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Soviet aircraft engineers A. Y. Bereznyak and A. M. Isayev began working on rocket-powered aircraft designs as early as 1938. Satisfied with the progress in late Jul 1941, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin ordered a prototype to be completed in about a month. Because the prototypes were planned to be made from plywood and fabric, furniture workers local to the OKB-293 design bureau were summoned to speed up the work. With only a slight delay, the first prototype, named BI-1 (Blizhnii Istrebitel, "close range"), was ready for unpowered flight on 1 Sep. In Oct 1941, OKB-293 was evacuated to Bilimbay, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia in Central Asia; shortly after, a test stand was build on the shore of Lake Bilimbay, which was used throughout the winter to test the engine.
By Apr 1942, the BI-1 prototype aircraft was finally ready for testing. At 1902 hours on 15 May 1942, with test pilot Grigory Bakhchivandzhi at the helm, the BI-1 prototype aircraft took off from the nearby Koltsovo Airfield, reaching a maximum altitude of 840 meters and maximum speed of 400 kilometers per hour. Although the engine experienced slight overheating and the landing gear broke upon landing, the first test, which lasted 3 minutes and 9 seconds, was considered successful. The second prototype, BI-2, took its first flight at the start of the following year, again with Bakhchivandzhi at the helm. Two days later, test pilot Konstantin Gruzdev took BI-2 for its second flight; with the restriction on throttle lifted, BI-2 reached the altitude of 2,190 meters and the speed of 675 kilometers per hour. On 27 Mar, on the fourth and final flight of the BI-3 prototype aircraft, a top speed of more than 800 kilometers per hour was reached, but the aircraft soon lost control, crashing to the ground and killing Bakhchivandzhi. In May 1943, OKB-293 was moved back to Khimki near Moscow, Russia, where the work on the BI fighter design continued. Six more prototype aircraft were built between 1943 and 1945, utilizing different engine designs, including one (BI-6) with a ramjet engine, a departure from the previous rocket engines. In 1945, as the World War slowly drew to its end, support for this project was withdrawn.
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