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I-16 type 28

Multipurpose Fighter


I-16 type 28 with M-63 engine. It was a variation of type 24 with the replacement of wing-mounted ShKAS machine guns with ShVAK cannons. The power of the guns was carried out through the sleeves laid behind the first fuselage frame, and further along the front spar of the center section. In the upper part of the fuselage there was a hatch for laying the projectile tape; for the same purpose, a cutout was made above the hatch in the trailing edge of the upper part of the hood. In connection with the installation of the cannons, the center section was reinforced, the upper weapon hatch was lengthened from 650 mm to 744 mm. Starting with type 17, skis that were retractable in flight were installed (including on type 10). In this regard, in the lower part of the hood, in the place of interface with the wing, there are knockouts for ski socks. In connection with the latter, the lower windows for the nozzles of 5 and 6 cylinders have disappeared.

I-16 Polikarpov
type 18 type 24 type 29
Year 1938 1939 1940
Wing span, m 9.004 9.004 9.004
Height, m 3.250 3.250 3.218
Length, m 6.074 6.130 6.130
Wing area, m² 14.54 14.54 14.54
Engine M-62 M-63 M-63
Power, hp h.p. 800 900 900
at altitude, m 4500 4500 4500
Weight, kg
Wing load, kg/m² 125.5 129 130
Loaded weight, kg 1830 1882 1940
Empty weight, kg 1433.5 1382 1496.5
Maximum speed, km/h at sea level 413 410 427
at altitude 461 462 463
m 4400 4700 2000
Time to 3000m, min 2.9 3.4 3.2
Time to 5000m, min 5.4 6.0 5.55
Time of turn, sec 17 17-18 17-9
Service ceiling, m 9300 9700 9950
Service range, km 485 440 -
Machine guns ShKAS 4 4 2
Cannon ShVAK - - 2

The next modification of type 17 was the I-16 type 27 version with the replacement of the M-25V by the M-62. All design changes affected the propeller-driven installation like the type 18. The work on the aircraft was continued with the modification of the I-16 type 28 with the M-63 engine. General changes were made to the aircraft in accordance with the type 24.

I-16 type 17. This is a modification of the I-16 type 10 aircraft with ShVAK wing cannons instead of machine guns. In places of their installation, the wing structure was reinforced. Each gun had 150 rounds of ammunition.

I-16 type 18. A variant of a fighter equipped with an M-62 engine (1000 hp) with a two-speed supercharger and a variable-pitch VISh-6A propeller. New cocks have been developed for the screws. The engine mount of the aircraft was also strengthened, the oil system was improved, the aircraft received a new carburetor. The fuel tanks were protected by armor. The fighter's armament consisted of four ShKAS machine guns. Modification I-16 type 18 had a visual difference: a tail wheel installed instead of a crutch. The aircraft was manufactured in significant quantities. This modification had better stability in flight, its control was less strict, and takeoff and landing characteristics improved.

I-16 type 24. This aircraft is a modification of the I-16 type 18. A new M-63 engine was installed on it, and the fuselage and wing structure was strengthened. Additional plywood skin was installed between the spars, which significantly reduced wing torsion. The fighter was equipped with a variable pitch propeller VISH AV-1 with a new spinner, and the chassis structure was reinforced. In addition, this modification could be equipped with additional hanging tanks with a volume of 200 liters. The fighter's armament consisted of four ShKAS machine guns, two of which could be replaced by a 12.7-mm BS. Also, fighters of this modification could be armed with RS-82 rockets (up to six pieces). The mass of the aircraft reached 2050 kg.

I-16 type 28. Modification of the I-16 type 24 aircraft, with two ShVAK cannons on the wing instead of machine guns.

Comparative Analysis of Designs and FTD of Soviet and German Fighters that Took Part in the WWII

Vyacheslav Kondratyev

Flight Technical Data - FTD

<...> The Bf 109 is an all-metal cantilever low-wing aircraft with retractable landing gear, a closed cockpit and a two-row 12-cylinder V-shaped liquid-cooled engine. Created in 1934, almost simultaneously with the I-16, before the start of the war with the Soviet Union, it also managed to undergo a number of upgrades, primarily in order to improve flight characteristics.

