Spanish Civil War Republican Fighters

Discussion in 'Between the wars 1918-1939' started by gekho, Mar 9, 2010.

  1. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #1 gekho, Mar 9, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2010
    During the Spanish Civil War, Spanish military aviation was divided into the Spanish Republic Air Forces (Fuerzas Aéreas de la República Española-FARE), created by the republican government and the National Aviation (Aviación Nacional), created by the army in revolt. At first, the republican air forces had the control of the majority of the territory using the Soviet Polikarpov I-16, but the help received by Francisco Franco from Nazi Germany (Condor Legion) and Fascist Italy (Aviazione Legionaria) changed this. In July 1936, the first German Junkers Ju-52 and Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM-81 arrived. In August Fiat CR-32 and Heinkel He-51 fighters were also deployed. These planes helped the army in revolt to gain full control of the air.

    Polikarpov I-15 (Chato/Curtiss)

    Rehabilitated in the eyes of the Soviet hierarchy by the success of the I-5, Polikarpov initiated design of a potential successor, which, as the TsKB-3 (this designation indicating Tsentralnoye konstruktorskoye byuro, or Central Design Bureau), flew in October 1933. Powered by a Wright SGR-1820-F-3 Cyclone nine-cylinder radial rated at 715hp at 2130m, it was of mixed construction and embodied such refinements as I-type interplane struts, the upper wing "gulled" into the fuselage and cantilever mainwheel legs. Exceptional handling and manoeuvrability re-suited in immediate series production as the I-15 with deliveries of the initial model commencing late in 1934. This was powered by a 480hp M-22 engine and carried an armament of two 7.62mm guns. A total of 404 M-22-engined I-15s was delivered before, in 1936, the imported Cyclone engine became available, this being installed in 59 aircraft before the licence-built version of the Cyclone, the M-25 rated at 700hp at 2300m, was delivered for installation in the final 270 I-15s, production being completed in 1937. In the meantime, armament had been doubled to four 7.62mm guns and an armoured (9mm) seat fitted. Popularly known as the Chaika (Gull), an epithet resulting from its "gulled" upper wing, the I-15 fought in Spain to where 155 were delivered. Some 40 late-production I-15s were fitted with twin 12.7mm guns rather than the quartet of 7.62mm weapons.

    During the Spanish Civil War the CASA Getafe factory was located in the Republican zone, it was relocated to Alicante and then opened another in Sabadell (at the end of the war CASA production returned to Getafe). CASA manufacture of the Russian Polikarpov I-15 biplane fighter producing 287 aircraft before that civil war ended.
     

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  2. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #2 gekho, Mar 9, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2010
    I-15 was a small biplane fighter, development of the I-5 and I-6 with improved airdynamic. The most distinctive features were gulled upper wing and very clean fixed landing gear, often covered with fairing. Roots of the upper wing were included into fuselage structure. (sometimes this is called "The wing of Pulawsky") Upper wing shape improved pilot view and reduced drag (wing-fuselage interference).
    Front section of the fuselage from engine to cockpit was covered with duralumin sheets, the rest of aircraft - with fabric. Wheels were equipped with disk brakes. First aircraft was equipped by imported 630/715hp high altitude Wright-Cyclone SGR-1820 F-3 engine. Armament included pair of synchronized PV-1 machineguns and 40kg of bombs (overload). Interestingly, the tail of the first TsKB-3 carried same letters VT as the VT-11 prototype of the I-5.

    Flight tests were performed in October-November 1933 by V.P.Chkalov. The second prototype - on skis - was flown in December. During continuous dive one of skis was lost, and aircraft turned over during landing.
    Series production of I-15 started. Early series were powered by Wright-Cyclone engine. Planned production of its license version M-25 was delayed, and during 1934-36 few hundred of I-15 were equipped with M-22. Interestingly, low altitude performance did not suffer despite less powerful engine was used. Since 1936 all production aircraft had M-25 engine, demonstrating improved performance at high altitudes. Production aircraft carried four PV-1 machineguns or (in 1938) pair of 12.7mm BS heavy machineguns.

