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OTH-072 Polikarpov I-153 Soviet Fighter book
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OTH-072 Polikarpov I-153 Soviet Fighter book
The first plane 1-15 with the Wright Cyclone engine was constructed in October 1933. Tests have shown that military has got in hands an outstanding fighter. The plane reached 16 400 ft in 6 minutes and each turn took only 8 seconds to complete. At 9 850 ft altitude it easily boosted up the speed to 218 mph, that, while not being a record by itself, under the requirements of those years was more than enough.
Already in 1934 the production of 1-15 was started up at two Moscow air-plants - No.1 and No.39. At the end of 1935 the 1-15 production was stopped. In October 1936 1-1 5's with Soviet crews on board have joined the defenders of the Spanish republic. Soon it turned out that Soviet fighters were much stronger than German and Italian-made machines. 1-15 got a special praise from pilots . The plane felt obsolutely comfortable on dusty and stony airfields of Spain. The process of learning for the Spanish and foreign pilots went on without difficulties.
In early January 1937 Nickolay Polikarpov was informed about the decision to renew the manufacture of 1-15. The designer was ordered to modernise the fighter in a very limited time taking under consideration the plane's battle experience. The Air Force chiefs demanded that the plane should be manufactured with a normal upper-wings centreplate (without «Tchaika/Sea-gull» curve), NACA-type engine cowling and exhaust pipes collector. That is - a heavier fighter and less manoeuvrable, than the existing one. The designer had to concede to the customer's requirements. And so - l-15bis was born.
From the ourside the modified fighter reminded its predecessor, but the fuselage got a more round shape, the upper wings curve was replaced with a small centre-plate and N-shape bracing strut. Bis was equipped with the boost engine M-25V and became 440 Ib heavier. From the end of 1937 standpoint it was a reliable and quite a modern plane. But in Polikarpov's estimation it was a step back.
The designer was guided at the moment only by his rich experience and the remarks of the combat pilots. His main objective was producing a much light weight machine intended for a day time combat. The obsolete PV-1 machine guns were replaced with ShKAS or UltraShKAS with the rate of fire 3000 shots per minute.
With M-25V engine the flight weight of the fighter reached 4775 Ib, with M-62 - 4920 Ib. The designer Dmitry Tomashewitch developed a retractable landing gear, that allowed plane's speed to reach up to 255-267 mph. The new airplane got 1-153 name.
The working drawings of 1-153 were ready by May 1938, in August of the same year the documentation for the manufacture of the head series was completed. The first trial 1-153 N95001 with M-25V engine rolled out in August 1938. Production tests, completed in October, the airplane had not passed though. A plenty of defects have come to light: insufficient rigidity of wjngs, vibration of ailerons, jolting of a tail unit. All these faults and many others were corrected in the second experimental 1-153 N96005. In the winter it was decided to send the experimental «Tchaika/Seagull» to an airfield near the city of Baku in the republic of Azerbaijan. In total, 454 flights were executed on N96005 plane, maximum speed of 264 mph reached on 11500 ft, service ceiling - 28500 ft, initial climb was 16400 ft in 6,4 min, turn time - 11-12 sec. Jolting was still noted down, remarks were maid on a landing gear and arms.
On April 11,1939 a plane similar to the second experimental 1-153 N96008 from an army warplane series broke down in the air while reaching at diving 310 mph.
The state tests of 1-153 with M-62 engine took place in June - September 1939. The fact that similar machines have already been baptised by fire in Mongolia made these tests quite unusual. The airplane reached maximum speed of 275 mph on 15100 ft, service ceiling of 29 870 ft with turn time of 13-13,5 seconds. The fighter 1-153 M-62 had not passed the state tests mostly due to its insufficient maximum speed. Its flight performance was meant to be improved in the future.
The first two 1-153 N96039 and N96012, equipped with M-63 engines were off the production line in the autumn of 1939. On January 21 1940 the tests of 1-153 N96540 with M-63 engine have begun. The tests were conducted using ski landing gear until meltdown of snow on March 31. Maximum speed of 268 mph was reached which was regarded as insufficient. The Air Force scientific research institute pilots - (Nil VVS) conducted endurance tests on N96540 completing over 1500 acrobatic maneuvers.
I-153TK (1-153 equipped with supercharger)
The above mentioned activities that brought up to the level 1-153 were related mostly to the serial planes manufactured with M-62 and M-63 engines. A typical mass production plane was equipped with the engine M-62 - in total the airplant N9 1 has minted over 3000 units of 1-153 (roughly 3016 - 3020 pieces). Considerably less copies of 1-153 with M-63 engine were built - 345 only. The carried out tests have dealt with the different arms and increase of engine capabilities at high altitude. The installation of a supercharger (TK) being one of the directions.
