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Polikarpov's I-16 types
by Massimo Tessitori

Uploaded on March 17, 2020

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Type 4

First production version of 1934, broadly similar to the first TsKB-12 prototype:

  • equipped with M-22 engine and V-22 fixed pitch propeller, turning clockwise, no spinner;
  • NACA cowling, nearly cylindrical, a bit tapered on the rear; there were not visible exhaust pipes;
  • fin turned on the right of 2° to contrast the torque;
  • sliding forward canopy, with OP-1 telescopic gunsight;
  • pilot's door on the left side only;
  • long ailerons, with protruding hinges on the lower surface;
  • armed with two PV-1 machine guns in the wings.

58 were built in GAZ-39 at Khodynka in 1934; they are recognizable for a long cowling (as depicted here) and at least the first ones had two flares protruding backwards on the right wingtip; they were still known as TsKB-12.

A larger number /(with shortened engine cowling, without flares on the wingtip) was delivered from GAZ-21 starting from October 1934, for a total of 400 or more built.

It was publicly shown over Red Square and Tushino, and delivered to units in mid 1935; it remained in production up to the end of 1935.

It never saw combat, but some were still serviceable as training planes at the war outbreak.

 

 

Type 5 early

A first batch of pre-series Type 5 with imported Wright-Cyclone engines, much more powerful than the M-22, were produced in GAZ-39 in late 1935, on the base of the TsKB-12bis prototype as modified after an accident.

The massive production of Type 5 with M-25 engine started in early 1936 at GAZ-21 and GAZ-153.

Compared to the Type 4, the early Type 5 featured:

  • a new engine M-25 or M-25A;
  • V-25 propeller with pitch adjustable on the ground only, turning counterclockwise, with spinner;
  • tapered engine cowling, closed on its front, with 9 frontal vents closable with a rotating shutter;
  • side openings of pointed-backward shape for individual exhaust pipes (two were coupled on the top-left opening);
  • new improved ailerons with less gaps and no protruding hinges;
  • two ShKAS machine guns in the wings instead of PV;
  • tail fin was twisted in the left of 2° to compensate the torque of the propeller.

The Type 5 had a huge evolution during its production, particularly in early 1937:

  • the wings were strenghtened on their upper surface with a longer metal skinning and the addition of 11 half ribs between the 11 full ribs;
  • the wheels were enlarged to 750x150 mm instead of 750x100 mm;
  • an optional armoured backrest was introduced instead of the usual backrest.

 

 

Type 5 late

  • In 1937, the forward sliding closed canopy was replaced by a fixed windshield that allowed a better visibility to the pilot (this modification is often unproperly called Type 6); at first, the OP-1 gunsight was preserved;
  • later, the OP-1 tubular gunsight was replaced by PAK-1 reflective gunsight;
  • trim tabs on the ailerons were introduced into late production planes and refitted to previously built planes;
  • some final production Type 5 were equipped with M-25V engine ; they were distinguishable for the small T-shaped inlet for the oil cooler on the low part of their front, and the circular outlet under the cowling.
  • The total production of Type 5s totalized about 2200 planes up to early 1938.

Type 5s were widely utilized by the Soviet Air Force, they fought against Japaneses in the Nomonhan Incident, against Finns in the Winter War, and in the end against Germans in the GPW, often converted into ground attack planes with RS-82 rockets.

They were exported in Spain, where they were called Moscas by Republicans and Rata by Nationalists, and in China, where they fought against Japaneses.

 

 

Type10

The first Type 10s were tested at the very beginning of 1938. They implemented some improvements due to the experiences of the Spanish Civil War:

  • the addition of two synchronized ShKAS machine guns over the engine cowling, in addition to those already on the wings;
  • the shortening of the ailerons and the addition of pneumatically operated flaps;
  • the reshaping of the vents for the exhausts on the sides, that were shortened not to interfere with the ammo boxes of the synchronized ShKAS.

The first batch of 31 sent to Spain in March 1938 still had the M-25A engine without the inlet and outlet for the oil cooler. After that, Type 10s had the M-25V engine with the T-shaped inlet for the oil cooler on the front cowling and the ventral outlet. Further improvements introduced during the production were:

  • an armoured backrest and other structural strenghtenings of the fuselage;
  • provision for a ski retractable gear; this implied the coupling of exhaust pipes under the nose to make room for two recesses for the skis in retracted position;
  • separing the rear part of the side cowling panels to give easier access to the ammo boxes of the synchronized ShKAS.

