80 years of tradition

 

Great plans stopped for years…

 

The plan of building the Central Industrial District, initiated by the Deputy Prime Minister Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski, adopted by the parliament in February 1937, has initiated the process of creating own defense potential of the then Republic of Poland. The Stalowa Wola industrial center was established in the forks of Vistula and San, where the headquarters of the Southern Works was established, in less than 800 days, which passed from the first pine cut for the construction of the plant to the solemn opening by President Ignacy Mościcki. Along with the industrial center, an employee housing estate was created in the Sandomierska Forest area, which was given the name Stalowa Wola. This is how the foundations of today's Huta Stalowa Wola and the city of Stalowa Wola emerged. Already in 1938 in the Stalowa Wola Works, assembly and tests of a 100mm field howitzer have started. The history of today's HSW is counted from that event. In 1939, the target annual production capacity of the Southern Works was estimated to be 480 field guns (75 and 100 mm), 48 guns (105 mm), 72 guns (155 mm), 16 gun barrels (75 mm), 32 gun barrels (100 mm), 12 gun barrels (155 mm) and an unspecified number of barrels for 37 and 40 mm cannons (J. Reszczyński – „Dzieło ludzi o STALOWEJ WOLI”). From the opening ceremony on the 14th of June 1939, until the outbreak of the war, all the production programs were not started.

Regardless of the course of history, from the very beginning of its existence, HSW was included among the strategic links in Polish industry, thus remaining in direct relation with the economic and defense policy of the country.

Potential out of control...


 From October 1939, German specialists took control of the Southern Works, and from June 1940 they have already operated under the name "Stahlwerke Braunschweig - Werk Stalowa Wola". The factory's potential during World War II was used for the strategic purposes of the Third Reich, and when Germans left Stalowa Wola (August 1, 1944), about 20% of the Southern Works’ value was irretrievably lost.

New opening…


 

Southern Works were officially reopened on the 5th of January 1945. The infrastructure complex around the Southern Works together with the Stalowa Wola housing estate has obtained city rights on the 1st of April 1945. The next 5 years was the period of undertaking work not related to special production, because after the war years the army did not report the need to expand its defense potential.

On the 20th of March 1948, on the tenth anniversary of the company’s foundation, at the request of the crew, the Southern Works have received a new name - Huta Stalowa Wola.

The production of special equipment in the form of artillery equipment under the license of the then USSR took place in the 50s of the last century. Anti-aircraft guns, tank guns, towed guns and artillery tractors are essential products manufactured in HSW in the 1950s and 1960s, intended mainly for export to eastern markets. Particularly noteworthy is the production of the D-10 cannon, launched in 1957, for the world's most popular, after the Second World War, T-54/55 tanks. These tanks manufactured in Poland, equipped with complete guns or barrels from HSW, went to foreign markets, while creating demand for spare parts. Subsequent versions of D-10 remained in the HSW’s offer until the turn of the 80's and 90's of the last century.

With the development of HSW, the infrastructure of the city of Stalowa Wola was progressing.

The 1960s and 1970s were the time of introduction to the production and export sales of a marine missile launcher intended for amphibious assault ships. This is a "milestone" in the history of HSW, the first step towards the company’s operations concerning rocket artillery and navy. Thanks to the experience gained at HSW, a lightweight towed rocket launcher was created. In connection with the preparations for production of infantry fighting vehicle, HSW gained further valuable production and constructional experiences as well as acquired infrastructure facilities in the form of a modern production department in 1969. These actions, due to the decisions on special production made at the state level at the state level, did not result in launching production, but the knowledge and skills capital developed at that time remained in the company and served the subsequent projects. The faculty has become a place for developing the new HSW manufacturing industry, which construction machines have been since 1967. This is another milestone in the history of HSW - with the commencement of operations in this area, with license documentation for American construction machines, Western technologies have entered the company, necessarily eliminating those coming from the Soviet armaments industry.

In 1972, the Industrial Works Huta Stalowa Wola was created, with the simultaneous awarding of the status of a chief unit in the HSW Works.

Since the implementation of the license for a lightweight multi-purpose armored MTLB crawler tractor and the launch of its serial production in 1976, by 1990 it had been exported to the USSR in a total quantity of approximately 6,500 units. After 1980, many vehicles based on its construction were created in HSW: the multi-purpose crawler transporter Piast, the automatic command vehicle of the air defense Łowcza, the medical evacuation vehicle Lotos, the engineering transporter Durian. Like many others, not listed here, they did not reach the production phase, but were an invaluable knowledge capital for the future projects.

On the base of the MTLB modification, two variants of the floating Opal chassis were created. These, in turn, were used in subsequent constructions: engineering reconnaissance transporters Hors, technical emergency vehicles Mors, erratic minelaying transport vehicles Kroton, artillery command vehicles. At the same time, HSW obtained licensing documentation for the 122mm self-propelled howitzer Goździk (1976) and began serial production, which lasted from 1984 to 1991. The export amounted to about 73 items sold to the USSR. 529 pieces were produced for the needs of the Polish army. It was the last product in the HSW based on the Soviet license, and at the same time an important step for the Polish Army to replace towed howitzers with self-propelled artillery.

