Aviation of World War II
The I-185 project appeared in early 1940. After the return of Polikarpov from Germany and the misadventures with his I-200 aircraft, many employees of the plant believed that Polikarpov would be shot ... Although the worst did not happen, however, Polikarpov lost his brainchild, like most of the employees of the Design Bureau. The designer himself was very upset by what had happened. In order to somehow smooth out this unpleasant story, Polikarpov and the remnants of the designers are transferred to the new factory No. 51. Although such a plant did not exist, they simply fenced off a piece of Khodynka with an aircraft hangar and loudly called the new brainchild aircraft plant No. 51 of the People's Commissariat of the Aviation Industry. Here, on the new territory, Polikarpov had to gather new forces, here, despite all the troubles, the designer was able to create a whole series of experienced fighters, which, without a doubt, were advanced machines. I-185, the project of which appeared at the beginning of 1940, could become the best Soviet fighter during the Second World War. However, this outstanding machine began to fly at such a difficult time for the disgraced designer that he sometimes had to drain gasoline from his personal machine to ensure his flights ...
In the future, there were several variants of the I-185 aircraft with a single wing shape for all with an area of 15.53 m. Variants of the I-185 differed in engines, armament, fuselage length and some design details.
I-185 - M-82. The aircraft successfully passed state tests on the Kalinin Front from April 13 to July 5, 1942 and was recommended for production in November 1942, but was not built due to a shortage duralumin and due to the already established mass production of wooden La-5 aircraft with the same engine.
I-185-M71 (standard for the I-186 series). Based on the recommendations for the serial production of the I-185 aircraft with the M-71 engine and three-gun armament, the Polikarpov Design Bureau in April 1942 produced a reference sample of this aircraft. It had some changes compared to the I-185-M82A, its finish was improved, the hood (sealing) was improved, the diameter of the hood was 1400 mm, the length was 1360 mm, minor improvements were made. Armament - three guns ShVAK-20 (500 shells, bombs up to 500 kg, and two of 250 kg were possible, or eight RS-82). Centering -23.6% MAR (21.1-28.5%).
The aircraft made its first flight on June 10, 1942, successfully passed factory tests in June-October, and in November 1942 - January 1943 - state tests. According to the Air Force Research Institute, it was a fighter that surpassed all the fighters of the world in 1942, and, moreover, promising. It was noted that it is simple in terms of piloting technique and accessible to pilots of average qualification.
An essential feature of this fighter was an unusually large specific load on the wing, reaching - 240 kg / m², causing a lot of controversy. This value with a smaller wing area made it possible to achieve greater speed.
The wing - all-metal two-spar - included a center section and two detachable consoles. It was equipped with automatic slats and landing flaps, deviated at an angle of 60 degrees. Such a wing had the necessary mechanization to achieve low landing speeds. Sheathing made of duralumin sheets was riveted to the frame "hidden".
Compared to the I-16 and I-180, the I-185 had a forward centering, which means better longitudinal stability in all flight modes, according to the pilots, it was well balanced with trim tabs.
The flight qualities of the prototype I-185 were exceptional: the speed reached 680 km / h at an altitude of 6100 m, near the ground 600 km / h (afterburner), rate of climb near the ground 20 m / s, climb on a combat turn 1200- 1500 m. The plane was both fast and maneuverable. He was the only fighter we had that lifted 500 kg of bombs. It was being prepared for mass production. However, during the preparation of the range tests, a catastrophe occurred from a completely random reason - the carburetor jet was clogged. Pilot V.A. Stepanchenok died due to an engine stop at low altitude.
The introduction of the aircraft into the series was slowed down, despite all the efforts of Polikarpov, since there was no mass-produced M-71 engine and a factory for the series.
Polikarpov also had the I-187-M-71 project with unprecedented yet powerful weapons - 4 ShVAK-20 cannons (2 synchronous and 2 in the wing) with 640 shells. A project for a four-gun fighter I-188 was also developed for the designed powerful M-95 engine.
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