Designer of airplanes A.Gustaitis


I established in 1919 during the War for Independence, the military aviation of Lithuania became a modern military force for the following twenty years. All this timespan is closely associated with the name of Antanas Gustaitis. Starting as a volunteer in the fledgling Lithuanian army, he soon became a talented pilot, designer of airplanes and the Commander-in-chief of military aviation.
Antanas Gustaitis was born on March 26, 1898, in a rural village Obelinė, Javaravas county, Marijampolė district, Lithuania. He spent the years of the First World War in Jaroslavl (Russia), where he graduated from high school, and later studied in the Institute of Engineering in Petrograd and School of Artillery.
He joined the Lithuanian army as a volunteer on March 15, 1919. On December 16, 1919, he was graduated from the School of Military aviation, as a junior Lieutenant. In 1920, while serving in the 1st Air Squadron, he participated in the battle against the Poles. 1922-1923 he was the Chairman of commission of terminology and was lecturing for the aviation officers. In 1923 he was assigned as the leader of Training squadron.
In 1923-1924 he visited Italy, Czechoslovakia and Klaipėda, where he supervised the building of airplanes for Lithuania. In 1925-1928 he studied in the Superior School of Aeronautics and Mechanical Constructions in Paris. After graduation he served as a deputy of Commander-in-Chief of the Military aviation, as the head of aviation workshops and as the chief of Technical department. On May 9, 1934, he became the Commander-in-Chief of the Lithuanian military aviation. On November 23, 1937, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.
Several times, in the line of duties, he visited England, France, Italy and USSR. In 1941, after the occupation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union and after dissolving its army, he lectured at the University of Vytautas the Great in Kaunas. Perceiving his imminent arrest, on March 4 he attempted to cross the Lithuanian-German border, was arrested and brought to Moscow. He was sentenced on July 7 and executed on October16, 1941.
Under the leadership of A.Gustaitis, the Military aviation workshops were reorganized into a modern plant, suitable not only for repairs, but also for serial production of airplanes. A network of airports and landing strips throughout Lithuania was established.
Several new squadrons were formed in the Lithuanian military aviation, constituting the fighter, reconnaissance and bomber groups. A method for training pilots and aeronautical engineers was established. The most talented would-be pilots were sent to the appropriate schools in foreign countries.
A. Gustaitis, one of the founders of the Aero Club of Lithuania, was later named vice-president and Honorary member of the Club. He urged the youth of Lithuania to pay more attention to the less expensive branch of aviation - the gilding. He promoted the training of the first gliding instructors and the building of the first gliders. He spoke several foreign languages fluently, liked music and was an outstanding chess-player (in 1923 he became the chess champion of Lithuania).
However, A. Gustaitis biggest achievement was the design of nine different types of airplanes, their testing and organizing of their serial production. He marked his airplanes with the letters ANBO. Technologically, all his airplanes had a simple construction, high reliability and possessed very good flying qualities. These parameters were achieved from the first try-without any significant changes, i.e. the prototypes did not differ from the serially built airplanes.
ANBO-I. This was a single-seater low wing monoplane, suitable for pilot training. It was tested on July 14,1925. The fuselage was made of welded steel tubing, fabric covered. Wings of wooden construction, fabric covered. The engine was 3-cylinder, 35 HP French "Anzani". Max. speed 142 km/hr.
ANBO-II. This was a parasol type, two - seater monoplane of mixed construction, designed primarily for the training of pilots. Tested on November 10,1927. The engine was 60 HP "Walter" NZ. Max. speed 160 km/hr. For several years ANBO-II was use in military aviation. In 1931 it was reconstructed, outfitted with a 70 HP engine and donated to the Aero Club of Lithuania. Crashed on Aug. 26, 1934.
ANBO-III. This was also a parasol type two-seater monoplane of mixed construction, designed for the advanced training of pilots. Tested in August, 1929. The engine was 120 HP "Walter". In 1930-1931 two productions of four airplanes were built, utilizing "Genet Major" and other engines. Max. speed 174km/hr. At the beginning, ANBO-III was used for reconnaissance purposes. ANBO-III was the first serially built airplane of the Lithuanian construction.
ANBO-IV. This was a two-seater parasol type monoplane, designed for reconnaissance purposes. Also used as a light bomber. The prototype was tested on July 14, 1932. Construction of the fuselage-riveted aluminum tubing, fabric covered. The prototype utilized 450 HP "Wasp" and 535 HP A.S. "Panther" engines. In 1934-1935 two series of this type were built, each consisting of seven airplanes. Engines for serial production were 580 HP Bristol "Pegasus" II L2 and II M2. Max. speed 290 km/hr, max. ceiling 8 km. Flight distance - 800 km. Armament: four machine-guns and 144 kg bombs. Three of the first series of ANBO-IVL, under the leadership of A. Gustaitis, in 1934 visited many European countries.
ANBO-41. This is an improved type of ANBO-IV. The prototype was tested in 1936. ANBO-41 had a more powerful engine, three-bladed propellers and somewhat changed construction of the wings and of their fastening. In 1937 and 1939 two series of ANBO-41 were built, a total of 20 units (with the prototype). 930 H P Bristol "Pegasus" XI engines were used. Max. speed - 360 km/hr. Carried 200 kg bomb load.
AN BO-V. Two-seater parasol type monoplane, designed for the primary training of pilots. The prototype was tested in 1931, having 85 HP "Walter" engine. At a later date another four airplanes of this type were built, utilizing 110 HP Walter "Venus" and 140 HP "Genet Major" engines.
ANBO-51. This is an improved type of ANBO-V, having a more powerful 160 HP "Genet Major" IV engine and a strengthened construction of the wings. In 1936 and 1938, 10 units of this type were built.
ANBO-VI. Two-seater parasol type monoplane, designed for the advanced training of pilots and for liaison purposes. ANBO-VI was developed from ANBO-III. it had a wider landing gear and a more powerful 185 HP Curtis "Challenger" R-600 engine. In 1933, four units of this type were built.
ANBO-VII. Two-seater sportplane. Its constructing by Lithuanian Aero Club in 1935 was not finished.
ANBO-VIII. Two-seater low wing monoplane, designed as an attack plane or a light bomber. The prototype was tested on Septembers, 1939. The engine - 930 HP Bristol "Pegasus" XVIII with two-stage air compressor. Max. speed 411 km/hr. Armament: four machine-guns in the wings and one in rear seat cabin. It could carry 800 kg of bombs under the fuselage or four 100 kg bombs under the wings, The occupation of Lithuania prevented the serial production of this last type of ANBO.
In the period between 1925 and 1939, a total of 65 Gustaitis designed airplanes were built. Thanks to A.Gustaitis talent and initiative, in the first half of this century Lithuania became one of the countries in Europe who built military airplanes of its own construction. In the fourth decade, all Lithuania's primary trainers, advanced trainers and reconnaissance airplanes were built in Kaunas.

Translated by Edmundas Jasiūnas

Source: A. Gamziukas „Antanas Norėjo Būti Ore“



Spauskite foto