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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 suicidal!

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 seat.

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.
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Bereznyak-Isayev BI
Bereznyak-Isayev BI
Bereznyak-Isayev BI

Bereznyak-Isayev BI
Bereznyak-Isayev BI
Bereznyak-Isayev BI
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