December 2, 2010

Polish Inventions: WW2 Weapons Development and Technology

Poland had made enormous contributions to the Allied war effort during World War II. The Polish Army and Polish Air Force under British Command, fought in every major battle, including the Battle of Britain, Market Garden, Monte Cassino, El Alamein, and D-Day; the Polish Navy patrolled the oceans, intercepted enemy ships, provided escort to Allied merchant ships and naval convoys, and rescued Allied troops at Dunkirk. Despite Nazi occupation of Poland, the Polish Home Army carried out covert operations throughout Poland, transmitting intelligence information to British Command, in particular detailed diagrams of Hitler’s so-called “secret” V-1 and V-2 rockets. Among the greatest Polish accomplishments was cracking the Enigma Code, which gave the Allies the advantage they needed to win the War.

While Poland’s military record are legendary, little or nothing has been said about Polish weapons development and technology during the war years. When Poland was invaded in 1939, many of the Polish intelligentsia managed to escape, first to Romania, then to France, and finally England. They continued their work underground. In fact, the Polish Underground was the largest Resistance movement in Europe. They were the only one of its kind to actively produce weapons and munitions.

Polish scientists and engineers made significant contributions to the Allied war effort, most notably Kosacki, who invented the Polish mine detector; Rudolph Gundlach, who designed tanks and armoured cars - but is best known for his invention of the Gundlach Rotary Periscope; Jerzy Dabrowski, the lead aeronautical engineer who designed the famous Polish PZL 37 Los Medium Bomber; Wladyslaw J. Swiatecki, who invented the slip bomb device (which the British claimed to have invented) and many others.

Needless to say, because of the clandestine nature of their work it was essential that the Polish scientists maintained their anonymity. Consequently few are recognized by the West today even decades after the end of the war. Sad to say that the inventions are better known than the men who invented them.

Poland figures very prominently in the world of science and engineering, and its illustrious men and women have made extraordinary discoveries and contributions to the world of chemistry, engineering, electronics, astronomy, microbiology, neurology, computer science, mathematics, physics, and many other specializations. Though not comprehensive by any means, this blog presents a few of the inventions developed by Poland during World War II, as well as some background information about the ingenious Polish men who invented them.


  1.  Jozef Stanislaw Kosacki     Polish Mine Detector
  2.  Waclaw Struszynski      High Frequency Direction Finding System (Huff Duff)
  3.  Marceli Struszynski      Polish Chemist
  4.  Jerzy Dabrowski            PZL 37 Los Medium Bomber
  5.  Rudolph Gundlach        Gundlach Rotary Periscope
  6.  Rudoph Gundlach         Polish Armoured Car
  7.  Piotr Wilniewczyc and Jan Skrzypinski        Vis Pistol
  8.  Piotr Wilniewczyc and Jan Skrzypinski     Mors Submachine Gun
  9.  Jerzy Rudlicki                 V-Tail for Aircraft
10.  Henryk Wladyslaw Magnuski       Walkie-Talkie
11.  Wladyslaw J. Swiatecki       Slip Bomb Device
12.  Jan Czochralski          Rwz.42 hand grenade (Sidlowka) and Czochralski Process
13,  Wacław Zawrotny and Seweryn Wielanier    Blyskawica submachine gun
14.  Jozef Maroszek     Wz. 35 Anti-Tank Rifle
15.  National Ammunition Factory in Skarżysko-Kamienna   7.92mm cartridge
16.  TK-3 and TKS tankettes
17.  Grozny Armoured Train
18.  7 TP (7 ton tank, Polish)
19.  Granatnik wz. 36 Grenade Launcher
20.  Boleslaw Jurek     20mm  wz.38 Model A (FK-A)
21.  KIS (Polish machine pistol)  Jan Piwnik's "Ponury" ("Grim") guerrilla unit
22.  Polsten

 Polish Mine Detector
Jozef Stanislaw Kosacki
Jozef Stanislaw Kosacki (1909-1990) is credited with building the first operational mine detector. He graduated from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of Warsaw School of Reserve Officers and Engineers and worked as Head of the National Institute of Telecommunication. Kosacki served as a Signals Officer of the 1st Polish Army Corp, stationed in Scotland. Before the war he worked as a technician at the Department of Artillery of the Ministry of National Defense.

Shortly before Poland was invaded in 1939, he joined the Special Signals unit, a secret department whose mission it was to develop electronic appliances for the military. Meanwhile, Cpt. Eng. Tadeusz Lisicki, part of the team of the Army Research Office Technical Communications, was in the process of developing a prototype of an electric mine detector but did not complete his work before the outbreak of war on September 1, 1939. Unfortunately, Lisicki was unable to escape to the West.

By mid 1940, Kosacki working in collaboration with Andrew Garbosiem at the Training Centre of Communications, tested the prototype making significant improvements to it. A British call for tender resulted in submissions from several inventors. After having tested each one, they chose Kosacki’s detector as it was the most effective and fastest in detecting scattered metal coins. The British renamed it “Mine Detector Polish Mark 1” and manufactured 500 of them in 1942 for use by General Montgomery's Eighth Army in clearing mine fields at the Second Battle of El Alamein. They were able to double the speed at which British troops advanced, mining the sands at a rate of 100 to 200 meters an hour.

Two soldiers of the British Eight Army, El Alamein WW2 using Polish Mine-Detectors

The Polish Mine Detector weighed just under 30 pounds and could be operated by one man. It had two coils, one of which was connected to an oscillator which generated a current of an acoustic frequency. The other coil was connected to an amplifier and a telephone. When the coils came into proximity of a metallic object the balance between the coils was disrupted causing the telephone to report a signal.

The basic design has remained unchanged and was used by British forces during the 1991 Gulf War. The Mark 4c version was used by the British Army until 1995.


