P.Z.L. 23 KARAS
The PZL P-23 Karas was one of the most important combat aircraft in the inventory of the Polish Military Aviation prior to the outbreak of World War II. Designed as a three place light bomber and reconnaissance type in the early thirties, and powered by the Polish-built Bristol Pegasus radial engine, the p-23 was placed in production in time to be available during the German invasion in 1939. Numerous units were equipped with the P-23A and P-23B versions, and these operated in the light bomber and reconnaissance role during the time that Poland was defending itself against the Germans. Later, when the Russians issued their “stab in the back” invasion, most of the surviving P-23’s were flown to Romania, where some of them soldiered on until the end of the war. A few were also exported to Bulgaria before the war, and these were redesignated P-43A due to a change in engines.
During the German invasion, P-23’s were very active, contrary to common misconceptions as to the role of Polish Military Aviation during the conflict. The book gives a very detailed account of each unit and its operations using the P-23. Strangely, many P-23’s were shot down, not by the Germans, but by Polish anti-aircraft units and fighters, presumably due to poor aircraft recognition training, or possibly because the P-23 somewhat remotely resembled the Junkers JU-87 “Stuka”. Many of the photographs in the book come from German sources, showing wrecked P-23’s surrounded by German soldiers. Over 90% of the P-23’s were lost in combat, with only a few being destroyed on the ground. The aircraft had a creditable service record, and certainly did what it was designed to do. Had there been adequate fighter protection, losses would have been much lower.
The book is an 8 ¼ in. x 11 ½ in. paperback with 144 pages of text and illustrations. It certainly is a good replacement for the old 1966 Profile No. 104 on the PZL P-23 Karas, which contains only minimal information, but which for its time was an excellent resource. The book contains very detailed unit histories, even to the point of describing each mission flown, its results, and casualties. One particularly intriguing inclusion is a series of photos of a scale model of a P-23, which includes as much detail as photos of the real airplane would have. These are in color, and will be especially useful to a modeler wishing to super-detail a model. The photos are particularly good, showing details and other information useful to model builders. Also, excellent line drawings are provided in 1/72 scale for each of the variants. In the back, a series of color profiles present the basic color schemes and markings of the aircraft in Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian, and German service. There is enough information here to model any variant of the P-23 and P-43, along with the experimental prototypes.
This book will likely become the definitive work on the P-23 series aircraft. It covers all of the variants, and is obviously aimed at the modeler in the way the information is presented. As soon as I started reading, I immediately looked in my stash of kits, and was relieved to find that I had three unbuilt 1/72 scale Heller P-23 kits to add to the completed one already in my cabinets. That’s the effect the book will have on any dedicated and serious modeler. If you get a copy of this book, and you certainly should, don’t say I didn’t warn you. You’ll start looking for kits immediately. Isn’t that what modeling is all about? Don’t miss out on this one. Highly recommended.
Thanks to Mushroom Model Publications and Phil Peterson for the review copy.