In the early 1930's, the Romanian Royal Air Force was looking
for a modern fighter to replace its obsolete and worn-out Spad S61's
and Fokker DXI's. The favourite in this competition seemed to be the
new Polish PZL P1/II fighter, at that moment one of the best in the
world. Inspite of this, the appearance of IAR's first own fighter design,
in the shape of the IAR CV-11,
prelonged the suspense, until September 1931, when an improved version
of the PZL P1/II, the PZL P-11 was chosen as the new main fighter of
the Romanian Royal Air Force. This decision, although somewhat suspicious
due to corruption allegations, seemed to be the right one since the
Polish aircraft had superior maneuvrability over its Romanian counterpart,
and its armament was an impressive one for the early 1930's.
The initial order was for 50 modified versions of the PZL
P-11, called PZL P-11b, to be produced in Poland. Changes over the original
model consisted in fitting a Romanian IAR K9 engines as well as Romanian
After the delivery of the first 50 planes, the IAR works got the
contract for producing the fighter under license, designating it as
PZL P-11f. Production started in 1934, a bit slower at start as the IAR lacked experience with all-metal construction, but ramped up the next year. Eventually, some 150 P-11f's
would be manufactured until the end of 1935. The PZL P-11f would remain the most
numerous of all ARR fighters right until the start of World War Two. Of the 300 Polish planes that found refuge in Romania in late September 1939, some 50 PZL P-11b fighters were taken over and used by the ARR, some for training and combat, but most were dismantled and turned into spare parts.
At the beginning of operation Barbarossa, the P-11f's and P-11b's were still in service with the 43rd, 44th, 45th, 46th, 49th and the 50th fighter squadrons, . Initially, they were held back for air defense against soviet raids, but as the frontline advanced deeper and deeper into enemy territory, they were relegated to training duties.
However, in mid 1944, all the remaining P-11's were equiped with bomb launchers, and hastily sent to the east front in an all-out attempt to stop the soviet onslaught. After August 1944, the planes were withdrawn from frontline service, and this
time for good.
The PZL P-11 had flown for the first time in September 1931.It was a high-wing, single-seat monoplane with a fixed undercarriage, powered by the Bristol Mercury IV S2 radial engine.
Amongst the innovations present on this aircraft are the all-metal construction
and the characteristic bent ( "gull - like" ) shape of its
wings ; the last one served to reduce drag considerably and enhanced
maneuvrability, whilst eliminating the need for a connecting structure
between the center section and the fuselage. The PZL P-11b's and P-11f's
were powered by the same IAR K9 nine cylinders, air-cooled, radial engine,
driving a 2-bladed wooden propeller ,and delivering 595 HP. The ARR upgunned its P-11f's built by IAR to four machine guns from the original two and introduced low-pressure tires, allowing the plane to take-off and land from virtually any open field. It seems that the tail assembly's geometry was also slightly modified by the Romanian engineers. On the hole the plane was very "clean"
from an aerodynamical point of view, which significantly boosted its