Tupolev I-14

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I-14 / ANT-31
Tupolev I-14.JPG
Role Fighter
National origin Soviet Union
Manufacturer Tupolev
First flight 27 May 1933
Introduction 1935
Primary user Soviet Air Force
Number built 20

The Tupolev I-14 (also designated ANT-31) was a Soviet fighter aircraft of the 1930s. It was a single-engined, single-seater monoplane with a retractable undercarriage and designed to carry a heavy armament, and as such was one of the most advanced fighters of its time. It was ordered into production, but this was cancelled after only a small number had been built, the competing Polikarpov I-16 being preferred.

Development and design[edit]

In 1932, the Soviet Air Force developed a requirement for a high-speed monoplane fighter to serve alongside agile but slower biplane fighters.[1] In order to meet this requirement, the Tupolev design bureau assigned a team led by Pavel Sukhoi. Sukhoi's team came up with the ANT-31, a low-winged monoplane with an unbraced cantilever wing, retractable undercarriage, an enclosed cockpit and a heavy cannon armament. As such, it was one of the most advanced fighters in the world.[2]

The aircraft had a metal monocoque fuselage, while the wings were of corrugated metal construction. The mainwheels of the conventional landing gear retracted backwards into the wing, being operated by cables driven by a handwheel turned by the pilot. The first prototype was powered by an imported 433 kW (580 hp) Bristol Mercury radial engine enclosed by a NACA cowling and driving a two-bladed wooden propeller. It was armed with a single PV-1 machine gun, with provision for two Kurchevsky APK-37 recoilless autocannon under the wing.[3][4]

The ANT-31, given the air-force designation I-14 (Istrebitel – fighter), made its maiden flight on 27 May 1933. It proved agile but difficult to handle, and with the supercharged Mercury was underpowered, particularly at low altitude.[4][5] It was therefore decided to build a second prototype, the I-14bis (also known as the ANT-31bis and the I-142 with a more powerful (531 kW (712 kp) Wright Cyclone engine, also imported, an uncorrugated wing and a new undercarriage. The I-14bis demonstrated excellent performance, although handling was still tricky, and an order was placed for production of 55 aircraft, to be powered by the Shvetsov M-25, a licensed version of the Cyclone, and an armament of two 45 mm (1.8 in) Kurchevsky APK-11 recoilless cannons and two ShKAS machine guns.[4][5]

Operational history[edit]

Deliveries began from the GAZ-125 factory at Irkutsk, Siberia[6] in November 1936.[5] The aircraft's armament had changed to a single ShKAS machine gun and a 20 mm ShVAK cannon[7] as Kurchevsky's recoilless guns had fallen out of favour (with Kurchevsky himself soon to be arrested).[8] By this time, the rival Polikarpov I-16 fighter was well established in production and service, and production of the I-14 was stopped after 18 had been built, the type soon being phased out of service.[4]

Operators[edit]

 Soviet Union

Specifications (production I-14)[edit]

Data from Tupolev: The Man and His Aircraft[9]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 6.11 m (20 ft 1 in)
  • Wingspan: 11.25 m (36 ft 11 in)
  • Height: 3.14 m (10 ft 4 in)
  • Wing area: 16.8 m2 (181 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 1,170 kg (2,579 lb)
  • Gross weight: 1,540 kg (3,395 lb) [5]
  • Powerplant: 1 × Shvetsov M-25 9-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, 521.8 kW (699.7 hp)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 449 km/h (279 mph; 242 kn)
  • Range: 1,050 km (652 mi; 567 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 9,430 m (30,938 ft)
  • Time to altitude: 6.5 min to 5,000 m (16,400 ft)[5]

Armament

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Gunston 1995, p.301.
  2. ^ Gunston 1995, p.401.
  3. ^ Gunston 1995, pp. 401–402.
  4. ^ a b c d Duffy and Kandalov 1996, p.75.
  5. ^ a b c d e Gunston 1995, p.402.
  6. ^ Gunston 1995, p.XXXII.
  7. ^ a b Williams and Gustin 2003, p.309.
  8. ^ Gunston 1995, p.XIV.
  9. ^ Duffy and Kandalov 1996, p.209.

References[edit]

  • Duffy, Paul and Andrei Kandalov. Tupolev,: The Man and His Aircraft. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1996. ISBN 1-85310-728-X.
  • Gunston, Bill. The Osprey Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft 1875–1995. London:Osprey, 1995. ISBN 1-85532-405-9.
  • Williams, Anthony G. and Emmanuel Gustin.Flying Guns: World War II. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2003. ISBN 1-84037-227-3.