Polish Aviation Museum Cracow
Niezależny, bogato ilustrowany katalog Muzeum Lotnictwa Polskiego w Krakowie.
Opisy i zdjęcia wszystkich eksponatów muzeum.
Książka w j. angielskim
The Polish Aviation Museum in Cracow, Poland, has an amazing collection of aircraft, including one of the biggest collections of MiG jets. This independent guide to the collection, the second in a new series on Military Collections of the World, describes and illustrates the aircraft in the display. Packed with excellent colour photos, this book provides an essential guide to potential visitors, and a full reference for those unable to make the trip!
In 2010 Poland’s only aviation museum added a new building in the shape of a three-bladed propeller. You’d think someone would have had the presence of mind to put an aerial photo of something this unusual into a book that appeared that same year. Easy enough to do, considering that the museum grounds on the old Rakowice-Czyżyny airfield are still in active use as a heliport. In fact, the Cracow Police helicopters are based here. But, no, not even a plan view—you’ll just have to go see it for yourself. And visit you should, even if only via the pages of this book. The whole purpose of this publisher’s new series, Military Collections of the World, of which this book is the first, is to (a) bring the museum to people who can’t see it in person and (b) provide a reference-level documentation of a museum’s holdings. (The next book will be on the US Army Ordnance Museum Aberdeen.)
The museum was founded in 1963 on grounds that are steeped in history. In continuous operation until then since the end of the 1800s the field staged military balloons and was a stop on the first scheduled airmail service in Europe (1918, Vienna–Kiev/Odessa), pilots were trained and aircraft built here, and various forces used it during both world wars.
Even general-interest readers will know of Polish aviators participating in the Battle of Britain. And there are of course exhibits about that here (but not very many). You really have to be a bit of an aviation connoisseur to fully appreciate the rare and unique items found here—and only here. First and foremost would be the now extremely rare WW I airplanes that once were part of the personal collection of Hermann Göring, the Commander-in-Chief of the German Luftwaffe who had been a fighter ace in WW I. During WW II they were evacuated from their museum in Berlin to save them from Allied bombing. Severely damaged, most were partially restored here at Cracow but many are still missing their wings. Ever seen a Roland? a Halberstadt? or a Geest Seagull? Then there’s the Russian Grigorovich M-15 flying boat, or the only surviving Polish prewar PZL P.11c, or the unique Me-209V1 world speed record aircraft from 1939. And more, more, more. All rarer than hen’s teeth. Not so much rare than unusual would be the PZL M-15 Belfegor jet-powered cropduster biplane.
After a brief history of the airfield and the museum, including a section on the above-mentioned new building, the book describes the aircraft by period, which also corresponds more or less to their arrangement in the museum. Each craft is covered on one page, with some text and several photos. The text gives basic history and vital stats along with some commentary as to how the item came to be in the museum and, if applicable, what work was done to it here.
In a way the book is better than the museum because it is in English (not always textbook-perfect but fine; the author did the translation himself) whereas the museum does not have consistent or exhaustive signage in English. What photos in a book cannot do so well is, for instance, convey an adequate impression of row after row of MiG jets. It’s not just the quantity, probably the largest collection in one place, but their decaying, weather-beaten appearance in a grassy outside area where, at the right (wrong?) time of year some of the planes are knee-deep in weeds. This area also houses passenger and transport craft and helicopters. Curators and preservationists will probably shudder at the thought of unprotected outdoor storage. Poland does have a moderate climate (Cracow latitude: 50° 4' 60 N, longitude: 19° 55' 0 E) with both maritime and continental elements but this is not, say, the dry Arizona desert, and especially the summers in Cracow are conducive to rainfall!
In addition to the above, the museum has—and the book shows—an essentially complete collection of all airplane types developed or used by Poland after 1945 and all sorts of non-Eastern Bloc gear. One section, fittingly titled “You Don’t Know Your Own,” presents craft from the pioneer era in original as-found condition and Polish postwar prototypes. The museum also owns the world’s largest collection of aircraft engines from 1908 to the present, including a V-2 rocket motor. The book coverage of the latter is a bit unsatisfactory: the engines are not shown in any discernible order (year or maker or type) and they are photographed in situ, i.e. with lots of visual noise behind them obscuring their features. A photographer’s backdrop would have worked wonders here.
There is no Index because the Table of Contents lists each individual exhibit. Unless you are an aviation supergeek, chances are there’s much new to discover here!
Copyright 2010, Sabu Advani (speedreaders.info).
Model Aircraft Int. 12/2010 2011-08-06
IPMS UK Mag. 5/2010 2011-08-06
AIM 2011-2 2011-08-06
Aeroplane 01/2011 2011-08-06
AIR Modeller no 31 2011-08-06
This is the first in a series of guides to major military and aviation museums world-wide. The Polish Aviation Museum in Cracow is the only specialised aviation museum in Poland and is full of rare and unique exhibits. Founded in 1963 the museum is based in part of Poland’s oldest airfield, Radowice – Czyzyny which was used for balloons in the 19th century and from 1912 as an aircraft maintenance base.
The book describes the hangars, the open air displays with colour photos and details all of the exhibits both aircraft and their engines. It’s packed with high quality photos and none that I have ever seen before.
