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PZL.23 Karas

Orange • 2004
AuthorsTomasz J. Kopański
IllustratorArtur Juszczak
Release date2004-08-01
Cat. No.8101
CategorySold Out CategoryWyprzedana
Format240x165 mm (B5), 144 pages (32 in colour)
Price0.00 PLN Price0.00 GBP

A Poland's light attack bomber at the time of the German invasion of 1939, the P.23 Karas (crucian carp) was flung into action against the German ground forces and Luftawffe. Despite enormous bravery the overwhelming odds resulted in catastrophic losses. Only current English language book on this important W.W.II attack aircraft, one of the first machines to oppose Germany's Luftwaffe in 1939. It contains: Scale plans, photos and drawings from Technical Manuals, Superb colour illustrations of camouflage and markings, rare b+w archive photographs. Essential reading for aviation enthusiasts & scale aeromodellers.

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  • AeroScale.co.uk • 2009-04-07
    by Jean-Luc Formery


    As I received the opportunity to choose a book from Mushroom Publications, I decided to go for the PZL.23 Karas. Despite the fact it is not a common subject for model builders (but this could change soon), the plane played an important and dramatic role in the early days of WW2, paying a heavy price to the Luftwaffe's air superiority during the Poland campaign.


    The PZL.23 Karas is one of those planes designed in the mid '30s that saw combat during WW2 because there was nothing better at hand. Polish author Tomasz J. Kopanski has written a book about this Polish reconnaissance-bomber and reconnaissance aircraft that is available in English by Mushroom Model Publications.

    Published August 2004, the book has a softcover with profiles of two Karas on the front. It's format is 240X165 mm (B5) and it has 144 pages in total, mainly in black & white except for the profiles. The quality of the satin paper is good and I found no print issues.


    The book is divided into three main parts:
    1 - History
    2 - Detail photos & plans
    3 - Colour profiles

    1- History
    The historical part starts with the development of the aircraft and covers the design modifications from the first prototypes to the last version, the PZL.23B, which was the most produced. There are pictures and plans of the following versions:

    - PZL.23/I (first prototype)
    - PZL.23/II (second prototype)
    - PZL.23/III (third prototype)
    - PZL.23/IV (Karas prototype with twin fins)
    - PZL.23B (early series)
    - PZL.23B (late series)

    A brief passage is devoted to the Bulgarian export version of the Karas as well.

    The operational use of the PZL.23 is then related from the pre-war period until the Polish Campaign in 1939. In the pre-war part of the book, you can find many pictures of the medium bomber used in training conditions.

    As soon a you reach the "German Invasion of Poland in 1939" chapter, you almost only see pictures of crashed and wrecked planes, often with German soldiers posing around! The Karas suffered from heavy losses in the early stages of the war and this is well depicted and narrated in the text. All units using the PZL attack-bomber have an individual chapter with detailed operations reports and crew member names in most cases. By reading these chapters, you can only be impressed by the courage of the Polish pilots!

    The foreign service "career" of the plane ends the historical part of the book. The Karas was used by the Bulgarians (export version) and the Romanians (Polish planes that escaped in 1939). In all, the historical part makes half of the total pages of the book.

    2 - Detailed photos & plans
    This part of the book has 3-view drawings, cross sections plans, detail drawings and pictures for every variant of the plane. Unfortunately there is no scale mentioned. The plans are of good quality and well printed.

    The detail photos are all black & white. The reason is they are excerpts of the technical, operating and maintenance manuals. The details photos cover the following areas of the plane: fuselage, engine, cockpit, instrument panel, bomb-aimer position, radio, tail & rudder, undercarriage, wings, armament etc...

    There are no modern colour pictures of a preserved or restored plane.

    3 - Colour profiles
    At the end of the book you'll find the usual profiles. In this case there are profiles for 25 aircrafts, most of them showing all the sides of the plane. 13 Polish planes are represented, as well as 5 Romanian ones, 5 Bulgarian ones and one captured Karas in German markings. The profiles are computer generated and of good quality.

