First, I would like to thank Massimo for his website, and the accurate information it contains.
My name is Cyrille, I am a member of the French Memorial Flight Association (http://www.memorial-flight.com
). Our main activity is the restoration of WWI aircrafts for flying. But we have also been doing static restoration of several airplanes on behalf of the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace. Our latest project was the restoration of the Heinkel 162 n°120015.
We have just received the world's unique complete and original Polikarpov I-153. We are willing to restore to the aircraft with its original paint scheme, and to its original condition.
Our first investigations indicates that the airframe is probably the n°7277. However, some removable parts (cowling, etc) come from other airframes as they bear different hand painted or engraved numbers.
The aircraft is thought to have been captured by the germans in Ukraine in late 1941. However we do not have further information about that. Then the aircraft was probably part of the Beutepark n°5 of Nanterre (near Paris), and unlike the other aircrafts of the Beutepark, remained intact and was later given to the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace. We have no photos of the I-153 before the 1950s. (The Beutepark contained captured aircrafts, so that pilots and mechanics could study them).
It has always been prestend in an approximate green/light blue paint scheme, with the tail code red 9.
We have been studying the fuselage a bit closer. Most of the fabric is NOT original. It was probably damaged so they cut the most damaged parts. This was done by the germans (red dope). However, they kept the original lacing ! So they sewn the newest fabric and kept an original perimeter with sample of the Aluminium dope ! (according to this website : AII Aluminium (aluminiovyi)). Moreover, most of the bottom fuselage fabric is original ! so we have big pieces of original fabric, with original color.
Now it seems clear that the aircraft was aluminium when captured. Therefore, we checked the metallic parts, and cowling. Under the green paint, we found a light grey/beige color which seems to be : AE-9 light grey.
So the Aircraft was aluminium (fabric) and grey (metallic parts) ! So probably like those :
The tail of the aircraft, however, bear a different serial number, so does the elevator... It seems that the aircraft has been completed with other aircraft parts. The tail fabric is original and the original color is green dope (AII (zashchitnyi) gloss camouflage green) ! But underneath there is an aluminium dope layer ! (same for the elevator).
The inside color of all metallic parts is a gloss grey/blue color (maybe A-14/A-14f steel grey) :
We are also sure that the aircraft has been deeply studied by the germans. The pneumatic bottle has been stamped "Unbrauchbar 13.1.42". And the fuselage fabric has red dope (typically German).
But we did find a precise clue. In the fuselage, we found a German wooden plywood part :
It is written in German : "links unten" (literally : "lower left"). The pattern corresponds to a metallic plate covering the strut fixation on the lower left wing. We could think that the German wanted to expose the aircraft in a good condition. As they did not have the original plate, they made a wooden copy of it. The interesting thing is that this wooden part was painted green !
This would confirm that this green paint scheme was applied by the germans.
We also found an old cardboard with Paris city's coat of arms. This is interesting because this has been let by a Parisian worker, of the aircraft was maybe exposed inside Paris city.
So now you see that we have started a fascinating restoration. We are looking for some help about the paint scheme. If you have some relevant information that might help us, we would be pleased to read them from you.
We would also like to know in which unit the aircraft was used.
If you have any information ?
More photos are coming soon.