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Author Topic: Soviet fighters in China  (Read 1768 times)
han9
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« Reply #15 on: October 10, 2016, 11:28:57 AM »

Soviet Fighters in the Sky of China V
(1937-1940)
by Anatolii Demin
Aviatsiia i Kosmonavtika 1.2001
translated by George M. Mellinger, Twin Cities Aero Historians

http://www.j-aircraft.com/research/George_Mellinger/china_skys_part_5.htm

But these were still only the blossoms - the berries were yet to come.  On March 14, the Japanese Zeros made a new attack on Chengdu.  For the Chinese, that air battle, evidently became nominal, later they often wrote in hieroglyphs ?air battle 314? (that is ?the air battle of March 14?).  The Taiwanese did not report the complete list of losses, but from fragmentary information it is possible to discover that of the 17 aircraft of the 3rd Air Group which had just flown from Hami, 11 took part in the battle and all were destroyed, and the pilots killed.  The commander of the 5th Air Group, Huang Xinrui led nine new I-153s, and his deputy Ceng Zeliu another 11 Chaiki.  As the Taiwanese write, ?the flying quality of the I-153 was unable to compete with the might of the Japanese, and Ceng Zeliu was shot down directly over the aerodrome of Shuangliu airbase.?  Also shot down was the commander of the group, Huang Xinru, who made a forced landing at Sumatou, and died of his wounds two days later.  Of 11 Chaiki of the 28th squadron included in the 5th Air Group, the Zeros immediately shot down the squadron commander Zhou Lingxiu and another pilot.  The other shot-down pilot made a forced landing on the water, but was strafed on the surface.  Also participating in the battle were three I-15bis of the 32nd squadron received at the beginning of the year from depot overhaul.  Squadron commander Chen Pengyang was shot down, and the lightly wounded pilot, Qin Bei escaped by parachute.  In the 17th squadron all were killed, and several aircraft were lost from the 8th squadron.  According to Japanese sources, on that day they destroyed 24 aircraft, and possibly destroyed, or damaged another three.

The 4th Air Group was lucky; it had still not completed retraining, and returned to Shuangliu airbase only in April.  Until then they avoided engagement with the enemy, as that order had recently been given by the Aviation Committee to all active air units engaged in reorganization.  The 3rd Air Group transferred five of six remaining Chaiki to the 5ht Air Group and the last to the 11th, anc functionally ceased to exist.  Only five I-16 IIIs flown in to Chengdu from Hami at the beginning of August remained for combat duty.  Later the 5th Air Group disbanded.  At first their mission was the interception of Japanese reconnaissance aircraft, for which they were reinforced with 5 Chaiki.  But on May 22, as a result of air attacks, 17 aircraft of the 5th Air Group were sent to Nanzheng (Henan Province) in order to defend ti from the Japanese blows.  While refueling at Tianshu (Gansu Province) they were al destroyed on the ground.  the newly appointed commander of the group, L? Enlung was relieved of command.  On June 6 the group receive 6 I-153s for opposing night attacks, but on July 1 it was disbanded.

Something similar occurred on May 26 with the 29th Squadron.  Eighteen I0153s led by squadron commander Yu Pingxiang flying from the region of Gansucheng to Lanzhou, but along the way they encountered Japanese fighters.  Immediately the commander and pilot Zhang Senyi were shot down, both baling out.  The remainder followed deputy squadron commander Tan Zhouli, but when they landed for refueling, the remaining 16 Chaiki were destroyed on the ground by the Japanese.

Evidently the only Chinese victory in the first half of 1941appears to be a bomber shot down over Lanzhou on May 21.  At Xigucheng aerodrome there was a duty flight of eight I-153s of the 21st squadron commanded by Zhen Sheng.  On that day they gave battle to 27 Japanese bombers.

Concentrating almost all remaining aircraft and combat pilots at the training centers where the fighters of the 4th Air Group had become instructors, the Chinese fighter aviation virtually refused to give battle to the Japanese, limiting themselves to intercepting reconnaissance aircraft.   At the end of July1941the remaining I-16 IIIs of the 4th Air Group were concentrated at Liangshan and Baishiyi airbases near Chongqing, for this purpose, but without results.  The 11th Air Group, which had formed at the end of 1940 also did not take part in battle with the I-16 and I-15bis, occupying themselves with training flights at Qungla until 1942.

Meanwhile the Japanese continued to conduct massive attacks on the Chinese cities.  On July 28, 1941 108 Japanese aircraft executed an attack into Sichuan Province.  Only seven aircraft of the 27th Squadron were able to oppose them..  The I-153 (No. P-7237) of Lieutenant Gao Chunchou was shot down, falling into an ambush.  While opposing an attack on Chengdu at dawn on August10 Captain Ou Yangdeng of the 21st squadron was killed.  His aircraft No. 7261, flying with the remnants of the 5th Air Group was hit and crash landed, the pilot dying from lack of medical attention.  the next day the Japanese conducted another dawn attack on Chengdu, and four I-153s of the 29th squadron took to the air.  Squadron commander Tang Zhouli and two of his deputies, Wang Chongshi and Huang Rongfa were killed.  The Taiwanese also state that the fiancee of the last, Yang Quanfang shot herself on August 16.

In the words of the Chinese, ?1941 was the most difficult year for the Chinese Air Force of the entire eight years of war.  On this account, in order to render opposition to the Japanese forces, the Chinese actively sought new international assistance.?

Already by the beginning of 1941 the commander of the 3rd Air Group, Lo Yingde with part of the command and flying staff had been sent to Rangoon, Burma to take delivery of the Hawk 81A (P-40C) which had been purchased in America.  But as the Taiwanese write, ?after trying the combat capabilities of these aircraft, they determined that they would not be able to stand up against the Zero.  Therefore the transfer was declined and the aircraft were delivered to a unit of American volunteers, C. Chennault?s Flying Tigers.

