PZL W-3 Sokół
|Role||Multipurpose utility helicopter|
|First flight||16 November 1979|
|Primary users||Polish Armed Forces
Czech Air Force
Myanmar Air Force
Philippine Air Force
|Number built||149 (as of 2011)|
The W-3 Sokół ('Falcon') is the first helicopter to be fully designed and serial-built in Poland.
Work on the project was started at WSK PZL Świdnik in 1973 by the team of Stanisław Kamiński. The Sokół made its first flight on November 16, 1979, and has since been certificated in Poland, Russia, the US and Germany. Design of W-3 was definitely inspired by the Soviet Mil Mi-2, license-produced by PZL-Świdnik in Poland, since 1962 during all the period when Poland was a participant of Eastern-European Communist block. The new helicopter was bigger, and it was designed to meet the demands of a military and civilian aviation of the Soviet Union, which was planned to be its major user. Following a development program, low rate production of the Sokół commenced during 1985. Certification to US FAR Pt 29 standards was granted in May 1993, while German certification was granted in December of that year.
The Sokół is of conventional design and construction, with two PZL-10W turboshafts, which are based on the PZL-10S - licensed Russian designed TVD-10B turboprops that power the Polish-built An-28. Composites are used in the three-bladed tail and four-bladed main rotors.
The Sokół is offered in a number of variants and is capable of performing a typical range of helicopter missions, including passenger transport, VIP, cargo, EMS, medevac, firefighting and search and rescue.
The 100th Sokół was completed in June 1996.
Operational history 
Since 2003, four W-3WA were used by the Independent Air Attack Group (Polish: Samodzielna Grupa Powietrzno-Szturmowa) of the Polish forces in Iraq. In total eight helicopters were deployed until 2008. One of them (serial number 360902) crashed in an accident near Karbala on 15 December 2004. Three soldiers died, three were wounded.
|Interesting W-3 variants:|
|W-3RR Procjon #0720|
|W-3PL "Głuszec" #0901|
|W-3WA #0911 Tallil Air Base, Iraq|
|four W-3WA Tallil Air Base, Iraq|
Civil Versions 
- W-3 Sokół
- Basic civil multi-purpose version. 30 built (excl. prototypes).
- W-3A Sokół
- Version with FAR-29 certificate. At least 9 built (excl. military operators).
- W-3AS Sokół
- W-3 airframe converted to W-3A standard. 22 converted.
- W-3A2 Sokół
- Version with two-axis Smith SN 350 autopilot. One built.
- W-3AM Sokół
- Civil version with floats. 13 built.
Military Versions 
Military production versions.
- W-3 / W-3T / W-3P Sokół
- Basic (unarmed) transport/passanger variant used by Polish Air Force (6), Navy (2) and Myanmar Air Force (13, inc. two for VIP).
- W-3A Sokół
- Military transport variant of the W-3A version used by Czech (11) and Philippine Air Force (8). Some of the Czech helicopters were modified for the emergency medical services. Filipino examples can carry M60 machine gun on each side. Iraqi Air Force returned two VIP-configured Sokół to the intermediary company after cancelling the order.
- W-3S/A/WA Sokół (VIP)
- VIP transport version used by Polish Air Force. Eight built.
- W-3W/WA Sokół
- Armed version, with twin 23 mm GSz-23Ł cannon and four pylons for weapons used by Polish Land Forces. W-3WA is a variant with FAR-29 certificate. 34 built.
- W-3AE Sokół
- Medical evacuation version used by Polish Land Forces (AE for "Aero Ewakuacja"). Three W-3WA upgraded.
- W-3R Sokół
- Medical evacuation version used by Polish Air Force. Two built.
- W-3RL Sokół
- Land search and rescue version used by Polish Air Force. Six built.
- W-3RM / W-3WARM Anakonda
- "Anakonda" (Polish for "Anaconda") Navalized search and rescue version used by Polish Navy. W-3WARM is a variant with FAR-29 certificate. Eight built.
- W-3PSOT / W-3PPD Gipsówka
- "Gipsówka" (Polish for "Gypsophila") W-3PPD was a flying command centre variant (PPD stands for "Powietrzny Punkt Dowodzenia" - "Airborne Command Post"). In 2006 this variant received new digital battlefield (after modernization helicopter is able to guide artillery equipped with Topaz fire control system) and observation systems and was adopted by Polish Land Forces Aviation under new name W-3PSOT (PSOT stands for "Powietrzne Stanowisko Obserwacji Terenu" - "Airborne Observation Post"). This variant is equipped with pylons for weapons (same like in W-3W) but has no 23 mm fixed cannon. One built.
- W-3RR Procjon
- "Procjon" (Polish for "Procyon") is a radioelectronic reconnaissance version (RR stands for "Rozpoznanie Radioelektroniczne" - "Radioelectronic Reconnaissance"). Three built.
