Air Force

RWD - 8


RWD-8 in Latvian markings RWD-8 captured and in Soviet markings Photo of RWD-8 captured by Soviets

Source: Polish aircraft, interned in September 1939.

Acquired: Flown to Latvia by Polish aviators when the Germans invaded Poland.

Type: 2-seat trainer

Engine: 110 hp PZL Junior

Dimensions
Length: 8.0 m
Wing Span: 11.0 m
Height: 2.30 m
Max Speed: 170 kph

Range: 435 km

Maximum Ceiling: 4200 m

Known Serial Numbers: 197 (confirmed). The serial numbers assigned were
          probably 192 - 211.

Notes

  • September 18-19, 1939, with Germany invading Poland, a flotilla of about 80 Polish aircraft escaped to Latvia. They were flown by pilots who did not wish to be captured, nor have their aircraft fall into the hands of the Germans. They landed at airfields throughout the southeast region of Latvia and were subsequently gathered together at Daugavpils. International law required that the aircraft be interned, and most of them were dismantled and shipped by rail to the Provodnik factory in Riga.
  • Bruvelis provides the following roster of Polish aircraft interned in Latvia:
              38 RWD-8s
              35 PWS-26s
              4 Lublin types (R XIII C and R, and R XIV)
              1 PXL-11
              1 RWD-21
    This is an incomplete list, as Bruvelis reports a total of 83 Polish aircraft, while the above list only totals 79.
  • Andrzej Glass provides the following roster of Polish aircraft that flew to Latvia:
              36+ RWD-8s
              33 PWS-26s
              8 Lublin R XIIIs
              1 PZL P.11a
              1 PZL P.11c
              1 RWD-21
  • (RWD = "Rogalski, Wigura and Drzewiecki")
  • December, 1939 - Latvia receives the permission of the Polish government in exile to use 26 of the RWD-8s to train Latvian aviators.
  • May 20 1940 - 20 RWD-8s, inspected as airworthy and with Latvian markings applied, are turned over to the Aviation Regiment. These aircraft were used in the training of 33 new pilots, with A.Graudins, V.Grants, P.Greize and V.Rinkis serving as instructors. These classes continued at Spilve aerodrome in Riga until 10 am on June 17, 1940 - the Soviet tanks arrived at Spilve at noon.
  • Six other RWD-8s were turned over to the Latvian Aeroclub at Kalnciems aerodrome where they were used by the 5th (and last) graduating class of the Aeroclub's pilot training program.
  • Aside from a couple of 'test flights' of a few of the Polish types by some of the most experienced members of the Latvian Air Regiment just before the aircraft were dismantled, there is no record of any of the other Polish aircraft being used by the Latvians.
  • June 1940 (Soviet Occupation) - The Soviets showed little interest in the aircraft stored in the Provodnik warehouse. In fact, they actually used the same warehouse to store a number of additional aircraft of the Latvian Air Force which were of no interest to them.
  • The Soviets did, however, utlilize at least some of those RWD-8s which had been used by the Latvian Regiment. This is evidenced by he photo of the RWD-8 with the Latvian roundel painted out and replaced with the Soviet star (while still leaving the Latvian serial number intact).
  • August 1941 (German Occupation) - The Germans inspect the contents of the Provodnik warehouse and, while they were interested in the VEF/Irbitis aircraft at VEF, they took no interest in the aircraft stored in the warehouse. It has been reported that they did, however, take about 10 of the RWD-8s (probably survivors from the 20 that the Latvians had used), applied Luftwaffe markings and put them to use in Estonia. Until the Liepaja-Grobini training facility was established in late 1943 some pilot training was being done in Estonia - perhaps the RWD-8s were being used there.
  • 1945 (Soviet Re-Occupation) - the warehouse remained undisturbed until the Soviets returned. Udet Flamingos, which were among the dismantled aircraft in the warehouse, were later reported to have been destroyed in a warehouse fire. It seems reasonable to assume that the Provodnik warehouse was the one which burned.



Sources

- Bruvelis, Edvins Latvijas Aviacijas Vesture
- Glass, Andrzej Ewakuacja in AERO-Technika Lotnicza magazine, 10-12 / 1990

My thanks to Peter Mikolajski, Carl-Fredrik Geust and other members of the Air Warfare Forum for their help in the research for this item.
Profiles courtesy of Arvo Vercamer

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