The first tests with a supercharger were carried out on 1-15 bis fighters. One supercharger TK -1 type was mounted on a starboard and port of the cowling TSIAM design. TK-1 represented the centrifugal compressor, which spin-off was activated by the flow of exhaust gases of the engine.
Tchaika with the pressurized cabin (1-153 GK)
1-15 and 1-15 bis fighters became the first Soviet fighters equipped with pressure cockpit. A small design bureau headed by Alexander Sherbakov had offered a design of a pressurized cabin. Some working facilities were allocated to Sherbakov at the air-plant N9289 near Moscow where the main part of the job was finished by the mid of 1940 (the superchargers at this stage were not installed). In July 1940 converted «Tchaika» (s/n 6034) was submitted for state tests. Structurally the cabin was made as a welded metal cocoon (steel C20) duplicating in shape and size a sitting pilot's figure. The upper hinging part looked like a steel frame hemisphere with dural shell and windowes cut in it. The necessary vital conditions in a cabin were supported by oxygen, going from 4 liter tank. The tests of that airplane were conducted from July 20 tojuly30, 1940. There were 11 flights total, 9 of them on a service ceiling more than 32 800 ft. According to tests results it was recommended to manufacture just a few pressure cabin «Tchaikas» in order to accumulate more working experience.
The reason why this project came to existence was the intention to get rid of flying wires. The wires created additional aerodynamic resistance and besides, required constant control and adjustments. In new modification, named 1-153B, necessary rigidity of a box of wings was supported by the lower tapered wing with a plywood skin and increased root chord. The idea was perceived as original, realization within a reach, volume of alterations of a base airplane quite limited. However, the advantages also were insignificant and, on all probability, for this reason the project was not realized.
The forced aspiration of the Soviet airindustry to cut down the use of metal has become the reason of building «Tchaika» with a fuselage partially made of wood. In this plane, which was marked as 1-153UD, the tail part of a fuselage was made in the shape of a wooden monocoque. The design was well mastered by the industry and was applied to a fighter 1-16. The wooden fragment was heavier than metal by 8,4 kgs, and on contours they were absolutely identical.
I-153UD tests took place from September 30 to October 5, 1940. In general they have passed successfully, but the implementation as a serial model the machine I-153UD has not found due to the cancellation of production of base model.
Different types of arms
At the time of designing of 1-153 the Air Force has demanded the installation aboard the plane of heavy machine guns. First 1-153 N96021 with two machine guns TKB-150, 12,7 mm calibre was built in August 1939. Each machine gun had 165 cartridges, for reloading on board of an airplane an additional tank with compressed air was installed. Some time later the new version was built with one synchronized heavy machine gun and two ShKAS. The weapon was tested on 1-153 N96506 in February - March 1940 and in that format the plane was recommended for a mass production. The installation of one heavy machine gun instead of two (similar story with 1-16, type 29) is explained by the fact that in 1940 large-scale manufacture of machine guns TKB-150, the Berezin design was not yet started and there were not enough of them for every plane. Slightly later the synchronized version of these machine guns had received a designation BS (Berezin, synchronized) and were widely used by the Soviet Air Force. By the year's end the airplant N91 had manufactured 150 numbers of «Tchaikas» with such arms.
Not less tempting was the idea of installation on «Tchaikas» quick-fire air guns. Already tested in real battles on 1-16, ShVAK guns 20 mm calibre have proved the high efficiency. A shell of this gun surpassed by weight twice the bullet of a heavy machine gun (48 and 96 grammes accordingly), the destroying ability was several times higher. However, if on 1-16 the guns were positioned outside of the air screw rotation square, on 1-153 it was decided to mount them in a synchronized version, with fire through the screw. In the beginning of 1940 an army series of planes have been built, designated as 1-153P (N9N96578, 6598, 6760), three machines in total. 1-153P passed the tests in 16 fighter aviation regiment, 24-th aviation division, Moscow military district during summer of 1940. Pilots' reaction was that these Tchaykas were a little bit more inert, the fact that the transparent visor was heavily covered with the gun powder was sited as the main inconvenience. As a whole the tests have passed successfully, and it was decided to built another three such guns. But, according to the factory data, a total of five copies of 1-1 53P were produced.
Almost simultaneously with cannon «Tchaikas», the tests of 1-153 Sch-stormovick were conducted. 1-153 USch had under the lower wing streamlined drop-shaped containers with machine guns ShKAS (four total) or bomb cartridges, each cartridge filled with twenty 2,5 kgs each bombs. In the second half of 1940 the tests of 1-153 were completed, using non-guided RS-82 rocket missiles. By the year's end over four hundred airplanes were made ready for the installation of RS.
