PZL.23 Karas Reconnaissance / Light Bomber Aircraft
In 1939, Poland could field just under 100 of the outclassed PZL.23 systems against the German Luftwaffe.
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The PZL.23 "Karas" (meaning "the crucian carp") series of aircraft was a conventional - yet outdated - monoplane light bomber / reconnaissance platform of Polish design in World War 2. The system was wholly inadequate in speed, firepower and performance against the fighters of the German Luftwaffe and fell in number. Many were lost on the ground while those that did fly in anger, were limited not by their crew's will but moreso in the technological limitations of a by-gone age of military aviation.
Classified as light bomber, the PZL.23 also undertook reconnaissance sorties as required. Hardly a fighter with very little in the way to defend itself as a light bomber, the aircraft was better reserved to the non-combat reconnaissance role. With Poland clamoring to stem the tide of German invasion, it was a necessity for the PZL.23 to fight regardless. Armament was purely defensive in nature and numbered three machine guns. A single 7.92mm wz.33 type machine gun was held in a fixed nose position. Two other 7.92mm PWU wz.37 series (or sometimes Vickers F types) were in somewhat trainable gun positioned at rear - on in an underside gun position and the other in a World War 1 style open cockpit dorsal rear gun position. The pilot sat forward on the design with a glazed canopy. The undercarriage was fixed and the overall design was quite traditional in nature. Power from the single engine was derived from a British-designed Polish-produced Bristol Pegasus IIM2 9-cylinder radial piston engine of 670 horsepower (this was uprated to 720 horsepower in the PZL.23B models which sported the Bristol Pegasus VII).
In service, the PZL.23 took to the skies in defense of Poland. Though air superiority was far out of the question, the PZL.23 nonetheless took to the skies to reconnoiter and assess the perilous situation. It was also used to bomb targets in German held territories when possible, though losses most times were horrendous. Despite the limitations of the system, Polish air crews and pilots delivered ordnance and notched a few Luftwaffe kills themselves.
The PZL.23 was produced in limited numbers - numbering some 253 total examples - and did little to aid the efforts of a falling nation. About 20 or so fled to Romania before the inevitable fall of Poland to fight another day, this time against the might of Soviet aggression from the East.