The PZL P.1 was a Polish fighter, designed by the engineer Zygmunt Puławski, manufactured by the PZL state-owned factory. It remained a prototype, but it was the first of the Polish PZL gull wing fighter series, leading to the PZL P.7, PZL P.11 and PZL P.24.

PZL P.1, second prototype
Role Fighter
Manufacturer PZL
First flight August 1929
Status Prototype
Primary user Polish Air Force
Number built 2

Design and development

Among the first tasks of newly created in 1928 PZL aircraft works was to design a modern fighter for the Polish Air Force. As a result, a construction team led by the talented young designer Zygmunt Puławski designed an all-metal, metal-covered monoplane fighter, designated PZL P.1. Puławski's invention was a high gull wing, to give a pilot an optimal view, without an upper wing before his eyes, like in classic parasol monoplanes and biplanes of that time. The wing, supported with struts, could be thin in its root part, at joint with a fuselage. Other new idea was a scissors-like fixed undercarriage, with shock absorbers hidden in the fuselage. The P.1 was powered with a 630 hp Hispano-Suiza inline engine.

The first prototype was flown in August 1929 by Bolesław Orliński. In the first flight, the wing leading edge distorted, but Orliński saved the aircraft and possibly the whole program. In late 1929, after static trials, the prototype was modified and strengthened. In March 1930, the second prototype was flown (P.1/II). It introduced, among other changes, a revised shape of rudder, similar to Pulawski's next fighters.

The construction of P.1 was met with interest around the world. The second prototype took part in a fighter contest in Bucharest in June 1930, where it proved a modern design. It took overall the 4th place out of 7 competitors, but it won in 8 out of 15 trials.

The P.1 remained a prototype, because it was decided that a fighter for the Polish Air Force should be powered with a radial engine, produced under licence in Poland. As a result of this decision, the next fighter designs were produced, based upon the P.1, starting with the PZL P.6. This decision has been criticized by some modern authors, as radial engines produced more drag, without advantage of more power, and reduced visibility from the cockpit.[1] It was planned in 1929-1930 to build an improved P.1, with the designation PZL P.2, but this was abandoned after building the fuselage. Puławski himself hoped for a second chance to build fighters powered with inline engines, and developed the PZL P.8 in such a layout in 1931.

Technical description

The PZL P.1 was an all-metal braced high-wing monoplane, duralumin-covered. The fuselage was made of a duralumin frame, rectangular in cross-section. Two-spar wing of trapezoid shape, thinner by the fuselage, covered with a rimmed Wibault type duralumin sheet, supported with two struts on either side. Pilot's cockpit was open, with a windshield. Two fuel tanks in wings (400 l). A fixed undercarriage with a rear skid. Inline engine in front, with a water radiator under the fuselage, two-blade propeller.



Specifications (P.1/II)

Data from Jane's all the World's Aircraft 1931[2], Polish aircraft, 1893-1939[3]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 6.98 m (22 ft 11 in)
  • Wingspan: 10.85 m (35 ft 7 in)
  • Height: 3.05 m (10 ft 0 in) in the rigging position
  • Wing area: 19.5 m2 (210 sq ft)
  • Aspect ratio: 5.97
  • Airfoil: Bartel 37/IIa (modified)
  • Empty weight: 1,118 kg (2,465 lb)
  • Gross weight: 1,580 kg (3,483 lb)
  • Fuel capacity: 400 l (110 US gal; 88 imp gal) in two wing tanks with a small gravity collector tank in the fuselage
  • Powerplant: × Hispano-Suiza 12Lb V-12 water-cooled piston engine., 470 kW (630 hp)
  • Propellers: 2-bladed fixed-pitch propeller


  • Maximum speed: 302 km/h (188 mph, 163 kn) at sea level
293 km/h (182 mph; 158 kn) at 2,000 m (6,600 ft)
284 km/h (176 mph; 153 kn) at 5,000 m (16,000 ft)
  • Cruise speed: 250 km/h (160 mph, 130 kn)
  • Stall speed: 102 km/h (63 mph, 55 kn)
  • Range: 600 km (370 mi, 320 nmi)
  • Endurance: 2 hours at cruising speed.
  • Service ceiling: 8,600 m (28,200 ft) Absolute
  • g limits: Tested to 13.5g ultimate load
  • Time to altitude: 2,000 m (6,600 ft) in 2 minutes 40 seconds.
5,000 m (16,000 ft) in 8 minutes
  • Wing loading: 81 kg/m2 (17 lb/sq ft)
  • Power/mass: 0.633 kW/kg (0.385 hp/lb)


See also

Related development


  1. Krzysztof Cieślak, Wojciech Gawrych, Andrzej Glass: Samoloty myśliwskie września 1939, NOT-Sigma, Warsaw 1987, ISBN 83-85001-11-5 (in Polish)
  2. Grey, C.G., ed. (1931). Jane's all the World's Aircraft 1931. London: Sampson Low, Marston & company, ltd. pp. 222c-223–c.
  3. Cynk, Jerzy B. (1971). Polish aircraft, 1893-1939. London: Putnam. pp. 123–128. ISBN 0-370-00085-4.

Further reading

  • Cynk, Jerzy B. History of the Polish Air Force 1918-1968. Reading, Berkshire, UK: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 1972. ISBN 0-85045-039-X.
  • Eberspacher, Warren A. and Jan P. Koniarek. PZL Fighters Part One - P.1 through P.8. (International Squadron Monograph 2). St. Paul, MN: Phalanx Publishing Co., Ltd., 1995. ISBN 1-883809-12-6.
  • Glass, Andrzej. Polskie konstrukcje lotnicze 1893-1939 (in Polish: "Polish Aviation Constructions 1893-1939"). Warszawa, Poland: WKiŁ, 1977. No ISBN (main source).
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