A comprehensive technical description and discussion of the flight characteristics and novel armament of this first modern fighter airplane, the I-16, can be found in the Tinker biography, "Five Down, No Glory" (Naval Institute Press, 2011).
Named "Moska" (Fly) by the Russians, "Rata" (Rat) by the Spanish, and generally called a "Boeing" by Fascist pilots who may have thought it a variant on the P-26 and didn't think the Soviets capable of producing it. Franco operated captured ones. A serious weakness by 1940 was no radio.
The Russian called it "mule" and "little donkey" and various other names. Rata is my favorite, but then I'm not Russian so it doesn't count. As far as all my research has taken me, no I-16 to see active service ever broke the 300mph barrier in level flight. I'll list the charictarisics of (what I believe to be) the cream of the crop: Type 29 : Most pilots prefered this to the Hurrican because of its dynamic maneuverability. M-63 1,100hp. at 4210lbs. its maximum speed was 259mph /SL and 290mph /14,695ft. 3425fpm /SL and 16,400ft /5.8 service ceiling was listed at 32,000ft. officially. After that anything goes with the Russian industry and VVS. This was a very dynamic fighter, small hard target and pretty much all they had when Germany invaded. Arguably could be considered the best of the Spanish civil war. Dickenson thought so.
Confederate Air Force museum at the Midland, Tx airport has arecently rebuilt and supposedly flyable (flew before delivery to CAF) I-16. Amusingly small! It seems there were six of these rebuilt /restored in Russia a few years ago. Worth a stop at the museum if you're passing by on I-20.
I like the variants with the 20-mm wing cannons. It had a great roll rate at high speed. It even had armor for the pilot. I understand the I-16 Mosca stung the IJAAF and their hard pressed, slower Ki 27 Nates in the Nomonhan combat of 1939 with embarrassingly high losses. On the other hand, the sturdier Japanese Navy A5M2 Clauds seemed to carry the day by virtue of pilot skill, maintaining air superiority over the faster Russian I-16s.
Dr. Nikholas M. Stage--PHD., e-mail, 10.11.2007 05:38
This Soviet fighter plane, the I-16, could have WON the Spanish Civil War (1936-1936) for the Pro-Communist and Loyalist side of that civil war, if Joseph Stalin would have understood that 350-to-400 more I-16s, that he had in his Soviet arsenal, would have "beefed-up" the 140 I-16s already in Spain, being flown by mostly Soviet "pilot-volunteers".
This little plane, the I-16, was a spunky little fighter, but it could out-fight Franco's mercenary Italian Air Force pilots and their Fiat-made planes,, and the Soviet I-16s were more than a match for the new prototype German Me-109 109's being flown by the legendary "volunteer Nazi Condor Legion. Stalin's own paranoia, and his tight-wad mentality, did more to totally use up those I-16's, than finally being exterminated by the Nazi Condor Legion.
However, history did vindicate this plane, as hundreds of I-16s fought most of the air battles, for the first 150 days after Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 22nd, 1941.
There were 29 Soviet air aces that flew against Hitler in I-16 fighter planes, in the first 120 days of the 4-year war on the Eastern(Russian) Front.
Again, not bad at all.
A good little, but tough, fighter plane, the I-16!!
Juan Francisco MOREJÓN VILLAREJO, e-mail, 25.05.2022 Dr. Nikholas M. Stage--PHD.
Se sigue con el mito de que los aviadores de la Guerra Civil Española solo eran alemanes, italianos y soviéticos y se omite a la gran mayoría, es decir a los aviadores españoles (tanto nacionalistas como republicanos). El mayor as de la Guerra Civil Española fue el aviador español del bando Nacional, Joaquín García Morato, con 40 derribos confirmados.