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Tomasz J, Kopaniste PZU.23 ‘yomase J, colourpillustrationsibysarcurpuszczaky DA hee) AIS & Published in Poland in 2004 by STRATUS Artur Juszczak, Po. Box 123, 27-600 Sandomierz 1, Poland e-mail: arturj@mmpbooks.biz, for Mushroom Model Publications, 36 Ver Road, Redbourn, AL3 7PE, UK. e-mail: rogerw @waitrose.com © 2004 Mushroom Model Publications. http://www.mmpbooks.biz All rights reserved. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, 1988, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transm form or by any means, electronic, electrical, chemical, mechat optical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission. All enquiries should be addressed to the publisher. ISBN 83-89450-03-8 Editor in chief Roger Wallsgrove Editors Bartlomiej Belcarz Robert Peczkowski Artur Juszezak Edited by Bartlomiej Belearz Page design by Artur Juszczak Robert Peczkowski Cover Layout Artur Juszezak DIP Joanna Wojtowiez Translation Wojtek Matusiak Proof-reading Roger Wallsgrove Colour illustrations Artur Juszezak Seale plans Mariusz Kubryn Author would like to thank: B. Belearz, J. Pawlak, J.B. Cynk, A. Glass, Z. Charytoniuk, M. Jaroszyriski-Wolfram, M. Kubryn, A. Juszezak, J. Molski, P. Mrozowski, K. Mukowoz, W. Matusiak, W. Wojcik, A. Popiel, M. Wawrzyriski, Z. Chwaliszewski, M. Zimny. Printed by: Drukarnia Diecezjaina, ul. Zeromskiego 4, 27-600 Sandomierz tel. (15) 832 31 92; fax (15) 832 77 87 www.wdspl marketing@wds.pl PRINTED IN POLAND Development. EXpOTS sm Use in the Polish Air Force prior to WWIL.. German invasion of Poland in 1939 Jum Evaluation of the aeroplane sn Foreign service esnsenevn Detail photos & scale plans . Colour profiles... PZL.23 Karas 3 Ue Tat PZL.23M, the first proto- type Karas photographed in winter of 1934/35, Cynk via Kopariski constituted the principal equipment of the Polish ‘Eskadry Lin- jowe’, the name meaning roughly ‘Battle Flights’. These were light bomber and reconnaissance units intended for operations in direct support of ground forces, Work on anew aeroplane commenced in late 1931 under Stanistaw. Prauss, the project being designated PZL.23. At the beginning of the following year a mock-up of the fuselage was constructed, According to the designer's concept, this housed two crew members: the pilot and the gunner. Space between them was occupied by the bomb bay with vertically attached bombs. The wing, designed by Franciszek Misztal, had a modern box-spar which reduced the wing weight by 20% compared to conventional designs. Inthe spring of 1932 the Aviation Department approved the design of the airframe and ordered three prototypes. The first of these, powered by a 420-442 kW (563-593 hp) Bristol Pe; |, licence- builtin Poland, was completed in the spring chine fea- tured spatted fixed undercarriage and the characteristic under-fuselage pod for the gunner/bomb-aimer. The latter had two machine guns: one each dorsal and ventral. He normally sat at the dorsal machine gun, which was mounted on an automatic, pneumatically-operated support developed by Ludwik Bialkowski. When required, he could move into the ventral position in the bomb-aimer’s gondola. The pilot's seat was offset to port, and he would also have a machine gun at his disposal, although this was probably not fitted to the prototype. I: the early 1930s the French Breguet XIX and Potez XXV types 40 PZL.23 Karas The new aeroplane was fitted with flaps to reduce the landing PZL.23/1I, the third proto- speed and facilitate operations from unprepared airfields. The exhaust type Karas. pipes extending aft of the cockpit, over the wing, were a characteristic caw feature. This protected pilots from glare at night, and also concealed the exhaust flames from the ground, so as not to betray the position of the aeroplane. The first prototype, designated PZL.23/1, was first flown on 1 April 1934 by Jerzy Widawski at Warsaw-Mokot6w aerodrome. Flying trials failed to confirm the expected performance and displayed a number of shortcomings of the new machine. Among the most important were the buffeting of the rear fuselage, limited visibility and cramped cockpit, and unsatisfactory results of bombing trials, It was found that the bombs, dropped from their vertical position in the bomb bay, would tumble into a horizontal position before eventually turning to the vertical again. This reduced accuracy and could result in the bombs failing to explode when dropped from low altitude. The first prototype Karas was only tested until spring 1935, when the second prototype PZL.23/I was first flown. After that it was used as an instructional airframe at the Polish Air Force Engineering college in Warsaw, where it remained until September 1939. In autumn 1934 construction of the second prototype commenced at PZL. This differed significantly from the PZL.23/1. The most impor- tant changes were introduced in the central fuselage. Stanislaw Prauss decided to remove the bomb bay and reposition the bomb carriers under the wings. The space in the fuselage would now be occupied by a heavily glazed observer's compartment. To improve the visibility from the cockpit the engine was lowered by 100 mm and fitted with a new cowling, narrower at the aft end and thus creating less drag. The pilot's seat was now aligned with the axis of the fuselage. Wings of the PZL.23 Karas 5 Development new prototype were fitted with automatic slats some | mong, between the fuselage and the undercarriage. The wings were also fitted with Lachmann slotted ailerons and modified flaps, deflected by up to 45 degrees. Other external modifications included landing lights on the undercarriage spats, Holt signal discharger at the port wing tip, and altered glazing of the under-fuselage gondola. The PZL.23/II prototype was first flown in spring 1935 from Warsaw-Okecie. Most of the alterations introduced in it proved acceptable. However, visibility from the cockpit was still not satis- factory. The test flying programme of the second prototype was not completed, because on 27 July 1935 the aeroplane was destroyed in a crash, when it stalled in a turn at Wilanéw near Warsaw. The crew, Lt Aleksander Kremieniecki (a pilot from the Air Force Technical Institute), Lt Tadeusz Odrowaz-Pieniazek, and S/Lt Stefan Klusek, were all killed. There were reasons to believe that the accident was due to the pilot’s nervousness or even his planned suicide. 6 PZL.23 Karas PZL23/1 Development The third prototype, PZL.23/1IL, was completed in the summer of PZL.23A (SP-BFM) 1935, probably after the crash of the previous one. The buffeting was displayed at the Paris Air eliminated by fitting a massive fillet between the wing root and the Show. fuselage. The cockpit canopy was enlarged and the pilot’s seat was Kopariski raised, providing much better visibility from the cockpit than in the first and second prototypes. Other notable changes included repositioning of the Holt signal discharger to the tip of the starboard wing, and fitting of anew mount for the dorsal rear machine gun, this time hydraulically- operated. This even allowed it to fire forward, above the cockpit! After some alterations the aeroplane was approved for series pro- duction. It was designated PZL.23 A Karas and given the military type code number “# In December 1935 the Polish Air Force ordered 200 Karases, Production of the first batch of 40 machines was launched at the new PZL factory at Warsaw-Okecie at the end of 1935. These aircraft were probably given military serials 44.1 to 44.40, They were priced at 230,000 zloty each, breaking down as follows: 120,000 zt airframe; 30,000 zi engine; 15,000 zt three machine guns; 10,000 zt radio, and 5.000 zi other equipment. The Pegasus variant for the Karas, built under licence by the Polish Skoda Factory as the Pegaz IT M2, was not manufactured at all by the parent Bristol company in England, so it still suffered from many teething troubles. Problems with these engines resulted in their production being halted after a few aircraft were assembled, and not resumed until August 1936 when the most serious shortcomings had been cured. It was then that engines were fitted in the complete airframes that had awaited them since May 1936. ‘Therefore the first production machines were delivered to the Air Force as late as September. According to PZL production plan seventeen PZL.23 Karas 7 8 PZL.23 Karas PZL.23/I1 PZL.23 A aircraft were completed by the end of the month, twenty in October 20, and the last three in early November. Introduced into service with front line units, the PZL.23 A Karas aircraft failed to satisfy the expectations of the users. The under- powered engine with poor altitude characteristics limited the useful