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Polikarpov I-16 Type 24 – Safanov, 72 Sap, Soviet Air Force, Kola Peninsular 1941

Availability:

1 in stock

£16.99

1 in stock

PIXJ018 1/72 scale model from IXO: Polikarpov I-16 Type 24 -in Soviet Air Force livery, as flown by Colonel Boris Safanov of the 72 Sap, based in the Kola Peninsular in 1941. Perfect accompaniment to the Corgi range of 1/72 WW2 fighters. Has to be seen to be appreciated. Complete with optional undercarriage positions and stand in a resealable box.

Length 3.25 inches Wingspan 4.75 inches

When the Germans invaded in 1941 Safonov commanded a squadron of the 72nd Mixed Aviation Regiment. The commander took it upon himself to personally participate in each and every squadron combat mission. At the beginning of hostilities the pilots of the 72nd were flying the already outclassed I-16s; Safonov completed 109 combat sorties and shot down 17 enemy planes while flying the I-16. On the sides of his plane Boris wrote “ZA STALINA!” (For Stalin!) and “SMERT’ FASHISTAM!” (Death to Fascists!). One of the planes Safonov flew is on display in Leningrad NAVY Museum.
On the evening of June 24th, 1941, Safonov took off in his I-16 to intercept a Ju-88 recon flight, and after a long chase shot it down. It was the first plane shot down by the pilots of the Northern Fleet (VVS-SF). On June 27th Safonov scored a second victory; this time his prey was a lone Hs-126.
On July 7th, 1941, Safonov led a flight of nine 16s, providing air cover for the naval base at Polyarnoe. There they met a group of Ju-87’s escorted by Bf-109 Bf-109 fighters. Soviet pilots attacked the dive-bombers, shooting down four of them. After chasing the remaining planes and downing three more, all the pilots returned to base.
On July 14th, Safonov received his first Order of the Red Banner. By August 28th he had completed 130 combat sorties, participated in 32 air battles, and personally shot down 11 planes. In August alone he shot down five planes in five consecutive days. On September 15th, 1941, seven fighters under Safonov’s command engaged the enemy; altough they were outnumbered by almost 8-1, the Soviets pilots destroyed 13 enemy aircraft while sustaining no losses. In this encounter Safonov personally downed three planes.
On the evening of June 24th, 1941, Safonov took off in his I-16 to intercept a Ju-88 recon flight, and after a long chase shot it down. It was the first plane shot down by the pilots of the Northern Fleet (VVS-SF). On June 27th Safonov scored a second victory; this time his prey was a lone Hs-126.

