|Parent||Sikorsky Aircraft/United Technologies Corporation|
PZL Mielec (Polskie Zakłady Lotnicze - Polish Aviation Works), formerly WSK-Mielec (Wytwórnia Sprzętu Komunikacyjnego) and WSK "PZL-Mielec" is the Polish aerospace manufacturer, based in Mielec. It is the largest aerospace manufacturer in postwar Poland. In 2007 it was acquired by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, retaining the brand.
In 1938-1939 a factory was built in Mielec, designated as PZL WP-2 (Wytwórnia Płatowców 2 - Airframe Factory no.2), which was a division of the biggest Polish aviation works PZL in Warsaw (Państwowe Zakłady Lotnicze - State Aviation Works), but the production was only starting there at the outbreak of World War II. In March 1939 the first aircraft were manufactured - PZL.37 Łoś bombers, assembled from components delivered from PZL WP-1 factory in Warsaw.
During World War II, Mielec was occupied by the Germans from 13 September 1939. During the occupation the factory became a part of Heinkel works, producing tailfins of Heinkel He 111 bombers and repairing Junkers Ju 52 planes. In July 1944 the withdrawing Germans took all the machines and equipment. Mielec was seized by the Soviet Army on 6 August 1944. At first, the factory was governed by the Soviets as a repair works. On 22 July 1945 it was handed over back to Polish control.
1945 to present
The factory in Mielec was renamed Państwowe Zakłady Lotnicze (PZL) - Zakład nr 1 (State Aviation Works, No.1 plant), being a state-owned factory. At first it was aircraft repair works and produced mostly non-aviation items, like bus bodies, scales, etc. The first plane constructed in Mielec was a simple trainer PZL S-1, flown on 15 November 1945 and built in one unit only (it was the second plane built in Poland after the war).
The factory in Mielec produced aircraft mostly under licence or designed in other Polish bureaus. In 1948 the factory built a small series of 10 utility planes LWD Szpak-4T, designed in the LWD (it was the first Polish post-war series-built plane). In the same year there started a production of licensed Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes under a designation CSS-13, and 180 were built by 1950 (they were also produced by PZL Warszawa-Okęcie). In 1950 also a small series of pre-war Polish Salamandra gliders was built.
In 1949 the factory was renamed, like all Polish aerospace industry at that time, as Wytwórnia Sprzętu Komunikacyjnego – zakład nr 1, in short WSK-1 Mielec (Communication Equipment Factory, No. 1 plant). Later it returned to a traditional name Wytwórnia Sprzętu Komunikacyjnego "PZL-Mielec" (WSK "PZL-Mielec"), in an honor of the PZL brand.
Starting from 1950, the factory developed much and became the biggest Polish aircraft producer. It was a licensed producer of the Soviet jet fighters MiG-15 (produced as Lim-1), MiG-15bis (Lim-2), MiG-17 (Lim-5), and their Polish-developed variants: trainer SBLim-1 and 2 and an attack plane Lim-6. The first Lim-1s were manufactured of Soviet parts in 1952, a full-scale production started in 1953. About 1500 Lims were built by 1964. In 1957-1960 there were also produced 250 Polish-designed piston trainers TS-8 Bies. From 1963 there was produced Polish-designed jet trainer TS-11 Iskra, being a basic trainer in the Polish military aviation. Its successor, designed with a part of PZL Mielec, the PZL I-22 Iryda, appeared however a failure for different reasons, mostly lack of proper funding, and only a small series was built.
The most numerous plane built in Mielec was the licensed Soviet Antonov An-2 utility biplane, produced from 1960 in different variants. Over 13,000 of these aircraft were manufactured by 1991, mostly for the Soviets, but also used in Poland and exported to other countries. From 1984 PZL Mielec became an exclusive producer of the Soviet STOL transport plane Antonov An-28. It was subsequently developed in Mielec and in a modernized variant PZL M-28 Skytruck/Bryza, with Western avionics, is offered for the Polish Army, Polish Navy and services abroad, with some success, also as a maritime patrol aircraft.