Unwittingly, the Japanese themselves helped the Chinese.  Preparing for the attack on Pearl Harbor, during the second half of 1941 they transferred almost all their Zeros from China to pacific Ocean bases.  Entry of the United States into the war against Japan at the end of 1941 was salvation for China.  They automatically fell into the category of countries to receive lend-lease military assistance, including military aircraft.  As PRC historians write, ?the power of the Chinese Air Force gradually was restored with the help of the Americans.?  The Burma road began to work at full capacity as military cargo was sent along it from the United States to China.  For its defense, the remaining Chinese aviation was redeployed to Yunnan Province.

At the end of January 1942 eleven I-153s of the 17th Squadron led by squadron commander Liu Qingguang, were quartered at Kunming (Yunnan Province).  According to intentions, they were to repulse Japanese air attacks together with the American volunteers also located there.  But after some time they were sent to Laxu airbase in Burma where they were utilized for communications, and in May conducted military activity attacking ground targets.  On May 3, 1942 two I-153s of the 26th Squadron were sent to the Chanximaogong region (on the Burmese border) for battle against the drug growers (evidently, reconnaissance and aerial destruction of the opium plantations).

It is not possible to find much later information about the combat use of our Chaiki.  At the middle of July the 17th Squadron returned to Chengdu, but it is unclear whether they took part in opposing air attacks at the end of August 1942.  Seven I-16IIIs of the 29th Squadron participated in battle there, but the details are not known.  At the same time, under orders of the 4th Army another seven I-16 IIIs, led by Wang Yinhua, the commander of the 29th Squadron, flew to Lanzhou and defended the city and airbase..  In September three P-66s of the 5th Air Group,  newly received from the USA, were attached to them.

Except for mention of a single I-16 which seems to have been shot down over the Burma Road in 1943 by a Japanese Ki 43, it has not been possible to uncover other information about the further participation of our fighters in the battle for China.   From the middle of March 1942 the Chinese pilots gradually began to rearm with American fighters, but a number of remaining Lastochki, Chizhi and Chaiki were used for training in the flying schools and training centers.  There is no information about the very last days of their flying careers.

Beginning from the end of 1941 Chinese aviators, for the most part, after completing flight school, began to be sent to the United States for advanced training.  By March1945 a total of 1224 individuals had been sent, and 384 had been returned to participate in combat.

In March 1942 the first American P-43As, as with the earlier I-16, were received by the 4th Air Group.  The pilots retrained in Kunming, and in small groups the pilots flew in turn to India for the new fighters.  the 3rd air Group sent pilots to India to receive the P-66 from the middle of June 1942, and during a half year received 60 machines, though they retained only 15, transferring the remainder tot he 5th and 11th Air Groups beginning in September.

The 7th Squadron first began to use the P-66 for combat duty at Chongqing as early as September 1942.  Evidently, the last to turn in Soviet fighters for ?combat storage? were the pilots of the 26th, 29th and 41st squadrons, generally a year later than the others.  The 41st Squadron began to receive the P-66 in September 1943, and the 26th and 29 th squadrons were sent to India to take delivery of the P-40N only at the end of 1943.  The 44th squadron also received the P-40.
 
Conclusion follows.

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han9
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« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2016, 07:35:47 AM »


Soviet Fighters in the Sky of China VI
(1937-1940)
by Anatolii Demin
Aviatsiia i Kosmonavtika 2.2001
translated by George M. Mellinger, Twin Cities Aero Historians

http://www.j-aircraft.com/research/George_Mellinger/soviet_fighters_in_thesky_of_vi.htm



{For Russian names I have used a simplified version of the Library of Congress system; for Japanese names, the rendition common in Western literature.  Except for a very few well-known exceptions (Beijing, Chiang Kai Shek) Chinese names and places have proven very difficult.  I have been given by a friend a table for transliterating Pinyan phonetics into Cyrillic, and have tried to work it backwards to obtain Pinyan from the Russian.  I am not confident of any success.  I ask your indulgence, and any corrections the knowledgeable may wish to give. -GMM}
 
The story of the Soviet fighters in China would be incomplete without a description of the attempts of the Chinese aviation industry to copy Soviet aircraft.  It appears that work had begun already by the end of 1937.  Indirect support for this, is a trip to Shaoguan by a pilot of the 25th squadron, Tu Zhangan for delivery of a single I-15.  On December 25, 1937 he took off there during an air alarm, and during the flight to the Dengjiangan Station he was mistakenly shot down by Chinese antiaircraft fire.  Evidently, immediately before, the aircraft had been conveyed  to the local aircraft factory and examined with the possibility of simply creating drawings.

After the beginning of the war the aircraft factory at Shaoguan relocated to Kunming and received the designation 1 Air Force Aircraft Factory.  From the end of 1937 it began to build the aircraft Zhong 28-II instead of the Hawk III.  (The Chinese character ?zhong? meant ?honor?.  The significance of ?28 is unclear, but is possibly the year of entering service according to the Chinese calendar dating from the revolution of 1911.)

This was a biplane fighter, actually a copy of the I-15, but with a  745 hp. American Wright-Cyclone SR-1820-F53 motor. Thirty aircraft were built from 1939 to 1943.  There is no information about its combat use, but most likely it was used in training centers.  Flight characteristics generally were similar to the I-15, Speed - 376 km/h, combat weight - 1839 kg.