On July 7th, 1941, Safonov led a flight of nine 16s, providing air cover for the naval base at Polyarnoe. There they met a group of Ju-87’s escorted by Bf-109 Bf-109 fighters. Soviet pilots attacked the dive-bombers, shooting down four of them. After chasing the remaining planes and downing three more, all the pilots returned to base.
On July 14th, Safonov received his first Order of the Red Banner. By August 28th he had completed 130 combat sorties, participated in 32 air battles, and personally shot down 11 planes. In August alone he shot down five planes in five consecutive days. On September 15th, 1941, seven fighters under Safonov’s command engaged the enemy; altough they were outnumbered by almost 8-1, the Soviets pilots destroyed 13 enemy aircraft while sustaining no losses. In this encounter Safonov personally downed three planes.
He soon became famous beyond the Northern Fleet, but always remained a modest man; he never talked about his victories, and always praised the merits of his comrades-in-arms. Often Safonov taught the young pilots directly in the midst of the battle. As a rule, he would shoot the enemy plane on the first pass. But flying with an inexperienced pilot, Safonov strived to cripple the enemy and then let the partner to take the initiative.
For example, on December 31, 1941 a flight consisting of Major Safonov and Junior Lieutenant Reutov shot down an He-111 bomber (1st Group of 26th Eskadra, # 4357, tactical number 1H+BH). The crew was taken prisoner. That day Safonov had picked Dmitri Reutov as his partner, and they took off to intercept the enemy recon He-111. They found and attacked it; Dmitri was the first to open fire, but his bursts went amiss. Then Safonov slid forward and, moving slightly left and right, fixed himself behind the bomber tail in the unshelled sector. He took careful aim and fired a short burst into the gunner’s cockpit. The machine-gun stopped firing and then the barrel pointed upward and stopped moving. After firing another short burst into the gunner’s nest just to be sure, Safonov then hit the left engine, which immediately caught fire.
The German pilot was unable to extinguish the fire, and thick black smoke soon stretched behind the aircraft. Safonov pulled away from the bomber and took position on Reutov’s wing. Reutov approached the smoking plane and shot at the right engine, setting it on fire. The recon plane flipped and went down almost vertically. After landing, Safonov ordered credit for the downed planed assigned to his wingman. How many such orders were given is known to Safonov’s men only….
In the fall of 1941, Safonov downed a famous German ace in a difficult duel. Aircraft of the 72nd regiment were routinely attacked by German planes; one of the most noticeable was Bf-109 that received the nickname “Redhead”. The German plane had a big red-haired dog with a red star plane in its teeth painted on its fuselage. The German ace was very impudent, but avoided open combat. When avoiding combat became impossible he would use clever maneuvers to disengage and break away from pursuit. Safonov was annoyed that he had not met the insolent fellow in the air, but one day the opportunity presented itself. Returning from a mission, Safonov encountered the “Redhead” and forced him to engage. From the start it became clear that the enemy was a very experienced pilot, positioning himself for the attack by using complicated maneuvers. But a couple of minutes later the ace was put in a difficult situation – Safonov was getting on top of him. Finally, a Soviet fighter got on te 109’s six just as the enemy pilot pulled up trying to break away. But Safonov stayed after him and waited for the right moment to strike. And the right moment came. When the German pilot inverted in an attempt to get behind Safonov’s plane, Boris fired off a precise burst. The Bf-109 caught fire and fell toward the earth, leaving behind a trail of black smoke. The pilot managed to bailout and landed at a Soviet AAA battery position. The prisoner turned out to be Willy Frenger, a hardened ace with over 900 combat sorties and 36 planes shot down over English Channel under his belt. While being taken prisoner, he tore two Iron Cross medals, one of them in gold setting, off his uniform…
In September of 1941 a group of British fighter planes landed at Safonov’s squadron base, Hurricanes based on an aircraft carrier. Their task was to reinforce fighter cover over supply convoys. The group, led by a Colonel Sherwood, received the code name “Benedict”. British pilots presented two machines to the 72SAP pilots. In return, High Command presented I-16’s and “Chaikas” (I-153). Safonov was the first of the Northern Fleet to try the new plane; over the next several days, pilots from the squadron familiarized themselves with “Hurricanes”.
British pilots performed missions jointly with Northern Fleet pilots, scoring 15 air kills. Captain Rook and Sergeant G. Haw shot down three planes each. The Soviet Government gave a high mark to the accomplishment of the British pilots; five of them received the Order of Lenin. One of the decorated pilots, Charleston Haw, upon his return to England named Boris Safonov “the greatest pilot of his time”
Soon after the regiment received another group of “Hurricanes”. The machines were not new, as their engines were worn out and they lacked air filters. The lack of filters manifested itself in the spring, when airfields were free of snow and sand and dust became a disaster for the “Hurricanes”. By the end of May around 50 planes were grounded expecting to be repaired.
On Safonov’s initiative, the British planes were fitted with new weapons. First, four large caliber machine-guns were installed, and on February 27th, 1942 Alexander Kukharenko (Safonov was in the hospital after his appendix was removed) flew the up-gunned plane. This was just the beginning. Soon Safonov decided to replace two machine-guns with two ShVAK cannons, then installed railings for unguided rockets.
The American P40E “Kittyhawks” which the regiment received as well were not much better. These machines were well armed and had good radios, but were completely unsuited for winter conditions. The engine reliability was a cause of great concern too. These engines often failed under the harsh flying regimens. Pilots jokingly called their planes “The miracles among the gliders”.
In October of 1941, Boris Safonov became the commanding officer of 78th Fighter Air Regiment. He demonstrated excellent organizational skills and the ability to teach and train his subordinates, and was promoted to the rank of Major while at the same time increasing his personal score of downed planes. On December 22nd, 1941, he was decorated with his second Order of the Red Banner, and with his third on January 22nd, 1942. On March 19th, 1942, Boris Safonov was among five Soviet pilots who received England’s highest decoration for airmen, the Distinguished Flying Cross.
In the latter half of March 1942 Lieutenant-Colonel Safonov was appointed as Commander of 2nd Guards Mixed Air Regiment. As a result of his command duties, his flying time was cut down considerably. At the end of March he was able to participate in an air battle, and became victorious once more by personally shooting down two Bf-109s.
On April 11th, 1942, another aerial battle took place 70 kilometers north of Murmansk. Six MiG-3s attacked a group of Ju-88s, which were escorted by six Bf-109s. In this engagement, Soviet pilots shot down two fighters, while Safonov downed a Ju-88.

On May 30th, 1942 Boris Safonov flew his 224th combat mission – his last. The mission was to provide fighter cover for an Allied convoy heading for Murmansk. While in the air, three Soviet pilots spotted six enemy bombers approaching the convoy. The Soviet pilots attacked immediately. Safonov shot down 2 planes, damaged the 3rd but was himself killed. By May of 1942, he was the first Soviet ace to destroy over 30 enemy aircraft personally and in group. Many sources differ on the exact quantity of the destroyed planes; the number ranges from 25 to 41. Admiral Golovko, the Northern Fleet commander in the Great Patriotic War provides following numbers: 25 personal and 14 in group (shared).
The cause of Safonov’s death is still a mystery. There are different versions; sudden attack by an enemy fighter, “Junkers” air gunner fire, and engine failure. The latter is considered to be the most probable, as the Kittyhawk engine was notorious for unreliability.
On June 16th of 1942 Safonov was awarded the second medal of the “Gold Star”. He was the first to receive the title of the “Hero of the Soviet Union” for a second time. His second decoration was was awarded to him while he was still alive, on May 27th of 1942, three days before his death. He also had been decorated with the Order of Lenin and three Orders of the Red Banner.
The combat merit of Boris Safonov is not only manifested in the enemy planes he destroyed. Under his guidance, dozens of Northern Fleet Air Force pilots matured and received solid combat experience; many later became Heroes of the Soviet Union themselves.

The Polikarpov I-16 was a Soviet fighter aircraft of revolutionary design; it was the world’s first low-wing cantilever monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear to have attained operational status and as such “introduced a new vogue in fighter design.” The I-16 was introduced in the mid-1930s and formed the backbone of the Soviet Air Force at the beginning of World War II. The diminutive fighter, nicknamed “Ishak” (“Donkey”) by Soviet pilots, prominently featured in the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Battle of Khalkhin Gol and the Spanish Civil War—where it was called the Rata (“Rat”) by the Nationalists or Mosca (“Fly”) by the Republicans. The Finnish nickname for I-16 was Siipiorava (“Flying Squirrel”).

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Weight 0.8 kg