Polikarpov I-16 type 10

Model review

Eduard 1/48 Polikarpov I-16 type 10 (8148)

Box cover and painting guide

Eduard announced this Polikarpov I-16 type 10 kit moulded in light grey-green styrene in May 2006. Immediatelly it raised a debate about accuracy of the shape of the front cowling which looked too square. Quite rapidly Eduard made a new replacement cowling which looked much accurate and announced on it's web-page that it will post the new part to all willing persons at no cost. I sent immediatelly my post address to Eduard by e-mail and looked forward to my new cowling. I was quite surprised when I went to look my mail-box on next week. There was a letter which contained my new cowling!

Along with the nose the kit contains also two other criticized areas of which the more visible is the back portion of the upper rear fuselage which is a little too angular but only a little. It's easy to fix this with a file and a piece of sandpaper. Some sources claim that profile of the vertical fin is too high compared to some published drawings. Which drawings are accurate and which not divides peoples opinions. It's totally your own desicion if you want to file down the profile of the vertical fin or not. I didn't make any changes to the vertical fin of my model but instead left it as it is. Sadly there is one flaw also in this kit which is present in many other Eduard's kits too, namely those too thick trailing edges. It's good to make them thinner as much as possible before gluing the wing halfs together.

The kit is extremely sharply moulded with finely engraved panel lines and details, especially the fabric covered surfaces which are best I have ever seen. Some of the surface details may be little "overdone" but this is matter of taste. The kit includes also a color photo etched set which contains instrument panel, seat belts, cocpit levers and many other small parts. There is also painting masks included in the kit. All necessary parts to build I-16 type 17 or type 18 are included on sprues allthough the decal sheet does not include markings for those types. Eduard's Polikarpov I-16 type 10 is exellent kit in spite of few small shortcomings. This kit's quality is very near Hasegawa or Tamiya and I can warmly recommend it to other modellers interested of the subject.

I ended up building this model for two reasons. The type is historically very interesting and it was widely used against Finland during WW 2. I also wanted to build this model more quickly than my previous Gladiator which took really long time to complete. From the very beginning I intented to build a Russian plane which would had flown on the Finnish front. Because lack of suitable aftermarket decals I ended up building General Major and Hero of the Soviet Union Ivan A. Lakeev 's plane in June 1941 at the early stage of the Great Patriotic War with the kit's decals and out of the box. Lakeev was then General Major and at this time he was assigned to the VVS KOVO (Kiev District HQ) staff and based himself with the 46 IAP at Vasilkov's airfield. Lakeev 's plane had simple and easy paintscheme and striking logans on the fuselage sides. (Eduard has now published a new I-16 type 24 kit which has painting scheme options and decals for two planes flown on the Finnish front).

I started building from wings. Before gluing wing halfs together I sanded trailing edges thinner as I mentioned before. Machine gun barrels looks much too thick. They look like 37 mm gun barrels. Calibre of the wing machine guns of I-16 type 10 was 7,62 mm and in photographs the mg barrels looks thinner than pitot tube of the plane. I replaced the overdone wing mg barrels with new ones made of needles. I-16's didn't have full cocpit floor. Sides of the floor were open so pilot could see bottom of the fuselage. Kit's floor is too broad and extends from wall to wall. I corrected the floor by cutting away the sides level and added a new half round fuselage bottom under the floor which I made of thin styrene sheet. It depicts the bottom of the fuselage under the cocpit. Real I-16 had two small round "windows" behind the windscreen on top of the fuselage to illuminate instrument panel which was deep in fuselage. The kit depicts the windows only as raised panel lines so I drilled out them and made two transparent windows out of clear sprue.

First I intended to built my model with engine cowling shutter doors shut and without engine to boost building. Unfortunately thickness of the engine cowling plastic (part F14) is too thick which leads to a new problem. If the engine cowling shutter doors (part PE1) are closed there is a noticeable step between the cowling front level and closed shutter doors. On a real plane closed cowling shutter doors were almost at the same level with the cowling front. After all I ended up to build my model with cowling shutter doors open and engine installed. Because the kit's M-25V engine is fairly simple I added some details to it although there is not much visible through the small cooling apertures.

After I have painted and pre-shaded the cocpit I clued PE levers to their places. Then I added a drop of white glue to to the tip of the levers which represented knobs. I also added operation rods and wires to the levers made of thin copper wire. Next I glued together the fuselage halfs. Fitting was good and no putty was needed. When the glue joint was dry I filed the spine cone more rounded on top. Then it was time to dry fit the wings to their places. It was a little surprise to me to see a noticeable step at the joint of the wings and the fuselage. It was quite easy to correct by raising the top of the wing with a thin styrene sheets. Leading edges of the wings had also to be raised up a little with suitable stumps of sprue. Topside of the front fuselage didn't fit well along the under-side. I had to glue spreader parts to the underside (wing) to correct the problem. (Hard to explain but take a look at "work in progress pictures"). Before I started painting of my model I glued undercarriage, tail-skid, pitot tube and venturi tube to their places. I replaced the pitot tube by thinner one made of thin styrene bar and I also drilled out the venturi tube. Shorter end of the venturi tube is suppused to be ahead against kit's construction guide.