    Stripped version of the I-15 was used in 1935 by V.K.Kokkinaki to set the World altitude record (14,575m). Series of trials were performed in 1937 with pressurized cockpit. They had no value for series I-15 (due to ceiling), but those were first successful tests of pressurized cockpits on Soviet fighters. Gull-wing caused heated debates among specialists and pilots, despite the I-15 was superior compared with other contemporary fighters. As a result N.N.Polikarpov had to convert design back to conventional wing. This conversion forced production delay in 1936 (only 12 I-15 rolled out). But while large series with straight wing started in 1937 (picture below), extensive airdynamic tests at TsAGI proved advantage of the gull wing at high speeds. As a result in 1938 I-15 production continued with (modified) gull wing.
     

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  3. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    In 1933, Russian Nicolay Polikarpov developed one of the most outstanding biplanes ever used in combat. The Polikarpov I-15 had amazing combat performance due to its gull-shaped top wing that allowed the plane to do a complete turn in eight seconds. Although the first 59 planes were built with an American 630-hp Wright Cyclone engines, they were quickly replaced with Soviet made M-22 and M-25 radial engines that increased the horsepower. Pilots of the I-15 had two main complaints. The gull-shaped wing did not allow the pilots to view the horizon during flight and especially while landing. Also, at high speeds the plane was unstable during level flight, which would complicate the attack of an enemy airplane and make it difficult to aim the machine gun In 1935 Nicolay Polikarpov was asked to design and perfect the I-16 monoplane by the Air Force Red Army in response to the negative feedback on the I-15 from pilots.

    The Polikarpov I-15 did not go away. In October of 1936 the Soviet Union sent a squadron of I-15's to the support of the Spanish Republic, where these maneuverable biplanes were unexpectedly popular in their combat role. Inexperienced pilots could learn to fly the Polikarpov I-15 very quickly and it was easy to take off and land. This new found excitement for the plane forced the Soviet Air Force to renew their manufacturing contract for more Polikarpov I-15's with a few modifications from Nicolay. The top wing was no longer gull-shaped, the M-25 750-hp engine was installed, and a new exhaust system added, to make up this new I-15bis. The term "bis" meant second version or variant. In 1938, 1,104 I-15bis airplanes were manufactured which made it the most mass produced Soviet fighter of that period. In 1939, an additional 1,304 Polikarpov I-15bis aircraft's were produced, just before the contract was over and production of the I-153 began. The final 27 Polikarpov I-15bis to roll off the assembly line were equipped with the M-62 900 hp engine.

    The picture shows a I-15bis captured in 1939, wearing the Nationalist colours
     

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  4. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    When the Spanish Civil War broke out, almost 500 were put into service with the Republicans. The outstanding maneuverability, firepower and rate of climb, surprised the enemy leading to the opposition nickname of Rata (Rat) and the friendly name Mosca (Fly). Equipped with the Soviet 20 mm cannon it was the most powerful aircraft weapon in front line service with any nation on the eve of World War II. It had a very high rate of fire and was extremely reliable. At this point the I-16 might well have faded into obscurity, if not for the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936. This war drew support from all over the world. The Nationalists, supported mainly by German and Italian forces, were the better equipped. Britain, France, the United States, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and Turkey all sent an assortment of aircraft to the Republican forces, directly or indirectly. But by far the major supporter of the Republicans was the Soviet Union, which supplied 1,409 of the 1947 aircraft contributed by other countries. 475 of these aircraft were Polikarpov I-16s.

    They first entered combat in Spain in November 1936. Flown in many cases by Soviet pilots, they proved more than a match for German Heinkel He-51 fighters and Arado Ar-68, but met their equals in the Italian C.R.32 biplanes and were overpowered by Messerschmitt Bf 109s. From March 1937, all remaining I-16s were concentrated into Fighter Group 31, and this was by far the most successful of all Soviet-equipped units.

    The "Mosca" of the picture is flying with the foundation "Infante de Orleans" in the airfield of Cuatro Vientos, Madrid. There are only five airworthy Moscas in the world, and one of them is flying here..... we are lucky after all. Soon I will prepare a thread about this foundation and its planes.
     

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  5. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Very nice, always liked that little fighter.
     
