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Soviet Polikarpov I-16 Rata fighter

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Polikarpov I-16 fighter:
Soviet Union's Polikarpov I-16 fighter
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Polikarpov I-16 fighter:
Soviet Union's Polikarpov I-16 fighter
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Polikarpov I-16C Super Rata fighter:
Soviet Union's Polikarpov I-16C Super Rata fighter
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Polikarpov I-16C Super Rata fighter:
Soviet Union's Polikarpov I-16C Super Rata fighter
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Polikarpov I-16 fighter:
Soviet Union's Polikarpov I-16 fighter
Polikarpov I-16 fighter:
Soviet Union's Polikarpov I-16 fighter

Design

Nikolai Polikarpov started to design the successor to the I-15 while in a labor camp. The Polikarpov I-16 was a rival to the ANT-31.

When the I-16 first was produced it was the first low wing cantilever monoplane with a retractable undercarriage used by any military in the world.

The I-16 was nicknamed the Rata (rat) by the Spanish Nationalists.

Construction

Wood and metal made up the construction of the I-16.

Cockpit

The cockpit was very narrow and open.

Engines

The early Polikarpov I-16s had Wright Cyclone radial engines that were imported and license built. These drove a two pitch Hamilton propellar.

After the I-16 Type 6 the engines were the M-25A.

Late I-16s had M-62 or M-63 engines with superchargers.

Undercarriage

The undercarriage required 44 hand cranks to raise them. As each crank went it got harder to rotate the handle. Sometimes the gear jammed half way when lowered.

In winter the wheels would be replaced by skis that could retract flat against the wings.

Prototype

The TsKB-12 prototype first flew on December 31, 1933. The prototype had a Soviet M-22 engine. The second prototype had an imported Wright Cyclone engine installed.

Production

Deliveries of the I-16 began in early 1935. Production originally ended in 1940 but was restarted in 1941.

  • Polikarpov I-16 single seat: 7,005
    • Polikarpov I-16 Type 27 and Polikarpov I-16 Type 29: ~450
  • Polikarpov I-16UTI: 1,639
  • Total: >8,000, 8,644, ~20,000
    • Manufacturer: State Industries

Variants

  • Polikarpov TsKB-12: Prototype. Had Bristol Jupiter engine (450 HP).
  • Polikarpov I-16:
  • Polikarpov I-16 Type 5 SPB: Was used as a dive bomber that had special dive brakes.
  • Polikarpov I-16 Type 6: M-25A engines.
  • Polikarpov I-16 Type 17: Two ShKAS machine guns and two ShVAK cannons. First version to fire RS-82 rockets. Saw combat against the Japanese in August 1939.
  • Polikarpov I-16 Type 18: Produced starting in 1938. Had M-62 engine with two speed supercharger.
  • Polikarpov I-16 Type 24: Had M-63 direct geared engine.
  • Polikarpov I-16 Type 27: Produced during second production run from 1941 to 1942.
  • Polikarpov I-16 Type 29: Produced during second production run from 1941 to 1942.
  • Polikarpov I-16P: One was built with four powerful cannons.
  • Polikarpov I-16UTI: Tandem two seat trainer.

Usage

China, Finland, Spain, and the Soviet Union used the Polikarpov I-16.

Debut

The debut of the I-16 was at the May Day parade in Moscow in 1935.

Spanish Civil War

278 I-16s were used by the Spanish Republican forces. The I-16/6 was the first model to be used in combat in November 1936. Hispano-Suiza also license built I-16s.

Was known as Mukha (fly) in Spain.

Against Japan

In 1939 the I-16 fought against the Japanese on the Manchurian border.

Soviet ace, Grigori Ravchenko shot down three Japanese aircraft in China and led an I-16 unit in Mongolia.

Finland

Finland used captured I-16s.

Invasion of Soviet Union

When the Germans invaded in June 1941 the I-16 was the most numerous fighter in the Soviet arsenal. Approximately 2/3 of the fighter force were I-16s.

