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were employed as light bombers or for reconnaissance purpose until early 1943, when all of the Polish planes were withdrawn from frontline service, since maintenance was almost impossible due to lack of spare parts, and they had become totally obsolete.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.
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
Technical data of the PZL P-23
Maximum speed ( at 3650 m )
Maximum speed ( at sea level )
Cruising speed ( at 2500 m )
Climbs to 2000 m
4minutes and 45 seconds
Maximum operational ceiling
Skoda-Bristol Pegasus VIII rated at 670 HP
One fixed 7.9 mm forward-firing PWU machine gun plus
2 rear-firing 7.9 mm Vickers F machine guns
Up to 700 kg of bombs attached on hardpoints under the