Warsaw, Poland



Dip. Ing. Wolowski.




Ejection in 1924

FLIGHT, 2 May 1958   page 606


During 1924 a technical report was sent to the Polish Air Force Command in Warsaw  signed by Dipl.

Ing. Wolowski, a member of the Plage and Laskiewicz Aircraft Works in Lublin.

In this report he described a new and original method of escape in "difficult conditions" from an out‑of‑control aircraft.

The pilot was attached to his seat  which  tilted backwards under the action of a strong spring and, was pulled clear out of the fuselage, through a circular tunnel (2 in photograph), by a means of primary and proper parachute assemblies (1, 6).

In an emergency the pilot operated a lever (36) in front of him, which in turn released a catch in a self‑locking device at the top of his padded headrest (35, 37). The pilots back‑rest (38), to which he was fastened, was pivoted at the base (29) and tilted backwards, as indicated by the arrow, under the action of a strong spring (32), at a constant speed; this movement being achieved by the use of a vacuum damper (33). At the same time a lever (31), connected by a rod‑and‑ hinge arrangement (9, 10) with the split opening tail‑cone, brought into operation the two half‑shells of the tail‑cone, thus forming an aerodynamic brake at the end of the fuselage and reducing speed. The action of this air‑brake caused the release of a primary chute (6), which was intended to pull out the main parachute (1), in the folded position, with the pilot still fastened to his back‑rest. When clear of the aircraft the main parachute unfolded in normal manner and further descent followed the orthodox procedure.

As almost every invention is a result of necessity, so also was this ancestor of modem escape systems designed to minimize the heavy toll paid in lives by the Polish Air Force flying personnel at that period (1919‑1925). Here I must make a small digression and shed some light on the situation which existed in the period between the years 1919 and 1925 in the Polish Air Force, particularly in the sources of the flying equipment. At the close of World War 1 Poland was left with only 13 operational squadrons, consisting of an extreme variety of aircraft. For instance, the 4th Fighter Squadron possessed only five airworthy machines (Albatros C.III, Hannoveraner Roland CL.II, Albatros C.X, Albatros D.III and Nieuport 17). However, during the 1922‑23 period, the Polish Air Force command decided to unify existing flying equipment by concentrating on most popular types, and initiating the manufacture of contemporary types under licence agreements with foreign designers. It was decided that

Poland's oldest aircraft factory, the Aircraft Works in Lublin, should manufacture fighters and general‑purpose machines of Italian design, i.e., Balillas and Ansaldo A.300s respectively. But, as was soon proved, this choice was most unfortunate, and after completion of some 70 machines the whole production was stopped. It was found that the safety factor of the main load‑carrying spar‑coupling was much below the required minimum, and was the cause of numerous fatal crashes to Ansaldos in particular. In the majority of cases pilots were unable to bale‑out, due to the characteristic g force in a tight spin, as the machine invariably lost one of its wings.

At this stage Wolowski's "escape method" was proposed and considered, in order to provide pilots with a higher degree of safety. here is some evidence that at least one A.300 was modified for a proposed test in Lublin, but whether this machine flew, or if the device was practically tried out, remains uncertain. That period was bscured by a somewhat blunt decision of the Polish Air Force Command, who, under the influence of Gen. Leveque (at that time he French adviser to the Aeronautical Department of the Polish Air Office), decided to write‑off all existing Ansaldos.

Signed by Mr. Orwovski



Ejection In 1924

FLIGHT, 15  May  1959 page 700


WHEN I first read Mr. Orwovski's letter on the Wolowski escape system by means of ejection through a circular tunnel in a fuselage (Flight, May 2, 1958) 1 noted that it included a description and illustration which originally appeared in Polish aeronautical Press in the mid‑twenties, and a lengthy comment, containing scarcely any information regarding the seat itself. I was struck by the author's statement:

"There is some evidence that at least one A‑300 was modified for a proposed test [of the system] in Lublin."

This seemed to me a rather doubtful revelation, as the necessary modifications involved complete redesign of the fuselage and substantial changes in the tail unit and supporting surfaces, resulting from considerably increased weight and c.g. movement would amount to the development of a practically new airframe round Wolowski's escape system, utilizing A‑300 components.' So I have made a searching inquiry into the whole matter. This brought to light some interesting facts.

The only financial help which Wolowski managed to muster for development of his idea was a small subsidy from the L.O.P.P. (Air Defence and Anti‑gas League). With this he was able to construct a working model of his device. According to his _own statement stressing that the system is intended primarily for single‑seaters, but could be also employed for two‑seaters with side‑by‑side seats, and could be effectively operated even on ‑ the ground level on take‑offs and landings‑first practical. tests with the system were those conducted on July 18, 1926, on Mokotow Aerodrome in Warsaw.

On this occasion the model device was placed in the slipstream of a Spad fighter standing on the ground with its 450 h.p. Lorraine engine fully opened. The model worked in accordance with the inventor's expectations, fully realizing his claims. Repeated tests were made in the presence of the L.B.T.L. (Aviation Technical Research Institute) officials, who on August 8, 1926, issued a special report on the experiment.,

The report underlined that although the model fully confirmed the designer's anticipations the system could not be regarded as a practical proposition, mainly because of structural difficulties in installation, great weight penalty, deployment of the parachute at a great speed, and ejection of the pilot at a high velocity. Because of these unfavourable comments the League decided to make no further grants for the development of Wolowski's escape  system.

This was the end of the revolutionary project, which was too far ahead of its days to  be properly appreciated. These documents repudiate Mr Orwovski's statement concerning the modification of an A‑300 for tests.

Signed J. B. Cynk