In August 1941 on the eve of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese began an offensive in the south, invading Vietnam and Burma, and strengthening their attacks on Yunnan Province.  The situation in Kunming became tense.  In order to escape the bombing, the new factory was to a new location on the outskirts of Guiyang.  Here three shops were organized, each of about 400 to 500 square meters.  They all were dispersed among the mountain ravines.  The director Zhu Jiaren and a small contingent of personnel and equipment remained in Kunming.  Evidently the final assembly was completed there, while production of the components was dispersed in the mountains.

Since 1943 the head engineer at the Kunming factory was an American -  K. L. Zakharchenko an immigrant of Russian origin.  His prewar attempts to design an original fighter were not crowned with success due to the absence of suitable conditions and of a technically prepared national workforce.  He had to limit himself to development of a two place biplane trainer ?Fusing? (Renaissance), produced in a total of 20 machines, and the lowing monoplane trainer AT-2.  The fuselage of the aircraft had an original primary structure using a skin of multi-layered bamboo.  Eventually this was widely used in China, in this role and for reproduction of the Chinese I-15 and I-16.  In 1937 Zakharchenko organized a ?Hawk ? production line in the factory and at the beginning of the war actively began work on copying the I-15.  It is known that he studied captured Japanese equipment and met with Soviet military advisors.  For his help in the battle against the Japanese he was awarded the Order of Chinese Glory.

At the beginning of the 1940s, under his leadership there began a project for a fighter monoplane project (XP-1).  Its fundamental originality was a reversed-gull wing, and automatic slats.  In June 1943 Zakharchenko returned to the USA, and the Chinese continued the projects and production themselves.  They completed the first example at the beginning of fall.  It was of mixed construction, the fuselage and outer wing panels of wood and the nose section of the fuselage and the wing center section of metal.  The motor was a Wright Cyclone giving a projected speed of 588 km/h.  But the machine was overweight, and in practice was capable only of 547 km/h.  During one of its flights the aircraft suffered a catastrophic failure over Guiyan, in the opinion of the Chinese due to aerodynamic instability, and the pilot was killed.  When the design of the aircraft was extensively examined at the aviation faculty at Chongqing, they uncovered this instability and wondered why it had not been uncovered earlier.  They attributed it to ?obsequiousness toward foreigners? but a second prototype was not constructed. 

During the opening period of the war an aircraft factory was constructed with Italian assistance for assembling the Italian Savoia Marchetti.  It was evacuated at the end of 1937, and after a year it began to organize work of a new aircraft factory at Nanchuan.  Here there were practically ideal conditions for defense against air attacks.  It was located in a cave, so the Japanese were unable to observe it.  However, conditions for construction of aircraft were very bad: damp and dark, it required electrical lighting for all work.

Production was organized according to the pattern of the factory in Hanzhou; it is possible that they used the equipment from that factory.  In 1939 the ?cave factory? was reorganized and renamed as the ?2nd Aircraft Factory of the Air Force, and was later named the Nanchuan Factory.  Zhu Linren became the director, and then it was led by Jian Changzuo, Li Gopei,, and Ma Deshu.  As many as a thousand worked at the factory from 1940-1942.  Between 1939 and 1947 they created several original aircraft.  The first of them the ?Zhong 28-Qia? (28-1) existed in two variants, a fighter and advanced fighter trainer.

The ?Zhong 28-Qia? fighter was an analogue of the Soviet I-16, but as the Chinese write, ?from the clack of blueprints, and the mounting of more heavy machine guns, it was practically developed anew?.  It used some Soviet components, wing longerons, undercarriage gear, wheels.  Everything else was developed and produced by the Chinese themselves.  The surfaces of the fuselage and wings - bamboo of three thickness layers (to specification 28-2).  In the whole of its technological production the machine strongly differed from the Soviet.  It is very likely that they developed the trainer ?28-1? (The Chinese did not give separate designations) for themselves without copying our UTI-4.  The Chinese write that the pilot?s cabin was moved forward, and the second seat added on behind, and the center of gravity independently recalculated.

The weight of both variants was 1556 kg, the motor Wright Cyclone R-1820-F of 712 hp.  The maximum speed of the fighter was 455 km/h, of the trainer 445 km/h.  The landing speed of both variants was 119 km/h.  Three examples of the 28-1 fighter were built.  Work began on the first machine in December 1938 and was completed in July 1939.  The quality of the gluing deteriorated due to poor conditions in the cave (humidity at times reached 100%).  This raised doubts about its strength, in connection with which, the first example was first subjected to static tests, and only then took to the air.  But according to the words of the Chinese, ?contrary to expectations, the results were very good?.  Thirty examples of the  trainer 28-1 were constructed Information about their use has not been found.

The other attempt to build Soviet fighters manifested itself as the construction of Aircraft Factory No.600 on Chinese territory.  On August 11,1939 representatives of the Peoples?s Komissariat of Aircraft Industry and the Chinese government signed an agreement on the organization of assembly production, 40 km from Urumchi.  The first examples, according to the plan, were introduced into production in the fall of 1940, and final construction was concluded by February 1941.  By September 111 I-16s were assembled here (by other accounts 143).  However, there is information that the factory did not deliver them to the Chinese at that time, possibly due to the worsening, and eventual break in relations with Chiang Kai Shek.  From the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, all the assembled fighters were used in the battles against the fascists.  From November 1940 to 28 February 1942, I. E. Fyodorov worked as the Chief of LIS and factory flight testing. [1]  Working with him ?as a pair? was S. N. Viktorov.  In May 1941 he was killed during a test flight of an I-16; according to an unconfirmed account the reason was not only the quality of production, but also ?the human factor? while flying in formation.  After this accident Fyodorov was demoted to ordinary factory test pilot.  In1942-1943 A. P. Deev worked there as a test pilot.   According to various sources, at that time Factory No.600 was assembling Yakovlev trainer aircraft.
   