The auxiliary tanks
In March of 1939 they have tested ventral cylindrical tanks 150 liters capacity, in April - under wing drop-shaped with total capacity 200 liters (two 50 liter tanks were suspended under each wing). The preference was given to the second version. At the realization of small adaptations, related to the installation of an additional 25 liter oil tank, the range was practically doubled. Finally it was recommended to manufacture drop-shaped tanks 100 liters capacity, and afterwards shift to drop tanks from fiber. Such tanks were produces under PLNG-100 and were mounted on some of 1-153 and 1-16 fighters.
In the summer 1939 an engineer I.Merkulov offered the use of ramjet (PVRD) as the additional power installation for increase of maximum speed of fighters with piston engines. The air petrol from a main tank was poroposecl to be used as fuel. The first engine, that received a designation DM-1, passed bench tests in the second half of 1939. In September more powerful engines DM-2 were made, their length was 1500 mm, maximum diameter 400 mm, diameter of the output nozzle 300 mm. The weight of each engine together with fastening was only 62 Ib. In September 1940 DM-2 were mounted on 1-153 fighter resulting in a gain of speed of 18.6 mph. In October same year DM-4 engines were tested on Tchaika. At turning on of DM-4 the speed of a plane was increased by 25-31 mph. In total 74 test flights were completed using DM-2 and DM-4 engines.
Tchaika's serial production was started at the airplant N91 in 1939. In the next 12 months 1-153 has completely put aside from manufacture an earlier type i.e. 1-15 bis.
1940 became the second and the last year of manufacturing of fighters 1-153 «Tchaika». With 2040 machines planned at the start, a total of 2362 «Tchaikas» have rolled out from factory shops on an airfield that year. At the end of 1940 the airplant N91 made a shift to manufacturing of MiG fighters. Though the production of 1-153 came to a hault in 1940, a certain number of machines were finished next year. 64 Tchaika's, built in 1941, became a final draw in the history of manufacturing of the biplane layout fighters. The total issue of 1-153 for the years 1939-41 reached 3437 pieces. The major part of them was combat-ready in summer of 1941 and, alongwith 1-16 fighter, was the basis of fighter aviation of the Soviet Union.
Khalkin gol (nomonhan)
The first twenty «Tchaikas» reached battle fields at the end of June 1939. For flights on new fighters the first army group Air Force commander, komkor (general) Jakov Smushkevitch allocated the best pilots of the 70-th IAP headed by major Sergey Gritsevetz. Gritsevetz at that moment was already a famous air fighter, in February 1939 for battle victories in the skies of Spain he was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union. Since May 29 Gritsevetz was in Mongolia and already became famous by rescueing the commander of 70-th IAP major Zabaluev. The regiment's CO airplane was hit in an air combat above the enemy's position and pilot had to jump with the parachute. Gritsevetz landed his plane I-16 near a place where the commander touched the ground and, by taking him away, had saved the latter. In the beginning of July Tchaikas were flown to an area of the battle actions, and five machines have been shifted to 22 airregiment. In a day after arrival, the flight of new fighters confronted the Japanese bombers raid on their airfield in the vicinity of village Tamzak-Bulan. On July 7 Smushkevitch granted a sortie of new fighters to the frontline. That was the day of the beginning of Japanese offensive in the region of Bain-Tzagan. Nine I-153, led by Gritsevetz, were covered by a group of I-16 squadron leader Chistiakov from 22 IAP. It was forbidden to cross the border and fight an aerial combat above the enemy's territory. They encountered the Japanese over Khamar-Daba mountain. Gritsevetz, after spotting Ki.27, made a half-turn. According to the conceived plan they wanted to lure the enemy planes to our territory and in the location of a command point of ground troops to beat them. The catch just worked. The Japanese, mistaking «Tchaikas» for l-15bis fighters, with which they were usually eager to fight, followed in pursuit. After a short time the nine «running» planes made a sudden turn and from half-roll, on the collision course, in a few minutes destroyed four Samurais. The unexpected meeting just coolled down the offensive party and Ki.27 began pulling off to their positions, followed by bursting with impatience I-16.
In the beginning of August 1939 a group of I-153, 13 machines total reached the front for conducting the army tests in real battle conditions. These planes were assigned to 22 airregiment of major Kravchenko. Thirteen I-153 participated in combat actions from August 9 to September 6, total flying time reaching 572 hours. The number of sorties on some days climbed to five-six. It was especially tough for the enemy during the Soviet offensive from August 25 to August 30. Out of newly arrived planes till September 6 only two machines were lost, the tour of duty was finished by 11 I-153.
