|FIGHTER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / USSR / Russia / Polikarpov|
Despite an international trend away from the biplane configuration for fighters by the mid 'thirties, the Soviet Air Force vigorously demanded continuation of such warplanes, and, in 1937, one of Polikarpov's principal team leaders, Aleksei Ya Shcherbakov, was assigned the task of developing a more potent fighter biplane. Assisted by Mikhail Gurevich, Shcherbakov created the I-153 (I-15ter), prototype trials commencing in summer 1938. The basic structure of the I-152 was extensively restressed, the Clark YH wing profile was retained, but configuration reverted to the "gulled'' upper wing - resulting in the sobriquet of Chaika being resurrected - and, as a concession to modernity, manually-retractable main undercarriage members were introduced. Initially, the 775hp M-25V engine was retained, armament remaining four 7.62mm guns, but comparatively early in the production run the 1,000hp Shvetsov M-62 engine was standardised, boosting max speed from 415km/h at 3000m to 444km/h at 4600m. Some aircraft were fitted with a quartet of 12.7mm guns (I-153BS) and one, experimentally, with twin synchronised 20mm cannon (I-153P). Production deliveries began during the early spring of 1939, and continued until late 1940, 3,437 examples being produced. Ninety-three were supplied to the Chinese Central Government early in 1940, and the I-153 remained in first-line service until well into 1943.