load and performance of the machine. The operational ceiling of the aeroplane was officially limited to 3,000 m, effectively making it use- less as a combat machine. Other shortcomings were also discovered. ‘The automatic slats on hinges, rather than on rails like those in the prototypes, were faulty. The slats sometimes opened by themselves in flight, causing loss of stability of the machine. This was cured by fixing them and by altering the tailplane incidence, but this in turn reduced the top speed of the aeroplane. After these and other problems came to light, the designer decided that the Pegaz II M2 engine had to be replaced by another, more pow- erful one, The 500 kW (670 hp) Bristol Pegasus VIII was selected, as its production has just started at PZL Engine Factory No. | (ex-Polish Skoda) as the Pegaz 8. The new engine was fitted in the third prototype Karas, the PZL.23/111. Flying trials proved that the aeroplane had much better performance than the Pegaz II M2-powered machines (speed Karas displayed at an air rose slightly, while the operational ceiling was increased from 3,000 m show in Stockholm in late to 7,300 m!) and it became the pattern for the new version, PZL.23 B, May 1936. later also called the Karas II, as opposed to the Karas I, or PZL.23 A. NTM Prague via B” version production aircraft differed from the PZL.23 A in more Belcarz- Peczkowski than just the engine. They had no slats, and the elevator planform was altered with additional balance areas. The cockpit of the Karas “B” featured a crash pylon aft of the pilot’s scat, and on the port side of the under-fuselage observer's gondola a special streamlined tube was fitted, used to extend the radio aerial in flight. Another external feature that allowed easy identification was that the Karas “B” had the pilot's machine gun ports immediately aft of the engine cowling on both sides of the forward fuselage, while the Karas “A” had just one such opening, on the starboard side. Therefore in the upper engine cowling the Karas “B” had two symmetrical cut-outs for the pilot's machine gun fire, while the Karas “A” had just one in the starboard side. However, due to insufficient production of Mark 33 guns “B” aircraft were still armed with just one machine gun, on the starboard side of the cockpit. After the 40 PZL.23 A aircraft were built, it was decided in the summer of 1936 that the remaining 160 machines of the original 1935 order for 200 would be completed as the Karas “B” variant. As this PZL.23 Karas 9 Development Bristol Pegasus VIll-pow- ered PZL.23/IN (SP-BCP), batch would be much bigger that the “A” series, so the unit price of an airframe was reduced to 100,000 zt. By the end of 1936 a total of 42 aircraft of the new version had been built. Inthe spring of 1937 produc- tion reached its maximum rate, and from February 20-22 aeroplanes monthly were delivered. This way the entire order was completed by mid-September. Production did not terminate there. Using 1937/1938 budget reserves the air force ordered 50 more machines, arriving at a total of 250 production aircraft: 40 PZL.23 A and 210 PZL.23 B Karas “B” aeroplanes were given military serials of 44.41 to 44,250, PZL factory completed production in February 1938, After the aircraft were delivered to units, some modifications were found necessary, to remove some operating problems, To prevent engine oil spray from fouling the windscreen, in mid-1938 some air- craft were fitted with a semi-circular metal screen between the engine cowling and the cockpit. This proved insufficient, however, and to cure the problem the gap between the engine cowling and the fuselage had to be covered with a specially shaped metal panel. This solution was introduced during late 1938/early 1939. During the same period Karag started to be fitted with a new aerial system, During exercises it was found that when flying low, aircraft with the aerial extended under the fuselage had problems establishing communication. A solution to this was a fixed aerial attached above the fuselage on two masts: a tall one between the pilot's and observer's seats, and a shorter one on the fin, First aircraft with the modified aerial system were allocated to the 12th Flight of the Ist Air Regiment in early 1939. By the outbreak of war in September 1939 new aerials were fitted to only some aircraft from various regiments, Even before series production of the Karas “B” commenced, in the CAW spring of 1936 PZL started development of another version of the aero- 10 PZL.23 Karas PZL.23B early series with the gunner's and pilot's camera guns. plane: a dive bomber. The first production PZL.23 A was converted, becoming the new prototype, designated PZL.23/IV. The aeroplane was going to have a crew of two or three and did not have the bomb- aimer’s gondola under the fuselage. It was powered by the Pegaz 8 engine, and its export version would be fitted with a Gnome-Rhone engine. Armament consisted of two forward-firing machine guns plus a twin machine gun in the rear position. According to calculations it would take 300 kg bombs with a useful load of 466 kg and an overall weight of 2,700 kg; and in the export version 800 kg bombs with an overall weight of 3,400 kg. PZL.23/IV commenced trials at the Air Force Technical Institute (ITL) in August 1936. During the first flights dive recovery problems were encountered. This was cured by enlarging the horizontal tail. PZL.42, the Karas with twin Despite this modification the dive bombing trials were not satisfac- fins and rudders. Cynk PZL.23 Karas I Development PZL.23B later series, modified (deflector in four rows, port side only). 12 PZL.23 Karas PZL.23B later series (no light in the port spat, oil flange) tory. It was also found that removing the bomb-aimer’s gondola did not improve performance significantly. The first stage of trials was completed in March 1937 and then the aeroplane returned to the PZL factory. There, at the suggestion of Capt. Robert Hirszband of the ITL, it was fitted with a new twin fin and rudder, in order to increase the rear field of fire. Soon afterwards a special retractable bomb-aimer’s gondola was fitted under the fuselage, this being originally designed by Tadeusz Soltyk for the successor of the Karas, the PZL P.46 Sum light bomber. After these modifications the new aeroplane was designated PZL.42. On 19 April 1937 the PZL.42 was again at ITL. Flight testing con- firmed the advantages of the twin vertical tails: improved directional stability during take-off and landing, and in flight at high angles of attack. Subsequently, from 7 June until 6 July the bombing armament was tested again, with significantly better results than during the trials completed in late 1936. Upon completion of ITL trials, PZL.42 was briefly allocated to the ist Air Regiment in Warsaw. It is not clear whether it was used by one of the Karas units or not. However, most probably it was used only by the Training Flight. This did not last long, as in 1938 the aeroplane was transferred to the Polish Air Force college at Deblin. It was destroyed there in a bombed hangar in September 1939. PZL.23B with ventilators in the pilot's and observer's compartments, oil flange forward of the cockpit PZL.23 Karas 13 Development PZLA2 destroyed during German bombing of Deblin. 14 PZL.23 Karas After introduction of the Karas into series production PZL, with the approval of the General Staff, decided to offer the latest design to prospective foreign customers. This was possible in the spring of 1936, during a Swedish air exhibition organised in Stockholm between 15 May and 1 June. PZL selected the PZL.23/III prototype to be dis- played. Fitted with the Pegaz 8 engine it was the pattern machine for the PZL.23 B. On 6 May the PZL.23/III received the civil registration SP-BCP. A few days later Andrzej Wlodarkiewicz flew it from Warsaw to Stockholm. Before the exhibition was opened, he made some dis- play flights at Stockholm-Bromma aerodrome, with the participation of Swedish airmen. On 5 November 1936 the production PZL.23 A factory no. 916 was given civil registration SP-BFM, following which it flew to France, to take part in the Paris Air Show. The aeroplane aroused interest and was described by international aviation magazines. ee | oe As early as March 1936, afieran offer from PZL, that country's Ai Force HQ decided to purchase twelve PZL.23 bombers and twelve PZL P.24 fighters, The contract was signed on 9 April, and it was decided that the Bulgarian Karas would be powered by a Gnome- Rhone engine and armed with two machine guns for the pilot, The price of the PZL 23 serie pour l'etranger (foreign series) was 236,000 21 (including 135,000 zt for the airframe and 68,000 zt for the engine procured in France). ‘The Karas was first displayed to the Bulgarians during an inter- national air show in Sofia, 18-20 Tune 1936, together with the PZL P.llec fighter and PWS-16bis trainer. The Karas flown to Bulgaria was a modified production PZL.23 A, factory no. 901, registered as SP-BCT. In the summer of 1936 another PZL.23, registered as SP-BGZ, was fitted with a three-bladed Hamilton Standard propeller, intended B ulgaria expressed serious interest in the new Polish aeroplane. Exports for the export Karas version. The aeroplane underwent extensive tests $P-BGZ, the version offered and was demonstrated to prospective customers as a pattern for the to the Bulgarian Air Force. export version. Cynk PZL.23 Karas. 