Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

PZL P.23a Karas
1930s Light Recce Bomber / Trainer



Mirage Hobby, 1/48

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: Mirage Hobby 481303 - PZL P.23a Karas
Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: Injected Plastic, Resin and Photo-etch – See Text for Details
Price: USD $39.97 – Price Available from Squadron Mail Order
Review Type: First Look and Comparison to the Mirage Hobby PZL P.11c
Advantages: Incredibly detailed multicolor instruction sheet, long-awaited quarter-scale aircraft, well detailed and engineered, separate control surfaces, resin & photo-etch parts, high quality decals, nice markings options
Disadvantages: Some sink marks; modeler has to fold injection-molded gondola from flat kit part.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended


Reviewed by Mike Dobrzelecki

Mirage Hobby's 1/48 scale PZL P.23 will be available online from Squadron.com



The PZL (Pantsowe Zakaldy Lotnicze, or Central Aircraft Works) P.23 Karas was a 3 seat fixed-spatted gear, low mounted cantilever wing army cooperation aircraft. PZL dubbed the aircraft “Karas” (translation - Crucian Carp).

Designed by Stanislaw Prauss and Franciszek Misztal, the Karas was first test flown in August 1934 by Capt. Boseslaw Orlinski, who was kind of a cross between Charles Lindberg and Jimmy Doolittle in Polish aviation circles. It was one of the first all-metal aircraft in the world to feature metal sandwich panel construction and a torsion box wing spar. About 40 P.23a model Karas’s were built in 1936 and differed from the later P.23b in that they were equipped with leading edge wing slats, a different license-built Bristol Pegasus engine and elevators sans horn balances. Briefly assigned to the 11th and 12th Line Flights of the 1st Air Regiment in Warsaw, they were soon relegated to serve as conversion trainers at the Polish Air Force College at Deblin and the Polish Air Force Reserve College at Radom readying crews for the more reliable and slightly more capable follow-on P.23b’s.

Poland was not the only country to field a 3-place, multi-role single-engined light recce-bomber/army cooperation aircraft of all metal construction in the 1930’s. Fixed-gear or retracting, most of the European countries, the U.S. and Japan had their examples – the Fairey Battle comes to mind as just one example, the USAAC O-47, another. Aesthetically, the Karas is one of those aircraft that falls into the category of, “It’s So Ugly, It’s Beautiful”, and beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder. The A-10 ‘Warthog’ is member of that august group, as well. Thrown into the fight in the early days of the September Campaign in 1939, the P.23b version of the Karas performed valiantly against overwhelming odds. Although it’s losses were great, the Karas crews, along with the PZL P.37b bombers, inflicted substantial casualties on the German invaders, particularly around the Radomska-Piotrkow region and around Pultusk, where they mauled the German’s 10th Army Group’s 4th Panzer Division and the Kempf Panzer Division. Karas and P.37 Los bombers claimed a number of kills over Luftwaffe fighters, including 9 Bf-109’s (sorry about that, Lynn.)

Its numbers were too small to stem the tide, however. Approximately 50 serviceable P.23’s (Eskadra’s 21,22,55,64 and 65) were assigned to the so-called “Bomber Brigade”, which, along with the “Pursuit Brigade”, were Poland’s attempt at concentrating at least part of their aerial might just at the outbreak of the war. A further 64 machines (Eskadra’s 24,31,32,34,41,42 and 51) made up the operational compliment of the squadrons assigned to the seven individual Polish land armies spread out over Poland. The total of 114 operational P.23’s, supplemented with a further 11 replacement machines, including 5 up-rated PZL P.43’s, were too pitiful a force to be decisive in battle. With a top speed of 192 mph, a service ceiling of 9,842 feet and a typical max operational bomb load of 700kg (on paper the bomb max bomb load theoretically was about 1,300kg), the P.23’s often found themselves, especially those assigned to the individual land armies, given missions, to which, they were either unsuited, or wasted in the execution. I have had the privilege to meet a couple of Karas pilots and crew over the years (yes, some survived) and each told their stories in hushed tones devoid of the swagger of the more typical Polish fighter pilot story. No less than 112 P.23’s were lost in the first sixteen days of combat. Interestingly, none were destroyed on the ground until 14 September 1939, thus putting another nail in the coffin that was the Luftwaffe claim oft repeated by the foreign press (“Hey, Walter Cronkite, can you hear me now?”), that the Polish Air Force was destroyed on the ground the first day of the war.

