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Frank Piasecki exhibition — home


Polish Foundation "Legends of Aviation" along with its partners are building a flying replica of the PZL P.11 airplane, on a scale one to one. This plane proved a sensation in the USA and Europe when it first appeared at the beginning of the 30’s.

The PZL P.11 is one of the most famous Polish constructions in aviation. Work on this machine was started by State Aircraft Factory in early 1931. After tragic death of the designer engineer Pulawski in March 1931, the design was successfully continued by engineer Wsiewolod Jan Jakimiuk — an airplane constructor who later achieved success in the United States.

From the beginning, the PZL P.11 was a unique blossoming during the 1930’s due to a number of innovative construction designs. The most characteristic feature of Pulawski’s planes was the shape of the wings, called later “Pulawski’s wings” or “the Polish wings”. The wings were in the shape of a flattened letter M.

A second unprecedented solution was the undercarriage which had oil and air shock absorbers located inside the fuselage. Each wheel in the undercarriage had an independent shock absorber. The airplane was so well designed from an aerodynamic point of view that it was possible to pick up speed without limitation while diving.

At the beginning of the 1930’s, the airplane was so new and so well received by the international aviation world that in August 1931 it was invited to participate in the National Air Races in Cleveland, Ohio.

This was the first time that a Polish airplane was invited to participate in an International Air Show in the United States. Adding to this, at the cost of the American organizer, which did not happen often.

This was a great opportunity for the PZL airplanes as well as a chance to present Polish aviation equipment abroad. The most famous pilots and best airplanes in Europe were invited to the air shows.

The air demonstrations in Cleveland ran from 29 August to 07 September 1931. Besides acrobatic air exhibitions, over 30 contests of air battles were conducted in speed and distance.

The end result was a great success for the PZL P.11 and its pilot Boleslaw Orlinski. The plane and pilot won the air competition in Cleveland in 1931.

Both the pilot and the plane impressed the Americans, distinguishing themselves out of a group of fantastic airplanes and the best air aces. PZL achieved a great success, professional recognition, especially by the American press which named the PZL P.11 “the best plane in the world in its class”.

The Polish airplane was so liked by the Americans, that a year later it was invited again to participate in the Cleveland air show. The PZL P.11 took part in the fighter plane races from 27th August to 5th September 1932.

Piloted by Jerzy Kosowski, the PZL P.11 achieved the best numerical result. It also won the competition for maximum air speed, winning over its rivals by a big advantage.

The outbreak of World War II caused the PZL P.11 to stand against other airplanes, althought the rivalry was no longer of a sports nature. The airplane also demonstrated its fighting value. It was the first allied fighter plane to fight in World War II, defending with success Polish sky against the Nazis until 17 September 1939.

Despite the fact that in 1939 the P.11 was already obsolete and gave way to German fighter planes in speed and fire power, the flying skills of Polish pilots and the amazing maneuverability of the P.11 resulted in one-to-one kill ratio.

On the PZL P.11 flew and fought the real Polish heroes of World War II, later to be squadron leaders and participants in the famous Battle of Britain.

It was in 2009 that the idea was born of building an example of the P.11 and bringing it back to flight. This very difficult and ambitious task was undertaken by the Foundation “Legends of Aviation”, which is the creator of the project. The Foundation cooperates closely with the Polish Aviation Museum in Krakow. Thanks to this cooperation, the Foundation has an access to the only remaining, albeit non-flying, original P.11 in the world.

The access to the P.11 enables a thorough examination of the plane and reconstruction of technical drawings, on the basis of which a flying replica of the plane will be constructed.

The engagement by a large group of professionals as well as aviation fans who support this project will result in the fact that history will repeat itself and will have the remarkable occasion to see the legendary airplane in flight.

See you at the air shows in the United States and Europe.

website: www.legendylotnictwa.pl

A page from company catalogue showing PZL P.11c. The arrival plane in the early 1930s was met with considerable international interest as the most modern fighter design of the time.
The plane and its pilots - defenders of the Polish sky in 1939.
PZL P.11 of different versions were licence-built in Romania and operated by the Royal Romanian Air Force.
The sole surviving PZL P.11c at the Polish Aviation Museum in Krakow
The sole surviving PZL P.11c at the Polish Aviation Museum in Krakow
The plane was featured in the 'Frank Piasecki and Other Polish Aviation Designers' exhibition at the PAM in 2010
Legends of Aviation at work - the plane is being partially disassembled for examination and measurement