    Some planes are attractive for WW2 modellers simply because they are so ugly and anachronistic. The PZL.23 Karas is one of them and the book published by Mushroom Model Publications is quite complete and detailed. The sum of pictures, plans and profiles makes it the perfect source of information for any modeler wanting to build a model of this aircraft. What? There's no kit available for the PZL.23? Well, not quite right! You have the Heller kit in 1/72 that Smer also reboxed... and... and... hopefully a 1/48 kit in the near future by Mirage Hobby! I'm already waiting for it!
  • SAFO • 2009-04-07
  • IPMS USA • 2009-04-07
    Reviewed By John Vitkus, #30013

    Mushroom Model Publications has combined the best of their Yellow Series (aircraft detail) and Red Series (aircraft history) into a new Orange Series, which describes the development and structural details of a single warbird type along with the historical context in which it fought. Mushroom’s choice for the first aircraft type covered in their Orange Series is the PZL.23 Karaś (Carpathian carp) light bomber/reconnaissance aircraft. This is an excellent choice for several reasons: there are good models of the P.23 available both 1/72 and 1/48, there were important and compelling battles fought by the Karaś, and the scope of the P.23’s use was limited, thus making it possible to cover its wartime exploits adequately in one volume.

    Mushroom has done a fabulous job here. The book is in their usual softcover small-format (9½” X 6½”) and contains 144 pages printed on glossy, high-quality paper. Text is in excellent English throughout, and most pages include one or more sharp B/W photos. The first 17 pages cover development of the type. The next 56 pages cover the operational use of the Karaś by the Poles, Romanians, and Bulgarians, as well as testing by the Germans and Soviets. To say that this historical coverage is thorough is a gross understatement. In the Polish section, for example, separate chapters outline each squadron’s combat operations during the German (and later Soviet) invasion, describing each and every sortie—including the identities and fates of all aircrew! That is thorough! The next 37 pages cover structural details of the P.23, using 17 full-view drawings, 10 partial-view drawings, and 76 detail B/W photos. Excellent color illustrations by Artur Juszczak fill the next 30 pages, including the front and back covers. Twenty-five separate aircraft are represented, most in full 4-view illustrations with detail drawings of important details and unit insignia.

    This is a must-have volume for anyone with even a passing interest in either the PZL P.23 or in the 1939 invasion of Poland. I look forward to many more in the series. Recommended! Thanks to Mushroom Model Publications via John Noack for the review sample.
  • Internet Modeler • 2009-04-07
    Reviewed by Chris Banyai-Riepl

    The newest series from Mushroom is the Orange Series, which combines their Yellow Series (aircraft monographs) and their Red Series (history). The result is a comprehensive coverage of the aircraft in question, and for their rollout of this new series the people at Mushroom have chosen the PZL.23 Karas. This is an interesting choice, as there are no surviving examples of this plane. This means that all the detail photos are period photos, which can sometimes result in meager coverage. This book does not seem to suffer from that, though, and this is easily the most thorough coverage out there on this interesting Polish aircraft.

    The history is well written and an interesting read. The story is punctuated by many clear photos of the PZL.23 in service, and combined they do a great job of outlining the life of this aircraft. In addition to the background of this plane in Polish service, the text also covers foreign operators of the PZL.23, which opens up some very interesting options for the modeler. The Bulgarian examples, in particular, are quite interesting.

    Following the history comes a section that covers the details and drawings of the aircraft. This section draws upon original manual photos and drawings, as well as a set of nicely drawn scale drawings. This section will be of invaluable service to the modeler, as it shows many of the important areas, such as the cockpit, in great detail. Variant differences are also included in this section, so if you are curious as to the difference between the variants, this section will take care of that.

    The color profile section is quite large, taking up the last several pages of the book. Here you will find plenty of inspiration for that PZL.23 model you have lying around. Understandably, there are lots of Polish examples, but Romanian and Bulgarian aircraft are also depicted.

    This is an outstanding book to start off a new series with, and it bodes well for future titles in the Orange Series. The exhaustive coverage of the PZL.23, both in text and in photos, expose a history that has not been told and is long past due.
  • Hyperscale.com • 2009-04-07
    Reviewed by Steven "Modeldad" Eisenman


    This is the first in Mushroom Model Magazine’s Orange series. According to MMM, the Orange series combines the Yellow Series’ focus on aircraft with the Red Series’ focus on history; hence Orange. But, with MMM’s Blue, Yellow, Orange and Red Series, their catalog is beginning to remind me of the U.S Department of Homeland Security’s threat alert color chart. All that is needed would be a Green Series to complete the picture.