After the Soviets invaded on September 17 1939, Poland’s fate was sealed. According to Jerzy Cynk about 19 P.23’s (about 9 ‘b’ models and 10 trainer ‘a’models) survived the September Campaign and escaped to Romania, where they were folded into the Karas units already in the Romanian Air Force, a pre-war P.23 export customer of Poland. Some of the Karas crews escaped Poland to carry on the fight in Polish units assigned to the Armee del Air in France and the RAF in Britain. Ironically, some of these Polish crews that joined the RAF found themselves assigned to squadrons flying the Fairey Battle, which Britain would have had to throw into the fight had Germany attempted to invade Great Britain in 1940. Thankfully, no Pole had to fly the Battle in combat, having used these ungainly aircraft mostly as training machines before moving onto more capable aircraft, such as the Wellington twin-engined bomber.

With the release of the PZL P.23 kits, Mirage-Hobby completes its national imperative to pay tribute to the 3 main PZL aircraft, the PZL P.11, P.23 and the P.37, that defined the Polish Air Force in the 1930’s and especially the September Campaign in 1939. I first saw the Mirage P.23 Karas kit CAD (computer aided design) images at the Mirage-Hobby offices in Warsaw, Poland in the summer of 2003, when I was invited to attend the 85th Anniversary celebration of the Polish Air Force. They also had a soft molding of the wing, which at the time, was the subject of discussion on the revision of panel lines for the mold. The CAD images offered tantalizing proof of the detail planned for the kit, especially in the interior of the kit, which is highly visible under the expansive greenhouse canopy of the P.23 . I showed these images only to a select few having promised Mirage to keep the kit details under wraps until it was released. To those who have wanted this kit for years, and have waited patiently, all I can say is that the wait was worth it.

There is a palpable measure of improvement that one can see of the Mirage-Hobby aircraft kits as they were released over the years in turn, P.37, P.11, P.24 and, now the P.23, by far the best of the lot. The Mirage team that worked on this kit poured their heart and soul into the research and design. A lot of new information has been uncovered over the last 10 years about the Karas, much of which shows up in the kit. They agonized over panel lines and a myriad of other details along the way and it shows.

The P.23 has all the extra goodies one has come to expect of the most recent Mirage-Hobby kits, namely resin parts, photo-etch (PE), and great Techmod decals and ups the ante a tad with the inclusion of a full-color instruction sheet just like that offered by newest Eduard kits, such as their exquisite Fokker D.VII, and at a fraction of the cost.




The Four Kit Versions

Although the P.23a version is the subject of this review, I have included some notes on the other versions to follow.

  1. 481303 – P.23a Trainer, Markings: “White A”, with black “T” on white triangle of the Training Flight of the 1st Air Regiment in Warsaw in 1936; “White 8” s/n 44.5, presentation aircraft “Donated by the Real Estate Owner’s Association in the Municipal Credit Society” (that’s a mouthful!) Training Flight of the 1st Air Regiment in 1938, marked with the Deblin School blue wing badge on the fin. This aircraft was captured by the Germans in 1939 – wheel spats removed during service at Deblin; “White 11” s/n 44.30, Polish Air Force College, Deblin – wheel spats removed; “White 2”, s/n 44.31, Polish Air Force College, Deblin – wheel spats intstalled.