Apart from a licence production, several aircraft were designed in Mielec in 1950s and 1960s, but they did not enter production (PZL S-4 Kania, PZL M-2, PZL M-4 Tarpan). More profitable appeared a cooperation in designing. In 1973, with the Soviet help, there was designed the only jet agricultural aircraft in the world, the WSK-Mielec M-15 Belphegor, built in 1976-1981 for the Soviet order. On the other hand, the factory started cooperation with the American firms and the result was a very successful agricultural aircraft M-18 Dromader, first flown in 1976 and produced and developed until now (as of 2012). Over 740 were produced, most exported to Western countries. WSK-Mielec also started production of the PZL M-20 Mewa utility plane (licensed Piper Seneca), but a small number was built only. Partly basing on the M-20 the factory developed a successful light trainer PZL M-26 Iskierka of 1988.
The factory produced also non-aviation items, like fire engines (1948), refrigerators (1954–1966), Mikrus MR-300 microcar (1956–1960, 1728 built), refrigerator car bodies (1962–1974), TV broadcast cars (from 1965), fuel injection equipment (from 1964), Leyland-licence diesel engines (from 1967), Melex electric utility vehicles and golf carts (from 1970, mostly for export to the USA, later separated as own brand). In 1993 a division Wytwórnia Aparatury Wtryskowej "PZL Mielec" (Fuel Injection Equipment Factory "PZL–Mielec") was separated as a limited liability company.
Present and future
In October 1998, a state factory WSK "PZL-Mielec" was converted into a state-owned company Polskie Zakłady Lotnicze Sp.z o.o. (Polish Aviation Works), in short: PZL Mielec (not to confuse with pre-war PZL - Państwowe Zakłady Lotnicze).
On March 16, 2007 the PZL Mielec was acquired by the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a unit of United Technologies Corporation (UTX). Among other things, PZL Mielec will serve as an additional final assembly line for the parent firm's S-70 Blackhawk helicopter.
The circumstances of this transaction and its aftermath were heavily criticized by the Polish military press, suggesting that the price was very low (56.1 million PLN) due to pro-American lobbying. It was also pointed out that the Polish military agreed in December 2008 to purchase 12 unnecessary M-28B aircraft from the new factory owners, for a price two or three times higher than their real value and export price.
List of aircraft
More important aircraft manufactured or designed in Mielec. A date of first prototype flight / serial production start is given ("-" for not flown or not produced aircraft).
|LWD Szpak-4T||1-engine, utility / touring low-wing, 1945/1948|
|PZL S-1||1-engine, trainer and liaison aircraft, 1945/1946|
|CSS-13||1-engine, multirole biplane, 1948 (licensed Polikarpov Po-2)|
|TS-8 Bies||1-engine, military trainer low-wing, 1955/1957|
|M-4 Tarpan||1-engine, trainer low-wing prototype, 1961/-|
|An-2||1-engine, transport and multirole biplane, 1960 (licensed Antonov An-2)|
|Lim-1||1-jet engine, fighter, 1953 (licensed MiG-15)|
|Lim-2||1-jet engine, fighter, 1954 (licensed MiG-15bis)|
|SBLim-1/SBLim-2||1-jet engine, trainer (Lim-1/2 variant)|
|Lim-5||1-jet engine, fighter, 1956 (licensed MiG-17)|
|Lim-6||1-jet engine, attack plane, 1961 (Lim-5 variant)|
|PZL TS-11 Iskra||1-jet engine, military trainer, mid-wing, 1960/1963|
|M-15 Belphegor||1-jet engine, agricultural biplane, 1973/1976|
|M-18 Dromader||1-engine, agricultural low-wing, 1976/1978|
|M-20 Mewa||2-engine, multirole low-wing, 1979/1989 (licence Piper Seneca)|
|M-21 Dromader Mini||1-engine, agricultural low-wing, 1987/-|
|PZL M-24 Dromader Super||1-engine, agricultural low-wing, 1987/-|
|M-25 Dromader Mikro||1-engine, agricultural low-wing, -/-|
|M-26 Iskierka||1-engine, trainer low-wing, 1986/?|
|PZL M-28 Skytruck / Bryza||2-turboprop engine, light transport / military high-wing, 1984 (developed Antonov An-28)|
|PZL I-22 Iryda||2-jet engine, military trainer, high-wing, 1985/1992 (small series built)|
|S-70i Blackhawk||Medium-duty utility helicopter|
- Hypki, Tomasz, (in Polish) Karmienie nowotworu ("Feeding of a cancer"), Skrzydlata Polska Nr. 1/2009, ISSN 0137-866x, p.4
- Janusz Babiejczuk, Jerzy Grzegorzewski Polski przemysł lotniczy 1945-1973 (Polish aviation industry...), Wydawnictwo MON, Warsaw 1974 (no ISBN)
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