KIT: Mirage 1/48 PZL P.23A Karas
KIT #: ?
PRICE: $42.95 MSRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver



      Between the first and second world wars, the Polish aviation industry was one of the most advanced in Europe, creating many different types of aircraft that were - at the time of their debuts - among the most advanced of their class in the world. One of these was the PZL P-23 “Karas” tactical bomber and ground support aircraft.  

     Designed by Stanislaw Prauss and Frantisek Misztal in 1932 in response to a design request by the Polish Air Force, the prototype of the P-23 first flew in August, 1934. The design was a 3-seat low-wing all-metal monoplane with an enclosed cockpit and fixed landing gear.  Power was provided by a 670 hp license-built Bristol Pegasus radial engine. Forty P-23As or Karas I were ordered and built in 1936.  The P-23Adiffered from the P-23Bby having slats on the inboard wing leading edge, and elevators without horn balances, and a different version of the Bristol Pegasus engine.

      The P-23A entered service with the 11th and 12th Line Flights of the 1st Air Regiment in Warsaw in the spring of 1936, and the aircraft were used for conversion training on the type for the rest of the Karas-equipped units.  The P-23As were transferred to the Polish Air Force College in Deblin and the Polish Air Force Reserve College at Radom in 1938.

      Although attempts were made before the war to adapt the P-23 to the dive-bomber role, these were unsuccessful. During the fight against the September 1939 German invasion, P-23's were used as conventional attack aircraft against German units, and suffered heavy losses. Following the Polish surrender after the Soviet Union invaded the eastern half of Poland, some surviving P-23's, including 10 P-23A’s, were evacuated to Romania. The 10 P-23As were used for training and type conversion by the Romanian Royal Air Force, while the other P-23s entered front-line service and saw action on the Eastern front until the conclusion of the Stalingrad campaign in early 1943.


     The only other kit of the “Karas” I am aware of is one in 1/72 released by Heller in the 1970s, which is no longer in production.  This Mirage kit is the first “Karas” in 1/48, and will be followed next year by a P-23B “Karas,” the main production model.  

      This new PZL P-23A from Mirage continues their line of Polish aircraft that began with the “Elk” bomber and continued with the P.11c and P.24 fighters. 

      The kit has three sprues of well-molded parts and is at least as detailed as the Accurate Miniatures SB2U Vindicator kits.  Parts are provided for a well-detailed engine and fully-detailed cockpit interior.  The canopy is molded from very clear plastic and can be posed in the open position.  The kit decals provide markings for three different P-23As.


      This is a very nicely-designed kit of an important but obscure airplane. It looks to be a vast improvement in terms of kit design over the previous releases from Mirage.

Your editor would like to mention that there is a great reference on this aircraft from Mushroom Models Publications.

 Thanks to Mirage for the review kit.

January 2006

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