  2. 48-135 (Number may change to 48-1305) – P.23b Army Cooperation Light Recce Bomber, Polish Air Force, Known Markings: “White 4”, 55 Eskadra, 1939 – Other markings choices to be announced late

  3. 48-134 (Number may change to 48-1304) – P.23b Army Cooperation Light Recce Bomber, Romanian Air Force, Known Markings: “White 13”, – Other markings choices to be announced later

  4. 48-136 (Number may change to 48-1305) – P.43 Army Cooperation Light Recce Bomber, Bulgarian Air Force, Markings: Unknown

Box Art

Signed simply by the painter, “Dauksza”, the box art on 491303 features a pair of Deblin P.23a’s,“White 11” and “White 1”, in flight showing the starboard side of the aircraft from slightly behind, which are either in a very shallow dive, or, more likely, just seem that way as a result of the interesting orientation from the viewers eye as rendered by the artist. In a bold move, the painter chose to depict the Karas’s distinctive wheel spats removed from the aircraft, as they were in service most times, since they tended to get fouled with mud and sod on the rough Polish grass airfields and generally complicated maintenance. Both P.23a’s have their defensive machine guns installed, but I suspect that a lot of training flights were made unarmed. Both P.23’s have the K-28 gun camera fitted above the canopy.

The other kit versions depict the aircraft noted above, with the most striking being the Polish 55 Eskadra P-23b attacking Germans and the very colorful Romanian Air Force P.23b. Views of the other kit version box tops are available on Mirage-Hobby’s website.


As HyperScalers might recall, I noted in my review of the Mirage PZL P.11c kits in 2002 how detailed the instructions sheets were with great tips on adding or discarding small details for each marking supplied in the kit. Well, that was so 2002. Mirage-Hobby provides an incredible instruction sheet complete with some multi-color renderings of what crucial parts of the finished and fully painted aircraft should look like, namely the cockpit interior on page 3, license–built (Bristol) Skoda Pegasus IIM2 670 radial engine on page 1. Two out of the three markings choices are rendered in color, from which it would be a snap to figure out the third scheme. Along with the marvel of having a 1/48th scale Karas kit, Mirage’s P.23 instruction sheet is the best feature of the kit.

At 12 pages long, the instructions for the P.23a kit are split into no less than 32 steps, not including the color profiles and painting instruction, although the last step is identified as Roman Numeral XXXIII, not XXXII, for some reason. My guess is that either XXXI should be split into 2 sections or XXXII is pertinent to other P.23/P.43 kit versions. In any event, there appears to be notations in some steps indicating that specific parts belong to a P.23a or a P.23b, the choice of machine gun types in Step 4 being just one example.

The general instructions for the build are well drawn with easy to understand exploded views and helpful text, where needed. The exploded views are pleasantly shaded in colors – blue and various grays – thus imparting a real 3-D effect to the sheet, which should help the modeler (ah, the wonders of the 21st century making their way into our humble hobby). Each injected tree is given its own letter prefix (A, B, W & S) easing the task of locating the parts on the tree in the heat of the build. The photo-etch (PE) and resin parts (PR) have separate prefix numbers.

For IPMS USA contestant entrants, bring the instruction sheet to the contest with you, if you intend to modify any kit parts as specifically shown on the sheets, if you want to stay within the rules for IPMS USA’s ‘Out of the Box Award’(OOB). Some notable examples include using a 13mm length of 0.6mm diameter tubing for the forward firing machine barrel with the PE-13 cooling jacket; cutting the landing gear in IXb if you plan to use the wheel spats; thinning down the inner surface of the fin trailing edge pocket to accept the rudder in Step XIV; cutting the rear canopy to open it in Step XV, drilling holes for the wing tip landing flare holders on part 7B in Step XIX; drilling out the exhausts 59W and 58W in step XXX (although this is already allowed by IPMS USA “OOB” rules), and drilling out 1mm holes in the forward fuselage of 30A 31A to accept the auxiliary pipes extending from the bottom of the exhausts (cockpit heating take-off, I presume).

