Warbirds WB0002 Soviet Polikarpov I-16 Fighter - Boris Feoktistovich Safonov, 72nd FAP, "For Stalin!", Murmansk, Russia, 1941 (1:72 Scale)
"I requested a transfer to the front more than once. But the front required well-trained fliers. While training them for future battles, I was also training myself. At the same time, it felt good to hear of their exploits at the front. In late 1942, I was sent to learn to fly a new plane, the Lavochkin LaG-5. After March 1943, I was finally in active service."
- Ivan Kozhedub, recalling his first exploits as a combat pilot on the Eastern Front
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").
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a Soviet Polikarpov I-16 fighter that was piloted by Boris Feoktistovich Safonov, who was attached to the 72nd FAP, then deployed to Murmansk, Russia, during 1941.
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Release Date: June 2021
Historical Account: "Safonov" - Boris Feoktistovich Safonov (August 13th, 1915 - May 30th, 1942) was a Soviet Naval Aviation fighter ace of World War II who was twice awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union.
At the beginning of the German-Soviet War, Safonov was based at Vaenga (now called Severomorsk) on the Murmansk Front, commanding the 4th Squadron of the 72nd Mixed Aviation Regiment, flying the Polikarpov I-16 fighter. A widely circulated photograph of Safonov showed him with an I-16 bearing the slogan "For Stalin!" on its fuselage, although this probably was not his personal machine.
In September 1941, No. 151 Wing RAF arrived at Vaenga by sea, with 39 Hawker Hurricane fighters which they were to train Soviet personnel to operate and then hand over. Safonov headed the Soviet side of the training program and made a good impression on his British colleagues, who remembered him as serious and likeable. By the time he converted to the Hurricane, Safonov had already scored 14 individual and 6 shared victories with the I-16. He took command of a new squadron, part of the 78th Fighter Aviation Regiment of the Soviet Naval Aviation which was formed to fly the Hurricanes and was largely manned by his pilots from 72nd Mixed Aviation Regiment. As a commander, he showed exceptional organizational and tactical skills, while enforcing strict discipline on his men, once threatening to shoot a pilot whom he judged to have returned early from combat. However, he defended Sergey Kurzenkov who accidentally shot down a friendly bomber and often gave others the credit for his own kills.
Safonov in 1942.
In March 1942, Safonov returned as a lieutenant colonel to command 72nd Mixed Aviation Regiment, by then renamed as the 2nd Guards Mixed Aviation Regiment. On 30 May, he took off for his 234th combat mission, flying a Curtiss P-40E to cover the approach of arctic convoy PQ-16. He shot down three Ju-88s, but crashed into the sea following engine failure. The convoy escorts were unable to find him.