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11
Polish Aviation Museum, Kraków - Part 3

In the exposition in this hangar we can find three more “islands of airplanes”. Each of them gathers together interesting or unique machines. In the left one we can find “the last of the many” of the Polish pre-war trainers: a biplane PWS-26. This particular machine was used by the Polish Air Force before the war and was found near Poznań in 1949. After repair it was in use between 1949 and 1953. In 1954 it was withdrawn from active service and finally given to the Museum. Next to the PWS stands another unique machine: a Kukułka (“Cuckoo”). The plane was designed and home-made in a block of flats, in a room with an area of just 8 square metres. After service in the local flying club its designer and constructor, Eugeniusz Pieniążek, used the Cuckoo to escape from Communist Poland to Yugoslavia in 1971, and finally to Austria. Following many further adventures, it was moved to Sweden few years later and in 90's was brought back to Poland. In 2004 the airplane was still airworthy when was given to the Museum by its owner.

There's also a de Havilland Tiger Moth, shown in the camouflage and markings of the 25th (Polish) Flying School at Hucknall, Great Britain in June 1941. The last airplane in this group is a Piper L-4A Grasshopper. It originally belonged to the American 9th Air Force and flew in Africa and Italy. After the war was bought by the Polish government and used in flying clubs.

On the opposite side, in the third “isle”, we can see five more planes. The best known is of course the Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe. Originally built in 1944, this Spitfire was assigned to 421Sqn, RCAF. In the 1960s it was one of the stars in the famous “Battle of Britain” movie. In Kraków it represents the colours of 308th (Polish) Fighter Squadron. Another very significant warplane is the Russian Night Witches – Polikarpov Po-2LNB. This plane was built in 1944 and used in the Polish 2nd Night Bombers Regiment “Kraków”. It is a unique example of the bomber. Two other Russian designs are Yakovlev airplanes: the Yak-11 is a two-seater training airplane, while the Yak-12 is a four-seater high-wing monoplane. Both of these Yaks were given to the Museum straight from active service. Last plane in this group is a Zlin Z-26 Trener. The Z-26 is the first of the well-known line of training Zlins. Used till 1974, it was handed over by the last owner – the Aeroclub of Kraków.

Close to the back wall of the hangar stands the last group of exhibits. In the left-hand corner of the building we see another unique machine, the fuselage of a Curtiss Hawk II. This particular plane is one of the two Hawks bought by the Third Reich in mid 1930s. Registered as D-IRIK, it was exhibited at the Olympiad in 1936 in Berlin. Further along the wall we see a Cessna UC-78A Bobcat. This Bobcat was bought after the war by the Polish government and used till 1967 and then handed-over to the Museum. Next in line is another American plane, the North American T-6G Texan. This machine was built in 1949 and saw combat action in the French Air Force in Algeria between 1954 and 1961. It has been on display in Kraków since 1993. A representative of Poland's southern neighbour, today the Czech Republic but 60 years ago Czechoslovakia, is the Avia B.33, a licence-built of IL-10. This machine was built in 1952 and twelve years arrived in the exhibition in Kraków. The last plane in the hall is a Russian Tupolev Tu-2S. Used for experiments with the ejection seats in the 50s, it was simply scrapped by the users and handed-over to the Museum, where stands to this today.

In front of these planes the Museum has exhibited an interesting collection of aircraft machine guns and cannons. It's a great opportunity to become convinced just how much damage a bullet shot from some of these can cause. There are also few parts of a P-39 Aircobra, such as a wing with the undercarriage leg and a cut-away of the vertical stabiliser with rudder. When you take a look inside, for example in the wheel well, you can check what the real shade of “interior green” or “yellow zinc chromate” was. Well, what's the colour then?

That's about it for the biggest hangar of the Polish Aviation Museum in Kraków. We will continue the tour in the next parts as there is still much more for aviation enthusiasts to see.
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About Mecenas