Painting and decals
The kit offers four painting options and decals for them. The most colorful of them all is the plane of the leader of the "Red Fives" acrobatics group, major M Yakushin. The plane is light gray overall (AEh-9 or AEh-8) with black nose and black stripe tapering towards tail of the plane and red rudder. The next plane has unique painting scheme, it has AII Green painted with brush over AEh-9 light gray on upper sides. The plane served on unknown unit in Ukraina and it was left behind lines to the hands of Germans. Pictures of this plane can be found on many books. The next option is a plane which was in service as late as 1944 at one of Leningrad regions flight training units. The plane has camouflage scheme of AII Green and AII Black (AMT-6) on upper sides and AII Blue on under sides. The fourth option is General Major Ivan Lakeev's plane which has AII Green upper sides and AII Blue under sides. The plane has red engine cowling, spinner and lower part of the rudder. I chose to built this option.

I first sprayed lightgray primer (Matt Humbrol 28) all over the model. Next I painted undersides of the plane with AII Light Blue (FS 35550) which was my own mix and was mixed of White Ensign Soviet VVS Color's AMT7 and XtraColor's RAF Azure Blue, Revell's matt white and a little bit Revell's 56 Blue. I'm quite happy of the light blue shade I managed to mix. Upper side color is AII Green (FS 34151) which was Humbrol 105 tinted with white (5-10%). At this time I didn't pre-shade my model at all but sprayed post-shading to the panel lines with my air-brush. The colors I used were XtraColor's RLM 82 on upper sides and RLM 78 on under sides. Cocpit is painted with White Ensign's WUP Grey Interior Primer and the red color on the nose and rudder was Revell's 36. I painted the floor and the seat in the cocpit with AII Green. The missing half round bottom which I made from scratch was painted with WUP Grey Interior Primer. Because I didn't have any photographs of the real plane in use I painted my model according to kit's painting guide. According to Eduard's painting guide Lakeev's plane national insignia's were only plain red stars but according to Modelling the Aircraft of the Soviet VVS 1917 - 1950 web page his plane had black bordered stars. This makes no problem because the kit's decal sheet also contains right sized black bordered stars in it. According to my sources Lakeev's plane was carefully maintained and it's overall condition was good as it was General's plane! So I kept my weathering also minimal.

Excellent kit of one the of the most noticeable fighters of the VVS at the opening stages of the Great Patriotic War in spite of little fitting problems at the wing root. The best injection moulded kit of the I-16 type 10 in 1/48 scale, much better than the old Hobbycraft's kit.


Nikolai Polikarpov's small monoplane I-16 fighter (I=Istrebitel=fighter) with retractable landing gear was the most succesfull fighter type in Soviet Union between the wars. Designing of the plane started in 1932 and it entered service before Polikarpov's I-15 and I-153 biplane fighters. I-16 was the most advanged fighter in the world when it entered service, it's maximum speed was 445 km/h. Almost at the same time Boing P-26A entered service in the USA and it was 80 km/h slower than I-16. I-16 type 5 had also superior climbing speed and maneuvreability. I-16 was the worlds first monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear to enter serial production.

The plane was too advanced even in it's homeland! Due to pilot's demands the enclosed cocpit was deleted and as late as 1939 Russian pilots who were fighting in Mongolia asked more maneuvreable biplane fighter I-153 Tsaikka in place of their fast I-16 fighters! Polikarpov I-16 came to publicity when Russia delivered 475 planes to Republicans during the Spanish Civil War in 1936 - 1939. It was nasty surprice to opponent's Air Force which has nothing to put against the fast climbing and nimble I-16 "Rata". I-16 pilots could hold air superiority over Spanish skies until Germany shipped Legion Gondor with Messerschmitt Bf 109 D fighters to wrest air superiority back to the Nationalists. When Germany's raid against Soviet Union started on 22. of June 1941 Polikarpov I-16 was totally outdated although numerically it was the most common fighter type of the VVS. The plane got many nicknames, most well known names were: "Ishak" (Little Donkey") like it was named by Soviet pilots. Spanish Republicans callet it "Mosca" (Little Fly) and Spanish Nationalists called it "Rata" (Rat).

