In service since 1934, the Polikarpov I-16 was a fighter aircraft used by the Soviet Air Force during World War II. It got its baptism of fire in November 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, flown by Republican government Air Force pilots. It was also employed by the Chinese Air Force against the Japanese forces in mainland China. By the time World War II broke out, it had become rather obsolete and was not a match against the faster and more powerful Messerschmitt Bf 109 of the Luftwaffe. Thus, hundreds of Polikarpov I-16 aircraft were wiped out of the Russian skies by the Germans. So, from early 1942, it was used in the ground-attack role, providing fire support to the Russian troops.
Technically, this Soviet fighter was a low-winged monoplane propelled by one Shvetsov M-63 (Wright R-1820) air-cooled radial engine, which delivered 1100 horsepower. It had a rather flimsy short wooden fuselage. The Polikarpov I-16 could fly at the maximum speed of 326 miles per hour (525 km/h) and had a range of 440 miles (710 km). Its rate of climb was 2,900 ft/min (14,7 m/s). Its armament consisted of two 20mm Svak guns, mounted on the wings, and two 7,62 mm Svas machine guns. For ground-attack missions, it was fitted out with six RS-82 rockets and one 500-kg bomb.
Wingspan: 29′ 6″ (9 m)
Length: 20′ 1″ (6.13 m)
Height: 8′ 8″ (2.6 m)