- W-3PL Głuszec
- "Głuszec" (Polish for "Capercaillie") is a PZL W-3WA upgrade program to bring armed variant of Sokół up to 21st century standards by including advanced avionic systems (in Glass cockpit configuration) and other changes like FADEC-equipped engines. Avionics include two 10″ MFD displays, single tactical display (maps and Elbit Toplite FLIR), INS/GPS, TACAN, VOR/ILS, DME navigation, HUD, IFF, PNL-3 night vision goggles, HOCAS (Hands on Colective and Stick) control, infrared and radar warning receiver, MIL-STD-1553B data link. Twin 23 mm cannon was replaced by single pilot's controlled 12,7 mm WKM-Bz machine gun with 350 rounds. Designed for Combat Search and Rescue duties. The first prototype (s/n: 360901) was tested by the Land Forces aviation in 2009. Eight W-3WA are to be upgraded.
Prototypes and proposals 
Prototypes and proposals that were not adopted by Armed Forces.
- W-3B Jastrząb
- Proposed armed version with tandem cabin (like AH-1 Cobra) and guided AT rockets.
- W-3K/W-3WB Huzar
- Proposed armed version with guided ZT-35 Swift AT rockets, FLIR and 20 mm GA-1 cannnon with helmet-mounted sight. Modification by Kentron (Denel) company in 1993 tested in South Africa. Some elements like hardpoint were used in serial W-3W/W-3WA variant. One built.
- W-3L Sokół Long
- Proposed stretched version seating up to 14 passengers, mockup only.
- W-3MS/W-3WS Sokół
- Proposed gunship version.
- W-3U Salamandra
- Armed version, with avionics and armament from Mi-24W. Only one built, later converted into transport variant and sold to Myanmar.
- W-3U-1 Aligator
- Proposed anti-submarine version.
- Proposed navalised version of W-3PL with folding rotor, radar, dipping sonar, air-to-surface missiles and torpedoes.
- Polish Air Force
- Polish Border Guard 
- Polish Land Forces Aviation
- Polish Navy
- Polish Police 
Specifications (W-3A) 
- Crew: 2
- Capacity: 12 passengers or four stretcher cases and one attendant
- Payload: 2,100 kg (4,630 lb)
- Length: 14.21 m (46 ft 7½ in)
- Rotor diameter: 15.70 m (51 ft 6 in)
- Height: 5.14 m (16 ft 9½ in)
- Disc area: 193.6 m² (2,084 ft²)
- Airfoil: NACA 23012M
- Empty weight: 3,850 kg (8,488 lb)
- Useful load: 2,550 kg (5,621 lb)
- Max. takeoff weight: 6,400 kg (14,110 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × WSKPZL Rzeszów PZL-10B turboshaft, 671 kW (900 shp) each
- Never exceed speed: 260 km/h
- Cruise speed: 238 km/h (129 knots, 148 mph)
- Range: 745 km (402 nmi, 463 mi)
- Ferry range: 1,224 km (671 nmi, 773 mi)
- Service ceiling: 4,910 m (16,100 ft)
- Rate of climb: 9.3 m/s (1,831 ft/min)
See also 
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Lorencowicz, Wojciech. Pierwszy śmigłowiec Sokół w Ameryce Południowej (First Sokół helicopter in South America) in: Lotnictwo 2-3/2011, p.30-32 (Polish)
- Proces pilota Sokoła rozbitego w Iraku - wyrok za miesiąc
- Wersje W-3 Sokół. lotniczapolska.pl
- PZL W-3 Sokół production list. gdziewojsko.wordpress.com
- Grzegorz Hołdanowicz: Raport WTO - 12/2006. Altair
- Sokół W-3WA VIP po oblocie. Altair
- PZL-Swidnik to modernise Polish army W-3s.
- e-RAPORT MSPO 0/2007. Altair
- W-3PL mon.gov.pl
- PZL-Świdnik Signs Contracts For Five New Helicopters and 14 Helicopter Upgrades With The Polish Ministry of National Defence. pzl.swidnik.pl
- PZL-Świdnik SA Starts Development of the W-3PL/N Naval Helicopter.
- W-3A dla Algierii. altair.com.pl
- "CONAF ENAJENARÁ HELICOPTERO SW-3A SOKOL". aviaciontotal.cl. Retrieved 26-February-2013.
- "Aviación ejecutiva llega a su madurez en FIDAE 2012". gacetaeronautica.com. Retrieved 26-February-2013.
- "World Air Forces 2013". Flightglobal Insight. 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
- Jackson 2003, p. 341.
- e-RAPORT MSPO 1/2011. Altair
- Jackson 2003, pp. 340–342.
- W-3A technical data. pzl.swidnik.pl
- fuselage length
- Jackson, Paul. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004. Coulsdon, UK: Jane's Information Group. ISBN 0-7106-2537-5.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: PZL W-3 Sokół|
- PZL Świdnik Web Site
- List of all W-3 helicopters used by Polish Air Force
- PZL W-3 Production List
- PZL W-3 Variant Briefing
- PZL W-3 Program History
- PZL W-3 Photo Gallery
- PZL W-3AE Sokół gallery at Plastikowe.pl magazine