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Extraordinary exhibit at the museum: PWS-16bis propeller

Wed, 10/12/2016 - 14:06

Happy news for our growing exhibits collection! A wooden PWS-16bis aircraft propeller has arrived at the Museum. The propeller is yet another find in our campaign "Exhibits Come Back to Poland", the campaign especially designed to retrieve valuable, historical, Polish artifacts from the hands of foreign collectors. The propeller arrived from Germany, just like the Polish cavallery sabre from 1934 found in Leverkusen.

PWS-16bis was a unique aeroplane, and only about twenty were built between 1935-1939. Szomanski Propeller Factory provided propellers for many military and civilian aircraft (see logo on propeller). The PWS-16bis were mainly auxiliary and reconaissance aircraft used, for instance, to haul gliders during international glider competition in Rhon-Wasserkuppe in 1937, where Polish pilots won in two categories. What is known of the aircraft’s military involvement is that one PWS-16bis was flown by Cpt. Piorunkiewicz for reconaissance and combat during the last battle of September 1939, the battle of Kock. It was eventually damaged and definitely grounded on 4th October 1939.

Wiemy, że jeden PWS-16bis, którego pilotował kpt. Piorunkiewicz, był wykorzystywany w plutonie lotniczym Samodzielnej Grupy Operacyjnej „Polesie” gen. Kleeberga do zwalczania wojsk niemieckich w ostatniej bitwie Wojny 1939 roku – pod Kockiem. 4 października 1939 r. został uszkodzony i definitywnie uziemiony. Następnego dnia gen. Kleeberg skapitulował – powiedział w rozmowie ze „Strefą Historii” Mariusz Wójtowicz-Podhorski, pełniący obowiązki dyrektora Muzeum Westerplatte i Wojny 1939.

An amazing coincidence occured: the propeller arrived at the Museum on 4th October 2016, the exact date of the final flight of possibly the last operational PWS-16bis. Perhaps only two or three undamaged, full-length propellers exist in the hands of collectors around the world. Therefore, the propeller will become a priceless, unique item in our collection, a pivotal point of the exhibition relating to heroic battles of Polish airmen in 1939.

The acquisition of the propeller was made possible with support from Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Minister Jarosław Sellin, and private collector Szymon Puchalski. "For me, the PWS-16bis propeller has an emotional value, and I am extremely happy that the whole operation found its happy end at our Museum", says Mariusz Wójtowicz, the Museum's director.