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Błyskawica: The Polish Home Army’s Clandestine SMG

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The Blyskawica (“LIghtning”) is an SMG developed in occupied Poland to be issued out to Home Army units during Operation Tempest; the liberation uprisings planned for the advance of the Red Army into Poland.

The gun was developed starting in September 1942 by two engineers, Wacław Zawrotny and Seweryn Wielanier. Both were smart and talented, but neither had previous experience in arms design. The design they created is both innovative in some areas and inferior in others as a result, with major inspiration coming form the Sten and the MP40. Production was undertaken in the harshest conditions of occupied Warsaw, where just possession of cutting tools required German military permission.* It is a credit to the skill and dedication of the Home Army team that some 750 Błyskawica guns were made; the largest mass production of any underground weapon that I am aware of.

Ultimately, Operation Tempest did not come to full fruition, as the NKVD’s treatment of Polish fighters as collaborators destroyed Home Army interest in cooperation. The Błyskawica guns were never issued in mass as planned, with only the few dozen last made being used in the Warsaw Uprising. The remaining 700-odd examples have never been found – perhaps they remain in long-forgotten caches still to this day?

For the full story of the Błyskawica, see Leszek Erenfeicht’s excellent article:

Many thanks to the Polish Army Museum for giving me access to film this exceptionally rare item for you! Check them out at:

* This created some interesting situations in which a shop might take a contract to make material for the Wehrmacht as a way to get access to the tools needed for Błyskawica component production. To those who did not know the whole story, such a shop was collaborationist.

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