For the modeller it’s inspirational and for this reviewer had me reaching for Polish decals for my build of the Eduard SU-7 that is featured in SMN. The next MiG I build will be a 27 I think and will also be Polish so you can see this book really gets the imagination and inspiration flowing.
I say buy this book, its great value and a great read and definitely one you’ll be dipping into regularly, and if you’re like me gets you on the internet looking at the best flights to Cracow!
by Ray Mehlberger
Date of Review June 2010
This new book is the first in a series of guides to major military and aviation museums worldwide. The Polish Aviation Museum in Cracow is the only specialized aviation museum in Poland, and has many rare and unique aviation exhibits. Founded in 1963, the museum is based on part of Poland’s oldest airfield, Rakowice – Czyżyny, used in the 19th century for military balloons and from 1912 as an aircraft maintenance base.
The book describes each of the hangars and the open-air displays in five chapters:
Aircraft in the small hangar
The 1930’s to present collection
The open-air display
The “Know Your Polish Aviation History display
The aircraft engines display
The book is 136 pages in length, soft cover bound and in an 8 ¼” by 11 ¾” page format.
The book contains 316 color photos of the aircraft and engines on display at the museum. From very rare (and even unique) WWI aircraft and engines, through to military jets recently retired from Polish service. The museum covers the whole history of military aviation in Poland and elsewhere. Highlights include the sole surviving PZL P-11c fighter from 1939, the fuselage of the Curtiss Hawk – which kick-started German dive-bomber development in the 30’s, and many examples of Polish light aircraft and gliders, both pre- and post-war.
On the back cover of the book is the cover art for a forthcoming book that features another museum: “United States Army Ordnance Museum Aberdeen”
The book will prove to be an invaluable guide to those visiting the museum, as well as a complete reference for those who aren’t able to, and of interest to aircraft modelers also. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Scott Van Aken
Throughout the world there are some superlative aviation museums. To mind, most of us will think of the Smithsonian collection, the Imperial War Museum or the US Navy or USAF museums. But there are a number of truly excellent ones that are situated world wide. One of them is the Polish Aviation Museum in Cracow.
As many of us are not able to travel to these locations, Stratus has begun a series on various muesums around the world and it is quite logical that they start with the one closest to their home. The Cracow museum is sited at one of the first aviation facilities in Poland, starting well before WWI and continuing until just recently when it had to reduce runway length due to construction around the field. In addition to being the home of the museum, it is still being used by light aircraft and helicopters.
One of the things that makes the Cracow museum unique is that this is the city in which the Germans stored those aircraft that were salvagable after the bombing of the German Aviation Museum in Berlin during WWII. In there are a number of WWI German airframes as well as the unique Me-209 world speed record aircraft from 1939, though not exactly complete or in pristine condition.
Add to this the large number of Polish designed and built aircraft including a superb PZL 11c and PWS 26. The museum also houses just about every MiG jet fighter ever exported or build in Poland. In addition, there are western aircraft such as the Spitfire, T-6, F-84F, Jaguar, Viggen and many, many others. The museum also houses what has to be one of the largest sailplane and engine collections in the world. T
he author has divided the book into several sections covering up to the 1930s, 1930s to the present and the open air collection. It is outside that one will find most of the jets as there simply is not enough room to house these aircraft indoors. As such, some have shown the effects of being outside for so long.
Images are superbly done and all are in full color with a short history of each exhibit and how it came to be in the museum. It is a book that is serious eye candy and one that I can quite easily recommend to the enthusiast and casual reader alike.
MAM, August 2010 2011-08-06
Unexpected and interesting series, this book is the first of a new series dedicated to the major military museums across the World, and the publisher has chosen the Polish Aviation of Cracow in Poland to launch the series. After a short introduction on the Museum itself and its history, the author presents all aviation exhibits (which includes a chapter on the aero-engines) with a photo and a short text explaining the global historical background and how they have been obtained by the Museum. Some very rare pieces are on display like the only surviving PZL-11c, or unusual like the Northrop F-5E or the Cessna A-37B given by the Vietnamese after the fall of Saigon in 1975.
In case you were hesitating, this series provides the good reasons to visit the Museum if you are travelling close-by, and for sure an excellent guide as soon as you have crossed the entrance.
The only thing we can wish is a long live to this new series.
Amazon.co.uk customer review 2011-08-06
16 Aug 2010 By Alchemist (UK)
Having visited this aviation museum in the last year, I was interested to see what the book made of it. It was soon apparent that the information was totally up to date with reference to the new building, still being constructed when I was there.
The book is illustrated throughout in colour, with good size useful photos. Thankfully none of them have that annoying publishing trend of going across two pages so the vital bit you want to see is missing in the middle. The text deals with the history of the collection and there are informative notes on the aircraft. This covers the aircraft in general and special notes on the origins of some aircraft. This is very useful for the various versions of the Cold War era variants on display. The priceless Goering collection, evacuated from Berlin to Czarnkow in western Poland to avoid Allied bomber raids in WW2 and now in the museum, is covered in detail. Other rarities held by the museum, like the Heinkel He-5F and Messerschmitt Me-209V1 are illustrated and covered. The aero engine collection is also covered with each engine given a quarter page spread.
In summary, if you are thinking of visiting this museum, or have already done so, this is a worthwhile purchase. There was only a pretty superfical guide in Polish at the museum in late 2009.
MiniReplika 67 2010-10-17
Sp 10/2010 2010-10-17