I-16 Type 5 of late 1937/early 1938 (with open canopy)

Updated on 16 March 2021

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The typical sliding canopy of Type 5 was deemed unsatisfactory by pilots, that often flew keeping it in open position. So, a new fixed windshield was mounted on plane 521096, that was tested by the NII VVS (Scientific Institute of the Air Force) and deemed good, allowing a considerable improvement in visibility.

The new windshield started to be installed on production Type 5 in late 1938, at first with the old tubular OV-1 gunsight passing through the glazing.

Image from Les chasseurs Polikarpov, de Herbert Léonard





This modification is often improperly called 'Type 6' in literature, but this very unlikely: there are not known I-16s with serials starting with 6.

According to some sources, this name 'Type 6' was reserved only to a batch of 30 planes (probably with sliding canopy) hurrily upgunned with a third synchronized ShKAS in the lower part of the nose and sent to Spain. No any photo of them is known: someone suggests that they never arrived because the ship transporting them sank, some other says that Type 6 is a legend only.

The total production of Type 5s totalized about 2200 planes up to early 1938, but only a small part of them were built with the new windshield, perhaps less than 100 planes.

Many Type 5 with old-fashioned sliding windshield were converted to the new fixed one in a second time; probably, this is the case of the most part of those shown in photos.

Right: photo of the new windshield with OP-1 on a Type 5 of the Winter War.

Image from Red Stars 2 of Geust and Petrov


The fixed-windshield Type 5 with OP-1 collimator.

Apart for this, its visual characteristics were the same of previous Type 5:

  • engine M-25A;
  • the same cowling of early Type 5, tapered on the rear, closed on the front;
  • 9 vents on the front plate, one in front of each cylinder;
  • shutter to close or open the frontal vents; it opened with a rotational movement;
  • 8 scalloped recesses on the sides for 9 individual exhaust tubes of 9 cylinders; the upper left recess had two pipes;
  • the upper and side recesses were still of the 'pointed backward' type, different from those of later versions (Type 10 and later); a small bulge was visible inside the upper recesses on both sides;
  • VFSh propeller with pitch adjustable only on the ground, with pointed spinner (as on later types 10 and 17); the diameter of the propeller was 2.8 m;
  • provision for 200 kg bomb load.

The planes are represented with the new colors introduced in late 1937:

  • the olive green was replaced by the dark AII green, that remained in use up to early 1940;
  • the lower surfaces were painted with AE-9 glossy light grey on metallic surfaces, and with AII aluminum or AII light grey on the lower surfaces.;
  • the landing gear bays, the legs, wheels and the inner face of the doors were generally painted with AE-9 light grey;
  • the cowling was still painted black, that felt in disuse in early 1938.







top view of open-canopy Type 5 with OP-1 gunsight. Note:

  • the rounded windows to lighten the instrument panel were now enclosed into the windshield;
  • tail fin twisted to the left of 2° to compensate the torque of the propeller, that turned counter-clockwise (as on all M25/62/63engined versions);
  • the ailerons were of the long type, and the fabric-skinned part of the wings had 22 nervures as on mid-production Type 5 of 1937 with sliding hood;
  • usually the ailerons hadn't trim tabs, but they could have been fitted in a second time.



the bottom view of the Type 5 didn't change between the variants (except for the few ones with M-25V).

When compared to the later versions, one can note the long ailerons and the lack of flaps.



Later production Type 5 were equipped with the PAK-1 reflective gunsight, fully contained into the windshield.

Only few planes received this device in late 1937, but it became standard starting from 1938.

Probably this gunsight was refitted to some older planes in a second time.

Aside: two images of PAK-1. One can see also the leather cushion on the front op the pilot's hatch, and the light of the circular windows giving some light to the instrument panel (they were standard on all types).

Images from the web.







top view of the later production Type 5 equipped with the PAK-1 reflective gunsight.



the bottom view remained the same of previous variations of Type 5.

Rare image of a late Type 5 with OP-1 in Spain. Unfortunately the code is not clearly readable (CM-122?)

