MMP's PZL P.23 Karas


Tomaz J Kopański


Mushroom Models Publications




Scott Van Aken

Notes: 144 pages, Softbound. ISBN: 978-83-65281-63-0, #8119

During the 1930s, Poland was able to pretty well keep up with the then current state of the art when it came to war planes. However, this was not a time where designs remained state of the art for very long. Often what was the latest and greatest when the prototype flew, was not by the time it entered service. It is simply a fact of the times and those aeronautic companies that were not thinking a step or two ahead found their equipment near obsolete by the time the production run was over.

This is a fairly accurate assessment of the PZL.23 light bomber. Poland needed a modern light bomber to replace the 20's era biplanes it was then flying and so the PZL.23 was developed. As with many new airframes, it had issues that needed to be taken care of before quantity production got underway. The two most glaring were the too-high engine that prevented the pilot from having decent vision during landing, and an internal vertical bomb bay that resulted in poor bombing accuracy. Both were cured. One by lowering the engine and raising the seat, the other by having all bomb loads external. Then there were issues with the original engine in the PZL.23A that was cured in the PZL.23B version.

The type was slow to enter service due to the need to take care of various issues and a slow supply chain. By the time all aircraft were in service, it was near the start of the war, and they were in the obsolescent phase. They performed fairly well during their short time in combat, but were hampered by a lack of fighter coverage and being tasked for low level ground attack, a mission for which they were not designed. As a result, the attrition rate due to combat and accidents was very high at 86%. To put this into some context, the Ju-87 suffered similar high loss rates when operating against a determined enemy such as they experienced in the Battle of Britian.

One can rely on excellent research and great photos in MMP books and this one is no exception. The aircraft's development and eventual service is fully covered. The plane was a minor export success with planes being delivered to both Bulgaria and Romania. The Bulgarian planes in particular differed in having Gnome-Rhone twin row radial engines installed. Both of these nations had limited combat use of the plane.

In addition to the developmental history, we are provided with a war-time history of each unit that flew the plane. A few units had some success, but all eventually lost most of their aircraft. Such was the loss rate that the Germans had few war prizes of these planes and unlike other types, did not add them to the Luftwaffe inventory.

There are no extant examples, but the detail section of the book is quite complete through the use of period photos and illustrations. There is also a fairly large 3D art section that shows the various aspects of the airframe. This is all rounded out by a nice color section that covers the camouflage schemes and provides a fair number of large full color profiles of the plane in service with Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. Of course, you also get 1/72 plans of all the variations.

For fans of the type or the era, I can very much recommend this one.

September 2018

Review book courtesy of MMP Books, where you can order your copy of this and many other superb aviation and modeling books. The book is also available through Casemate Publishing in the US, and Platypus Publications in Australia.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.