In these tests planes with M-62 engines with fixed pitch propeller (VFSh) have taken part. One airplane was equipped with variable pitch propeller (VlSh) type VV-1. The test showed that VlSh equipped plane (N96071) had considerably smaller time of take-off run - 6 seconds against 15 seconds with other machines. At the same time these other Tchaykas produced the ability to stay on airborn patrol with identical fuel load (495-507 Ib.) longer than usual (if there was no air combat) - for 1 hour and 40 minutes. The drawbacks consisted in short service life and unreliable M-62 engines, which usualy were replaced after 60-80 flying hours due to the failure of the two-step supercharger. There were some negative remarks on plane's airframe and breakage of flying wires. Special attention was drawn to the problem of strong flow of air through the wheel well - in case of fire (with the absence of anti-fire partition) a pilot in a split second was heavily burnt out without any chance to undertake any measures - for example, that was the case with pilot Kovalev.
In general «Tchaika's» performance in combat actions was recognised as quite a good one. The total number of 1-153 that were flown to Mongolia before the end of the military activity there in September 1939 was 70. Three lAPs - 22, 70 and 56 -were serviced by these planes. From July 28 to September 15, 1939 were lost 23 Tchaikas.
On the eve
In 1940 the production of outdated airplanes was greatly increased. In the autumn of 1939 a Soviet delegation visited Germany in order to have a closer look at the nazy's air industry. It came to a conclusion that Germany was able to produce up to 70-80 planes per a day. Soviet plants' capacity at the time was only 26. Stalin demanded to increase the daily production also to 70 - 80 planes. In the course of three pre-war years the VVS received around ten thousand fighters, out of which about four thousand in 1940. Being rather outdated, they, nevertheless, served well the theory of «mass army» which should outpower an enemy if not by quality, but by quantity.
That notion led to a simplistic accumulation of arms. Till 1940 the majority of air-regiments was relatively well staffed with quite trained flying personnel with combat experience of Spain, China and Mongolia. At formation of new regiments some experienced flyers were transfered there thus weakening the last. The experienced fighters were assigned to commanding jobs, but, being good pilots, they frequently turned out to be mediocre commanders. The young pilots were taught in airschools in a hurry, without gaining necessary experience and enough of flying time. Therefore graduates of these schools were denied officer ranks and so had to start their service as sergeants.
There were not enough airfields for that growing force. The fuel was always in short supply. Despite all cut downs, that problem had no drastic solution - so, in the summer of 1941 some regiments had fuel supply only for two-three days of battle actions. No efforts were spared to extend engines' service life that could be enough for training, but quite the opposite for the war time. Unusually snowy, stormy, slushy winter of 1940-41 prevented comisslon of young pilots. Many regiments existed only on paper - their headquarters being their only personnel.
Not to mention the human factor. Experienced pilots in the spring of 1941 were transfered to the new fighters LaGG, MiG and Yak. To master these machines in such a short time was unrealistic. Young pilots were facing the same problem with I-16 and I-153. All these circumstances, plus mistakes in setting up communication, supply, airfield maintenance services and the commanding part have played the fatal role in June 1941.
As for June 22, 1941 in western districts there were 1300 1-153 fighters altogether. Besides about 300 «Tchaikas» and l-15bis have formed attack airregiments. The distribution of 1-153 fighters in western boarder districts looked like this:
VVS of Leningrad military district - 1 79 1-1 53 within 7; 19; 26; 153; 154 IAP; VVS of Baltic military district - 284 1-153 within 15; 21; 38; 42; 49; 148 IAP; VVS of Western special military district - 241 1-153 within 122;123; 127; 129 IAP; VVS of Kiev special military district - 454 1-153 within 12; 20; 23; 46; 91; 92; 149; 164; 165 IAP; VVS of Odessa military district - 143 1-153 at 4; 55 IAP.
Counting all 1-153 located in 61, 62, 66, 74, 241 and 299 attack airregiments, the total number of Tchaikas was over one third of all fighters, concentrated in western districts (4226 planes). 687 1-153 composed the airforce of Baltic, Northern and Black Sea fleets. In reality there were only 350 planes. The split can be explained by the fact that many regiments were in a stage of formation. The larger number corresponds to staff figures, while the smaller one gives the bare facts.
On June 22, 1941 the Air Force of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet was comprised of 108 fighters 1-153 (12 th, 13 th, 104 th separate airsquadrons and 71 IAP); the Black Sea fleet Air force - 76 1-153 (8; 9; 32 IAP), the Air Force of Northern Fleet - 18 1-153 (72-th mixed airregiment and 147 IAP). Moreover l-153's were in inland military districts, in the Far East and in flight schools.