Polikarpov Design Team got a commission in May of 1933 from the Soviet Air Force (VVS) to work on a revolutionary monoplane fighter project TsKB-12. The plane based on the drawings for a modern low-wing fighter with retractable landing gear that Nikolai Polikarpov had made already in the summer of 1932. To reduse drag the dimensions of the plane were fairly small. For its time the design of a monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear was revolutionary. The decision to build such a fighter was well ahead of the rest of the world since no such designs existed elsewhere. In late June of 1933 a new version of the initial TsKB-12 was considered with the aim of reducing airframe weight, drag and improving aerodynamics. Wind-tunnel tests helped to determine the optimum wing plan and proved that NACA cowling was superior to a Townsend ring.

There were two different versions with different engines developed at the same time. TsKB-12 had Russian M-22 radial- engine wich developed 480 hp. TsKB-12bis had American Wright-Cyclone SRG-1820-F-3 radial- engine wich had 710 hp take-off power. Both prototypes used a three blade Hamilton-Standard propeller. TsKB-12 flew for the first time on 30. of December 1933. Plane's stability was not satisfactory and the rudder area had to be enlarged. Additionally, the three blade Hamilton-Standard propeller was replaced by a two blade Soviet V-22 propeller. In early 1934 engine cowling of the TsKB-12 was modified to overcome problems with engine overheating. Wright-Cyclone powered TsKB-12bis retained the three blade Hamilton-Standard propeller.

TsKB-12bis flew it's first flight in January 1934. The most noticeable difference between the two prototypes was the bigger engine cowling of the TsKB-12bis. Despite the various unsolved problems of the two prototypes both planes were transferred to the Scientic Test Institute of the Red Air Force (NII-VVS) for state acceptance trials. Test fights were completed in February 1934 and both planes had fixed ski landing gear. Even with the extra drag the performance of the new fighters was impressive. TsKB-12 reached 306 km/h at sea level while the TsKB-12 bis reached a speed of 351 km/h. Test pilots praised the simple controls of the aircraft and its maneuverability. TsKB-12 could turn 360 degree turn only in 15,5 seconds. On the other hand the plane was very unstable at high speeds which made handling of the plane very difficult and there was also engine overheating problems. Test pilots pointed out that only pilots with considerably skill could manage with the fighter.

Despite the various shortcomings of the type the Red Air Force (VVS) showed a great interest in adding the TsKB-12 to the inventory as soon as possible. Negotiations with the Central Department of the Aircraft Industry were started. After the end of the trials both prototypes were returned to the factory to improve the weak points of the planes. In April of 1934 the State Acceptance Trials were resumed with the both prototypes. The plane had now retractable landing gear which had to be cranked up and down manually. It had a bad feature to lock-on in upper position and was not reliable. Instability during climb and in turns and the rigidly-mounted engine which produced high vibration level got complaints from the test pilots. In addition to the problems described above the TsKB-12 suffered of a slackening of the wing's linen covering also. It was determined at a conclusion of the tests that both of the prototypes were not ready for production yet.

After remedy work of the TsKB-12 and the TsKB-12 bis, which was eguipped with a new Wright-Cyclone SGR-1820-F-3 engine was finished, flying trials were continued in September of 1934. The greatest modifications was made to the wings. Wing's center section and the leading edge of the wing was now metal covered allowing the wing to maintain its proper shape at a wide range of speeds and wing loading. The TsKB-12 bis prototype had the three blade Hamilton-Standard propeller raplaced by two plade propeller. During the flight test program the TsKB-12 reached 325 km/h speed at 5000 meters and climbed 532 m/s and reached a ceiling of 7180 meters. The Wright-Cyclone SGR-1820-F-3 powered TsKB-12 bis had a maximum speed of 413 km/h at 5000 meters and climbed 806 m/s and reached a ceiling of 8800 meters. Finally the two prototypes met the stated requirements and preparations were undertaken by the Ministry for Aircraft Production to start production of the M-22 powered TsKB-12 under the designation I-16 Type-4.

Short introduction of Polikarpov I-16 and its subtypes in service and the most important features of them.

I-16 type 4
When the production of the I-16 type 4 started the Red Air Force (VVS) got its first really modern monoplane fighter to use. The first 58 fighters were produced at State Aircraft Factory N:o 39 (GAZ-39) at Khodinka during 1934. Although not all problems of the aircraft had not yet been fully resolved preparation for production of the new fighter at GAZ-21 at Nizhny-Novgorod, where the production was shifted, proceeded with top priority. An order was issued to the Scientific Research Institute (NII-VVS) to provide technical assistance to the GAZ-21 factory to solve the I-16's problems on a high priority basis. Since the I-16 was the fourth aircraft type built in GAZ-2, the factory's technical documentation referred it as the I-16 type 4, a designation which was later generally adopted by the Soviet Air Force. Due to the problems with the licence production of the Wright-Cyclone SGR-1820-F-3 engine (M-25 engine) and lack of the Hamilton-Standard propeller it was decided to power the fighter with M-22 engine which was a Soviet copy of the British Bristol Jupiter VI engine (480 hp). The M-22 was normally fitted with a V-22 fixed pitch two bladed metal propeller.

