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«Aviation Industry in Communist Poland – Development Barriers Wojciech Morawski* Abstract The paper provides an account of the history of aviation ...»

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Warsaw Forum of Economic Sociolog y 3:1(5) Spring 2012

© Warsaw School of Economics; Collegium of Socio-Economics; Department of Economic Sociolog y

Aviation Industry in Communist

Poland – Development Barriers

Wojciech Morawski*


The paper provides an account of the history of aviation industry in Poland in the

communist era (1944–1989). The author analyses development barriers the sector coped

with during the period in which the endeavours in the field ended both with success or in failure. The development barriers for the Polish aviation at the time had predominantly political provenance, and stemmed not only from the country’s dependence on the USSR, but also from the national-level party bureaucracy. Aside from the literature on the subject, the article heavily relies on tdata from personal sources of information and recollected by the author.

Introduction The history of Polish aviation industry has a rich and interesting written record (e.g. Babiejczuk, Grzegorzewski 1974; Glass 1965; Skrzypczak 2008; Gudel 1988;

Grzegorzewski, Królikiewicz 2006; Fiszer, Bluj 2007; Rybak, Gruszczyński 2001;

Morgała 1980; Mikulski, Glass 1980; Bondaryk et al. 2011; Przedpełski 1997; Zieliński, Mikołajczuk 2010; Zieliński 2011). Nevertheless, I have decided to take up this subject * Warsaw School of Economics, wmoraw@sgh.waw.pl 166 Wojciech Morawski for reasons which are, to some extent, personal. My father, Janusz Morawski1, worked for most of his professional life at the Institute of Aviation. What the stories told by him and his friends add to the general image will not be found in documents examined by historians in the future. The knowledge based on such sources obviously should be subject to the routine source critique, but if this is to happen, it needs to be recorded first. I do realise that the picture presented in this article is subjective and far from being complete. However, it was not meant to be a thorough study.

In the interwar period the Polish aviation industry reached the world highest technological level. Construction teams from PZL, RWD, PWS and LWS production plants created numerous designs and prototypes which were no less advanced than what was worked on in the most developed countries in the world. As a rule, the progress in aircraft design was much faster than that in engine development which, finally resulted in some original projects. Productive capacity, however, was not very big; for instance even, the newest PZL Mielec plant did not really reach the stage of serial production that would create economies of scale. To achieve that it was necessary to have army commissions, which were never given due to financial reasons.

In spite of that, there were a great number of outstanding constructors, aware of their value and without any complexes. What they had engineered was used and developed further in the next decades.

After the war, most of Polish aircraft constructors remained in Poland and resumed their careers in two major centres. In 1944 Aircraft Experimental Workshops (LWD) were created in Lublin, Tadeusz Sołtyk took charge of them (Sołtyk 2000). In April 1945 they were relocated to Łódź. Within a few years, a number of interesting constructions were devised within LWD: series of prototype aircraft Szpak and Żuk, a small 10-person passenger plane Miś, utility and liaison military aircraft Żuraw.

Trainer aircraft Junak and aerobatic plane Zuch were produced serially. A simple self-assembly plane Skrzat, mail aircraft Goniec and aerobatic plane Bies were never 1Prof. dr Janusz Morawski (b. 1930) studied at Wawelberg and Rotwand School of Engineering and next at the Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering at Warsaw University of Technology.

In 1953 he began to work at the Institute of Aviation. He worked on, among other projects, the Diament missile, autopilot for the helicopter Sokół, navigating and guiding systems. He prepared his PhD and habilitation theses under the guidance of Professor Finteisen. He left the Institute twice, when involvement in any sensible work there was unavailable for him. First, in 1964–1966 for the State Hydrological and Meteorological Institute (PIHM) and again in 1976–1981 for the Institute of Sport where he specialised in biomechanics. He participated in preparing Polish pole vaulters for the 1980 Summer Olympics.

Aviation Industry in Communist Poland – Development Barriers produced, however. LWD enjoyed a wide range of autonomy because it was under the control of the Ministry of Transport.