Leaving "out of brackets" the pre-war versions, we note that by June 1941, the front units of the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) were armed with two modifications of this fighter - Bf 109E and Bf 109F, which, in turn, were subdivided into several submodifications. Of the total number of 1,026 one-seater Messerschmitts, concentrated by the evening of June 21 near the Soviet borders, 579 (56.4%) were vehicles of the newest versions - Bf 109F-1 Bf 109F-2, launched into serial production at the beginning of 1941. Ibid. there were 264 earlier "Messerschmitts" Bf 109E-4, E-7 and E-8. Another 183 aircraft of the outdated E-1 and E-3 models were part of the so-called combat training groups, which were considered part of the second line and, as a rule, did not take part in combat operations.

Starting a comparison of the flight technical, combat and operational data of the I-16 and Bf 109, it should be noted that both of these aircraft were created at the end of the "biplane era" that reigned in the world fighter aviation for almost two decades. Both of them seemed to stand out from the general row of their contemporaries, and this was primarily due to the fact that their creators strove primarily to achieve the highest speed and rate of climb, although this desire to a certain extent hindered the provision of good horizontal maneuverability and takeoff and landing characteristics.

This contradicted the then dominant concept of air combat in the minds of aviation theorists as a "dense" close-range combat, in which each participant seeks to "maneuver" the enemy on bends in order to go into his tail and take an advantageous position for aimed shooting. This was the main tactic of fighters in the First World War, which received the nickname Dog Fight. But both Messerschmitt and Polikarpov understood that such a tactic fetters the pilot, deprives him of the initiative, and in addition, a highly maneuverable, but not very fast fighter will not be able to intercept bombers, whose speeds increased sharply in the early 30s of the XX century.

Hence the desire of both designers to reduce the aerodynamic drag as much as possible, expressed in the choice of the same scheme of a cantilever-free monoplane, the use of a closed cockpit (although Polikarpov later had to abandon it) and landing gear retraction.

However, this is where the similarity of the projects ended, and the differences began. Polikarpov decided to take the path of maximum "squeezing" the geometric dimensions of the car in order to reduce weight and reduce aerodynamic drag. As a result, it turned out to be almost the shortest fighter of the Second World War with a thick barrel-shaped fuselage.

Of course, this is partly due to the use of a radial motor, which is much shorter than the inline one, but has a wide "forehead". However, nothing prevented Polikarpov from moving the engine forward, lengthening the nose and, accordingly, the tail of the aircraft in order to make the fuselage more elongated and streamlined. Meanwhile, the designer "shortened" the car deliberately. He believed that in this way the frictional resistance was reduced by reducing the area of ​​the wetted surface. Polikarpov considered an additional advantage of such a scheme to improve maneuverability by reducing the spread of masses relative to the center of gravity and a short shoulder of the stabilizing and steering surfaces. Despite the desire for speed, Polikarpov did not want to deprive his product of the ability to conduct a maneuverable air battle, especially since the leadership of the Air Force and most combat pilots would not approve of this. For the same purpose, the "donkey", as conceived by the designer, had a rear centering (more than 30% of the average aerodynamic chord), which made it even more maneuverable and responsive to the slightest movement of the handle.

In addition, Polikarpov did not dare to drastically reduce the size and area of ​​the I-16 wing relative to the "biplane" values ​​of the specific load per unit area of ​​the bearing surface. This, again, made it possible to maintain good horizontal maneuverability and a relatively short take-off and landing distance even without the use of wing mechanization, because the I-16 initially had no flaps or flaps. The functions of the flaps on the early modifications were partly performed by hovering ailerons, which simultaneously deviated downward on landing, thereby increasing the curvature of the profile, but during combat maneuvering such an application was impossible. Starting with the I-16 type 10, landing flaps appeared on the aircraft, but their design was unsuccessful, in flight the flaps were "sucked" by the air flow, which sharply reduced the speed of the aircraft. In addition, when the flaps were released, the control became difficult, the plane began to lift its nose, and when they were removed, it "fell" down. As a result, at airfields, these flaps were often locked in the raised position, and the drive mechanisms were removed.

