Latvian Aircraft Designations


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Latvian Aircraft Production -- 1921-1940

Latvian organization abbreviations

AD = Aviācijas divizions (Aviation Division) [1] - 1921-1926

JAD = Jūras Aviācijas divizions (Naval Aviation) [2] - 1922-1926

AP = Aviācijas pulks (Aviation regiment)* - 1926-1940
-- * Regular Latvian Air Force, and independent force [1] sometimes translated as 'Aviation park'

AA = Aizsargu Aviācija (Aviation Branch, Latvian National Guard)
-- The Aizsargu (Guards or Defenders) was a volunteer paramilitary organization

LAK = Latvijas Aeroklubs (Latvian Aero Club)
-- Flying club association, later the sole officially-approved aero club in Latvia


[1] Latvian military aviation went through a series of name changes. These were:
- Aviācijas grupu (Aviation group), June 1919
- Aviācijas parku (Aviation park), February 1920
- Aviācijas divizionu (Aviation division), March 1921
- Aviācijas pulku (Aviation regiment), September 1926

[2] 'Naval' is something of a misnomer. The term Jūras (Sea or Maritime) was originally used for the active units under the name Jūras krasta apsardzes eskadra (Coast Guard Squadron) from 1924 to 1938. Then the name Latvijas Kara floti (Latvian Navy) was adopted.

Latvian Aircraft Popular Names Meanings (Alphabetical Order)

Auseklits = 'The Morning Star' (Auseklitis, ancient Latvian cross
- Cukurs C.1, [1] NB: Auseklitis was also the Aizsargu 'roundel' [2]

Gambija = Gambia (the intended destination of the flight)
- VEF I-6 'Gambija', crashed near Stettin on 30 May 1933

Ikars = Icarus, possible after fictional gliding blacksmith 'Priekules Ikars'
- VEF I-2 'Ikars' and VEF I-5 'Ikars II'

Kaija = Seagull
- VEF I-9 'Kaija' and VEF I-10 'Kaija II' (Project)

Kurzemes Hercogiene = Duchess of Courland [3]
- Cukurs C.3 'Kurzemes Hercogiene' (name applied during record flight)

Pirat = Pirate (Latvian translation of Swedish original)
- LKOD 'Pirat', unlicenced copy of Svenska Aero SA-10 Piraten

= Latvian fictional character akin to Tom Thumb
- VEF I-1 'Spriditis'

Tris Zvaigznes = Three Stars (from gilded stars atop Latvian coat of arms)
- Cukurs C.6 'Tris Zvaigznes'

Zilais Putns = Blue Bird
- VEF I-7 'Zilais Putns' and VEF I-8 'Zilais Putns II'


[1] Auseklits may have been a sign-writer's error. In one closeup photos of the C.1 cockpit, there is a hint of a second 'i' inserted directly before the final 's'.

[2] The AA's Auseklitis emblem was sometimes literally a roundel - ie: placed on a white circle. In other cases, the Auseklitis symbol was surmounted on another maroon-coloured cross. As an AA emblem, the Auseklitis contrasted with the AP's Ugunskrusts ('Fire Cross' or swastika).
-- Examples:

[3] Named after the 18th Century Doroteja, Kurzemes hercogiene - the last Countess of Courland - known in her native German as Dorothea, Herzogin von Kurland.


Latvian Aircraft Designations -- 1921-1940

APD 'Arsenals' - 1921-1932 [1]
- Aviācijas Pulku Darbnica (Aviation Regiment Workshops)

Under Kārlis Skaubītis [2]

(??) - 1921, DFW C.V (from spares/cannibalized parts), 1 x 200 hp Benz Bz.IV, x 1 (#3)

(??) - 1923, Hannover CL.III (origins unclear), 1 x 180 hp Argus As III 6-cyl, 1 built (#7)

(??) - 1927, Halberstadt C.V (reverse-engineered), 1 x 220 hp Benz Bx.IV, 1 built (#22)

(??) - 192?, APD AVDI parasol monoplane (no details), evaluated by the AP in 1928 [3]

(??) - 1929, Albatros C.III (reverse-engineered), 1 x 260 hp Mercedes D.IVa, x 1 (#64)
- #64: Ailerons on upper and lower wings, widened fuselage to accommodate camera gear
-- Albatros #64 may also be the airframe often identified as the "APD AVDI biplane"

AVDI - 1933-1935
- Aviācijas DIvizions (AViation DIvision)

Under Pauls Reinhards [4]

(??) -- 2-seat reconnaissance biplane, 1 x 240 hp Maybach Mb.IV 6-cyl., [5] 1 built (#85)
-- Said to have been intentionally crashed in 1928 by kapteiņa leitnants Valters Riņķis [6]


[1] It is not clear whether 'Arsenals' applied new designations to its reverse-engineered aircraft.