All the other planes of the line appearing in this photo had the earlier sliding canopy.

Image from Le Polikarpov I-16, Collection Profils Avions N°4


In October 1937, many I-16 type 5 were delivered to China for her war against the Japanese invasion. Few of those were late Type 5 with fixed windshield and OP-1 gunsight.

The plane was produced under license in China with the name Chung 28.

The photo probably shows one of these: we can see unusual plates on the side and lower part of the cowling, with no space around the exhaust pipes. The windshield seems smaller of the usual I-16s too. The wing armament is of two ShKAS, while earlier Type 5 supplied to China were armed with PV-1s instead.

Image from I-16 in action, Squadron Signal.


Photo of I-16 Type 5 of 56 IAP that fought in Khalkhin-Gol war against Japaneses, taken in July 1939.

The planes show large dots made with a lighter color, possibly grey, as on I-15bis utilized on the same war.

(from Voennaja Armada 2, 2001)


Ski-equipped type 5 of 13th Avio Escadrille of the 61st Avio Brigade of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet Air Force during the Winter War. The plane was flown by Major Gubanov.

The slogan on the right side means "Freedom to the Oppressed!"; the one on the opposite side means "Za VKP(b)" = "For the All-Union Communist Party", and probably are painted in silver; in facts, supposing that both them are of the same color, we see that it changes very much with the angulation.

Although the photo was taken in 1940, this plane was built in 1936/37 and it has likely the typical livery of the period, as probably had the plane of the photo below.

Although the rails of the early type sliding canopy are visible, the plane has a small windshield as on later versions, but still the telescope-type gunsight.

In the second photo, the wide ailerons of the type 5 are well visible; they arrive up to the wing fillet. The ailerons were shortened on type 10 and later variants.

The ski landing gear of type 5 was not retractable; the possibility of retraction of the skis was introduced with the type 10.

Red stars, although scarcely visible, were painted on the fuselage sides as usual . See http://sovietwarplanes.com/board/index.php?topic=1047.0

Images from http://www.bellabs.ru/Fotab/Sov-Fin/Sov-Fin.html


Sharp image of a Type 5 wrecked in an airport occupied by Germans.

Seems that the plane had an unarmoured seat, and that the headrest had been removed leaving the back support visible.

The shape of the tip of the VFSh propeller, with diameter of 280 and chord of 217 mm, is well evident.

Note the parallel nervures on the inner face of the bended cover of the ShKAS vane on the wings.


Plane n.221 of 26 IAP was destroyed, aside three other I-16s, an UTI-4 and an U-2, when the I-16 c/n 521A378 of lt. V.S. Tsygonenko crashed into a row of parked planes on 26 December 1939, during the Winter War against Finland.

The marking of the planes of this unit included white bands over (and probably below) the wings, white fin and rudder; some had a white spinner (completely or partially).

Images from Red Stars 2, of Geust and Petrov.


I-16 type 5 with OP-1 numbered red (?) 891. The unusual position of the number is noteworthy.

Note the small radio mast atop the fin and on the headrest.

Images from the web.

Two photos of plane 13.

The OP-1 gunsight had been removed, and the plane lacked the landing gear covers. One can see the insulators for a wire aerial on the fin and on the back.

Images: from the web

Type 5 equipped with PAK-1 and gun camera on its back. The folding covers of the wheels are missing.

The unusual painting is of difficult interpretation: it doesn't seem a camouflage, but an originally solid green livery where the paint on the wooden and metallic parts aged in different way.

The large red star on the tail, perhaps with white outline, remarks that the photo was taken after the war outbreak. Probably the plane was utilized for training after the summer of 1943.

An interesting outline can be seen around the rudder and even on the fin leading edge.

The red star with white outline on the spinner is noteworthy. A white outline can be seen around the base of the spinner.


A line including white 50 (Type 5) and 96 (Type 10) during the war. The position and the fonts of the bort numbers was common to many refurbished planes of late 1941 and 1942.

