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Thomas Suzi and I-180


Lieutenant Colonel, Suzi Thomas Pavlovich.

He was considered one of the most experienced Soviet test pilots. He was the head of the LIS plant number 21.

Since July 8, 1939, he has been flying on the I-180-2 under the state test program of the Air Force Research Institute. On August 18, 1939 TP Suzi demonstrated the plane in Tushino at the parade in honor of the Air Fleet Day.

September 5, 1939 at 8 hours 58 minutes. Susi flew in an I-180-2 with a mission to reach the ceiling. At 9 hours 19 minutes. there was a disaster. According to eyewitnesses, at an altitude of 3000 m, the plane went into a spin, then, at an altitude of 250 m, into a horizontal flight, then into a dive and crashed into the ground with a running engine near the Domodedovo station. The pilot jumped out of the plane on the level flight and crashed without using a parachute.

The Emergency Commission, in an act of September 13, 1939, stated that the catastrophe occurred during a flight to an altitude of 9000 m. The materials of the Commission say that at first there was an eight-inch cell oil cooler on the I-180-2, then a nine-inch one. They worked poorly, so a roundabout was put. The latter leaked several times at the joints of the pipes with the flange. Based on this, it was concluded that the annular oil cooler had collapsed during the flight; since the cockpit visor, face and overalls of Thomas Pavlovich were splashed with oil, the pilot looked out from behind the visor to assess the situation, but was blinded and burned with hot oil; therefore he left the plane, but due to loss of consciousness he could not open the parachute. In the conclusions of the act, there is a recommendation: “The Commission considers it necessary to withdraw from service on all prototype aircraft produced annular oil coolers” .

However, not all members of the Commission agreed with this. Kostenko (from the OKB) demanded that his special opinion be written in the protocols that the pilot could lose consciousness at high altitude due to a malfunction of the oxygen device or for health reasons. Then the plane went into a chaotic flight. The radiator collapsed from heavy overloads, oil flowed. At the ground, the pilot came to his senses and tried to control the fighter. Since he did not see anything, he tried to leave the plane. At that moment, he apparently lost consciousness for the second time, so he did not use the parachute.

Chief Designer NN Polikarpov expressed his dissenting opinion, recorded in the minutes of the Commission: from my point of view the cause of the catastrophe is not substantiated by the commission. ”

Somewhat later, Nikolai Nikolayevich provided the Commission with his arguments based on calculations. 83 grams of oil flowed through the annular radiator per second. When it collapses in the upper part of the fuselage, the oil, due to the complex air flow around the finned heads of the engine cylinders in a turbulent flow, breaks up into small drops, which must quickly cool down during the movement to the cockpit visor. Due to the relatively low oil consumption, the splashing of the cockpit visor was slow and the pilot had a lot of time to react. Therefore, scalding and blinding are excluded. Since the flight took place at a high altitude, the cause of the disaster could be the loss of consciousness by the pilot due to a lack of oxygen in the breathing mixture (for example, the oxygen cylinder was poorly filled) or due to a malfunction of the oxygen device.

Here is how Stefanovsky PM writes about this disaster: “The commission to study the causes of this disaster worked for a long time, but it was not possible to establish the truth. Eyewitnesses said that the plane was spinning from a great height, and a pilot jumped out of it three hundred meters from the ground and for some reason did not open the parachute. No, the plane was not on fire. Striking the ground, it turned into a pile of shapeless debris.

Taking advantage of these indications, the representatives of the design bureau tried to explain the cause of the crash by the wrong actions of the pilot in the air. Anatoly Lyapidevsky and I, the first Hero of the Soviet Union, the chairman of the commission, gave them such a rebuke that they immediately abandoned their hasty opinion.

No, the reason for the death of Thomas Pavlovich is not in him, not in his actions. I cannot be dissuaded from this. Even now, almost thirty years later. I knew him too well ... "


  • History of aircraft designs in the USSR (1938-1950) / V.B. Shavrov, 1988 /
  • Aircraft N.N. Polikarpova / V.P. Ivanov /
  • RGAE, f.8044, op.1, d.126, ll.298-335.