PZL P-23
PZL P37A/B
Bloch MB-210
Potez Po-633B2
Heinkel He-111
Junkers Ju-88
Junkers Ju-87D
Henschel Hs-129B
Savoia-Marchetti SM 79B ( JRS-79B )
Bristol Blenheim I

The PZL P-23 light bomber

 

The PZL P-23 had been developed by the state owned Polish PZL company in the early 1930's after the army had requested them to design a light bomber which was supposed to replace its worn-out Potez biplanes. The plane had to carry a minimum of 600 kg of bombs and reach a top speed of 300 km/h. Another interesting requirement was that the aircraft must be capable of operating from improvised airstrips.
After overcoming some problems caused by the Pegasus II M2 engines ( in the end the more powerful Bristol Pegasus VIII engine had to be used instead of the M2), the plane entered production in 1935, and by September 1939 some 250 had been built. Of these, about 114 P-23's entered combat on the 1st of September 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. Used for ground-attack missions against German troops heavily defended by AA artillery and fighters, they took heavy losses. After the Poles collapsed under the German pressure, about 30 P-23's ( from training and front-line squadrons ) found shelter in Romania. An agreement was reached between the Romanian state and the Polish government in exile, stating that most of the approximately 300 Polish planes that had reached Romania would be taken over by the ARR, in exchange for the safe passage and expenses for the troops and refugees fleeing in front of the German and Soviet invaders.
After the P-23's were examined and given a major overhaul, 19 of them were chosen for frontline service, whilst the others seem to have been broken down for spare parts. The 73rd bomber squadron was equipped with 8 P-23's in late 1941, and was sent to the east front in the Stalingrad area as part of the 3rd Light Bombing Group.

 

 

 
 
The squadron flew its first combat mission on the 20th of October 1942. The P-23's were employed as light bombers or for reconnaissance purpose until early 1943, when all of the Polish planes were withdrawn from frontline service, since maintenance was almost impossible due to lack of spare parts, and they had become totally obsolete. The P-23's had been sent home from the 31st of December. Remaining P-23's were employed only as trainers back home.
  P-23's on the east front ( summer 1941 )  
It seems that in late August 1944, the ten still airworthy P-23's were used in a few bombing missions, but this is unconfirmed. After the war, all survivors were scrapped, as none was capable of flying any more.
The PZL P-23 was a low-wing, single-engine monoplane with a fixed landing gear. It was built entirely from metal ( a mixed duraluminium - steel configuration ), but its most interesting feature was the wing : based on the highly advanced ( for the early 30's ) stresed-skin concept. In the early stages of development the P-23 was also supposed to be fitted with automatic slats on the leading edge, but these proved to be more of a hindrance than a help, so they had to be removed.

The aircraft was supposed initially to be powered by a radial, air-cooled Bristol Pegasus II M2 engine, but since it proved to be very unreliable, the superior Bristol Pegasus VIII rated at 670 HP, built under license by Skoda, was chosen instead. It drove a two-bladed all-wooden Szomanski propeller.

Technical data of the PZL P-23

Wingspan
13.95 m
Length
9.68 m
Height
3.3 m
Weight (empty)
1980 kg
Weight (loaded)
2893 kg
Maximum speed ( at 3650 m )
319 km/h
Maximum speed ( at sea level )
274 km/h
Cruising speed ( at 2500 m )
270 km/h
Climbs to 2000 m
4minutes and 45 seconds
Maximum operational ceiling
7300 m
Range
1260 km
Engine
Skoda-Bristol Pegasus VIII rated at 670 HP
Armament
One fixed 7.9 mm forward-firing PWU machine gun plus 2 rear-firing 7.9 mm Vickers F machine guns
Payload
Up to 700 kg of bombs attached on hardpoints under the central section
Crew
3
Numbers received
30?

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