In the dawn hours of the shortest summer night of 1941 the German aviation attacked the Soviet airfields. The main strike fell on the Western special military district. The offender reached its goal, but the most tragic day for the Red Army Air Force became the day of utmost heroism and firmness of the Soviet pilots.
The Western district covered border from Grodno to Brest. Its right flank based regiments of the 11-th mixed aviation division: 122 IAP with 75 1-16 and 1-153 on Skidele airfield, and 127 IAP with 1-153, based in Avgustovo. Both regiments were well prepared. Already at dawn the fighters took off on alert to intercept the German bombers. All mulfunctioned planes, left on the field, were destroyed by the enemy. During their first flight the pilots of 122-th regiment managed to bring down four enemy machines. 127-th regiment «Thaikas» first encounter with the opponent took place in the region towns Cherlena-Mosti-Grodno. In the air battle seven German planes were destroyed. The Soviet flyers lost four.
During the day the German aviation raided all six airfields of 6 SAD. As a result the pilots of 122-th and 127-th regiments downed 35 fascist planes. The squadron leader of 127 IAP Lt. Zhoukovski during the day in nine air combats brought down four enemy planes. Squadron vice-commander Art'yemov in nine missions brought down three planes, squadron vice-commander Danilov entered the combat with nine Bf110, two of them were brought down and the third one was rammed by Tchaika.
129 IAP from the structure of 9 SADs, based on Zabludovo airfield to the south of Bielostok, in the first day of war had two types of machines - 61 MiG-3 and 57 1-153. Pilots of the regiment fought on both types.
123 IAP from a structure of 10 SAD, based on Strigivo airfield, in addition to 61 1-153 received 20 new fighters Yak-1. Yaks were assembled only on June 19-th, three days before war. The first plane was destroyed by 123 IAP commander major Surin. At 5 a.m. on Yak-1 he brought down first Bf109, and in four missions during the day he destroyed three planes. Around 8 a.m. four 1-153, led by the captain Mozhayev, while covering ground troops in the region of Brest, encountered 8 Bf109. The enemy was overwelming but the Soviet pilots downed three German fighters, losing one machine. That day 123 IAP pilots destroyed about 30 German planes, losing 9.
Despite the heroic actions of the pilots, the losses of the Soviet Air Force were tremendous. Taken alone, the Air Force Western district on June 22 lost more than 700 planes. The large part was destroyed on the ground.
The strikes of the German aviation went on in the days that followed. Up to the end of June the Western front air force out of 1900 planes lost around 1200.
The Germans also suffered substantial losses. Till July 5 Germans lost over 800 air-crafts, large part in the action area of the Western front aviation.
With the battle in full progress the reinforcement from the deep rear started arriving to the front. 29-th Red banner fighter airregiment, as a part of 31 mixed aviation division stationed in the Far East was armed with 62 1-153 and 1-16. In the first days of July 29 IAP together with two bombardment regiments of 31 SAD reached the Western front. The division was concentrated in the region of the city of Bologoje. The combats at this time were fought already on the outskirts of Smolensk. On July 6 29 IAP was ordered to cover from the air the areas of offloading places and concentration of 29-th army. The regiment was split into two parts with bases at Domoslavl and Edrovo airfields.
At dawn on July 7 the Far Eastern troops have joined battle actions. On July 18 the pilot of 2nd squadron of 29 IAP second lieutenant Yukhimovich took off to intercept Ju88 and downed it. The first regiment's victory was achieved on 1-153 fighter. On July 28th two Tchaikas under the squadron's commander captain Tormozov and second lieutenant Dudin received a task to cover a ferry on the river Lovat' near Sevast'janovo village (Velikiye Luki region). While being in the task region they were attacked by four Bf109. Nikolay Dudin managed to set on fire one German fighter. Germans in their turn shot down Tormozov's plane, inflaming its left under wing tank. Bf109 switched their attention to Dudin's Tchaika. Tormozov, made a sharp maneuver and suppressed the fire, dropped tanks, made a roll and brought down the second enemy plane. Another Messerschmitt was destroyed by Dudin in a frontal ram. The pilot had landed by parachute at the Soviet troops position. Captain Tormozov safely returned to his airfield. The combat took place over the Soviet troops territory, the wreckages of downed German machines were found nearby. It turned out that all four Messerschmitts were downed.
For only two months of combats the pilots of the regiment have destroyed 47 planes. At the same time they were repeatedly asked to fulfil assault actions. On December 6, 1941 29 IAP was awarded the Guards rank and had to be called 1st Guards IAP.
At night of 21 to 22 July the German aviation raided Moscow for the first time. Founded on June 20, 1941 for the defense of Moscow 6-th IAK (fighter aircorps) in the middle of July totalled 783 battle machines among them 94 «Tchaikas» which was about 12%. The front line was getting closer and these planes basically were used for bombing ground targets. One of the most distinguished regiments was 120 IAP, with 1-153 fighters. For successful battle activity 120 IAP in March 1942 was awarded the Guards rank.