There were a number of differences between the TsKB-12 prototype and the production I-16 type 4. The NACA engine cowling was lenghtened and tapered toward the rear, undercarriage had leg and wheel covers, the small upper wing blister over the mg was deleted and the plane was equipped with a standard unforked pitot tube. Also four small cantilever from trailing edge of the wingtips was deleted. The dorsal pine was slightly enlarged. The I-16 type 4 was the first Soviet fighter which had an 8 mm armor protection for the pilot behind the pilot's seat. The I-16 Type 4 was of mixed construction, the fuselage made of wood and the wings being constructed of metal. The fuselage was built in two halves divided vertically, each half comprising four longerons and eleven pine frames. The monocoque skin of the fuselage was produced from layers of birch strips glued cross-grained and molded on a former. The wing spars were crome-molybdenum steel alloy and the ribs were of dural. The center section and leading edges had Type D1 aluminum alloy skinning, the remainder of the wings being fabric covered. The long-span slot type ailerons which acted as landing flaps had metal frames and fabric covering as did the movable tail surfaces. Cranks and rigid rods were used for ailerons and elevator control cables and pulleys for the rudder. Cables and a hand-crank were also used for undercarriage retraction since hydraulic retraction systems were not yet in wide spread use.

The cocpit was enclosed by a canopy which featured an integral windscreen. The canopy slid forward and rearward on runners. A number of Soviet pilots felt uncomfortable with a closed cocpit and many flew with the canopy in the full forward position. Armament comprised two synchronized 7,62 mm PV-1 machine guns in wings with an ammunition supply of 900 rounds per gun. The first I-16 type 4 was delivered in October of 1934 and it was presented to the public for the firs time on 1. May 1935. Due to the aircraft's high wing loading the I-16 had a landing speed of 100 km/h resulting in the need for longer runways than had been needed for the fighter biplanes. The Soviet government made a far-reaching decision to extend the lenght of runways on their airfields so that the I-16 could be used without problems from advanced airstrips. The I-16 type 4 was planned to be an interim production variant until the license built version of the Wright-Cyclone SGR-1820-F-3 became available (M-25). The I-16 type 4 was suitable for developmental programs, the evolution of new operational techniques and for use in training pilots with the characteristics of the cantilever low-wing monoplane and retractable landing gear. The I-16 type 4 had a take off weight of 1354 kg and it had a maximum speed of 362 km/h. Totally 400 planes was built.

I-16 type 5
I-16 type 5 based on modified TsKB-12bis prototype which was equipped with 630 hp Wright-Cyclone SGR-1820-F-3 engine. Because the diameter of the Wright-Cyclone SGR-1820-F-3 engine was smaller that that of the M-22 engine the entire nose section of the plane had to be re-designed. The new engine cowling was smaller in diameter and tapered towards the rear. The cowling was equipped with nine forward-facing shutters to control the cooling air flow. The internal exhaust collector ring was replaced with eight individual exhaust stacks with scalloped exhaust ports in the cowling. The fabric covering of the center wing section and the wing tips was replaced with metal. TsKB-12bis prototype was equipped with an American two blade Hamilton-Standard propeller. The fuselage dorsal spine was also enlarged. Armament remained the same as the I-16 type 4. The performance of the new fighter was excellent. The High Command of the Red Air Force realized that they had the best fighter of the world in their hands. Production of the new fighter, I-16 type 5 was ordered to start with the top priority.

Because starting the licence production of the Wright-Cyclone SGR-1820-F-3 engine took more time than had been tought the first pre-series and production planes were powered by imported Wright-Cyclone SGR-1820-F-3 engines. Once the first Russian licence built M-25 engines (700 hp take-off power) became available, production of a batch of M-25 powered pre-series I-16 type 5's was undertaken at GAZ-39 in Khodinka. These pre-series aircraft differed from the TsKB-12bis prototype in having the exhaust port slightly modified. Also the small propeller spinner used on the TsKB-12bis was replaced by a larger spinner on all production planes. While the TsKB-12bis prototype lacked landing gear strut covers and had no main wheel cover, the I-16 type 5 adopted the same landing gear covers that had beeb introduced on the production I-16 type 4. The tailskid of the TsKB-12bis was replaced by a tailwheel on some pre-production I-16 type 5s. The take off weight of the I-16 type 5 pre-series aircraft had risen to 1535 kg but due to other improvements the aircraft turned in a top speed of 457 km/h without losing any of its maneuverability. I-16 type 5 was some 80 km/h faster than the latest contemporary American fighter in service, the Boeing P-26A.

