PZL P.24F (G)

When Greece was drawn into World War II by Italy’s attack in October of 1940 they put up an unexpectedly stout resistance.

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Let’s look at one of the aerial defenders.

PZL is the Polish State Aircraft Company.  They made a splash on the International scene with spectacular flight demos of their latest fighter designs in 1930.  The P.7 design and its update the P.11 were considered state of the art in 1932/33 when they entered service.  They were fast and highly maneuverable.

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But PZL was unable to export their new fighter because it used a licence built version of the Bristol Mercury engine that was strictly for domestic use only.  In 1934 they partnered with French company Gnome-Rhone for a new design they could sell on the International market.  The new plane, the P.24, was mostly an update of the P.11 with enclosed canopy, wheel spats and increased firepower.  Oh, and a new engine that offered 970 hp, compared to 560 on the P.11.

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This new fighter was blazingly fast at 250 mph…
Okay, fast for its time. It was successful as an export with sales to Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.

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The only remaining P.24 at the Turkish Aviation Museum. [photo by Vtgbart]

The Greeks received 30 P.24F and 6 P.24G in 1937 and 1938.  The only difference being that the underwing guns on the “F” were 20mm cannon, while on the “G” all four guns were machine guns but small bomb racks were added. Early in the War all Greek P.24s were recondition to “G” specs because of difficulty in servicing the cannon.  Most also had the wheel spats removed, they tended to accumulate mud for little if any speed increase.

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The gun pods under the wings originally had 20mm cannon.  But this example is shown after the switched to 7.7mm machine guns.  The heavier firepower was missed against Italian bombers, but cannon ammunition was in short supply and the guns were hard to service.

In late 1940 Italy had had a frustrating year.  Attempts to join both the Battle of France and Battle of Britain had exposed Italian weakness.  Mussolini then tried to conquer Egypt in another fiasco.  He then decided an attack on Greece was an easy path to glory.  This involved coming from previously defeated Albania into northwestern Greece.  Even though Greek forces were badly outnumbered, they were better motivated and fighting in mountainous terrain that favored defense.  In the air, the P.24 was the most modern and numerous Greek type and equipped three squadrons. Although it was plenty powerful and had good firepower the wing was an obsolete airfoil; that means the type was slow for 1940!  By targeting bombers and avoiding Italian fighters whenever possible they had scored 64 kills for 24 losses by April 1941.  And indeed, the whole Italian offensive went nowhere.  They were even driven back into Albania.
But by April they were mostly a spent force.  Only 5 P.24s remained.  They were combined with 5 Gloster Gladiators into a single understrength squadron.  And then Nazi Germany joined the attack.  They claimed four more kills before none were left.
From this point, the fall of Greece becomes a shared Greek and British tragedy.  I will have more of that story on another post.

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When the Romanian company IAR designed an “indigenous” fighter for that country they used the rear fuselage and tailplanes directly from the P.24.  The type’s biggest change, apart from a more powerful engine, was a much more modern wing design.

This is the Mirage kit.  It is multi-media with plastic, resin and photo-etch. It sort of straddles the line between mainstream kits and limited run.  Although the molding is crude, surface textures are nice and fit is okay.  Apart from working with some different materials its not a particularly hard build.

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The P.24 did quite well when it could get at Italian bombers unmolested.

About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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13 Responses to PZL P.24F (G)

  1. jfwknifton says:

    Another informative post and an introduction to a relatively ugly aircraft !
    There are those who say that Hitler’s having to come and rescue Musso, which involved conquering Yugoslavia as well, was enough to delay Operation Barbarossa which in turn meant that he hadn’t captured Moscow (as the Russians themselves expected) before the snows came. On the other hand, I must admit that there are also those who say that his supply lines were too long to succeed anyway.

    • atcDave says:

      It seems I’ve also read Barbarossa wasn’t ready when the attack on Yugoslavia was launched. The diversion only cost them a few days and likely changed nothing.

      But isn’t it funny that Hitler actually felt the need to bail out Mussolini? Even up to rescuing him after his arrest in 1943. Why was he so strangely loyal?

  2. Ernie Davis says:

    The Italian’s reputation as a world power didn’t fare well in this, and other conflicts. Most of it fell on their equipment, training, and leadership. The invasion of Greece for instance was an ill considered and ill-prepared response to growing German influence in what they Italians saw as their sphere of influence. (For instance Mussolini had ordered the demobilization of a large part of the army in the wake of the invasion of France only to demand the invasion of Greece weeks after that demobilization.). This is not to take anything from the Greek military, who were among other things very skilled mountain fighters, especially on the defensive. In the end Germany was able to roll over Greece largely because the bulk of the Greek army was still fighting Italy in Albania.

    • atcDave says:

      I think its safe to say the Greeks had every advantage over the Italians. But the Germans were a whole generation more advanced.
      The Greeks had even resisted British offers of help on the grounds it might antagonize the Germans. They accepted those offers once it was obvious the Germans were coming regardless, but of course the British couldn’t offer nearly enough help to stand up to the Germans. Especially if we consider this was virtually a live exercise for the upcoming war against Russia.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Yes, I didn’t mean to imply that Germany wouldn’t have made pretty short work of Greece regardless of what the Italians (or British for that matter) did, just that Italy seemed to be reacting to Germany’s plan for much of the war. And Germany seemed pretty adept at taking advantage of that.

      • atcDave says:

        I didn’t mean to disagree with anything. The Germans sure were masters of taking advantage! I think that’s all exactly right.

  3. With that wing and cockpit configuration I’m surprised they saw any enemy bombers at all. It’s forward visibility looks awful.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I’m not quite sure what the best angles were. I wonder if the pilots wished they had the old open cockpit!

      • It must have a been interesting to fly, it had racer like qualities to it although the wing structure didn’t link that strong. Very interesting as always!

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I wondered about the visibility too. But the more I looked it appears the bend in the wings gives more forward visibility under the wings. For straight forward visibility, it looks limited by the cockpit canopy size, but it may have been sufficient. Hard to tell without sitting in it, but it does look problematic.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah, the Soviet I-153 has a similar situation.

      • Absolutely what I thought. I guess it must have been reasonable otherwise it wouldn’t have worked!

      • atcDave says:

        It is often surprising to me how restricted visibility was in wartime aircraft. Any taildragger has problems on the ground, and forward/down is just never good.
        Some of that is actually due to aerodynamics. When the bubble canopy was added to the Mustang they also added 200 hp and STILL lost about 5 kts of top speed.

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