[1]Ivan Evgrafovich Fyodorov was one of the Soviets? least-known, but most remarkable pilots.  He first saw combat over Spain, where he was credited with 11 victories, and then fought over China (2 victories), Khalkin Gol (2 victories), and Finland (4 victories).  After returning from China in 1942, he flew against the Germans scoring at least 17 more victories, thought he ?claims as many as 49 victories.  His final war was Korea, where he claimed 4 more victories.  In between his combat tours, Fyodorov also served as a test pilot, and also had repeated episodes of troubles with the authorities.  Still alive, he claims to have scored a total of 135 victories, an assertion rejected by most historians.  Regardless of overclaiming followed by exaggeration, his minimum achievement is remarkable.  LIS is probably - Test Flying Service - GMM.
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han9
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« Reply #17 on: October 25, 2016, 07:12:52 AM »

Soviet Fighters in the Sky of China VI
(1937-1940)
by Anatolii Demin
Aviatsiia i Kosmonavtika 2.2001
translated by George M. Mellinger, Twin Cities Aero Historians

http://www.j-aircraft.com/research/George_Mellinger/soviet_fighters_in_thesky_of_vi.htm





At the aircraft factory in Chengdu they undertook an attempt to copy the SB.   Despite the contrary opinion that only the fuselage was original and everything else was taken from a Soviet supplied pattern machine, in fact the wings of the new aircraft were also wooden, of Chinese manufacture. (Concerning this, there is some information that the Chinese used documentation from the wooden SB, project which was assigned to A. S. Moskalev at the end of the 1930s)  Flight testing of the Chinese ?SB? began in 1944, but after several successful flights, the aircraft was entrusted to a different Chinese pilot who ?pramged? it during a landing, and it was not restored.

Before turning to the combat action  statistics, we will pause briefly to compare the characteristics of the fighters battling over China.  There is in the memoirs of volunteers a description of an episode in the spring of 1938 when, during a quiet period Rychagov and Blagoveshchenskii arranged an original review of the aviation equipment.  This established that the I-16 surpassed in speed all its foreign ?brothers-in-arms? by almost a factor of two.  Of course this was a fantasy, however it is understandable as far as all the authors of  memoirs except S. V. Slyusarev estimated the maximum speed of all foreign combat aircraft in China as being in a range of 130-200 km/h. This is understood to be not so.

Comparing the I-16 with the other fighters in China, the Italian Fiat CR.32, American Hawk III, English Gloster Gladiator Mk.I, Dewoitine D.510, Japanese Ki-10 (type 95), A5M (Type 96), Ki-27 (Type 97), and our I-15 (I-15 bis), one can affirm that they were fighters of the same class and generation, produced during the mid 1930s.  All of them, except the I-16 had maximum speeds between 350-400 km/h.  Each had its own strengths and weaknesses.

Meeting on Chinese airfields at the end of 1937 the few surviving Fiats our pilots already knew them well from Spain where the Crickets of the Pyrenees, incidentally about the same age as the I-15,  in 1936-1937  proved a thoroughly dangerous rival for our fighters.

At altitudes greater than 2 km the speed of the CR.32bis (produced in 1935) was a little less than the I-15, but in rate of climb and maneuverability it was quite inferior to our fighter.  Flight in this aircraft, in the opinion of NII VVS test pilots, was laborious.  On taxiing it swung to the right, and on leaving the ground it was unstable and gained altitude slowly.  It was difficult to complete a turn and reversal, demanding good coordination of movements.  It demanded extensive training for a pilot of average ability.  the I-15 surpassed the CR.32 in flying and handling qualities, but was inferior in armament.  Its heavy caliber machine guns gave the CR.32 the potential ability to conduct battle at distances outside the range of fire of 7.62-7.92mm caliber machine guns. However, it was not able to take advantage of such potential in battle since it did not have superior speed or rate of climb.  The combat capabilities of the I-15 were markedly higher.  Air combat in Spain gave the same conclusions.  The Hawk III never ended up in the USSR and was not tested.

The main rival of the I-15,Hawk II and CR.32 at the beginning of the war in China,  the Ki-10 biplane (I-95, Type 95), in the opinion of the author of Samoletostroenie v SSSR (Aircraft Construction in the USSR), ?appeared one of the most perfectly maneuverable fighters of the 1930s.  The prototype first flew in1935.  It had a number of superiorities over the CR-32 and He 51.  Chief among them was possession of a supercharger for the water-cooled BMW-IX.  This provided greater power at higher altitude and consequently increased speed, climb and maneuverability, which were also improved by excellent finishing and the clean aerodynamic form of the machine?s metallic construction with fabric wing surfaces.  A low specific wing loading also improved maneuverability and control.  armament was two synchronized 7.7mm Vickers machine guns.

NII VVS test pilots noted the high standard of production of the Ki-10, its ease of maintenance, with easy access to the motor and all components of the aircraft.  Flight characteristics were straightforward, but it was insufficiently stable , and its spinning characteristics were bad, due to a great delay in recovery and the tendency to go into a flat spin.  Take-off and landing runs were sufficiently long that larger airfields were needed.  But in spite of a number of deficiencies, the I-95 seemed a very strong opponent in air combat.  In comparison with the I-15 it had superior speed at altitudes greater than 3-4 km, and could quickly overtake the I-15 in a dive.  At the same time the I-95 underperformed the I-15 in maneuverability and particularly in climb.  Therefore an I-15 pilot in battle with the I-95 should make use of his superiority in vertical speed and depart from combat only upward.  Thus, in an air combat much depended on tactics, since there was no absolute superiority of either aircraft.?

