Friday, April 10, 2015

Gudkov Gu-VRD

As Gudkov developed the plane the engine was developed by A.M. Lyulka. "In the war years the work on development of A.M.Lyulka's RTD-1 engine continued.... In 1943 under the leadership of M.I.Gudkov (one of the designers of the known LaGG-3 piston- engined fighter), a variant of the LaGG-3 powered by the RTD-1 engine was being designed. The engine was to be installed in the "step" layout at the bottom of the fuselage with jet exhaust under the tail [Yak-15 look-alike]. The maximum speed of the modified LaGG-3 was estimated at 900km/h". Drawn by Jozef Gatial.

 Lyulka RTD-1 jet engine design.

Lyulka RD-1 jet engine design.

In 1943 Mikhail I. Gudkov began to design the Gu-VRD fighter, which was to be powered by a single example of Lyul'ka's latest engine mounted in a 'stepped' fuselage. Like many early jet designs all over the world, this was really a piston fighter airframe fitted with a jet instead of the piston unit, but Gudkov had previously worked with S. A. Lavochkin on the LaGG-3 piston fighter and knew what he was doing. The Gu-VRD had its engine placed in the bottom of the fuselage aft of the nose section, giving in side view a 'step' behind the engine nozzle after which the rearward fuselage had a much smaller cross section; as we shall see this arrangement was to be used by other first-generation Soviet jet fighters. The Gu-VRD was a single-seater and had a nose air intake and a tailwheel undercarriage and was armed with one 20mm ShVAK cannon and one 12.7mm (0.5in) BS machine gun; internal fuel load was 400kg (8821b), estimated range 700km (435 miles) and the time to 5,000m (16,404ft) was 1.39 minutes.

On 10th March the project documentation was submitted to official circles but, after appraisal by the Council of People's Commissars, it was rejected, simply because it was felt that a suitable engine which gave the required power would not actually be available for some time. I. I. Safronov, one of the officials, wrote on 17th April 'apparently the aircraft would fly with the claimed speed but the problem is that, as of today, there is no engine, just the name of its designer'. Thus, due to the delays with the Lyul'ka engine the Gu-VRD was never built, and by the time work on Lyul'ka's later S-18 power unit was under way, Gudkov's OKB had been disbanded. VRD stands for Vozdooshno-Reaktivnyy Dvigatel, or Air Reaction Engine. Gudkov's presentation also noted that he was working on a fast bomber powered by two of Lyul'ka's 14.7kN (3,3051b) thrust engines. This had an estimated take-off weight of 6,500kg (14,3301b), a top speed of at least 780km/h (485mph) at 600m (1,969ft) altitude and a range of at least 1,200km (746 miles).

In the spring of 1943 Lyul'ka and his team moved to Moscow and on 20th May specialists from the People's Commissariat evaluated his new engine and judged that it was not sufficiently developed, so there was clearly no likelihood either of a prototype power unit being built. As a result, and to help with the overall development of this new form of propulsion, the Central Institute of Aviation Motors (TsIAM) established a jet engine research laboratory during the following August with Lyul'ka as its chief.

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