The second major team was the Central Aircraft Studies (CSS) established by Franciszek Misztal in 1946 in Włochy, a suburb of Warsaw. It operated in a private apartment first, but soon was relocated to Okęcie airport complex. CSS was subordinated to the Aircraft and Engine Industry Union, created in July 1946, which in turn was supervised by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. CSS team was formed by such constructors as Leszek Dulęba, Stanisław Lasota, Wiktor Narkiewicz – the engine constructor, Czesław Bieniek – the dean of the Aviation Department at the the Warsaw Mechanical-Technical School (in 1951, it was incorporated in to the Warsaw University of Technology). During the period of 1948–1950 the Special Construction Group of CSS headed by Jerzy Teisserye worked in Wrocław. The Wroclaw University also ran a the department of aviation, though not for a long time. The special CSS team worked out the first postwar aircraft engine of Wiktor Narkiewicz (WM-1), aerobatic planes CSS-10 of Stanisław Lasota and CSS-11 of Leszek Dulęba, a 10-person passenger plane CSS-12 of Dulęba. Another aircraft, CSS-13 was constructed under the licence of the Russian PO-2, the so-called Kukuruznik, and was later produced in the long series of 550 machines. The Wrocław team also worked on their own passenger aircraft project.

The six-year economic plan centralised the sector of aviation. At the conference in Szklarska Poręba an autarkic model of development was presented, according to which the production was to be based on Soviet licences and as a result of which, the Polish aviation industry became a reduced-size copy of its Soviet counterpart.

Productive capacity was increased considerably. Different production plants were brought under one label of Transport Equipment Factory (WSK). In the largely expanded factory in Mielec (WSK Mielec) the Polish aircraft LIM-1 was to be constructed under the licence of the Soviet MIG-15 by the team headed by Eugeniusz Stankiewicz (Skrzypczak 2008). The LIS-1 engine2 for LIM was to be produced at WSK Rzeszów. WSK Okęcie, which evolved from CSS, produced Junak and CSS-13. It was also there where most construction teams operated. In Świdnik near Lublin the WSK Świdnik was established in 1949. In 1954 it started the Soviet licence based production of helicopters. The less important WSK Kalisz, a former car manufacturer, produced aircraft engines. In 1952 several smaller factories in Praga, a quarter in Warsaw, merged into WSK Warszawa II and took up the production of aircraft accessories.

The WSK in Wrocław, which was later renamed as Delta Hydral, produced engine 2 The name LIM referred to the licensed fighter and LIS – to the engine.

168 Wojciech Morawski fuel systems. Glider Experimental Works in Bielsko Biała was an important, though a completely civilian segment of aviation industry. The circle of glider constructors, the central figures of which were Rudolf Weigl and Władysław Nowakowski, never became the focus of Soviet parnters’ attention and maintained a wide range of independence.

In the first period of the six-year plan the growth of the trade depended mainly on the Soviet licences. In 1952, however, the state authorities became interested again in the development of original Polish construction ideas. The army commissioned ordered a trainer aircraft and several construction offices were established at the Institute of Aviation: for monoplanes headed by Sołtyk, for biplanes headed by Misztal and Dulęba, for engines headed by Narkiewicz and for helicopters headed by Bronisław Żurakowski. The army’s order was dealt with by the Sołtyk’s team who constructed the trainer aircraft TS-8 Bies3. Aviation industry was supervised by the deputy minister of engineering industry – Julian Gren, whose priority was further development of WSK Mielec (he dismissed a few successive directors) and he left the construction offices free to make their own decisions about their projects. When the Korean war ended and arms limitations were introduced, it turned out that the productive capacity of aviation industry exceded the current needs. Therefore WSK Mielec began to manufacture refrigerators in 1955 and in 1956 ‘Mikrus’ cars, while WSK Świdnik started the production of WFM motorcycles.

At the time of The October Thaw of 1956, the Polish aviation industry had the advantage of great productive capacity, much bigger than that from before WWII, and a great number of outstanding constructors. There were also other important, though immeasurable factors, such as the hopes for more independence and the enthusiasm they generated. General Jan Frey-Bielecki, who was in command of The Polish Air Force at that time of transition, grew to be one of the heroes of Polish October. He also widely polonised the cadre, dismissing and sending home a large number of Soviet officers. The potential for development of Polish aviation industry seemed to be tremendous.

The great hopes and expectations seemed to be realistic for a few years to come. In 1957 the construction offices were shifted from the Institute of Aviation to WSK Okęcie where the Aircraft Constructions Centre (OKL) was established. The new Centre’s construction offices were: for monoplanes headed by Sołtyk, for biplanes headed by Dulęba, for triplanes headed by Lasota, for helicopters headed by Żurakowski, for 3 TS-8 Bies was test-flown in 1957. from 1957 to 1960 250 planes were produced. Bies was in use until 1978.

