Air Enthusiast 1992-12
C.Davis - Latvia's Little Hawk
Almost ready. An excellent photo showing the I-16 nearing completion. Many structural details are readily apparent. A VEF I-12 is in the foreground.
Another view of the I-16 during engine run-up. The aircraft was coded эAW+10' for Luftwaffe service. All Latvian aircraft used or tested by the Luftwaffe were coded with an ‘AW’ suffix. Note the trailing edge tailplane fillet, the rudder control rod fairing and the non-skid step panel on the mainplane.
An excellent idea of what an opponent would see of the nasty end of the I-16. The aircraft is undergoing engine warm-up.
A rare picture of the I-16 just after its roll-out. This photo was taken prior to the commencement of flight testing with the aircraft in Latvian markings. Note the Latvian Ugunskrusts on the fuselage and wings and the lack of the aircraft’s canopy.
VEF I-16 undergoing preflight while under Nazi ‘ownership’. Note the orange Luftwaffe fuel octane triangle just aft of the exhaust stacks. Test pilot K Mikelsons is seen at far right.
The I-16 warming up its Walter Sagitta engine prior to a Luftwaffe-sponsored test flight with K Mikelsons at the controls. Note the VEF company logo, designed by the I-16’s designer Karlis Irbitis, aft of the engine cooling air exhaust gill.
Another view of the I-16 showing the aircraft in its Luftwaffe colours. Note the pitot tube under the port wing. The elegant gear spats reveal the attention paid to streamlining.
The V.E.F. I-16 light fighter, which flew in Latvian and Soviet markings as well as the German markings shown here. Pictures of the aircraft in Latvian colours are rare. Note the elliptical clear vision panels in the canopy and the VEF logo forward of the fuel triangle.
Designer and Pilot, Karlis Irbitis gives some last minute advice to K Mikelsons (in cockpit). An excellent view of the canopy and some cockpit details.
The I-16 prior to first flight; Scheme as adopted for the first flight, Spring 1940; Colour scheme during flight testing under Soviet occupation, Spring 1940; Under Luftwaffe control, circa 1940.
Valsts Elektrotechniska Fabrika Irbitis I-16 lightweight fighter, circa 1939