One of more interesting challenges is Step XVII, in which the modeler is expected to fold up a flat injected plate, Part 48W, to form the lower gondola. At first I thought that the lower gondola was missing from the kit. I poured over the sprues; then I went back to the instructions to get the part number right and beheld the challenge. The gondola will require two folds per side for a total of four. The only advantage I see in molding it this way is to impart maximum side detail onto the interior surfaces. A better solution would be to mold it in clear plastic, thus allowing the modeler to simply mask the round porthole windows inside and out, then paint and assemble it. Alternately, it could have been rendered in PE, which is easier to bend. A replacement for this may well be a target for after-market cottage industries. I will report more on the results of my attempt to make the gondola.

There is a choice between a shielded radiator, Part No. 20W, or unshielded, Resin Part No.PR5 in Step XXIX, so watch your sources for specifics on radiators, if they even exist – another item I’ll be checking for the specific aircraft I intend to build.

The sheet includes the latest round of discussion on the enigma that is Polish Khaki, both early version and late version, as well as factory new vs weathered appearance. Stung from Humbrol’s betrayal of having removed H142 Field Drab from their paint line just before the P.11c kits were released noting that Humbrol color as a perfect match for Polish Khaki, Mirage-Hobby has now included a complex mix for all P.23 colors made from readily available Vallejo paints, not coincidentally for which, Mirage includes in their featured product line on their website. I plan on getting the Vallejo paints noted and testing out their mixes – watch Hyperscale for my opinions on these mixes at a later date. The main paints needed for the versions of the camouflage paint are: Polish Khaki = 982 Cavalry Brown, 968 Flat Green, 950 Flat Black, & 953 Flat Yellow, ratio: 2:2:1;1/10; Dark Polish Khaki early PZL = 982 & 970 Deep Green, ratio: 1:1; Late Khaki/Export PZL = 982,968 & 950, ratio in different proportions: 3:6:1. PZL Light Blue Gray = 901 Pastel Blue, 844 Deep Sky Blue & 919 Foundation White, ratio: 1:1:1.

The section on painting has some background information on the latest research completed on Polish paints as deduced from surviving parts of P.23’s salvaged in the last decades and all currently existing photos. Mirage may surprise some modelers with their interpretation of the interior colors, which previously were described in the then-new 1989 –1990 sources as painted with a silver protective paint. Mirage contends that, after examination of photos, only prototypes and early production P.23’s used the silver protective finish, but most P.23’s were painted in a combination of dark blue gray with the interior horizontal shelf sections as seen from above probably Polish Khaki. The interior colors mentioned above were first covered to some extent in the Polish language Monografie Lotnicze for the PZL P.23 Karas, appropriately numbered 23 in the Monografie series, authored by Tomasz Kopanski & Krzystof Sikora. Kopanski has written a number of tomes on the PZL P.23 Karas, as well as other aspects of Polish aviation and had a hand in the research that went into the Mirage kit. Sikora is one of the best modelers in Poland, famous for his highly detailed cut-away models, usually of Polish aircraft subjects. The back cover and back inside cover presents the viewer with a couple of aspects of the Karas interior – the painter in this case A.Wrobel, one of the finest Polish aviation artists in my book (I would love to get him to do a couple of originals for me). The shade of gray in the Monografie is closer to RLM 02, having a distinctly greenish cast to it. Since the Mirage kit benefits from later research by the same aviation historian, I would follow the kit’s instructions.

The Vallejo paint referenced in the painting section is bluish gray No.005 and is annotated “Air”, which denotes that this paint is from Vallejo’s airbrush line, not be confused with their regular military colors. Parts of the interior are picked out in other colors, silver used primarily for most other miscellaneous interior parts such as the cowling and other parts of the airframe. The usual suspects - light gray, dark gray, black, red, blue and a number of other colors, as indicated on the sheet for specific parts, round out the interior palette.