Aviation Industry in Communist Poland – Development Barriers accessories headed by Grzegorz Szeląg, for installation headed by Stanisław Madeyski and for engines headed by Narkiewicz. Other OKL’s were created in Mielec (led by Stanisław Jarycha) and in Świdnik (led by Jerzy Tyrch).

After the successful launch of Bies, Sołtyk’s team designed a trainer jet plane TS-11 Iskra4 with an the engine SO-1 from Narkiewicz’s team. Riding on the wave of success, the constructors designed projects of a supersonic aircraft TS-16 Grot and a passenger jet plane TS-15 Fregata. In the 1950s the construction office of Dulęba and Misztal worked on twin-engine cargo planes FM-11 and FM-12. In 1954 Franciszek Misztal came up with the concept of supersonic military aircraft FM-13. In the postOctober period, the constructors focused their attention on a larger, four engine passenger plane MD-12, the prototype of which was flown in 1959. Lasota’s office worked on PZL-101 Gawron and PZL-102 Kos, but it was closed down in 1960. One of the constructors, however, Ryszard Orłowski designed later on a very successful plane PZL-104 Wilga5. Żurakowski’s construction office created the prototypes of helicopters JK-1 Trzmiel, SM-4 Łątka, BŻ 1 Gil and BŻ-4 Żuk. At the stage of design, were such machines as a tandem rotor helicopter Gil-3, and interesting projects of STOL aircraft by Jan Koźniewski. Narkiewicz’s team continued to work on the WN engines, including WN-3 for Bies and MD-12. They also designed SO-1 engine for Iskra. Jan Oderfeld created Tur engines for Koźniewski’s STOL aircraft. In 1958 Jerzy Bień’s team took up the design of hovercraft. In Mielec a series of aerobatic aircraft M-1, M-2 and M-4 Tarpan were constructed.

As early as in the 1950s Stanisław Wójcicki did research on pulse jet engines from V-1 flying bomb. For a long time his colleagues did not treat them quite seriously and called them ‘Wójcicki’s thundering pipes’. The pace of the rocket research became faster in 1956 when the Rocket Technology Plant headed by Justyn Sandauer was established. The original name drew too much attention so it was soon changed into Special Constructions Plant (Henzler 2010). In the early 1960s it mainly worked on research made to army orders. The missile ZZ-30 (surface-to-surface, 30 kilometre range), guided anti-tank hand missiles RPP-1, and RPP-Diament, and a series of small unmanned flying objects were constructed at that time. Aviation industry was well publicised and promoted in society by dint of numerous air parades such as the

–  –  –

15 years of Polish aviation industry Exhibition in 1961, the exhibition of helicopters near the Palace of Culture and Science in the centre of Warsaw in 1962.

However, dark clouds gathered on the horizon of technological development of Polish aviation. In 1958 Julian Gren was made to retire. It is said that the reason behind it was his opposition against the idea of making Polish fighter jet planes in Mielec for the GDR army. In accordance with the Soviet system of licence distribution of the time, Poland received licences for MIG-15 and MIG-17. The MIG-19 model was assigned to Czechoslovakia. When the next model, MIG-21, was constructed, there were hopes that this time the licence would go to Poland. However, the situation took a different turn: the MIG-21 licence went to Czechoslovakia and Poland was given the An-2 agricultural aircraft6 licence (Kaczkowski 1982). Along with the licence came the directive that Poland should specialise in the production of agricultural aircraft among the CMEA countries (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, also known as Comecon). Soviet suggestions were difficult to decline for two reasons. Firstly, the licences within CMEA were granted for free, so the economic argument for rejection would not work. Secondly, the USSR ensured that long series would be ordered and only that could secure economies of scale. Having the licence for An-2 secured large long-term orders, which, in turn, ensured development of Polish aviation industry in terms of creating a considerable number of job posts. In terms of technology, however, it was a huge step backwards, by several decades. To produce the An-2 it was not really necessary to employ outstanding constructors. At first, the situation was slightly better at WSK Świdnik. It produced helicopters under Soviet licence which were not so technologically backward. Nevertheless, the expansion of the Soviet licences stifled the search for original ideas in that time.

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