The active battle actions were inevitably accompanied by losses. At the end of December among the planes defending Moscow remained 11 fighters I-153. The similar situation was with the anti-aircraft defense of Leningrad. In July 1941 only 38 «Tchaikas» out of 242 in 7 IAP PVO stayed ready for action. In December only five were left. So, at the end of 1941 only 54 I-153 fighters in the anti-defence system (PVO) of the country were able to confront the enemy.
By summer of 1942 quite a large number of I-153 fighters have been accumulated in PVO of the city of Baku (Azerbaijan). The city had one of the best air defence systems, and judging by the number of fighter planes located there, was second, perhaps, only to Moscow. The air fleet of 8th IAK of Baku's PVO consisted of 266 fighters, mostly Tchaikas - 141 machines.
In mid-August six I-153 of 738 IAP, while on an air covering mission for ground troops in the region of Chervlennaja village close to Grozny were attacked by a couple of Bf110 and brought them down. The participant of this combat, pilot A.Lebedev in the last days of October took off to intercept four Ju88, which were about to start bombardment of the city of Ordjonikidze. On his Tchaika Lebedev downed the leader of the group in a frontal attack, and stopped other enemy planes from straight on target bombardment.
The use of I-153 fighters of PVO airregiments at the front led steadily to their decrease in numbers. In the second half of November 1942 in 8 lAKs of Baku's PVO remained only 20 undamaged Tchaikas. Needless to say that in the other regiments of the country's anti-aircraft defense the quantity of biplanes was lessened - slightly over than 80.
On August 19, 1941 the air reconnaissance informed of the movement of a large German column on a road from Volosovo to Krasnoye Selo. To attack the enemy eight I-53 from of 7 IAP took off. The column was stopped, however during the second pass the machine of pilot Svitenko was hit by the ground fire. Svitenko managed to land his destroyed Tchaika on a funneled field near the village of Klopitcy. The nazies were close to the place and opened mortar fire. The wingman of the commander, pilot Alibek Slonov managed to land his biplane among the field gaps and exploding mines. After Svitenko jumped on Slonov's plane wing and grabbed flight wires and struts of the wing, the machine moved to a take-off. The good luck was this time on brave pilots side and after ten minutes they could embrace each other, having landed on a naval airfield near Strelni.
It must be noted that near Leningrad the use I-153 fighters was rather continuous and worthy. Here with the steady line of defense «Tchaikas» carried on a diverse battle service. Among their tasks were convoying the transport vehicles and guarding the supply rout to Leningrad, night hunt for floodlights, anti-gunnery standouts.
Among Leningrad events there is a nighttime ram, carried out by a pilot of 26 IAP Alexei Sevastianov. 26th airregiment, that entered the war near Brest, in the autumn of 1941 as a part of 7th IAK of PVO that defended Leningrad was specially put aside for night flights. The regiment was equipped with fighters I-153, I-16, Yak-1 and LaGG-3.
In the night of November 5 Sevastianov on a fighter I-153 Tchaika took off for night patrol mission and encountered He111. The attacks of Tchaika pilot brought no result, the ammunition was soon finished. Sevastianov rammed the enemy's plane and jumped with a parachute.
In summertime of 1942 the German aiviation undertook a series of heavy raid on Kronschtadt naval base. Kronschtadt was covered by 71 IAP with a fleet of about 20 fighters 1-153 and 1-16 at the time. Since May 28 to July 14 the Germans had lost in this region 24 airplanes - 71 IAP on the contrary lost not a single plane. The political commissar of the regiment Serbin on 1-153 during this period downed three He111 personally and one in a group of other pilots. On June 3 1942 at night Serbin was in a zone of expectation on 1000 meters altitude. Having discovered Heinkel 111, the pilot attacked it with rocket missiles, the German plane fell to the ground in the area of Pukhtola mountain and exploded. On the way back to his zone in the region of Kotlin island, Serbin ran across another He111, crossed by floodlights, and attacked it from a short range. The enemy bomber went down into the water eyewitnessed by the personnel of Kronschtadt garrison.
In mid-1943 I-153 fighters near Leningrad were ascribed mostly to the Baltic fleet aviation unit. Several «Tchaikas» (the numbers were changeable, as the machines went in and out of the repair, or were transferred to other regiments) were on service in 3rd, 4th, 10th Guards fighter airregiments and in 7th anti-aircraft flight unit. Up to ten machines till July were based on an island of Lavensaari - mostly fighters belonging tb 10th IAP. The activization of enemy airforce in the summer of 1943, difficulty of interception of German bombers Ju88 and He111, obvious inequality in battles with introduced FW190 have resulted in shifting of Yak-1 fighters from 3 Guards IAP on Lavansaary, and honorable veteran planes I-153 were assigned to some minor tasks.
