PZL P.7a Expert Set 1:72 Kit
An important airframe in Polish aviation history as it's direct successor was the better known PZL P11c, the famous gull-winged fighter credited with the first allied kills of WW2. For a brief moment in the early 1930's, the P7a represented the cutting edge in aviation design, but by WW2 was totally obsolete. In desperation, it was pressed into combat in September 1939 & it's pilots were able to score several kills primarily against bombers, in spite of being burdened with Vickers machine guns that were prone to jamming.
The PZL P.7a entered service in spring 1933, replacing PWS-A (licence Avia BH-33) and PWS-10 fighters. Consequently, the Polish Air Force became the world's first air force entirely equipped with all-metal monococque fighters. When the P.7 entered service, it was a modern fighter, comparable to or better than contemporary designs, but due to rapid progress in an aircraft technology, it became totally obsolete by 1939. From 1935, in most combat units the P.7 was replaced by the PZL P.11, which was only slightly more modern. The P.7as were then moved to air schools.
At the outbreak of World War II on 1 September 1939, the Polish Air Force still had 30 PZL P.7a fighters in combat units. A further 40 were in air schools, 35 in reserve or repairs – a total of 106 available aircraft. The P.7as were used in three squadrons, each with 10 aircraft. The 123rd Squadron was in the Pursuit Brigade, deployed around Warsaw, the 151st and the 162nd Squadrons were assigned to land Armies. Despite being obsolete, they took part in the defence of the country during the German invasion of Poland. Apart from combat units, at least 18 P.7a fighters were mobilized in units improvised at air bases in Dęblin and Ułęż.
Although the P.7 had better manoeuvrability than their German opponents and could operate from short fields (150 m to start), even rough ones, almost all the German aircraft were faster than the P.7a. Furthermore, the Polish aircraft and their engines were worn out from intensive service use. Their armament was also insufficient – only two Vickers machine guns in most aircraft, which had a tendency to jam (only from aircraft number 6.109 they were replaced with better PWU FK wz.33). For these reasons, the pilots flying the P.7a claimed shooting down only seven German aircraft (two He 111s, two Do 17s, one Hs 126 and two Bf 110s), suffering combat losses of 22 aircraft. An improvised task force of P.7a aircraft from units at air bases was rather to confuse and disturb the German bombing raids with their aggressive presence, than to shoot down bombers.
Most of the P.7a fighters were destroyed in 1939, in combat or on the ground, some dozen were withdrawn to Romania, but not used in combat there. Some captured P.7s were used by the Germans for training. Several aircraft were captured by the Soviets (exact number is not known) and were next assigned for training.
There are no known surviving P7a fighters, but we do have one PZL P11c preserved in full flying condition at the Polish Aviation Museum in Krakow. This aircraft had been taken as a war prize by the Germans & had to be wrestled away from them after the war !