Production of the I-16 type 5 started in early 1936 at both GAZ-21 and GAZ-153. By the time production of the I-16 type 5 and type 6 was phased out in late 1937, some 2200 aircraft had rolled off the production line of which approximately one third were I-16 type 6. The standard production I-16 type 5 differed from the pre-series aircraft in having the tailwheel replaced by a tailskid. The firepower was increased by replacing the two standard PV-1 machine guns with the new ShKAS 7,62 mm weapon which were placed in the wings outside of the propeller arc. The ShKAS 7,62 mm machine gun had a rate of fire of 1800 rounds per minute with a ammunition supply of 900 rounds per gun. There was also a provision for carrying a 200 kg bomb load. All I-16 type 5s were equipped with the OP-1 telescopic gunsight. The cocpit was decidedly snug for all but the smallest of pilots and had only the basic instruments which were for the most part licence built American Pioneer-Bendix gauges. Only a few I-16 type 5 had RSI-3 short wave radio (receiver and transmitter), identifiable by the installation of a small mast on top of the vertical fin. Usually only the lead plane in a formation was equipped with a radio with sender and receiver while the remaining planes had either only a receiver or no radio at all. Also a retrofitted gun camera pod could be used on the dorsal spine behind the pilots seat.

I-16 type 5 possessed the advantages of speed and climb and it had an exceptional rate of roll. The I-16 type 5 was difficult to fly and it was no aircraft for novice. Many average pilots refused the enclosed cocpit of the I-16 type 5 because they had used to fly open cocpit planes before. Extreme care had to be exerciced when flying the plane. The longitudinal stability was marginal and the fighter also tended to stall out in a glide. Rigidly-mounted engine produced an annoyingly high vibration level. When the split ailerons were used as flaps on landing approach the nose of the fighter could pitch up resulting the aircraft to stall if the pilot was not ready to quickly respond. When the undercarriage was lowered the aircraft became sluggish, buffeting was severe and power had to be kept up, since there was a marked tendency to drop a wing. The I-16 had to be literally flown onto the ground. As only one of the three legs of each main landing gear member incorporated an oleo shock absorber, the damping of the landing impact was inadequate and the aircraft tended to bounce, often resulting in a dangerous nose-up attitude. The service introduction of the I-16 type 5 was difficult and accident rate was high. To convince average service pilots five test pilots began touring the Red Air Force fighter units to demonstrate the advantages of the I-16. During their tour the test pilots performed not less than 3318 aerobatic demonstration flights with their red painted I-16 type 5's. The I-16 type 5 was still in active front-line service when the Germans invaded Russia on 22. June 1941.

I-16 type 6
The I-16 type 6 replaced the I-16 type 5 on the production line at GAZ-21 and GAZ-153. As a result, to answer pilot's complaints, the Polikarpov Design Bureau returned to open cocpit and replaced the forward sliding canopy with a fixed, single piece windscreen, which provided the pilot with a far better overall view. The I-16 type 6 had an improved 730 hp M-25A engine. The OP-1 gunsight was replaced by a more advaced PAK-1 which was a copy of the French Clair gunsight. Early production I-16 type 6s retained the OP-1 gunsight. The PAK-1 was housed behind the windscreen while the OP-1 protruded through the windscreen. The PAK-1 became the main type of gunsight used on all I-16 variants from the I-16 type 6 onwards. The I-16 type 6 could also be equipped with a gun camera mounted on the fuselage dorsal spine behind the cocpit. For winter operations, the I-16 type 6s could be equipped with a ski landing gear which was fixed in the lowered position when the skis were fitted. The armament of the I-16 type 6 was the same as the earlier I-16 type 5, two ShKAS 7,62 mm machine guns. Before the IL-2 became available in quantity, I-16 type 6s were used in the ground support role. For ground attack duties the I-16 type 6 could be armed with either four or six RS-82 unguided air-to-ground rockets or with bombs (200 kg). Many ground attack type 6s had the propeller spinner deleted, however, this was not a standard feature. Approximately 730 planes were built.

I-16 type 10
Combat experience in Spain revealed that the fire power of the I-16 type 5 and I-16 type 6's two ShKAS 7,62 mm machine guns was rather inadequate. This shortcoming led to the I-16 type 10, which was the most produced and the most important variant of the I-16 fighter series. In order to improve fire power of the I-16, a pair of synchronized ShKAS 7,62 mm mg's with 650 rounds per gun, were installed in the upper nose firing through the propeller. The Spanish Republicans soon named the plane "Super Mosca" because of the increased firepower of the plane. The machine guns fairings and the small blisters were quick identification features for the I-16 type 10 when compared with the I-16 type 5 and I-16 type 6 versions. The I-16 type 10 differed from the earlier variants in the shape of the exhaust ports on the engine cowling. On the I-16 type 10 and all subsequent models onward, the shape of the exhaust ports was smaller with a more rounded rear section. This modification became necessary since the initial configuration had allowed carbon monoxide to enter the cocpit. The internal structure of the I-16 type 10 was strengthened. Also standard in the I-16 type 10 was a cable-cutter for the pilot. Because the landing gear could easily become struck in partly-retracted position causing crash landings, the pilot was provided with a cable-cutter.

