Polish Aviation Industry - Part 06-1

Kraków 2015-01-23

Polish Aviation Industry

Part 6-1

Podlaska Wytwórnia Samolotów in Białej Podlaskiej

Podlaska Wytwórnia Samolotów PWS-26. Czyżyny 2019 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
Podlaska Wytwórnia Samolotów PWS-26. Czyżyny 2019 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

In Podlasie, on the initiative of Baron Stanisław Rosenwerth, a company was set up to develop and build aircraft of its own construction.

Baron Stanisław Różyczki de Rosenwerth was a highly educated man. He studied at universities in Western Europe. He was a manufacturer and financier. Clever and resourceful. After Poland regained independence, he returned to his family estate to build a better future. In 1923, enterprising and full of initiative Stanisław Rosenwerth, having learned about the emerging, modern Polish Aviation Industry, came up with the idea of ​​starting an aviation plant in the grounds of his brewery and adjacent areas. He invited men to participate in the company; Eng. Witold Rumbowicz, prof. Antoni Ponikowski and prof. Czesław Witoszyński.

Stanisław Różyczki de Rosenwerth, as the main shareholder, brought to the company assets located in Biała Podlaska in the form of a brewery, warehouses, land and financial contribution. A zoo company was established under the name Podlaska Aircraft Factory - PWS, which was registered on November 27, 1923, at the Warsaw District Court. Already on November 9, 1923, the company's statute was adopted. A little later the company was transformed into a joint-stock company.

They started working. Appropriate machines and devices were imported. A huge carpentry was built. In accordance with applicable regulations, a take-off field has been prepared. Starting directions have been set. A hangar was built.  

Aircraft construction.

On April 8, 1924, the first contract was concluded with the Air Navigation Department of the Ministry of Military Affairs for the production of 50 Potez XV A2 aircraft. Due to the rapid progress of the preparatory work, the army changed the order, increasing the number of machines ordered; Potez XV A2 35 pieces and a newer type Potez XXVII A2 75 pieces. The ceremonial opening of the plant took place on September 5, 1924. The plant employed 300 employees and had a total area of ​​25 ha. The plant's director was Witold Rumbowicz. The pilot was Franciszek Rudkowski. On June 9, 1925, the first aircraft built at the plant Potez XV A2 was flown. This aircraft was presented on July 2, 1925 at Mokotów Airport in Warsaw. The plant fulfilled the contract and supplied 35 Potez XV A2 machines.

The plant has become a magnet for local youth and people interested in the new technique. On September 13-20, 1925, demonstrations under the slogan Aviation Week were organized in Biała Podlaska. Numerous attractions have been prepared for the guests.

Like any such plant, it required a research center. It was named the Research Study and became the nest of the future design office. The first manager was Eng. Stanisław Cywiński, who came from Lublin from Plage and Laśkiewicz plants.

On February 18, 1926, a mass was held at the plant and the factory was solemnly blessed. The first built Potez XXVII aircraft was also dedicated, which was presented in the air. The guest of the ceremony was the head of the Fourth Air Navigation Department of the Ministry of Military Affairs - General Włodzimierz Zagórski (Ostoja-Zagórski).

On July 7, 1926, another contract was concluded for the construction of another batch of aircraft. This time 150 Potez XXV machines.

In September 1926, the plant was visited by a delegation from Romania who was interested in the products and the way they were produced.

By the end of 1926, a whole batch of 155 Potez XXVII machines had been built. The planes were handed over to the army in batches of 6 pieces. Finally, by the end of 1929, 240 Potez aircraft were built in three variants XV / XXVII / XXV.

At that time, the plant employed over 700 employees. Because the production capacity was large, the plant concluded a contract with the Central Repair Workshops for the renovation of aircraft operated in the Polish Military Aviation.

First own constructions.

On April 6, 1927, the plant signed a contract to develop and build two prototype fighters. It was a chance to build your own plane. The leading constructor was Stanisław Cywiński. The aircraft was designated PWS-1 and was flown. He was transferred to Warsaw for technical tests at the Aviation Research and Technical Institute. The construction, however, had disadvantages and did not go to the next stage. The second, improved copy received the designation PWS-1a, but it was too late.

In the spring of 1927, the PWS-3, a sports aircraft, was also built and flown on May 20, 1927. After successful tests, the aircraft was registered as P-PWSS (Poland - Sport PWS). In the 1st National Avionette Competition, the aircraft with pilot Major W. Makowski took second place. The plane went to the LOPiP Circle at PWS. No orders were received and serial production was not undertaken.

In addition to sport aircraft, the plant undertook to develop aircraft for the army; liaison, observation and accompanying. In 1927, the development of passenger aircraft began.

In 1929, the plant concluded an agreement to develop and build two prototype fighter aircraft. The plane was flown in March 1930 by pilot F. Rudkowski. The aircraft was sent to Warsaw for testing. He beat PZL P.1 in the competition, which was less polished at the time. The aircraft from PWS won, which was given the designation PWS-10. From 1931, the aircraft was to be produced in 80 machines.