[2] Kārlis Skaubītis (1889-1929) was Latvia's first balloonist (1911) often demonstrating parachuting by jumping from his basket-less ballons. Flying Imperial Russian 'Nupors' in WWI, Skaubītis amassed 175 hours before joining the Bolshevik cause. In the later Latvian air force, Skaubītis reached the rank of virsleitnantu (Senior Lieutenant). At Riga on 05 Sept 1929, Vltn Skaubītis stalled the APD Albatros #64 at low altitude due to a faltering engine. Skaubītis and his observer, Serž Masur, were killed in the ensuing crash.

[3] This supposed APD AVDI parasol monoplane is included for completeness. I'm uncertain as to whether such an aircraft ever really existed but this 'APD AVDI' is mentioned by Aeroflight.

[4] Pauls Reinhards' (1903-1990) aeronautical training was undertaken in France. He was a member of the Aviācijas pulks (1928-1934) but also joined the Ministry of Transport in 1931. Reinhards would become head of the exiled Latvian Embassy in London in 1981.

[5] Parent-company of the Maybach-Motorenbau was Luftschiffbau Zeppelin. The huge 23-litre Mb.IV inline 6-cylinder was intended for Zeppelin's R-class airships but also powered a number of fixed-wing aircraft designs. Two of the heavy MB.IV engines were abandoned in Latvia by the retreating Germans.

[6] As an instructor, Riņķis was said to have judged the Maybach-powered biplane as a potential death trap for less experienced military pilots. The damaged airframe was later burned as part of a bonfire.

a/s Christine Backman [1]
- Originally, Christine Backman Company, Bišumuiža, factory Purvciems (both outside Riga)

(??) - 1925 Albatros B.II recce 2-seaters for the AD, 1 x 100hp Mercedes D.I, 2 built
-- Reverse-engineered from recovered, then worn-out B.IIs abandoned by the Germans

I-2 - 1926 'Ikars' tandem 2-seat parasol, Kārlis Irbītis design
- I-2: Built by a/s Christine Backman (according to K. Irbītis, 1997)
- I-2: 1 x 45 hp Anzani 6-cyl radial, span (??) m, aka Pūliņš P-3
-- NB: I-2 was an Irbītis type number, not a Christine Backman designation

I-4 - 1926 'Vanadzins' tandem 2-seat parasol, Kārlis Irbītis design
- I-4: 1 x 45 hp Anzani 6-cyl radial, span (??) m, 1 x built (YL-AAF)
-- aka Irbītis-Backman I.4, aka VEF I-4 'Vanadzins' (qv)
-- NB: I-4 was an Irbītis type number, not a Christine Backman designation

(??) - 192? tandem 2-seat single-bay biplane trainer, Rūdolfs Zārdiņš design
- (??): 1 x 130 hp Clerget 9B 9-cylinder rotary, span (??) m
- (??): Later re-engined with 1 x 185 hp BMW IIIa (from Fokker D VII) [2]

(??) - 192? 4-seat single-bay biplane trainer/tourer, Marģeris Ķēniņš design
- (??): 1 x 185 hp BMW IIIa 6-cylinder inline, span (??) m
-- Probably Zārdiņš design (above) converted into 4-seater and re-engined

(??) - 1928 - Finnish-designed IVL A.22 floatplanes for JAD, 2 built
-- "Copies" (with some Finnish assistance) using parts from crashed A.22s

(??) - 1929, licenced BFW (Udet) U.12b Flamingo biplane trainer, x 7 [3]
-- U.12b Flamingo: 1 x 110 hp Siemens & Halske Sh.12, span 9.96 m
-- 1930, 1 x experimental conv. to 145 hp Walter Mars 14 I-SR (#77)


[1] The a/s is for akciju sabiedrība or Joint-Stock Company. Modern sources often try to 'Latvianize' the corporate identity was the name was intentionally anglicized from the start.

Kristīne Bakmane's personal story was a tragic one. Having started a successful business, she became romantically involved with the Latvian Foreign Minister, Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics. In January 1924, Meierovics became a Director of the Christine Backman Company. A month later, Meierovics divorced his wife and, by May 1924, had married Kristīne. Aircraft design and production was added to the list of Christine Backman Company activities with the purchase of an assembly building at Purvciems in January 1925. Meierovics would be killed in a traffic accident in August 1925. Kristīne Bakmane then became deeply depressed, committing suicide in December 1925. The firm survived her by five year.

NB: It is not clear whether a/s Christine Backman ever applied designations to any of its aircraft.

[2] This re-engining occurred after the airframe was purchased by Marģeris Ķēniņš in the aftermath of the bankruptcy of his former employer, a/s Christine Backman. It would seem that Ķēniņš also turned the aircraft into a 4-seater (2 x side-by-side pairs of seats) but sources are somewhat ambiguous on this. (It is possible that wo separate designs are perhaps being conflated here ... but I think that is unlikely.)