15 Exports The first PZL.43, flown in February 1937. Kopaiiski Head of the Bulgarian PZL.A3 acceptance commis- sion, Teodor Tsankov, by the aireraft no. 10/7139. Glass 16 PZL.23 Karas In the Polish version of the aeroplane, the pilot’s machine gun was mounted in the forward section of the cockpit, firing between the engine cylinders. The French engine used in the Bulgarian version wes a double-row radial with cylinders in alternate positions, so that there was no way to fire between them. The only available solution was to locate the guns outside the fuselage, to fire outside the engine cowling, Design alterations for the Bulgarian Karas took a long time, and to save time the designers decided not to construct a prototype, but to start series production of the new variant as soon as the documentation was ready, i.e. during late summer 1936. Due to significant changes in the airframe design the machine received the new designation PZL.43, In Bulgaria the aeroplane was known as the “Chayka” (seagull) ASS Due to delays in engine deliveries from France, the first produc- tion PZL.43 was not completed until February 1937. As the French encountered problems with start-up of production of the Gnome-Rhone 14N engine intended as the power plant of the Bulgarian machines, the aeroplane was initially powered by a Gnome-Rhone 14Kfs. Subsequently this, as well as the other machines, was fitted with a Gnome-Rhone 14Kirs. The whole batch was designated PZL.43, although earlier publications have said incorrectly that the aircraft were called PZL.43A. By the end of April 1937 all the PZL.43s were flown and accepted by the Bulgarians, One of these was retained in Poland until the end of. September 1937 for armament trials, while the rest were shipped by rail to their country of destination between 24 April and 12 May. On 31 March 1938 another PZL.43 contract was signed with Bulgaria, this time for delivery of 42 aircraft. These machines were to be powered by Gnome-Rhone 14N-01 engines and would be designated PZL.43A (previously incorrectly labelled “PZL.43B"), Apart from the engine, the PZL.43A differed from the PZL.43 in sev- eral minor details. It featured a better cockpit heating system, and the observer's canopy was fitted with a sliding window to starboard, The new machine also featured an altered fire-fighting system, doubled oil cooler, and a dust filter on the carburettor air intake. The overall price of the aeroplane rose to 248,000 zt, mainly because of the more expensive GR 14N-01 engine (88,500 z!). The Bulgarians collected the first 24 PZL.43As in Warsaw by 30 June 1939 and shipped them to their country in two batches. The next six machines left Poland by 11 August, and the last six in the second half of the month, At the outbreak of the war six aircraft were still at the PZL factory, including two virtually complete (just lacking propellers). Exports PZL.43 assembled by Polish fitters in Sofia, 2 October 1939. Dabrowska PZL.23 Karas 17 Use in the Polish Air Force prior to WWII PZL.23A “1”, probably of the Air Force NCO School at Krosno (56-M under wing code). Polish national markings without white fields L. Musiatkowski 18 PZL.23 Karas were allocated during September/October 1936 to the 11th and 12th Flights of the Ist Air Regiment in Warsaw and to the 21st Flight of the 2nd Air Regiment in Cracow, for familiarisation. Due to problems with the power plant the aircraft were only going to be used for training purposes, and were consequently fitted with dual controls. These machines were initially unarmed, because the first production machine gun mounts and bomb carriers were not approved until Decem- ber. In early 1937 individual Karas As were also allocated to training flights in other air regiments, so that pilots of other ‘battle flights’ could train on them. Training was initially a little difficult as most pilots were used to flying conventional biplanes that handled quite different than the heavy new machine with its high landing speed. During the first months of 1937 Warsaw-based flights started to receive the new Karas version, the PZL.23 B. The PZL.23 As used pre- viously were then transferred to the Training Flight of the Ist Regiment. They were also allocated in larger numbers to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, Sth, and T: first PZL.23 A Karas accepted by the military inspectorate Use in the Polish Air Force prior to WWII 6th Air Regiments and to the Polish Air Force college at Deblin, Between April and December 1937 new Karas Bs were delivered to subsequent flights previously equipped with Potez XXV and Breguet XIX aircraft: the 21st, 22nd, and 24th Flights of the 2nd Air Regiment; 31st, 32nd, 34th, and 35th Flights of the 3rd Regiment; 41st Flight of the 4th Regiment; 5st and 55th Flights of the Sth Regiment; and the 64th Flight of the 6th Regiment, In early 1938 these aircraft were also delivered to the 42nd Flight of the 4th Air Regiment and the 65th Flight of the 6th Regiment. It has to be noted, too, that in the summer of 1938 a small number of Karases was allocated for a short period (3-5 months) to several bomber flights of the Ist Air Regiment. Probably several machines were issued as reinforcement to each of the flights equipped with Fokker FVIIb/3m aircraft and awaiting the new twin-engined bombers, the LWS 4 Zubr (214th and 215th Flights) and PZL.37 Los (211th, 212th, and 213th Flights), Not unusually, introduction of new equipment led to some fatal accidents. By the end of August 1939 23 Karas crashes LAC Mukowoz and LAC had taken place, killing a total of 55 airmen. Average accident rate Daczko, pilots of the [1th was similar to those on other aircraft types. During the 36 months of Battle Flight, Ist Air Regi- operation 9.1% aircraft in use crashed (some 3% a year), ment in Warsaw, 1938. During the initial period of use one of the new aircraft landed across Kopaviski the border in error. On 26 November 1936 a Karas of the 11th Flight with the crew of Lt Jan Lemieszonek, Lt Franciszek Jakubowski and LAC Jan Kazimierezak force-landed in East Prussia in bad weather. Four days later the crew and the aeroplane returned to Poland. On 17 March 1938 most PZL.23 flights moved in emergency to the aerodromes at Wilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania) and Lida (now in Belarus). The concentration of forces was due to a border conflict between Poland and Lithuania. The operation was not planned cor- rectly, though, as Warsaw-based flights were scrambled too late in E] Karases of the 11th Battle Flight 1 ARgt at Lida aero- drome, 1938, Kopaviski PZL.23 Karas: 19 Use in the Polish Force prior to WWII PZL.23A of the Training Flight, 1 ARgi (55-A) in Warsaw. Kopatiski Karas “3” of the 11 Battle Flight of the 1st Air Regiment Warsaw-Okecie, 1938. Wojcik PZL.23 Karas. Collision of Karases of the 1th Battle Flight (“1” of Capt. Dudzik and “9” of LAC Mukowoz), Warsaw 1938, Kopatiski Karases of the 12th Battle Flight during training flight Kopariski 20° PZL.23 Karas Use in the Polish Air Force prior to WWII the afternoon, By the time they arrived in Wilno it was already dark. Landing on the Porubanek aerodrome, partly dug up due to drainage work, three Karases were damaged. The whole operation culminated on 20 March when 108 aircraft of the type flew in demonstration along the Polish-Lithuanian border. In mid-September 1938, in the face of a possible armed conflict between Poland and Czechoslovakia over the Zaolzie territory, ‘battle fights’ of the 2nd Air Regiment (21st, 22nd, and 24th) were transferred to Aleksandrowice airfield near Bielsko and joined the air component of the “Slask” Independent Operational Group. Their main task was going to be supporting ground troops during the possible operations, After Czechoslovakia agreed that Poland should take over the dis- puted territory, on 2 October 1938 Polish Army troops entered Zaolzie. Cracow-based flights returned to their home base at Rakowice on 25 October. During late 1938, when the Karas was no longer in production, it transpired that insufficient numbers had been built to provide reserves for the flights to maintain establishment numbers of aircraft. Exist- Kara and “6” of the 12th Battle Flight in flight Warsaw, March 1939, features new type radio aerial, Kopariski Karas “10” of the Cracow- based 24th Battle Flight, 2 ARgr after a forced landing ‘on 4 March 1939, Kopaiski PZL.23 Karas. 