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I-16 file photo [104]

I-16

CountryRussia
ManufacturerPolikarpov Design Bureau
Primary RoleFighter
Maiden Flight30 December 1933

Contributor:

ww2dbaseThe Polikarpov I-16 fighters were the design of Nikolai Nikolaevich Polikarpov, who began production on these fighters in the mid-1930s. They were noticeably shorter than their peers and the outside world often laughed at its appearance. The laughter stopped, however, when 475 of these small and light fighters performed superbly early in the Spanish Civil War on the side of the Republicans. One major complaint of these aircraft coming out of Spain was the short service life; on average, they needed to be serviced every five days of operation. 250 more were then sent to the Far East where they fought the Japanese advance, contesting the Japanese Nakajima Ki-27 and Mitsubishi A5M until the introduction of the A6M "Zero" fighters. By the time of the German invasion, I-16 fighters continued to be in service in the Russian military, but by this time they were slowly becoming outdated. Because a great part of their structures were made of wood, heavy weaponry of more modern German aircraft posed grave threats to I-16s. They were not replaced until 1943.

ww2dbaseSources: Aircraft of the Second World War, Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Mar 2006

I-16 Timeline

3 Aug 1939 30 Soviet-built I-16 fighters were delivered to the Chinese Air Force.

SPECIFICATIONS

I-16-1
MachineryOne M-22 (modified Bristol Jupiter) 9-cylinder radial engine rated at 480hp
Armament2x7.62mm ShKAS machine guns
Span9.00 m
Length6.07 m
Height2.45 m
Weight, Empty998 kg
Weight, Loaded2,965 kg
Speed, Maximum605 km/h
Service Ceiling9,000 m
Range, Normal800 km

I-16-4
MachineryOne M-25A (modified Wright Cyclone) 9-cylinder radial engine rated at 725hp
Armament2x7.62mm ShKAS machine guns
Span9.00 m
Length6.07 m
Height2.45 m
Weight, Empty1,266 kg
Weight, Loaded1,422 kg
Speed, Maximum450 km/h
Service Ceiling9,000 m
Range, Normal800 km

I-16-5
MachineryOne M-25B 9-cylinder radial engine rated at 775hp
Armament2x7.62mm ShKAS machine guns
Span9.00 m
Length6.07 m
Height2.45 m
Weight, Empty1,266 kg
Weight, Loaded1,660 kg
Speed, Maximum450 km/h
Service Ceiling9,000 m
Range, Normal800 km

I-16-10
MachineryOne M-25B 9-cylinder radial engine rated at 775hp
Armament4x7.62mm ShKAS machine guns
Span9.00 m
Length6.07 m
Height2.45 m
Weight, Empty1,266 kg
Weight, Loaded1,715 kg
Speed, Maximum450 km/h
Service Ceiling9,000 m
Range, Normal800 km

I-16-17
MachineryOne M-25B 9-cylinder radial engine rated at 775hp
Armament2x7.62mm ShKAS machine guns, 2x20mm ShVAK cannons
Span9.00 m
Length6.07 m
Height2.45 m
Weight, Loaded1,810 kg
Speed, Maximum450 km/h
Service Ceiling9,000 m
Range, Normal800 km

I-16-18
MachineryOne Shvetsov M-62R engines rated at 1,000hp
Armament2x7.62mm ShKAS machine guns, 2x20mm ShVAK cannons
Span9.00 m
Length6.12 m
Height2.56 m
Weight, Empty1,410 kg
Weight, Loaded1,830 kg
Speed, Maximum450 km/h
Service Ceiling9,000 m
Range, Normal800 km

I-16-24
MachineryOne Shvetsov M-62R engines rated at 1,000hp
Armament2x7.62mm ShKAS machine guns, 2x20mm ShVAK cannons
Span9.00 m
Length6.12 m
Height2.56 m
Weight, Empty1,490 kg
Weight, Loaded1,912 kg
Speed, Maximum525 km/h
Service Ceiling9,000 m
Range, Normal400 km
Range, Maximum700 km

Photographs

Captured Russian-built Chinese Air Force I-16 fighter on display at the stadium in Nishinomiya, Japan, late 1930sChinese Air Force ace Liu Che-Sun posing in front of his I-16 fighter, circa 1937 to early 1938
See all 9 photographs of I-16 Fighter



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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. ramon eagle says:
29 Oct 2006 08:05:35 PM

very good info.i understand the Russian pilots flying these Ratas as nicknamed were called to do wonders with this type fighter in facing and coping with the Luftwaffe.
2. Hobilar says:
14 Sep 2007 01:46:11 AM