In order to decrease landing speeds, pneumatic flaps were fitted, which, when compared with the I-16 type 5 and type 6, were considerably reduced in size. The new flap system proved to be extremely dangerous for novice pilots. Driven by compressed air cylinder, they abruptly deployed and acted like a speed brake. As a result, they were seldom used. Also a flat 8 mm section of armor plate was mounted behind the back of the headrest in the cocpit in addition to an 8 mm section of armour plate installed behind the pilots seat. This extra head armor was introduced after combat experience in Spain. Early production models had M-25A engine but most I-16 type 10s were powered by the more advanced M-25V which had a take off power of 775 hp. Aircraft with the M-25V engine could be identified by a small T-shaped air intake on the lower nose under the spinner. The I-16 type 10 was the first variant to be fitted with a retractable ski landing gear. Late production I-16 type 10s had an AV-1 propeller installed in place of the standard V-25 propeller. Externally the modification was identifiable by the use of a larger propeller spinner. If the spinner was removed the AV-1 propeller could be distinguished by two round balance weight on the propeller hub. The older V-25 propeller of the standard I-16 type 10 could only change pitch while on the ground, while the AV-1 pitch could be changed hydraulically by the pilot during the flight. A number of I-16 type 10 were equipped with a camera mounted on the starboard wing tip for use as fast reconnaissance aircraft. During the rough field operations, the main landing gear doors were sometimes removed. For ground attack duties the I-16 type 10 could be armed with either four or six RS-82 unguided air-to-ground rockets or with bombs (200 kg). The first prototype of the I-16 type 10, built at the GAZ-21, flew its first flight on 11. January 1938. The I-16 type 10 was the most built variant of the type.

I-16 type 17
The I-16 type 17 was a variant of the I-16 type 10 modified for the ground support role. Combat experience in the Spanish Civil War had clearly shown that the standard armament of four ShKAS 7,62 mm guns was rather ineffective against ground targets, especially armoured vehicles. The I-16 type 17 had two wing mounted ShKAS 7,62 mm guns replaced by two ShVAK 20 mm cannons. The ammunition supply for the two ShVAK cannons was 150 rounds per weapon. The ShVAK 20 mm cannon had rate of fire of 750 - 800 rounds/min. I-16 type 17s can be easily identified from the earlier I-16 type 10 by the long barrels of the 20 mm ShVAK cannon. Part of the gas pressure cylinder was also visible under the barrel. The fuselage ShKAS 7,62 mm machine guns were retained. The I-16 type 17 could be armed with either four or six RS-82 unguided air-to-ground rockets or with bombs (200 kg). A number of internal changes were also introduced on the I-16 type 17. Gross weight of the plane was 84 kg more than that of the I-16 type 10. The I-16 type 17 had a top speed of 425 km/h. The rate of climb was greatly reduced. I-16 type 17 had a rate of climb of 9,4 m/s while the I-16 type 10 had a rate of climb of 12,4 m/s. Most I-16 type 17s were assigned to ground attack duties and had the propeller spinner deleted, although this was not a standard feature. The first I-16 type 17 left the assembly lines at GAZ-21 and GAZ-153 during 1938. Due to the fact that only a limited number of the new ShVAK 20 mm cannons were available for the I-16 type 17 and later I-16 type 27, only 1184 aircraft of both versions of the cannon armed fighter were built through the Spring of 1940. When the Germans invaded Russia on 22. June 1941, the I-16 type 17s performed well in the ground support role against advancing troop concentrations and armored vehicles. The I-16 type 17 saw action on the main battle fronts, until the IL-2 became available in quantity.

