|FIGHTER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / USSR / Russia / Polikarpov|
The first prototype of this diminutive single-seat unequal-span biplane flew on 29 April 1930. Power was provided by an imported Gnome-Rhone Jupiter VII radial engine with individual helmet-type fairings over each cylinder head. The second prototype was named Klim Voroshilov after the Soviet Defence-Minister. It had a Jupiter VI radial and was intended for low-level operations. The third and final prototype had a Soviet M-15 radial engine with a ring cowling. In the summer of 1930 seven evaluation aircraft were built, powered by the 358kW M-22 radial - in fact a Russian version of the Jupiter VI. Tests were successful and series production was undertaken. A total of 803 was built and the type formed the main equipment of Soviet fighter units until 1936.
Standard armament of the I-5 was two synchronised 7.62mm PV-1 machine-guns and up to 40kg of bombs could be carried on underwing racks. The circular-section fuselage had a metal tubular framework with metal sheet covering forward and fabric aft. The wooden wings were fabric covered. The axle-type undercarriage could be fitted with wheel spats.
A number of I-5s were still in use at the time of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, when a few were pressed into service by Black Sea naval airmen for ground attack. Interestingly, I-5s had previously been used in Soviet Zveno 'parasite' experiments, being launched in the air from the TB-3 mother ship.