Amiot 123. 1928.

Kraków 2017-11-07


00128a Section 1928 year.

Amiot Amiot 123 „Marszałek Józef Piłsudski”.

Poland, Ludwik Idzikowski, Kazimierz Kubala.

Amiot 123 before take-off. Ludwik Idzikowski and Kazimierz Kubala in the cabin. Photo of LAC
Amiot 123 before take-off. Ludwik Idzikowski and Kazimierz Kubala in the cabin. Photo of LAC

Amiot 123 before take-off. Ludwik Idzikowski and Kazimierz Kubala in the cabin. Photo of LAC
Amiot 123 before take-off. Ludwik Idzikowski and Kazimierz Kubala in the cabin. Photo of LAC


The Amiot 120 planes are a family of bomber and record-breaking planes, developed and built by the SECM-Amiot factory in the second half of the 1920s. In total, about 90 Amiot 120 family planes in various versions were built.

The Amiot 120 plane was developed as a medium-sized biplane with a classic layout. The metal structure is mostly covered with linen. Only the front part of the fuselage was covered with duralumin sheet. The hull was built as a spatial structure made of duralumin tubes. The wing structure is also made of duralumin. The chassis is fixed, the main one in the front is complemented by a rear skid. The crew sits in open cockpits. The first flight of the Amiot 120 prototype was made in 1925.

The next one was the Amiot 120 BN2, a two-seater bomber powered by a 580 HP Renault 12Ma in-line engine. The plane was not ordered by the French military. More successful was the enlarged Amiot 122, built in 1927. A Lorraine 18 Kd engine with a capacity of 650 HP was used for the drive. However, this variant was not ordered by the French military either. The military demanded that the plane be converted into a three-seater. This is how Amiot 122 BP3 was created, which was mass-produced. The French army picked up 80 planes and Brazil 5 machines.

The SECM-Amiot company offered the military another improved variant of the Amiot 123 BP3 bomber. Only one copy was built.

It is written below about the record-breaking Amiot 123 aircraft for Poland.

The last two variants, Amiot 124 BP3 and Amiot 125 BP3, were prototypes of 1931 bombers equipped with the 1000hp Hispano-Suiza 18Sbr engines and the 700hp Renault 18Jbr, respectively, but were not ordered by French aviation. Some sources claim that the Amiot 121 was also built with the Lorraine 18 Kd engine, 650 hp, and the Amiot 126 prototype with the Lorraine 18 Gad 700 hp engine.

Long trips.

As early as 1925, the pilot Paul Teste made preparations on the Amiot 120 plane to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, on June 13, 1925, the plane crashed and the pilot was killed.

Already in September 1927, the Amiot 122 S two-seater was used for record flights. The plane made a flight around the Mediterranean Sea on the route: Paris - Vienna - Beirut - Cairo - Benghazi - Tunis - Casablanca - Paris. Distance 10,800 km. In April 1928, the Amiot 123 plane traveled the Paris - Timbuktu - Dakar - Paris route, over a distance of 10,100 km.

In 1927, the outstanding French fighter ace of the Great World War, Captain Charles Nungesser, together with the navigator Captain C. Cola, took off from Le Bouget to fly to America. They named their plane "L'Oiseau Blanc" (White Bird). To make the plane lighter, the pilots threw the landing gear right after take-off. Unfortunately, they did not achieve their goal and they were not heard of.

A few months later, another Frenchman, Coudouret and Mailoux, also tried to fly to America, that is, towards the west. To save fuel, they decided to take off from Spain. They named the plane "France". At the last moment, the French aviation ministry banned the flight. The pilots were returning to Paris on their plane. However, near Saint-Angeag, the plane's engine stopped working. When trying to make an emergency landing, the plane crashed and the airmen were killed on the spot.

It is worth mentioning at this point that during this period, many governments opposed flights bordering on madness. It was realized that the benefit of such a flight is small, and the splendor falls only on the pilots. However, those airmen were more often dead than among the heroes of the living. But that's the nature of man. There were willing cosmonauts in the CCCP to fly the unproven N-1 rocket.

Ludwik Idzikowski.