1. Detection plate
2. Two-part handle with counterweight
3. Operating box fixed on the handle
4. Amplifier and battery in the carrier bag
5. Headphones

During the War Kosacki's name had to be kept classified in order to protect his family, which remained trapped in Nazi-occupied Poland. Most of his patents were submitted under pseudonyms, including "Józef Kos," "Kozacki" and "Kozak." Consequently, in postwar historiography, his surname is often given incorrectly. (Time Magazine/Canadian Edition, March 8, 1999, page 18: The History of Landmines, by Mike Croll, first published in Great Britain in 1998 by Leo Cooper, an imprint of Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 47 Church Street, Barnsley S270 2AS, ISBN 0 85052 268 0: Page 54

After the war Kosacki returned to Poland, where he became the pioneer of electronics and nuclear machinery. For many years he held the Chair in electronics at the Institute for Nuclear Research at Świerk and was also a Professor at the Military Technical Academy in Warsaw. He died in 1990 and was buried with Military Honors.

Highly Recommeded Link:
Dangers of Afghanistan
An illustrated story about a mine disposal by Polish sappers from Sharana, Paktika, during the night shift:   Posted in the thread "Polish Soldiers all over the World",, June 2007,


Huff Duff on the HMS Belfast

Waclaw Struszynski (1905 - 1980) was a Polish electronic engineer. He worked at the British Admiralty Signal Establishment during World War II where he led a team of scientists in the development of a sophisticated high frequency radio direction finding system, also known as HF/DF (nick-named Huff-Duff). The team encountered initial engineering problems with the system due to the effects of the superstructure on the wave front of arriving radio signals but these problems were overcome with Struszynski;s  technical leadership.

The mechanism was designed to find the location of German U-boats. It was used on Allied ships and demonstrated vastly improved results over conventional methods. The Germans unwittingly revealed their location (by communicating with their bases) through the use of high frequency radios signals. They were under the mistaken notion that their location could never be detected as long as they deliberately kept their transmissions short.

Whenever the Germans transmitted a message, the Huff Duff was able to pick up on the bearing giving an approximate position of  the enemy vessel. The mechanism worked on the basis of an electronic emission rather than the content of any message, so that if the transmission was encrypted using an Enigma machine, it did not matter. As soon as the British were able to get a bearing, the information was immediately transmitted to all convoys at sea. This set into motion a complex chess game whereby the radio controllers of the Royal Navy attempted to guide Allied convoys past strings of U-boats.

The concept of a radio finding system was not new during WW2 and had been in use since the invention of wireless communication. The method required the use of two or more radio receivers to find the bearings of a radio transmitter. By using simple triangulation, the operator could find the approximate position of the transmitter and had to manually rotate a directional aerial and note where the signal was the strongest. In early detection systems, two bearings were taken, one in which the aerial was pointed directly towards, and directly away from the source, and the intersection plotted. More modern aerials used uni-directional methods.

Directional finding systems were used by early aviators to obtain bearings of radio transmitters at airfields by rotating the aerials above the cockpit. It was also used during World War I, by belligerent nations in an effort to obtain information about ship movements. It was a cumbersome and slow method which required tuning the radio as well as manually rotating an aerial.

The British-made Huff Duff was far superior than the conventional method. Its oscilloscope display as well as a fixed aerial afforded the operator instantaneous readings. More importantly, the Huff Duff was motor driven, which permitting continuous scanning, and it sounded an alarm whenever a frequency was detected.  Along with sonar, Ultra code breaking and radar, "Huff-Duff" was a valuable part of the Allies' strategy in detecting German U-boats in the Atlantic.

The British began installing the Huff Duff in 1942 on all convoy escort ships. It gave the Allies more accurate triangulation fixes on U-boats which were transmitting from over the horizon. (A feat beyond the capacity of conventional radar.) Hunter-Killer ships and aircraft were then dispatched immediately in the direction of the U-boats.

This new technology was the key to turning the tide against the German Kriegsmarine, and gave the Allies the much needed advantage. In an effort to fine-tune their strategy, the British Naval Intelligence, in 1944, set up groups of 5 on-shore DF systems. The bearings from each station would be combined and averaged for a more reliable reading. Four of these groups were established in Britain at Ford End in Essex, Anstruther in Fife, Bower in the Scottish Highlands and Goonhavern in Cornwall. It is still possible to see traces of the last two groups in Google satellite images. The British had planned to set up more groups in Iceland, Nova Scotia and Jamaica but confirmation was pending.

However simple averaging turned out to be less effective, and it led the team to rely on other statistical means. In addition, operators were called upon to grade the reliability of each of their readings in an effort to identify results which proved more stable and well defined. Incidentally, activity of several of these DF groups had continued into well into the 1970s.

The RAF used the Huff Duff during the Battle of Britain in a system called “Identification Friend or Foe” also nick-named “pipsqueak”. The system incorporated a clockwork mechanism that regulated the broadcast of a signal over an HF channel for four fourteen seconds of each minute. Each Fighter Command sector had HF/DF receiving stations that would evaluate the transmissions and report the bearings to each sector.

American historian Clay Blair Jr. praised Struszynski’s achievement as a “breakthrough of transcendent importance.” In his book 'Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted, 1942-1945.

After the end of the war, Struszynski worked at the Marconi Research Laboratories, Great Baddow, Essex, where he was a Consultant in communications research until his retirement.

Polish Chemist

Marceli Struszyński
Marceli Struszyński (1880 - 1959) was a Polish chemist. From 1938 to 1939 and 1945 to 1959 he was Professor of Warsaw University of Technology. (He was the father of Wacław Struszyński.)   His field of research was based on analytical chemistry and he developed an original classification of aions.

During World War II, he was part of the Polish Resistance and analyzed the fuel components of Hitlers V-2 rocket, the findings of which were reported to British Command. (Apparently, early testing of Nazi rockets were met with considerable problems. They frequently crashed shortly after take-off.  Members of the Polish Resistance were able to salvage one from the river before the Nazis could get to it.)

