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    IAR 80 / IAR 81 Fighter Aircraft

    Development of the serviceable IAR 80 was slow and, though the fighter was of a capable breed when it first appeared, the system was highly outclassed by 1944.

     Updated: 8/5/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    When first unveiled in 1938, the Romanian-produced I.A.R. 80 (IAR = Industria Aeronautica Romana) piston engine, single-seat fighter was a promising performer even when compared to her contemporaries. The aircraft served with the Royal Romanian Air Force and primarily appeared in two major variants designated simply as the IAR 80 and IAR 81. A total of 346 consisting of both aircraft types were known to be produced and the fighter pressed on into wartime service up to 1944, by which time it was all but made obsolescent by new and more powerful entries appearing on the global stage. The aircraft suffered throughout its production life due to a shortage of adequate armament to fit the design.

    The IAR 80 was born out of a 1930's Romanian fighter requirement. IAR was the only one of the three state-created aviation companies to answer the call locally, offering up several complete prototypes for review, while external providers were also considered. Though this original specification eventually netted the Polish company PZL the contract for its high-monoplane PZL P.11 series, IAR was clearly a player on the market. Future contracts were won by PZL over IAR's designs (PZL P.24) but IAR gained valuable knowledge by taking on license production of these Polish aircraft along with French designs as well.

    The IAR design team proceeded in its fighter efforts and began "taking apart" the winning PZL P.24 design. The IAR design now incorporated the tail section and front-end fuselage of the PZL design into its own aircraft. The high-monoplane wings of previous PZL production fighters was abandoned in favor of the more modern low-wing monoplane mounting, this wing component said to be taken straight from an Italian Savoia-Marchetti bomber design. In essence, the IAR 80 would be pieced together from various successful working designs and re-engineered into a more capable platform. Even the open cockpit approach of the PZL designs were retained for the prototype.

    By 1938, the first prototype was made available for flight, this aircraft sporting a IAR version of the French license-produced Gnome-Rhone 14K II Mistral Major engine - a powerplant brand that IAR had already achieved a good deal of experience constructing at their plant. Follow-up flights shown the IAR prototype to produce favorable results, particularly in the area of maneuverability, with a competently-arranged airframe to boot. The following year would be spent mostly on addressing several issues resulting from these test flights.

    The new-look IAR.80 emerged with a new C36 930 horsepower engine in an lengthened fuselage to accommodate the powerplant. This change forced the cockpit position a ways back in the design to which the pilot's seat had to be raised and a bubble canopy added to improve his forward vision - particularly while taxiing along the ground. Along with these changes, additional fuel was added in the newly created fuselage spaces effectively increasing the aircrafts original intended range. Armament was just 2 x FN/Browning 7.92mm machine guns (production models were to mount a full suite of 6 x 7.92mm machine guns, all in the wings - three to a wing). A competition of the IAR 80 versus the impressive Heinkel He 112 series was put forth with the IAR design coming out ahead. Production of the IAR 80 immediately followed with an initial order of 100 examples though these were delayed with the fall of Belgium, as Fabrique-Nationale was the intended armaments supplier for the IAR 80.

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    IAR 80A Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1941
    Type: Fighter Aircraft
    National Origin: Romania
    Manufacturer(s): Industria Aeronautica Romana (IAR) - Romania
    Production Total: 346

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 30.25 feet (9.22 meters)
    Width: 29.82 feet (9.09 meters)
    Height: 12.53 feet (3.82 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 3,565 lb (1,617 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 4,956 lb (2,248 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x IAR K14-1000A air-cooled, 14-cylinder double row, radial piston engine developing 1,025 horsepower.

    Maximum Speed: 308 mph (495 kph; 267 knots)
    Maximum Range: 715 miles (1,150 km)
    Service Ceiling: 31,168 feet (9,500 meters; 5.90 miles)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    4 x 7.92mm FN machine guns in wings

    Global Operators / Customers


    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    IAR 80 - Base Production Model; 4 x 7.92mm machine guns; 170 total IAR 80 examples produced.

    IAR 80A - 6 x 7.92mm machine guns; new gun sight; improved armor protection for the pilot.

    IAR 80B - Lengthened Wings; improved radio equipment; provision for underwing bombs or fuel tanks; 13.2mm machine guns.

    IAR 80M - Redesignated IAR 80A models to IAR 80C weapons standard of 4 x 7.92mm machine guns and 2 x 20mm cannons.

    IAR 80DC - Two-Seat Trainer Conversion Model

    IAR 81 - Fighter-Bomber Model; 176 IAR 81 examples produced.

    IAR 81A - Fighter Model; 13.2mm machine guns

    IAR 81B - Redesigned wings to incorporate MG FF/M cannons; self-sealing fuel tanks and improved armor protection for the pilot.

    IAR 81C - Fitted with Mauser MG 151/20 guns

    IAR 81M - Redesignated IAR 80B models to IAR 80C weapons standard of 4 x 7.92mm machine guns and 2 x 20mm cannons.