In 1992 the New Zealander, Sir Tim Wallace, discovered the wrecks of six I-16 and three I-153s and these have all been restored to flying condition with ASh-621R engines by a Siberian aircraft factory, the first flying on 9th September 1995. Two I-16 and an I-153 now fly in the USA and the rest are airworthy in New Zealand.
3. Commenter identity confirmed BILL says:
5 Mar 2009 05:02:12 PM

The Polikarpov I-16 was the worlds first mass-produced single wing fighter with retractable undercarriage. The first prototype flew in late 1933, and went into production in mid 1934. In 1936 the first I-16's were delivered to the Spanish Republican forces, and used in the Civil War dubbed "Mosca" (fly) by the Republicans, and "Rata" (Rat) by the Fascists. Around 7,005 I-16's were built in different versions. To quote one Russian Pilot, "If you can fly an I-16, you can fly anything" Operators: U.S.S.R., Spain, China and Finland
4. Commenter identity confirmed BILL says:
12 Mar 2009 06:54:47 AM

very good website a lot of information,that is helpful.
5. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
14 Jun 2010 07:56:52 PM

Nicknamed "Rata" (Rat) during the Spanish Civil War, and "Ishak" (Jackass) by Russian pilots. Although obsolete by 1941 the little fighter proved itself during the early period of the Great Patriotic War. The I-16 proved very difficult to fly, as one pilot said: "If you can fly an I-16 you can fly anything" The aircraft was very maneuverable, and used it as an advantage against Luftwaffe fighters A number of pilots made ace flying the I-16. About 10,292 aircraft were built including the two-seat UTI-4 advanced trainer. The I-16 carried different types of weapons over its production life, armed with two 7.62mm ShKas machine guns,12.7mm machine guns and even 20mm cannons. The I-16 was able to keep in the fight flying against the Nakajima Ki-27 (Nate) during the Battle of Khalkhan Gol in 1939, until the Imperial Japanese Navy introduced the A6M Zero, and swept the I-16 from the skies the fighter served until 1943 being replaced by more modern fighters. Anumber of I-16's have been restored, and a few are able to fly today. Operators: Russia, Nationalist China, Finland and Spain the Spanish used the I-16 until the 1950's Captured Aircraft: Pilot defected, to the Japanese,aircraft was tested at the Techikawa Institute in 1940. Used by Romania Germany captured I-16's during the invasion of the USSR in 1941, both fighters and two- seat trainers. Aircraft were tested at the Luftwaffe Test Center at Rechlin.
6. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
22 Mar 2012 08:06:53 PM

The I-16 was revolutionary in design, the airframe was simple to build, the first versions were powered by a 480hp air-cooled radial engine. The fighter was built of mixed construction having a plywood fuselage and the wings were tubular structure covered in fabric, the leading edges were light ally, the empennage also in metal structure. The undercarrage was retracted by hand using a crank and cable system simple, but it worked. Armament was 2x7.62mm machine guns mounted in the wings firing outside the propeller disk. Later models were armed with 4x7.62mm, 2x12.7mm machine guns even 20mm cannons. Later Models were powered by 775hp and 1,000hp engines. DESIGN A FIGHTER, OR ITS THE GULAG: Did you know in 1929 Polkiarpov and his design team were arrested, and sentenced to internal prison to continue work on aircraft designs, all the time and under the watchful eye of the KNVD. Polkiarpov was judged too vital to the Soviet State and the Soviet Military he was lucky he didn't face execution or a slow death in the labor camps
7. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
12 Apr 2012 08:36:17 PM

The I-16 was known by different names, the Spanish Republicans called it the (Mashka or Small Fly)or just (Mosca Fly). The Spanish Nationalist called it the (Rata Rat). The Japanese called it (Abu Gadfly) and the Germans called it the (Dientsjager or Duty Fighter) and the Russians called it the (Yastrebok Hawk or Ishok Little Donkey) ITS A HARD LIFE COMRADE: In Spanish service the I-16 was used hard many fighters had over 400 hours of flight time and the average life of an I-16, was about 90 days of which 1/6 was spent on maintenance. During the Spanish Civil War, both sides used the I-16 due to the hot climate engine life was short due to dust and other factors. THE LITTLE PLANE THAT COULD: The I-16 was a tricky fighter to fly the engine was near the center of gravity, and the cockpit set well behind close to the tail pilot's had to maintain control at all times. By the time of the German invasion of the USSR June 22, 1941 about 2/3rds of the VVS fighter strength was made up mof I-16s. Many pilots would ram German aircraft, when out of ammo, bail out and live to fight another day, for Mother Russia.

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I-16 Fighter Photo Gallery
Captured Russian-built Chinese Air Force I-16 fighter on display at the stadium in Nishinomiya, Japan, late 1930sChinese Air Force ace Liu Che-Sun posing in front of his I-16 fighter, circa 1937 to early 1938
See all 9 photographs of I-16 Fighter


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