> Strange Vehicles > Bereznyak-Isayev BI
Flying a fighter aircraft during World War 2 was an extremely
dangerous profession by anyone's standards.
Flying an experimental, rocket-powered, Soviet-built,
wooden and fabric constructed fighter aircraft was practically
The Bereznyak-Isayev BI-1 was the brainchild of Aleksandr
Bereznyak and Aleksei Isayev. The idea was proposed in
July of 1941, and by September of the same year the first
unpowered glider flight was undertaken.
Because of the rapid German advance through Soviet territory,
the factory building the BI-1 had to be relocated further
to the east. This delay meant that the first powered flight
didn't take place until May 15th 1942. On landing the
undercarriage was damaged.
The third Bereznyak-Isayev BI-1 prototype crashed on its
seventh flight, sadly killing fighter ace Captain Grigory
Bakhchivandzhi when it pitched down sharply during a high-speed
run. Backchivadzhi was posthumously awarded Hero of the
Soviet Union. During an investigation into the accident,
the engineers concluded that the aircraft had become unstable
at transonic speeds.
Bakhchivandzhi had been in two other accidents during
the development of the BI. He was the pilot during the
first flight which crash landed. And during a grounded
engine test in 1942, the engine exploded. In the explosion,
the engine head was catapulted into the back of the pilot's
seat, knocking Bakhchivandzhi against the instrument panel
and injuring him slightly. To protect the pilot in the
future, a 5.5 mm steel plate was fixed to the back of
The sixth Bereznyak-Isayev BI prototype was fitted with
wingtip ramjets in an effort to extend the rather pathetic
15 minutes of powered flight. They didn't help much and
proved difficult to start.
Only seven Bereznyak-Isayev BI prototypes were completed,
although 50 were scheduled to be built. Each one of the
seven prototypes had its own issues, and the engineers
were constantly having problems with both the liquid-fueled
rockets and the stability of the aircraft itself. Additionally
the aircraft were corroded by the very fuel which was
designed to power them! The red fuming nitric acid would
eat away at the fuel tanks and the aircraft's fabric skin.
Both BI-1 and BI-7 were scrapped due to excessive corrosion.
In the end the Bereznyak-Isayev BI project was abandoned,
and it became yet another dead-end experimental aircraft
- with the emphasis on mental.