The following is a short list, the first part of which is on the instruction sheet, the latter items of which I added:

In the Mirage kit -

1.PZL P.23 Karas, Tomasz J.Kopanski, Mushroom Model Publications 2004

2.PZL P.23 Karas, Monografie #23 , Tomasz Kopanski & Krzysztof Sikora, AJ Press 1995

3.Model Hobby #21 Slawe Samoloty PZL.23a Karas, with 1/48th scale drawings by W.Szewczyk PPHU Mirage Hobby 2004

4.Samolty wywiadowczo-bobowy P.Z.L.23, Skrzydlata Polska August 1936

5.Uzbrojenie lotnictwa polskiego 1918-1939, Adan Popiel, Warsaw 1991

My adders –

6.The PZL P-23 Karas, J.Cynk, Profile Publications Number 104

7.Poland’s Forgotten Bomber (ThePZL P.23),Richard Caruna. SAMI Volume 5, Issue 12 December 1999

8.Air War Over Poland – September 1939, Jerzy Cynk, Air Pictorial, September 1989.

9. Polish Aircraft – J.Cynk, Putnam Publications

10.History of the Polish Air Force, Volume 1 & 2, Jerzy Cynk, Schiffer Pubications

Some notes: With the exception of the 1936 issue of Skrzydlata Polska (Polish Wings), I have all of the above references and a slew of other articles in various Polish and English hobby and aviation magazines. For the P.23, the Monografie and the Model Hobby Issue above are the best. The Mushroom book provides the necesary historical information to those mired in only speaking the English language. The old English Profile by Cynk, although containing some errors in statistics and text, still holds up remarkably well after all these years.

Credit Where Credit is Due

On the instruction sheet Mirage Hobby extends its thanks to a host of Polish aviation enthusiasts who helped with the research and design of the kit and accuracy of its markings, especially Andrzej Glass and Tomasz Kopanski. Other contributors include: Jerzy Cynk, Robert Gretzyngier, Wojiech Luczak, Wojtek Matusiak and Witold Szewczyk, the latter most responsible for the drawings upon which the kit is based – more on that later.

Kit Contents

By my bleary-eyed count, there are 138 injected parts, including the clear sprue, 8 resin pieces, and 18 PE pieces on one sheet just for the leading slats and their ribs and a whopping 62 PE pieces on the other PE fret – a total of 226 pieces – not exactly a weekend build even for jack rabbit builders. Molded in the pre-shaders favorite light gray plastic, there are 3 main sprues (or trees, or runners, or whatever you like to call them) and a clear sprue. They are broken down as follows:

Sprue A – 18 pieces
Main fuselages halves, the inner wing panels the cowl parts, the stabilizers and elevators, the rudder halves and interior sidewalls.

Sprue B – 16 pieces
Outer wing panels, ailerons, and flaps

Sprue W – 89 pieces
Pegasus radial engine, prop spats, gear and wheels, interior and miscellaneous parts

Sprue S – Clear parts
Extensive canopy greenhouse, searchlight bubble lenses, other windows and lights.

Sprue A - Notes

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

The fuselage looks great on the trees. The molding is crisp for the most part and the cut-outs for the forward firing machine gun(s), the numerous indented and raised vent holes in the forward fuselage in front of the cockpit, less so – see notes on the photo-etch sheet for other possibilities. The stubs for the horizontal stabs are ever so slightly rounded at the edge. All panel lines are nicely engraved. The jacking hole is open and there is some raised detail in the form of the steps and other undefined nubs and plates that do belong there. The surface has a mild texture, kind of like an orange peel paint, but I found that this disappeared on my P.11c under a coat of paint. The ailerons have the appropriate prominent ribs.

The underside center wing panel has the bomb shackle studs molded on, although no bombs are included in the P.23a kit, which is correct since they served as trainers. I hope that the P.23b kit will have the uniquely shaped Polish streamlined bombs in their many sizes and varieties (I hope, I hope, I hope!). The interior sidewalls are nothing short of ambitious. They are highly detailed relatively thin in cross-section and have flares molded onto them at the front and rear to hopefully provide a continuously blended look when the viewer peeks into the completed fuselage without the usual yawning gaps. The cowl is in 3 parts which is the absolute minimum given the slight bell shape of the cowl – wide portion forward. The front cowl ring (the exhaust collector) is molded better than Mirage’s P.11c kit. On the inner surface there are sharp slots cut into the circumference ready to except the forward jutting exhaust stubs from the Pegasus radial. There are cut-outs on the upper cowl lip for the forward firing machine gun(s). Usually, only one of these was mounted.

