W 1939 year, The Polish Army was recognized by many international experts as one of the strongest and most valiant armies in Europe. It was indeed so – valor, fortitude and excellent training of the Polish soldier, demonstrated at numerous military maneuvers greatly impressed foreign observers. French general Louis Marin stated in 1939 year, that a Polish soldier “is prime, durable, endowed with a certain sense of initiative, which cannot be found either in the Russian soldier, nor German”. The high marks of the Polish army also gave great states of peace: 30 infantry divisions, 37 cavalry regiments and the elite Border Protection Corps (guarding the border with the USSR), about the equivalent 3 division. The legend of the Battle of Warsaw was also added to this 1920 year, when the Polish Army drove the mighty Red Army away, stopping her march on Europe.
And it can be stated 100% right, that with such a great state of affairs, Poland would certainly win the war, however, apart from the excellent soldiers, there was still the question of equipping and modernizing the armed forces, who stood in the Polish army, unfortunately, not very satisfactory. It is sad to say, that in this respect the Polish Army did not have the slightest chance against any strong European army.
In a way, Marshal Józef Piłsudski put his hand to it, who was unable to ensure the proper development of the army. Army, which Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły realized in one of his conversations, Piłsudski's successor, taking power after the death of the Marshal of St. 1935 year. As he said it, “there was a state of mobilization that was threatening to disaster (…); there was not a single anti-aircraft gun, not a single pepanca, with the exception of 1920s”. Justification of actions (or rather, no action) Piłsudski can only be a fact, that the state under his rule was in a great crisis, also in the face of enormous expenses related to the need to rebuild the state, it was impossible to shell out larger sums to modernize the army. However, it was a fact, that the marshal completely disregarded modern weapons, such as armor and aviation. And there is no doubt about it, that if he wanted to, he would certainly be able to modernize the military.
Edward Rydz-Śmigły immediately started to act vigorously, approving of in 1936 6-year plan to modernize the armed forces. He predicted, that after its completion, i.e. in 1942 the Polish army will be comparable to other European armies in terms of modernization. Later, the delays were calculated in advance, which assumed the completion of works in a year 1946 (However, even if the war had not thwarted the plans to modernize the army, it would be impossible to catch up with the Wehrmacht or the Red Army anyway, for they too undertook violent armaments during this period).
The main source of modern equipment for the army was the Central Industrial District, erected especially for this purpose, located in the forks of the Wieprz and San. Contrary to appearances, the performance of domestic production in Poland was constant, as for economic opportunities, at a very high level. During the reign of Rydz-Śmigły, almost a hundred modern 7-TP tanks were produced, otherwise over 300 aircraft (in that number 36 the most modern bombers “Moose”) and numerous artillery, including excellent cannons 37 mm wz. 36, produced domestically under the license of the Swedish company Bofors, whether anti-aircraft guns caliber 75 mm wz. 36 domestic construction. The modest navy was also strengthened, prepared for the war with the USSR (only in contact with his army could she play any role). Some of the equipment was also imported from abroad, including 100 French tanks Renault R. 35, which – unfortunately – only 49 managed to reach Poland before the outbreak of the war.
However, despite your best efforts, undertaken to modernize the army, it was not possible to properly prepare the Polish Army for the war. The huge economic backwardness of the country stood in the way, and the conservatism of most senior officers and the lack of technical resources. The equipping of the army with modern equipment has not ended, and the idea of motoring the outdated cavalry was not realized (only one brigade managed to do so). Compared to the German army, whose intensive reinforcement with full economic potential began already in 1933 year, or the Red Army, Polish army, modernized from 1936 year, with little financial possibilities of the country, it was a minor army.
The table below presents the number of tanks and aircraft in the Polish Army as at the date 31 of August 1939 year:
|PZL P23 “Crucian”||116|
|PZL P37 “Moose”||36|
|RWD 14 “Heron”||35|