All the planes have their starter truck in front of them.

An interesting image of Type 5 of unknown variant, probably taken in winter 1941/42.

The silver spinner with a red star painted on is noteworthy.

Image from the web.



Interesting image of a mixed line including an UTI-4 with I-16 windshield and at least two Type 5 with fixed windshield and OP-1 gunsight. The last plane seems to have a bulged spinner, so it was a later version, probably Type 28.

The surprising camouflage was typical of the Soviet Far East during the war; it is thought to include green and light brown (or light grey) areas, separed by black lines.

Image from the web.



This Type 5, Red 15, was captured by the Finns in Suursari on March 28, 1942. It was an old plane converted to the ground attack role and armed with 6 rails for RS-82 rockets.

The plane is equipped with a fixed ski gear, but the bays were left open.

It was unusual for having the red star under the left wing larger than on the other wing; the undersurface of the fuselage appears painted darker(AMT-7?) than under the wings (AII light blue?). Note that the prop blades were painted black, that was a wartime standard.

The upper surface was painted with a rough layer of MK 7 washable white distemper.



It will become the IR-101 in the Ilmavoimat.




IR-101 was assigned to Lentolaivue 6 on 1 August 1942, and, on 16 November, to Lentolaivue 30.

It was placed in storage after few more of six hours of flight in Finnish service.

The plane was repainted with the typical olive-black camouflage, with light blue undersurfaces: yellow identification areas were painted around the fuselage under the wingtips and on the front plate.


Images from Keski-Suomen Ilmailumuseo

The same plane with fixed wheeled landing gear. In this configuration, the tail skid was replaced with a wheel.

Images from Keski-Suomen Ilmailumuseo


Type 5 with M-25V engine

Few Type 5s, forthemost built in 1938 or updated after the building, were equipped with the more powerful M-25V engine, giving an output of 750 hp, instead of the standard M-25A.

The M-25V was the standard engine for the Type 10, that replaced the Type 5 on production lines in February 1938; though, early Type 10 still came out of the factory with the old M-25A, so the most part of Type 5 with M-25V were likely upengined after having been built with an older engine.

The engine M-25V was often associated with an open windshield, that was a common update of 1938-1941 on Type 5, but there are also photos of up-engined planes preserving the old sliding canopy.


The Type 5 with M-25V was visually recognizable from standard Type 5 with M-25A because:

  • it had a T-shaped intake for an oil cooler in the lower part of the frontal plate;
  • it had a circular hole as warm air outlet under the cowling, just as on early Type 10.

It was distinguishable from early Type 10 because:

  • it hadn't the synchronized ShKAS on the nose with their visible blast tubes and blisters;
  • it hadn't flaps and shortened ailerons;
  • it had still the long, pointed recesses for exhaust pipes on the sides of the cowling typical of all Type 5s.





Below left:

lower view of the Type 5 M-25V. The inlet and outlet of the oil cooler are visible.

the position of the outlet is illustrated as that of Type 10, but it could be located even more rearwards (as Type 18/24 or late UTI-4) if the plane was converted on the field.


Below right:

photo of a Type 5 converted to the M-25V engine. The T-shaped inlet is clearly visible; the outlet doesn't seem located in the position shown in the drawing, but more rearwards, close to the rear of the cowling.

The technicians are reloading the ammunitions, clearly for wing-mounted machine guns because no barrels are visible on the front of the plane.


Photo of I-16 Type 5 with engine M-25V, PAK-1 gunsight and silver-grey livery, possibly belonging to some squadron leader.

The black areas behind the exhaust pipes look painted because they were very sharp. The plane must have been kept very clean, at least on the sides, while smokes are well visible on the landing gear covers.

The plane was still intact, with the gunsight installed. One can see insulators for a wire aerial on the back and on the fin, although the wire doesn't appear in the photo.

A German soldier of Luftwaffe was posing in front of the plane.

Image from the web

On this image the plane looks somewhat vandalized by souvenir hunters, but the number on the tail is more visible; it looks of a light color, possibly yellow, with a dark shadowing, possibly black.