21 Use in the Polish Air Force prior to WWII The same aeroplane afier the wings and the tail were removed. Kopatiski Karas “8” (K-37) of the 22nd Battle Flight at Cracow-Rakowice aero- drome. Conk Karas no, 44.62 “9” of the 22nd Battle Flight, 2 ARgt in Cracow. Manual refuel- ling from a barrel. Conk 22° PZL.23 Karas Use in the Polish Air Force prior to WWII Karas of the 12th Battle Flight photographed in 1937 during exercises in Wielkopolska region. Mukowoz via i-Wolfram Jarosz) Karas “1” of the 12th Battle Flight, 1 ARgt, at Warsaw~-Okgcie, 1938. TACs Mukowoz and Daccka from the 1th Battle Flight «are at far right Kopautski Karas of the 12th Battle Flight after it overturned near Scamotuly, September 1937. Mukowoz via PZL.23 Karas 23 Use in the Polish Air Force prior to WWII PZL.23A no. 44.31 "2” at Deblin aerodrome, summer 1939, Kopariski ing machines were subject to rather rapid wear. In just two years of operation many airframes were written-off, and significant numbers were undergoing repairs and overhauls. As a result, some flights had only 6-7 serviceable aircraft at any one time. In December 1938 it was decided to disband three Karas flights. The units, the 11th, 12th, and 35th Flights, ceased to exist in March 1939. Their aircraft were taken over by other flights and a dozen or so machines were converted to dual controls for training. During the last two months prior to the war, Karas crews flew their first missions over the territory of the expected aggressor. By the orders of the “Pomorze” Army commander, in mid-July 1939 the crew of col. Bolestaw Stachoi (CO of the 4th Air Regiment), Lt Czestaw Malinowski and Cadet Off. Jan Klocek performed reconnais- sance of fortifications and troop concentrations in the areas of Danzig (Gdarisk), Kénigsberg, and Allenstein (Olsztyn). The four hour sortie was flown at an altitude of some 7,000 m. They did not encounter any Luftwaffe aircraft and, having re-entered Polish airspace near Gdynia, they landed at Torun. Several reconnaissance sorties over German territory were flown in July and August 1939 by another crew of the 4th Air Regiment's Karas “1” of the PAF Col- lege at Deblin, 1938. Kopaiiski 24° PZL.23 Karas Use in the Polish Air Force prior to WWII 42nd Flight, LAC Aleksander Sowitski, S/Lt Witold LAC Mieczystaw Kier Bukowski and On 15 April 1939 the Air Staff of the General Staff completed work on the aviation part of the general operational plan for a war with Germany. The document assumed that at the moment of mobilisation the Polish Air Force, now on a war footing, would be split into two sections: one reporting directly to the High command, allocated to individual ground armies, Mobilisation of the Polish Air Force was announced ‘on the night of 23 August 1939. This meant disband- ment of the air regiments, that were now replaced by air bases. Flying personnel were informed of their postings and issued 1/300,000 scale maps, Vis pistols and gas masks. Ground personnel were also issued extra mobilisation equipment. Then Polish air units, including most of the twelve Karas flights, were moved from peace-time bases to emergency landing grounds, and then on 30 or 31 August to their secret operational airfields. Having completed the move, flights camou- flaged their aircraft and their COs reported combat readiness to their new superiors. At midnight on 31 August, when virtually all ‘operational units were based at their advanced airfields, wartime organisation of the air force was implemented. At that moment new formations, reporting directly to the commander-in-Chief Polish Armed Force, were formed: the Pursuit Brigade and the Bomber Brigade, The former included five fighter flights allocated for the defence of Warsaw, and the Bomber Brigade included |, and the other PZL.23A trainer no. 44.12 “4” captured by the Ger- mans at Okecie airfield, Kopaaiski PZL.23A as a backdrop for Hermann Goring during his visit at Krosno aerodrome, Kopariski PZL.23 Karas 25 Use in the Polish Air Force prior to WWII Karas trainer “4” at Deblin aerodrome. Kopariski Unidentified Karas shot down during September 1939 War In the foreground is a charred aircrew body Kopaiiski 26 PZL.23 Karas two bomber squadrons (equipped with PZL37 LoS aircraft) and five Karas flights (now renamed light bomber flights). The Bomber Brigade was commanded by Col. Whadystaw Heller. Most units within the Bomber Brigade were given new numbers. The change involved dropping the first digit from their previous identities, so that Karas- equipped 21st, 22nd, 64th, and 65th now became the Ist, 2nd, 4th, and Sth Flights. The Bomber Brigade also included the 55th Flight, now renamed the 55th Independent Bomber Flight, the only one to retain its previous number. Within the Brigade the flights formerly of the 2nd and 6th Regiments continued to be grouped in their two-flight squadrons. Karag units that were not included in the Bomber Brigade were renamed reconnaissance flights and each was assigned to one of the armies: 24th reconnaissance Flight (10 aircraft), “Cracow” Army 3st reconnaissance Flight (9 aircraft), “Karpaty” Army 32nd reconnaissance Flight (10 aircraft), “Eodz” Army 34th reconnaissance Flight (10 aircraft) “Poznai” Army 41st reconnaissance Flight (8 aircraft), “Modlin” Army 42nd reconnaissance Flight (10 aircraft), “Pomorze” Army + Slstreconnaissance Flight (7 aircraft), “Narew" Independent Operational Group On 1 September 1939 the Polish Air Force had a total of 224 Karas aircraft. Combat units had 114 machines, of which the Bomber Bri- gade flights had 50 and the army-assigned units 64. Ten Karases were included in the equipment reserve; training establishments had a total of 45 machines (25 PZL.23 Aand 20 PZL.23 B), and a further 55 were undergoing overhauls and repairs (10 PZL.23 A and 45 PZL.23 B). German invasion of Poland in 1939 Germansinvasion olgPolandhin 1st (21st) Bomber Flight, Bomber Brigade The Flight, commanded by Capt. Jan Buezma, left its peace-time base in Cracow on 27 August 1939 and departed for Radom. On 30 August the unit's aircraft were moved to Wsola landing ground, 10 km north of Radom. On 1 September 1939 the unit, as with other Karaé flights of the Bomber Brigade, flew no sorties due to the absence of orders from Brigade HQ. The following morning the crew of Cpl. Wojcik, Lt Kasprzyk and LAC Kwieciet (pilot, observer, gunner, respectively) was tasked with reconnaissance of German columns that had crossed the Polish border between Leszno and Lubliniec. Take-off took place at 4,00 am. Initially the airmen failed to notice any major enemy troops, but then, on the road from Praszka to Wielut, they spotted a motorised column some 3 km long. Despite AA fire they dropped two 100 kg bombs. In the afternoon a Karas of Sgt Wojciech Uryzaj, Cadet Off. Rudolf Wilezak and LAC Wiadystaw Scibich flew to reconnoitre the Czestochowa area. At Gidle near Radomsko it was attacked by four Bf 109Ds of /ZG 2, and after a short engagement it was shot down in flames, killing the entire crew. The victory was credited by the Germans to the CO of /ZG 2, Hptm. Johannes Gentzen 21st Bomber Flight Karases. PZL.23 Karas. 