Ikarus IK-2

kingdom of yugoslavia flag Yugoslavia (1935)
Fighter Plane – 12 Built

The Ikarus IK-2 was the first all metal, high wing monoplane fighter built designed and built in Yugoslavia, for the Royal Yugoslavian Air Force. The transition from biplane to monoplane gives this high-wing fighter a distinctive appearance, not unlike a gull in flight. The Ikarus’ powerful engine and impressive armament paved the way for Yugoslavia’s later advanced monoplane, the IK-3. Its performance in key areas gave it an advantage over the Hawker Fury. The IK-2 saw combat against Germany’s advances in the early 1940’s.

History

At the beginning of the 1930s, the Yugoslav Air Force was mainly equipped with the old  (Czech) Avia BH-33 biplane fighters built by “Ikarus” under license. During the second half of the thirties and early forties the company “Ikarus” designed and later produced the first Yugoslav all-metal, high wing, monoplane fighter aircraft named IK-2. The IK-2 was constructed by a team led by engineers Ljubomir Ilić and Kosta Sivčevićem.

The first prototype was named IK-1L. The capital “I” is for Ilić “K” for Kosta, the “L” was for fighter, Ловац-Serb. (on some sources it was mark as IK-L1) The prototype was completed in 1934, and was ready for its first flight testing by April 1935. It had a Hispano-Suiza 860 hp engine, and it was planned be armed with a 20mm cannon, and two Darn type machine guns caliber 7.7mm.

The wing was braced with two struts on each side of the fuselage, the fixed and conventional landing gear was spatted and mounted off the wing struts. The half glazed cockpit was located behind the wing. The horizontal stabilizer on each side was braced from below with two rigid braces from the lower tailcone, and tied from above with two flying wires from the vertical stabilizer.

IK-1L had a difficult start, due to a disagreement between the manufacturer and military top brass, but also by individual pilots like Captain Leonid Bajdak who was a great supporter of biplane aircraft. Unfortunate for the constructors a decision was made, that Leonid Bajdak would be the first test pilot for the IK-1L to determine if the plane had the potential for further development and eventual production. The first test flight was conducted on 22 April 1935 at Zemun airfield near Belgrade. In these tests, which were scheduled for several days, a light fuel load was used and the plane was not equipped with any weapons.

A crashed IK-2

The following day, Bajdak put the IK-1L into several aerobatic maneuvers, and at that time there were no major problems. But during the third test flight there was an accident in which Bajdak made several unplanned aerobatics and in one of them he failed to cope with the loss of power and was forced to bail out with a parachute, while the IK-1 crashed to the ground. Although he insisted the plane was unsuitable as a fighter plane, a detailed analysis of the incident revealed that the accident was a consequence of poor build quality. Despite the opposition of some pilots, including Bajka, Ikarus company decided to build a second prototype with more reinforced wings construction and  with much better assembly.

Second prototype got the name IK-02 (or simply IK-2 depending on the source) and it took about ten months to be built and was completed in June 1936. The main difference from the IK-1L was that the IK-02 had wings covered with metal sheeting, leaving only the rear fuselage and tailplane fabric covered. Other changes were a radiator of reduced size and improved shape, and modified air intakes, making for a more streamlined fuselage. This prototype was armed with one 20mm cannon, and two machine guns mounted above the engine. Machine guns were initially Darn type caliber 7,7mm but were replaced with the new Browning 7,92mm.

After several tests flights, there were some minor changes, like the new improved cockpit layout. IK-02 also participated in several mock (16 to some sources) dogfights against Hawker Fury biplane which was already part of the Yugoslav Air Force. In this mock dogfights IK-2 showed complete superiority in all respects over the biplane.

The interesting fact during this tests flights, there was a fierce discussion between two pilots of the “old school” Captain Leonid Bajdak and the  new test pilot 1st Lieutenant Janko Dobnikar, that resulted in a “fly duel”, IK-02 vs. the Hawker Fury. The conditions of the duel were:

  • Taking off and climbing up to 4000m above sea level, at Zumen Airfield,
  • Race on the route Belgrade-Novi Sad-Belgrade (some 140 km)
  • A mock dogfight above Belgrade.

The first two rounds were easy victory for the IK-02. The final round was a spectacular aerial battle over the Capital Belgrade. Despite his experience, Bajdak simply could not put his Fury in position behind the IK-02, while Dobnikar once was in position of the Fury, he kept on his nose until the end. Bajdak had to end the fight and acknowledge defeat.

Unfortunately the fate of this plane was similar to the first one. It was lost in an air accident during June of 1940 when flying in bad weather and hit by lighting. The pilot managed to save himself with the parachute, but the plane was lost.

Since additional testing and postponing the start of production took a lot of time, only a small batch of 12 aircraft were built until 1939 six were delivered in December 1938 and six more in February 1939 by the Ikarus. But while still in series production this plane was obsolete, and the planned later production was dropped, but nevertheless they saw some use in the April war German invasion of Yugoslavia 6th -18th April 1941.

