In 1927, the Polish War Ministry opened a contest for a military liaison and observation aircraft. It was meant to operate from casual airfields, used by Army land units. Jerzy Dąbrowski and Franciszek Kott from the PZL works proposed an aircraft, designated initially PZL.2. It was one of the first PZL designs, what was indicated by its low number.
PZL Ł.2 was a high-wing braced parasol wing monoplane, conventional in layout, of all-metal construction. It had a duralumin framed, canvas covered fuselage (engine part was covered with duralumin). Crew of two was sitting in tandem in open cockpits, with twin controls. The observer had a 7.7 mm Lewis machine gun on a ring mounting. The elliptical wing was two-spar, of duralumin construction, canvas-covered, fitted with slats, flaps and flaperons. Wings could be dismounted for transport. The tail was of duralumin construction, canvas covered. It had a conventional fixed landing gear with a rear skid.
It had a 9-cylinder air-cooled Polish Skoda Works licence-built Wright Whirlwind J-5A radial engine delivering 240 hp (179 kW) at take-off and 220 hp (164 kW) nominal, driving a two-blade wooden propeller, 2.7 m diameter (in SP-AFA - metal one). 190 litre fuel tank in a fuselage (600 l in SP-AFA). Cruise fuel consumption was 45-50 l/h.
The first prototype was flown in early 1930 by Capt. Bolesław Orliński (later it received civilian registration SP-ADN) and underwent IBTL testing. In May 1930 the prototype PZL.2 was shown by Bolesław Orliński at air meeting in Brno and Bucharest, where it impressed viewers with short landing and minimal speed. After being fitted with a rear machine gun, it was shown at Paris Air Show in December 1930.
In 1930 the aircraft was tested and evaluated by the Polish Air Force. Thanks to wing mechanization (flats and slats), it had short take-off and landing. It was very advanced combination of high-lift devices in world's aviation those days. A competing designs Lublin R-X and PWS-5t2, evaluated yet in 1929, were not satisfactory, so the Polish Air Force ordered 60 PZL.2.
The aircraft took part in the second contest for an army co-operation aircraft in July 1931. In spite of advanced high-lift devices and all-duralumin construction of the PZL.2, the air force decided to choose a simpler, cheaper and quite satisfactory Lublin R-XIII plane.
An initial order for 60 PZL.2 was finally lowered to 30, which were built between April 1930 and August 1931. The designation changed then to PZL Ł.2 (Ł for "łącznikowy", liaison) or Ł.2a (following an early manner of PZL works to mark the aircraft purpose in designation, after a pursuit PZL P.1). Including the prototype, they carried factory numbers 55.1 - 55.31.
PZL L-2 were, in 1931-1932, 13 ET equipment with 1 GB, 43 ET with 4 GB and 63 GB ET 6, independent platoon accompanying 2 GB. One PZL L-2 was used until 1933 and by Dyon Experimental IBTL from 1932. They began to withdraw PZL L-2 units, assigning them to training. They were given to: CWOL / TSO Sztabowa ET and ET to 3 GB.
One of the Ł.2, number 55.10 was converted to a long-distance sports aircraft (civilian registration SP-AFA). It had fuel tanks 600 l and a range of over 2000 km. It was also fitted with a Townend ring.
PZL Ł.2 SP-AFA was used for several long-distance flights. Between 1 February - 5 May 1931 Cpt. Stanislaw Skarżyński with Eng. Andrzej Markiewicz flew it on a tour around Africa, on Warsaw - Belgrade - Athens - Cairo - Khartoum - Juba - Kisumu - Elisabethville - Léopoldville - Port-Gentil - Douala - Lagos - Abidjan - Bamako - Dakar - Port Etienne - Casablanca - Alicante - Bordeaux - Paris - Berlin - Warsaw 25,050 km-route (with some other stops). The aircraft was nicknamed Afrykanka then (Polish: the African female), coinciding with the aircraft registration. The tour proved a durability of the Polish-built aircraft, withstanding different weather conditions and casual airstrips, during 147 flying hours, despite the engine had to be repaired twice on the way. In 7–8 June 1931 Skarżyński flew this aircraft from Poznań in a rally to Bucharest. In July 1932 it hauled Polish gliders SG-21 and SG-28 in international competition in Rhön (piloted by Skarżyński again). It was used in the Military Camp Glider in Ustianowa and then staffs a Training Squadron 1 GB. The aircraft was written off in autumn 1935.
PZL Ł.2 SP-AFA
Due to a decrease of orders, there remained parts for several aircraft. In 1930 the PZL proposed to the Polish Navy a liaison and patrol floatplane variant of Ł.2, designated PZL.9, but it was not built. Then, the PZL proposed another patrol and fighter floatplane, basing on Ł.2 parts, PZL.15. It was a low-wing braced monoplane with thin tail boom, and utilized wings, tail and engine of Ł.2. It was not built either. Parts of Ł.2 (wings, tail, engine) were utilized in a passenger aircraft prototype PZL.16.
Serial aircraft were used by the Polish Air Force as liaison and utility aircraft from 1930, first of all in escadres Nos. 43 and 63. From 1932 they were mostly replaced with Lublin R-XIII and relegated for training, among others in Dęblin. Several were damaged in crashes. Since the aircraft started to suffer from fatigue of rivets in frame joints, they were completely written off by the end of 1935.
Produced 1930-1931, 31 were built. The Polish Air Force operated 29 aircraft and the PZL company operated two aircraft.
Engine: 1 × Skoda-Wright J-5 Whirlwind, 160 kW (220 hp)
Propeller: 2-bladed wooden fixed pitch propeller
Wingspan: 13.4 m (44 ft 0 in)
Wing area: 25.8 m2 (278 sq ft)
Airfoil: D.J.3 (modified NACA M12)
Length: 7.92 m (26 ft 0 in)
Height: 2.7 m (8 ft 10 in)
Max take-off weight: 1282 kg / 2826 lb
Empty weight: 892 kg / 1967 lb
Fuel capacity: 150 l (40 US gal; 33 imp gal)
Maximum speed: 183 km/h (114 mph; 99 kn) at sea level
Stall speed: 63 km/h (39 mph; 34 kn) slats extended
Service ceiling: 4,730 m (15,518 ft)
Time to altitude:
1,000 m (3,300 ft) in 4 minutes 20 seconds
2,000 m (6,600 ft) in 10 minutes 5 seconds
3,000 m (9,800 ft) in 18 minutes 35 seconds
Take-off run: 55 ma (59 sq ft)
Landing run: 45 ma (48 sq ft)
Range: 660 km
Armament: 1x 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Lewis machine gun
PZL L-2 rally
Engine: 1 × Skoda-Wright J-5 Whirlwind, 160 kW (220 hp)
Wingspan: 13.4 m
Length: 7.92 m
Height: 2.7 m
Wing area: 25.8 m2.
Empty weight: 970 kg
MTOW: 1730 kg / 3,814 lb
Fuel capacity: 630 lt (170 US gal; 140 imp gal)
Max speed 200 km / h
Cruise: 185 km / h
Stall: 77 km / h
Range: 2000 km