During the course of war I-153 have received an unexpected specialization. Founded at the end of 1941 night bombardment regiments on planes U-2, R-5 and R-Z have proved the high battle efficiency. Before coming of spring the long pitched-eye nights were the faithful allies to these «sky slower movers». In the spring and especially in the summer they started bearing the losses from the German interceptors. The decision was taken to assign fighter planes for their protection. «Tchaikas», enabled with short take-off and landing, were the best choice for the matter.
Among the first in November 1941 on the basis of 25th air school in the city of Nevinnomissk, Stavropol region, was formed 654th night light-bomber air-regiment (NLBAP) with U-2 planes. In the spring 1942 the regiment received as an addition to its twenty «kookooroozniks» a squadron of 8 I-153. The regiment was named 889th mixed airregiment. In the summer of 1942 889 SAP successfully fought during combats for Donbass. On August 25 the regiment was moved for reformation to the city Nasosniy, north of Baku. Tchaikas were assigned to 8th IAK of Baku PVO area.
In the beginning of 1942 the Air Force had a little over two hundred 1-153 planes. During the summer of that year due to heavy combats, non-combat losses and wearing of a material parts the quantity of these fighters was reduced more than twice. As of July 1 1942 the front had 83 Tchaikas.
In middle 1943 that number dropped to 36 I-153 fighters. Exactly at that time the military units received a new brochure published by Narkomat (Ministry) of Defense «Fighter Aviation Tactics». Some of its thesises are rather interesting. Moreover a pilot of I-153 was called not for a defensive actions, but for an active (!!!) air fight: Excellent maneuverability of Tchaika makes it invulnerable for slow-moving Bf109, if Tchaika's pilot takes the trouble to look around. I-153 can always escape the attacker and to confront the opponent with head-on fire. So, it happens that I-153 can fire on Bf109, while the other one can not put Tchaika on gun-sight. According to that instruction I-153 fighters were to be used on the lowest levels of altitude of probable battle encounters - from 500 to 1000 meters, in the battle order called «bee swarm». However, one could observe the given conditions only in the presence of several pairs of the fighters.
In 1944 all leftover I-153 were finally moved to the background. In offensive operations of the Red Army these planes already did not participate, individual Tchaikas served as auxiliary or patrol planes. So, up to May 1945 the Northern fleet VVS I 53 covered the local convoys. There were same type fighters in the Far East and Mongolia in 1945. By the start of military operations against Japan in the Far East more sofisticated battle machines were delivered, therefore old planes, and among them definitevely fighter I-153, took no action in combats.
-153 in China
Under the agreement with the central government, headed by Chang Kai-Chek, in the time span from fall of 1937 till the beginning of 1941, 1250 Soviet built planes have been dispatched to China, where they have played a decisive role in fighting the Japanese aggression. The main load of airplanes and parts kept arriving till September 1939. The subsequent events were characterized by cooling down of mutual relations between the partners and, as a result, reduction of arms supplies. I-153 fighters, total of 93 machines, have come just in that final period, in the first half of 1940. During 1940 out of dispatched Tchaikas three groups were formed, serving mostly as anti-aircraft defense fighters in large populated areas. Hot climat in China should be mentioned as one of the specifics of running operations on I-153 there. So, in order to improve engines air conditioning, the frontal part of a cowling (with gill) was removed.
During a year of a continuous battle service, the significant part of planes was lost. It is known, that in middle 1941 in China there was up to a hundred of Soviet built fighters of all types. Yet, separate copies could be met during 1942-43.
Camouflage and markings
Till 1937 existed the standard paint scheme of planes: green top, light-blue (grey - light-blue) bottom. First air confrontations in the mid-thirties have changed some priorities from the ground masking of planes to masking in the air. It turned out that planes painted in grey, were barely visible in air combat, and under certain conditions like heavy fog or at a distance could simply dissolve in the air.
Some portion of serial I-15 bis aircrafts had a standard painting design - dark-green top, grey-light-blue bottom. Some machines had a silvery bottom, others were painted completely in grey-silver colour. When I-153 was introduced as a serial model, most of them have been completely painted with silver paint.
Stars were painted in red colour with black 8 mm wide rim. All other painted details of an airplane like squardon numbers and markings and other decorations were done in the units.