    Having observed the absurd, let me now turn to this very nice monograph. It is very similar in organization to their volume on the PZL P.11c. We first learn of the development of the PZL.23 Karas from its origins as a domestic replacement for French built aircraft used in light bomber and reconnaissance units. (According to MMM’s web site, Karas means a Crucian Carp)

    What I find unusually fascinating is that the cost of the aircraft is set out: Total cost 230,000 zloty each, with the three machine guns alone costing 15,000 zloty. If only we knew what the zloty was worth in U.S Dollars or Pounds Sterling back in 1935. But for all that money (it was a lot, I presume), the first version of the Karas was a dismal failure and was deemed effectively useless as a combat aircraft. It then underwent a re-engineering which produced the final combat ready version, even if it did spray oil over the windshield.

    The book then goes on to describe the export variant, the PZL.43. It differed primarily in that it used a twin row radial engine which required that the cowl mounted machine guns had to be mounted on the outside in their own nacelles, rather than firing between the cylinders. By the outbreak of the war, Bulgaria was the only customer for this model. The Bulgarians called it “Chayka” or Seagull; a bit nicer sounding than Carp. By the way, the PZL.43 cost 236,000 zloty.

    The heart of this volume is the operational history. We get a brief overview of the pre-war use. Once again we are reminded that Poland was involved in territorial conflicts with Czechoslovakia and Lithuania. We also find that the Karas engaged in reconnaissance incursions over German territory. With the invasion of Poland, the monograph turns its focus to each bomber and reconnaissance unit that operated the Karas. The operational descriptions are quite straight forward, lacking drama. But, one can imagine the drama that occurred.

    At the conclusion of the operational use section, the book has a single page on the evaluation of the aircraft. Basically, the Karas suffered an 86% loss rate, the highest of all Polish aircraft, and that without Polish air superiority, the Karas was virtually useless.

    Before going on to the technical sections, the monograph briefly covers the Karas in foreign service. Bulgaria used the PZL.43 export version, and Rumania used the PZL.23 which were “evacuated” to Rumania. It is not clear if this means Polish pilots fled to Rumania with their aircraft, or they were given to Rumania by the Germans.

    The technical section is small, but in my opinion, nicely done. There are numerous line drawings of the various models of the Karas. There are also numerous pictures from the original manuals for the aircraft and engines. All this will be quite useful for those wanting to build the expected 1/48 Karas kit.

    Finally, there are the profiles. Of course they focus primarily on the Polish Air Force aircraft, and, also of course, only one color is dominant – Khaki-Brown. Additionally there are profiles of the Rumanian PZL.23s and the more colorful Bulgarian PZL.43s.

    I don’t want to finish this review without remarking on the photographs that fill this volume. I am always surprised that so many pictures of reasonable quality survived. Of course many of them, regretfully, are of damaged and captured aircraft.


    As most now know, I have a particular fondness for the air forces other than those of the five major combatants (USA, UK, USSR, Germany and Japan) of the Second World war and for the less than glamorous aircraft that they often used. For those that share my interest, and even for those who do not, I recommend this volume. It is a very good introduction to the Karas and its operational history.

  • Modeling Madness • 2009-04-07
    Reviewed by Scott Van Aken

    Without a doubt, these books put out by Mushroom Models Magazine fill a lot of gaps for modelers and enthusiasts alike. This particular edition on the PZL P.23 Karas is no exception and the first in their 'Orange' series that combines the aspects of the Red (history) and Yellow (aircraft monograph) series into one book. This aircraft is from the mid-1930s that was developed as a light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. As with most new planes, there were teething troubles, and the initial P.23A aircraft were all relegated to training units. The definitive P.23B was built in fairly large numbers and equipped a number of light bomber and recce squadrons.

    A re-engined version, the P.43, was built for Bulgaria, who used the aircraft in their fight against the Soviets. Several were also used by the Romanians, but those were planes flown to Romania by Polish units after the Soviets invaded Poland in mid-September of 1939. The Romanians also used them against the Soviets when they joined the Germans in their war against Russia in 1941.

    The Poles lost a huge number of P.23s during their brief, but valiant struggle against the Luftwaffe. The aircraft was basically un-armored and its use as a low-level bomber, a role for which it was not designed, meant that a large number of them were brought down by light arms from ground forces.

    In addition to the full development of the aircraft, this book also gives a blow by blow account of operations by every Polish AF unit that flew the plane, a real plus to the reader. There is the usual excellent set of drawings that accompany other Mushroom Models Magazine Publications and a superb set of profiles that cover every unit to fly the aircraft.

    Since there is no extant Karas, the book relies on period photographs and images from the technical manuals to give the reader a look at the salient features of the P.23.

    Overall, another superb book by the folks at MMMP and one that you really should pick up if you have any interest in the type or the early days of WWII.

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