[3] Construction of 10 x U.12b airframes was begun before the bankruptcy of a/s Christine Backman. Assembly of some of the semi-completed U.12b airframes were finished by APD 'Arsenals'.

Cukurs (Herberts Cukurs) [1]

Cukurs C.1 - 1923 'Auseklits' single-seat lightplane, x 1
- C.1: 1 x 12 hp Harley-Davidson air-cooled V-2, span 13.20 m
- C.1 later rebuilt by Cukurs & Kārlis Konstants as C.2 (qv)

Cukurs C.2 -- 1926 2-seat* low-winged lightplane, 1 x conv. YL-AAC
- C.2: Rebuilt/re-engined C.1 with 1 x 25 hp Anzani fan 3-cyl.
-- C.2 conv. complete with assistance of Lt. Kārlis Konstants**
-- * Poss. conf. with C.3, C.2 shows only one cockpit in photos
-- ** Konstants later rebuilt C.2 w/ engine & u/c from VEB I-2
- C.2: 1932 'Peka-Peka rebuild, 1 x 45 hp*** Anzani 6A

Cukurs C.3 -- 1930 'Kurzemes Hercogiene' lightplane, x 1 (YL-AAB)
- C.3: Tandem 2-seat (or long-range single-seater) low-wing monoplane*
- C.3: Original powerplant, 1 x 80 hp Renault A52 V-8, span 10.90 m [2]
-- * Primarily of wooden construction, heavy inverted-V wing struts
- C.3: Re-engined, 1 x 130 hp DH Gipsy Major inverted 4-cylinder
-- 3v:

Cukurs C.4 -- 1932 high-wing, open-framed basic training glider, x 1
- C.4: Cukurs' design based upon that of German DFS Zögling

Cukurs C.5 -- (??) Possible another glider design (dodgy source)
- C.5: No details

Cukurs C.6 -- 1935 'Tris Zvaigznes', 1-or-2-seat record/sportsplane,
- C.6 : 1 x de Havilland Gipsy Major inverted 4-cyl, span 11.00 m
- C.6 : Mixed constr., cantilever low-wing, spatted main u/c, 2-blade prop
-- 3v:
- C.6bis: 1940, 2-seat divebomber trainer, all-metal construction, x 1
- C.6bis: 1 x 280 hp (250 hp) Hispano-Suiza 6Mb 6-cylinder,* span 11.00 m
-- * Belly radiator, training bombs slung outboard of spatted u/c legs


[1] Herberts Cukurs (1900-1965) was a Latvian military pilot but, in 1930, a scandal resulted in him being relieved of his military duties. Cukurs then became a long-distance pilot, famous for his international solo flights - Riga to Bathurst, Gambia (1933 in Cukurs C.3) and Riga-Tokyo (1937 in Cukurs C.6).

After the 1941 German occupation of Latvia, Cukurs joined the Arajs Kommando an organization which, under the Nazi SD, was responsible for much of the Latvian Holocaust. When it was clear that no charges would be brought against Cukurs (then living in South America), the alleged 'Butcher of Riga' was assassinated by Mossad agents.

[2] Flight (4 Jan 1934, pg. 14) identified this engine as an ex-British Type WS. Or was that just the designation of a British equivalent which Flight believed would be more familiar to most of its readers? Either way, Renault recognized its offspring. When Cukurs arrived in Paris with his C.3 enroute for Gambia, Renault staff volunteered to rebuild the 20-year-old V-8 engine free of charge.

Marģeris Ķēniņš - 1901-1945 [1]

(??) - 1934 high-wing monoplane pusher ultralight a/c, x 1
- (??): 1 x 25 hp Douglas motorcycle engine, [2] span (??) m
-- Riga trade school student project, Ķēniņš was Director
-- Images/AV 089.jpg [2]


[1] Inž. Ķēniņš worked for Farman before returning to Latvia and joining a/s Christine Backman. When the latter went bankrupt in 1930, Ķēniņš (along with Voldemārs Bērziņš) bought two airframes which were then leased to the LAK and to the AA (which Ķēniņš would later command).

[2] Alternatively described as a "light cabin aircraft", this student project seems to have gone undesignated. The propeller arrangement was similar to that of the modern Moyes Tempest ultralight. The tailplane of the Latvian aircraft was supported by an open, V-shaped boom. The upper arm of than open boom frame passed through the hub of the propeller.

