Note - This is NOT the same aircraft what is USSRs I-16
Race to design a lightweight fighter aircraft began in Latvia in 1938, starting with VEF I-15a and VEF I-15b. The main designer was Kārlis Irbītis - head of the design office of the aviation division of the VEF (Valsts Elektrotehniskā Fabrika), which was electro-technical factory in Riga.
Design work of the VEF I-16 began in late 1938. The aircraft was a single-seat, low wing monoplane with fixed undercarriage. The landing gear was covered in streamlined fairings, and a retractable gear design was to be incorporated on a later model. The I-16 was comprised of a wooden structure covered in plywood and had fabric-covered control surfaces. Each wing accommodated a 10.6 gallon (40 L) fuel tank, and a single fuel tank in the fuselage held 58.1 gallons (220 L). The I-16 had two 7.7 mm machine guns mounted in the upper cowling in front of the cockpit. The aircraft was the only monoplane fighter designed and built in Latvia. Construction on the I-16 continued through 1939, and the aircraft made its first flight in the spring of 1940 at Riga, Latvia. The pilot for the first flight was Konstantīns Reichmanis, and the I-16’s engine quit after about 20 minutes of flight time. Reichmanis managed to get the aircraft back on the ground without any damage. Poor fuel distribution was thought to have caused the engine trouble, as similar issues had been encountered during ground runs. Reichmanis praised the aircraft’s handling during his short flight. Changes were made to the I-16’s fuel system, and a few more flights were accomplished before testing was halted by the Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940.
The Soviets expressed some interest in the VEF aircraft, and the I-15a, I-15b, and other aircraft were shipped to the Soviet Union in March 1941. The I-16 remained in Latvia to resolve the fuel distribution issues. Before the I-16 could be sent to Russia, the Germans attacked the Soviets and took over Latvia in June 1941, the I-16 managed to make several test flights from an aerodrome in Kalnciems but soon the single example was captured by German forces and tested by the Luftwaffe. The VEF I-16 was used as training aircraft at an aviation school in Toruń until 1942 with the identification code AW+10.
Max speed: 483 km/h at 7900 m; 460 km/h at 4000 m; 400 km/h at sea level.
Max altitude: 8100 m
Rate of climb: 11.1 m/s
Engine: 1x Walter Sagitta I-SR, 540 hp WEP (403 kW), 520 hp 100% (388 kW) at 3800 m, 535 hp 100 % at 4000 m
Cruising speed: 350 km/h
Survivability and armor:
VEF I-16 has no armor protection, it was made from wood and plywood.
The I-16’s wingspan was 26 ft 11 in (8.23 m); its length was 23 ft 11 in (7.3 m); and its height was 8 ft 10 in (2.7 m). Weight was 1100 kg and combat weight was 1540 kg.
Coloration: In book by Kārlis Irbītis “Of Struggle and Flight” it is claimed, that VEF I-16 was painted in aluminium bronze - an unusal color description.
An interesting design feature (for Irbitis) was to design the cockpit seat and controls as one unit - they could be assembled totally separately from the rest of the aircraft and then installed as a unit with only six bolts.
2x 7.7 mm Browning MG (2 x 330 rounds)
It was possible to attach one more gun under each wing:
2x 7.7 mm machine gun or 2x 20 mm cannon or 2x30 mm cannon (Probably in gun pods)
The sleek I-16 aircraft resembled similar light fighters developed in France (Caudron) and Italy (Ambrosini) during the same period. Note the streamlined fairings covering the gear.
The VEF I-16 was a continuation of Kārlis Irbītis’ light, sleek monoplane design. The aircraft was the only monoplane fighter designed and built in Latvia.
[Colored Picture] The completed I-16 with German markings during an engine runup in 1941. The two intake scoops for the engine are visible on the top of the cowling, with the left gun port immediately below.
Additional Pictures with no additional info:
What do you think about this aircraft?
I think it would be possible to be put in German Tech tree as low BR event or premium aircraft, because it was used by German forces till 1942.