In the opinion of the author of ?Samoletostroenie...?, the great combat ability and superiority of the I-15 in comparison with other, even more modern and maneuverable biplanes was provided by the high power provided across a wide range of altitudes thanks to the power of the motor with supercharger, and the light weight of construction.  Also, the I-15 had outstanding handling characteristics resulting from good aerodynamics and rationalized arrangements of the controls.  Also noted was the higher combat survivability of the air-cooled M-25 motor compared to liquid-cooled motors, and the good take-off and landing characteristics, and sufficiently effective weapons.

However, in connection with consideration of the strengths and deficiencies of fighters, it must be remembered that success in battle most of all was connected with not only with the qualitative superiority or inferiority of the aircraft, but obviously on the tactics they used.  For this, most important of all is the combat experience of the pilots.  As G. N. Zakharov wrote, ?having already fought and gained combat experience, we naturally came to an understanding of the tactics needed for the current air battle.  But at the beginning pilots did not study even such tactics of the aces as attacking from out of the sun.  Therefore, they often began battle from an unfavorable position.  Our basic trump from the first days of combat was the exceptional maneuverability of the I-15 and individual pilot skill.?

The Japanese maintained that in a classic maneuvering battle there was little difference between the A5M and I-15 when flown  by pilots of equal skill, but thought that on the average Japanese pilots were better trained than their comparable Soviet pilots.  On the other hand, ours benefitted from a considerably greater weight of fire of a one second burst, and their individual armored seat plating (not available at first).  The Soviet fighters from the beginning were very difficult opponents for the Japanese, who had on their A5M only two rifle caliber machine guns.

From 1938 the modified I-15bis began to appear in China.  the upper wing was constructed straight (without the ?gull?), construction was strengthened according to experience gained from operating the I-15, with an improved cowling for the M-25V motor of greater power and high altitude performance.  The armament was four synchronized PV-1 machineguns (like the exported variant of the I-15).  In sum, the weight increased by 300 kg (20%), which degraded speed and rate of climb, despite the greater power.  The aerodynamic support of the upper wing appeared more negative compared to the ?Chaika?.  Nonetheless for maneuverability and rate of climb, the I-15bis remained one of the best biplanes of its era.  It was superior in speed, climb and armament to the Ki-10 up to altitudes of 3,5 km.  However in spite of the organizational and tactical cooperation of the ?maneuverable? I-15bis and the ?speedy? I-16, the combat usefulness of the ?bis? was clearly inadequate for battle with the Type 96 and Type 97, and the speed of the new Japanese bombers was continually increasing.

It was interesting to read in Samoletostroenie v SSSR a description of the comparative characteristics of the further development of the I-15bis, the I-153 ?Chaika? with the M-62 and its main opponent at Khalkin Gol, the Type 97.  But when the Chaika appeared in China, the new Zero, from the next generation of fast piston-engined fighters was committing its depredations.  What they did to the not very trained Chinese pilots we saw previously.  But here let us bring down a curtain of mercy....

The I-16 fast monoplane fighter received it s baptism of fire in Spain where it was used mainly against bombers.  In combat with fighters, several times it demonstrated that with the correct tactics, superiority of speed gave the I-16 pilot initiative an domination over the He-51 and CR.32.  The same thing was demonstrated at the NII VVS during demonstration air combats.  In 1937 in air combats in Spain and China the I-16 first encountered the Me-109 and A5M fast monoplanes.  The Type 96 was the first Japanese monoplane fighter.  It was intended as a shipboard fighter, but was widely used in the land theater of operations.  During the war in China in 1937-1938 the main modification used was the A5M2a with an air-cooled Kotobuki 3 motor, with a maximum 610 hp.  (nominal 540 hp).  The non-retracting undercarriage had a closed fairing of very clean aerodynamic form.  the cabin was open.  the armament of the A5M2a was two Vickers 7.7mm synchronized machine guns.  Two bombs could be carried on racks under the wings and under the fuselage a supplementary fuel tank.

At the NII VVS a captured type 96 showed a speed of 316kh/h at ground level and 370 km/h at an altitude of 3.2 km, a rate of climb of 5 km in 7.5 minutes, a practical ceiling of 10,000 m, and time to turn 15 seconds.  However, the motor was untuned  (it was assembled of parts from three wrecks), and as a result of unfitness, the fixed pitch  propeller blades were changed for others with a changed width and profile.  By estimation, the real speed and rate of climb of the standard A5M was higher than that tested by the NII VVS (speed by 20-30 km/h).  In the opinion of the test pilot, ?the I-96 showed itself to be a stable, light on the controls and very maneuverable airplane...Its flying qualities were extraordinarily straightforward and accessible to a pilot of even below average ability, in which regard it strongly differed from the I-16.  For decreasing landing speed the I-96 had landing flaps which did not exist on the I-16 Type 5.  The I-96 seemed quite simple and reliable in use.?  In spite of shortcomings, the verdict of our pilots fighting in China and Mongolia, including G. Zakharov and B. Smirnov, rated the A5M as a very good combat aircraft, noting particularly its lightness and maneuverability, a machine which ?in the hands of a good pilot would present a serious opponent?.

Our aviation specialists thought that the speed and maneuverability of the A5M, with a relatively low wingloading of 97 kg/m2 occupied an intermediate position between the I-15bis and I-16 Type 5.  Thus the Japanese designers creating a shipboard aircraft, to a degree sacrificed speed for the sake of greater maneuverability and good flying characteristics.  The Japanese themselves, through experience in air combat came to the conclusion that the A5M notably surpassed the I-16 in both horizontal and vertical maneuver.

Almost simultaneously with the A5M, the Nakajima Ki-27 (Type 97) fighter was developed for the Japanese Air Force, becoming the most numerous type of fighter in Japan at the beginning of the 1940s. Series production began in 1937 and produced 3386 machines.  In external appearance,  the geometrical dimensions and armament the A5M and Ki-27 were almost identical, and in the air they were also difficult to distinguish.  But the latter had the more modern construction, a motor of 650 hp, and an enclosed cabin.  Despite the increased wing area of the Type 97, its weight decreased by 130 kg and its wing-loading was 85 kg/m2, similar to biplanes.

