Polikarpov I-153

Soviet tactical doctrine for air combat was based on the use of high performance monoplanes, and maneuverable biplanes. These mixed units would have the ability to leverage either strength as needed, or so it was thought.

Nicknamed the Chaika (Seagull) the I-153 was the third development of the I-15 and featured design improvements aimed at maximizing performance without sacrificing the biplanes’ maneuverability. The belief that biplanes still had a role to play in future air-combat engagements was based on the observed difficulty that I-16s had in coping with the Fiat CR.32 biplanes used during the Spanish Civil War.

Among the improvements made was the retention of the more advanced wing configuration that had been used on the I-15bis and the inclusion of four ShKAS machine guns which fired much faster than the four 7.62mm PV-1 machine guns that had been mounted to the I-15bis. It also featured a more powerful engine, the Shvetsov M-62. 

The I-153 first saw combat during the Battle of Khalkin Gol in Mongolia. Combined units of I-16s and I-153s were arrayed against the Japanese Nakajima Ki-27. Although problems were found with the design of the I-153, it performed well and was a key part of the Soviet victory that resulted in the defeat of the Japanese Sixth Army. 

The Museum’s I-153, serial number 6316 was found in a swamp outside Murmansk and is  believed to have flown with the 2nd Aviation Fighter Squadron of the Northern Navy.

Did You know?

The Finnish Air Force operated 21 captured aircraft, 11 of which they purchased from Germany. Finnish pilots claimed at least 5 aerial victories in I-153s against Soviet Pilots.


  • Number Built: 3,437 
  • Year Produced: 1938
  • Serial Number:  6316
  • Crew: (1) Pilot
  • Current Pilots:


  • Length:  20 ft. 3 in.
  • Wingspan:  32 ft. 10 in.
  • Empty Weight:  3,201 lbs.
  • Loaded Weight:  4,321 lbs.
  • Engine:  1x Warbirds-engines of Prague ASz-62 (modern copy of a Shvetsov ASh-62) nine-cylinder, air-cooled, radial piston engine
  •  Engine Power:  1000 hp


  • Cruising Speed:  185 mph
  • Max Speed:  276 mph
  • Range:  290 miles
  • Ceiling:  35,100 ft.
  • Rate of Climb:  3,000 ft./min. initial


  • 4x fixed, forward firing ShKAS 7.62 mm machine guns – 2x mounted in the upper fuselage firing between the upper cylinders of the engine, and 1x in each of the wings
  • Up to 8x 82 mm rockets
  • *MAM aircraft is unarmed

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