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Tupolev I-4 (ANT-5)


Biplane Fighter Aircraft


Total production of the Soviet inter-war Tupolev I-4 biplane fighter was 369 units.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 6/1/2017
Long before the Russian concern of Tupolev OKB was developing famous Soviet Cold War bombers, it tried its hand at fighter design in the I-4 (ANT-5) biplane fighter of 1928. The type became the first Soviet all-metal fighter and was produced in the hundreds during the inter-war period. A handful of variants greeted the service career of this oft-forgotten warplane. Design of the fighter is attributed to Pavel Sukhoi.

Apart from its all-metal design, the I-4 exhibited traditional physical qualities consistent with the inter-period. The single pilot sat in an open-air cockpit behind the upper wing assembly. The upper and lower components were joined to one another by V-type struts. The lower assembly was also shorter in span making the biplane wing arrangement "sesquiplane". The undercarriage, wheeled at the two main legs under center mass, with a skid added under the tail for ground running. The tail unit was conventional with a single fin and low-set horizontal planes.

Engineers elected for the French Gnome-Rhone "Jupiter" 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine of 420 horsepower and this was installed in the nose section. The engine drove a two-bladed propeller which held a large-diameter spinner at its center for aerodynamic efficiency.


Proposed armament had become 2 x 7.62mm machine guns synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades. Provision was added later during testing for rockets to be carried along the upper wing - increasing the fighter's attack value.

A first-flight (in prototype form as the "ANT-5") was recorded during August of 1927. This led to some revisions in the design including a new cowling and reworked tail unit. The ANT-5 then entered service as the "I-4".

Performance-wise, the I-4 netted a maximum speed of 160 miles per hour, a range out to 525 miles and a service ceiling up to 25,100 feet. Rate-of-climb was 1,820 feet-per-minute. Empty weight was 2,155lb with a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 3,155lb.

A revised first-series model appeared with the Mikulin M-22 engine (a license-built copy of the Gnome-Rhone "Jupiter" 9ASB) of 460-480 horsepower. The "I-4Z" then followed and this version introduced smaller lower wings. Having the lower wings completely removed - therefore becoming a true monoplane - the aircraft was revised in the "I-4bis" developmental form. The "I-4P" became a converted floatplane derivative.

A total of 369 I-4 fighters were completed into 1934 and the last of the lot was retired from frontline commitments back in 1933 - though the I-4 went on to serve for a time longer as an instructional vehicle. The I-4 series was also briefly trialed as a "parasite fighter" in experiments of the 1930s (that also included the firing of the 76mm Kurchevski recoilless gun from the aircraft), coupled to the new Tupolev TB-1/TB-3 bomber series mothership (detailed elsewhere on this site).






Specifications



Year:
1928
Crew
1
[ 369 Units ] :
Tupolev OKB - Soviet Union
National flag of Soviet Union Soviet Union
- Fighter
Length:
23.79 ft (7.25 m)
Width/Span:
37.47 ft (11.42 m)
Height:
9.25 ft (2.82 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Tupolev I-4 production model)
Empty Weight:
2,161 lb (980 kg)
MTOW:
3,153 lb (1,430 kg)
(Diff: +992lb)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Tupolev I-4 production model)
1 x Mikulin M-22 (Bristol Jupiter) air-cooled radial piston engine developing 460 horsepower and driving a two-bladed propeller at the nose.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Tupolev I-4 production model)
Maximum Speed:
160 mph (257 kph; 139 kts)
Service Ceiling:
25,115 feet (7,655 m; 4.76 miles)
Maximum Range:
522 miles (840 km; 454 nm)
Rate-of-Climb:
1,820 ft/min (555 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Tupolev I-4 production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
STANDARD:
2 x 7.62mm machine guns fitted over the nose and synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.

OPTIONAL:
Rockets fitted on rails at the upper wing assembly.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Tupolev I-4 production model)
I-4 - Base Series Designation; initial production model.
ANT 5 - Developmental designation.
I-4Z - Reduced span lower wing element.
I-4bis - Monoplane-winged form (sans lower wing span).
I-4P - Floatplane/seaplane derivative.

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