...an Orange series book from MMP Books
Title: PZL.23 Karas
Author: Tomasz J. Kopanski
This 144-page softcover book in their Orange series from MMP is actually a revised and expanded version of an edition first published back in 2004. It provides the story of the development and service of this ground support aircraft first designed in the early 1930s, the prototype first flying in early August 1934. It highlighted some faults which were addressed in the second and third prototypes. A low wing monoplane, with a fixed undercarriage and spats, reminiscent of the Stuka of course. It carried a crew of 3 (Pilot, bomb aimer and Observer) and had a ventral gondola as well as an open gun position at the back of the cockpit, with machine gun(s) operated by the bomb aimer, who could then slip down into the gondola when the bombs needed to be propped.
Along with the development history there are some very neat 1/72 scale drawings which show the different variants. As well as the examples built for the Polish Air Force, others were sold to Bulgaria. Then we get to details of the pre-war operational use by the Polish Air Force before getting to the events around the German invasion of Poland in 1939. This in turn is followed by accounts of 12 Polish Air Force units which were equipped the Karas, both Light Bomber and Reconnaissance units. Losses during the Polish campaign were high, over 80%. Then we get the story of further countries who used the Karas, including Bulgaria, Romania, the USSR and the Luftwaffe. All this fills the first 91 pages of the book, and the informative text is accompanied by a lot of good archive photos, which also include some that give some great diorama ideas for modellers.
What comes next is a section of Detail Photos, which uses more from original manuals and provide fine detail on engine, airframe, cockpit and so on. That leads on into a page on camouflage and markings along with a series of computer generated views of even more detail, especially the cockpit and instrument panel. The final section is then 21 pages of excellent colour profiles which provides even more inspiration for modellers.
The PZL.23 is one of the less well known aircraft of WW2 and I admit to knowing little about it prior to reading this book. It is an aircraft in many ways typical of the 1930s and I found it a well presented and interesting book with lots of images and scale plans which will make it popular with modellers as well as aviation historians.
Thanks to MMP Books, who kindly provided my review copy.