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VEF I-12
The VEF I-12 was a tandem, two seat Latvian trainer aircraft designed by Kārlis Irbītis and produced by VEF in Riga. By the end of 1936 Karlis Irbitis started work on the improved version in most aspect similar to the I-11, the, I-12. Main improvement was the wing construction with a smaller chord/thickness ratio and positioning of the fuel tanks in the wing center section.
The single engine, tandem, two seat I-12 was a development of the similarly laid out I-11, strengthened for aerobatics. It was an all wood low wing monoplane, entirely plywood covered apart from the tail control surfaces and with a fixed, conventional undercarriage. Its cantilever wing was built around a main and an auxiliary box spar, both made from spruce and plywood. The short wing centre section was integral with the fuselage, with the main undercarriage legs on it. These and the wheels, fitted with brakes, were faired. Outboard, the wing panels tapered to rounded tips, carrying both the balanced and slotted differential ailerons and hand operated camber changing split flaps.
The fuselage was a rectangular box formed from spruce longerons, with a ply roof behind the cabin, where a long, multipart canopy enclosed the pilot and passenger's seats. The pilot sat at the rear; both had removable sections for access. In front of them the 90 hp (67 kW) Blackburn Cirrus four cylinder in-line, inverted engine was mounted on steel bearers, driving a wooden propeller. At the rear of the fuselage the empennage was conventional, with the tailplane mounted on the fin above the fuselage line and braced from below with a steel strut on each side. The elevators were hinged forward of the rudder, which carried a trim tab, but were shaped to allow its movement as it extended to the keel.
The first flight was made on 26 June 1937. The aircraft proved good and it has used in several air competition in Europe. One machine, YL-ABO, was lost at 17 May 1938 during the International Aircraft Exhibition in Helsinki. After the demonstrating of spin from 200 meters, the pilot did not manage to recover and the aircraft crashed killing its pilot.
The first prototype, on a European tour begun in July 1937, made several demonstrations in Paris. In the UK it raced at Ramsgate, coming fifth in the handicapped Thanet Air Race at Ramsgate, as well as winning first prize for the best turned out aircraft. Late in August it came in second in the Cinque Ports Wakefield Cup races at Lympne. Its tour ended the following July, flown back to Riga by P. Avery in a record nine hours, non-stop from London. Avery flew another I-12 in 1939, coming fifth in the London to Isle of Man race and competing in the Isle of Man competition in May.
Several were accepted for service and in 1939 the I-12 was accepted by Air registration Board for sale in UK. Rollasons were designated as distributors after the I-12 had been adjusted to meet UK certification requirements. It was also offered on sale in the UK by D.R.P. Engines at £750 but no examples reached the UK civil register.
Versions of this aircraft include a single seat fighter plane trainer where the front cockpit was covered and the canopy was single seat.
In total twelve I-12 was built.
VEF-Irbitis I-12 Latvian AF
In the 1939 V.E.F. I-12 entered service with the Latvian Air Force. They later operated four I-12 with two converted as single seat trainers. They also used gun camera for combat practices. The aircraft were painted Dark Green topside, with Light Grey lower wing surfaces. National insignia was Auskelis cross in Dark Red on a White disc are used in six positions. Serial number on fuselage was Black with a White outline.
Germany used two or three captured I-12 captured from the Soviets, who had captured these machines previously.
Engine: 1 × Blackburn Cirrus Minor, 90 hp
Propellers: 2-bladed
Wingspan: 9.3 m (30 ft 6 in)
Wing area: 11.3 sq.m (122 sq ft)
Length: 7.1 m (23 ft 4 in)
Height: 1.9 m (6 ft 3 in)
Empty weight: 458 kg (1,010 lb)
Gross weight: 680 kg (1,499 lb)
Fuel capacity: 17.5 imp gal (79.6 l; 21.0 US gal)
Maximum speed: 230 km/h (143 mph; 124 kn)
Cruise speed: 198 km/h (123 mph; 107 kn)
Range: 724 km; 391 nmi (450 mi)
Landing speed: 47 mph (76 km/h)
Crew: 1 or 2
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