  6. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Three Furies were ordered by Spain in 1935, it being intended to produce another 50 under licence. The Spanish variant had a cantilever undercarriage design with internally sprung wheels, and was powered by a 612 hp (457 kW) Hispano Suiza 12Xbr engine, reaching a speed 234 mph (377 km/h). The three Furies were delivered without armament on 11 July 1936, just before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. They were taken into service by the Spanish Republican Air Force, being fitted with machine guns scrounged from crashed aircraft. One Fury made a forced landing behind enemy lines due to a lack of fuel and was repaired by the Nationalists, although it was not used operationally, while the Republicans used one of the Furies in the defence of Madrid until wrecked in a crash in November 1936.
     

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  7. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The Canadian Car Foundry Co acquired a manufacturing licence for the FF-1, of which it completed a total of 57, some of them assembled from US-built components. A total of 40 aircraft were acquired by the Spanish Republican Government in 1937 via intermediaries from Turkey. This batch was built primarily to bypass the US embargo placed on belligerents during the Spanish Civil War. Referred to as the GE-23 Pedro Rico by the Spanish Republican Air Force, the aircraft were used in the conflict, but were not well matched against their chief opponent, the Fiat CR.32, although one victory against a Heinkel was the only recorded "kill" by a Grumman biplane fighter. Eight survived to serve in the Ejercito del Aire Espanol as the Delfin (Dolphin).
     

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  8. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    In 1924 Nieuport produced a design for a single seat sesquiplane fighter, the Nieuport-Delage N-42, which was ordered in small numbers for the French air force, entering service in 1927. Nieuport produced two refined versions in 1927, the mixed construction (wood and steel tube) N-52 and the Nieuport-Delage N-62, which had a similar all-wooden structure to the NiD 42. While France preferred the N-62, and purchased it in large numbers, the N-52 won a competition for a new fighter for Spain in 1928.

    In the 30s Nieuport tried to keep pace with the evolution of the same biplane design but faced a number of financial setbacks. After having tried some unsuccessful versions, around 1931, introduced the N-52 as the fastest fighter of these days. Actually the only revolutionary element was the significant reduction of the lower wing surface and the change from the rotary engines (cylinders placed around the shaft) to the line engines (cylinders placed parallel to the shaft). This later feature could reduce the frontal air resistance and allow engines with more cylinders. However, it was doing only some 150 kn which although considered satisfactory before 1930 were largely exceeded by the both biplane and monoplane fighters in 1935. Besides, pilots who flew with it in combat were not happy with its maneuvering abilities

    France did equip some of its air fighter units with the N-52 in the beginning of the 1931 but moved to other types after 1935. The only important export success for the N-52 were 125 planes sold to the Spanish government just before the Spanish Civil War. These planes took part in the first air fighting in the summer of 1936 in Spain and stayed active with the colors of both sides practically until the end of 1937. In Barcelona one squadron of N-52 was active until 1938, defending the city from Italian raids from their bases on the Baleares. The N-52 developed to the N-62 version to correct some maneuvering characteristics of the previous version and the company tried even some other ones but none has flown during WWII as biplanes were considered outdated. Then the factory was merged and the Nieuport fighter versions production was terminated
     

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  9. wheelsup_cavu

    wheelsup_cavu Well-Known Member

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  10. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    A spectacular picture of the Nieuports of Grupo 8
     

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  11. VG-33

    VG-33 Banned

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    #11 VG-33, Jul 25, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2010
    Hello

    It’s maybe the opposite no? First nationalists received help from Nazis and Facists, and then republican received some few unarmed planes from France, but deliveries soon ceased because France entered in non-intervention committee. As Italy and Germany did, except that the both laters never respected any of non-intervention committee terms and obligations. So the legal Spanish government was obliged to ask help from Stalin.

    The first serial plane rolled out factory assembly lines mid –summer 1934, and tested from august the 28th. So I wouldn’t call that late in 1934, in my own English.

    Both N°1 and N°39 factories delivered 94 (101 from factories records) planes in 1934 mainly fitted with American Wright Cyclones, the first batch of 50 engines being available since April 1934.

    In 1935 it (the Cyclone) was intended to be replaced by soviet licence made M-25, 660 being delivered from Perm factory at the end of the year. In the meantime M-25 was sometimes replaced by the older M-22 in assembly lines, in order to maintain production, the time for M-25 to be delivered later.
    Soviet produced 278 other planes in 1935 and 2 more in 1936, the last ones being anecdotical, just to clean factory place from stock parts. In fact production stopped from late-autumn 1935.


