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Polikarpov I-16 Ishak

The prototype I-16 (the TsKB-12) first flew in 1933.  Production began in 1934 making it the world's first production monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear-- 50 mph faster than the latest US fighter in service, the Boeing P-26.

The I-16 fought in the Spanish Civil War forcing the German's to commit the Messerschmitt Bf-109 to the war.  I-16s also flew in the Chinese air force against the Japanese in the late 30's.

Early successes lead the Red Air Force to believe that the I-16 could meet any threat.  When Germany invaded in 1941, over 88% of the Red Air Force inventory consisted of I-16s.

The I-16 picked up the nicknames Mosca (Fly) by Spanish Republican forces and Rata (Rat) by Nationalist forces.  It was best known as Ishak (Little Donkey) in Russia.

Specifications (I-16 Type 18)




Type: Fighter
Engine: one 1,000 hp (746 kW) Shvetsov M-62 radial

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Kenneth W Shanaberger 2000 - 2010