Nevertheless, the I-16 still managed to achieve a combination of speed and maneuverability that was considered quite acceptable. The main serial modifications accelerated to 450 - 470 km / h and performed a turn in 16-18 seconds. But the methods by which this combination was achieved can hardly be called optimal. As already mentioned, Polikarpov sought to reduce the frictional resistance by reducing and shortening the fuselage of the I-16 to the limit, but the disproportionately large wing and empennage of the machine minimized the result of his efforts, adding also excessive profile resistance. In addition, a short, thick fuselage with a flat frontal cut, which only slightly ennobled the propeller spin, contributed to an increase in pressure resistance. As a result, the maximum speed of the I-16 turned out to be much lower than that which could be expected with the given aerodynamic configuration and engine power. In addition, the speed was reduced by the absence of a cockpit canopy, which, starting with the 10th modification, had to be replaced with a simple visor in response to the pilots' claims to the tightness in the cockpit and demands for better visibility.

On top of that, the extremely rear alignment made the plane too "fidgety", unstable and very strict in piloting. The I-16 suffered from the so-called yaw, it was difficult to guide it in a straight line, and this made aiming very difficult, leading to frequent misses and increased ammunition consumption.

Willie Messerschmitt took a different approach to resolving the contradiction between speed and maneuverability, and this is immediately noticeable even with a cursory glance at the Bf 109 and I-16. The German aircraft designer realized before many others that a liquid-cooled in-line engine was more profitable for a high-speed fighter. Although such motors with radiators and associated units are, as a rule, heavier than radial engines of equal power, they have a very important advantage - a small "specific forehead" (the ratio of the cross-sectional area and the developed power), which made it possible to reduce the drag coefficient of the machine, which means - increase speed.

Messerschmitt was not embarrassed by the fact that a water-cooled motor is more vulnerable than an air-cooled one. Combat damage to any element of the cooling system (cylinder jackets, pipelines, pumps, radiator) leads to fluid leakage, rapid overheating and engine shutdown. Air-cooled "stars", on the contrary, can work for a long time even with several holes in the upper or side cylinders, although, of course, at the same time they greatly lose in power (shots in the lower cylinders are more dangerous for them: the engine will soon "wedge" due to leakage oil).

Starting from the oblong shape of the engine, the German aircraft designer designed a fighter with a thin spindle-shaped fuselage, in sharp contrast to the "lobast" and kurguz "donkey". It is no coincidence that the Soviet pilots, when they first saw the Messerschmitt, immediately gave it the nickname "thin". Comparison of the numbers gives an equally vivid picture. The fuselage of "one hundred and ninth" is almost three meters longer, and the specific load on the wing is, on average, one and a half times higher than that of the Polikarpov aircraft. If the I-16 had (depending on the modification) from 93 to 136 kg of take-off weight for each square meter of the bearing surface, To y Bf 109 - from 111 to 210 kg. In particular, the Bf 109E-4hF-2, with which the I-16s fought in 1941-1942, had 159 and 163 kg / m², respectively.

At the same time, the load per unit of power of the Messerschmitt engine is also higher, although not so significantly: Bf 109E-4N - 2.22 kg / h. p.; Bf 109F-2 - 2.23 kg / h. p.; I-16type 24 - 2.09 kg / h. p.; I-16 type 29 - 2.15 kg / h. p..

