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.37 Los bomber

 

Amongst the many Polish planes that found refuge in Romania in September 1939 there were also a number of PZL P.37 Los bombers. These aircraft were arguably some of the very finest creations of Poland's pre-war aeronautical industry, and their qualities did not go unnoticed with the ARR.
The PZL P.37 was born in 1934, when the Polish airforce issued a specification for a new medium, twin-engined bomber, capable of carrying a total bombload of 2000 kg (including 300 kg bombs). Top speed was to be " in excess of 350 km/h" while the plane's combat range had to be of at least 1200 km. Work begun immediately and by Octomber 1934 the initial project was ready. It was a highly advanced design for that time, since it combined good maneuvrability and handling characteristics with a very large bomb carrying possibility ( a full 2580 kg = 5676 lbs ). Production began in March 1938, with the PZL P.37A and the P.37A bis versions, whilst the prototype of another version, the P.37C, was re-equipped with Gnome-Rhone engines, and sent to perform test flights in various countries, because the C version was intended to be the export one. One of the P.37C's was fitted with Gnome-Rhone 14N-01 engines, rated at 1020 HP, and managed to achieve a top speed of 453 km/h with a full bomb load. Its German counterpart, the Heinkel He-111 was about 50 km/h slower and could carry only 2000 kg of bombs.
The P.37C attracted a lot of attention, but priority was given to the needs of the Polish airforce. Deliveries began in August 1938, but production was slowed down by a number of problems, such as a serie of inexplicable crashes so by the 1st of September 1939, only 90 planes had been delivered.

 

 
  Romanian PZL P.37 Los  
To make matters worse, just 36 P.37's were actually battle-ready, on the 1st of September 1939. Engaged in hopeless attacks on German armored columns ( hardly their typical task ), the P.37's took heavy losses and the number of operational airplanes dwindled fast.
 
On the 17th of September 1939, an unclear number of P.37's ( 22 according to Romanian archives - 27 according to the Polish ones ) fled to Romania to escape the advancing German forces. As it happened with most Polish planes, the P.37's were taken over by the ARR as part of an agreement reached between the Romanian state and the Polish government in exile. It seems that the ARR had ordered some 30 P.37D's in May 1938, after having seen the aircraft at the Belgrade air show. The planes were supposed to be delivered by the spring of 1940, but when war broke out all contracts were cancelled, although they were paid for. Eventually, 19 P.37 Los's were taken into service and two bomber squadrons ( the 76th and the 77th ) were equipped with these bombers. They served well during the Bassarabian campaign, during which the P.37's shot down four Soviet fighters and claimed to have destroyed other 45 various planes on the ground. After the end of the campaign they were retracted from frontline service mainly because spare parts were almost non-existant which turned maintenance into real nightmare and few planes were serviceable any more. In 1944, a squadron ( the 76th one ) was hastily re-equipped with P.37B's and sent to the east front as part of an all-out effort to stop the Soviets, but the plane's second combat period was to be short, since after the 23rd of August 1944, Romania left the Axis, and the P.37's were taken out of service.

A PZL P-37B with Romanian markings undergoes maintenance on Brasov airfield, in Romania.

The PZL P.37 Los was a twin engine aircraft, with an all-metal structure. As with most PZL designs, special attention was given to building a very aerodinamically "clean" aircraft, which they did, with excellent results. The fuselage was elliptical in shape, with a small cross-section in order to reduce drag and enhance maneuverability. Early versions were powered by 860 hp Bristol Pegasus XIIB radial engines, but in the end the French Gnome-Rhône 14N series engines were chosen for mass-production, although the plane was designed to accept any 1200 HP radial engine available. The PZL P.37 was one of the finest twin-engined bombers in the world in 1940, but since only a small number was available, it was never regarded as an important aircraft by the ARR.

Tehnical data of the PZL P.37

Wingspan
17.93 meters
Length
12.92 meters
Height
4.25 meters
Weight (empty)
4935 kg
Weight (loaded)
8880 kg
Maximum speed at 2800 meters
445 km/h
Maximum speed at sea level
370 km/h
Climbs to 2000 meters
7 minutes and 54 seconds
Service ceiling
8900 meters
Range
2600 km
Engine
2x Skoda Bristol Pegasus XX rated at 920 HP
Armament
3 PWU wz37 Szczeniak 7.9 mm machine guns
Payload
Up to 2580 kg of bombs stored in bomb bays
Crew
3
Numbers received
22-27?

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