I-16 type 18
The I-16 type 18 was a direct result of a request from the front line units for a more powerful engine. The I-16 type 18 was powered by a new Shvetsov M-62 radial engine which offered 1000 hp and had a two-speed supercharger. The M-62 engine offered better high altitude performance than the M-25. The M-62 was basicly a Soviet copy of the American Wright-Cyclone R-1820-G-5 engine. The M-62 was 46 kg heavier than the M-25V which used 87 octane fuel, the M-62 had to serviced with 92 octane fuel. M-62 powered I-16 type 18s were fitted with a variable-pitch AV-1 propeller. Externally the AV-1 propeller could be distinguished from the earlier propellers by the two round balance weights on the propeller hub and the wide chord propeller blades. The propeller spinner was also enlarged to accommodate the AV-1 propeller. The M-62 powered I-16 type 18 differed from the I-16 type 10 in having an additional cooling air intake on top of the engine cowling. In addition, there were two exhaust stacks in the lower exhaust port position, in place of the single stub on the I-16 type 10. Also the two lowermost exhaust ports were deleted (M-62 ja M-63 engines). Thanks to the more powrful M-62 engine and a variable pitch propeller, the I-16 type 18 had a considable increase in performance, especially at high altitudes. While the I-16 type 10 had a top speed of 448 km/h at 3160 meter the I-16 type 18 had a speed of 464 km/h at 4400 meter. The service ceiling was raised from 8260 meter to 9470 meter. Later production variants of the I-16 type 18 had an additional cocpit entry door added to the starboard side of the fuselage. Early I-16 type 18s had a tailskid while later I-16 type 18s were equipped with a tailwheel. The armament of the I-16 type 18 was the same as the I-16 type 10. For ground attack duties the I-16 type 18 could be armed with either four or six RS-82 unguided air-to-ground rockets or with bombs (200 kg). Due to the greater fuel consumption of the _62 engine, range dropped from 525 km to 485 km. As a result the I-16 type 18 was modified with provision to carry two 200 liter slipper type auxiliary fuel tanks under the wings which increased the maximum range to 1100 km. The I-16 type 18 was only regarded as an interim variant, intended to keep production going until the more advanced M-63 power plant became available for the I-16. As a result, a limited number of the I-16 type 18s were actually built.

I-16 type 24
The I-16 type 24 based on the Shvetsov M-63 engine which was an upgraded version of the M-62 engine. The M-63 engine rated at 1100 hp for take off with only a 10 kg increase in weight over the 1000 hp M-62. The I-16 type 24 introduced a number of structural improvements to the fuselage and wings. The thickness of the wing skinning was increased along with additional ribbing. An inspection hatch was installed on the rear starboard fuselage. Apart from this hatch, the I-16 type 18 and I-16 type 24 were externally nearly identical. The State Acceptance Trials of the I-16 type 24 started during the first half of 1940, and revealed that there was no considerable improvement in flying characteristics in comparison with the I-16 type 18 and, in fact, maneuverability was slightly inferior due to the increased weight. The empty weight of I-16 type 24 was 1475 kg and the top speed was 470 km/h at 4800 meters. The rate of climb of 14,4 m/s was slightly less than that of the I-16 type 18. The service ceiling increased to 9900 meters compared to the service ceiling of the I- 16 type 18s 9475 meters. Range with internal fuel was reduced to 440 km because of the increased fuel consumption of the M-63 engine. All serial production planes had the provision to carry two 200 liter slipper type auxiliary fuel tanks under the wings to increase range. The fixed armament of the I-16 type 24 was the same as the I-16 type 18. For ground attack duties the I-16 type 24 could be armed with either four or six RS-82 unguided air-to-ground rockets or with bombs (200 kg). The I-16 type 24 was ordered into production and it soon replaced the I-16 type 18 at GAZ-21 and GAZ-153. Totally 934 I-16 type 24s were built according one source.

I-16 type 27
The I-16 type 27 replaced the cannon armed I-16 type 17 on the production lines at GAZ-21 and GAZ-153. The I-16 type 27 was based on the I-16 type 18 airframe, with the M-62 power plant but using the armament of the I-16 type 17. Because of the increased fuel consumption of the M-62 engine the I-16 type 27 had provision for carrying two 200 liter slipper type auxiliary fuel tanks. The I-16 type 27 was armed with two ShVAK 20 mm cannons with 150 rounds per weapon in the wing and a pair of synchoronized ShKAS 7,62 mm guns with a supply of 650 rounds mounted on the upper front fuselage. The first I-16 type 27s were delivered during the first half of 1939 and saw combat over Mongolia against Japanese. During the Great Patriotic War, I-16 type 27s saw combat in the assalt and ground support roles. Many I-16 type 27s had the main wheel covers removed when operated from muddy fields. Due to the shortage of ShVAK cannons for the I-16, only a limited number of I-16 type 27s were built.

I-16 type 29
The I-16 type 29 was the last development version and based on the I-16 type 24 airframe, only difference being the armament. The I-16 type 29 was developed due to the fact that the new Berezin UBS 12,7 mm heavy machine gun had become available and Polikarpov Design Bureau was ordered to install the weapon in the I-16 airframe. The Berezin UBS 12,7 mm heavy machine gun had a rate of fire of 700 - 800 rounds per minute and a muzzle velocity of 840 m/s. The mounting of the Berezin UBS gun in the lower nose under the cowling made it necessary to relocate the lower air inteke scoop to the starboard side of the lower nose. The I-16 type 29 had an enlarged squared off air intake while the I-16 type 24 had T-shaped air intake scoop. Production of the I-16 type 29 started in 1940 at GAZ-21 and GAZ-153. A number of I-16 type 29s were equipped with the RSI-3 radio. These aircraft could be identified by an antenna mast on the upper starboard side of the engine cowling in front of the cocpit. Most I-16 type 29s were used in the ground support role and the aircraft had provision for six RO-82 rocket rails for RS-82 rockets, three under each wing. A number of I-16 type 29s were also fitted with a bomb rack inboard of the rocket rails, maximum bomb load being 2x100 kg bombs.