27 German invasion of Poland in 1939 Karas of Maj. Jan Bialy, the CO of the I! Light Bomber Squadron (21st and 22nd Bomber Flights), shot down on 3 September by a Bf 109 near Radomsko. The aircraft was flown by the crew: Capt. Albert (the Squadron Tacties Officer), LAC Buczytko, Cadet Off M, Mazur Popiel & Kopaiiski On 3 September 1939 Bomber Brigade Karases of the formerly Cracow-based II Sqn (now the Ist and 2nd Flights) and the 55th Flight flew a number of bombing missions in three aircraft sections against columns of the German XVI Panzer Corps, that had broken into Polish defence positions at the junction of “L6d2” and “Cracow” Armies near Radomsko and Czestochowa. About 9.30 the first sections of the Ist Flight took off, followed by the 2nd Flight. Each aircraft carried eight 30 kg or six 100 kg bombs. Polish crews located German armoured vehicles near Radomsko and Plawno. Airmen of the Ist Flight bombed and strafed enemy troops to good effect. However, they came under heavy fire from the German air defences and then were attacked by nine 28 PZL.23 Karas German invasion of Poland in 1939 Bf 109Ds of I/ZG 2. The Germans managed to shoot down the aero- plane of Cpl Wactaw Buczytk with the observer Capt. Stefan Alberti {the flight's tactical officer) and the gunner Cadet Off. Mieczystaw Mazur. The pilot and observer of the Karas bailed out, but the gunner, fatally wounded during combat, was killed. The Polish crew was shot down by the 3. Staffel CO, Olt. Josef Kellner-Steinmetz. In the afternoon of 3 September just one section of the Ist Flight few another attack against German armoured units. German fighters were encountered again, this time Bf 109Es of IG 76. The Karas of LAC Stanistaw Obiorek with S/Lt Tadeusz Kr6l and LAC Ignacy Mularczyk was engaged by three Messerschmitts after it had dropped ins bombs. The Polish pilot continued to evade his opponents, coming down from some 1,800 m to ground level. The gunner, LAC Mulare- k, obtained several hits on the Bf 109 of Lt. Rudolf Ziegler, but the ‘man managed to set the fuel tank in the star- board wing of the Karas on fire, and the machine crashed in flames. Only the pilot managed to bail out safely, but the other two crew members were Killed in the machine which crashed at Gora- kowice. During the same engagement the Germans also suffered a loss, as Karas gunners shot down Olt. Dietrich Hrabak, CO Karas no. 44.77 of the 21st Bomber Flight with and without the emblem. Kopauiski & Taghon via Belcarz PZL.23 Karas 29 German invasion of Poland in 1939 5" (610-K) the Germans racow, as seen in rember 1939 and then g winter of 1939/40, th the emblem removed by souvenir hunters, Conk he same Karas in winter Matusiak 30 P2L2 of 1. Staffel L/JG 76 (BF 109 E WNr 3311 “white 1”), The German force-landed behind Polish lines, but he managed to hide until German forces overran the area, In the following days the flight changed airfields (Podlodéw on 5/9/39, Marianéw on 6/9/39), and flew reconnaissance sorties. In the afternoon of 7 September the CO of II Sqn, Maj, Jan Bialy was ordered to bomb German armoured troops north of £6d¢. The mission was flown by three crews of the Ist Flight and five of the 2nd Flight. Before that, around 16.00, a Karas from the Ist Flight took off with the task of locating the target. It was, however, shot down by LG 76 Messerschmitt 109Es (Ofw. Johann Klein) and force-landed at Rawa Mazowiecka. The crew, Cpl Mikolaj Zykow, S/Lt Witalis Brama and LAC Teofil Gara, suffered only slight injuries, only the gunner being wounded. In this situation the bomber mission had to locate the target on their own, which they did in the Ozork6w-Strykéw German invasion of Poland in 1939 area. After a successful bombing run the Ist Flight section was attacked by Bf 109s of L/JG 76. After the engagement Polish gunners claimed ‘one Messerschmitt shot down, but German sources do not mention the loss. One Karas, with the crew of Lt Procyk, S/Lt Kuna and LAC Sroka, forced landed at Wojcieszk6w, 8 km from base, due to severed control cables. On 8 September the Ist Flight lost another Karas. During bomb- ing of a German column at Wyszk6w, the crew of Cadet Off. Tadeusz Dziubiriski, Cadet Off. Waclaw Wojtal and LAC Jan Wolny was shot down by an LG 1 Bf 110. All the airmen, although wounded and burnt, managed to bail out. A second Karas was forced to land, and it was then shot down by Messerschmitts at Niwy Ostrolgckie two days later, when it was on its way back to base following provisional repair. Its crew of LAC Pawel Palecki, Cadet Off. Walter Wycislok and LAC Wiadyslaw Chromy was killed. On 1] September the remaining four serviceable aircraft were handed over to the VI Bomber Squadron, and the flight personnel were evacuated to Romania after Poland was invaded by Russia on 17 September. Between the 1 and 11 September 1939 crews of the Ist (2 Ist) Flight flew 32 combat sorties and dropped some 10,000 kg bombs. Losses amounted to nine killed and six Karas aircraft lost. 2nd (22nd) Bomber Flight, Bomber Brigade Commanded by Capt. K. Stowitiski, the Flight left Cracow on 27 August 1939, moving to the aerodrome at Radom (Sadkéw), and then on 31 August to Wsola airfield, and eventually in the afternoon of 1 September it landed at Kamien near Bialobrzegi Capt. Stowiriski, the CO of the 22nd Bomber Flight, enters his aeroplane. Cracow, 24 April 1939. Cynk PZL.23 Karas 31 German invasion of Poland in 1939 Karases of the 22nd Bomber Flight inside the hangar at Cracow-Rako- wiee, 10 May 1938, Cynk Karas no. 44.76 “6” of the 22nd Bomber Flight. Conk On 3 September 1939 the entire flight took part in a raid against German armoured troops in the Radomsko-Ptawno-Gidle area. Each aircraft carried eight 50 kg bombs. The attack was performed in sections at 10 minute intervals. Over the target the Polish machines were attacked by 1] Messerschmitts. Three Karases failed to return, shot down by German fighters and AA artillery. The 2nd Flight CO, Capt. Kazimierz Stowiriski, was killed with his crew of Lt Stanistaw Walkow and LAC Stanislaw Korytowski. Their Karas was hit by Flak, lost its engine, and crashed. The crew of another dawned aeroplane, Cadet Off. Jézef Jeleti, S/Lt Wladystaw Zupnik and LAC Stanistaw Kapturkiewicz, were also killed, From the third machine, LAC Mikolaj 32 PZL.23 Karas German invasion of Poland in 1939 Jurcewicz and Cadet Off. Jan Klimek were killed, and LAC Jerzy Biskup, the gunner, was wounded and taken PoW. In the afternoon of 3 September a second mission was flown. The Flight, in two sections of three aircraft, was led by the new CO, Lt Bolestaw Nowicki. After the attack they were ed by six Bf 109Es of 1/JG 76. Uffz. Willi Lohrer claimed a Polish machine shot down. This was the aeroplane of Cp! Gustaw Hlawiczka, S/Lt Tadeusz Kalinowski and LAC Andrzej Ustupski. The burning Karag landed west of Radomsko thanks to the efforts of the wounded pilot, who thus managed to save him- self and the wounded observer. During the attack, the aeroplane of LAC Feliks Marek, Cadet Off. Waclaw Grandys and LAC Ignacy Gaoeri was hit by ground fire. The machine was seriously damaged, the observer was fatally wounded, but the pilot and the gunner were only slightly wounded. LAC Marek brought the Karas back to base, but during the landing approach the aeroplane crashed in woods at the edge of the landing field and burst in flames. The flight ground crew risked their lives to save the two lightly wounded airmen from the wreckage. The following day the flight flew just two reconnaissance sorties The emblem of the 22nd which involved bombing of the targets located. On 5 September only Bomber Flight on shot one sortie was flown. On 6 September the unit moved to Podlodéw, and down Karas no “5”. then to Marian6w-—Wojcieszk6w. The following day, on 7 September, Kopatiski all five Karases of the flight, as well as four of the Ist Flight, took part in a bombing raid against enemy armoured columns in the Piotrk6w, Ozork6w and Leczyca area, Despite an encounter with German fighters the 2nd Flight aircraft (crews of Lt Nowicki, $/Lt Wéjcik, Cadet Off. Smolik, Cadet Off. Groyecki, and Cadet Off. Wodzicki) returned to base without loss. One Karas had the exhaust manifold shot through, this was replaced with a new one brought from Deblin stores. On 8 September four aircraft led by the Flight CO, Lt Nowicki, dropped bombs on a group of armoured vehicles in the area of Sokol6w Podlaski-Ceranéw. The Poles encountered a German Do 17 which withdrew without engagement. On 9 September two crews of the 2nd Flight flew reconnaissance sorties to identify the direction of movement of the German armoured troops that threatened Warsaw. The task was performed by LAC Kos- PZL.23 Karas: 33 German invasion of Poland in 1939 Kopaiski The same machine was shot down near Radomsko on 3 September 1939. turkiewicz, Cadet Off, Wodzicki and LAC Gliicklich, and by LAC Feruga, S/Lt Wojcik and LAC Podg6rski, The latter crew was engaged by a German fighter, By skillful manoeuvring and accurate fire from the gunner the Karas escaped undamaged. On 10 September the Flight was ordered to hand its serviceable aircraft to the VI Squadron of the Bomber Brigade. On 17 September the unit personnel were evacuated to Romania. During the 1939 campaign the crews of the 2nd (22nd) Flight flew 38 combat sorties and dropped some 12,000 kg bombs. Losses amounted to ten killed, six wounded (one of them in captivity) and five Karas aircraft lost, Five aircraft were handed over to the VI Squadron Kopariski_ of the Bomber Brigade. 