    What late-production I-15s? In general soviet I-15 production numers are quoted from 378 to 382, the difference maybe from undelivered, unaccepted or experimental planes…Never 404 + 270 + …I don’t know what 40 late production planes!!!

    All produced Chaïka with 4 PV-1 even if replacement by 2-4 even 6 ShKAS was sometimes suggested, and no back seat armor at least for those delivered for spain. Might be retrofitted later in units?

    Much less in fact, 110-130 in total, an error of 20 has occurred from an original soviet record with a type mismatch (a 5 hitted instead of a 3).
    But before studying that in details, what the hell your historical data are taken from?

    Nice pics as usual
    Regards
     
  12. VG-33

    VG-33 Banned

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    Hello

    .

    131 from russian archives, but with incoherences. (it ranges from 118 -131 planes, an error rate of 13, not 20 beg my pardon).




    287?
    It seems they were 237 from Abellan Agius Estanislao, 231 from Mirando J Mercado.
    Moreover they were no 237 planes, but 237 airframes most of them lacking engines, guns, synchronisers, and other equipment...
    From soviet sources when first 105 were builded less than 35 of them were delivered, other were awaiting engines (even used ones) and other indispensable features...

    Regards
     
  13. VG-33

    VG-33 Banned

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    #13 VG-33, Jul 26, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2010
    4 PV-1 machineguns

    might be interestingly or not, the first plane only carried 39 - 3 numbers on tail, stricltly no VT letters.[/QUOTE]
    [​IMG]
    39 for factory number
    3 for TsKB-3

    In order to avoid confusion and errors, here the I-15 production table


    Factory / Year 1934 1935 1936
    ╧ 1 60 273 2
    ╧ 39 41 5 0
    Total 101 278 2

    You can also see it on
    http://www.airwar.ru/enc/fww2/i15.html

    and click on pictures on the end of the page


    You obvioisly have some probmems with chronology.
    The modified fighter with no-gull configuration was assembled by the 39th factory early in 1935. Tested in march, it's ToT and climb rate was inferior to standard gulled I-15, but not much.
    Intensive trials leaded by NII-VVS from may to august 1935 were in totally favour of the plane that was recommended for serial production. But it was to late: the Kochérigin DI-6 was intended to replace the Polikarpov biplane, the chief of the VVS J. Alksnis preffered both I-16 and I-14 instead of the Polikarpov biplane. And surprisingly, even the wooden R-Zet biplane had priority in factory I production in 35-36 production plans.

    Moreover, despite laudatory NII_VVS conclusions in favor of the no-gull biplane, TsAGI published the windtunnel I-15 results in the meantime, proving that gullwing was improving route stability with speed increase, rather than opposite. So polemic flare up again with new forces...

    The I-15 with BS in 1938 was certainly the I-153 experimental plane, but it's a vey different one...Except that one, no longer I-15 family planes were produced in 1938 with gull-wings...

    Regards
     
  14. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    All the information you can provide me will be always welcome. I will consider it all when I make the remake of this thread.
     
  15. VG-33

    VG-33 Banned

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    #15 VG-33, Aug 5, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2010

    Hello Gekho,

    Nice to meet another "Spanish civil war" afficionado on the web, on a not-spanish spoken web site8)!

    With your allowance, i would like to correct some of your historical part sentences.


    from
    No.
    Just 276 I-16 and 4 UTI-4


    Unfortunately for the Spanish Republic, not a single I-16 with ShVAK canons was ever send to Spain. Only with 2, later 4 machine-guns.


    Turkey? :shock: What planes?


    There were always a lot of myths and legends related to the spanish civil war, due to the lost of the bulk of republicain documents.

    So from Gianni Cattaneo delirius / utterly absurd numbers:
    -1947 planes delivered to Respublica
    -1409 from Soviet Union(including 550 I-15 et 475 I-16 et 210 SB)
    -260 from France (70 D-371, D-500 et 510, 20 Loire 46 et 15 Blériot-SPAD 510)
    -72 from USA
    -72 from Holland (inc. 26 Fokker DXXI)
    -57 from Great Brittain
    -47 from Tchecoslovakia
    etc...