Type 10s were widely utilized by the Soviet Air Force, they fought against Japaneses in the Nomonhan Incident, against Finns in the Winter War, and in the end against Germans in the GPW, often converted into ground attack planes with RS-82 rockets.

They were exported in Spain, where they were called Moscas by the Republicans and Rata by the Nationalists, and in China, where they fought against Japaneses. They remained serviceable ne l'Ejercito de l'Aire up to 1953.

Type17

This was a variant of the late Type 10 adapted for the ground attack role:

  • the ShKAS on the wings were replaced by 20 mm ShVAK guns, easily recognizable for the big protruding barrels;
  • the hatches for the weapons on the wings were lengthened;
  • the waste shells slots under the wings changed;
  • a square cut for an hatch for the guns ammo loading was added at the rear edge of the upper panel of the engine cowling;
  • nearly all the Type 17 had the lower part of the cowling with the coupled exhaust pipes and the recesses for the retractable ski gear, eventually partially closed by screwed plates that let an air outlet slot on their rear.

27 Type 17s were built in 1938 and further 314 in 1939; many of them were later rebuilt as Type 27 or 28.

The Type 17 was never exported, but fought in the ground attack role against Japaneses in the Nomothan incident, against Finns in the Winter War and against Germans in 1941/42, during the Great Patrioctic War.

 

 

Type 18

The Type 18 of 1939 was equipped with the engine Shvetsov M-62, a Soviet copy of the Wright-Cyclone R-1820-G-5.

Its visual characteristics were:

  • VISh-6A or AV-1 propeller with hydraulically movable pitch, visually distinguishable for the bigger and bulbuous spinner or, when this was removed, for two balance weights on the hub;
  • a small protrusion on the front plate, related to the speed regulator of the new engine;
  • some small flat oval protrusions on the front plate between the vents, barely visible;
  • a new triangular air intake for the supercharger was put on the top of the cowling;
  • the oil cooler air intake low on the front cowling was now trapezoidal with bent-in sides;
  • a fairing for the enlarged oil cover altered the profile under the nose; ot was cut on its rear for the air outlet.

It was an interim version before the introduction of the more powerful M-63 engine, so only 177 were built in 1939 by GAZ-21 and GAZ-153, plus some in 1940 in parallel with the Type 24, according to the available engines; so, late production Type 18 had the same airframe of Type 24.

It was never exported, but saw combat in the Nomothan incident and in the Winter War before fighting in the Great Patrioctic War.

 

 

Type 24

This version was equipped with the M-63 engine and MV-1 propeller, and was visually similar to Type 18.

Apart for the engine, it was different for:

  • the air intake low on the front cowling was now trapezoidal with bent-in sides;
  • a second pilot's door and and an inspection hatch on the right side of the fuselage;
  • tail wheel instead of a skid;
  • scissor-type mail legs of the landing gear instead of splined ones, with a stroke of 96 mm instead of 36mm;
  • extension of the leg bays and of the leg covers rearwards for the scissors; at least two shapes were possible;
  • optional support (often installed) for camera gun (rarely installed) behind the headrest.

Late Type 24 had further characteristics:

  • front vent at 1 o'clock of reduced size;
  • predisposition for auxiliary fuel tanks under the wings (Type 24P and R) and relative hatches over the wing consoles for access to the system;
  • predisposition (Type 24 R) for 6 rocket rails for RS-82 rockets, and metal plates on the wings to protect them from the fire;
  • optional extractable landing flares under the right wing, whose skin was protected by a metal plate (probably Type 24R only);
  • radio mast on the right side of the nose (rarely installed).

155 Type 24 were built in late 1939, 760 (including late Type 18 with M-62 engine) in 1940 and 19 in 1941, for a total of 934.

Type 27

This can be seen as a ShVAK-armed variant of the late Type 18 adapted for the ground attack role, or as a ShVAK-armed Type 17 updated with M-62 engine and MV-1 propeller.

The 20 mm ShVAK guns were easily recognizable for the big protruding barrels and some modifications to their ports.

The landing gear was usually with splined shock adsorbers as on Type 10-18, but some planes could have received shock adsorbers with scissors as Type 24; this would be recognizable by some extension on the rear of the legs covers.

Type 27 could have had an optional predisposition for auxiliary fuel tanks under the wings, and plates over the wing consoles for access to the system.

59 were built in 1939, plus a total of 277 Type 27 and Type 28 in 1940.

The type was never exported, but fought in the ground attack role during the Nomothan incident, during the Winter War (when one was captured by Finns) and during the Great Patrioctic War.

