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PZL W-3 Sokół

From PlaneSpottingWorld, for aviation fans everywhere
One of W-3 Sokół armed versions, Airshow 2005 in Radom

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


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 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 - licensced Russian designed TVD-10B turboprops that power the Polish-built An-28. Composites are used in the tail and main rotor blades.

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.


Military Versions

  • W-3W Sokół - armed version, with twin 23mm GSz-23Ł cannon and four pylons for weapons (used by WL RP)
  • W-3WA Sokół - same like W-3W but based on new W-3A airframe (used by WL RP)
  • W-3PPD Gipsówka - flying command centre, has pylons for weapons (just like W-3W) but no 23mm canon (used by WL RP)
  • W-3RR Procjon - version for radioelectronic reconnaissance (used by WL RP)
  • W-3R Sokół - medical evacuation version (used by SP RP, CzAF)
  • W-3RL Sokół - land search and rescue version (used by SP RP)
  • W-3RM Anakonda - navalized search and rescue version (used by MW RP)
  • W-3WARM Anakonda - same like W-3RM but based on new W-3A airframe (used by MW RP)
  • W-3T Sokół - basic (unarmed) transport variant (used by SP RP, CzAF)
  • W-3P Sokół - military, pasanger version (used by MW RP)
  • W-3S Sokół - VIP transport version. (used by SP RP)
    Two armed W-3WA Sokół behind Mi-8T in Iraq, 2005

Civil 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 to-axsis Smith SN 350 autopilot
  • W-3AM Sokół - civil version with floats

Prototypes and proposals

  • W-3U Salamandra - armed version, with avionics and arment from Mi-24W (build only one, then converted into transport variant and sold to Myanmar)
  • W-3B Jastrząb - proposed armed version with guided AT rockets (never build and never used by Polish Army)
  • W-3WB Huzar - 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 by South Africa
  • W-3L Sokół Long - proposed stretched version seating up to 14 passengers, project only.
  • W-3WS Sokół - proposed gunship version
  • W-3MS Sokół - proposed gunship version
  • W-3U-1 Aligator - proposed anti-submarine version
  • W-3PL Sokół - Created as effect of "Głuszec" W-3 Sokół upgrade program. New Sokół has Multi-function display (MFD) based cockpit, engines with Full Authority Digital Electronics Control (FADEC), Head-up display (HUD), forward looking infrared (FLIR) imager, new defense systems (IR countermeasure and Chaff/Flare dispenser), all new electronic system are integrated around new Mission Computer, air conditioning and composite armor for pilots cabin, new weapons: 12,7mm WKM-B machinegun in moving turret (instead of fixed 23mm canon), new unguided rockets pods with 70mm rockets (compatible with Hydras), new ATGMs, new main rotor.


W-3RL (the land Search and Rescue variant) at Krzesiny Air Base

Military Operators

Law Enforcement Operators

Civil Operators

Technical data


Two 670kW (900shp) takeoff rated WSKPZL Rzeszów PZL10W turboshafts driving a four blade main rotor and three blade tail rotor.


W-3A - Max cruising speed 243km/h (131kt). Initial rate of climb 2008ft/min. Hovering ceiling (at max takeoff weight) out of ground effect 6220ft. Service ceiling 19,680ft. Max range with reserves 745km (402nm), with auxiliary fuel and reserves 1290km (696nm), with max payload and no reserves 200km (108nm).


W3A - Basic operating empty 3850kg (8488lb), max takeoff 6400kg (14,110lb).


Main rotor diameter 15.70m (51ft 6in), length overall rotors turning 18.79m (61ft 8in), fuselage length 14.21m (46ft 8in), height overall 5.14m (16ft 10in), height to top of rotor mast 4.20m (13ft 10in). Main rotor disc area 193.6m2 (2034sq ft).


Two pilots or pilot and flight engineer or passenger on flightdeck. Main cabin seating for 12 in passenger configuration, or three medical attendants and eight rescued survivors in SAR Anaconda version, or four stretchers and medical attendant in ambulance configuration, one stretcher and medical attendants in critical care EMS version, or five/six passengers in executive configuration. Can carry a 2100kg (4630lb) sling load.


W-3WA - armed versions during Airshow 2005 in Radom

General Characteristics

  • Crew: 1 pilot
  • Capacity: 12 passengers
  • Rotor: four-blade, glases-epoxy composite blades with de-icing system
  • Main rotor diameter: 15.70 m
  • Length (with main rotor): 18.85 m
  • Height: 4.2 m
  • Empty: 3,300 kg
  • Maximum takeoff: 6,400 kg
  • Powerplant: 2x PZL-10W turboshaft, 660 kW each


  • Maximum speed: 260 km/h
  • Range: 1,165 km ( with ad. fuel tank )
  • Service ceiling: 5,100 m
  • Rate of climb: 10 m/s

Related content

Related development:

Comparable aircraft:

UH-1 Iroquois

Designation sequence:

PZL SM-1 - PZL SM-2 - PZL Mi-2 - PZL Kania - PZL W-3 Sokół - PZL SW-4 Puszczyk

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

de:PZL W-3 hu:W–3 Sokół pl:PZL W-3 Sokół