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Why Did the Working Yugoslav Aircrafts Get Scrapped?

Many technological advancements found their way to the forefront of war, with some being sourced from the opposing forces. One good example is the Rogožarski IK-3, which was considered one of the modern fighter planes in the second world war. But interestingly enough, it did not see any battles.

In the second world war, Nazis invaded Yugoslavia. They wanted their hands on the powerful Yugoslav fighter plane. Instead of having the Axis power controlling their aircraft, they marked working planes for scrapping when the German guards were busy.

The Rogožarski IK-3

The Rogožarski IK-3 was a fighter monoplane designed and manufactured by Ikarus AD. It was first developed in 1933 to modernize and improve its predecessors, the IK-1. The IK-1 was a high-wing, fixed undercarriage monoplane fighter.

Its final design was delayed until 1936 due to doubts of military reviewers of its radical departure from previously accepted norms. The military then ordered a prototype in 1937, and an assembly line was created in the Rogozarski plant in Belgrade. The two credited designers were Ljubomir Ilic and Kosta Sivcev, the original designers of the IK-1.

The IK-3 was definitely ahead of its time, using a 12-cylinder Avia engine capable of a maximum 910 horsepower output. Its design eliminated the then conventional open-air cockpit biplane. The cockpit, though sitting still behind the engine, was already enclosed. The wings were also fitted off-center of the plane instead of the earlier models where wings were upfront. Compared to earlier airplanes’ fixed landing gears, the undercarriage was made to be retractable.

The armament the IK-3 carried was a single 20mm Hispano-Suiza HS-404 cannon mounted on the engine block. It was accompanied by a pair of 7.92 FN-Browning machine guns fitted on the engine’s cowling. All armament was fitted on the aircraft’s nose, opening up the valuable internal volume in the wings for fuel storage and reduced wing loads.

The first IK-3 prototype took to the skies in May of 1938, showing its strong performance and handling. Soon the military ordered 12 units, but the production experienced a setback in 1939. A test flight went wrong, causing the pilot to crash and die because he could not control his plane and bring it out of a dive.

After eliminating design and engineering faults that caused the death of the test pilot, the aircraft soon was brought into production. Six planes were delivered to the military forces in March of 1940, and a second order for 25 more was placed. (Source: Military Factory)

The Scrapping of Rogožarski IK-3

When the German forces invaded Yugoslavia, only six IK-3 fighter planes were operational. The Axis forces soon saw the capability of IK-3. It was agile, had excellent handling, and carried sufficient firepower. Upon their testing, they saw that the Yugoslav plane was reliable and its power could match the German Luftwaffe. It was also reported that it could shoot down eleven German aircraft. (Source: Military Factory)

The Germans wanted the plane to be part of their armament. But the Yugoslav personnel had different thoughts on this plan. They’d rather see the destruction of their technology and aircraft rather than have it fall to enemy hands. Fortunately, only six planes were working, with the second-order of 25 planes still unfinished.
In June 1941, only two IK-3s were functioning, and both were on the same airfield. The airfield also housed airplanes that were already deemed for scrapping, with only a fence separating it from working planes. While the German soldiers were too busy listening in to the news on the invasion of the Soviet Union, local communists moved the fence to include the IK-3s in the side that was for scrapping. (Source: Panssarivanut)

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