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PWS-26

by Lukasz Kedzierski

 

PWS-26 Advanced Trainer

 


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Background

 

Before WWII, Polish pilots were trained on two major types of trainer aircraft - the RWD-8 and PWS-26. The basic training was done on RWD-8 then pilots moved to the advanced training on PWS-26.

Although only 320 aircraft were built (compared to 600 RWD-8s) the aircraft was the ultimate development of a long family of trainers initiated in 1929 by PWS-12 designed by Augustyn Zdaniewski. PWS-12 was followed by PWS-12bis, PWS-14, PWS-16 and PWS-16bis. PWS-26 was designed at the beginning of 1935 and the concept was based on PWS-16bis. The major changes included overall strengthening of the airframe, which allowed performing fast diving and training in dive-bombing. The aircraft could perform a full set of advanced aerobatics, which was not possible on the previous models PWS-16 and PWS-16bis. The aircraft also carried a single 7.92 mm machine gun and a gun camera.

The type was introduced into production in 1936 and 320 aircraft were built before the onset of the war. As the type was being introduced into service Augustn Zdaniewski was designing its successors PWS-27 and PWS-28, however, the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939 did not let him finish his work. After the war, for today unknown reasons, the communist regime did not let him go back to the aviation industry. Zdaniewski retired in 1968 and died in Poland in 1988.

 



The PWS-26 was used in all flying schools in the pre-war Poland. Apart from Polish pilots the Bulgarian Air Force also trained a group of pilots on the type during the period of May-June 1939 as a part of a contract for the purchase of PZL P.43 bombers.

In September 1939, most of PWS-26 were destroyed on the ground during the first days of war. Those which survived were mainly used for liaison and reconnaissance duties, but some of the crews from the 13th training squadron attached to the Army Group "Polesie" used their PWS-26 to bomb German units using hand grenades. PWS-26 from this unit were the last aircraft bearing the Polish checkers to be seen on the Polish skies in 1939. After the war some PWS-26 were flown by the Polish pilots to Rumania where all of the aircraft were ceased by the Rumanian authorities and incorporated into the Royal Rumanian Air Force. Those captured by Germans were sold to Rumania later on (30 aircraft). One PWS-26 survived the war and today is a part of the collection of the Aviation Museum in Krakow.

 


 

Construction

 

There is only one kit of PWS-26 in 1/48 scale Ė Broplan vacuform kit.

I do have a few of different Broplanís kits and this is a second one I built. They do offer interesting subjects, which nobody else is going to make however, some serious work is required to build them. In case of PWS-26 all the major components are vacuformed plus there are some injection moulded parts for the wing and landing gear struts, cockpit and some other detail. These are hardly usable, but after extensive clean up can be utilised. The instructions show that two windshields are part of the kit, but I could not find any in my PWS-26. There is also a decal sheet with markings for two aircraft, but the decals are unusable (bit more about that later on).

As with all vacs the parts were cleaned up prior to any construction.




Fuselage and Cockpit

The fuselage halves fitted together very well, but I must say I do not like the surface detail on the fuselage. The panel lines are very uneven and the fabric effect is not that well represented.

On the other hand, the wings are done very well with nice fabric and rib effect on the upper surfaces. I decided to scratchbuild the cockpit interior and assembled together a tubular frame from Evergreen styrene rods based on drawings.

To this I added seats with seat belts made from aluminium foil and instrument panels with instrument faces cut out from spare decals (I think it was Tamiyaís F4U). The cockpit was supplemented with two control sticks and rudder pedals. The interior was airbrushed with Humbrol aluminium and after some surgery I fitted it into the fuselage.

 

 

Because the fuselage halves were a bit flimsy and thin I strengthened them with two bulkheads cut according to drawings and positioned them behind and in front of the cockpit tubular frame. As I mentioned before, the fuselage halves fitted together without any problems, although some putty was required on the joints. Itís a vacuformed kit after all.

The lining around cockpit openings was manufactured from the aluminium foil from a wine bottle.




Wings

The upper wing and both lower wings were strengthened with lengths of sprue and required a smear of Mr. Surfacer here and there to fill up some minor gaps in the leading edge. That was also the case with the horizontal stabilizers.

 

 

I decided to use the injection moulded parts and cleaned up the wing struts and landing gear supports along with wheels. At the end I was happy with the final effect however, I had to scratchbuilt the short struts which are positioned between the fuselage and the upper wing. The engine and engine cowling are the worst parts of the kit.




Engine

I made no attempt to use the vacuformed engine and replaced it with one from my old 1/48 Lublin RXIII kit. The size and number of cylinders is right and it can be hardly seen anyway. The cowling consists of two side covers with the air intake at the bottom and a front ring. The side covers are really bad since the plastic is as thin as tissue paper and during clean up I managed to tear apart one of them and I ended up with very ragged edges.

The entire cowling was assembled with use of strengthening strips of thin plasticard, then covered with Tamiya putty and sanded smooth. I decided that I can live with out any surface detail as long as the whole thing is of the right shape and size. I also reshaped the intake underneath the cowling and inserted there a fine mesh of unknown origin (I got a few pieces of it from one of my friends long time ago). The front engine cover came from the kit and the support frame was made from thin rods made from a stretched sprue.

The propeller comes with the kit and requires some serious cleaning and filling up the sink marks, but at the end is quite acceptable.




Rigging

Because the aircraft was painted the same colour overall I decided to assemble the wings before painting and include all the rigging. This was my first attempt at rigging since itís my first biplane in the collection! I used stretched sprue, which was inserted into pre-drilled holes in the wing and fuselage and secured with tiny drops of superglue. The attachment spots were then sanded smooth. After painting I added windshields cut out from a clear plastic card and dipped in Future as well as photoetched gun sights (from P11c kit) and a machine gun on the starboard side of the fuselage made from steel tubing.

 


 

Painting and Markings

 

PWS-26s were painted either overall aluminium or Polish khaki. My references also show a colour profile of an example with aluminium fuselage and khaki wings, but I have no photographic evidence to support it. The aircraft used in the flying school in Deblin also had light blue centre section of the upper wing and the tail (some sources say white or silver). I decided to make an overall khaki PWS-26 from Deblin as depicted in kitís instructions.

Polish Khaki was my own mix of Tamiya XF-51 and XF-52 sprayed using the medium nozzle in my Aztek 470 airbrush, and for the light blue I used Humbrol 65 followed by a coat of Future.

 



My previous experience with Broplanís decals taught me that they are pretty much useless being undersized and disintegrating in water into hundreds of pieces. There was no problem finding the correct size Polish checkers which came from Techmod sheet, but I decided to use aircraft numbers and Deblin insignia included on the kit decal sheet since I could not find any suitable replacements in my spares. Broplan decals were coated with Microscale Decal Film, but it did not help me much and some of the decals broke while being applied to the model. Furthermore, Broplan made the mistake of supplying two identical Deblin school insignia, whereas they should be a mirror image of each other. The starboard one was applied at a slightly different angle to resemble the proper insignia.

I applied some post-shading with a slightly lighter shade of Polish khaki and some limited paint chipping around the metal panels at the front of the fuselage, but kept the weathering to minimum.

The entire model was then airbrushed with a semi-gloss clear to seal the decals and paint job.

So now there it is one more addition to my September 1939 collection!

 

 

Additional Images

 

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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2003 by Lukasz Kedzierski
Page Created 20 June, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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