 Members of Polish Home Army salvage V-2 Rocket from Bug River, Poland

PZL 37 Los Medium Bomber

Jerzy Dąbrowski (1899 - 1967) was a Polish aeronautical engineer. He was the lead designer of the famous Polish PZL.37 Łoś Medium Bomber. He studied mechanical engineering at the Warsaw Technical University (Polytechnic), though he originally chose architecture. The Polytechnic offered specialty studies in aviation.

In 1924, Dąbrowski designed and built his first aircraft – an ultralight D-1 Cykacz (Ticker) bi-plane at the Centralne Warsztaty Lotnicze (Central Aviation Workshops) in Warsaw. In 1925 he was granted permission to complete pilot training at the 1st Air Regiment, but due to financial constraints had to withdraw a year later. At that time he began working at the Plage & Laskiewicz company and contributed to the design of the Lublin R.VIII, R.IX. and DUS-III. In 1928 he was invited to join the team at the PZL aviation works in Warsaw and together with Dr. Franciszek Misztal designed the all metal PZL.19 and the PZL.26 for the Challenge 1932 and Challenge 1934 contests.

Dąbrowski's greatest achievement was the design of the PZL 37 Los –  a medium bomber and very advanced for its time. It was an undertaking of enormous significance for Dabrowski as he had not ever worked on an airplane of this type and size.

In 1934 PZL submitted a proposal in response to a tender by the Polish Department of Aeronautics for a twin motor bomber. Among the specifications were that the bomber be able to carry a load of 2000 kg including 300 kg of bombs; reach an excess speed of 350 km/h and possess a range of 1200 km. In 1934, Dabrowski became Chief Engineer of the project after his preliminary designs won an internal
PZL contest.

The PZL 37 was constructed of all-metal body, with large elliptical wings and an aerodynamically designed fuselage. It was superb in design and function. According to its specifications, the bombs carried in the wing led to the design of an elongated aerodynamic cross section, which later was identified as a laminar flow airfoil.

More importantly, the PZL.37 could carry over 5000 lb of bombs (2500 kg) over a distance of 900 miles (1500 km) and 2200 lb (1000 kg) over 1400 miles (2200 km).

When World War II broke out, only 100 of these planes had been manufactured. The last few were built at the new Mielec plant located in southern Poland. But unfortunately only 36 of these planes were operational and in active service during the Invasion of Poland. About 18 were held in reserve at the Malaszewicze base, with a dozen more in training. The remainder were in the process of completion at PZL facilities in Warsaw and Mielec. During this time, Dabrowski designed a fighter plane, the PZL 62, that had promising features, but the war prevented its development.

During the Invasion, Dabrowski escaped to Romania and then to England where he worked as a Technical Officer with the Polish Air Force.

When the war ended he completed his degree, and worked at Percival Aircraft and Folland Aviation. He moved to the United States in 1955, working initially at the Cessna Aircraft Co., then at Stanley Aviation and finally Boeing where he specialized in advanced studies. He died while working in Renton, Washington on September 17, 1967.

Los PZL 37 (0:40sec)

General characteristics of PZL 37 Los
• Crew: 4
• Length: 12.92 m (42 ft 5 in)
• Wingspan: 17.93 m (58 ft 10 in)
• Height: 5.1 m (16 ft 9 in)
• Wing area: 53.5 m² (576 ft²)
• Empty weight: 4,280 kg (9,436 lb)
• Loaded weight: 8,865 kg with basic combat loading (19,526 lb)
• Max takeoff weight: 9,105 kg (20,070 lb)
• Powerplant: 2× Bristol Pegasus XX radial engines, 723 kW (970 hp) each

• Maximum speed: 412 km/h at 2,800 m with 1,995 kg bomb load (256 mph at 9200 ft with 4,397 lb bomb load)
• Range: 2,600 km (1,615 mi) with 1,760 kg bomb load and extra fuel tanks
• Combat radius: 1,000 km (620 mi)
• Service ceiling: 7,000 m (23,000 ft)
• Rate of climb: 4.7 m/s (925 ft/min)
• Wing loading: 166 kg/m² (34 lb/ft²)

• 3 x 7.92 mm karabin maszynowy obserwatora wz.37: 1 in the nose, 1 in the rear upper station, 1 in underbelly station
• Up to 2,580 kg (5,690 lb) of bombs (18 x 110 kg + 2 x 300 kg).
• Basic load 20 x 110 kg = 2,200 kg (4850 lb).
• Bomb load while operating from unprepared fields 880–1320 kg (1,940–2,910 lb) (8, 10 or 12 x 110 kg)

Gundlach Rotary Periscope & Armoured Car

Rudolf Gundlach (1894-1957) was a Polish engineer and inventor and head of the design division of the Armoured Weapons Development Office. He is famous for the invention of the Gundlach Rotary Periscope. It permitted 360 degree vision and was designed in such a way that the observer could view forward or back without having to adjust their seat, thereby greatly improving comfort and increased the angle of view. The design was incorporated in virtually every tank built after 1940.

He is also credited with having designed the Ursus wz 29 armoured car. Moreover he guided the design process for the prototypes of the 7TP light tank and the 10 TP fast tank. (the first implemented in TKS and 7TP Polish tanks.) In accordance with the terms of the Polish-British pre-war military cooperation, the patent was sold to Vickers-Armstrong. Subsequently the Vickers Tank Periscope MK.IV was built into all British tanks (such as Crusader, Churchill, Valentine, Cromwell). After the invasion of Poland, Germany, USSR and Romania captured this equipment, and were able to copy the specifications. In the Soviet Union, the Gundlach periscope was renamed the MK-4 and implemented in all tanks (including the T-34 and T-70).

The Axis retro-fitted the periscope in their tanks and APCs, including those of Italy, Romania, Hungary, Finland and Japan.) The technology was later transferred to the United States and implemented as the M6 periscope in all US tanks (M3/M5 Stuart, M4 Sherman and others). After the Second World War the technology was adopted thorough the whole world.