Here it is necessary to make one explanation: in an extremely simplified form, the flight characteristics of an aircraft depend on two main parameters: the specific load on the engine power and the specific load on the bearing surface area. The first parameter affects the speed and rate of climb, the second - the horizontal maneuverability. In other words, the lower the power load (all other things being equal), the faster the aircraft gains altitude and the higher the horizontal flight speed it can develop. And the lower the load on the wing area, the faster and with a smaller radius it performs a turn.

Of course, there are many other conditions (the aerodynamic quality of the car, the efficiency of the propeller, the ratio of the areas and angles of deflection of the steering surfaces, the magnitude of the loads on the controls, the presence or absence of wing mechanization, etc.) that affect (and sometimes quite significantly) on flight data. But the two proportional criteria indicated in the previous paragraph are still considered fundamental. We will build on them in further analysis, making corrections for certain additional factors, if necessary.

Let's return to the comparison of the flight performance (FTD) of the I-16 and the Bf 109. It would seem that with the above values ​​of the specific loads on the area and on the power, the flight data of the German fighter should be lower than that of the Soviet aircraft. However, in reality we see the opposite picture. "Emil" (such a nickname was borne among the German pilots of the Bf 109E) was superior to the I-16 in almost all respects, with the exception of the turn-taking time, - Polikarpov's efforts to improve maneuverability nevertheless affected. The early Friedrichs (Bf 109F-1 and F-2) with the same Daimler-Benz DB-601N engine as the Bf 109E-4 had an even higher superiority over the I-16.

The explanation for this fact lies in the aerodynamic perfection of the German fighter. Despite the fact that the I-16 was smaller in size than the Messerschmitt, it had a much higher drag. Moreover, on the Bf 109F, thanks to the scrupulous "smoothing" of the outer surfaces (the radiators were made thinner and retracted deeper into the wing, the nose of the fuselage became more rounded and streamlined, the wing cannons with their convex fairings were dismantled, the stabilizer struts disappeared, etc.), the Germans managed to significantly to improve the aerodynamics of the aircraft compared to the Bf 109E, which provided the fighter with a further increase in flight data.

Thus, the Messerschmitts Bf 109E and Bf 109F, despite the fact that they are more than half a ton heavier than the later modifications of the I-16, due to more powerful engines and better aerodynamics, far exceeded their Soviet opponent in climb rate, altitude and - especially - in speed. This superiority was objectively a decisive factor in aerial combat, and it could not be compensated for by any tactical methods. Thanks to him, the German pilots possessed the initiative - they could catch up with the enemy, rapidly attack from above or behind, and then again go to the height for a new attack, without fear that the enemy would "hang on their tail."

The pilots of the "donkeys" could only passively defend themselves, dodging attacks due to the good maneuverability of their aircraft, and mutually cover each other, becoming in a "defensive circle". It was not for nothing that this particular type of air combat was so often used by them, as pointed out by both Soviet and German pilots.

To what has been said, we can add that the Messerschmitt, again, due to better aerodynamics and greater weight, accelerated faster on a dive, and therefore the German pilots always had the opportunity to leave the battle in a disadvantageous situation and break away from pursuit. However, in fights with the I-16, the need to use this technique, as a rule, did not arise. Even with superior numbers, the Soviet I-16 pilots could not fight the Messerschmitts in an active attacking manner. They could rely only on the surprise of their attack (similarly, on January 18, 1943, an "donkey" that suddenly jumped out from behind a cloud knocked down the famous German ace Alfred Grislavsky) or on the mistakes and inattention of the German pilots.

All of the above applies to an even greater extent to the later modification of the Messerschmitt - Bf 109G, with which I-16 had to fight in 1942-1943, at the end of its "career".

In terms of airborne armament, most Messerschmitts also surpassed the "donkey". The Bf 109E-4 carried two wing-mounted 20mm MGFF cannons and two synchronized 7.92mm MG-17 machine guns. The mass of a second salvo was approximately 2.37 kg. The most massive modification of the I-16 type 24 was armed with two synchronous and two wing-mounted ShKAS 7.62-mm machine guns with a total mass of a second salvo of 1.43 kg. The I-16 type 29 carried three synchro-machine guns: two ShKAS and one large-caliber 12.7-mm BS. The mass of a second salvo of this fighter is even less - 1.35 kg.

