Szybowcowy Zakład Doświadczalny

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Szybowcowy Zakład Doświadczalny (SZD), Glider Experimental Works was a glider design and research centre of the Polish aerospace industry after World War II, located in Bielsko-Biała. Through its history it underwent many organizational and name changes, among others in 1946-1948 it was Instytut Szybownictwa. After 1969 it existed under other names, but an abbreviation SZD continued to be used on designs. The SZD gliders themselves were produced in the production centre in Bielsko-Biała, organized around the SZD (from 1990s named PZL-Bielsko), and by several other works of the state aerospace industry and didn't bear specific manufacturer's names.


Just after World War II, which destroyed most of Polish pre-war gliders and - more importantly - their production blueprints,[1] the Main Scouts' Gliding Centre (Centralny Harcerski Ośrodek Szybowcowy) was created in Bielsko-Biała in May 1945, by the Ministry of Communications. In autumn 1945 it was re-organized into the Gliding Organizational Centre (Ośrodek Organizacji Szybownictwa), and in January 1946, into the Gliding Institute (Instytut Szybownictwa, IS). It inherited tasks and traditions of the pre-war Gliding and Motor gliding Institute in Lwów. It consisted of Training Division, Technical Division and Experimental Workshops.[2] As more organizations took on a gliding training, the main task of the Institute became design work and technical research. At that period, several gliders were designed, under IS designation.

As a sign of new tasks, in 1948 the Gliding Institute was renamed to the Glider Experimental Works (Szybowcowy Zakład Doświadczalny), headed first by Władysław Nowakowski. It became the main Polish centre of designing gliders, which were next produced by the SZD workshops or, in conditions of a centrally planned state economy, by other state-owned workshops and factories.[2]

Organizational changes[edit]

In early 1950s, the SZD was incorporated into a Sports Aviation Equipment Works Management (Zarząd Zakładów Sprzętu Lotnictwa Sportowego), as a design centre.[3] The management covered also glider production works (ZSLS) in Jeżów (Grunau),[4] Gdańsk-Wrzeszcz (until 1954), Poznań, Krosno and Wrocław (from 1956).[2] In 1957 this management was subordinated to the Central Management of Communications Equipment Industry (later PZL Aerospace Industry Union).[5]

In 1963, there were created Sports Aviation Equipment Works (Zakłady Sprzętu Lotnictwa Sportowego, ZSLS) in Bielsko-Biała, with the SZD as its main division. Works in Jeżów and Wrocław became its production divisions (works in Poznań and Krosno were excluded from the glider industry as separate Communication Equipment Factories - WSK).[5] About 1969, the SZD was renamed to Glider Development and Construction Experimental Works (Zakład Doświadczalny Rozwoju i Budowy Szybowców), and in 1971 to Gliding Research and Development Centre (Ośrodek Badawczo-Rozwojowy Szybownictwa).[5] Despite these changes, new designs were still marked with SZD letters. Around this time, works in Bielsko-Biała were enhanced.

Designs and production[edit]

In 1946-1972 only, the Polish centralized glider industry, focussed around the SZD, produced 2743 gliders, of which 1167 were exported (starting from in 1951), 367 of which to Western countries.[6] In 1973 there started series production of laminate gliders.


After the end of communism in Poland, the glider production and design centre in Bielsko-Biała was renamed in the 1990s to a state-owned enterprise PZL-Bielsko (full name: Przedsiębiorstwo Doświadczalno-Produkcyjne Szybownictwa PZL-Bielsko), liquidated in 2008.[7] In early 2000s (decade) part of its property was bought by a company Allstar PZL Glider Sp.z o.o. (registered in 2002), which still produces several designs under the SZD brand.

Between 2005 and January 2007 there existed also different manufacturer with this name, PZL-Bielsko 1 Sp. z o.o. in Górki Wielkie,[8] producing PW-5 gliders.


  1. ^ on SZD, op.cit.
  2. ^ a b c Babiejczuk, Grzegorzewski, op.cit., p. 111-112
  3. ^ Date 1957 in Babiejczuk, Grzegorczyk p.112 is apparently a mistake, because it connects the organisational change with a ministry, that was created in 1951. It might be 1952.
  4. ^ on Jeżów works, op.cit.
  5. ^ a b c Babiejczuk, Grzegorzewski, op.cit., p. 113
  6. ^ Babiejczuk, Grzegorzewski, op.cit., p. 115
  7. ^ Firm Registry entry
  8. ^ Firm Registry entry
  • (Polish) Babiejczuk, Janusz and Grzegorzewski, Jerzy. Polski przemysł lotniczy 1945-1973 [Polish aerospace industry 1945-1973]. Warsaw: Wydawnictwo MON, 1974
  • (Polish) History of SZD
  • (Polish) History of „JEŻÓW” works

External links[edit]