In January 1929, PWS employees set up an association that began training and promoting aviation. Pilot, sport and glider sections were created. The association has been extremely dynamic for many years. Contributed to the popularization of the plant and its products. He was the initiator and participant of many sports impressions. Although the factory airport was small, thanks to the association's activities it was known throughout Europe. The LOPiP section operated here. The association supported amateur builders and exchanged experiences with many such institutions in the country and abroad. It operated until September 1, 1939.

In 1929, the Polish Army decided to purchase a license for a fighter aircraft abroad. Avia BH-33 aircraft from Czechoslovakia won the competition. The production of this aircraft fell to PWS. In the period 1929-1930, the plant built 50 fighters, which was designated PWS-A (A meant Avia). 

Tragedy for some, profit for others.

On September 12, 1929, in Wielkopolska Wytwórnia Planów - Airplane in Poznań, a fire broke out due to a short circuit in the electrical system. The losses were huge and eventually in March 1931, the plant collapsed. At the beginning of 1931, it was not the best at the PWS plant in Biała Podlaska. Situations were saved by the army's order for another 70 Bartel BM-4b machines, which were developed and built in Poznań. Production started under license. Some engineers from Poznań moved to Biała Podlaska. The aircraft were manufactured in the period 1931 to 1932. They went to aviation schools in Grudziądz and Dęblin.

In the spring of 1931, the PWS-10 M1 fighter aircraft was developed and implemented for production in PWS. The PWS-11 SM training and fighter aircraft was developed for training pilots for the PWS-10 M1 aircraft. Soon PWS-12 training and training was created. The army ordered 20 machines.

In 1929, another passenger plane was developed. PWS-21 was created, which after amendments became PWS-21 bis. Flyed in April 1930, the improved aircraft, made in the next copy, received the designation PWS-24.  

In crisis

In the period from 1925 to 1932, a total of 505 aircraft were built at PWS, including 85 of their own construction. The average annual production was 63 aircraft. In the period 1930 - 1932, 173 aircraft were built in Biała Podlaska, including 14 prototypes. Despite this, the global crisis has also looked here. The plant lost financial liquidity and in September 1932 declared bankruptcy. A receivership was established. The company was nationalized. Plant management changed. The factory pilot was changed, because the current one turned out to be a German spy who, after the German army entered Biała Podlaska, signed the Volkslist. The design office was closed. To save the situation, other wood products were produced; sleds, tennis rackets and more.

The rescue for PWS turned out to be the RWD-8 aircraft developed by the Experimental Repair Workshops. At the end of 1932, documentation arrived at the plant. Production started in 1933. Therefore, the design office was reactivated. The RWD-8 aircraft was improved and produced as RWD-8 pws. In the period 1933-1938, about 500 RWD-8 / pws machines were built in total. 350 machines went to the army, and 150 machines to the aeroclubs.

In 1934, 20 PWS-16 machines and 20 improved PWS-16 bis machines were built on the basis of PWS-14. These aircraft replaced Bartel BM-4 used in the army.

In the mid-30-year period, the plant produced over 100 aircraft a year. 214 aircraft were built in two years; 170 - RWD-8 pws, 20 - PWS-16, 19 - PWS-16 bis, 5 - PWS-24 bis. In the next period, 1936-1938, 694 aircraft were built. Including; 330 - RWD-8 pws, 320 - PWS-26, 40 - PWS-18 and 2 prototypes PWS-33 and 2 prototypes PWS-35. At that time, the plant employed 1,200 employees.

In 1936, PWS began building gliders.

In 1937, Lviv Aviation Workshops in Lviv became a branch of the plant in Biała Podlaska. 

In the face of German army attack on Poland. 1939.

On March 3, 1939, due to the tense international situation, the PWS plant was subordinated to PZL Wytwórnia Płatowców Nr-1. New technologies have been introduced to the plant. Until now, the plant built only wooden structures. The exception was PWS-18 with a metal wing structure. Therefore, the plant received technologies for the construction of metal structures. The Department of Aviation of the Ministry of Military Affairs predicted the launch of the production of 100 PZL P.11g Kobuz aircraft in PWS. There were also plans to build PWS-33 Wyżeł and PWS-35 Ogra. The plant also designed many other combat aircraft that remained on paper.

By September 1, 1939, for 16 years the PWS plant built 1 506 aircraft in 43 variants and 31 gliders. Nearly 100 aircraft per year. The main constructors were: S. Cywiński, Z. Ciołkosz, A. Grzędzielski and A. Zdaniewski.

On 4 September 1939, the plant was first bombed by aircraft of German troops. In the following days there were secondary raids. The factory was destroyed in 70%. The remaining assets of the plant were plundered by the Soviet army.

Written by Karol Placha Hetman