34° PZL.23 Karas German invasion of Poland in 1939 55th Independent Bomber Flight, Bomber Brigade The Flight, commanded by Capt. J6zef Skibifski, was moved to the advanced airfield at Marynin (3 km south-east of Radzyri Podlaski) directly from its peace-time base at Lida on 31 August 1939. The Flight commenced operations on 3 September, when the Bomber Brigade HQ ordered it to reconnoitre and then bomb, in indi- vidual sections, German armoured columns at Radomsko. The Karas of Cpl Henryk Borys, $/Lt Czestaw Podgrodzki and LAC Bolestaw Lesniewski took off at 7.30 for the reconnaissance sortie. Above Radomsko the aeroplane was attacked by four Bf 109Ds of Stab. 1/ZG 2. Following an engagement of a few minutes Hptm. Johannes Gentzen, the CO of the German unit, shot down the Polish machine. Only the pilot, burnt, survived from the burning aeroplane: he bailed out and was captured when he landed among German troops. When radio com- munication with the reconnaissance aeroplane broke off at 10.00, the Flight CO ordered the first section to take off. Polish aircraft located the armoured column south of Radomsko and, despite attacks by L/ZG 2 Bf 109s, bombed it successfully. After the first section landed at Marynin, the next three Karases took off to attack the target. They, too, reached the target. Diving from 1,000 m they dropped their bombs at 500 m, with some accuracy. However, 1/ZG 2 Messerschmitts were there again. The Karas of LAC Czestaw Borzecki, Lt Tadeusz Frackowiak and LAC Czestaw Buziuk was set on fire and crashed into the German column, killing the entire crew. They were probably shot down by Lt. Reinhold Mesner. The other two crews returned to base at tree-top level. Upon their return the third section was sent. It bombed successfully the same column and, despite heavy Flak, returned to base. The bombing was found to have been effective. According to the announcement of the C-in-C HQ, losses of the German troops were estimated at 30%. The column was halted for almost two days. Subsequent sorties were flown, after a day’s break, on 5 September. One Karas of the Flight made a reconnaissance of German crossings of Vistula between Plock and Grudzigdz. The same day a section led by the unit CO bombed a German motorised column at Bialy Dwor. The crew (S/Lt Podgrodzki with Cpl Borys behind) leaves the cockpit of a Karas of the 55 Bomber Flight at Marynin airfield, 31 August 1939. Okr6j via Charytoniuk PZL.23 Karas 35 German invasion of Poland in 1939 Karas no. 44.21 °5” of the 55 Bomber Flight demaged at Lw6w aerodrome, Sep- tember 1939. Kopariski The same damaged Karas of the 55th Bomber Flight, photographed at Lwéw- Skniléw aerodrome by the Germans. A Ju 52 is in the background. Kopaniski On 6 September the 55th Flight flew several reconnaissance sorties south of Kielce and in the Ciechanéw-Plock area, and before midday on 7 September two crews of the Flight made a reconnaissance in L6dz area. About 15.00 another aeroplane, with the crew of LAC S. Zarzecki, S/Lt S. Pytlakowski and ACI A. Iwaniuk, flew in the same area. Having completed the reconnaissance, the observer prepared a report and dropped it on a pre-arranged spot in Warsaw. After this the aeroplane was engaged by Messerschmitts and shot down at Grabie Nowe (some 25 km north-east of Warsaw) killing the entire crew. On 8 September aircraft of the Flight successfully attacked an armoured column located previously at Ostr6w Mazowiecka. On their way back to base they also strafed a column of horse-drawn artillery, and then returned to base safely. During landing the aeroplane of Cadet Off. Ciolek was attacked and damaged by a Heinkel 111 that circled the airfield. The German got too low, however, and was shot down by 36 PZL.23 Karas German invasion of Poland in 1939 a machine gun manned by Cadet Off. J. Siwiec, After it force-landed the entire crew of the enemy aeroplane was captured. In the morning of 10 September the Flight moved to Marianéw near Luk6w. When coming in to land, the aeroplane of the Flight CO, Capt. J. Skibiriski, with LAC M. Wasiak and a junior Noc fitter B. Bialy, spun and crashed, killing all aboard. Ten minutes later the Karas of LAC Okr6j, Capt. Szpak and LAC Pacut overran the landing run and crashed into trees. Fortunately, the crew was only slightly injured and Capt. Szpak took over as the new Flight CO. On I] September the Bomber Brigade CO ordered all serviceable aircraft to be handed over to the 31st reconnaissance Flight of “Kar- paty” Army. In the afternoon, aircraft led by a 31st Flight Karag crew departed for the latter’s airfield at Cieszanow. On arrival it was found that the unit had moved. Consequently, all the aircraft flew to Lwéw (now Lviv, Ukraine), where two aircraft crashed during landing on the bomb-damaged runway. The following day S/Lt Warosiski, a pilot of the 31st Flight, took over a Karas of the Flight and in the evening, together with another machine, flown by a 55th Flight pilot, took off for Batiatycze, where the 31st was now based. Arriving there after dark, the pilots failed to locate the airfield at Batiatycze and returned to Lw6w. Whilst landing the last Karas flown by a 55th Flight crew crashed in a bomb crater. The remaining personnel of the 55th Bomber Flight were evacuated to Romania. During the 1939 campaign crews of the 5Sth Independent Bomber Flight flew 40 combat sorties and dropped some 14,000 kg bombs on the enemy. Eleven airmen were killed. Nine aircraft of the Flight were destroyed, and one was taken over by the 31st Flight. Karases captured by the Germans at Warsaw- Okgcie. The “10” in the foreground was a SSth Bomber Flight machine, sent back to Okgcie for repair. Both aircraft have new type aerial masts. Kopariski PZL.23 Karas. 37 German invasion of Poland in 1939 4th (64th) Light Bomber Flight, Bomber Brigade Damaged Karas of the 64th or 65th Bomber Flight at Deblin aerodrome, after itwas captured by the Germans. Kowalski ‘Two Karaé flights from Lwéw, the 4th (64th) and Sth (65th), fought the 1939 campaign within the Bomber Brigade’s VI Squadron, com- manded by Maj. Alfred Peszke. The 4th Flight, having left Lwow Sknitéw, moved on 31 August 1939 to Nos6w airfield near Biala Podlaska. ‘The unit flew no sorties on the first day of the war. In the morning of 2 September Capt. Mieczystaw Pronaszko, the Flight CO, was ordered to prepare his aircraft for a bombing raid against a motorised column of the German | Panzer Division, located on the Czestochowa—Ktobuck road, Loaded with 600 kg bombs under each aeroplane, ten machines of the 4th Flight and eight Karases of the Sth Flight took off at 11.00 The raid was led by Capt. Kazimierz Jaklewicz, the 4th Flight’s tactical officer. The target was bombed from an altitude of 500-800 m. Then it was strafed from low level, but AA fire inflicted heavy losses. The Karas of LAC Zototetiko, Cadet Off. Szumetda and LAC Rozmus was shot down over the target. The wounded crew was captured. In another aeroplane hit by the Germans, Lt Brzeski was fatally wounded. After a forced landing behind Polish lines, the aircraft came under fire once again. The pilot and gunner were both wounded, but they managed to rejoin their flight later on, Two more aircraft hit by ground fire crashed at Radomsko, and another two were written off in landing back at base. Thus, the unit lost a total of six Karases, amounting to 60% of the establishment. However, the crew of S/Lt Zabik, whose aeroplane was destroyed, reached Warsaw where they collected a new aeroplane and on 4 September rejoined their unit. On 3 September the 4th Flight flew just one sortie: reconnaissance of the Breslau (Wroclaw) area on the German side of the border. The mission was flown by Cadet Off. Latawiev, Lt Wieczorek and LAC Juk. 38 PZL.23 Karas German invasion of Poland in 1939 In the afternoon the flight moved to a new airfield at Zabkéw near Sokoléw Podlaski. Subsequent missions were flown on 5 September. In the morning two recon- naissance sorties, and in the afternoon a raid of a section against a motorised column on the Pultusk-Ciechanow road . The afternoon mis- sion was flown by three Karasges of 4th Flight. The aeroplane of Capt. Jaklewicz was damaged by German Flak, so the Karas of the 64th Bomber crew attempted to land at Warsaw-Okgcie. Despite firing the colours Flight, September 1939, of the day, Polish AA fire opened up and the pilot, LAC Baranowski, was forced to fly on to Deblin. Landing there on its last drops of fuel, the Karas hit a bomb crater with one wheel and was destroyed. On 6 September the flight flew no sorties, and the following day 4th Flight aircraft attacked a German column approaching the river Narew at R6#an. During the day’s sole engagement with German aircraft, LAC S. Kondras, the gunner in the crew of Capt. Jaklewicz, claimed a Bf 109 shot down. On 8 September German fighters shot down the Karas of Cadet Off. Bilecki, S/Lt Zabik and LAC Stronczak. The gunner of the Polish machine was killed, but the other two airmen managed to bail out safely, even though they were wounded and burnt. Olt. G. Schneider of the 3/JG 21 was the victor. In the morning of 9 September the unit moved to a new airfield at Franopol (25 km north-east of Biala Podlaska). Two crews of the 4th Flight, those of Lt Zawadzki and S/Lt Galewicz, first flew a reconnais- sance mission and bombed a German armoured column near Wyszkow, following which they landed at the new base. On II September, after a day’s break, the Flight resumed opera- tions, flying more reconnaissance sorties. The same day the unit was reinforced with four Karases ex 42nd reconnaissance Flight. At the same time the unit changed airfields twice more, moving to Wielick and then to Cholopecz near Wlodzimierz Wolyriski. On 13 September, soon after take off in difficult weather (rain and mist), two aircraft of the 4th Flight collided. One of them crashed. immediately, killing the crew of LAC Kazimierz Salwierz, Lt Tadeusz. Telezyriski and LAC Stefan Sep. On 14 September at 11.00 eight Karases of the 4th Flight took off to bomb a German column in the area of Rawa Ruska-Sokal. Kopaiiski PZL.23 Karas. 