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Seversky P-35's

unexpected metamorphosis

by Luc Fournier

1: Two former subjects of the Tsar...

At the beginning of 1931, two former subjects of Tsar Nicolas II established the Seversky Aircraft Corporation in Long Island New York. Major Alexander Prokofieff de Seversky (1894 - 1974) was the general manager. He came from an old Russian aristocratic family and he had distinguished himself as a pilot during the First World War. With his right leg amputated as a result of a crash during one of his first missions, he nevertheless kept on flying with an artificial leg, and even reached the enviable ace status with 13 victories achieved over German planes on the Baltic front. In 1917, Alexander de Seversky was appointed chief- assistant of the Russian aeronautic department in the USA. He left this position the following year because of a disagreement with the Bolsheviks and he offered his services to the US government. After being promoted to the rank of major, Seversky was put in charge of a test pilot program and inspector of aeronautic production. In 1927, Seversky obtained his American citizenship.

The Seversky Aircraft Corporation chief engineer was Alexander Kartveli (1896 - 1974), born in Tiflis (Georgia). He had been sent to Paris by his government to perfect his knowledge of artillery. When his native land was overcome with the Bolshevik revolution, this air enthusiast (who was also an excellent gymnast), entered the "Ecole Supérieure d'Aéronautique" in Paris. To support himself, he gave private lessons in mathematics, and performed as a trapeze artist in a circus during the evening. After graduation, Kartveli worked for a while at the Blériot Company. In 1927, he came to New York, following Charles Levine, a wealthy and eccentric American who dreamed to build a transatlantic transport plane. Levine's projects having failed, Kartveli joined the Fokker American Company in 1928. Three years later, while this company was going bankrupt, Alexander Kartveli met Alexander de Seversky.

Seversky professed original ideas in the field of aircraft construction, believing that certain components could easily be standardized: wings, fuselage elements, undercarriage, etc. so that a basic design could be easily adapted to the civilian or military needs of the customers. That's how, the designs evolved from the SEV-3, the first aircraft built by the firm in 1933, which was a light three seats transport monoplane, fitted with a radial engine and fixed undercarriage. All others Seversky's airplanes, including the P-35 and its non-military variants were derived from the SEV-3.

© Aerostories 2000.

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The Major Alexander Prokofieff de Seversky (1894- 1974)
Document via "Planes of Fame"

The famous ingineer Alexander Kartveli (1896- 1974)
He was the father of the aircraft family which comes from SEV-3 to P 47 " Thunderbolt "

Document via "Planes of Fame"

Profile view of the SEV- 3, first aircraft built by the Seversky Aircraft Corporation.

USAF Museum Archives.via "le Fana de l'Aviation".