In April 1926, Ludwik Idzikowski was appointed to the Polish Military Purchase Mission in France. Its task was to test aircraft purchased by the Republic of Poland. He then put forward a proposal to organize a flight over the Atlantic to the west, because no one has yet accomplished such a feat. The Aviation Department was not interested in this idea. Ludwik Idzikowski made efforts on his own. He borrowed a plane and made tests with a French navigator. Colonel Ludomił Rayski personally did not give permission to fly. However, as a result of the press' interest as to the plans of Captain Ludwik Idzikowski (he was promoted to major in 1928), the military and state authorities gave their conditional consent. The main funding was taken over by the Polish community and state authorities.

First try.

In 1928, the Polish authorities were looking for a plane for long-haul flight, that is, to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The flight was to take place from Paris to New York, i.e. the goal was not only to reach the shores of the continent, but specific metropolises. Chicago was also considered because of the greater number of Polish diaspora. The minimum distance is 5 850 km.

The campaign was financed by contributions from the American Polish community. In 1928, an agreement was reached and the SECM-Amiot company built a record-breaking plane with enlarged fuel tanks. The plane was marked as Amiot 123. Other sources even mention the name Amiot 123.01. The plane was named Marshal Józef Piłsudski. The plane was equipped with a Lorraine 18 Kdrs engine, 710 HP.

The crew consisted of: Major pilot Ludwik Idzikowski and Major navigator Kazimierz Kubala. The launch took place on August 3, 1928, at 04:45 am from Paris Le Bourget Airport. The flight went well up to about 3,200 km, when the pilots noticed the engine oil level dropping. The reason was a rupture of the oil reservoir. The airmen decided to return to Europe due to the wind direction, even though America was a bit closer. After 31 hours of flight, the engine oil ran out. The crew decided to launch near the German merchant ship Samos. It was about 70 km to the coast of Spain. The sailors saved the crew and pulled the machine out of the water. However, during the hauling out, the plane was badly damaged.

Second try.

Despite the fact that the crew did not make it to the USA, the mood was very good. It was decided to repeat the attempt in the following year. Another Amiot 123 aircraft was ordered for the second flight. This time the plane received a Lorraine 18 Kdrs engine with 785 HP. Presumably it was a plane ordered by another French pilot for a record flight. According to other sources, it was the same plane that was completely renovated and sold again to Poles. Certainly, the plane's engine was changed to a new and more powerful one. The plane was named Orzeł Biały. According to other sources, just before the flight, the name of the aircraft was changed to Marshal Józef Piłsudski.

The launch date was kept secret. Still, at 03:00 there were a lot of onlookers at the airport. Among them are also contenders for the Atlantic laurel. It was not difficult to guess the date of take-off, as it was from July 13, 1929 that the weather reports clearly indicated that the weather had improved. Only in western France there were slight storm clouds and light storms. Clear sky over the Atlantic Ocean.

The crew and mechanics were busy with the plane from 03:00. The airmen were accompanied by the Polish military attaché, Colonel Jerzy Błeszczyński, and a few people from the embassy. The mechanics refueled the plane. Two of them covered the wings with hot paraffin to prevent ice build-up. The operation of the radio was checked. The control system was scrupulously reviewed.

The airmen took mail on board, including a letter from the President of the Republic of Poland, Professor Ignacy Mościcki, to the President of the USA. There was also an urn with soil from Wawel on board, which was to rest after the monument to General Kazimierz Płaski.

At 03:30 the plane was rolled out in front of the hangar. The engine was started and its warm-up began. The engine ran without comment; evenly and without any suspicious noises.

The minimum distance ahead of the aviators is 5 850 km, but in reality it is 6 660 km, because for safety reasons the flight is to go to Spain and the Azores. As the plane has an economic speed of 180-190 km / h, there are about 37 hours of flight ahead of the pilots.

The launch took place on July 13, 1929 at 03:45 from Paris Le Bourget airport. 45 minutes later the French start Costes and Bellonte, almost on the same machine. They will fly the same route as the Poles. Around 09:00, news reaches Paris that both planes have passed the Spanish port of Santander and set course for the Azores. Every now and then, Atlantic ships reported seeing one or the other plane. Most importantly, the weather is very good. The news reaches the US. At the destination airport, people are starting to gather and want to wait until the planes arrive.

However, the French, 400 km from the shores of Spain, fell into a storm. The headwind was very strong. The speed dropped to just 80 km / h. The crew quickly determines that under these conditions it will not make it to America. They make the decision to return.

