Can You Identify This Unusual Utility Airplane?

The PZL-104 Wilga is the most-produced Polish airplane design in historical past (Jacek Siminski).

Plane figured prominently in Poland’s combat for existence inside two years of its restoration as a nation in 1918 and inside the following decade it established a modest however up-to-date plane trade. After the ravages of World Conflict II and the constraints positioned on its plane manufacturing as a member of the Warsaw Pact (the mainstays of its air pressure being Soviet designs constructed beneath license), Poland continued to supply a powerful share of imaginative plane, largely in civil roles.

It was on this environment that the Panstwowe Zaklady Lotnicze, or State Aviation Manufacturing unit, designed a brand new airplane for sports activities, civil aviation, glider towing, parachute coaching. Designated the PZL-104, it was dubbed the Wilga (“golden oriole”) and first flew on April 24, 1962. Its airframe was aluminum, with duralumin pores and skin and durable, mounted undercarriage with pneumatic shock absorbers. Most outstanding was the glazed cabin with the wing mounted above for the very best downward view. The Wilga Mark 1, nevertheless, proved to be too heavy and had a restricted rear view that handicapped it within the glider-towing position, so PZL engineers Bronislaw Zurakovski and Andrzej Frydrychewicz subjected it to a radical evaluate and redevelopment. The Wilga Mark 2 that went up for its maiden flight on December 30, 1963, featured a brand new, slimmer fuselage, a strengthened airframe and a very good rear view, in addition to giant upward opening rear doorways for the good thing about parachutists. The four-person cabin is also transformed to a flying ambulance if the necessity ought to come up. The unique 220-hp PZL WN-6RB horizontally opposed engine, nevertheless was nonetheless beneath improvement, so the engineers changed it with a Soviet-made 260-hp Ivchenko AI-14RA nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine. This gave the Wilga Mark 3, which first flew on December 31, 1964, a most velocity: 121 mph, a variety of 416 miles, a ceiling of 13,255 ft and an excellent climb price of two,165 ft per minute. The radial’s principal flaw was that consumed gasoline at an uneconomical price, however the airplane’s total efficiency was excellent and it was put into manufacturing.

The Wilga Mark 3 had a wingspan of 36 ft 5 inches, wing space was 166.85 sq. ft, size 26 ft, 6 inches and peak 9 ft 6 inches. Empty weight was 1,984 lb. and gross weight 2,868 lb.       

The Wilga proved to be a remarkably versatile utility airplane, for which orders got here from world wide. Among the many first international locations to construct it beneath license was Indonesia, who gave their model, the LIPNUR Gelatik (“wren”) a sleeker frontal space to accommodate a 225-hp North American Continental O-470 horizontal opposed cylinder engine. The Polish airplane underwent frequent enchancment, together with the PZL-104M Wilga 2000, which launched a 300-hp Lycoming O-540 flat in 1998, whose specialised spinoffs included the PZL-104MW, used for patrolling the border, and the PZL-104MW Hydro, a floatplane model that first flew on December 19, 1999.

In 2001 the European Aeronautic Protection and Area Firm took over manufacturing of the Wilga. Greater than 1,000 PZL-104 variations had been constructed when EADS ceased manufacturing in 2006, making it the most-produced Polish airplane design in historical past. Evidently, quite a few examples of this far-from-mysterious Polish success story are nonetheless flying.