Note that the smoke traces on the landing gear covers look oblique when it was down.

Image from the web

Front image of the same plane. A noteworthy characteristic was the T-shaped air intake for the oil cooler of the engine M-25V; this means that the plane was a type 5 of very late production, possibly January 1938.

Image from the web



Plane (blue?) 21, probably photographed in spring 1942, is a Type 5 M-25A converted for the ground attack role, with 2 (?) RS-82 rockets and rails under each wing.

Apart for the white winter painting made with MK-7 washable white, the presence of a small radio mast with two wires is noteworthy.

Image from Scalemodels.ru.


Interesting plane of 445 IAP. The pilot is thought to be Viktor Semenovich Ruchkin, who died on 11-04-1943 in a plane crash near Kashira.

Two interesting details are magnified on the photo. On the left, it is visible that the plane was equipped with plates for auxiliary tanks under the wing, and the relative hatches above the wings, just as later types; 80 Type 10 were modified in this way in 1939, and called Type 20; this is the only known (by me at least) where this modification is visible on the field;

the painting of the tail was interesting too: half star was visible on the rudder only, and a number (a black 12?) was painted on the rudder.

The plane on the background had a red star on the fuselage, so it is likely that this plane had the same.




Plane Red 64 made an emergency landing on Lake Ladoga on 10 December 1941.

It was a late Type 5 with M-25V engine (the outlet of the oil cooler is vaguely visible, full of snow), fixed windshield, PAK-1 collimator and adapted for the ground attack role with 4 rails for RS-82 rockets, and metallic plates to protect the fabric skinning.

The plane was recovered and coded IR-104, but the repair work went slowly and was abandoned in June 1943 due to the obsolescence of the type.

Images: archive Sa-Kuva





I-16 Type 5 M-25V of 286 IAP , Leningrad front.

The plane was heavily reworked; the non-standard rounded spinner suggests that it could have an MV-1 propeller, but the perspective doesn't allow to be sure about the shape of the prop blades. The plane could be camouflaged with black or dark green bands.

Two RS-82 rockets and rails are visible under each wing, as well as some metal skinning in the rails area.

The white tip of the spinner was characteristic on many units fighting in the Leningrad area.




Type 5 with M-25V engine "white 12" on Mozdok airport, Northern Caucasus, 1943. The PAK-1 gunsight is visible through the windshield.

Strangely, the landing gear leg shows the scissors on its back, that were introduced into production on late Type 18 in the second half of 1939. The landing gear bay had to be modified to make room for the scissor. So, this plane was an hybrid made with pieces of different planes.

In 1941/42, old survived I-16s were converted to the ground attack role with rocket rails and metal reinforced skinning under the wings, and often had their spinners and landing gear doors removed to save weight.

Images From Istrebitel I-16 of Maslov

Another Type 5 with M-25V engine based on Mozdok airport. This one had its original landing gear legs.

Besides the rocket rails, it has some unidentified device mounted under the wings, perhaps FAB-50TR or AO-25M2 bombs.


Images from Istrebitel I-16 of Maslov




Detail of another plane of the same unit with the same load under the wings.

The contour of an air intake for the oil cooler of the M-25V looks barely visible on its front plate, but it seems that it was closed; so this plane should have a M-25A engine.

Some light areas are visible on the leading edge; they don't seem a camouflage, probably they are recognition markings or repairs.

Image from Istrebitel I-16 of Maslov




This work was made with the important help of Bernard Le Guenno (BLG), Daniele Righi (Righidan), Andrey Averin (Dabbler), Charles Green, PG Monster and Aleksandrs Ruckovskis.



This work collects photos from many sources, not always identified and mentioned. This was made for research purposes, not intended to obtain an economical gain from them nor to offend the rights of anyone.

Besides, many of the images were published on multiple sources, making difficult to credit them to one source without forgetting other ones.

If someone has rights on the images reproduced here, please don't feel hurted, email to me and I shall provide to remove or to credit them.