After 12 hours of flight, the Poles have 2 050 km behind them. The plane flies into a wide than and encounters a strong headwind. Cruising speed decreased and fuel consumption increased. After covering 2,140 km, after about 13 hours of flight (around 5:00 p.m.), the engine began to lose power and its unnatural noise intensified. At 18:45 (local time), the pilot connected to the radio station in the city of Horta in the Azores. He asked for an emergency landing site. He was given the airport on the island of Faial. However, the crew said it would not make it there. Thus, the rocky island of Graciosa was proposed, with a football field. The crew was informed that military searchlights would be turned on to guide the airmen.

At 9 p.m. (7 p.m. local time), the crew decided to land. During an emergency landing on the pitch, the plane was pressed to the ground by gusts of wind. The machine hit a stone wall (a stone shaft) and blew over. Gasoline spilled and a fire broke out. The pilot Ludwik Idzikowski was killed on the spot. According to other reports, the pilot was stuck in the plane, seriously injured but alive. Navigator Kazimierz Kubala was thrown from the plane. Stunned, however, he quickly realized the situation and crawled away from the plane. It is often stated that he came out of the crash almost unscathed. Locals quickly ran to the crash site. However, Kazimierz Kubala did not know how to communicate with them. The local people only spoke Portuguese. In addition, it was getting dark quickly. Therefore, the rescue operation was chaotic. The plane burned down, and in it Major pilot Ludwik Idzikowski.

The Amiot 123 disaster resulted in the cancellation of the planned take-off of another Polish Caproni Ca.87 Polonia aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean.

The charred body of major pilot Ludwik Idzikowski was taken on board the ship ORP "Iskra", which was then near the Azores. On August 17, 1929, the ship arrived in Gdynia. Kazimierz Kubala also returned on board. On August 19, 1929, major pilot Ludwik Idzikowski was buried in Warsaw's Powązki Cemetery.

An investigation was initiated due to the death of officer Ludwik Idzikowski. The investigation revealed the defect of the spark arrestors. By the way, Kazimierz Kubala got into a sharp, unnecessary conflict with Colonel Ludomił Rayski, the head of the Aviation Department. Colonel Ludomił Rayski brought a defamation lawsuit. Kazimierz Kubala lost. He was sentenced to 7 months in prison, was deprived of decorations, demoted and expelled from the officer cadre. After his release in 1933, Kazimierz Kubala emigrated to Brazil, to Sao Paulo, where he worked as an entrepreneur.

The tragedy of the Polish Amiot 123 aircraft in the Azores is sometimes remembered in Portugal and in the Azores itself. In 1979, the Vice Mayor of Santa Cruz de Graciosa, a town on the island of Graciosa, erected a monument with a cross on the site of the crash. This place is sometimes visited by Poles. Due to the lack of the local Polish community and difficulties in reaching the place of the tragedy, such conditions are not conducive to organizing frequent celebrations. So far, they have been held in 1989 and 2013. Thanks to the local press, the death of major pilot Ludwik Idzikowski is reminded from time to time.

The structure of the Amiot 123 aircraft.

The Amiot 120 planes are a family of bomber and record-breaking planes, developed and built by the SECM-Amiot factory in the second half of the 1920s. In total, about 90 Amiot 120 family planes were built.

Amiot 123 is a classic single-engine biplane with a two-man crew. The bomb version was a three-person one. A metal structure in the form of a spatial lattice covered with canvas. Only the front part, in the area of the engine, covered with a duralumin sheet. Front main chassis with single wheels, complete with a tail skid. The crew sat in open cabins.

Data of T-T Amiot 123:

Length 13.72 m (45 ft 0 in), wingspan 21.5 m (70 ft 6 in), height 5.15 m (16 ft 11 in), wing area 95 m2, curb weight 2,800 kg (6,173 lb), take-off weight 4,200 kg (9,259 lb). Top speed 212 km / h (132 mph; 114 kn), normal range 1,000 km (621 mi; 540 nm), record range 6,000 - 6,500 km. Service ceiling 6,200 m (20,300 ft). The bomb version took a load of 800 kg of bombs.

List of Polish Amiot 123 aircraft.

There were two Amiot 123 planes, "Marshal Józef Piłsudski" and "Orzeł Biały".

Written by Karol Placha Hetman