MANUFACTURER(S): Polikarpov OKB - Soviet Union
OPERATORS: China; Spain; Soviet Union
LENGTH: 19.82 feet (6.04 meters)
WIDTH: 29.13 feet (8.88 meters)
HEIGHT: 7.91 feet (2.41 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 3,252 pounds (1,475 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 4,542 pounds (2,060 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Shvetsov M-62 air-cooled radial engine developing 1,000 horsepower.
SPEED (MAX): 304 miles-per-hour (490 kilometers-per-hour; 265 knots)
RANGE: 373 miles (600 kilometers; 324 nautical miles)
CEILING: 31,070 feet (9,470 meters; 5.88 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 2,790 feet-per-minute (850 meters-per-minute)
Detailing the development and operational history of the Polikarpov I-16 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Monoplane Fighter.
Entry last updated on 8/19/2017.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Polikarpov I-16 fighter proved to be quite the little aggressor before and throughout the Second World War. Initially seeing combat in the Spanish Civil War, the system would go on to see more during the Soviet invasion of Finland and the German invasion of the Soviet Union. In the end, though outclassed by better performing and more advanced aircraft, the system continued to provide support as late as 1943.
The I-16 looked very much the part of a racing airplane with an open-air cockpit, large radial piston engine housing and short stubby fuselage design. Couple that speed inherent in a small aircraft with a large engine with an array of 4 x 7.62mm machine guns, cannons or rockets and you have yourself a decent defender and / or aggressor airplane.
The I-16 saw extensive service for the Soviet Union throughout the war, be it in the war of aggression with Finland or the defense of the homeland versus the Third Reich. China used the type extensively in its campaign against Japanese aggression in the Far East and the system would bode very well for itself in the end, with production totaling just over 7,000 units.
By 1943, the system was deemed too impractical to continue to be fielded, considering the aircraft was being outclassed by any new fighter being developed around it, that the system was withdrawn from frontline Soviet service. Other variants existed including a torpedo dive bomber and dual-control trainer, along with improved models along the way.
In the end, the I-16 proved to be an exceptional fighter for a time - in the early years of the war at least - and featured great handling, nimbleness associated with small size and decent firepower at the point of attack.
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Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
This entry's maximum listed speed (304mph).
Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
Graph showcases the Polikarpov I-16's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units