PZW 1/72 P.7a Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||October 2007||Manufacturer||PZW|
|Kit Number||-||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The PZL P.7 was a Polish fighter aircraft designed in the early 1930’s in the PZL factory in Warsaw. Adopted by the Polish Air Force in 1933 as it’s basic fighter, it was one of the first all-metal monoplane fighters to be mass-produced with state-of-the-art construction. However, by the end of the decade, the P.7 was obsolete and was replaced in Polish service by it’s follow-up design, the PZL P.11c. A small number of P.7’s remained in service until 1939 and several dozen aircraft took part in the Polish Defensive War, scoring several kills against the German Luftwaffe.
The first series P.7a were built in mid-1932, the whole series of 149 (plus 2 prototypes) was completed in 1933. They carried numbers 6.1 to 6.151. The Polish Air Force received P.7a’s in 1933. After designing the P.7, Polawski started to develop his design with more powerful engines, and the result was the PZL P.11, built in a production series. Polawski personally was an inline engine fan, designing a new fighter, the P.8, with a slim silhouette, powered with an inline engine. It was able to reach a speed of 350 km/h. A planned variant was to be designated the P.9. Unfortunately, in March 1931, Polawski died in an air crash, and the inline engine fighter design was cancelled in favor of the radial engined P.11. The P.11 became the standard Polish fighter. In parallel with the P.11, the PZL P.24 export variant was also developed in 1932.
The PZL P.7a entered service in the Polish Air Force in early 1933, replacing the PWS-A (license built Avia BH-33) and the PWS-10 fighters. Consequently, the Polish Air Force became the first air force entirely equipped with all-metal fighters. When the P.7 entered service, it was a modern fighter, comparable or better than other contemporary designs. However, due to rapid progress in aircraft technology, it became totally obsolete by 1939. From 1935, in most combat units, the P.7 was replaced by the P.11, which was only slightly more modern. P.7a’s were then moved to flight schools.
At the outbreak of WWII on September 1, 1939, the Polish Air Force still had 30 PZL P.7a fighters in combat units. A further 40 were in flight schools, 35 in reserve or repairs – a total of 106 available 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 battles when Germany invaded Poland. Apart from combat units, at least 18 P.7a fighters were used in units improvised at air bases at Deblin and Ulez.
Although the P.7 had better maneuverability than their German opponents, and could operate from short air fields (150 m take-off runs) and rough ground, almost all the German aircraft were faster than the P.7a’s. Furthermore, the Polish aircraft and their engines were worn out from intensive earlier service use. Their armament was also insufficient, with only two Vickers machine-guns, which had a tendency to jam. For these reasons, the pilots flying the P.7a claimed shooting down only seven German aircraft (2 x He-111’s, 2 x Do-17’S, 1 x Hs-126 and 2 x Bf-110’s), suffering combat losses of 22 aircraft themselves. An improved task force of P.7a aircraft from units at air bases was rather to confuse and disturb the German bomb raids with their aggressive presence, than to shoot down bombers.
Most of the P.7’s 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.7’s were used by the Germans for training. Several aircraft were also captured by the Soviets (exact number is unknown) and were also assigned to training units there.
PZW (Podlaskie Zaklady Wytworcze) was a Polish model company.
The kit comes in a small end opening type box. The box art shows a P.7a in overall khaki fuselage with light blue under the parasol wing and horizontal tail surfaces. It carries the Polish red and white checkerboard marks on wings and rudder. There is a white serial no. 6.110 below the horizontal tail surfaces and a white bird in flight squadron logo and a white numeral “1” just in front of the serial number on the side of the fuselage. The PZL company logo appears high on the rudder along with P-7 in black. The box says that this is an aircraft of the Polish 123 Squadron “Mysliwska Cracow”, flown by Capt. Mieczyslaw Olszewski, who was the leader of the formation in September 1939.
A side panel shows another P.7 in the same camouflage with the white fuselage number 19 and the Polish national insignia on wings and rudder. It too has the PZL logo on the rudder and P-7 in black and a small number 6 in black on the side of the fuselage, just in front of the tail. Underneath the wings, in large black letters is the call sign 71 on one wing and the letter “U” on the other. This is a fighter from the Aviation Training Center in Deblin.
The other side panel shows a P.7 in Luftwaffe captured markings and used by them at Deblin in 1942. It retains the Polish camouflage, already described above, with the German crosses and the swastika on the tail. It is very generic marks, with no call letters or anything else marking it.
All these markings are featured on the kits decal sheet.
The back of the box shows the box arts of two more aircraft kits that PZW markets. One is the PZL P.11c and the other is the RWD-8 dwl (reviewed elsewhere here on Cybermodeler).
Everything in the box is in a sealed cello bag. There are 2 chalk white trees of parts, a loose clear windscreen part, a two-piece stand (in chalk white), the decal sheet and the instructions.
The instructions consist of a single sheet that is 16” x 7” format and folded several times over to fit the small box.
The front of the instruction sheet begins with a history of the P.7a in Polish, German and English. This is followed by 3 three-view illustrations of the three marking options supplied on the decal sheet (already described above).
The other side starts with parts tree drawings, some written instructions in Polish only and five assembly steps, called out in roman numerals. There is a front view drawing of the P.7a that says that the landing gear main wheels are 33.5 mm apart.
The first white parts tree holds: the fuselage halves, cowling, prop, engine parts, tail skid, pilots seat, wing struts, horizontal tail support struts, joystick, dashboard etc. (32 parts)
The second white parts tree holds: the top and bottom halves of the parasol type wing, the main wheels and the undercarriage legs, the cockpit floor and the horizontal tail surfaces. All flaps are molded solid. (9 parts)
Then there is the white 2 part stand, to use if you want to make it a desk model.
The tiny clear windscreen part, decal sheet and instructions complete the kit’s contents.
This is a neat little fighter with nice cockpit detail. Detail is of the raised variety. There is some wire bracing, in a letter “X” pattern needed down in the landing gear to add for further accuracy, but – at least there is none needed elsewhere. Panel lines are all raised on the kit.
Recommended to modelers who would like to do some aircraft from the lesser know air forces that fought in WWII.