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han9
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« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2016, 08:04:14 AM »

Soviet Fighters in the Sky of China VI
(1937-1940)
by Anatolii Demin
Aviatsiia i Kosmonavtika 2.2001
translated by George M. Mellinger, Twin Cities Aero Historians

http://www.j-aircraft.com/research/George_Mellinger/soviet_fighters_in_thesky_of_vi.htm


A characteristic trait of Japanese fighters was the presence of a reducing gearbox on the motors of the Kotobuki firm.  Located on the large diameter propellers, they  increased the thrust and thrust to weight ratio at low speeds, but the decrease of maximum speed from this was compensated for by increased climb and acceleration.  One well-preserved trophy Type 97 tested  at the NII VVS, yielded very favorable flight evaluations.  The fighter combined good speed with magnificent maneuverability, it had outstanding stability, and its flying characteristics were extraordinarily straightforward.

Together with its strong side there were also deficiencies: The decreased weight led to complications in operation and transportation.(the wing became detached),and most important, led to a decrease in durability and survivability.  The aircraft lacked armor plating, the fuel tanks were unprotected, and were not filled with neutral gas, due to an absence of motor shock absorbers, the airplane vibrated continually in flight.  Inadequate durability limiting the duration of a dive to about 500 to 700 m, was another deficiency of the Ki 27.  Captured Japanese pilots testified that during a dive the wings began to vibrate, particularly the outer panels (on occasion resulting in their failure), and the motor quickly super.-cooled and might even stop.

The equivalent of the Ki 27, the I-16 Type 10, was a modification of the Type 5.  for decreasing the landing speed, landing flaps with pneumatic controls were mounted.  Supplementing the two ShKAS wing-mounted machneguns were two additional synchronized ShKAS were mounted over the motor.  Weight of the aircraft increased by about 200 kg (6.5%), but flight performance changed little due to the increased power of the motor.

Study of the air combat experience of the Soviet military specialists in China and Mongolia showed that up to altitudes of 5000 m. the I-16 Type 10 was superior to the Type 97.  At higher altitudes superiority shifted to the Japanese.  Consequently, Japanese pilots at the beginning of a battle always tried to gain height and the accompanying initiative, but as soon as the battle began, it moved to medium altitudes and the advantage passed to the Soviet pilots.  The greatest virtue of the Japanese fighter appeared to be its stability and ease of flying, which gave the pilot confidence, simplified the conduct of battle and gave a definite advantage.  Thanks to its stability, the Ki 27 was able under all regimes of flight, with two machineguns, with the usual rate of fire of 1800 rounds a minute, bring sufficiently accurate and effective fire in battle,  as against the Soviet ShKAS?s, together firing up to 5600 rounds a minute. [2]  In other words, the less stable I-16 to some measure compensated with a greater weight of armament.  Another great virtue of the Ki-27 was the provision of a radio; there was a receiver on all aircraft, and on the machines of the flight commanders and higher a transmitter.

The virtues our aviation specialists attributed to the I-16 were its better rate of climb at lower and medium altitudes, better survivability and strength in comparison to the Japanese fighters, allowing it to maneuver at greater g-loads.  The Soviet fighters dived better, which determined their choice of tactical method: exit from battle or breaking away from an enemy was achieved by a steep dive, which the Japanese aircraft could not follow at a high rate of speed due to the weakness of their wings.

According to the recollections of combat pilots including G. P. Kravchenko, in battle the Ki 27 maintained a speed of approximately 400 km/h, and at ground level it was about 10-20 km/h slower than the I-16P.  Specialists supposed that since the appearance in the Ki 27 of some structural deformations due to structural flimsiness and vibrations, it was possible that there was a limit on the length of time the motor could operate at maximum power.  In summation, the Type 97 turned out to be less fast than the I-16.  The absence of retractable undercarriage on the Japanese aircraft simplified maintenance and increased reliability, but also decreased speed.  In the same year both we and the Japanese on the A5M2b began to adopt the closed cabin, while all the same the pilots continued to fly with their canopies open, and the Japanese withdrew this modification from production.

Thus the outcome of the air battles in the skies of China came to depend not only on the strengths or weaknesses of the aircraft, but mainly on the preparation of the combat pilots.  And they gradually modernized the tactics of air combat, developing new methods of fighting in the air.

Now about the pilots.  There is not complete data about the victories of Soviet and Chinese pilots.  The reasons are not only the notorious registration of aircraft shot down by our volunteers to foreign volunteers in agreement with Chinese bureaucrats, but also to a whole series of other causes, needing special discussion.

According to N. G. Bodrikhin?s data, the most successful Soviet pilot in China was P. K. Kozachenko, of the first group of fighters.  By the summer of 1938 flying the I-16 he shot down 11 aircraft.  After him followed A. S. Blagoveshchenskii with 10 victories (of which 2 were group victories), K. K. Kokkinaki and A. A. Gubenko, each with seven.  Both of them fought in China in both the I-16 and the I-15bis, while Blagoveshchenskii flew only the Lastochka.  Unfortunately it has not yet been possible to filter out the Chinese victories of G. N. Zakharov, G. P. Kravchenko, S. P. Suprun, and M. N. Yakushin.

There were very few first class Chinese pilots, but from the middling level there were somewhat distinguished from the novices.  Particular testimony about this is the fearsome losses from among the commanders of flights, squadrons, and even air groups.  Many of them, newly appointed, commanded their unit only until the first air battle.  On every combat flight of the group the Commander selected the leader and two deputies hoping that one of them would remain to command the group.  However, experienced pilots there were often insufficient even for this ?special troika?.  If they were able, with the support of our volunteers, sometimes to stand against the experienced Japanese, the decisive battles of 1941 showed that there were practically no experienced flying cadres in the Guomindang Air Force.