    In the meantine serious works were maid and russian archives open

    In fact, were reached from

    USSR: 648 (131 I-15, 276 I-16, 92 SB)
    France: ~ 50 valuable planes (14 to 26 D-371/372, 2 D-510 airframes without “secret” motor-engines, 5 Loire 46, 0 Bl-SPAD 510)
    USA: 5-6 civilian Vultees V-1, odd-jobs made in militar planes
    Holland: 2 Fokker 21 Kits, without engine, 28 FK-51 advanced trainers.
    GB: ~ 0
    Tchekoslovakia: at best 7 Aero and 17 Letov

    From myself : 16-20 legendary Malraux Potez 54 and 34 Grumman GE 23 from CGF Canada, sold through a false Turkish command. You ‘ll excuse me not to citate all planes used in 1, 2 or three exemplaries and old scap as weared Goordoo 32, Potez 25, Bristol Bulldogs....recycled from Estonian, Lithuanian, Polish or French dumps.

    In fact the Spanish Republic had never recieved more than 800 planes.

    But since german pilots claimed 314 (+ 65), italian from 703 (+ 173) to 903, and franquists 295, that makes 1312 confirmed (and 238 unconfirmed) victories, (and this without bomber, recco...panes crews claims, and without AA, marine, and ground forces ones...) a super inflated respublican strengh was postwardly invented by engaged and doubtfull “historians”.



    Equals on what? Moscas were virtually as nimble as Fiats in serial turning (ToT, but not radius) circles but 100 km/h faster and much better on verticals...

    Overpowered by what? They were at the same speed category, (the Mosca was faster at low alts from 0 to 3000m, then advantage went to the 109). But this is rather a narrow margin story, in fact, the “Khudoï” (skinny) as soviets pilots baptized the BF 109 was hugely inferior in manoeuvrability matters.

    Let’s better speak Miguel Angel Sanz, the respublican ace, and probably the best still living Mosca user owerdays, with 8 victories from uncompleete data (documents lost during escape to France).

    It was the best plane for aerial fights, solid but very difficult to handle and weakly armed to shoot-down german bombers as the He-111...
    The I-16 Mosca in hands of a pilot at level (high level, i would say...) and in fights between SL and 4 000 m high, had that time, no equal. Nazis and Franquists made (later, from 39...) some disparaging comments on it, but years passing by, all (good) pilots of the world that tested it (It’s verified for spanish pilots from the other side, at least...) finally recogneized that it had no rival.

    Against Messer, at those hights, we were in the same speed category, and the lower we were, the higher was Mosca’s advantage, because the Messer was not able to take over it neither by speed, nor by turns. But if it’s pilot’s knew how to pray, of course that was a remaining last resort to it.

    Against Fiat, the deal was not to engage it in serial circles, cause it had a samller turn radius, and in general avoïd horizontal fights (at vertical plan, it was ok...). The solution was to make passes from a higher alt, or take advantage from a distraction (or a clumsiness) to put your plane on its tail and shoot it at close range...
    All from:
    [​IMG]

    Maybe Gruppo 21, much later? All a can say, in march 1937 there were only 17 remaining Moscas from the 31 ones that reached Spain in november, 7 in repear, 7 lost for all kind of reasons. The “Aviaescadrilia” was commanded by K Kolesnikov, with two remaining “aviaotriad” (squadrons). No Gruppo number was mentionned from russian archives. Most planes had overpassed their engines TBO on that moment, and were avaiting spare-parts. A strange moment for FARE to be that interested in Moscas, and gave them (why not?) Gruppo (what for?) numbers...
    Fortunatly, the terror they had inspired to ennemy on previous fights was enough in general to make escaping him from fronts they were engaged.
    BTW, if you have got concrete numbers about "the most successfull af all soviet-equipped unit", share them with us please...


    Attached Images

    This Mosca is using a 1000 hp Shvestov M-62R (R for reducted) engine from an Antonov-2 agricultural biplane and an adapted propeller. It’s rather close to a I-16 tip 18 model, that never went to spain. The Siberian “Valery Tchkalov” factory was proposing it for 80 000 USD in 1994. 6 were built for Tim Wallis, Wanaka collection, New Zealand. I would be curious to know at what price it was bought by the spaniards...:?:

    Regards
     
  16. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Good stuff, keep it coming.
     
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