Polskie Linie Lotnicze "Lot" (1931-1935 - The Era of Prototypes)
Polskie Linje Lotnicze "Lot"
entered the decade of 1930s with a reasonably-sized and technically adequate fleet of Fokker and Junkers planes. It was obvious, however, that service life of these planes is not infinite and therefore a search for suitable replacements has begun. It was hoped, that the source of these replacements could be Polish aviation industry that has already gained significant experience with license-production of various types of military and civil aircraft, and has already taken bold steps towards creating advanced (for the time) indigenous designs. As a result, in the first half of 1930s LOT
has tested a string of prototype passenger aircraft, although unfortunately only one of these designs was succesful enough to enter production in its designed role.
At the same time LOT
significantly expanded its list of destinations: in 1930 from Warsaw and Bydgoszcz to Gdańsk (then Free City of Danzig), in 1931 line Warsaw-Sofia-Thessaloniki was opened, in 1932 Warsaw-Riga-Tallin and domestic Warsaw-Wilno (Vilnius, today in Lithuania) and in 1934 Warsaw-Berlin.
Small aircraft PWS-21 (for 4 passengers) PWS-21 made it's first flight in 1930 and on the next year it entered trial service with LOT
. Design quickly revealed itself to be faulty and planed returned to manufacturer where it served as basis for (practically totally redesigned) PWS-24.
Lublin R.XVI built by Plage i Laśkiewicz
works was a distant derivative of Lublin R.XI tried earlier by LOT
. It underwent airline trials from 1932 to 1933 and although not accepted into airline service, it was redesigned and produced in small number as air ambulance Lublin R.XVIb.
Poland, Lublin R.XVI
Prototype of PWS-24 (SP-AGR) made it's maiden flight in 1931 and on the next year underwent series of trials in LOT
. Design appeared to be succesful and entered small-scale production, with 5 planes entering service with LOT
in 1933 (SP-AJF "Filip", SP-AJG "Genek", SP-AJH "Hipek", SP-AJJ "Józek", SP-AJK "Kazik"). At the same time prototype was re-engined slightly modernized, leading to next series of 5 airplanes designated PWS-24bis (SP-AMN, SP-AMO, SP-AMP, SP-AMR and SP-AMS) produced in 1934-1935. In 1935 SP-AJH was upgraded to PWS-24bis standard and re-registered as SP-AJY, while SP-AGR, -AJF and -AJJ were modified into aerial survey planes. In the next year, however, majority of PWS-24/-24bis were removed from service and scrapped, with only SP-AMO and SP-AMR being sold to military aviation, SP-AJJ serving until 1938, leaving only SP-AMP and -AMS in service until 1939. During Polish Campaign of 1939 SP-AMP crashed near Brześć (today Brest' on Belarus) and SP-AMS was interned in Romania. PWS-24 remains the only Polish passenger plane that entered series production.
Prototype of all-metal PZL-4 designed as replacement for Fokkers (10 passengers) flew in january 1932 and in the same year started trial service with LOT
. These tests lasted until 1935 but despite many redesigns the plane was ultimately declared a failure and scrapped.
PWS-54 mail-passenger plane (3 passengers) flew in 1933 and in the same year it was transferred to LOT
for trials. Although it served as mail/cargo plane for some time, the design proved to be inadequate for further development.
Single two-seat RWD-5 was bought in 1933 as a replacement of De Havilland DH-60G Gipsy Moth for taxi and service flights. It was used until 1936 when it was sold to aero-club and replaced in service by more modern plane.
Second plane on the picture isn't a LOT
plane, but a single-seat modification of RWD-5, designated RWD-5bis, which was used by Stanisław Skarżyński in his record-breaking Warsaw-Rio de Janeiro flight (18305 kilometers: Warsaw - Lyon - Perpignan - Casablanca - Port Etienne - St. Louis, Dakar - Maceió, Brazil - Caravellas - Rio de Janeiro) between 24 april and 27 june 1933. With a empty mass of just about 450 kilograms (1000 pounds) It remains smallest airplane to cross the Atlantic (without radio, parachute nor lifeboat, and with pilot dressed casually in suit and tie).
Stanisław Skarżyński already before this trans-Atlantic flight was an accomplished military and civilian pilot who, in 1931 on PZL Ł.2 airplane (together with Andrzej Markiewicz) made a succesful raid around Africa (25770 kilometers). He was killed when Wellington piloted by him was hit by German flak on 26 of june 1942 and forced to ditch in North Sea. All crew was saved except Skarżyński, who was going to leave sinking plane as the last one, but was unable due to renewed wound incurred in 1920 war. His remains were later washed ashore and he is now buried in the Allied Soldiers cemetery on Dutch island of Terschelling.
PZL-27 (5 passengers) was Poland's first plane with retractable landing gear and made first flight in 1934. Between 1935 and 1936 it served in LOT
but wasn't a succesful design and returned to manufacturer. Later it served in the military aviation as transport plane.