Some I-16s remained in service until the summer of 1943 when it was finally withdrawn due to its obsolesence.

Specifications

  Polikarpov I-16
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) 1: Shvetsov M-25
1: M.25 (Wright Cyclone)
Cylinders Radial
Cooling Air
HP 600, 775
Propeller blades 2
Fuel capacity  
Dimensions  
Span 29', 30'
9.14 m
Length 19', 20' 3"
5.79 m
Height 8'
2.44 m
Wing area 156 ft2
14.49 m2
Weight  
Empty 2,970 lb
1,347 kg
Loaded 3,773 lb
1,711 kg
Performance  
Speed 280 mph, 304 mph
489 kph
Service ceiling 27,125'
8,268 m
Range 500 miles
Armament 4: MG
2: 20 mm
Nose 4: 7.62 mm Shpital'ny-Komaritsky ShKAS MG
Under wings 2: 20 mm ShVAK cannon
  6: 82 mm rockets
6: RS-82 rockets
OR 6: Der-31 bomb containers
OR 441 lb bombs
2: 220 lb bombs
200 kg bombs
2: 100 kg bombs
  Polikarpov I-16 Type 1
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders  
Cooling  
HP  
Propeller blades  
Fuel capacity  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Nose 2: 7.62 mm MG
2: 7.62 mm ShKas MG
  Polikarpov I-16 Type 4
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Shvetsov M-25A (Wright R-1820 Cyclone)
Cylinders Radial 9
Cooling  
HP 725
Propeller blades 2
Fuel capacity  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Nose 2: 7.62 mm MG
  Polikarpov I-16 Type 5
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Shvetsov M-25B/V
Cylinders Radial 9
Cooling  
HP 750 - 775
Propeller blades 2
Fuel capacity  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Nose 2: 7.62 mm MG
  Polikarpov I-16 Type 10, Polikarpov I-16/10
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) M.25B, Shvetsov M-25B/V
Cylinders Radial 9
Cooling Air
HP 750 - 775, 775
Propeller blades 2
Fuel capacity  
Dimensions  
Span 29' 6"
Length 19' 11"
Height 8' 1"
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded 3,704 lb
Performance  
Speed  
Speed @ 9,850' 288 mph
Climb  
Service ceiling 29,500'
Range 497 miles
Armament 4: MG
Nose 2: 7.62 mm MG
Wings 2: 7.62 mm MG
  Polikarpov I-16C
Type Fighter
Crew  
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders  
Cooling  
HP 1,100
Propeller blades  
Fuel capacity  
Dimensions  
Span 29'
Length 20' 3"
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed 300 mph
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Nose 2: 20 mm
Wings 6: .60 cal MG
  Polikarpov I-16 Type 17
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Shvetsov M-25B/V
Cylinders Radial 9
Cooling  
HP 750 - 775
Propeller blades 2
Fuel capacity  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Nose 2: 7.62 mm MG
Wings 2: 20 mm
  Polikarpov I-16 Type 18
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Shvetsov M-62
OR Shvetsov M-63
Cylinders Radial 9
Cooling  
HP M-62: 1,000
M-63: 1,100
Propeller blades 2
Fuel capacity  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Nose 2: 7.62 mm MG
Wings 2: 20 mm
  Polikarpov I-16 Type 24
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Shvetsov M-62
OR Shvetsov M-63
Cylinders Radial 9
Cooling  
HP M-62: 1,000
M-63: 1,100
Propeller blades 2
Fuel capacity  
Dimensions  
Span 29' 1.5"
8.88 m
Length 20' 1.5"
6.13 m
Height 7' 10.75"
2.41 m
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 3,252 lb
1,475 kg
Loaded 4,542 lb
2,060 kg
Performance  
Speed  
Speed @ 15,750' /
4,800 m
304 mph
489 kph
Climb to 16,405' /
5,000 m
5.8 minutes
Service ceiling 31,070'
9,470 m
Range 373 miles
600 km
Armament  
Nose 2: 7.62 mm MG
Wings 2: 20 mm

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  3. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  4. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
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