Polikarpov VIT-1

The Polikarpov VIT-1 was a cannon-armed ground attack aircraft produced in response to a Red Air Force specification for an aircraft capable of attacking tanks or other small but high value battlefield targets.

Two types of aircraft were requested to carry out this role - one armed with heavy calibre cannon and the other with standard bombs. Polikarpov responded by producing the VIT-1 cannon armed aircraft, the SVB-1 dive bomber and the MPI-1 heavy fighter, all based on the same airframe, designed as the TsKB-44.

The VIT-1 (vozdushny istrebitel tankov, translated as 'aerial tank fighter or anti-tank fighter) was the cannon armed version of this design. The TsKB-44 was a three-seat all-metal low wing twin engined monoplane, powered by two 960hp Klimov M-103 engines.

The VIT-1 was armed with two 37mm SkJ cannon mounted in the centre section of the wing, close to the fuselage, one semi-flexibly mounted 20mm ShVAK cannon in the nose (with 10 degrees of movement) and a rear-firing flexibly mounted machine gun. It could carry 600kg of bombs in an internal bomb bay, and possibly an equal amount of bombs under the wings.

The VIT-1 made its maiden flight in 1937. In flight tests it had a top speed of 279mph and handled well, although field tests suggested that its take-off and landing runs were both too long for the available airfields. After the initial trials it was decided to give the aircraft more powerful engines, to modify the structure and to designate the modified design as the VIT-2.  

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (6 April 2011), Polikarpov VIT-1 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_polikarpov_VIT-1.html

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