The first Chinese ace was Liu Qugang on the Hawk III.  From August 14 to October 25, 1937, under conditions of overwhelming Japanese superiority in the air, he scored 10 (11) victories, and was the first in the Chinese Air Force to shoot down the A5M.  According to the recollection of his wife, from childhood, Liu Qugang?s idol was the German ?Red Baron? Manfred von Richthofen.  Setting off to war, he also swore to his wife that he would not be shot down.  Astonishingly, he formally kept this promise, for he crashed while landing his aircraft at night.  Unfortunately, he and Gao Zhihang (the Chinese called him the War Spirit), who  perished first in the I-16 on October 21, 1937 under bombardment, did not survive until the air battles against the Japanese in our aircraft.  It would have been interesting to have seen the results of these extraordinary fighters.

Chinese historians provide the names in all of a further seven aces who shot down more than five Japanese aircraft between 1937 and 1945.  so far it has not been possible to establish during which period of the war these victories were claimed, or in which types of aircraft.  It cannot be ruled out that they were scored in only American aircraft, since we did not encounter their names earlier.  They are: Liu Zhesheng -11 aircraft, Wang Guangfu - 8, Tan Kun - 8, Yuan Baokang - 8, Gao Youxin - 8, Zhou Zhikai - 6, Zhou Tingfang - 6.  (gathered from various ?prowestern? sources, the lists of Chinese aces far from coincides with all pilots.)

Not a little has been written about the Japanese aces, but separating the wheat from the chaff is quite difficult, therefore except for the previously mentioned T. Kato, we will mention only Warrant Officer K. Koga of the 13th Air Unit, ranking as the leading Japanese A5M ace.  From September to December 1937 he participated in six major air combats, shooting down his first aircraft over Nankgking on September 19, 1937.  In December he returned to Japan with 13 victories (how many of them were ours is unclear) and became a test pilot in the Air Unit at Yokosuka.  He was killed in a flying accident on September 15, 1938.

Describing the history of the combat actions of their air force in the war with Japan, historians from the PRC assert that during the period August 14, 1937 to August 30, 1945 Chinese aviation completed 18,509 combat sorties, participated in 4027 air combats, shot down 568 and damaged 599 Japanese aircraft, destroyed 1 aircraft carrier (seaplane tender? -GMM), 281 military warships, demolished 9 docks, destroyed by bombing 135 weapons depots, 87 fuel points, and also destroyed many military trains, radio stations, and barracks.  The count of the ground-based anti-aircraft forces for 8 years of war included a further 171 enemy aircraft shot down and 374 put out of action.  During the war the Chinese Air Force lost (including losses on the ground) 2469 aircraft including trainers.  They suffered 4668 wounded, of which 661 were pilots.

Dividing these data between the periods of the war is not yet possible, but nonetheless it is possible to assert that the given number of Soviet victories - 195 (81 +114) [3], evidently underestimated.  In any case, until not long ago, it we claimed  (with reference to Chinese data published in 1959) that by 1940 the Japanese had lost 986 aircraft in the air and on the ground.  Naturally, the lion?s share of these victories belong to our pilots.

Between 1937-1941 the Chinese Air Force received from the USSR 563 fighters, I15,I-15bis, I-16, I-153.  During the same period the Chinese purchased from England 36 Gloster Gladiator Mk.1, from France 24 Dewoitine D.510, and from the USA 12 Hawk 75.  During 1942-1945 the Chinese received from the USA through lend-lease 1038 fighters, including P-43 108 machines, P-66 ?  129, P-40 ?  377, P-51 ? 50, F-5 (reconnaissance version of the P-38 Lightning) ? 5.  Comparison of these figures speaks for itself about the scale of our military assistance to China.

Among their national heroes the Chinese place the names of the pilots Gao Zhihang, Yan Haiwen, Chen Huaimin, Chen Chonghai, Li Guidan, Liu Qugang, Zheng Shaoyu.  The most prominent of them appears to be Zhou Zhikai, who shot down 6 aircraft in 2two battles during 1943,but was killed soon afterward.

In many Chinese cities - Wanxian, Guilin, Wuhan, Nangking, Chongqing, Guangzhou, and others, there are preserved graves and memorials to the Soviet airmen who perished in battle against the Japanese from 1937-1941.  According to precise data from the Russian Center For International and Cultural Amity and the Russian-Chinese Friendship Society, included in 1997 a memorial album was published ?Eternal Sleep in the Chinese Earth?, 211 Soviet volunteer pilots are buried in China.

On September 3,1945, on the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War, at the military cemetery in Nangking, a majestic monument was raised to the aviators who perished in the war with Japan from 1937-1945.  On the sides of the two identical steles of white marble are placed sculptures of aviators: to the left Chinese and Russian, and on the right Chinese and American.  Around the steles and sculptures are tablets of black marble inscribed with the names of all the aviators who perished on Chinese territory.  among them are 236 names in the Russian language (211 killed 19937-1945 and 25 in 1945.)

My their memory be eternal!

***
The author considers it his pleasant duty to express his gratitude to E Arsen?ev, V. Kotel?nikov, V. Kulikov, A. Sergeev, A. Simonov, and A. Firsov for providing information, and also special gratitude to Professor N. A. Demin of Moscow State Lomonosov University for translation of Chinese sources.