Two seat trainer which based on the I-16 type 4. The aircraft had a second rear cocpit for the instructor and dual controls. The aircraft was unarmed and was powered by an 480 hp M-22 engine. The first series of UTI-2 trainers were produced during 1936. The UTI-2s were used for conversion training of the fighter pilots before they were allowed to fly single seat I-16 fighter. UTI-2s were produced in very limited numbers.

Two seat trainer which based on the I-16 type 5. Once UTI-4 production was launched in 1937, an order was issued by the Ministry of Aviation Production, that every fourth airframe on the I-16 production line should be completed as a trainer. The UTI-4 had a second rear cocpit for the instructor and dual controls. The aircraft was unarmed. The cocpit entry door was deleted . A new, flatter single piece windscreen was installed in front of the front cocpit and a second, smaller "tunnel shaped" windshield was installed between the front and the rear cocpits. Early UTI-4s were fitted with the M-25 engine, late UTI-4s were fitted with M-25A power plant. The padded head rest in the front cocpit was lowered and a flatter sloped frameless windshield was fitted on later production versions of the UTI-4. The two seat fighter-trainer was progressively developed along side the fighter series. The only exception was that the UTI-4 retained the large wing flaps which were standard to the early fighter versions I-16 type 5 and I-16 type 6. When the I-16 type 10 became available with its M-25V power plant, this same engine was also fitted to the UTI-4. The first UTI-4 with the new engine left the production line at GAZ-21 and GAZ-153 during 1938. In the early stage of the Great Patriotic War, the UTI-4 also served in the reconnaissance role over the front. A number of UTI-4s were also assigned to Fighter Aviation Regiments at the front for liason duties. Even in 1944 the UTI-4 soldiered on. Between 1937 and mid-1939, a total of 1639 UTI-2 and UTI-4 trainers were built at GAZ-21, GAZ-153 ja GAZ-458.

Soviet Union, Spanish Republicans, Chinese Nationalist, Mongolia.
Captured planes were operated by: Finland, Poland, Germany and Spanish Nationalist.

Ivan A. Lakeev
Ivan Alexeyevitch Lakeev (23.2.1908 - 8.5.1990) was a member of the first group of Soviet pilots arriving in Spain in November 1936. The Soviet Union helped the Spanish Republicans who fought against the Spanish Nationalists led by Franco. The Nationalists were supported by Natzi-Germany and Italy. Rapidly Lakeev became one of the highest scoring aces of the Spanish Civil War with 10 kills in his credit. He achieved all his kills while flying the I-16 type 5. According to some other sources he had 12 individual and 16 shared kills in Spain. He came back to Soviet Union in August 1937 and was awarded the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union. Japan attacked against Soviet Union in July of 1939 in the Far East. Ivan Lakeev fought also at this front and scored again over Chalkin-Gol shooting down at least one Japanese aircraft. (PKR 44/95 source claims four kills). Another three individual and four shared victories are credited to him during the Great Patriotic War. (These kills are under a study, as just one kill is reported by other sources). Lakeev fought also against Finland at Winter War and he was promoted to the rank of General Major. He refused all orders to remain on the ground and engaged in combat with his pilots.

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Technical data of Polikarpov I-16 type 10

Engine 750 hv Shvetsov M-25V 9-sylinder aircooled radial engine
Dimensions Span 8,84 m; lenght 6,02 m; hight 2,36 m; wing area 14,54 m2
Weights Empty weight 1339kg; Max. takeoff weight 1730 kg
Wing loading 118,3 kg/m2
Performance Max. speed 448 km/h (at 3200 m), 398 km/h (at sea level); Rate of climb 12,4 m/s (5000 m /8,2 min)
Ceiling 8250 m
Range 800 km
Armament Fixed armament 4 x 7,62mm ShKAS machine guns; external armament 6 x RS-82 rockets or bombs max. 200 kg
Production All variants: 7005 single seat fighters and 1639 two seat trainers


  • Squadron/Signal publications: Polikarpov Fighters in action Pt. 2 by Hans-Heiri Stapfer
  • Eduard: Polikarpov I-16 type 10 instruction guide page 11: Generalmajor Ivan A. Lakeev, Hero of the Soviet Union, 1941
  • Modelling the Aircraft of the Soviet VVS 1917 - 1950
  • Polikarpov I-16 main page by Alexandre Savine
  • Wikipedia: Polikarpov I-16
  • TotallyExplained.com: Polikarpov I-16
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