Polikarpov I-153 Чайка (Chaika, Seagull)
Polikarpov proposed a new fighter called I-153 (literally, I-15, 3rd version) was submitted in 1937. The first prototype powered by the Shvetsov M-25 engine was completed in August 1938. It failed factory testing due to numerous defects which were largely corrected in the second prototype and the aircraft entered production concurrently with ongoing testing and development. The first I-153 (M-62) was delivered on 16 June 1939.
While the overall I-153 performance was satisfactory, the aircraft failed the government acceptance trials. While numerous improvements were proposed, many were too radical to be implemented since the aircraft was already in production. One of the rarely mentioned characteristics of the I-153 was its poor performance in a spin.
The I-153 lacked a firewall between the fuel tank mounted in front of the cockpit and the pilot. Combined with strong draft coming in through the wheel wells, fuel tank fires invariably resulted in rapid engulfment of the cockpit and severe burns to the pilot. In addition, the M-62 engine suffered from a service life of only 60-80 hours due to failures of the two-speed supercharger.
The I-153 first saw combat in 1939 during the Soviet-Japanese undeclared war in eastern Mongolia at Nomonhan (Khalkhin Gol). About 550 served in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, where it was nicknamed "Chato" (flat-nosed). Also flown against the Finns and Luftwaffe in defense of the Soviet Union.
A total of 3,437 were built when production ended in 1941.
Crew One (pilot)
Engine One Shvetsov M-62 1,000 hp 9 cylinder radial
Span 33' 5"
Length 20' 3"
Height 9' 8"
Maximum Speed 285 mph
Range 546 miles
Armament 4 x 7.62 mm ShKAS MG (or 2 x 12.7 mm)
Bombload 6 x RS-82 rockets