Monday 20 December 2021

IBG Models PZL P.11b (Romanian service) in 72nd


Zygmunt Puławski’s PZL Państwowe Zakłady Lotnicze (or State Aviation Works) P.11 fighter was for a brief period between the wars one of the world's leading fighter designs. While most fighters of the time were of biplane configuration, Pulawski developed a 'family' of fighters fitted with a high-mounted and aerodynamically clean gull wing faired into the fuselage replacing the cabane struts of the biplane and which provided the pilot with a superior field of view. The P.11 was Poland's primary fighter during the 1930s and the aircraft enjoyed considerable export success. Romania (with 14 P.7s, 190 P.11s and 30 P.24s) was the second main user of the PZL "gull wing" fighters. The PZL P.11b was the Romanian 'export' version of the P.11a.

During 1932 French engine manufacturer Gnome-Rhône expressed interest in equipping the P.11 fighter with their engine, counting on export orders. In the same year the prototype P.11/IV with Gnome-Rhône 9Kcr Mistral 550 hp engine aroused interest from the Turkish, Romanian, Portugese, Greek, Swedish, Czechoslovak, Japanese and Yugoslavian air forces.

Several of these countries decided to purchase the subsequent P.24 version. Romania ordered the P.11 version equipped with the GR 9K Mistral produced in Romania under licence. The PZL factory started Romanian production ahead of the Polish Air force's P.11a. To speed up the work some of the structural solutions (the wing) from the previous PZL P.7a were used. The order for 50 aircraft was delivered at the turn of 1933-34 (coded from 1 to 50) and the type was still in service as an advanced trainer in Romania during WW II. In Romania, manufacturer IAR subsequently produced ninety-five P.11f’s under licence. Production started in 1936 at IAR’s Brasov plant, airframe codes 51 to 145 being allocated to these machines. At Poland’s fall large quantities of Polish aircraft, including some P.11c’s, escaped to Rumania.

IBG's family of PZL P.11 models in 72nd scale are very nicely detailed kits, well-engineered and superbly molded. The scale effect 'corrugated' skinning on the wings is probably the best representation of it I've seen, certainly in 1:72nd scale. The kit also features a detailed IAR 9K engine and a photoetched fret with some tiny details such as throttle lever, seat harness, rudder pedals, gun-sight, undercarriage strengthening wires and the windscreen frame. Much of the sheet in fact is not required for this kit. Inevitably perhaps - for those of us with 'fatter' fingers and poorer eyesight - not every etch part will be used. The control surfaces - elevators, rudder and ailerons- are all separate parts. Fit is very good - as it has to be with so many small parts. Decals are by Techmod with options for three Romanian machines.