In the thirties, in the field of aviation, Polish aviation industry
was a force to be reckoned with.
The opinion of some of those independent authorities, that are still
traceable, was that we held fifth place in the world ranking.
This was due to such innovative designs such as; the PZL wing, the
P-7, winner of the fighter aircraft class at the 1933 Paris Air
Show, the Łoś (medium bomber), the Jastrząb and Sokół (fighters)
and to the successes, in the field of sport aviation, of the magnificent
RWD's. (albo RWD designs)
There were numerous aircraft plants, not least of which was the
dramatically expanding Mielec.
Despite all of this, we hardly designed or developed, let alone
manufactured, supporting aviation equipment.
Thus the history of "PZL Warszawa ll" SA is, in effect,
the story of the research, development and production of aircraft
instruments in Poland.
WSK "PZL WARSZAWA ll" - A HALF CENTURY OF POLISH AVIATION
EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURE AND OF ADVANCED MILITARY TECHNOLOGY.
During the reorganisation and unification of the Polish Aviation
Industry in the fifties it became clear that a dedicated facility
for the production of aircraft equipment was mandatory.
Warsaw was the favoured location, for the clear reason that it already
possessed certain traditions in the field of precision engineering
as well as an intellectual base in the form of the Warsaw Polytechnic
and the Institute of Aviation.
A new factory, on the lines and with the impetus of the dozen or
so-year-old Mielec was, however, not established. Instead, production
was set up in a series of existing small workshops in the vicinity
of Podskarbińska Street and utilising relatively simple technology.
The founding team, by and large, was recruited from the Okęcie Aircraft
Works and from the precision engineering works, later to become
In 1952 the unit was officially inaugurated as the Communications
Equipment Works (WSK) -Warszawa ll and work started on the production
of membrane-based instruments.
The technology and manufacturing methods of recoil-driven equipment
was mastered - both membrane and capsule - and, based on these designs,
a whole family of aircraft instruments was developed.
These (rapidly) gained a high reputation with customers and, consequently,
healthy export orders.
Somewhat later, in the former works of the Borkowski Bros. on Grochowska
Street, a production facility for the manufacture of armature-based
equipment was born.
These were renamed in 1959 as the Communications Equipment Works
Production, under license, was started at both Podskarbińska and
at Grochowska, of the complex (at that time) gyroscopic aircraft
compass. Mastering this technology represented a huge leap forwards
in the technical development of these factories.
The early sixties saw a reduction in the demand for aviation equipment
from the State aircraft manufacturers but the levels of technical
expertise which had been achieved, enabled the companies to undertake
the manufacture of alternative high-technology products for use
in tanks and guided missiles.
WSK - Grochów began producing a stabilizing system for tank cannon
barrels, under license from the (then) USSR, and based on American
equipment captured during the Korean War. The next phase was the
manufacture of inertial measurements systems, at that time in the
form of gyroscopes.
The military Navy was supplied with a highly developed system for
the remote control of surface-to-surface missile launchers used
on assault vessels built by Polish shipyards.
In collaboration with the Gdańsk Electrotechnical Institute, but
otherwise totally independently, a steering and autopilot system
was developed for sea-going vessels.
WSK- Warszawa ll at Podskarbińska began work on the manufacture,
under license, of the primary control systems for anti-tank and
In 1965 WSK-Warszawa ll and WSK-Grochów amalgamated to become WSK-Warszawa
After several changes of title and, in 1995, on becoming a Limited
Company,) it now goes by the name of WSK "PZL Warszawa ll"
From that time onwards the following are the company's main production
1. Aviation instrumentation of a general piloting/navigational nature.This
can (and must) compete, in the marketplace, with the products of
other manufacturers.These instruments play a dominant role on the
home market and abroad they are renowned for their soundness and
reliability. The PZL logo, with which they are stamped, still symbolises
that period of history when we were the fifth aviation world power.
2. . Some tens of specifically designed items for use in particular
aeroplanes or helicopters - such as electric junction boxes for
helicopter rotor de-icing systems - in other words, the sort of
equipment that the manufacturer of the finished product cannot obtain
elsewhere but which does not have a more universal application.Various
items which, in theory, might be suitable for general applications
but which, in practice, have to be sold to specific clients because
they do not form a defined product line and cannot be offered as
such on the open market.
3. Examples would be; a range of pressure sensors, valves, components
for oxygen and other system installations, trim tab position indicators,
relays, windscreen wipers, small electric motors, starter motor/generators,
static converters and magnetos for piston aero-engines.
4.Recoil-driven instruments, capsules, membranes, parts for automatic
control systems as well
as expansion joints for pipelines and exhausts systems.
5.Components for the highly sophisticated tank gun barrel self-righting
unit and, currently, the
inertial guidance device used in the "DRAWA" tank weapons
6.Parts for advanced rocket weaponry, namely; guidance and steering
units for several
generations of anti-tank and anti-aircraft projectiles from the
"MALUTKA" anti-tank weapon
to the current anti-aircraft missile "GROM". Also manufactured
are sighting devices for use
in anti-aircraft hardware.
7.Advanced naval systems for course and track control of merchant
and military shipping.
These designs were developed in-house, literally from the drawing
board to the completed
article. Umpteen basic designs were altered several dozen times
with the production of more
than 1500 complete units worth many millions of dollars. These were
endorsed by all of the
leading authorities and our first production model, the TS-1, was
described by the
inspectorate of the Lloyds Register of Shipping as a world-class
Compared with the complexity of tank or missile technology the hardware
of these devices
is not particularly sophisticated. The software, however, requires
not only a great deal of experience, effort and know-how but also
a thorough grounding in theoretical principles.
Because of the unique problems involved in the steering of a ship,
"in vitro" research was
required from the outset, with the creation of physical and mathematical
models as well as of
simulators, initially analogue but subsequently replaced with digital
computer simulator software. The basic principles of flight and
the behaviour of water-borne vessels are identical
so that, to an aeronautical engineer, the behaviour of a sea-going
vessel is no mystery and it is, therefore, no accident that Sperry,
that giant in the field of aviation equipment, is also a
first division player in the league of marine guidance systems.
Experience in the research and development of marine autopilot gear
company to perfect the use of integrated circuit technology in the
early seventies and, by the mid-eighties, of real-time microprocessor
technology - at the time when the digital autopilot tracking system,
the TRAJECTORIA 207, was being developed for the military Navy.
Apart from those products which were sold in considerable quantities,
a large range of designs and prototypes was developed which, although
never reaching the production stage was, none-the-less, a substantial
technical and intellectual investment - indicating the broad base
and flexibility of our technical staff. This wide skill range is
illustrated, on the one hand, by work on such designs as mechanical
and piezo-electric gyros and the state-of-the-art gyroscopic compass
for IRYDA and, on the other, by the development and production of
the prototype for a modern field kitchen for the Army!