The enormous scale of special production and, at the same time, filling the existing faculty with civil production, was the premise for the expansion of the production facilities. In 1979, a production complex was commissioned, built and equipped at an impressive pace, constituting an infrastructure base for the implementation of HSW special production (the so-called Z-5). A period of breakthrough in HSW's activity was in 1989 and 1990, when - after the censorship was liquidated - the first attempts were made to "independently" enter the market with special production. Due to the new economic reality, it was time to start the process of "releasing" HSW from activities not related to the production profile. In a market economy, HSW could no longer act as a center for socio-economic activity undertaken in Stalowa Wola and the region. Thanks to HSW, a hospital, outpatient clinics, a community center, workers' hostels, bus depots with transport fleet, stadiums, holiday homes, kindergartens, nurseries and thousands of apartments built for employees and their families, were created in the city and region and functioned for many years: In 1991, the Industrial Works Huta Stalowa Wola was transformed into a Capital Group, and Huta Stalowa Wola became a sole-shareholder company of the State Treasury. In the same year, the status of defense industry company was revoked.

The period between 1991 and 1997 was the time of deep restructuring of HSW and the search for a way to restructure the Polish armaments industry, decision-making time of "suspension" in defense-related projects. In the period following the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact (after the 1st of July 1991), and before joining NATO (12th of March 1999), matters related to armaments of the army were not treated as a priority. Many of the product proposals presented in this period by HSW for various reasons were not accepted, however, the experience pool developed in this way proved to be invaluable. The project of a hybrid rocket-artillery anti-aircraft set Stalagmit / Sopel, brought to the prototype stage, among others, was important in this aspect. Noteworthy is the fact of independently building and modifying existing structures, as well as the ability to integrate own solutions with products of other contractors or to act as a leader coordinating complex projects for defense and security. The 90s was for HSW a time for establishing business cooperation with Western armaments producers, and thus - introducing new standards in the organizational and production sphere to the company. Among the then business partners we can mention, among others Swiss company Mowag and Austrian company - Steyer (work on a wheeled armored transporter), British - BAE Systems (155 mm caliber gun), Swiss - Oerlikon (automatic KDA cannon). At that time, HSW made its first steps towards developing a new quality of cooperation with the army, expressing readiness to provide and at the same time take responsibility for the operation of comprehensive weapon systems in place of individual products or individual components.

As part of improving the quality of cooperation with the Polish army in 2000, a separate organizational structure was established within the HSW, bringing together activities related to special production, ie. the Military Production Center.

After the "era" of deliveries to the native army the MTLB and Goździk, in 2003 a long-awaited breakthrough took place and HSW gave the army the mortar M98, designed from scratch by Stalowa Wola constructors in agreement with the end-user. This was HSW's first step in the implementation of programs changing the face of Polish artillery and missile forces, which we are continuing to this day.

This and subsequently created new HSW products can be found in the current offer "for defense and security".

 

Return to the ‘roots’


 

Twice in the years 2000 - 2009, HSW has found itself on the verge of bankruptcy. On the one hand, too low level of orders under "special production", on the other - the effects of the global economic crisis, which affected part of HSW producing civilian machines, closely related to the source of this crisis in the American economy, influenced the verification of the current spectrum of operations. In January 2012, the process of privatizing civilian production and construction machinery was finalized, which was sold to a Chinese investor.

In 2014, HSW became part of the Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (Polish Armaments Group).

***

Today HSW implements, among others the delivery program of fire-resistant 155 mm fire modules of self-propelled howitzers "REGINA" equipped with modern "KRAB" howitzers, command vehicles, logistic vehicles. The first Division Fire Module, composed of 24 "Krab" howitzers on a tracked chassis and accompanying vehicles (technical, ammunition, repair, command and command-staff vehicles) was handed over to the Polish Armed Forces in the summer of 2017.

In the meantime, in December 2016, the largest contract in the Polish arms industry was signed for the delivery of four division fire modules "Regina". In April 2016, HSW signed a contract for the delivery of 8 Company Fire Modules of 120 mm self-propelled mortars "RAK" which main component - 120 mm self-propelled mortar, has been developed from scratch in HSW. The company will provide, among others 64 self-propelled mortars, as well as command, repair, ammunition and reconnaissance vehicles.

"Regina" and "Rak" use original, innovative solutions of the Polish industry in their communication systems, automated command and fire control. HSW SA in 2012 sold to the Chinese investor the construction machinery business, directing the potential of the production towards special equipment. HSW modernizes its machinery and production park. Expanded the barrel production place reaching the ability to produce barrels with calibres from 30 to 155 mm, including those over 8 meters long.

HSW owns the "Jelcz" company, which manufactures highly mobile trucks of various classes for the army and co-owns the AUTOSAN company.

Research and development

HSW develops, among others, unmanned tower ZSSW-30 for wheeled armored transporter "Rosomak". HSW participates in the "Wisła" and "Homar" programs which are strategic for the national defense. HSW is also the leader of the consortium creating the first new, amphibian infantry fighting vehicle (NPBWP) "Borsuk" constructed in Poland.