LKOD (Liepāja Kara ostas darbnīca = Liepaja Naval Port Workshops)

LKOD KOD-1 -- 1935 2-seat tandem biplane trainer/liaison a/c for the AA
- KOD-1: Licence-built copy of Estonian Eesti Aeroklubi (EAK) PON-1A [1]
-- KOD-1: 1936 x 5, 1 x 140 hp AS Genet Major radial, span 8.20 m
-- KOD-1: 1937, 5 airframes re-engined 1937 with DH Gipsy Major 4-cyl
-- KOD-1: 1938 x 3, 125 hp de Havilland Gipsy Major, span 8.20 m
-- 3-view:

LKOD KOD-2 -- 1936-37 2-3-seat armed biplane trainer for the AA, x 7*
- KOD-2: Orig. Latvian design by Georgs Novickis w/ combat potential
- KOD-2: 1 x 240 hp AS Lynx Major 7-cyl. radial, span 12.00 m
-- The KOD-2 normally flown as a 2-seater, x 3 for parachute training
-- * Of 12 ordered, 5 x incomplete when LKOD folded in summer 1938
-- 3-view:

LKOD KOD-3 -- 1937 2-seat high-winged cabin monoplane, x 1 [2]
- KOD-3: Side-by-side seating, folding wings, Jecobs Kruzē design
- KOD-3: 1 x 40 hp Praga B2 air-cooled HO2 engine, span 9.00 m
-- KOD-3 proved underpowered, prototype destroyed in hangar fire

LKOD KOD-4 -- 1937 2-seat tandem low-wing monoplane trainer, x ?
- KOD-4: Tandem seats in open cockpits, Atis Strazdiņš design*
- KOD-4: 1 x 60 hp Walter Mikron 4-cylinder, span 9.50 m
-- Mixed constr., cantilever wing, spatted main u/c, 2-blade prop
-- * Le Fana credits Georgs Novickis for KOD-4 design

LKOD 'Pirat' -- 1936-37 2-seat twin-float reconnaissance biplane, x 1
- 'Pirat': Unlicenced copy (#30/#103) of Svenska Aero SA-10*
- 'Pirat': 1 x 215 hp AS Lynx 7-cyl. radial, span 10.40 m
-- An unlicenced copy of Latvian Navy's Svenska Aero SA-10 Piraten*
-- * In-service type, a SA-10 having been bought from Sweden in 1929
-- Overseen by Latvian 1st Lt.s Bernhards Grasberg & Imants Šleiters**
-- ** Floats created by Inž. Emils Sakss (later of Jūras akademija)

LKOD (??) - (Project) 1937-3? proposed licence-built Fokker D.XXI
- (??): Proposed LKOD-built fighter concept lost out to VEF I-19 (qv)


[1] Golden Years of Aviation lists 6 KOD-1s with civil registrations with a possible 7th (as YL-ABI). Of the 6 confirmed registrations, at least 5 were transferred to the Latvijas Aeroklubs at Riga - these were: c/n 6 YL-AAY and c/n 7 YL-AAZ in September 1936, c/n 8 YL-ABH in April 1937, c/n 11 YL-ABJ and c/n 12 YL-ABK in February 1938.

[2] The sole KOD-3 was originally registered as YL-ABL in 1937. At some later point it was re-registered as YL-KOD - in some sources, mis-listed as 'YU-KOD' (sic).

Raab (Antonius Raab) with Georgs Novickis [1]

Tiger Schwalbe - (Project) 1934 2-seat-parasol biplane trainer
- Tiger Schwalbe: Airframe not completed in Latvia [2]


[1] Georgs Novickis had worked in the AP's repair workshops before resuming his education - graduating in mechanical engineering at the University of Latvia in 1933 before going on to TU Berlin in 1935. His first original design was the LKOD KOD-2 (qv). During the German occupation, Novickis worked for Espenlaub Flugzeugbau in Riga under Irbītis . In March 1944, this team was relocated to Germany to work for the Messerschmitt.

[2] The Aviācijas pulku was not interested in this biplane trainer and Antonius Raab's extradition was being demanded by Nazi Germany. Raab moved his operation to Estonia, building two Schwalbes there before relocating again to Greece.

Also see: Raab-Katzenstein,11929.0/all.html
and AEKKEA-Raab Designations,12469.0.html

Herberts Runka [1]

(??) - 1934 I-9 Kaija conversion to 2-seater, x 1
- (??): I-9 conv. completed but not successfully flown
-- Orig. 'Kaija' (VEF I-9, YL-AAV) designed by Runka with Kārlis Irbītis

?? -- 1942 undesignated two-seat, high-wing cabin monoplane (completed?)


[1] Herberts Runka was a retired Latvian military pilot. He was based near Madona where he was said to have built a small, powered airplane which may have failed to get off the ground. But, we wonder, does this story refer to Runka's 1942 cabin monoplane or the earlier I-9 conversion?