39 German invasion of Poland in 1939 After the mission the crews were scheduled to land at a new airfield at Hutniki near Brody. The target was located north of Rawa Ruska and successfully bombed, after which the Karases headed for Brody. Not long before landing, with only a litle fuel left, the Polish aircraft were attacked by eight Bf 109s of I/ZG 2. Two Polish machines were seriously damaged and Remains of an unidentified their pilots, Cadet Off. Latawiec and LAC Czejgis, were wounded. Karas of the VI Squadron of They managed to land at Hutniki, but one of the aircraft crashed. Polish the Bomber Brigade (64th crews claimed one Bf 109 shot down. About 16.15 hours the Germans and 65th Bomber Flights), raided the airfield at Hutniki, Dispersed Karases of the 4th and 5th Kopariski Flights were attacked by several dozen German machines. Exploding bombs covered the Polish aircraft with mud and punctured them, but no fire started as the fuel tanks were empty. On 15 September at 6.00 am. another German raid finally destroyed VI Squadron's Karages. The personnel of the 4th Flight was moved south and 18 September it crossed the Romanian border. Between I and 14 September airmen of the 4th Flight flew 39 combat sorties, dropping some 14,000 kg bombs. Losses amounted to six killed and eight wounded (three in captivity) and 21 Karas air- craft destroyed (10 of the original establishment and 11 received as reinforcements from the Ist, 2nd and 42nd Flights), Tail of an unidentified Karas at Radom aerodrome. Kopaiiski 40 PZL23 Karas German invasion of Poland in 1939 oth (65th) Light Bomber Flight, Bomber Brigade Commanded by Capt. Maciej Piotrowski, the Sth (65th) Flight departed from Lwéw on 31 August 1939, moving to Nos6w airfield at Biala Podlaska. The first combat sorties were flown by the unit on the morning of 2 September 1939. The VI Squadron CO, Maj. Alfred Peszke, ordered a reconnaissance sortie, and then an attack against German armoured troops in the Czestochowa area. The reconnaissance sortie was undertaken by the crew of LAC Nowakowski, S/Lt Stangret and ACI Dziegiel. They located a 10 km long German motorised column on the Klobuck-Czestochowa road. The observer reported the target by radio to the Squadron CO, and then the Kara§ bombed the column, immobilising two tanks which partly jammed the road. Even before the reconnaissance aeroplane landed back at base, a bomber formation of 18 Karases set off, including eight machines of the Sth Flight in three sections. On their way to the target the Karases came under friendly AA fire over Ulezem and Czestochowa. S/Lt M. Nowacki was killed in the aeroplane flown by Cpl Kulesza. The fire also perforated the fuel tank of the Karas of LAC Zalejko, so that he was forced to land at Radom. The remaining aircraft attacked the German column. The Karas led by Capt. Piotrowski, the Sth Flight CO, was hit and it overturned during a dead-stick force land- ing in no-man’s land. The injured pilot and the other two crew members Karas “8” of the 65th Bomber Flight (897-S?). The aeroplane has the emblem and the code number overpainted. Kopaiiski & Koniarek PZL.23 Karas 41 German invasion of Poland in 1939 On the left fuselage of a 65th Bomber Flight Karas photographed at Warsaw Okecie, where it was sent for repair. Kopariski 42 PZL.23 Karas were saved by Polish infantry. The damaged aircraft flown by S/Lt Szablowski and LAC Sicitiski force-landed behind Polish lines, but the latter Karas was destroyed by fire. LAC Leszek, whose hand was shot through, managed to nurse his machine back to Radom where he landed. Altogether, only three aircraft out of eight managed to return to base. On 3 September the Flight moved to the airfield at Zabk6w. No sorties were flown on 4 September, and the following day only one reconnaissance sortie was flown. On 7 September before dawn the Sth Flight lost another Karas. During a night reconnaissance along the Vistula, the aeroplane with the crew of LAC W. Nowakowski, S/Lt K. Stangret and LAC J. Sawicki was shot down over Plock by Polish AA. fire. Only the pilot managed to bail out and survive. That day other crews together with the entire Squadron attacked German troops at R6zan on the river Narew. On 9 September the unit moved to Franopol. 11 September brought another move, to Falenicze near Wiodzimierz Wotytiski. The Flight was reinforced with three Karases of the 42nd Flight with their crews and six machines of the II Squadron (Ist and 2nd Flights). Nearly all the “new” aircraft were damaged. On 12 September two reconnais- sance sorties were flown, with the loss of one aeroplane whose crew returned to the Flight on foot. On 14 September the Flight departed for Hutniki, where it then lost all its aircraft due to German raids. On 18 September the personnel were evacuated to Romania. During the 1939 campaign the Sth Flight flew 32 combat sorties and dropped some 11,000 kg bombs. Losses amounted to three killed and seven wounded, and 19 Karas aircraft lost (ten of the original establishment plus nine received as reinforcements from the Ist, 2nd and 42nd Flights), German invasion of Poland in 1939 24th Reconnaissance Flight, “Cracow” and “Lublin” Armies ‘The 24th reconnaissance Flight was commanded by Capt. Julian Wojda, The unit moved on 31 August 1939 from its Cracow-Rakowice base to the airfield at Klimont6w (22 km north-east of Cracow). On | September its crews flew reconnaissance missions, on the southern section of the front among others. On 2 September at midday six aircraft of the Flight took off to bomb a German motorised column located on the Ligota~Czestochowa road. Immediately after the take-off one Karas had to land with mechanical failure, while the rest performed their task, escorted by P.11 fighters of the 122nd Fighter Flight. On 3 September another bombing raid (six Karases) was flown. This time it was directed against a German Pilot LAC Zykow, observer Lt Rewakowicz, and an unknown gunner of the 24th Reconnaissance Flight, 2nd Air Regiment, Cracow, 1938, Pawlak Karas of the 24th Recon- naissance Flight abandoned at Cracow aerodrome. Kopariski PZL.23 Karas 43 German invasion of Poland in 1839 Karas "9" (941-K) of the 24th Reconnaissance Flight. Kopaiiski Karas “5” (658-K) of the 24th Reconnaissance Flight, Cracow, October 1939. armoured column moving in the mountainous terrain in the area of Kopaski Rabka-Podwilk. Bach Karas carried six 100 kg and two 50 kg bombs, 44° PZL.23 Karas Having located the enemy column, the Flight crews bombed it from an altitude of 600-800 m, obtaining direct hits on some vehicles. Then they strafed the column. German AA defences man- aged to shoot down one aeroplane, with the crew of LAC A. Rudy, S/Lt T. Predecki and LAC R. Widuch. Only the pilot survived, bailing out and becoming a prisoner of war. In the afternoon of 3 September 24th Flight crews flew several more reconnaissance sorties and then, on the orders of Col. Stefan Sznuk, the “Cracow” Army aviation commander, moved to the airfield at Ulez, this meaning they no longer operated with the Army. A total of nine Karases and one RWD 8 liaison aeroplane arrived at Ule2. During 4-6 September the Flight pilots flew only two reconnaissance sorties. In the evening of 6 September the Flight moved to the airfield at Wronéw, and from there it flew three recon- naissance sorties in the Eédé area the following day. On 8 September the Flight was allocated to the newly formed “Lublin” Army. Recon- naissance sorties continued along the Lodé— German invasion of Poland in 1939 Lowiez-Leczyca-Kutno-Sochaczew and Radom-Rawa Mazowiecka lines. The Flight was also reinforced with two new aircraft, abandoned at Lukow by an unidentified training unit