After the invasion of Poland, Gundlach managed to escape to France via Romania and worked in the Bureau of War Industry and the Ministry of Industry of the Polish Government in Exile. When France fell to the Nazis, he could not evacuate to England due to ill health and remained in Vichy France for the remainder of the war.

In 1947, after long drawn-out court battles, he finally received a substantial payment for his periscope patent from some of the producers of his invention. It allowed him to buy a farm near Paris, which he used as his home until his death.

The original Gundlach periscopes are still used in some tanks and APCs.

Samochód Pancerny wzór 29 (Polish Armoured Car)

In 1929 Gundlach invented the armoured car. Its design was based on the chassis of the Ursus - a 2-ton truck (Italian S.P.A. 25C modified by Ursus Mechanical Works in Warsaw). The armored body was built by CWS in Warsaw.  Originally, the vehicule was armed with a French 37 mm low velocity gun in the turret front, 7.92 mm machine guns in the turret left-rear and right-rear at 120 degrees to the gun (all operated by the commander), and another 7.92 mm MG in the hull rear (operated by the rear gunner).

Though it helped to achieve good balance of the turret, it was awkward to maneuver.  In the mid-30s the right turret MG was removed. The car carried 96 rounds for the main gun and 4032 MG rounds in 16 252-round belts.

The vehicle was sufficiently armed and armored for late 1920s, but was underpowered, lacked all-wheel drive (which led to poor off-road mobility) and had high silhouette. Because of these limitations, only 10 to 13 armoured cars were built.

Vis Pistol & Mors Submachine Gun

Vis (Polish designation pistolet wz. 35 Vis, German designation 9 mm Pistole 35(p) has often been called Radom pistol, though incorrectly. It was designed by Piotr Wilniewczyc and Jan Skrzypinski in 1930 at Lucznik Arms Factory in Radom, Poland under Director Kazimierz Oldakowski. It is one of the finest handguns ever produced and is highly sought after and prized by avid collectors.

Tests of the firearm had positive results: despite its size and mass, the handgun was very accurate and stable and most stresses were absorbed and not passed on the shooter. Moreover, it remained reliable even after firing more than 6,000 rounds.

The Vis was one of the best military pistols of the period. Production began in 1935 in Poland’s Fabryka Broni, at Radom and a year later it was introduced as the standard weapon for the Polish Army. By 1942 all other handguns were withdrawn from service. Before the Invasion of Poland, roughly 49,000 were delivered to the Polish Army (90,000 had been ordered).

After Poland collapsed, the Nazis took over the Radom Armory and continued the production of Vis under the new name of 9mm Pistole 645 (p). P meaning Polnisch. In the first series of pistols, the Germans inscribed “ VIS Mod.35 “ and “P.35(p)” on the left side of the firearm. By 1945, up to 380,000 pistols were produced and used by German paratroopers and police.

The Germans moved production to Steyr in Austria, for fear that Polish technicians working in the armory would supply the Home Army with weapons. But unknown to the Germans, the Polish Underground in Warsaw were secretly producing Vis barrels, and several hundred pistols had already been manufactured from parts smuggled out of the Steyr factory. These weapons were used by the Poles during the Warsaw Uprising, and other battles.

After 1939, the Vis pistols were issued in four different series. Each had small modifications, the last of the series had no inscriptions at all except for bnz signature. The original Vis was of high quality but throughout the war years it steadily lost its quality. Its production was discontinued after the war. In its place, the Army of the People’s Republic of Poland used the Soviet TT-33 pistol (much inferior to the Vis).

In August 1992, the Lucznik Arms Factory reintroduced the Vis pistol for the collector’s market. Some 27 pistols were produced according to the original plans and specifications.

MWP Mors Kbsp wz38M Submachine gun

In the years prior to World War II, the Polish Army tested several different foreign submachine guns: the American Thompson, Finnish Suomi, Belgian Erma and Swiss Neuhausen.  Between 1936 and 1938, Piotr Wilniewczyc and Jan Skrzypinski designed the Piostolet maszynowy wz.39 Mors (Mors is Latin for death, Polish for walrus), It was chosen as the standard submachine gun of the Polish Army unfortunately its production was halted when war broke out.

Its design was largely based on the German ERMA EMP-35 and featured a wooden butt and forward pistol grip. The most noticeable difference was that in the Mors design, the magazine was attached  downwards rather than to the left side.

Originally the SMG was issued to some of the infantry units, boarding parties of the Polish Navy, armoured trains and tank crews.  But the idea of equipping the latter was abandoned because of the weapons size.

Testing indicated that weapon was reliable and durable and the first series of orders were placed in March 1939 with additional purchases planned.  By September 1939 the Fabryka Karabinów in Warsaw produced only 39 pieces, 3 of them being prototypes.  During the Invasion of Poland, all available weapons were issued to one infantry battalion.  Though too few in number, the weapons were used with success during the defensive battles.  Only 2 or 3 SMG remain:  one is on display in the Polish Army Museum in Warsaw (acquired from the Soviet Union in late 1980s), the other is in Russia and perhaps a third one in a Budapest museum.

V-Tail for Aircraft

Jerzy Rudlicki (1893-1977) was a Polish aerospace engineer who invented the V-tail configuration for aircraft. It combined the ailerons and elevators into one system. He was the main designer of the Polish Plage i Laśkiewicz works and designed aircraft under the Lublin brand. In 1943 Rudlicki created an updated version of the American B-17 Flying Fortress.

Editors Note:  Many military planes since then have incorporated the V-tail, foremost the US Stealth Bomber, (click on link to see a photo)

Recommended Link:


Henryk Władysław Magnuski (1909-1978) was a Polish telecommunications engineer. He was the inventor of the Walkie-Talkie and had great success in his company working in the field of radio communication.

He lost both parents at a relatively early age and supported himself and his sister Janina by repairing and installing radios for the Polish military. In 1934, he received his degree from Warsaw University of Technology and began working for the StateTele and Radiotechnical Works (Państwowe Zakłady Tele i Radiotechniczne) in Warsaw.

