During the middle 1930s Industria Aeronautică Română (IAR) company had been competing unsuccessfully against the Polish PZL company in providing the Romanian AF with fighters. Quite tired of the whole matter, IAR ate crow somehow and decided to evaluate the Polish winners (mainly the P.24) and chose the best features them for their next challenger.
First flown just before the start of WW2, the IAR.80 looked a lot like a P.24 -specially its fuselage- equipped with a svelte low wing instead of the “Polish Wing.” All went well during its trials and the IAR.80 was ordered and became the main fighter of the Romanian AF during WW2 with around 350 produced. Decent performers at the time of its operational debut, the IAR.80-81s suffered during their operational life of the lack of real power on their licence-built Mistral Majors engines. They could hold their own against the Soviet fighters early on, but later they proved to be both underpowered and a bit underarmed, specially against the American heavy bombers.
Magnificent take-off photo of an example of the latest variant, the heavily armed IAR.81C. To say those IARs were sleek is a serious understatement.