Single PWS-5s were evaluated in a few Military Aviation units, after the evaluation they were used for liaison and target-towing.
In 1927, the Aviation Department of the Polish War Ministry opened a contest for a liaison and observation plane capable of operating from unprepared airfields, in cooperation with land Army units.
In the PWS factory, Aleksander Grzędzielewski and Augustyn Bobek-Zdaniewski proposed a plane, designated initially PWS-7, the first prototype of which was flown on 28 December 1928 at Biała Podlaska by Franciszek Rutkowski, with the designation changing to PWS-5 in 1929.
An interesting feature was the interchangeable upper and mainplanes which resulted in the upper wings being shorter than the lower, due to the lack of a centre-section between the upper planes.
In February 1929 a second improved prototype, with a shorter forward fuselage and larger tail surfaces, designated PWS-5a was flown, which, in spite of being heavier than planned, empty weight 735 kg (1,620 lb) versus 600 kg (1,300 lb), that affected performance, the War Ministry considered the design satisfactory, with good handling and stability, ordering a short series of 5 aircraft which were designated PWS.5t2 by the factory in a similar fashion to the French Air Ministry.
However, a detailed evaluation in the Aviation Technical Research Institute (ITBL) showed, that the ‘PWS.5t2’ had a long take-off run, poor handling in the glide at slow speed and low ceiling due to the use of an inadequate Wright propeller.
Other competitors: the PZL Ł.2 and Lublin R-X were evaluated, with better results, so no more PWS-5s were ordered.
The original designation of the first prototype, changed early in 1929, with the revision of the PWS designation system, to PWS-5.
The designation of the two prototypes after the PWS designation revision.
Production aircraft delivered to the Lotnictwo Wojskowe (Military Aviation), for trials and operational evaluation.
A progressive development of the PWS-5 fitted with Handley Page automatic leading-edge slats, higher aspect ratio wings, full-span flaperons on the lower wing (upper wing ailerons removed).
The fuselage was faired to a circular section and the engine enclosed in a Townend ring.