Aviation of World War II

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I-16 type 4

Serial fighter I-16 type 4
  • Fighter
  • Polikarpov

On December 30, 1933, Valery Chkalov, test pilot of aircraft plant No. 39, first flew TsKB-12 with an M-22 engine. After the New Year holidays, the second car with the American Wright-Cyclone F-2 engine took off. Chkalov considered the new aircraft difficult to fly, the aircraft was being fine-tuned throughout January, during this period the main factory tests were carried out. Already in February 1934, both prototypes were prepared for the first stage of State tests.

On February 16, test pilot Kokkinaki began to fly on an airplane with an M-22 engine, on the same day the second plane with the "Wright-Cyclone" was tested by the test pilot Stepanchonok. We flew on skis, on February 25-27, both cars were handed over to the factory to eliminate the shortcomings and prepare for more thorough tests on a wheeled chassis. What did it become clear from the planes that flew for several hours? Both the I-16s with the M-22 and the Wright-Cyclone were similar in piloting, they easily switched from figure to figure, but did not allow sudden movements of the control stick. I had to be especially careful when landing, the plane did not allow high alignment. At the same time, the pilots noted that the I-16 was more stable during takeoff and landing than the I-14 fighter. And on bends, he was not so strict compared to his competitor. Of the two experienced I-16s, the machine with the M-22 engine inspired more confidence (the Wright-Cyclone caused unwanted vibrations on the second copy). The general opinion of all the pilots about the plane was quite dangerous, so the execution of figures, up to sharp turns, was prohibited on it for an indefinite period. The decision on serial production, however, remained in force, therefore, in the test approval act, Air Force Chief Alksnis ordered the selection of specially trained pilots for the new fighter, because the flight characteristics, and most importantly, the speed, were obtained very good during the ten-day tests.

There were enough drawbacks, however, there was an unfinished fuel system, a flimsy flashlight, a weak sight mount, uncomfortable shoulder harnesses. Even then, the pilots noted the difficulty of boarding the plane and demanded the device of special stepladders or equipment for footboards. This shortcoming, which was subsequently noted by almost all pilots, was not eliminated, as is known. The mechanism for raising the OOS was very unreliable, often jammed and failed. Cleaning the landing gear was difficult even for such a physically strong pilot as Chkalov.

I-16 Fighters
Type 4 Type 5 Type 10
Crew 1 1 1
Year of issue 1935 1936 1938
Wing span, m 9.000 9.000 9.004
Height, m 3.50 3.250 3.250
Length, m 5.860 5.985 6.074
Wing area, m²   14.54 14.54
Engine M-22 M-25A M-25
Power h.p. 480 730 750
at altitude, m 0 2400 2900
Weight, kg
Wing load, kg/m² 93.1 103.5 118
Loaded weight, kg 1,354 1,508 1,716
Empty weight, kg - 1118.5 1327
Max speed, km/h over ground 362 390 398
at altitude 346 445 448
m 3,000 2,700 3,160
Time to 3000m, min 4.4 4.0/3400 3.4
Time to 5000m, min 9.9 7.7/5400 6.9
Service ceiling, m 7440 9100 8470
Service range, km 680 540 525
Machine guns ShKAS 2 2 4

Serial production of the fighter was unfolding in the meantime at factories No. 39 in Moscow and No. 21 in Nizhny Novgorod. The I-16s, produced at plant No. 21, equipped with M-22 engines, received type 4. These machines were produced by the plant throughout 1935. In total, together with the same type I-16 produced at the Moscow aircraft plant, the total number of fighters equipped with the M-22 was 400.

I-16, produced by aircraft plant number 39, were designated in accordance with the serial number of the Central Design Bureau. During 1934, 50 I-16 aircraft were produced here. In 1935-36, the Moscow plant produced 8 more machines (four copies annually), all these I-16s were not at all a duplication of the M-22 prototype. Moreover, this number also included experimental aircraft, which were developed in the Polikarpov brigade. A special five I-16, intended for group piloting, also entered here.

Photo Description

Drawing I-16 Type 4


  • "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/
  • "The Soviet planes" /Alexander Yakovlev/

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The I-16 type 4 did not participate in hostilities in Spain and China - however, it remained in small numbers in combat units and flight schools at the time of the German attack on the Soviet Union. It is likely that individual I-16 type 4 copies took part in the hostilities in the summer of 1941.