Mirage 1/48 PZL P.11c






Four options


Tom Cleaver




      It’s perhaps difficult to believe today, but between the First and Second World Wars, the newly-reconstituted nation of Poland had one of the more advanced aviation industries in Europe. Among the leading lights of the Polish aviation industry was designer Zygmunt Pulawski, employed at the National Aviation Establishment, or Panstwowe Zakjady Lotnicze (P.Z.L.). Having spent several years in France, where he became familiar with the latest aeronautical developments in Europe’s leading aviation industry, Pulawski designed the P.1 in 1929 - this parasol fighter was at the time of its first flight, very likely the most advanced fighter in the world.  Its descendant, the P.11c, would become the primary equipment of the fighter squadrons of the Polish Air Force. The P.11 had been developed as a result of a requirement by the Department of Aeronautics of the Ministry for Military Affairs in 1931 to adapt the then-standard P.7a to use the Bristol Mercury engine.  Powered by the Mercury V.S2 providing 565 h.p., the P.11c sub-variant appeared in late 1934.  Such was the pace of aircraft development in the 1930s, this aircraft was already verging on obsolescence in comparison with the other fighter aircraft that would make their first flights within a year - the Bf-109, Spitfire and Hurricane - though its performance was superior to the German Heinkel He-51 which was beginning to equip the new Luftwaffe, and certainly the equal of British fighters like the Gloster Gauntlet, or the Soviet I-15.

      Unfortunately, by the time the Second World War broke out, the P.11c was thoroughly outclassed by the Bf-109E, and was barely fast enough to be able to intercept contemporary German bombers like the He-111P.  Despite a manifest inability to  compete with their opposition on even terms, the pilots of the P.11c were to acquit themselves with distinction during the few weeks in September it took the Wehrmacht to conquer Poland.

      Among the Polish pilots who would oppose the Luftwaffe that September was Stanislaw Skalski.  Having completed pilot training in 1938, Skalski had been assigned to the 142nd Fighter Squadron, based in Torun. Taking off at first light on being warned of Luftwaffe aircraft violating the border airspace, Skalski scored his first victory - a Henschel Hs-126 reconnaissance aircraft at 5:32 a.m.  If Wladyslaw Gnys had not destroyed two Do-17s at 5:30 a.m. - as some sources claim - but rather at 7:00 a.m. as Gnys himself reported - Skalski would have been credited with the first victory of the Second World War.

      During the next two weeks, Skalski became an ace by shooting down an additional five German aircraft: one Ju-86, two Do-17s, one Ju-87, and one more Hs-126, plus a third Hs-126 shared with another pilot. Skalski flew his last sortie against the Luftwaffe on September 16, 1939; in company with several other pilots, he flew to Romania on September 17, in hope of being able to continue the fight.  Interned by the Romanians, Skalski and his fellow pilots eventually managed to get to France in early 1940, where he flew in the Polish squadron of the Armee d’ l’Air during the German blitzkrieg of May-June 1940, finally arriving in England in late June, 1940,

      Fighting throughout the rest of the war in England, North Africa, Italy, and continental Europe after the Normandy Invasion, Stanislaw Skalski became the most successful Polish ace of the Second World War, with 22 confirmed victories, 1 probable, and 1 damaged enemy aircraft. He was awarded the British Distinguished Flying Cross three times. Following his return to Poland after the war, he was imprisoned by the Communist regime in 1949 on a charge of espionage for the West. He spent six years in prison, waiting for execution, a "reward" from the communists he shared with many other Polish soldiers returning from the West after carrying the honor of their country through the war. Released from prison in 1956, Stanislaw Skalski is still alive (as of this writing) and living in Poland.


      Mirage Hobby’s P.11c is the first mainstream injection-molded kit of this famous airplane to appear in 1/48 scale. It is vastly superior in terms of production quality and detail accuracy when compared to the limited-run LTD P.11 kit. While not of Tamiya/Hasegawa quality, it is not particularly difficult to turn into a good model.  Surface detail - particularly the difficult-to-mold Wibault corrugated wing surfaces - is crisply executed and results in a very good look when completed. The model was based on measurements taken from the sole surviving P.11c, which is displayed at the Krackow Museum. There are decals sufficient to do four different aircraft, including Skalski’s and that flown by Wladyslaw Gnys. For more on what the kit looks like in the box, please visit the preview.


      The first thing I did was cut off the main parts and clean off the bit of flash found on them. I then proceeded to paint the interior of the fuselage and the cockpit parts per the kit instructions.  The kit includes a photoetch instrument panel and seat belts.   

     Once the cockpit was painted and assembled, I proceeded to assemble the fuselage, and to attach the wings and horizontal stabilizers. The engine was painted and detailed, and inserted in the cowling.  I left off the wing bracing struts and landing gear until I had completed painting the model. For a bit more info on construction, please visit this review.



      I used Tamiya “Khaki” for the upper camouflage color, and Tamiya “Light Blue” (which is their version of RLM65) for the lower surfaces.  Once all was dry, I gave the model a coat of Future.


      The kit decals are quite thin and went down with no problem under a coat of Micro-Sol, though I needed to re-apply the Micro-Sol a few extra times to get the decals to thoroughly settle into the very fine corrugation of the wing surfaces.


      I applied three coats of thinned Dullcote to the model after washing off dried decal solvent and covering the decals with a final coat of Future.

     I then attached the wing struts and the landing gear, which gave no problems.  I attached the windshield and the photo-etched ring-and-bead gunsight, and the model was finished.


      The P.Z.L. P.11c is an elegant-looking airplane.  Given its historical significance in the development of fighter aircraft and its combat record against the Luftwaffe, it is an airplane thoroughly deserving of a place in any comprehensive model collection. The kit is easy to build out of the box, and the result is very nice indeed.

 Thanks to Mirage Hobby for the review kit.

March 2004

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