National Guard Air

VEF IRBITIS I-12


Irbitis I-12 #17 Irbitis I-12 Irbitis I-12 Irbitis I-12 Irbitis I-12

Irbitis I-12 #17 Irbitis I-12 #17 Irbitis I-12 #27 Irbitis I-12 Irbitis I-12

Aizsargu Irbitis I-12 Aizsargu Irbitis I-12 Irbitis I-12 I-12 at Helsinki Air Expo I-12 at Helsinki Air Expo

Irbitis I-12 Irbitis I-12 I-12


Source: VEF Riga

Acquired: 1938

Type: 1-seat and 2-seat variants, trainers

Engine: 90 hp Cirrus Minor, 4-cylinder in-line

Dimensions
Length: 7.10 m
Wing Span: 9.30 m
Height: 1.90 m
Max Speed: 230 km/hr

Range: 800 km

Maximum Ceiling: 4,000 m

Known Serial Numbers: 17, 27, 37, 47

Notes

  • 1936, November - Karlis Irbitis begins work on his I-12.
  • 1937, June 26 - Irbitis completes the prototype of the I-12, first flight takes place at Spilve.
  • 1937, July 15 - Bandenieks and Berzins take the I-12 to Paris for demonstration flights.
  • 1937, July 30 - Aug.1 - Bandenieks enters the I-12 in a "flight around France" contest and wins the 2-seater class.
  • 1937, Aug.21 - Bandenieks enters the I-12 in the Thanet Air Races at Ramsgate, England, placing 5th.
  • 1937, Aug.29 - Bandenieks enters the I-12 in the Wakefield Pocal, an international handicap race, at Lympne airfield in England. He finished 2nd to a Klemm KL-35 being flown by an experienced race pilot.
  • 1937 - In response to the success of the I-12, VEF officially establishes an aircraft branch in its mechanical section and sets about building a series of ten I-12s.
  • 1938, July - Philip d.W. Avery flies the original I-12 nonstop from London to Riga in 9 hrs and 5 minutes, breaking the previous record by an hour and 40 minutes.
  • 1938, Sept.30 - four I-12s for the AA are delivered.
  • 1938, October 30 - A VEF I-12 is destroyed in Gailitis' fatal crash at Spilve.
  • 1939, January - VEF delivers their sixth I-12 to the AA.
  • Each I-12 cost the Aizsargi 17,500 Lati.
  • I-12 YL-ABS is flown to England. As it is receiving airworthiness certification, war breaks out and it is parked in a warehouse. Its subsequent fate is unknown.
  • #17
    Irbitis I-12 #17 Irbitis I-12 #17 Irbitis I-12 #17
    • Turned over to the Aizsargu Aviacija by eary 1938.
    • 1938, May 14-22 - International Aircraft Exhibition in Helsinki, with VEF I-12 YL-ABO prominently on display. Two other I-12s (#17 and #27, built for the AA) attend to serve as demonstrators. On May 17 AA pilot Karlis Lesinskis, with a Finnish pilot on board, is demonstrating I-12 # 17 when it spins at an altitude of approx 200 metres, striking the ground and killing both pilots. It is unknown which pilot was at the controls at the time of the crash.
  • #27
    Irbitis I-12 #27
    • Turned over to the Aizsargu Aviacija by eary 1938 and assigned to their 2nd Squadron.
    • May 14-22, 1938 - is sent to the International Aircraft Exhibition in Helsinki to serve as a demonstrator model.
    • October 1, 1938 - appeared (piloted by Bandinieks and Kalnins) in the "Flight Around Latvia" competition
    • Survived until the Soviet occupation (1940).
  • #37
    • Turned over to the Aizsargu Aviacija by eary 1938 and assigned to their 3rd Squadron.
    • 1938, October 1 - Rudzitis and Makars, flying VEF I-12 #37 in the "Flight Around Latvia" competition, suffered a broken tail skid when landing at Jelgava. The aircraft was able to continue in the competition, but repairs had to be made overnight and he caught up with the other aviators the following morning.
    • Survived until the Soviet occupation (1940).
  • #47
    • Turned over to the Aizsargu Aviacija by eary 1938 and assigned to their 4th Squadron.
    • Was equipped with a gun camera for use in training flights.
    • Survived until the Soviet occupation (1940).
  • YL-ABG
    • The first prototype, it did not receive a military serial number.
    • Completed in June, 1937, and test flown on June 26, 1937.
    • Passed its airworthiness tests on July 8, 1937 and was issued a civil registration number.
    • June - July, 1938 - in single-seater mode, used by British aviator Avery to compete in the Isle of Man aviation competition. Returned to Latvia in July 1938.
    • 1939-1940 - maintained by VEF as a test bed aircraft. Survived until the Soviet occupation (1940).
  • YL-ABN
    YL-ABN SE-ALB SE-ALB SE-ALB
    • Described as the second prototype, but actually produced after the production models were already underway. Did not receive a military serial number.
    • Completed, test flown, and registered in April 1938.
    • 1938 - flown to Switzerland, where it was registered as HB-EPO
    • 1942 - 1952 - registered in Sweden as SE-ALB.
  • YL-ABO
    YL-ABO - A.Vercamer profile I-12 at Helsinki Air Expo I-12 at Helsinki Air Expo
    • Appeared (as a static display) at the Helsinki Air Exposition May 14 - 22, 1938.
    • Survived, in Latvia, at least until the Soviet Occupation in 1940.
  • YL-ABQ
    YL-ABQ
    • Believed to be the aircraft which Gailitis crashed on Oct.30, 1938. As such, it would have also carried an Aizsargu Aviacijas serial number, but this cannot be confirmed.
  • YL-ABR
    • Survived, in Latvia, at least until the Soviet Occupation in 1940.
  • YL-ABS
    YL-ABS
    • Avery flew this aircraft to England in 1939 where, when war broke out, it remained.
  • YL-ABT
    • Turned over to the Aviation Regiment in January 1939, where it was heavily exploited in the pilot training program.
  • YL-ABU
    • Taken to Moscow after the Soviet Occupation in 1940.




Juris Grinbergs' I-12 Project

Sources

  • Briedis, Emils Latviesa Stasts
  • Bruvelis, Edvins Latvijas Aviacijas Vesture
  • Andersons, Edgars Latvijas Brunotie Speki Un To Prieksvesture
  • Humberstone (ed) Latvian Air Force 1918 - 1940
  • Irbitis, Karlis Of Struggle and Flight
  • VEF I-12 - Onnettomuuden Surkea Tutkinta by Jukka Raunio in Suomen Ilmailuhistoriallinen Lehti, 1996 No.3
  • Sparnota Latvija

Profile courtesy of Arvo Vercamer
Additional research material courtesy of M.Bukhman and E.Bruvelis.

LATVIANAVIATION.COM contents copyright © 2017 Gunārs Zūlis and heirs. All Rights Reserved.
Contributors of individual materials retain all rights to their collections and creative works.
LATVIANAVIATION.COM is a LATVIANS.COM project.

Design and hosting by [Clear-and-Simple] · Chicago · New York