About 6,000 armoured vehicles 1947-2016.
The Polish Army in ww2
Poland made of opening of world war two with a large standing army and nearly 500 tanks, but it was not enough to face the Wehrmacht and even less to face the Red Army attacking from the east, following the secret protocol established after the signature of the non-aggression pact on 23 august. Despite a resolute and brave defence, the Polish Army was overwhelmed. The surrender did not stopped Poland to fight however, first in the air over Great Britain, and then with the British Navy, in North Africa, and gradually in Italy with much superior forces. By the fall of 1944 a full armoured divisions and several infantry divisions were constituted. For more, see the page covering the 1920-1945 era, ww2 polish tanks.
After the liberation of Poland by the Red Army, a new provisional pro-communist government was established and in mid-1945 a brand new Polish Army rearmed with Soviet tanks branded with the Polish eagle participated in the final offensive in sectors let down by soviet forces previously. To the dismay of officers and men which fought together with the allies when the war was over and after peace transactions with Stalin, Poland found itself inside the Soviet sphere of influence, perhaps as a token of appeasement for what was still an ally then.
Poland and the Warsaw Pact
Under a new leadership the country was now narrowly linked to the line defined in Moskow, and in 1947 the Cold War was on, as events in Berlin degenerated quickly. The Warsaw pact also officially known as the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation, and Mutual Assistance, was a reaction to the constitution of NATO in 1955. It was signed on 14 may the same year and Gathered east-European nations previously liberated by the Red Army, namely Bulgaria, Romania, Yougoslavia, Albania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany and of course Poland, as the treaty was signed in its capital. This treaty and organization will be the black beast for NATO until 1990. It was at first the traduction of countries armed with the same standards in equipments, tactics and operating procedures. But as times goes by, some nations developed gradually their own production (licence production and derivatives) especially industrial nations like Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungaria, Romania. Tito’s Yugoslavia took a radical departure early on and never joined the treaty.
A Polish-built T-54AM. They had “L”-shaped fuel cells and additional ZIP stowage bins on either side of the turret.
Birth of a new Polish military industry
Although procedure and tactics were borrowed from Soviet Union instruction, and defined also by similar equipments, local industry soon found ways already in the 1960s to licence-produce Soviet tanks for the Polish People’s Army. Indeed, 2,855 Polish T-54AMs were manufactured in the Bumar-Labedy from 1956 to 1967, differing by minor details for soviet tanks. They formed the backbone of the Polish Army, replacing older T-34/85s.
The end of the cold war (1980s)
The 1980s political events were instrumental in Poland’s history as they certainly contributed as a loss of authority from Moskow and one was of the knockdown blows that bring the Soviet empire to collapse in 1989-90. The Solidarnosz (an independent trade union) movement funded 17 September 1980 at the Gdańsk Shipyard under the leadership of Lech Wałęsa came as a revelator of the will of independence that surged in many eastern block countries at large. The movement grew up to create massive striked in 1988, and despite the reaction of the regime led by hard-liner Marshal Jaruzelski in ended in september when the local communist party was forced to recoignise the movement as a political party of its own, and the next year the first national elections were organized in june 1989, which led to the victory of Lech Wałęsa (which became later first president of post-cold war Poland and new Senate). The disintegration of the USSR later only confirm both a full independence of Poland and its opening to the West.
In all these events, the Army seemed neutral, although subjugated by Marshal Jaruzelski, intervention was feared but never appeared as it seemed no order were given to make a “crowd-control” in the old soviet style, with tanks rolling in the streets and over barricades. In the following years, the Army was left with an obsolescent, massive park of AFVs and little funds that imposed a deep re-organization.
Renewal of the Army (1990-2000s)
As a symbol of the new Polish Army, the Pt-91 Twardy seemed an interesting transitional tank, between the locally produced T-72M1 and the perhaps future Polish Tanks, like the impressive OBRUM PL-01, although the latter is an IFV, not a MBT. The Leopard 2A7/NG seems to be the next MBT, possibly with an envisioned local production.
