip plates and slightly swept back wings.

The PZL 104 Wilga (left and below) is a fairly common subject for RC models - both scale and semi-scale. With its slightly quirky but cute looks and short take off run, it would make a great rubber or electric free flight model. It makes a good glider tug, full-size and I suppose, as a model.

The PZL 130 Orlik (below) is a very small, ~10m span, 2 seater, highly versatile training plane. It is used by many air forces and the Polish Air Force display team.

The wing planform and the proportions are fabulous (see the three-view below). This would make a lovely model plane.

Unsurprisingly, Poland has produced some fine pilots and aeromodellers too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

pretty cool stuff here thank you!!!!!!!