The superiority of the Bf 109E in firepower was aggravated by the already mentioned instability of the I-16 in flight, which made it more difficult for its pilot to hit the target. The Messerschmitt, on the other hand, was considered a very stable and stable weapon platform. In addition, the machine gun ammunition of the German fighter was 1000 rounds per barrel (plus 60 rounds per gun), and the I-16 had 450 rounds for each of the ShKAS and 250 for the BS.

"Cannon" modifications of the I-16 - type 17, 27 and 28 had armament similar to the Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 - two wing-mounted 20-mm ShVAK cannons and two synchronous ShKAS rifle-caliber machine guns under the hood. However, due to the higher rate of fire of Soviet aircraft machine guns and air cannons, the mass of the second salvo was higher - 3.26 kg. Unfortunately, relatively few such "donkeys" were produced - 690 pieces, and not all of them "survived" before the war with Germany, but they were used mainly as attack aircraft against ground targets.

However, the Frederick's armament was much weaker than that of the Emil. In order to lighten the machine, the Germans abandoned the wing guns, replacing them with one motor-cannon installed between the engine blocks and firing through the hollow axis of the propeller. Ha Bf 109F-1, it was the same MGFF as on the Emil, and the F-2 was fitted with a new 15 mm MG-151/15 cannon with 200 rounds of ammunition. Compared to MGFF, it had a higher rate of fire and better ballistic characteristics. Nevertheless, the mass of the fighter's second salvo dropped sharply, amounting to only 1.04 kg for the Bf 109F-2, that is, even less than that of the purely machine-gun modifications of the I-16.

True, the effective firing range of the MG-151 was higher than that of the ShKAS, and in addition, starting with the modification of the Bf 109F-4, the Messerschmitt had the ability to install two additional MG-151/20 (MG- 151/15 with a new 20mm barrel) in special streamlined containers. The containers were easily suspended and removed in the field by the airfield personnel. This modification increased the mass of the fighter's second salvo more than threefold - up to 3.6 kg, but it worsened its flight performance and, according to the pilots, negatively affected controllability.

When comparing the combat potentials of the I-16 and Bf 109, it is necessary to dwell on one more important point. By the beginning of World War II, all Messerschmitts were radio-equipped and had quite reliable and reliable FuG-7 transmitting and receiving radio stations on board. This allowed German pilots to coordinate their actions during the battle, warn each other about danger or detection of targets, as well as receive commands and target designations from ground aircraft controllers. The overwhelming majority of Soviet pilots did not have such opportunities. Indeed, out of almost three thousand "donkeys" that were in service with the Soviet Air Force at the beginning of June 1941, the RSI-3 "Eagle" radio station had no more than one and a half hundred. And although the I-16 type 29, produced in 1940, had special compartments for the radios behind the cockpits, almost all of them were empty, since the radio factories could not ensure the supply.

Yes, and on those few machines on which the "Eagles" stood, it was almost impossible to use them due to the low reliability and weak noise immunity of these stations. Despite the fact that the range of their action, according to the factory documentation, was 150 km, due to interference created by the engine ignition system and other aircraft electrical equipment, the actual reception range usually did not exceed 30 kilometers, and the pilots usually heard only crackling and hissing in their headphones ...

Photo Description

I-16 type 28 No. 2821395 by Boris Safonov in the Central Naval Museum in St. Petersburg.

Photo of Shevaldov R.Yu.


  • "The history of designs of planes in USSR 1938-1950" /Vadim Shavrov/
  • "The planes of Stalin falcons" /Konstantin Kosminkov and Dmitriy Grinyuk/
  • "Fighter I-16" /Mikhail Maslov/
  • " I fought in a fighter jet " / Artem Drabkin /
  • "The Soviet planes" /Alexander Yakovlev/