due to lack of fuel. On 9 September the Flight moved again, to the airfield at Luszezow near Lublin, On 11 September two crews flew reconnaissance along the Vistula. From dawn on 12 September airmen of the 24th Flight flew combat sorties on the orders of both the “Lublin” Army and the Polish Air Force HQ. Targets included reconnaissance of the Remains of the Karas Vistula and Bug river crossings, and western approaches to Warsa of the 24th Reconnaissance the evening the flight moved to Strzyz6w (15 km north of Hrubieszow). Flight, shot down on 3 Landing in darkness, one Karaé crashed, but the crew was unhurt. September 1939. Observer Another aeroplane was lost by the flight in a forced landing after a S/Lt Predecki and gunner reconnaissance sortie of the Warsaw foreland on 13 September. Two LAC Widuch were killed other crews flew successful reconnaissance sorties, including one for (both are visible in the the “Poznaf” Army HQ, in the area of Kutno-Eeczyca-Lowicz (Lt foreground). Miarezyriski) and returned to base safely. Popiel On 14 September, after three reconnaissance sorties (crews of S/Lt Pulczyriski, S/Lt Wojcicki, and S/Lt Zidtkowski), the flight moved to Wolysi region, to the airfield at Kniahinin (15 km west of Miynéw). During landing there one aeroplane was seriously damaged. In the morning of 15 September the crew of Lt Nowierski, Lt Miarczytiski Karas of the 24th Recon- and S/Lt Zborowski took off from Kniahinin on a special naissance Flight, Cracow They were going to deliver mail from Marshall Edward Rydz~ aerodrome, September the Polish Commander-in-Chief, to Gen. Juliusz Rommel, command- 1939. ing the “Warsaw” Army in the besieged capital city. The route of Kopariski over 360 km, mostly over enemy-held territory, was covered in less then two hours. They landed at the Warsaw-Mokot6w airfield, as Okecie airport was already in German hands. Having handed the mail to the “Warsaw” Army HQ, Lt MiarezyAski ordered immediate depar- ture, During the take-off the aeroplane was fired at by the Germans, but was not hit, PZL.23 Karas 45 German invasion of Poland in 1939 The same day Cadet Off. Jasitiski and S/Lt Ranoszek brought an LWS-3 Mewa reconnaissance plane from Pifisk. At dawn on 16 Sep- tember the Flight moved in emergency to Uzyniec (10 km east of Mlynow). The following day Poland was invaded by Soviet Russia. During a reconnaissance at Horodenka the Mewa was shot down by the Soviets, but the crew of S/Lts Ranoszek and Sobieralski survived. ‘Two reconnaissance sorties were flown by Karaé crews. One of these, Lt Nowierski, Lt Miarezyfiski and LAC Myrcik, investigated the R6wne-Korzec and Rowne~ Ostrég roads. The airmen could see the Red Army columns as they invaded Poland from the east. In the afternoon of 17 September the Flight CO received orders to move to Gwoddziec Stary. One of the flight's pilots, LAC Miernic- zek, decided to evacuate from Uzyniec one PZL 37 Log bomber abandoned there, even though he had Karas “9” (941-K) of never flown this type of aeroplane before. At about 17.00 nine Karases the 24th Reconnaissance of the 24th Flight plus one Los arrived at Gwoddziec. Immediately Flight. Photograph taken by upon landing, due to the threat of approaching Soviet troops, the unit the Germans at Cracow- was ordered to evacuate to Romania. Despite the late time, all unit's Rakowice aerodrome. aircraft arrived safely at Cernautsi (now Chernovtsy, Ukraine). Kopariski During 1-17 September 1939 the 24th Flight flew 57 combat sor- ties and dropped 8,000 kg bombs. Losses amounted to two killed, two wounded, and one airman was taken prisoner. During the campaign the unit received four Karas and one Mewa aircraft as reinforcements. It lost five Karases and the Mewa, evacuating nine Karas and one Los aircraft to Romania. 46 PZL23 Karas German invasion of Poland ii 31st Reconnaissance Flight, “Karpaty” Army 31st Flight, commanded by Capt. Witalis Nikonow, left its home base at Poznari on 27 August 1939 and moved to the aerodrome at Lwéw. During the ferry flight one Karas force-landed and was dam- aged. On 31 August the unit moved to an airfield at Werynia (some 25 km north of Rzesz6w). On 1 September two Karaées took off to carry out reconnaissance of German units in Slovakia. The first crew located an active Luft- wafie airfield at Igloo near Bardejov, and a column of mountain troops approaching the Polish border. The other crew found an armoured column some 40 km (!) long in the area of Orlov-Lubovna. It moved through valleys, presenting a convenient target for bombing. Upon return of the aircraft from reconnaissance, the Flight CO ordered all Karases to be bombed up and prepared for a mission. However, due to the High command’s ban on attacking the territory of Slovakia, the mission was abandoned. Another reconnaissance in the Slovak direction was flown on 2 September. Difficult weather conditions (mist) prevented the task from being accomplished. Similar missions were going to be flown on 3 September. However, the Karas that took off in the morning was shot down by Polish AA defences (at Moscice chemical plant) and the entire crew was killed. Another crew, that took off three hours after the first one, located a German armoured column already in Polish territory. The news was transmitted by radio to base, and soon two Karas sections, led. by the Flight CO, took off to attack the target. Polish aircraft surprised the German column during a stopover and bombed it successfully from an altitude of 600 m, destroying many tanks and trucks crowded in the narrow road. AA defences were strong, though, and the Germans managed to shoot down Karas of the 31st Recon- naissance Flight damaged at Zamos during the mobilisation deployment from Poznari to Lwéw on 27 August 1939. Kopaiski the aeroplane of LAC Rabiega, Lt Soroko and LAC Rek. They all bailed out safely and were taken prisoners. The Flight CO's aeroplane crashed on land- ing, as it tuned out to have an undercarriage leg shot through. On 4 September the unit move to anew airfield at Rekawek, 18 km north of Rzesz6w. The damaged Karas of S/Lt Szezepatiski PZL23 Karas 47 German invasion of Poland in 1939 Karas “8” of the 31st Reconnaissance Flight afier the crash of Sgt Warotiski at Lwéw aerodrome. Kopaaiski 48° PZL.23 Karas was abandoned on the previous landing ground. On 5 September the crew of LAC Kegel, S/Lt Szajdzicki and ACI Skorezyk discovered a motorised enemy column in the area of Nowy Targ-Rabka. On their way back they were forced to bail out, due to a mechanical failure. On 6 September four crews bombed the German column discovered the day before. The attack was carried out from an altitude of 1,200 m but failed to produce any visible results. On the way back one aircraft force-landed due to a failure and had to be abandoned. Upon return to base the Flight CO ordered another raid. This time the attack was carried out individually, from a dive. This produced much better results than on the first occasion, and significant losses were inflicted on the Germans. All the aircraft returned to base. In the afternoon the Flight was reinforced with two RWD-14 Czapla reconnaissance aircraft. In the evening the entire unit returned to their first wartime airfield at Werynia, and on 7 September it departed for Cieszanéw. ‘Two more sorties were flown on 9 September, and another one the following day (the crew of S/Lt Waroriski, Lt Sukiennik and LAC Starosta), Having completed the reconnaissance the 31st Flight aero- plane landed at Brzes¢ where the observer made a report, and then they flew to Malaszewicze to refuel. Meanwhile the Flight changed airfields again, three Karases and one Czapla moving to Batiatycze. While at Mataszewicze, Lt Sukiennik was ordered to take over four Karases of the 55th Flight as reinforcements. He Jed them to Cieszan6w, only to find out that his Flight had already left. He decided to continue to Lwé6w, to obtain information about current location of the unit. Unfortunately, while landing at the bomb-cratered aerodrome the Karas of Waroriski and two aeroplanes of the 55th Flight were damaged, leaving only two machines, Having obtained the information on the whereabouts of the 31st Flight, about 18.30 S/Lt Waroriski left Lwéw with the other machine, flown by a 55th Flight pilot, heading for Batiatycze. It was getting dark and they failed to locate the air- field, so both Karases returned to Lw6w. As they were coming into land, nine German bomb- ers started to bomb Skniléw aerodrome. Waroriski’s Karas landed safely, but the other aeroplane crashed in a bomb crater. On 12 September at 5.00 am. Waroriski took off from Lw6w. His engine cut as soon as he lifted off, and the Karas was wrecked in the subsequent forced landing.