The company sent him to New York in June 1939 to study the latest American projects of radio transmitters. He was unable to return to Poland as war broke out soon afterward. 

In 1940 Magnuski started working for the Galvin company in Chicago, later renamed Motorola. He is credited with three patents for the Motorola SCR-300 FM "Walkie-Talkie" radio. It became hugely popular with American troops in Europe. He also invented the AN/CPN-6 Radar Beacon, a microwave device which helped carrier pilots find their ship in conditions of low atmospheric visibility. He received a U. S. Navy Certificate of Commendation for Outstanding Service.

At the end of the war he decided to remain in the United States and continued his work. He helped to develop the VHF cavity resonators: this allowed adjacent channel operation. He was a key designer for the Motorola Sensicon receiver which used a selective filter in front of the IF amplifier, and created microwave relay equipment for use in transmitting multi-channel telephone, data and TV. In Motorola's Government Electronics Division he developed the SSB Radio Central Concept AN/USC-3, Motorola’s RADEM system (RADAS), the Deltaplex I digital troposcatter system and lightweight tropo equipment AN/TRC-105.

After 30 years of dedication to the company, at his retirement he was named the Associate Director of Research for Motorola's Government Electronics Division. 

He had created 30 patents related to VHF and microwave communications, was an IEEE Fellow and author of numerous technical papers and a chapter in the "Communication System Engineering Handbook".

Sadly, he succumbed to cancer at his home in Glenview, Illinois and passed away on May 4, 1978.

The Henry Magnuski Electrical and Computer Engineering professorship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is named in his honor. It is currently held by Professor Richard Blahut.
On October 6th, 2006, Henryk Magnuski was one of the first five inductees into the Illinois Engineering Hall of Fame.

Slip Bomb Device

Władysław J. Świątecki (1895-1944) was a Polish inventor and airman. His father was a General Practitioner in St Petersburg. He flew in the War of Liberation for Poland 1918 – 1920 and decorated with the order Virtuti Militari, the highest Polish decoration for bravery.

Wladyslaw J. Świątecki invented the slip bomb device patented in 1926. Although the device was intended to be used for the Karas light bomber, the device was handed over to other European air forces before the war. 

When Poland was invaded in 1939, Swiatecki escaped through Hungary, Yugoslavia and Italy to France and worked in Paris as a military engineer. Then, when France collapsed in June 1940, he escaped again, with his family, travelling to North Africa and finally by ship to England. There he demonstrated his device to the Ministry of Aircraft Production and served as Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force.
The slip device was modified for use in the Lancasters of the 9, 12 and 617 Squadrons of the Royal Air Force for the use of Grand Slam and Tallboy giant aerial bombs. The Boeing B-29 was modified to carry Grand Slam and Tallboy and the giant 42000 lb T-12 bomb; the slip device (The D-9 carrier) was a modification of the Swiatecki bomb slip.

These weapons were the most successful air dropped bombs before the atomic bomb. In Project Harken and Project Ruby the Swiatecki devices performed flawlessly.

Swiatecki died in April 1944 and was buried in Edinburgh.

His slip device was the subject of debate at the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors from 1946 to 1955. The Ministry claimed the device was invented at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough and developed by Vickers Armstrongs. The family received an ex gratia award of £350.

Rwz. 42 hand grenade

Jan Czochralski (pronounced cho-HRAL-skee) was born October 23, 1885 in Kcynia - and died April 22, 1953 in Poznań) He was a Polish chemist who invented the Czochralski process, which is used to grow single crystals and is used in the production of semiconductor wafers. He was years ahead of his time. His discovery was published in a German chemistry journal, entitled, “ Ein neues Verfahren zur Messung der Kristallisationsgeschwindigkeit der Metalle" [A new method for the measurement of the crystallization rate of metals]. Finally, in 1950 American Bell Labs used his method to grow single germanium crystals followed by the production of suitable semiconductors.

From 1917 to 1928, Czochralski was in charge of the research laboratory "Metallbank und Metallurgische Gesellschaft” and in 1919 was one of the founding members, and President (until 1925) of the German Society for Metals Science (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Metallkunde). He moved to Poland in 1928 at the request of Polish President Ignacy Mościcki, and became the Professor of Metallurgy and Metal Research at the Chemistry Department of the Warsaw University of Technology.

During World War II he was one of a team of engineers involved in the development and construction of the R wz. 42 hand grenade, or Sidlowka, for the Home Army (Armia Krajowa). It was first produced in 1942 at the Warsaw University of Technology under his leadership. The design of the Sidlowka was partially based on an earlier model of the Filipinka grenade, also produced by the Polish Underground, which in turn was based on the Polish ET-38 anti-tank grenade, produced before the war. Its primer and the detonator were designed by two Polish engineers in Warsaw, pyrotechnician Władysław Pankowski and engineer Józef Michałowski.
Polish Underground WW2 Lwov Grenade Production

Various types of Sidolówka coatings along with two satchel charges and a single anti-tank bottle
Filipinka (right) and sidolówka on exhibition in the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising

It was a fragmentation grenade with a P-42 friction primer and a 4.5 second delay time. Until the end of the World War II, an estimated 350,000 R-42 were produced in Polish underground factories. A large number of such grenades were used in the Warsaw Uprising and other battles of Operation Tempest.

But at the end of the war, he was stripped of his professorship for his alleged involvement with Germany but later cleared of any wrongdoing by order of a Polish court. Around 1900 he had moved to Berlin where he worked at a pharmacy. Czochralski was educated at the Charlottenburg Polytechnic in Berlin, specializing in metal chemistry and in 1907 worked as engineer for Allgemeine Elektrizitäts Gesellschaft (AEG).

He returned to his native town of where he ran a small cosmetics and household chemicals company until his death in 1953.