Imants Šleiters - 1906-1942 [1]

Šleiters IŠ-1 - 1938 low-winged single-seat sportplane, x 1 (YL-ACA) [2]
- IŠ-1: Open cockpit, cantilever wings, spatted main undercarriage
- IŠ-1: 1 x 72 hp Hirth HM 60 inv. 4-cyl, span 7.60 m, 2-blade prop [3]
- IŠ-1: Fabric-covered wooden constr'n, wooden monocoque fuselage


[1] After service with the Aviācijas pulku as an observer, leitnents Šleiters joined the faculty of the Latviaja Universitātes Mehanikas. In 1937 he helped oversee construction of the LKOD Pirat and also became director of the glider section of the Latvijas Aeroklub. In the same year, Šleiters was injured in the crash of a glider-tug. His IŠ-1 was flown successfully until the Soviet occupation. When the Germans arrived, Šleiters became a member of the Latvian Legion. He was killed a Soviet partisan sniper in September 1942.

[2] The registration YL-ACA was not assigned until March 1939 but the prototype first flew in October 1938.

[3] This propeller was designed for Šleiters by Georgs Novickis (qv)

VEF (Valsts Elektrotehniska- Fabrika or State Electro-technical Plant)
- Aircraft Designs by Nikolajs Pūliņš and Kārlis Irbītis [1]

VEF I-1 - 1925 'Spriditis' single-seat sportsplane, x 1
- I-1: Parasol monoplane, fabric-covered wooden construction
- I-1:, 1 x 25 hp Anzani 3-cylinder fan radial, span ?? m
-- Built by Nikolajs Pūliņš, aka Pūliņš P-2 'Spriditis II'

VEF I-2 - 1926 'Ikars' 2-seat sportsplane, 1 built (YL-AAA)
- I-2: Parasol monoplane, fabric-covered wooden construction
- I-2: 1 x 45 hp Anzani 6-cyl radial engine, span (??) m
- I-2: Built by a/s Christine Backmans, aka Pūliņš P-3

VEF I-3 - 1925, single-seat, 1 built (test flown only)
- I-3: Parasol monoplane, fabric-covered wooden construction
- I-3: 1 x 25 hp Anzani Y-3 fan radial, span (??) m
- I-3: Built by Herberts Runka

VEF I-4 - 'Vanadzins' 1929 tandem 2-seat parasol, x 1 (YL-AAF)
- I-4: 1 x 45 hp Anzani 6-cylinder radial, span (??) m
-- The sole I-4 airframe was built by a/s Christine Backman (qv)

VEF I-5 - 'Ikars II', 1930, two-seat parasol trainer for AA,
- I-5: 1 x 77 hp Siemens & Halske Sh.5 7-cyl radial, span (??) m
-- (??): 1 x 108 hp Siemens & Halske Sh.12 radial considered (?)
- I-5: Built by Nikolajs Pūliņš, 1 built (YL-AAA) (?? rebuilt I-2 ??)

VEF I-6 - 1932 'Gambija' 2-seat tandem parasol, x 1 (YL-AAH)
- I-6: 1 x 90 hp (95 hp?) Cirrus Mk.III 4-cyl inline, span (??) m
-- I-6: Built by Pūliņš, aka Pūliņš I-6, but design by JD Akerman(??)
-- Swept-back folding wings with 'V' stuts, spatted main wheels

VEF I-7 - 1933 'Zilais Putns' single-seat parasol trainer, x 1
- I-7: 1 x 90 hp Cirrus Mk.III 4-cylinder inline, span (??) m
- I-7: Built by Nikolajs Pūliņš, I-6 derivative, civil reg YL-AAI

VEF I-8 - 1934 'Zilais Putns II' 2-seat parasol trainer, x 2
- I-8 : I-6 derivative built by Nikolajs Pūliņš, 1 x built (YL-AAQ)
- I-8 : 1 x 110 hp Armstrong-Siddeley Genet 5-cyl radial
- I-8a: 1937, 2-seat parasol trainer, 1 built, (YL-ABF, LA, Riga)

VEF I-9 - 1935 'Kaija' single-seat parasol monoplane trainer, x 2
- I-9: 1 x 120 hp (Blackburn) Cirrus Hermes 4-cyl. inline, span (??) m
- I-9: Built by Valsts Daugavpils Arodskola*, derived from I-5 design
-- * Daugavpils Technical School, [2] I-9 designed with Herberts Runka

VEF I-10 - (Project) 193? 'Kaija II' tandem 2-seat parasol trainer
- I-10: 1 x 120 hp (Blackburn) Cirrus Hermes 4-cyl inline, span (??) m
-- 3-v:ītis -i-10-kaija-ii-jpg.101671/

VEF I-11 - 1936 tandem 2-seat low-wing distance racer, x 1 (YL-AAX)
- I-11: Wooden constr., sliding canopies over tandem cockpits
- I-11: 1 x 90 hp Blackburn Cirrus Minor 4-cyl, span 9.30 m

