PZL P.37B "Łoś"
by Artur Golebiewski
The Łoś (sounds like "losh", rhymes with "wash") bomber was one of the most advanced medium bomber designs of the late thirties. It is remarkable that it was entirely designed and produced in the small nation of Poland while its aviation industry was still in its infancy.
The design was revolutionary in several respects, mainly its bombload (12000 lbs, comparable to the B17!), and the twin tires on its undercarriage, making it possible to use grass fields even with the heaviest bombload.
The plane was also produced as a single tail version. That was the "A" version.
Altogether the Poles produced just over a 100 of these bombers. The first line strength on September 1 1939 was only 36 in front line units. The others slowly trickled in as replacements during the first week of the war.
Due to the flawed strategies and tactics of the Polish Air Force Command, these advanced aircraft were not utilized in any strategic roles. Instead, they were used to bomb German motorized columns. They did a good job of that holding up several columns for days but ultimately failed due to their small numbers and lack of fighter protection. They were falling prey to roving Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters and German flak.
The remaining few P37's flew to Romania, where it was hoped the Polish Air Force would be reborn and strike again. The Romanians promptly interned the new bombers and used them in their own units, some of them actually ending up being used against the Soviets, even flying over the Stalingrad front. In the early 50's there were one or two actually left in flyable condition and Romania volunteered to sell them to Poland but the Communist Polish Government would have nothing to do with it, instead they would gladly fly Russian wooden biplanes for the next ten years! And thus the last flyable P37 ended up on a Romanian scrapyard.
For a long time this aircraft was available only in 1/72nd scale. Then in the mid 1990s a small Polish cottage manufacturer, S Model, produced a superb vacuform kit.
The surface finish was decent, the clear plastic parts were good and the resin detail were superb.
Literally hundreds of parts made up the most complete bomber interior that I have ever seen even in a 1/48 scale kit, either injection molded or vacuform.
This was my chance! I was sure this kit would never see the light of day in an injection molded form and promptly purchased three kits, assuming that the supposed poor quality will cause much wastage of parts. Not so. I think I only "liberated" one or two other parts from the other sets and that was due to modeler error not faulty production.
Since this was supposed to be the crowning achievement of my modelling career I went for the whole works.
I cut out and repositioned the ailerons, tail surfaces and flaps.
The interior was thoroughly researched from the few Polish language books available and ALL the interior parts were utilized.
A small rear fuselage window was cut out to represent the last production series. The serial numbers were that of a machine flown to Romania. Before the Romanians took over an enterprising polish mechanic "liberated" its clock. I believe that clock and a few other parts are the only item left on display at one of the Polish Air Museums today.
Imagine my horror when a year or two later Mirage releases both A and B variants of this plane in injection molded 1/48 scale. I have since bought the kit in the single tail configuration and upon comparison I must admit that the kit is pretty good.
The areas that are better then the vacuform are definitely the opening bomb doors and their contents. There is much nicer surface detail but the kit is still lacking in interior detail compared to the vacuform. I am going to attempt the single tail version one of these days and will certainly use the leftover interior parts from the remaining kits.
The next part of the Polish Air Force history will be continued with the P23B Karas.
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Text and Images Copyright © 2001 by Artur