In Combat

Before the start of the German attack on the April 6th 1941, all available IK-2 fighters were located in the 2nd mixed Air Brigade, which consisted of the 4th Fighter Regiment and the 8th Bomber Regiment in total 20 Hurricanes, 8 IK-2s and 23 Blenheims were based in Bosanski Aleksandrovac, Bosnia. The primary mission of The 2nd mixed Air Brigade was to defend the territory of Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia from possible enemy attacks and to provide fighter support for the 8th Bomber Regiment.

On the first day of the war, The 2nd MAB only carried out scouting missions in the direction of Austria and there were few encounters with enemy planes without losses on either side. During the following days, performing their primary task, the 4th Fighter Regiment tried to stop a German air attack on the airport of Rovina near Banja Luka, at which the 8th Bomber Regiment was based. Some eight Hurricanes and six IK-2s attacked a group of 27 German Me-109s. Although it seemed that they did not have any chance, thanks to the knowledge of the hilly terrain and the cloudy weather they managed to surprise the German fighters. In the battle that followed, three Yugoslav and two German fighter planes were shot down. For this air battle, we could say that the Yugoslav fighter emerged as winners, because the primary goal of airport security and safety of the 8th Bomber Regiment was achieved.

The same day, these bombers were sent on to carry out bombing runs on the enemy territory of Hungary. Of 13 planes that had left the airport without the support of the fighters only 4 survived.

IK-2 belonging to the Royal Yugoslav Air Force

On April 9th, the Germans launched new air attacks on the 8th Bomber Regiment Aerodrome. At first only one IK-2 intercepted German aircraft. The lone IK-2 managed to get out of the fight with no damage. Soon almost all available Yugoslav fighters joined the battle Six IK-2s and eight Hurricanes in total 14 Yugoslav vs. 27 German aircraft. The battle was somewhat chaotic, Yugoslav fighters attacked individually or in pairs, while the Germans attacked larger groups. The battle lasted around 10 minutes, as the Me-109s were running out of fuel, they left the battle. Yugoslav losses were two Hurricanes and one IK-2. German losses are unknown, but it is estimated they sustained one or two losses.

After the 9th of April, because of the bad weather, there were very few flights. In the days that followed the 4th Fighter Regiment shot down one more German plane, a Ju-88. As German ground forces approached the airport on April 14 all planes were destroyed by the ground crew.

At the end of the April War, the Germans allocated three IK-2s to the Independent State of Croatia “NDH”. In order to equip existing aircraft with spare parts and fuel, and thus extend their operative use, Croatian Air Forces with German approval tried to collect as many military materials from airports and factories located in Serbia.

IK-2s were stationed in the 6th Air Group in Sarajevo by the end of 1941. Participation of these planes in the war was limited. By the 1944 they were removed from operational use, because of the lack of any spare parts, their final fate remains unknown.

Operators

  • Kingdom of Yugoslavia (Kraljevina Jugoslavija) – Eight were used during the April War.
  • Independent State of Croatia NDH (Nezavisna država Hrvatska) – Used few planes supplied by the Germans, their service was limited.

IK-2 Specifications

Wingspan 37 ft 5 in / 11.4 m
Length 25 ft 10 in / 7.8 m
Height 12 ft 7 in / 3.84 m
Wing Area 190 ft²  / 18 m²
Engine One Hispano-Suiza liquid-cooled V-12 piston engine 860 hp (640 kW).
Maximum Takeoff Weight 4,094 lb / 1857 kg
Empty Weight 3,311 lb / 1502 kg
Fuel Capacity 200 L
Climb Rate 16,000 ft / 5,000 m in 5’ 25’’ minutes
Maximum Speed 270 mph / 435 km/h
Cruising Speed 155 mph / 250 km/h
Range 435 mi / 700 km
Maximum Service Ceiling 39,370ft / 12,000m
Crew 1 (pilot)
Armament One 20mm cannon Hispano-Suiza HS.404 – fixed forward-firing cannon in an engine installation.

Two 7.92 mm Browning/FN machine guns with 250 rounds per gun.

Gallery

Yugoslav IK-2 107 Eskadrila, 34 Grupa, 4 Lovacki Puk – 2108
Croatian IK-2 – 2903
Yugoslav IK-2 107 Eskadrila, 34 Grupa, 4 Lovacki Puk – 2104

Sources

  • Kratka istorija vazduhoplovstva u Srbiji, Čedomir Janić i Ognjan petrović, Beograd 2011.
  • Elitni vidovi jugoslovenske vojske u Aprilskom ratu. Dušan Babac.
  • Zrakoplovstvo nezavisne države Hrvatske 1941-1945, Vojislav V. Mikić, Target Beograd 2000,
  • Lovačka Avijacija 1914-1945. Zlatko Rendulić, TEOVID Beograd 2014,
  • http://zlatibor.tv/kultura/ik-2-prvi-domaci-jugoslovenski-lovac/10735/
  • http://www.airwar.ru/enc/fww2/ik2.html

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *