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W-3 Sokół
PZL W-3 Sokół in the markings of the Air Ambulance Service (Polish Lotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe)
Role Multipurpose utility helicopter
Manufacturer PZL-Świdnik
First flight 16 November 1979
Introduced 1985
Status In service
Primary users Polish Armed Forces
Czech Air Force
Myanmar Air Force
Number built ~150

The PZL W-3 Sokół (Polish for "Falcon") is a Polish medium-size, twin-engine, multipurpose helicopter manufactured by PZL-Świdnik.


PZL W-3 fourth prototype
PZL W-3 fourth prototype

The W-3 Sokół ('Falcon') is the first helicopter to be fully designed and serial-built in Poland, and is PZL's most promising sales prospect in the near future.

Work on the project was started at WSK PZL Świdnik in 1973 by the team of Stanisław Kamiński. The Sokół made its first flight on November 16, 1979, and has since been certificated in Poland, Russia, the US and Germany. Following a fairly protracted development program, low rate production of the Sokół commenced during 1985. Initial sales of the general purpose Sokół were within Poland and in the Eastern Bloc, before the collapse of Communism allowed PZL Swidnik to broaden its sales base. To do this PZL Swidnik developed the improved W3A Sokół aimed at achieving Western certification. Certification to US FAR Pt 29 standards was granted in May 1993, while German certification was granted in December of that year.

The Sokół is of conventional design and construction, with two PZL-10W turboshafts, which are based on the PZL-10S - licensed Russian designed TVD-10B turboprops that power the Polish-built An-28. Composites are used in the three-bladed tail and four-bladed main rotors.

The Sokół is offered in a number of variants and is capable of performing a typical range of helicopter missions, including passenger transport, VIP, cargo, EMS, medevac, firefighting and search and rescue.

The 100th Sokół was completed in June 1996.

Operational history

Since 2003, four W-3WA were used by the Independent Air Attack Group (Polish: Samodzielna Grupa Powietrzno-Szturmowa) of the Polish forces in Iraq. One of them (serial number 360902) crashed in an accident near Karbala on 15 December 2004. Three soldiers died, three were wounded.


PZL W-3RL (the land Search and Rescue variant) at 31st Air Base
PZL W-3RL (the land Search and Rescue variant) at 31st Air Base

PZL W-3RM Anakonda of Polish Navy
PZL W-3RM Anakonda of Polish Navy

W-3WA - armed version during Airshow 2005 in Radom
W-3WA - armed version during Airshow 2005 in Radom
External images
Interesting W-3 variants:
W-3RR Procjon #0720
W-3PSOT #0816
W-3PL "Głuszec" #0901
W-3WA #0911 Tallil Air Base, Iraq
four W-3WA Tallil Air Base, Iraq

Civil Versions

Civil production versions.

W-3 Sokół
Basic civil multi-purpose version.
W-3A Sokół
Version with certificate FAR-29.
W-3AS Sokół
W-3 airframe converted to W-3A standard.
W-3A2 Sokół
Version with two-axsis Smith SN 350 autopilot.
W-3AM Sokół
Civil version with floats.

Military Versions

Military production versions.

W-3T Sokół
Basic (unarmed) transport variant used by Polish, Czech and Myanmar Air Force.
W-3P Sokół
Military passenger version used by Polish Navy.
W-3S Sokół
VIP transport version used by Polish Air Force.
W-3W Sokół
Armed version, with twin 23mm GSz-23Ł cannon and four pylons for weapons used by Polish Land Forces.
W-3WA Sokół
Same like W-3W but based on new W-3A airframe, used by Polish Land Forces.
W-3R Sokół
Medical evacuation version used by Polish and Czech Air Force.
W-3RL Sokół
Land search and rescue version used by Polish Air Force.
W-3RM Anakonda
Navalized search and rescue version used by Polish Navy.
W-3WARM Anakonda
Same like W-3RM but based on new W-3A airframe. Used by Polish Navy.
W-3PSOT / W-3PPD Gipsówka
W-3PPD was a flying command centre variant (PPD stands for "Powietrzny Punkt Dowodzenia" - "Airborne Command Post"). In 2006 this variant received new digital battlefield (after modernization helicopter is able to guide artillery equipped with Topaz fire control system) and observation systems and was adopted by Polish Land Forces Aviation under new name W-3PSOT (PSOT stands for "Powietrzne Stanowisko Obserwacji Terenu" - "Airborne Observation Post"). This variant is equipped with pylons for weapons (same like in W-3W) but has no 23mm fixed canon. Used by Polish Land Forces.
W-3RR Procjon
Radioelectronic reconnaissance version (RR stands for "Rozpoznanie Radioelektroniczne" - "Radioelectronic Reconnaissance"). Used by Polish Land Forces.

