Aircraft designer

Nikolai Nikolaevich Polikarpov


July 8, 1892 - July 30, 1944

Polikarpov was born in the village of Giorgievsk in Oryol Oblast. He was the son of a village priest in the Russian Orthodox Church. He initially also trained for the priesthood and studied at the Oryol Seminary before moving to Saint Petersburg Polytechnical University in 1911, where he became fascinated with the fledgling aviation work being carried out under the shipbuilding department, Polikarpov graduated in 1916 and went to work for Igor Sikorski, the head of production at the Russian Baltic Carriage Factory. While working for Sikorski, Polikarpov helped design the massive Ilya Muromets four-engine bomber for the Imperial Russian Air Force.

Polikarpov stayed in Russia after the Russian Revolution and rose to become head of the technical department Dux Aircraft factory in 1923. Polikarpov was responsible for some of the first indigenous aircraft designs in the Soviet Union during the 1920s including the I-1 fighter (1923), R-1 reconnaissance plane (1927), U-2 utility biplane (1927–1928), I-3 fighter (1928), R-5 reconnaissance bomber (1928). Notably, U-2 Kukuruznik still remains the second most produced aircraft of the world, better known under modern designation Po-2.

In 1928, under provisions of the Five Year Plan for experimental aircraft design, Polikarpov was assigned to develop the primarily wooden I-6 fighter for delivery by mid-1930. The plan was unrealistic and failed. As such, in October 1929, Polikarpov and around other 450 aircraft designers and engineers were arrested on trumped up charges of sabotage and counter-revolutionary activities. Polikarpov was sentenced to death. In December, after two months of waiting for execution he was transferred to a Special Design Bureau of OGPU set at Butyrka prison and had the sentence changed to 10 years of forced labor. Polikarpov and the others were moved to Central Design Bureau 39 (TsKB-39) to complete the I-5 project. After a successful demonstration of the new design, the sentence was changed to a conditional one, and in July 1931 he was granted amnesty together with a group of other convicts. It was not until de-Stalinization of 1956, when these charges were formally dropped – 12 years after Polikarpov's death.

After the release Polikarpov initially worked with Pavel Sukhoi since 1931, developing the I-16 in 1933 and I-15 in 1934. Then he worked under Ilyushin in 1937. In 1938, he established an independent design bureau. In 1939, he completed work on the I-153. In 1939, he was ordered to make a trip to Germany. In his absence, his plant director and chief engineer, along with design engineer Mikhail Gurevich put forth a proposal for a new fighter, the I-200, and received approval to create a new Design Bureau under the leadership of Artem Mikoyan, whose brother Anastas Mikoyan was a senior politician under Joseph Stalin. On his return, Polikarpov found that his Bureau no longer existed, with his engineers at the new MiG bureau and his plant given over to the Sukhoi bureau.

Polikarpov was subsequently appointed professor at the Moscow Aviation Institute in 1943. He died on July 30, 1944 from stomach cancer. He is buried in Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.

Polikarpov was a recipient of numerous awards, including the State Stalin Prize (1941, 1943) and Hero of Socialist Labor (1940). Polikarpov Peak in the Pamir Mountains was named after him.




I am currently building a Pietenpol Air Camper and am planning my next project. I have created this website to hopefully inspire some interest from like minded enthusiasts who may want to share any information to help me build and fly a replica Russian Polikarpov PO-2 aircraft.


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Weather in Tamworth



Heaven on Wings

As the throttle moves forward,
My future becomes clear,
I know that my troubles,
Will soon disappear.

The aircraft speeds me away,
From this troubled earth,
I knew this day would come,
Since the day of my birth.

Peace I have found,
My life balanced on wings,
My problems disappear,
Among other things.

Paradise is what I see,
In the crisp, cool air,
Lost in my thoughts,
And not even a care.

As I turn on to final,
I know I must go,
Return to the evil,
To the world that I know.

Problems I will see,
‘till the day that I die,
Then I will return to my heaven,
To my place in the sky.