 

 

Type 28

This variant can be seen as a Type 27 with M-63 engine and other updates (landing gear, door and hatch on the right side, tail wheel), or as a Type 24 with ShVAK guns on the wings.

It had an optional predisposition for auxiliary fuel tanks under the wings, and plates over the wing consoles for access to the system (not on all planes).

16 Type 28 were built in 1939, plus a total of 277 Type 27 and Type 28 in 1940.

Type 28 was never exported, but it was used during the GPW.

 

 

Type 29

The final version of the I-16 was a ground attack plane; it had much in common with the Type 24 but:

  • armed with the new Berezin UBS 12,7 mm machine gun in the lower central part of the nose; its fairing characterized the profile of the lower part of the fuselage;
  • oil cooler relocated on the right side; on some planes, it had a protruding trapezoidal intake on the low-right front and a tubular outlet under the nose; on other machines it had only a visible oval intake slot in the front plate and one on the shutter;
  • modified lower cowling with exhaust pipes still paired on the left side, separed on the right side; one pipe came out from a small vent in nearly central position;
  • the cowling still had slots for cooling air outlet, but they were no longer usable for retractable ski gear;
  • to make space for the UBS between the landing gear bays, each bay was moved 20 mm outside;
  • shortening the landing gear legs by 38 mm;
  • shorter MV-1 prop diameter, from 2.8 m to 2.7 m; the blades were a bit wider to mantain their thrust;
  • the ShKAS on the wings were suppressed, while the synchronized ones on the nose were preserved;
  • 6 rocket rails for RS-82 rockets, and metal plates under the wings to protect them from the fire;
  • extractable landing flares under the right wing, whose skin was protected by a metal plate;
  • underwing tanks predisposition (and the access plates over the wings) as standard;
  • optional RSI-3 radio equipment with mast on the right side of the nose and wire aerials
  • optional support for camera gun behind the headrest

 

 

UT-2, UTI-2 and UTI-3

The UT-2 was the first two seater training version based on the Type 4 equipped with the M-22 engine, with long enclosed canopy and doors on the left side, and a machine gun on the right wing only. Only 3 were built.

The UTI-2 (illustrated aside) was the first serially produced version; it was simplified, with open cockpits, flat topped back and unarmed. Their serials started by 8, so it should be Type 8, but it was also known as Type 14.

The prototype flew in early 1935, 57 were built in 1935 and 1936, and about 40 in 1937 by GAZ-21.

Final production planes had ailerons as on Type 5 instead of Type 4, recognizable for non-protruding hinges on the lower wing surface and less gap between wings and ailerons.

The UTI-3 was a prototype of twoseater training version visually similar to the UT-2, with closed canopy, doors, machine gun on the right wing, equipped with the expermental M-58 engine. It was not serially produced because it was decided not to produce the M-58 to standardize all versions of I-16 on the M-25.

 

 

 

UTI-4 (Type-15) M-25A

It was based on the Type 5, equipped with M-25A engine and unarmed. Produced in 1937 and 1938.

Its serials started by 15, adding 1 before 5 to design a trainer version of Type 5; so it was called Type 15 even if it appeared before the Type 10.

  • Early production planes had the same rear windscreen and flat-topped back as on UTI-2;
  • later a conical rear windshield was introducted, usually still with flat-topped back;
  • UTI-4s always preserved long ailerons, and never received flaps;

 

Some UTI-4s were exported to Spain (4) China (were it was produced as Jung-28A) and Poland (2).

 

 

UTI-4 (Type-15) M-25V

Evolution of the early UTI-4 with M-25V engine introduced around late 1938. It progressively introduced changes similar to those of late I-16s visible on the landing gear and lower side of cowling.

  • T-shaped oil cooler inlet, and a circular outlet under the cowling;
  • conical rear windshield and rounded back section;
  • short slots on the cowling sides as for Type 10 and later;
  • early planes had separate exhausts on the lower part of the cowling as early Type 10;
  • later planes had coupled exhausts as on later versions, and air outlet slots (but not usable for retractable ski gear);
  • early planes had landing gear with splined shock adsorbers, covers, bays and tail skid as on Type 10;
  • later planes had landing gear with scissor type shock adsorbers, covers,bays and tail wheel as Type 24;
  • UTI-4s always preserved long ailerons, and never received flaps.

The production figures of UTI-4s vary from 843 planes to 3189 planes, according to the source; the most likely nimber looks around 1900.

The Type was produced in GAZ-21, GAZ-153 in Novosibirsk and GAZ-458 in Rostov On Don up to 1943.