The rudder is separate from the fin.

Modelers will note the small triangular projections on the inner wing top surfaces, Part Nos.20A and 21A. These house the rotating disc fuel level gauges for the wing tanks. The disc gauge is angled up toward the pilot and crew to facilitate viewing the level gauges.

Sprue B - Notes

The engraved panel lines on the outer wing panels are a bit heavier than on the fuselage and inner wing sections. The ailerons and flaps are separate thus easing the modeler’s work in repositioning them. The pockets in the wings for the ailerons are commendably deep and thin. Hinges are provided on the wing panels for the ailerons – none for the flaps, which are a simple butt joint for this kit.

It will be interesting to see how easily this multiple wing panel kit design goes together on this kit. Viewed from the front, the P.23 had a crank to its wing outer panel – not a Stuka-like crank, mind you, but noticeable. The dihedral definitely increased. The Mirage kit designers followed the original in my mind.

Sprue W - Notes

My God, where do I begin? Most of this tree consists of the interior fuselage detail. Truly, in this regard, along with the PE & resin accessories, Mirage wants to put the cottage industries out of business. All of it will prominently visible, too, under that long greenhouse, so a modeler’s efforts will not be wasted in this area. You name it- it’s there – seats, cushions, electrical boxes, frame work, throttle quadrant, excellent control stick (much better than the one in the P.11c kit), oxygen bottles, rudder petals and bar, PE seat belts, photo recon camera, upper shelves, lower shelves and the kitchen sink. Mirage provides two type of flexible machine guns – both the wz.37 “Szczeniak” 7.9mm later Polish machine gun, Part No. 67W, pertinent only to the later PZL P.23b version and the Vickers “F” 7.7 mm, Part No. 51W, which you will using on this P.23a kit. The ammo drums, Part No.52W, suffer from sink marks and will have to be filled in and sanded to shape.

The instrument panel is injected plastic, rather than the PE panel provided in the P.11c kit. There is no instrument film. This time the gauges are provided on the decal sheet – decal No.12, which is rendered in several colors for individual dials, including blue, white and black 7; and No.13, which includes some red dialed instruments. A PE instrument panel is a natural target for the Polish firm PART, but I like the multi-color decal for the instrument panel, since Polish machines were a bit more colorful than other countries in this regard.

The Polskie Zaklady Skody Pegaz IIM2 (Polish-Skoda license-built Pegasus) radial engine, Part No.13W, is well-molded with really sharp exhaust stubs projecting out of the front of the cylinders, which, combined Part No.14W, a fan-like assembly with 8 arms and the paint guide in the instructions, will look really sharp right out of the box in the tight cowling. Super-detailers will certainly be scraping off the push rods and other molded-on detail and plumbing and wiring it up to nth degree, I’m sure. The cowling’s inner cone aerodynamic fairing does not have the vent holes drilled out. The two-bladed prop has some sink marks on its rear surface, which should not be very visible, but in any event I will be filling in. Unfortunately, the spinner, Part No. 60W appears to have some sink marks, but I want to check my references to be sure it’s not a matter of the indentations being accurate since it’s possible that they are needed for the nuts to mount the spinner on the full size aircraft – I don’t think so, but I want to check, first.

A full set of landing gear is included, thus facilitating those choosing to model the Karas with its lower spats off. The spats are similarly split. Some modelers believe that it’s not a Karas, unless you include the spats. It certainly is more aesthetically appealing – very 1930’s – very art deco. I say buy more than one kit and build it both ways. One note – the boots on the spats are canvas, not rubber, so be careful in choosing your paint for the covers – follow the instruction sheet. The tires have the “DUNLOP’ manufacturer molded on (Sweet!) - kudos to Mirage for this detail.

