Historical Writings of the combat aircraft of the two World Wars

PZL P.11c

While maybe not as famous as the major players of the war, like the Messerschmitts and Spitfires, the trim and beautiful PZL P.11c was a spectacular craft in its own right. It was an aircraft worthy of accolades, and all this from a new company, and a country that had only been in existence for twenty years.

The PZL bureau had the luck to have a young designer named Zygmund Pulaski when it was formed in 1928. Pulaski immediately began construction on the P.7 series, but tragedy was about to nearly stop the P.11 from ever making it beyond the prototypical stage. Pulaski was killed in a crash, and his place was taken by W.Jakimiuik. (later a designer for DeHavilland Canada and SNCASE). He continued the project, and the first P.11 was powered by a Gnome-Rhone Jupiter engine from France. The P.11's later prototypes were powered by a Mistral and Mercury from the same source.
After prolonged trials, the P.11a went into production with the Polish-built Mercury IVS. The fuselage was redesigned in 1934 to improve pilot vision. To this end, the engine was lowered and the pilot raised. This was the design of the P.11c. A new tail and modified wings were introduced, and a provision was made for two guns and a radio. (These were usually not fitted, due to the lack of guns and radios.)
Many further versions were planned, but the P.11c was the main defense of Poland in September 1939. There were 12 squadrons operating. These had no warning system whatsoever, and were operated in chaotic conditions. They nevertheless destroyed 126 Luftwaffe aircraft for a loss of 114 of their own number. The fall of Poland prevented any widespread knowledge of the P.11 to spread until after the war.
The P.11c was extremely maneuverable, and the numbers it shot down attests to its good qualities. It was no match however for a well-piloted Me109E. It may have seemed obsolete, and perhaps it was, but the PZL P.11c was an excellent craft, and had Poland not fallen, it could have done great damage to the Luftwaffe.

Charles Bain


Origin: Panstwowe Zaklady lotnicze, Poland
Type: Single-seat fighter
Engine: One Bristol-designed nine cylinder radial
(P.11a); 500hp Skoda Mercury IVS2:
(11b) 595hp IAR Gnome-Rhome K9;
(11c) 645hp PZL Mercury VIS2
Dimensions: Span 35ft 2in (10.72m); length 24ft 9in or 24ft 9.5in (7.55m);
height 9ft 4in (2.85m)
Weights: Empty 2,524lbs (1145kg); loaded 3,960lb (1795kg)
Performance: Maximum speed 242mph (390km/h);
initial climb 2,625ft (800m)/min;
service ceiling 36,090ft (11,000m);
Range (economic cruise without combat) 503 miles (810km)
Armament: Two 7.7mm KM Wz 33 machine guns, each with 500 rounds, in sides of fuselage, and two more, each with 300 rounds inside wing at junction of struts; provision for two 27lb (12.25kg) bombs




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