VEF I-12 - 1937 tandem 2-seat low-wing trainer/sportsplane, x 12
- I-12: VEF I-11 deriv. stressed for aerobatics, rear-seat pilot
- I-12: 1 x 90 hp Blackburn Cirrus Minor 4-cyl, span 9.30 m
- I-12: I-11 deriv., 12 built - YF-ABG, ABN, ABO, ABQ, ABS, ABT, ...
- I-12: single-seat fighter trainer, 1938, two conversions for AA
-- One single-seat I-12 was assigned civil registration of YL-ABG*
-- * Some sources mis-assign this registration to the VEF I-11

VEF I-13 - (??) No details, number was probably not assigned

VEF I-14 - 1937 single-seat low-wing racer/advanced miliary trainer
- I-14: 1 x 200 hp Menasco B6S Buccaneer 6-cyl, span 8.00 m
- I-14: Wooden constr., spats, enclosed cockpit, 1 x built (YL-ABM)
-- Destroyed in 23 April 1938 crash, abandoned in favor of I-15

VEF I-15 - 1939 single-seat military advanced trainer, x 2
- I-15 : I-14 derivative, wooden constr., spatted main u/c
- I-15a: 1 x 200 hp deHavilland Gypsy 6 series I, span 8.00 m
- I-15a: 1st prototype, 1 x built (sn 190), sold to Latvian AF
- I-15b: 1 x 210 hp deHavilland Gypsy 6 series II, span 8.00 m
- I-15b: 2nd prototype, variable-pitch propeller, armed trainer*
-- * Sole I-15b armed with 1 x synchronized 7.92 mm FN-Browning mg
- I-15bis: (Project) 1 x 280 hp Hispano-Suiza 6 Mb liquid-cooled 6-cyl
-- 2 x I-15bis ordered for Latvia AF in 1940 but not completed

VEF I-16 - 1940 single-seat monoplane light fighter, x 1 (or 3?)*
- I-16: Higher-powered light fighter development from I-15 trainer
- I-16: 1 x 460 hp Walter Sagitta I-SR IV-12, span 8.23 m
-- I-16: Provision for 2 x synchronized 7.92 mm FN-Browning mgs**
-- * Highly unlikely that more than 1 x I-16 airframe was completed
-- ** Provided for but not fitted with in the case of the prototype

VEF I-17 - 1940 tandem 2-seat low-wing primary military trainer, x 6
- I-17: 1 x 125 hp Menasco C4 Pirate 4-cyl inline, span 9.80 m
- I-17: Wooden constr., cantilever wings, spatted main landing gear
- I-17a: (1 x ?), six ordered, unbuilt
- I-17-2: 1 x 100 hp Shvetsov M-11 radial, Soviet conv'n for tests

VEF I-18 - (Project) 1939-40 tandem 2-seat parasol military trainer
- I-18: Modernized I-8a development for military use, 2 x ordered
- I-18: 1 x 90 hp Blackburn Cirrus Minor 4-cyl, span (??) m
-- March 1941, USSR ordered 1 x I-18 completed & delivered to Moscow
--ītis -i-18-jpg.101673/

VEF I-19 - (Project) 1940 single-seat low-wing monoplane fighter
- I-19: Much higher-powered evolution of VEF I-16 fighter concept
- I-19: 1 x 1,470 hp MI-02 36-cyl air-cooled engine,* span 10.97 m
-- * MI-02 air-cooled, inverted-Y engine based on DH Gispy Six banks
--ītis -mi-02-engine-for-the-vef-i-19-design.26277/

VEF JDA-?? -- (Project) 1936 (?) radial-engined fighter for Spain
-- JD Akerman's export fighter concept rejected by VEF management

VEF JDA-10M - 1939 twin-engined trainer/multipurpose military a/c, x 1
- JDA-10M: Cantilever low-wing cabin monoplane, spatted main u/c
- JDA-10M: 2 x 350 hp AS Cheetah IX radials, span 12.40 m
-- * DH Gispy Six and 200 hp Lycoming engines also considered

Anomalous VEF Aircraft Designations

VEF-1 -- 1936, modernized Grüne Post glider with new wing, x 1

VEF SV-5 - 1938 Stampe et Vertongen SV-5 biplane military trainer, x 6
- SV-5: 1 x 340 hp AS Cheetah X 7-cyl radials, span: 10.52 m
-- NB: For AP, assembled from Belgian components, 10 x SV-5s ordered


[1] Note that most of the early designs in the VEF sequence actually predate the 1939 establishment of the aircraft division. As Irbītis was hired to head that division, his designation sequence was retained. The first 'true' VEF aircraft design was the one-off I-11 racer.

