PZL P.11c


However, would the replacement of equipment, even with a much more modern types, change something? In order to successfully resist the Germans (not counting the Soviets), at least 700–800 fighter planes were needed, and Poland had (with reserves) 279 machines (including 173 PZL P.11). There were 160 fighters in the line (including 130 P.11), 9 more were added from reserves and renovations. Even if the machines were to be replaced with modern ones and their number doubled, it would not be enough. That is why I admire the fact of the strong resistance and, despite the surprise, the good organization of this handful of heroes who have “elevens” at their disposal. In this situation, a dispute over the number of destroyed German aircraft (whether it was 146 enemy aircraft according to J. Pawlak, 125 according to the Bajan Commission, 97 according to J. Cynk or only 49 according to M. Emmerling) is completely secondary. M. Emmerling wrote: “Apart from outdated and defective equipment, these were also very small forces. Without a well-functioning alarm system and targeting the enemy did not pose a real threat to the Luftwaffe bomb formation. Therefore, the enthusiastic descriptions of historians in which the effectiveness of PZL is praised (!) are surprising1”. Contrary to the opinion of the German researcher, Polish historians praise the pilots rather than the machines, although they sometimes emphasize some of the advantages of this design, which allowed this outdated aircraft to engage in any fight with modern Luftwaffe equipment (maneuverability, strong structure allowing for sudden maneuvers). It is worth looking at PZL pilots against a wider European background. If you are interested, I refer to the history of the fighter aviation activities of Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway (not to mention Denmark at all, because it had exceptionally outdated aviation) in 1940, which had slightly better equipment (Gloster Gladiator, Fiat CR.42, Hurricane, Fokker D-XXI) and British-French support. They will not collect as many successes as the “eleven” (even in the lowest number given by M. Emmerling). Therefore, it is worth taking a closer look at this construction, which, despite its genuine obsolescence at the outbreak of the war, carried out by Polish airmen, was enlisted as the first Allied fighter in the war and put up a decisive but ineffective resistance to the invaders.

pzl zd3

Airplane development
PZL P.11c was the result of the development of the airframe line initiated by engineer Zygmunt Puławski in an all-metal PZL P.1 fighter from year 1928. However, only the shape of the wing and the method of its attachment actually connected it with the ancestral line. It is worth remembering that although the PZL P.1 was supposed to have an aerofoil covered with a fine grooved sheet of the Wibault patent, the prototype had a different sheet (similar to the Junkers patent), and it was not produced. In the meantime (and the pace was lightning), Puławski developed the PZL P.6, which had a completely different fuselage structure from the P.1 (oval half-shell, truss in the engine part) and a completely different radial engine. The plane, admired at rallies and air shows, was never produced, and it was replaced by the PZL P.7a, equipped with an engine with a compressor (Jupiter VII F). Even before the production of the new aircraft began, a decision was made to build its successor – the P.11 with the Bristol Mercury IV engine2. The originator of the wing design and the designer of the first series of fighters died two months later (March 12, 1931), therefore the new design was developed under the direction of enginner Vsevolod Yakimiuk.