Part No.32W is a Polish K-28 Fotokarabin – English translation = gun camera. These can be mounted either atop the canopy, or atop the defensive machine guns – see Step XXXIII. I get a chuckle out of remembering that this item was thought to be a DF loop on the ancient Heller 1/72nd scale Karas kit and that every P.23 had one of these K-28’s. This gun camera could be seen mounted to any Polish aircraft – PWS-26 biplane trainers, P.11’s, P.37 defensive machine guns, etc. The K-28 is correctly molded in the ¼ scale Mirage kit, albeit with some sink marks in need of filler and sand paper.

All of which brings us to Part No.48W, the lower gondola. As stated before, the part, as molded flat, does contain the absolute maximum molded-on detail on both sides – interior and exterior. I’m probably making too big a deal out of this – four little folds – how difficult could it be? I have folded very complex PE shapes and even coaxed them into round bowls on occasion. I think it would have been better as molded gondola with some extra parts for interior detail. Who knows; maybe I’ll be eating my words when the Polish origami gondola is fully formed – film at eleven.

I can not comment on the accuracy of the kit but I will be measuring it against the drawings done by W.Szewczyk in Mirage Hobby’s modeling magazine, “Model Hobby” Issue 21, Index 353094, 2004. It is no coincidence that Szewczyk provided Mirage with the drawings used for their kit. I would venture a guess to say that Szewczyk’s drawings should be considered the most accurate drawings of the P.23 Karas on the market, including those in the aforementioned P.23 Monografie.

I also cannot yet comment on the fit of the kit, as I have yet to start building it. Unlike my brother, Ron, who 30 seconds after buying a kit, is ripping parts off the trees and taping it together, I prefer to leave my kits intact in the box until I start working on them. There’s less likelihood of losing parts this way.

Sprue S – Clear Parts – Notes

Commendably thin but a little unclear, the main canopy is provided with a separate pilot’s side opening section in two parts. I remember Bill Devins’ wonderful build of the old Heller 1/72nd scale PZL P.23b kit. Okay, it had the wrong color for the top surfaces – Heller’s dark green instead of correct Polish Khaki, but it was a neat build - nice interior, too, all set off by a thin vacuformed canopy. Bill agonized over figuring out how the hell the pilot’s side canopy opened, which, in the end, eluded him due to the dearth of good P.23 references back 20-30 years ago. As I recall, Devins thought it had 3 sections, including a small shallow triangular piece, all of which folded as they were lifted open. The final word is two sections - side and top - that fold simply as they are lifted. The top section, Part No.S2, has a small flaw – a swirl in the clear area probably imparted to it during the molding process.

The kit instructions indicate how one could cut the middle portion open. The rest of the clear tree is rounded out with lower gondola glass sections and portholes, the prominent “C-Cup” searchlight lenses for the gear legs, the formation lights and lower fuselage window for the KF70 camera.

As with all clear parts, a dip in “Future” floor wax is recommended.

The Resin Parts

Well-molded in light gray resin, the kit provides the KF70 large recon aerial camera made up of Part Nos.PR4 & PR8, oxygen bottles- Part No.PR7, for the gunner and bombardier, an alternate unshielded radiator- Part No.PR5, mentioned above in Step XXIX of the instruction sheet, Radio- Part No.PR2, electrical/controls boxes- Part Nos. PR5 and PR1, Map case- Part No.PR3 which is mounted below one of the cockpit shelves and probably will not be very visible.

I’m sure some other after-market company will take a shot at some other parts, most notably a highly detailed Pegasus with all the plumbing and other equipment behind the radial engine. As with the P.11c, the resin radiator, PR5, is better rendered as an assembly of separate coils section in PE (PART, can you hear me now?).

The Photo-Etch Frets

As previously mentioned the leading edge slats on the P.23a (which were deleted on the P.23b) are provided as PE items. The slats will have to be rolled to impart a curve to them and I’m sure that one of those nifty and expensive PE rolling tools will be earning its keep on this part of the build, which will be fraught with danger. I think that Mirage’s approach is correct, however, since his is the best media for this airframe feature. And you can have it with a side of ribs – also provided in PE.