“What a wacky world, Bill Gates is the richest man on earth and most people don't even know how to pronounce "Czochralski!"
(Microwave Hall of Fame, Part I)

Blyskawica Submachine Gun

The Blyskawica, meaning "lightning" was a submachine gun produced during World War II by Wacław Zawrotny and Seweryn Wielanier . They approached the Polish Home Army, (Armia Krajowa) the Polish resistance movement with the idea of mass producing the weapon and it was readily accepted.  That it was mass produced at all is a remarkable feat for the Poles, as the Nazi occupation made it extremely difficult to conduct covert activity.

It was a cheap, home-made machine gun with features so simple that it could easily be manufactured in small workshops by inexperienced engineers. To facilitate production, all parts of the weapon were fastened together with screws and threads rather than bolts and welding,  a method commonly used in firearm production ever since the 17th century.

The design of the Blyskawica was based on two of the most popular machine pistols of the era. The external construction with a retractable butt and magazine mounted below the gun was borrowed from the successful German MP-40. The internal design of the mechanism was modeled after the British Sten. Blow-back, with an open bolt, it offered good performance and high reliability.  But unlike the British Sten (and its Polish clone called the Polski Sten) it employed a free-floating firing pin.

By September 1943, a prototype was ready and after extensive tests in the forests outside of Zielonka (near Warsaw), the weapon was delivered to the Commanding Officer of the KeDyw, August Emil Fieldorf. Production began in November and plans were distributed to secret workshops throughout Poland. The name was coined after the three lightning bolts carved on the prototype by its designers, pre-war workers of the Elektrit company that used a similar logo. (Editors note:  ORP Blyskawica is the name of Polands Grom-class Destroyer and the only ship in the Polish Navy to have been awarded the Virtuti Militari. It is presently preserved as a museum ship in the Port of Gdynia. Two days before the outbreak of war the ORP Blyskawica escaped to England.)

Production of the weapons were carried on in a workshop officially producing metal fence nets. After a series of tests proved successful the KeDyw ordered 1000 guns, and later an additional 300. Approximately 600 weapons were produced up to July 1944 and the start of the Operation Tempest.  An additional 40 were built during the Warsaw Uprising.

Young Polish Soldier firing Blyskawica during Warsaw Uprising

 Wz. 35 anti-tank rifle

The Karabin przeciwpancerny wzór 35, or "kb ppanc wz. 35"; was a Polish Wz model 35 7.92 mm anti-tank rifle. It was designed by Jozef Maroszek by order of the Polish Committee of Equipment and Armament on August 1, 1935. Its design was based on the Mauser rifle, with the action modified to sustain the higher pressure of the new cartridge and the barrel lengthened significantly.

The first tests began in October 1935 at Brześć and Pionki and demonstrated that the rifle was capable of penetrating a 15 mm steel plate at a distance of 300 metres with similar results against angled steel plate.  It was a bolt-action rifle, fed from a 4-round box magazine. The barrel was equipped with a muzzle brake for greater accuracy and to limit the recoil. The brake absorbed approximately 65% of the shot energy and the recoil was comparable to the standard Mauser rifle, even though the cartridge carried more than twice the amount of propellant.

Initially the barrel could only sustain only  up to 30 shots, after which it had to be replaced with a new one. This drawback was immediately corrected and the final prototype could fire approximately 300 shots. The new design was approved by the Committee on November 25, 1935, and in December the Ministry of Military Affairs ordered the delivery of 5 rifles, 5000 cartridges and a set of spare barrels for further tests.

Tests conducted by the Centre of Infantry Training in Rembertów proved the effectiveness and reliability of the kbk ppanc wz.35 and the Ministry ordered 7610 rifles to be delivered to the Polish Army by the end of 1939.  Approximately 6000 rifles were delivered by September 1939 and were used by the Polish Army during the German Invasion of Poland.

The weapon was at first a top secret of the Polish Army, and was known by various codenames.  Until Polish Forces mobilized in 1939, the rifles were kept in closed crates marked, " Do Not Open: Surveillance Equipment."

After the invasion and collapse of Poland, the German army confiscated large quantities of the kb ppanc wz.35 renaming them as "Panzerbüchse 35 (polnisch)" (abbreviated "PzB 35(p)").  The Italian army also received many of the rifles, renaming it "fucile controcarro 35(P)." Roughly translated, both German and Italian names mean, "Anti-tank Rifle 35 (Polish)."

In early 1940, Krystyna Skarbek and fellow Polish couriers smuggled one of the rifles (stock and barrel sawed off) out of Poland across the the Tatra Mountains into Hungary for the Allies.  However, the rifle could not be used by the Allies because the drawings and specifications had to be destroyed by the Poles during the invasion of Poland. (Reverse engineering would have been time-consuming.)

Simultaneously, National Ammunition Factory in Skarżysko-Kamienna was also given the order to develop a 7.92mm cartridge with a muzzle velocity of over 1,000 metres per second.

In comparison to other armour-piercing designs, the DS round was unique - instead of using tungsten or another hard metal, it used lead like that of a standard ball with a steel jacket.

The penetration was not through punching the core through the armor but from the impact of the bullet flattening against the plate, transferring kinetic energy to the metal. Its success required that the bullet sustain a very high velocity. The result was that the bullet was punching a fragment, about 20 mm in diameter, out of the armour, a size larger than the actual rifle caliber. In effect this fragment would then ricochet inside of an armoured vehicle, causing damage to the engine or killing the crew.

 TK-3 and TKS

Good illustration of just how small the TK-3 was
Add TKS armed with the 7,92 mm Hotchkiss wz. 25 machine gun
The design of the TK-3 was based on the 1931 model of the British Carden-Loyd tankette. But the Polish tankette was an improved version, produced with thicker armour.

Poland produced 575 of these tanks, each equipped with only a machine gun. They were significantly inferior to that of most German tanks and armoured cars.  However, the tankettes were being upgraded to the 20mm FK-A wz. 38 tank gun which would have penetrated the armour of most German armoured vehicles.  Unfortunately, only a few had been completed by the time of the Invasion of Poland.

