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.
1,000 hp (746 kW) Shvetsov M-62 radial