<< Work in Progress ! >>
The KTO Rosomak, another strong symbol of this renewal of the Polish military industry. It looks obviouly as another design influenced by the Mowag Piranha 8×8 family, a versatile platform that could be tailored as IFV, APC, ambulance, command post… These forms the bulk of the Polish APC force today.
External interventions (Bosnia, Afghanistan)
PL-01, the future Infantry Fighting Vehicle of the Polish Army (planned for 2018).
Modern Polish Army
Leopard 2 128 Leopard 2A4, 63 2A5 and 2 Leopard 2NJ (currently in evaluation) are in service.
PT-91 TwardyAn all-out improved and modernized national version of the T-72M1 (1993). 92 Pt-91, 27 PT-91M and 113 PT-91M1 are in service, the oldest pending upgrade to the M1 level.
Polish T-72 JaguarThe T-72 was licence-produced in Poland since the late 1970s, chiefly for export. In 2009, about 580 T-72 were in service: 172 T-72s, 135 T-72A, 254 T-72M1 and 23 T-72M1 plus some SJ-09 and “Wilk” prototypes. Many were converted as PT-91s, sold or kept in storage, being replaced by the Leopards.
BWP-1 The locally-designated BMP-1 since the 1970s. 1400 were ordered in 1969. Now less than 800 are still operational, and a few are declined into the BWP-1D (33), BWR-1D (22) and BWR-1S (16) specialized variants. Pending replacement by the PL01.
KTO Rosomak (2013)A locally-produced Patria AMV, 997 to be delivered until 2019. Declined into an IFV and APC version. Above, the Rosomak M1M with anti-RPG nets deployed in Afghanistan. Versions comprises the basic vehicle, the M1, M1M, M2, M3, S, NJ, and WSRiD
2S1 Goździk Polish selgp-propelled artillery fleet comprises 324 of these 122 mm SPHs, 111 wheeled Wz. 1977 Dana (Czech-built), 8 Krab, and several Rocket-launcher vehicles.
WZT-3MOnly 29 of these ARVs derived from the PT-91 are in service, however, it was a huge commercial success, with 556 being sold to India, and 6 to Malaysia in support to the Pendekar, derived from the PT-91. Others ARVs in polish service are 40 WZT-2 (T-55 derived), 74 WPT Mors (derived from the MT-LB) and 28 Bergepanzer 2.
TRI90 of these CEV and recce vehicles are in service (derived from the MT-LB). Also in service are 8 MID Bizon-S (dozer CEVs), a few amphibious PTS (50 used by the Navy), 24 SUM kalina minelayers, 6 ISM Kroton, 4 Keiler, but also 126 BLG-67 and 6 Bieber bridgelayers.
AMZ Dzik The light vehicles fleet counts many vehicle types, starting with this local, recent Dzik/Dzik-2.
IS-3Among the ww2 soviet armour park kept in service will into the 1960s in some case, are some IS-3 heavy tanks (here) and many T-34/85s.
T-54 Here a Polish-built T-54AM. These were produced by the thousands, and had significant differences, two locally-designed “L” shaped fuel cells (left fender), modified right rear air intake, different tool box storage, new rotating turret floor, and modified hydraulically assisted drive’s controls. Most were exported.
T-55 Also built under licence in Poland. Modifications includes the T-55AD command tank (161 km radio range), T-55L (local T-55A) and T-55LD (rebuilt T-54), T-55AD-1 & 2 (A command tanks with additional radios). In the 1980s a second wave of modernizations concerned the T-55AM “Merida” (Sub-variants: T-55AMS, AD-1M & AD-2M command). Others includes the S-125SC “Newa-SC” SPAAML, WZT-1/2 ARV/CEVs, IWT is the standard dozer/crane BLG-60 bridgelayer.
Latest modern tanks
- Ajax Reconnaissance Tank & APC
- BMPT Terminator
- Narco Tanks
- Oshkosh MAT-V
- Type 90 Kyū-maru
- Dardo IFV
- Challenger II
- LGS Fennek (2000)
- Puma AFV (1999)