Experience of combat acquired in Spain and China with I-16 Type 5 and
Type 6 made clear that pair of 7.62mm is inadequate for modern air
Conversion to more powerful aircraft was an obvious necessity, and on December 25,
1937 K.E.Voroshilov urged (by letter) the Director of
GAZ-21 Y.M.Miroshnikov to switch production to new type as soon as possible. Miroshnikov
replied that the conversion is planned within a year. Voroshilov send a deadline... for two days! This was not a right time to
disobey orders of this kind, and on the New Year Eve of 1938 static firing of
guns on the new aircraft was performed, and on January 11 it was flown by S.Suprun. By March of
1938 first batch of 31 I-16 Type 10 were shipped to Spain.
The most built I-16 Type 10 had doubled firepower. Two more synchronized "ShKAS" machineguns
were installed on the upper nose. Two muzzles and fairings on upper nose are well visible, becoming distinctive feature of all
following combat I-16. Aircraft structure was strengthened following heavier engine and increased armament load.
Early Type 10 had same M-25A engine as the
Type 6. Soon improved M-25V
became available, adding some power (140hp extra on takeoff), some weight (24kg) and distinctive T-shaped air
intake on the 'chin' of engine cowling. Exhaust stacks became larger and more rounded.
12k in Spanish colors;
12k Type 10 ruined, June 1941.
Twelve of Spanish I-16 Type 10 were field-equipped with smuggled USA-built
Wright-Cyclone SGR-1820-F-54 engines, allowing to operate up to
8000m. Those aircraft had special heating system (using engine exhaust), heating gun boxes at high altitude to
Most of ~200 I-16s supplied to China (since 1937) were Type 10. They were
fighting until August 1941, when Chinese airforce ceased to exist, being
outnumbered and outgunned by better trained Japanese aggressors. German invasion did not allow the USSR to proceed with supply
of more advanced fighters to other countries.
Armour was increased by adding 8mm plate behind pilot's headrest. It was sufficient to stop 12.7mm shells. For
winter service I-16 Type 10 was equipped with retractable skis, which did not harm fighter performance. For winter operation
retractable skis were provided, which did not harm aircraft performance.
Type 10 were still in service as late as in 1944, relocated to
liaison duties. Some had field-installed camera on the starboard wingtip, and served as a high-speed reconnaissaters
(same was done also with number of following Type 18,