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VEF I-17
VEF I-17 at the VEF factory, 1940
VEF I-17 was a Latvian trainer aircraft (intended also as a fighter) designed in 1939 by Kārlis Irbītis.The I-17 was test flown in early 1940 and almost immediately accepted by Latvian Air Force. It was produced by the VEF factory in Riga.
In 1939 Latvia ordered 39 Hawker Hurricane fighters from United Kingdom thus there was a need for monoplane pilots in Latvia. For this purpose Kārlis Irbītis designed the VEF I-17 among other trainer aircraft. Due to the start of Second World War in September 1939, the British Hawker Hurricanes never arrived in Latvia and this was an inducement for the Latvian Air force to encourage Latvian aircraft development instead.
First flying in 1940, but due to the pressures of the war, the I-17 prototype was accepted almost without testing and serial production was started.
Six examples of the I-17 were built and there was an order for another six but that was halted by the Soviet occupation of Latvia in June 1940.
After the occupation the I-17 was tested by Soviet Red Army and some had Soviet M-11 engines installed. After the occupation of Latvia by Nazi Germany in July 1941, the I-17 was also examined and tested by the Luftwaffe and, like the VEF I-16, was used by the aviation school in Torun. It is believed five VEF I-17 were flown to Germany.
The further fate of the VEF I-17s produced is unknown.
Engine: 1 × Menasco Pirate C4, 93 kW (125 hp)
Propeller: 2-bladed fixed pitch
Wingspan: 9.80 m (32 ft 2 in)
Wing area: 19.20 m2 (206.7 sq ft)
Length: 8.20 m (26 ft 11 in)
Height: 2.90 m (9 ft 6 in)
Empty weight: 790 kg (1,742 lb)
Gross weight: 1,140 kg (2,513 lb)
Maximum speed: 230 km/h (143 mph; 124 kn)
Cruising speed: 189 km / h
Range: 592 km (368 mi; 320 nmi)
Service ceiling: 5,900 m (19,400 ft)
Wing loading: 59.4 kg/m2 (12.2 lb/sq ft)
Crew: one
Capacity: one passenger
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