The other fret contains classic choices for PE as a media – seat belts and harness, throttle quadrant, delicate frame assemblies, machine gun cooling jacket, control horns, wing walk ribbed strips, gun sights, some bezels, a couple of forward fuselage panels with cooling vents cut in, which will look a hell of a lot better than the molded on ones on the kit, various miscellaneous .items and a very cool PZL factory round plate.

The Decal Sheet

Printed by Techmod, the decal sheet is in perfect register and has all the correct colors. “PZL” factory designators and the “P.23” model data are provided in both red and black. Typically PZL aircraft were originally provided with red versions but later on in the production run or as they were repainted, they were provided in black. Techmod includes a complete numbering block, “0 through 9”, besides the specific aircraft type and serial numbers for the specific markings in the kit, so one could conceivably build different P.23’s.

As previously described in the markings section, my favorite on the sheet is the presentation aircraft and the Deblin Polish Air Force College blue wing badge.

The decals include the colored dials for the instrument panel and others in various spots in the cockpit and rear compartments.

And, oh yeah, remember the rotating fuel gauges mentioned above. Well, what’s the point of the triangular bumps on the top inner wing panels without the gauges? - Decal No.32 to the rescue. Two fuel gauges - coming up! Better get out your microscope for these, but they’re there.

If the Techmod decals are anything like the ones in the P.11c kit, they will have a tendency to stick where first applied, so float them on with lots of water and/or setting agent, to facilitate positioning them correctly.




Mirage-Hobby made my day with the long-awaited release of the P.23 kits. Considering the features, history, detail and accessories provided with the kit, the modeler is really getting a diamond for a decent price. Sure, it has a couple of minor items to fix, all of which will take about 5 minutes of work, tops. The P.23 looks like it’s going to build into a great out-of-the-box model and I hope to do well on the show circuit in 2006 starting with New Jersey IPMS’s Mosquitocon on April 8 2006. I will post a follow-up build article on Hyperscale as I did with the P.11c back in 2002.

Just imagine how good the Mirage –Hobby early model F4F-3 Wildcats and the B-17’s will be when they are released. The 1/72nd scale M3 Stuarts series and the 1/400th USN 4 stacker destroyers are next on the horizon, though, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the PZL P.23b recce-bomber version of the Karas – I hope it includes bombs!

Well done, Mirage-Hobby. I’m getting out my bottle of Chopin vodka and toasting a couple of shots in thanks for a fine kit.

An Aside…

Did you ever consider how names of aircraft sound to foreign ears? To English-speaking ears (at least, mine), ‘Karas’ sounds exotic, evocative of something cool, definitely not Yankee or British. ‘Karas’ in translation - Crucian Carp; scientific classification = Carrassius carrassius - so good, they named it twice!), on the other hand, has exactly the opposite effect. In American fishing circles, carp may be a large edible fresh water game fish, perhaps, but it is certainly not preferred cuisine. I don’t think that I have ever seen carp on a U.S. menu and pretty much can state with some accuracy that I have never heard anybody declare, “ H-m-m-m-m, you know what I would really like to have for dinner? Let’s go out for some carp tonight!.” The only time you’ll see one of its relatives in a U.S. eatery would be the tank full of Coy fish, so ubiquitous in Chinese restaurant lobbies in the States. Another close relative is the Guppy, which is mostly consumed in America as part of fraternity initiation rites. I hear tell that carp is standard fair on Polish menus, though, which probably explains the origin of the aircraft’s name. In brutal hindsight, considering the overall look of the aircraft, Carp seems an appropriate moniker.

As for me, I’ll stick with calling the P.23 a ‘Karas’ in Polish, with nary an Anglified ‘Crucian Carp’ notation in sight.

It does make you wonder how some American or British aircraft names sound to Polish ears.


Review and Images Copyright © 2006 by Mike Dobrzelecki
Page Created 11 January, 2006
Last updated 11 January, 2006

Back to HyperScale Main Page

Back to Reviews Page