[2] Assuming the I-16 Type 10 with 4 ShKAS; the ShKAS also fired at 1800 rpm, unsynchronized. - GMM.
[3] 81 victories credited to individual pilots and 114 victories which were counted as group victories, either because they were shared by more than one pilot, or because the victorious pilot could not be identified for a variety of other reasons.  Historians now recognize these group/shared kills as the richest source of score inflation. -GMM

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han9
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« Reply #19 on: November 07, 2016, 02:33:39 PM »

That is all concerning Soviet fighters in China pre WWII but not everything from j.aircraft.com about Soviet aircraft in the Far East. I will create new topics about that ? first notifying j.aircraft.com about my intentions.
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Massimo Tessitori
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« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2016, 10:31:19 PM »

Hi,
Tapani is working on profiles of I-15bis. One of his works is this Chinese one.

I collected some images and comments on Chinese I-15bis here:
mig3.sovietwarplanes.com/i15/i15bis/tapani/chinese/chinese.htm
Any suggestion to improve the page is welcome.
Regards
Massimo
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han9
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« Reply #21 on: July 24, 2017, 05:40:20 PM »

Looking at the previous page at reply no 9

third part of Part III.

Soviet Fighters in the Sky of China Part III (1937-1940) by Anatolii Demin Aviatsiia i Kosmonavtika 11.2000 translated by George M. Mellinger, Twin Cities Aero Historians

We find the description of an air battle which reads as follows:
 
"On July 7,1938, the first anniversary of the start of the Sino-Japanese war there was a huge air battle over Nanchang.  At the sound of the alarm, everyone took off at once, on criss-crossing paths. Lastochki, Chizhi, and Katyushi (SBs).  In this battle the Japanese adopted very strange tactics, allowing the bombers to fly in advance without protection while the fighters, in compact groups came later, falling upon the Chinese fighters as they were exiting from their attack on the bombers.  On this day four Japanese bombers and fighters were shot down.  In the first sudden attack B. Borodai, in an I-16 shot down a bomber.  In all, the volunteers lost seven aircraft, and the I-15bis of A. Gubenko and N. Kozlov were seriously damaged.  Sukhorukov was killed in the battle, Gridin baled out, Rovnin was wounded and landed back at the airfield, and E. Vladimirov turned over in a rice paddy in his damaged I-15bis.  K. Opasonv shot down a bomber early in the battle, and later baled out, but was killed in the air by the Japanese.  Three days later fishermen pulled his body out of Lake Poyanghu.  Curiously, the physician S. Belolipetskii has described his death differently: ?K. Opasov shot down a Japanese aircraft and was preparing to land, but very close to the ground his aircraft suddenly went into a steep dive and crashed.  There were no signs of bullet wounds in the body, but there were bullet holes in the coverings of the control surfaces and the stabilizers.  Seemingly, the aircraft lost control at the moment when it was too low to bale out...? Perhaps his description referred to someone else. (According to defense ministry archives, Sr. Lt. K. T. Opasov, and Lieutenants V.A. Kashkarov, E. I. Sukhorukov, and S. A. Khryukov were killed on July 4,1938.  It is possible that the date in the memoirs of July 7 is in error.)


It remains to be noted that on the eve of the battle, Opasov?s I-15bis was mounted with a new motor and a heavy caliber ?Colt? machine gun in addition to the four PV-1s.  In this battle three Chinese pilots were shot down.  Afterward the group of Soviet fighters relocated to the reserve airfield at Tengsu
."


It is worth pointing out, that it is being suggested the date July 7 is in error with July 4 arguably being correct. This may indeed be so. 

On the 中國空戰 - The China Air War

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1738326609716170/

I found the following description of the battle in question

On the day meaning July 4, 1939 the JNAF attacked Nanchang in force 26 G3M bombers escorted by 23 A5M fighters. The Chinese sent up 65 I-15bis and I-16 in 6 formations to intercept. The two Chinese formations, 7 x I-15bis (22 Sq, 4th Group) and 11 x I-16 (6 from the 3rd Group and 5 from the 21 Sq, 4th Group and ) took the two highest positions (5,500m altitude).

The Soviet 4 formation with more planes (28) but many new and inexperienced pilots flew at lower altitudes.

The Chinese I-16 spotted the Japanese bombers first and went into the attack. One G3M was heavily damaged and crash-landed back at base. Japanese accounts noted that the G3M was attacked and damaged by I-16.

The Soviet fighters joined the attack on the bombers. While attacking the bombers, the Soviet and Chinese fighters were "pounced" by the escorting A5M. A big and confusing dogfight ensued.

Some sources suggested that the I-16 unit had just recently arrived in China and had many inexperienced pilots and they suffered the heaviest casualties. Four Soviet I-16 went down, some early in the action when they were caught by surprise. Snr. Lt. Opasov's I-16 was apparently damaged and crashed into the lake while returning to base.

Three Soviet I-15bis were also hit. One pilot bailed out and survived. Another over-turned on landing while the other landed safely.

Three Chinese I-15bis were shot down and two pilots lost. Two of the I-15bis pilots bailed out. They were strafed in their parachutes and one was killed.

Two A5M were shot down with one pilot killed and another captured.

So much for the battle but that is not all however because the son of  Senior Lt. Opasov the by now 86-year-old Yevgeny Opasov continues to search for the burial place of his father. Mr. Opasov despite his age travels to China to show his appreciation for how the Chinese keep alive the memory of Soviet pilots, recalls his fathers etc. watch the vid

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_N3fQ-4VX-M

Finally Mr. Opasov puts forward the claim that his father was machine gunned under the parachute (I will leave that without a comment) and says he knows about the recovery of his body from the lake by the fishermen. The said fishermen than handed the body over to the local administration and there the trail ends. It is not know what happened to the body afterwards i.e. where Senior Lt. Opasov is buried. For this reason Mr. Opasov appeals to the Chinese to look through their archives to find out.
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