[2] The two I-9s were YL-AAU and YL-AAV. Both were constructed by the Valsts Daugavpils Arodskola on behalf of the Latvijas Aeroklubs of Riga.

Zavod 464 (originally Riga's bus garage)

After the Soviet annexation, there were plans to produce Yakovlev aircraft in Latvia.

Some sources say that the production of Yakovlev UT-3 (AIR-17) trainers was planned. Other sources suggest that Zavod 464 was to produce either the Yakovlev U-2 or Yak-6 in Riga.

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also from Air Pictorial August 1957.


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Thanks Hesham. I've added some of those details to my updated VEB list.
The 80 hp Renault engine was a WWI engine, this was not inline but a 8 cylinder V.

I found several pictures of the C-3 but no drawings and the same concerning the C-6 and C-6bis. Who can help?
John D. Akerman (or Jānis Akermanis) had a designation system of its own, using his initials "JDA". For example, before the VEF JDA-10 M, he designed a JDA-8 pusher light aircraft in the US in 1931:

Thanks for the Akerman details c460.

So, the JDA-8 was a 1931 design. The Akerman Tailless student project doesn't seem to have a designation. And the JDA-10M is a 1939 type. It is just conceivable then that the aborted 1936 fighter design for Spain could have been the VEF JDA-9 (pure speculation, of course).

the VEB I-10 called I-10 Vanags,a light aircraft maybe;

here is a Cukurs C-2 Peka-Peka,maybe it was a light low-wing monoplane,or developed from C-1 ?.



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A Latvian page on VEF aircraft:
The designation list in post #1 has now been completely revised and (I hope) brought up to date.

My original Latvian list needed work (it had been mounted over a decade ago but that was based on an even earlier 'Baltic' designation list). Along with re-organizing and updating. I've also added clarifying footnotes to each sub-section as well as some biographical information for Latvian aircraft designers. As well, there is a section translating and explaining meaning of 'popular names' for Latvian aircraft.

Many thanks to hesham for access to Latvijas aviācija un tās pionieri (Latvian aviation and its pioneers) by Kārlis Irbītis (Zinātne, Riga, 1997). Do any members have access to Irbītis' other book, Of Struggle and Flight: The History of Latvian Aviation (Canada's Wings, Stittsville ON, 1986)?

A note on accents: This time, I have tried to include Latvian diacritical marks. These are widespread in Latvian but are most obvious in people's names - eg: what elsewhere would be Karl or Jan become Kārlis and Jānis in Latvia (with the macron diacritics indicating 'long' vowel pronunciations). These 'additions' seem mainly to be aids to pronunciation in spoken Latvian. These Latvian masculine noun declensions also confuse the heck out of us non-Latvian speakers!

A case in point is the firm of a/s Christine Backmans. To Anglo eyes, that reads as a female name. And, in Latvian noun declension, a feminine noun should end with an 'e'. [1] But this company name is also seen rendered as 'Kristīna Bakmane' or even 'Kristīnes Bahmanes'. What are we hapless monolingual Anglophones to do with that? A little biography solves the gender issue. [2] Kristīne Bakmane (1897-1925) began her enterprise as a coal importer with the Anglicised name of the Christine Backman Company - often refered to in Latvian sources as a/s Christine Backman for its joint stock company status.

Latvian masculine noun declensions extend to surnames as well. However, Latvians writing in English seem to drop the declension when convenient - eg: that which belonged to Jānis Steglavs may be written Steglav's. I assume this to be because no pronunciation modifier is needed in English. I hope that I have caught most of the Latvian diacritics - they strongly effect pronunciation. [3] If I have badly garbled anything, I hope that forum members familiar with Latvian will put me straight.

Below, for completeness, I have added a new section listing pre-1921 aircraft design and construction in Latvia (and by Latvians). Few of these aircraft were given actual designations. But, who knows, perhaps some designation for Latvian pioneer aircraft designs will be revealed over time?

As always, further information on projects, comments, and corrections are most welcome.


[1] As noted later, this includes surnames. So, Kārlis Irbītis' wife's married name was Elfrīda Irbīta.

[2] For a biographical note on Kristīne Bakmane, see the a/s Christine Backman entry in post #1.

[3] Eg: Marģeris Ķēniņš' surname is not pronounced 'Ken-ins' but something more akin to 'Tjenyinysh'. The first name would be pronounced something like 'Murrdjerris'. (Confused yet? I know I am!)