Several variations were built on the chassis, most notably the C4P artillery tractor. The TKS was exported to Estonia and Croatia, and several tankettes were captured by Germany and used for occupational duties.

Grozny Armoured Train

One of the "Groźny's" final artillery wagons, probably in summer 1920 (from BP 56 "Kommunar"). The train's name is painted on a side, under the emblem. Armament: two 76.2mm guns and 8 MGs (note the armoured covers for side MGs). The wagon has unmodified armour skirts yet. An inscription under a turret probably says: "We create: / kill / and breed"

The original "Grozny"  was built in January 1919 at the Warsaw railway workshops, as well as the Nr. 15 armoured train (P.P. 15 - Pociąg Pancerny nr 15). The original model consisted of improvised partially protected freight wagons (two wagons protected with concrete in Nowy Sącz workshops, and a number of wagons protected with sand laye. (Detailed specifications and photos are not available.). It participated in the early part of the Polish-Soviet war in 1919 but was soon disbanded as it demonstrated little combat value.  Subsequent models were improvised with captured Soviet single-turret and twin-turret artillery wagons with fitted machine guns.

Pociąg Pancerny nr 11 "Danuta" (Armoured Train no 11)  (0.32sec)

Single Turret 7 TP Polish Tank

The 7TP siedmiotonowy polski  was a Polish tank of the Second World War. It was based on the British Vickers 6-ton tank and heavily armed, making it superior to the German Panzer 1 and Panzer II tanks. It was the standard tank used by the Polish Army during Defensive Wars in September 1939.   Its chassis was used as the base for the C7P artillery tractor.

The main new features of 7TP were: a better, more reliable and powerful diesel engine (which made the 7TP one of the world's first diesel tanks, (preceeded only by the Japanese Type 89B I-Go Otsu of 1934), 37 mm anti-tank gun and a bit thicker armour (in front, 17 mm instead of 13 mm), together with many minor modifications and additions (like the Gundlach tank periscope, different air conditioning system and a radio). Only about 132 tanks were produced between 1935 and the outbreak of the war (plus four iron prototypes). The designation 7TP meant: 7-Ton, Polish (in fact its weight increased after the initial prototype was made and the actual serial tanks weighted approximately 9 tonnes).

(Editors Note: Before World War II broke out, Poland was in the process of developing many prototypes of armoured vehicules (as well as airplanes). Much of Polish arsenal consisted of modified foreign weapons as well as those captured from enemy forces. When Poland was invaded on September 1, 1939, the Polish army had approximately 600 to 1,000 light tanks and tankettes (compared to the 2,000 to 3,000 tanks of the Germans), a single armoured brigade, two battalions of 6-ton tanks, as well as two motorized brigades that had one company of 6-ton tanks, and two companies of tankettes.  There were also 17 infantry divisions, 3 infantry brigades, 6 cavalry brigades. The reconnaissance squadron had twelve Cavalry Brigades, with thirteen tankettes and eight armoured cars.  While the German war machine far outnumbered and outclassed Polish weaponry, the Polish Army was able to inflict numerous casualties on the enemy.)

Czolg 7TP Polish Tank in action (01:56m)

Suggested Websites:
Polish Tanks and Tankettes
Polish Tankettes TK-3 and TKS (development and specifications)
World War II Vehicules (Poland)
The TK Family of Tankettes 
WWII Blog by Anonymous

Granatnik wz. 36
Polish Grenade Launcher


The Granatnik wz.36 was a Polish grenade launcher designed in originally in 1920 as "wz.30" and later modified in 1936, it  entered service in 1936 becoming standard grenade launcher of the Polish Army and was in use during the German invasion of Poland in 1939.

20mm wz. 38 Model A (FK-A)
on anti-aircraft tripod mounting

This weapon was designed by Boleslaw Jurek in 1937 at the Fabryka Karabinow (Rifle Factory) in Warsaw. It was given the designations of FK-A or FK wz.38 which refers to the factory which produced them.  Before WW2, it was classified in Poland as the heaviest machine gun.  By November 1937, a prototype had been completed and testing confirmed that it was far better than foreign guns including the Oerlikon and Madsen.  Though the Model A had a simpler construction, it was deemed more accurate and reliable and capable of penetrating the same armour plates from a distance 200 metres further than previously established.  In 1938, the Model A cannon was accepted by the Polish Army as a tank armament and anti-aircraft weapon. Only a limited number of units were accepted pending the completion of improved models C and D.  Improvements were also made on the heavy and light tripod mountings to accomodate anti-aircraft actions. 

The 20mm cannon model A was recoil-operated (short recoil). It could fire single or series shots. It was fed from 5-round box magazines (10-round magazines were in development). As a tank gun, it was fitted with a butt and a telescopic sight.
The ammunition was also developed in Poland, modeled after "long" Solothurn ammunition 20x138 mm (During testing, Solothurn bullets were used with Polish cartridges and were found to be identical to Polish ammunition.)

The following armour piercing rounds were developed:
- PWS - explosive round with a tracer and base fuze (APHE-T),
- PZS - ignition round with a tracer (API-T), and practice rounds: PC and PCS (the last with a tracer).
For AA duties there were developed: an explosive round LWS with a tracer and a sensitive fuze, practice rounds: LC and LCS (the last with a tracer), and drum magazines 15- and 100-round.
Before the war, about 90,000 AP rounds were ordered. 

Gun weight - 57.6 kg, barrel weight without muzzle brake - 20.2 kg, muzzle brake weight - 1 kg.
Gun length with muzzle brake - 2015 mm (without muzzle brake - 1895 mm), barrel length with muzzle brake - 1470 mm (without muzzle brake - 1350 mm), gun width with lock handles - 202,5 mm (without lock handles - 102,5 mm).
Max. range - about 7000 m. Max. bullet velocity - 820 - 858 m/s (depending on ammunition), theoretical rate of fire - 320 rds/min.