Prototypes and proposals

Prototypes and proposals that were not adopted by Armed Forces.

W-3B Jastrząb
Proposed armed version with guided AT rockets. Never build and never used by Polish Army.
W-3K Huzar
Proposed armed version with guided AT rockets. Modification of Kentron company tested in South Africa in early 1990s.
W-3L Sokół Long
Proposed stretched version seating up to 14 passengers, mockup only.
W-3MS Sokół
Proposed gunship version
W-3U Salamandra
Armed version, with avionics and armament from Mi-24W. Only one built, later converted into transport variant and sold to Myanmar.
W-3U-1 Aligator
Proposed anti-submarine version.
W-3WB Huzar
Proposed armed version with guided AT rockets. Never build and never used by Polish Army.
W-3WS Sokół
Proposed gunship version.

Głuszec upgrade program

"Głuszec" (Polish for "Capercaillie") is a PZL W-3 upgrade program to bring Sokół to 21st century standards. The first prototype (s/n: 360901) should be delivered to Polish Land Forces Aviation this year.

W-3PL Sokół
New armed transport/combat support variant for Air Cavalry unit. Polish Army ordered 22 helicopters in this variant as an upgrade of existing W-3W / W-3WA airframes.
W-3CSAR Sokół
Special transport/search and rescue variant equipped with advanced observation and enchanted survivability systems. Polish Army ordered 4 helicopters in this variant to support (C)SAR and special operations.


Military operators

Czech Air Force PZL W-3A
Czech Air Force PZL W-3A

Polish Government VIP PZL W-3P
Polish Government VIP PZL W-3P
 Czech Republic
  • Iraqi Air Force received two W-3A (serialled 370912 and 370914) aircraft in 2006 but contract was rejected and both helicopters were returned to PZL Świdnik.
  • Polish Air Force
    • 36. Specjalny Pułk Lotnictwa Transportowego
  • Polish Land Forces Aviation
    • 47. Szkolny Pułk Śmigłowców
    • 66. Dywizjon Lotniczy
    • 3. Eskadra Lotnictwa Transportowo-Łącznikowego
    • Samodzielna Grupa Powietrzno-Szturmowa operating in Iraq.
    • GROM special forces operated one W-3SP (serial 390510) aircraft.
  • Polish Navy
    • 1. Dywizjon Lotnictwa Marynarki Wojennej
    • 28. Eskadra Lotnictwa Marynarki Wojennej
    • 29. Eskadra Lotnictwa Marynarki Wojennej

Law Enforcement operators

PZL W-3RM Anakonda of Polish Border Guard
PZL W-3RM Anakonda of Polish Border Guard
  • Police of Saxony bought two W-3A (serialled 370503 and 370708 and registered respectively D-HSNA and D-HSNB) aircraft.
 Ras al-Khaimah
 South Korea

Civil operators

  • Eliwork bought one W-3AM (serial 370705, I-SOKL)and one W-3AS (serial 310314, I-SOKO) aircraft.
  • Okada Air bought one W-3 (serial 310413) aircraft registered as 5N-UYI.
  • Helibravo operated one W-3AM aircraft registered as CS-HFA.
 South Africa
  • Denel operated one W-3K aircraft registered as ZU-AGU.
 South Korea
  • Helikorea bought W-3A (serial 370509) aircraft.
  • Citi Air bought W-3AM (serial 370514) aircraft.
 Soviet Union
  • Aeroflot operated 20 aircraft, most were transferred to Heliseco company.
  • Helibravo bought W-3A2 (serial 370508) and W-3AM (370705) aircraft.
  • Hispanica de Aviacion bought nine aircraft - five W-3AS, three W-3AM and one W-3A.

Specifications (W-3A)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 or 2 (pilots or pilot and flight engineer)
  • Capacity: 12 passengers
    • SAR: three medical attendants and eight rescued survivors
    • Air Ambulance: four stretchers and one medical attendant
    • EMS: one stretcher and medical attendants
    • Executive: five or six passengers
  • Length: 14.21 m (46 ft 8 in)
  • Rotor diameter: 15.70 m (51 ft 6 in)
  • Height: 5.14 m (16 ft 10 in)
  • Disc area: 193.6 m² (2,034 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 3,850 kg (8,488 lb)
  • Useful load: kg (kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 6,400 kg (14,110 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2× WSKPZL Rzeszów PZL-10W turboshaft, 670 kW (900 shp) each


See also

External links

Text from Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License; additional terms may apply.

Published in July 2009.

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