The silver coloured planes were easily spotted from the air. That discovery was made in Khalkhin Gol. Many I-153 were repainted by adding green coloured spots. The decision to change the standard camouflafe design was made only in two years, in June 1941. According to that scheme, planes painted in green colour ought to be camouflaged with added black spots. The stars on the upper side of wings under the new instruction were to be painted over. The protective painting of the planes was done already after the beginning of the war. There were many improvisations, more often small green or black spots were put atop the old paint. In the winter some planes I-53 type were painted with easily washed off zinc white paint.
The development of a fighter-biplane I-190 began in N.Polikarpov design bureau (OKB) at the end of February 1938. In the autumn two first mock-up commissions were held. Next phase was plane's aerodynamic tests in a wind-tunnel TsAGI. The plane was projected as further development of I-153 with observance of basic technology, with the use of many units and technological equipment. That led to a swift introduction of I-190 as a serial product. There were new M-88 engine, contour, plywood skin of wings, cantilever horizontal tail unit, removable tail wheel. The first copy of I-190 was finished in October. However, up to the end of December they were refining the plane. Immediately after the machine was rolled out from the assembly hall, the works on the second copy have started. That one was planned to be equipped with two superchargers TK-1.
The first I-190 was equipped with the experimental direct-drive engine M-88BRL and three-blade air screw AV-2. d passed the state tests at the end of 1939, during the next year not a single expert could bet on its reliability. Later the engine was thoroughly developed and with substantial growth of power - up to 1375 h.p. - and motor served on bombers II-4 all war. While in 1939 due to unresolved technical problems engine M-88 was «buried» in one grave with promissing project of fighter planes.
On November 23, 1939 on the Central Moscow airfield 1-190 was rolled out put on ski. The first flight took place on December 30, 1939.
On April 1, 1940 before landing the starboard main landing gear was not released completely and the plane received small damages. In two weeks I-190 was repaired and continued flights, which proceeded till June 6, 1940. During the trial period three different models of air screws were tested. Till February 1941, maximum they could squeeze out from I-190 was speed 303 mph at 16400 ft altitude. On February 13, 1941 during one of the flights there was an engine failure. The pilot Uliakhin glided on Tushino airfield. However, due to extremely deep snow that winter the plane put on wheels made overkill. Uliakhin was not hurt, but the plane was heavily damaged. It was decided not to repair the plane. Second prototype was not completed.
I-170 The works on the project of a fighter-sesquiplane, designated under an M index, were started in OKB of Nikolay Polikarpov in the second half of summer of 1939. The initial design of a new fighter was supported by liquid cooling engine M-106. Then the plane received the designation I-170. While maintaining high maneuverability (wing area was 25 sq.M and was equal to that of I-190 fighter) the plane was intended to produce high maximum speed exceeding 312 mph.
In August, simultaneously with the beginning of design activities, consultations were held with the representatives of a motor plant and GAS N51 (where I-170 was supposed to be built). In the beginning of autumn Polikarpov intensified the activities on 1-170. According to his plans the design part should have been finished not later than October 15, and in a month a mock-up model of the plane should be constructed.
Followed by the departure of Polikarpov on a business trip to Germany and the transfer in his absence of a significant part of employees to a newly formed OKB of A.I.Mikojan comes the end of the works on I-170 fighter.
This project of a maneuverable fighter-biplane is the last known activity of Nikolay Polikarpov in this direction. The high flight performances were supposed to be achieved through the installation of an air cooling engine M-90 with 1500 h.p. power (1750 h.p. at the take off). The motor-installation with a central cooling air intake. Improved aerodynamic layouts, smooth skin, new airfoil NACA 230, absence of wing-wires, the new powerful engine and exhaust pipes with jet thrust effect could ensure 1-195 maximum ground speed of 31'7 mph and on an altitude of 23000 ft -367 mph, service ceiling - 39000 ft
Weapon installation included two 20 mm of ShVAK guns and two heavy machine guns BS, bomb load up to 500 Ib.
The 1-195 project was under consideration in the summer of 1940. However, no decision to build 1-195 fighter plane had followed.
108 pages, 114 photos, 22 drawings 11 color illustrations
1. I-153 Nr.8019
2. I-153UD at factory flight tests
3. 1-153 with ram-jet engines
4. First restored to airworthiness condition 1-153. Aviarestavratsiya company repaired aircrafts for a New Zealand fan Tim Wallis. Summer 1997
5. First restored to airworthiness condition 1-153. Aviarestavratsiya company repaired aircrafts for a New Zealand fan Tim Wallis. Summer 1997
6. First restored to airworthiness condition 1-153. Aviarestavratsiya company repaired aircrafts for a New Zealand fan Tim Wallis. Summer 1997
7. Early production 1-153. 56th fighter regiment at Khalkhin-Gol battle. Summer 1939
8. I-153. The Western Military District Air Force. June1941