Early Latvian Aircraft Designs [1]

1903 - Kārlis Skaubītis builds and flies a quadriplane glider of his own design

1909 - 3-bay biplane hang-glider built by Student Society for Aeronautics and Flight Technology (Riga)

1910 - Eduards Pulpe [2] and Marģeris Ķēniņš' school students design/build powered aircraft
-- This 1910 aircraft flown by Eduards Pulpe on several occassions from a beach near Riga

1910 - March, MOTOR factory imports Flugmaschine Wright GmbH (Berlin) airframe
-- 2-seat Wright biplane assembled at Zasulauks, 1 x 35 hp Motor-built engine
-- Teodor Kalep's MOTOR then switchs to Gnome rotaries (later improved as M-1)

1910 - July, 1st airframe built exclusively by MOTOR test-flown by Teodors Meibaums

1910 - Student Vilehad Henrik Forsman (Rīgas Politehniskais institūts) attempted original design
-- Not clear whether VH Forsman completed his build, Forsman built aircraft in Germany during WWI

1910 - Russo-Baltic Wagon Works (RBWZ) opens an aeronautical division in Riga [3]
-- RBWZ first license-built a Roger Sommer design, 7 x Sommer biplanes being built
-- By 1912, also 2 x Jacob M Hackel [4] biplanes and Kudashov-IV (aka RBWZ-1) [5]

1911 - May, Jānis Steglavs [6] flew his Divplaksnis Nr.1 in St.Petersburg
-- Steglavs designs featured 3-layer veneer covering and, later, steel pipe structures

1911 - Jānis Šūmanis builds a successful hang-glider

1911 - High school student Alfrēds Rozentāls [7] flies original hang-glider at Mezaparks
-- Unequal span '2.5' bay biplane with cruciform tailplane on open frame fuselage

1911 - Hang-glider built by Pēteris Ābrams and Kārlis Viziņš, and (?) Treibergs
-- Single-bay biplane with elevators forward and full tailplane aft

1912 - Industrialist Jānis Steglavs [6] flew his Divplaksnis Nr.2 in St.Petersburg
-- Steglavs' biplane was the fastest submitted design but no military contract resulted

1912 - Kristaps Cīrulis powered aircraft (no details) completed at Kurzeme
-- Cīrulis' aircraft 'barn-stormed' around Russia until the start of WWI

1912 - Teodors Kaleps' MOTOR factory produced a monoplane (no details) [8]

1912 - Teodors Kaleps' MOTOR produced a twin-engined biplane (no details)

1913 - MOTOR builds/tests streamlined monoplane design by Lt. Dibovski, IRN [9]
-- Dibovski monoplane powered by a MOTOR M-1 rotary engine

1913 - Sljusarenko aircraft workshop, Riga, builds Farman biplane designs
-- Farmans built for flying school and Imperial Russian Air Service

1913 - Student Oļģerts Teteris (Rīgas Politehniskais institūts) built a hang-glider [10]

1913-14 - Alfrēds Rozentāls builds a Hans Grade-type single-seat monoplane
-- Hans Grade: 1 x 25 hp Anzani Y-3,* span (Taube-like tips ~10.20 m
-- * Alas, a loan on Anzani engine resulted in repossession by Rozentāls' bank


[1] Primarily sourced from Latvian Aviation:
-- Pioneers:
-- MILESTONES: The Pioneers and their Aircraft:

[2] As Lt. Pulpe, scored 4 victories flying for France. His fifth victory was gained after returning to fight for Imperial Russia but Eduards Pulpe was KIA in 1916 (dates varying widely depending upon source).

[3] RBWZ stood for the Russko-Baltiyskiy vagonostroitel'nyy zavod. RBWZ's aeronautical division would be relocated from Riga to St.Petersburg in 1913.

[4] Latvian Aviation lists "Jacob M Hackel" biplanes (sometimes listed as Hackel-RBWZ). These were the designs of Russian Yakov Modestovich Gakkel (Яков Модестович Гаккель).

[5] The Kudashev-IV was a Blériot XI-style single-seat monoplane. Latvian Aviation credits "Russian designer Kojaz Kudashov". Actually, the designer was one Prince Alexander Sergeevich Kudashev (А.С. Кудашева). His previous Kudashev-III - built at the Kiev Polytechnic Institute where Kudashev was a professor - formed the model for the Kudashev-IV/RBWZ-1 prototype.

[6] Originally from Jelgava, Steglavs made his fortune with metal sewer pipes for St. Petersberg. Steglavs built at least 3 aircraft. Latvian sources claim that Steglavs' construction techniques influenced Anthony Fokker.

[7] Alfrēds Rozentāls would be shot down and killed on 08 Sept 1915 while flying for Imperial Russian Air Service.

[8] There may be confusion here - the "c.1912" monoplane and 1913 Dibovski monoplane might be one and the same.

[9] Viktor Vladimirovich Dibovski (Ви́ктор Влади́мирович Дыбо́вский) would be better remembered for the Scarff-Dibovski synchronization gear (adopted by the RNAS).

[10] Oļģerts Teteris joined the Imperial Russian Air Service and scored at least two confirmed 'kills' (with claims on up to six aerial victories) before being KIA on 28 February 1917.


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