Polikarpov TIS Story

The name Polikarpov has long been known for the rugged open-air cockpit fighters that served the Soviet Union and other countries during the 1930s and 1940s. In addition to these well-known and recognizable entries, the company managed a number of other products, starting with the I-1 monoplane in 1923 (described in detail elsewhere on this site). In the fall of 1938, as World War II loomed, Soviet authorities created new requirements for a "heavy escort fighter", requiring a two-person crew, excellent armament, and strong performance figures.

Polikarpov OKB responded with the company's rare twin-engine product - the Polikarpov "TIS" ("Tyazhely Istrebitel Soprovozhdeniya").

Engineers opted for a modern monoplane wing configuration with all-metal construction, powered by 2 Mikulin AM-37 series engines, each producing 1,400 hp. The two crew members will sit back to back in the forward cockpit amidships.

Each wing has an engine nacelle, and each engine drives a three-bladed propeller mounted on a large spinner. The tail adopts a split rudder configuration, and the landing gear adopts a "trailer" arrangement.

In terms of armament, 2 x 20mm cannons are attached to 4 x 7.62mm machine guns (the former is mounted on the root of the wing, the latter is mounted on the nose). The rear of the aircraft will be defended by a back-mounted 7.62mm trainable machine gun and a belly-mounted 7.62mm trainable machine gun.

The latter two guns will be managed by the second crew member to protect the vital "six" of the aircraft from intercepting enemy aircraft.

"Samolet A" is used to denote the first prototype completed by Polikarpov. The first flight took place in September 1941, but the German invasion of the Soviet Union (through Operation Barbarossa, which began in June 1941) pushed much of the existing Soviet military industry eastward. This meant that the Polikarpov program itself was delayed as the Novosibirsk facility was restored. When the move was complete, it was already June 1944 and the second prototype - the "Samolet MA" - finally flew.

The Mikulin AM-38 1,665 hp engine was installed on this aircraft instead of the expected AM-39 (1,700 hp) engine, as they were not supplied.

The revised prototype is also equipped with brand new weapons to better meet the revised Soviet doctrine of operations, now based on years of battles with the Axis powers. The 2 x 20mm cannons were replaced by 2 x 37mm automatic cannons, and the 4 x 7.62mm machine guns were replaced by 2 x 12.7mm machine guns.

This gave the aircraft an even more terrifying "thump" when attacking German fighter/bombers or shelling columns and enemy positions.

The Salomet MA began flight testing in July 1944, but its founder Nikolai Polikarpov died of stomach cancer and development was terminated after his company was merged into Lavochkin OKB. By this time, aircraft like the competing Ilyushin IL-2 were already available as heavy fighter jets and ground attack platforms, and proved little to no need to fund and advance Polikarpov's still-developing TIS program.

This ended its days of flying, with only two prototypes completed.

Polikarpov TIS Specification

Basic

Year:
1944
Staff:
2

Production

[2 units] :
Polikarpov OKB - USSR

Roles

- Fighter

- X-Plane / Development

Dimensions

Length:

11.7m

Width:

50.85 ft (15.5 m)

Height:

14.27 ft (4.35 m)

Weight

Curb Weight:

5,800 kg

MTOW:

7,840 kg

(difference: +4,497 pt)

Performance

2 x Mikulin AM-37 V12 liquid-cooled inline piston engines, each producing 1,400 hp and driving a three-bladed propeller.

Performance

Maximum Speed:

345 mph (555 km/h; 300 knots)

Service Limit:

33,629 ft (10,250 m; 6.37 mi)

Maximum range:

1,069 miles (1,720 km; 929 nautical miles)

Rate of climb:

686 m/min (2,250 ft/min)

Armor

Original:

2 x 20mm ShVAK cannons at the wing root

4 x 7.62mm ShKAS machine guns in the nose

1 x 7.62mm ShKAS machine gun in rear inverted position.

1 x 7.62mm ShKAS machine gun, back supine.

Revision:

2 x 37mm guns

2 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns

Changes

TIS - Base Series Name

Samolet A - first prototype with 1,400 hp Mikulin Am-37 engine; armed with 2 x 20 mm cannons and 4 7.62 mm machine guns; 2 x 7.62 mm machine guns mounted on trainable bases for local use defense.

Samolet MA - Second prototype with Mikulin AM-38 engine rated at 1,665 hp; modified 2 x 37 mm guns and 2 x 12.7 mm HMG.

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