Polikarpov I-15 and I-153

soviet flagRussian fighter and fighter-bomber Polikarpov I-15 and I-153 Chaika (Chato in Spain).

3D model Polikarpov I-15 Chato

3D model Polikarpov I-15 Chato from Spanish Republican Air Force.

Polikarpov I-15, I-15bis, I-153 Chaika (Chato in Spain)
Type: Russian fighter and fighter-bomber biplane.


One might jump to the conclusion that these Polikarpov I-15 biplanes were superseded by the I-16 Rata monoplane. In fact the I-16 flew before any of them, was in service first and, in 1939, was replaced in Mongolia by the more agile I-153 ! Polikarpov’s bureau began work on the TsKB-3 in 1932 when the earlier I-5 was in full production. Unlike the I-5 the new fighter had a small lower wing and large upper gull-wing curved down at the roots to meet the fuselage.

As the I-15 the highly manoeuvrable fighter gained a world altitude record before serving in very large numbers (about 550) in Spain, where it was dubbed Chato (flat-nosed).

Starting in 1937 the I-15 was deployed to China to help in its fight against the invading Japanese. It was at this time that the aircraft started facing superior Japanese monoplane fighter aircraft designs.

It even served against the Finns and Luftwaffe, but by 1937 was being replaced by the I-15bis with continuous upper wing carried on struts. Over 300 of these served in Spain, and many were used as dive bombers against the Germans in 1941.

The ultimate development was the powerful I-153, with retractable landing gear, either wheels or skis folding to the rear. Some thousands served in the Far East Spain, Finland and on the Eastern Front. Later sub-types had variable-pitch propellers and drop tanks well outboard under the lower wings.

By November of 1942, the Polikarpov biplanes were removed from front line duties.

Users: China, Finland (captured), Russia, Spain.

Pictures of Polikarpov I-15 and I-153

Data for Polikarpov I-153 Chaika

Technical data
Polikarpov I-153 Chaika data
Type Biplane fighter-bomber
Power plant one 1,000 hp Shvetsov M-63 nine-cylinder radial (a Wright Cyclone engine)
Accommodation 1
Wing span 32 ft 9.75 in
Length overall 20 ft 3 in
Height overall 9 ft 3 in
Weight empty 3,168 lb
Weight loaded 4,189 lb
Maximum speed 267 mph
Initial climb 2,500 ft/min.
Service ceiling 32,800 ft
Range 298 miles
Polikarpov I-153 Chaika data
in front fuselage 4 x 7.62mm DA or ShKAS machine guns
external load two 165 lb bombs or two 110 lb bombs or six RS-82 rockets
Service statistics
Polikarpov I-15, I-153 Chaika data
First flight TsKB-3 October 1933
Service delivery 1934 (I-15), 1937 (I-15bis), 1939 (I-153)
Removed from front line service November 1942
Production figures Total: over 6.750 (from these 550 I-15 and 300 I-15bis for Spain plus 285 build there)
in First Line Units June 1941 more than 1,000

Animated 3D model of Polikarpov I-15 Chato of the Spanish Republican Air Force

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