Aviation of World War II
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 7.62mm machine guns was rather inadequate for modern combat. This shortcoming led to the I-16 Type 10, which was in total numbers of aircraft produced, the most important variant of the I-16 fighter series.
In order to improve the fire power of the I-16, a pair of synchronized ShKAS 7.62mm guns with 650 rounds per gun were installed in the upper nose firing through the propeller. The machine gun muzzles were visible protruding through the cowling lip.
Additionally two fairings were added to the upper nose to cover the gun breech installation and a small blister was placed to the left of the port gun and to the right of the starboard gun fairing. The machine gun fairings and the small blisters were quick identification features for the I-16 Type 10 when compared with the I-16 Type 5 and Type 6 versions.
Most I-16 Type 10s were equipped with the PAK-1 gunsight, but late production aircraft received the more advanced PAK-1a and PAK-1m versions of this gunsight.
The conversion from the I-16 Type 6 to the new Type 10 at GAZ-21 was done in a remarkably short period of time. In a letter issued on 25 December 1937, Kliment E. Voroshilov, chairman of the Red Air Force, stated the urgent need to convert the production line at GAZ-21 from the I-16 Type 6 to the more advanced I-16 Type 10. Factory director Y.M. Miroshnikov replied that such a conversion was planned within a year. Voroshilov and the Commissars replied that the deadline for conversion was two days!
In the event, the task was carried out by New Years Eve of 1938. On that day, the first I-16 Type 10 with four machine guns conducted its first static test firings. On 11 January, the first prototype built at GAZ-21 was test flown by S. Suprun and by March of 1938 thirty-one I-16 Type 10s were taken off the production line and shipped to Spain.
The I-16 Type 10 also differed from the earlier variants in the shape of the exhaust ports on the engine cowling. On the I-16 Type 5 and Type 6 these were large, tear drop shaped openings, but the I-16 Type 10 and all subsequent production models onward, these were replaced by smaller openings with a more rounded rear section. This modification became necessary since the initial configuration had allowed carbon monoxide to enter the cockpit.
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. Previous operations with the I-16 showed that the landing gear could easily become struck in partly-retracted position. In order to eliminate the high number of crash landings this caused, 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. Most of the I-16 Type 10 were equipped with a small trim tab on the flaps, however, most early production I-16 Type 10s did not have this trim tab. During operation, the new flap system proved to be extremely dangerous. Driven by a compressed air cylinder, they abruptly deployed and acted like a speed brake. As a result, they were dangerous for novice pilots and in operational service, were seldom used.
The I-16 Type 10 also saw the introduction of a flat, 8mm section of armor plate mounted behind the back of the headrest in the cockpit. This extra protection was introduced after combat experience in Spain. The armor was sufficient to stop the Breda 12.7mm shells of the Fiat CR.32.
Early production models had adopted the M-25A engine as well the front engine cowling from the I-16 Type 6, but most I-16 Type 10s were powered by the more advanced M-25V. This engine had a new K-25-4D carburetor and some minor internal improvements. Take off power was increased from 635 hp to 775 hp, while the empty weight rose from 959 pounds (435 kg) to 1.012 pounds (459 kg) for the M-25V. Aircraft with the M-25V engine could be identified by a small T shaped air intake on the lower nose under the spinner. The 1-16 Type 10 was the first variant to be fitted with a retractable ski landing gear. In the retracted position they folded close to the wing center section, almost flush with its surface. The skis were fitted with shock absorbing cylinders, placed between the ski base and the ski mounting. One disadvantage was that the ski landing gear was heavier than the wheel configuration. When the retractable skis were used on the I-16 Type 10 and the subsequent versions, a hole had to be cut in the lower half of the engine cowling in accommodate the skis in the power was increased from 635 hp to 775 hp, while the empty weight rose from 959 pounds (435 kg) to 1.012 pounds (459 kg) for the M-25V. Aircraft with the M-25V engine could be identified by a small T shaped air intake on the lower nose under the spinner. The 1-16 Type 10 was the first variant to be fitted with a retractable ski landing gear. In the retracted position they folded close to the wing center section, almost flush with its surface. The skis were fitted with shock absorbing cylinders, placed between the ski base and the ski mounting. One disadvantage was that the ski landing gear was heavier than the wheel configuration. When the retractable skis were used on the I-16 Type 10 and the subsequent versions, a hole had to be cut in the lower half of the engine cowling in accommodate the skis in the retracted position. Flying characteristic of the ski version was similar to those of the wheeled versions.
Late production I-16 Type 10s had an AV-I propeller installed in place of the standard V-25 propeller. Externally the modification was identifiable by the use of a larger propeller spinner. This propeller became standard on the I-16 Type 18. The older V-25 propeller of the standard I-16 Type 10 could only change pitch while on the ground, while the AV-I pitch could be changed hydraulically by the pilot during the flight. When the spinner was removed, the AV-1 propeller could distinguished by two round balance weight on the propeller hub.
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A number of I-16 Type 10 were equipped with a camera mounted on the starboard wing tip for use as fast reconnaissance aircraft. This conversion was done as a field modification and was not only limited to the I-16 Type 10. but a number of late I-16 variants (Type 18s, Type 24 and Type 28) were also converted for reconnaissance duties. The armament of four ShKAS 7.62 mm guns was retained.
During the rough field operations, the main landing gear doors were sometimes removed from the aircraft in order to avoid damage.