Jan Piwnik's "Ponury" ("Grim") guerrilla unit  

 "Ponury" ("Grim") guerrilla unit

Kis was the name of a Polish machine pistol from the time of the Second World War. It was designed and manufactured by engineers in Jan Piwnik's "Ponury" ("Grim") guerrilla unit that was operating in Holy Cross Mountains region. This weapon was remarkable because it was the only one of its kind that could be manufactured in a forest without sophisticated tools and factory equipment.

Caliber: 9 mm 
Ammunition: 9x19 Parabellum
Overall length: 600 mm 
Barrel length: 220 mm 
Resonance effect: 100 m 
Power: 32 rounds magazine

The SMG was developed by a team of three designers from whom the weapons were nicknamed: Polycarp Rybicki (aka "Mosquito"), Witold Szafrański (aka "Igo") and Stanislaw Skorupka (aka "Smrek)


Polish-Czech-British Team of Designers

Polsten 20mm Quad

Three 20mm Polsten guns mounted on a Canadian carrier
The Polsten was a low cost Polish version of the 20 mm Oerlikon gun. It was as effective as the Oerlikon but much simpler and cheaper to produce.

When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, the design team escaped to England and resumed work together with Czech and British designers.  The weapons went into service in March 1944 alongside the Oerlikon, both of which used similar 60 round drum magazines. However the Polsten was designed to use a simpler box magazine of 30 rounds. The Polsten remained in service well into the 1950s.

Without sacrificing quality or performance, the Polsten cannon was made out of only 119 parts, making it cheaper to produce at approximately £60 to £70 each. In contrast, the Oerlikone cannon was made out of 250 parts and cost £350 each.

1944 Polsten Quad (uploaded 2008- demonstration)   (01:50m)

The Polsten was used as a substitute for the Oerlikon in various roles: as an airborne unit anti-aircraft gun; attached to a wheeled mounting that could be towed behind a jeep and for armoured vehicles equipped with anti-aircraft guns based on the Cromwell/Centaur tank;

Various double, triple and quadruple mounts were developed by a Canadian company, John Inglis Limited (Toronto, Ontario),  which produced many thousands of guns and some 500 quadruple mountings, but saw limited service at the end of the war. These multiple mounts were both trailered and truck mounted.

The Polsten was also mounted on early models of the Centurion tank not coaxially with the main gun but in an independent mount on the left hand side of the turret.

Suggested Link:
Anti-Aircraft Polsten 20mm Quad

To reiterate, I have mentioned only some of the Polish inventions mentioned here but there are many more to learn about.  The following video is very interesting as it provides photos of the many variations of Polish tanks, an amphibious version, armoured cars, as well as Polish fighter planes and bombers.  It was impossible to include everything on this blog.

Polish military Technology prior and during WW2/ Part.1    (13:48m)

Suggested Links:





  1. Great site!!! A lott of information. Im also busy with my own site about Polish History and during WW2.

  2. Jan Hoppe:
    "I knew widow and daughter of Waclaw Struszynski (Ewa Smitwick) in Calgary Canada in a second half of 1980s.
    They lived in the modest house.
    I learned from Dutch expert's about technical contribution of Waclaw S. to Huff-Duff. Next came several web pages about battle of Atlantic and Wikipedia article.
    I tried to deliver to Ewa S. detailed information about her father works for an article in polish periodical "Glaukopis" but they did not use it.
    Also former dean of Faculty of Electronics of Warsaw Polytechnic (Waclaw S. have lectured there before the second World War) never heard about this genius.
    Things like that unfortunately happen. This web page is excellent and thank you profoundly for your contribution.

  3. My father, Leszec Zieleniewski, worked for one of these Polish weapon design teams. In the latter stages of the war he was based at the Drill Hall in Cheshunt Hertfordshire. He graduated from Warsaw Polytechnic in mechanical engineering. I still have various papers, some drawings and an exercise book with what I think are ballistic calculations.

    1. Please hold onto those notes and drawings! You may want to consider writing a book about your father's work. The subject of Polish weapons development is fascinating, and has great international appeal. Wishing you the best of luck!! Keep in touch with your news!

    2. He spoke little of his work, presumably because it was secret. I know some of it involved automation of cartridge ejection after firing. I think he also worked on aircraft cannon firing systems. I once saw a patent application in his and his colleagues' names so they were quite advanced in their thinking. In 1939, he was a cadet officer on the Eastern front where he was briefly a Bolshevik prisoner before outwitting them and escaping. He was in trouble again on the Hungarian border, nearly shot in fact, when he was found with weapon drawings hidden in his clothing. I think these were ideas he had for an anti-tank weapon, I'm not sure. He ascribed his survival in that period and eventual escape to France through the Balkans as a 'miracle'. His brother, incidentally, was a flyer. I've seen his paybooks from Polish, French and British airforces. He lied about his age to join the RAF and was 41 or 42, I think, when killed in action over Germany in 1942. These men all had great stories and it is much to my regret that I took no proper notes of his reminiscences.

    3. They were Great men indeed with truly amazing stories. You must be very proud of your father, and your uncle for their immense sacrifices and courage. You have quite a lot of facts but if you want more information, may I suggest that you contact the Ministry of Defense of Great Britain, as well as that of France, and of Poland, for your father's (and uncle's)military records. However, the MOD might not be willing to release any particularly secret military files. Such information is still heavily guarded, even after sixty-seven years since the end of WW2. (But it's worth a try). I must say that it is an honour and a pleasure to receive messages such as yours. I am proud to post them here to share with the world. My Best Wishes to you and yours.

  4. Ohh wow, never thought i will find site about topics like that, it was a pleasure to read all the info. Im polish born and lived in there for most of my life, my grandfather who was fighting the nazis was telling me some of the facts that i just read here. Too bad that most of the people dont know about it, its even more sad that most of polish dont know their history. I guess that 40years under USSR taken its toll, history been changed to their needs and even after 20years of freedom history lessons in polish education system are something you question a lot