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PZL-Swidnik - Production History

Tradition of the Polish aircraft industry goes back almost to the birth of aviation. The Aviata aircraft factory was founded in Warsaw 1910. In November 1918 the plant known as Central Aviation Works was established in Warsaw. The first aircraft factory in Lublin began as the Plage & Laskiewicz Mechanical Plant but was renamed into the Lublin Aircraft Factory (LWS) in 1936 as a result of nationalization. The next factories established in 1923 were, respectively: the Aircraft Factory (PWS) in Biala Podlaska and the "Airplane" Factory in Poznan. The first state-owned aircraft factory was Polish Aviation Works (PZL), established in Warsaw 1928.

The history of the aircraft factory in Swidnik dates from 1938 when the local airfield was built. An official opening and consecration of the flight school founded by the Air and Antigas Defence League at the airfield in Swidnik took place on 4 June 1939. The school building and aircraft hangars were utilized by September 1939 only as bombs destroyed them during the air raid. Later the airfield and school building were used by the Nazi invaders but in 1944 were completely destroyed by retreating German troops.

Based on the aviation tradition in the Lublin region in the interim years between World War II, going back to the Lublin Aircraft Factory and Aircraft Factory in Biala Podlaska as well as wanting to utilize the existing base provided by the airfield, the government authorities have made a decision on locating and building the aircraft enterprise in Swidnik.

The design activities were initiated in the first half-year of 1949 while the first design concepts were elaborated in April through June that year by the Transportation Equipment Factory Investment & Restoration Department - Warsaw - Okecie. During that period, this Department was the main investor for restoration and development of domestic aircraft industry.

The design concepts were submitted on 30 June 1949 to the Design Office at the "Prozamet" Industrial Works in Gliwice. The preliminary work aimed at developing the technical documentation in the form of general assumptions and predesign for the Factory No. 5 in Swidnik began there. In order to accomplish engineering projects and execute building work, the Structural Mechanics Departments at the Institutes of Technology in Gdansk and Poznan as well as the Warsaw Industrial Building Design Office joined the team of designers in May 1950.

On 1 January 1951, following the Resolution of Council of Ministers and Decree of Minister of Heavy Industry dated 14.12.1950; the Central Board of Transportation Equipment Industry in Warsaw founded the Transportation Equipment Factory No. 5 in Swidnik. The period 1950-1953 saw the utmost intensification of building work. The first workshops were erected between 1950 and 1952 using the constructions relocated from Krzesin near to Poznan. The basic manufacturing, auxiliary and service facilities were commissioned in 1953.

In 1951 the Factory was given a task to set up the Soviet Union licensed manufacture of all-metal jet fighter MIG-15. After the MIG-15 license documentation had been supplied (i.e. complete engineering drawings, detailed engineering process documents, tooling and jig drawings, engineering requirements, specifications, standards and other aids), the translation work and adaptation of documents to local requirements began. Simultaneously, the same production line was launched in WSK Mielec where translation work was also done and the WSK Swidnik Personnel were trained.

By the end of 1952, the then Central Board of Transportation Equipment Industry introduced radical changes in the WSK Swidnik production structure. A decision was made that Swidnik would be a co-operating plant for WSK Mielec instead of being the end product manufacturer. Swidnik was to produce wings, stabilizer, engine mount, engine-carriage and pilot's seat only. The first wings and control surfaces had been built in 1952 and submitted to WSK Mielec where the final assembly of the airplane originally designated LIN-1 took place. The rear fuselage subcontract program was launched in 1953.

Still in 1953, the possibility to launch the production of refrigerating compressors or the TS-8 "Bies" airplane was initially investigated. However, in 1954 the Swidnik factory finally was assigned to be the first and sole helicopter manufacturer. Another production profile became the manufacture of motorbikes.

The factory set about preparing the licence production of the Mi-1 helicopter first and in the second turn launched the production of the MO6 motorbikes with an engine capacity of 125cc. Similarly as in case of the MIG-15 jet fighter, the Soviet technical documentation applicable to the Mi-1 helicopter must have been translated and adapted first.

Although series helicopters, entirely made by Swidnik, began to leave the factory in 1957, the first four units, which had been supplied by the licenser in ready-assembled forms, were ready in 1956. Since then, Swidnik became one of the six helicopter manufacturers of that time all over the world.

On 28 September 1957, the Swidnik factory was solemnly named after the famous pre-war aircraft designer, engineer Zygmunt Pulawski. Since that times a full name of the factory has sounded as: the Zygmunt Pulawski Transportation Equipment Factory "PZL Swidnik". In 1958 a socle was erected in front of the main entrance gate and a metallic model of the P-7 fighter designed by Z. Pulawski was placed on it.

The then WSK Swidnik was a multi-company enterprise composed of the parent company in Swidnik with the Aviation Plant, Motorbike Plant, Agricultural Services Plant, Transportation Equipment Research & Development Center and the branch subsidiary company founded in Tomaszw Lubelski 1969.

Apart from the aircraft equipment, a number of other products were produced by WSK Swidnik. Manufactured on the largest scale was the motobike. The one-track (two-wheeled) vehicle production began in 1954. Next year we managed to manufacture 3,126 WSK machines. In 1963 we were granted a license production for Mi-2 helicopters from the former Soviet Union. The Mi-2 series production did not start until in 1965.

Between 1972 and 1977, WSK PZL Swidnik launched and produced the SZD-30 Pirat sailplanes. After halting this production in Swidnik, it was resumed by SZLS Delta Bielsko Biala where the design of this sailplane had been devised.

From 1967 WSK Swidnik was also a manufacturer of pumps and clutches intended for the JELCZ trucks and Berliet-licensed buses as well as of reefer containers installed on the STAR or JELCZ trucks chassis in order to convert them to reefers.

By the Resolution of Minister of Machine Building Industry dated 17 August 1967- the Helicopter Testing Plant was founded at WSK Swidnik. The activity of this Plant was linked to fulfilment of tasks aimed at modernization, retrofit and design developments of the existing products thus leading to the manufacture of their new versions.

The Moscow Helicopter Plant, the Aviation Institute, the Warsaw Technical University, the Cracow Technical University, the Maria Curie Sklodowska University and the Military Technical Academy aided this activity. On 18 March 1972, the WSK Helicopter Testing Plant was transformed to the Transportation Equipment Research & Development Center following the Resolution of Minister of Machine Building Industry. The Center profile covered complex scientific- research and development-, construction-, technological-design and testing activities in the scope of helicopters and motor bikes.

The branch subsidiary companies in Tomaszw Lubelski and Lubowidz, supported by the R&D Center, contributed to the manufacture of motorization products. The Branch Company in Tomaszw Lubelski was engaged in producing motorbike components and assemblies while the production in Lubowidz was concentrated on aircraft composite components.

The year 1974 was a crucial breakthrough year for the Research & Development Center as for the first in the country history the work aimed at devising own design of helicopter began. The result of these activities was the PZL-Sokl helicopter design. In 1976 WSK Swidnik began to build assemblies for the Soviet passenger airlines: IL-86 and next IL-96. There were elevator, rudder and ailerons. New technologies were introduced to the company for bonding large-sized assemblies or machining parts of sophisticated configuration. This co-operation resulted in launching the production of fuselage structure and other assemblies for the AN-28 airplane. By the early 1980s WSK Swidnik manufactured over 5,000 Mi-2 helicopters, over 2 million motorbikes and over 70 thousand clutches.

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Page last modified: 03-04-2012 19:50:04 ZULU