Nate Sturman's Polikarpov I-15bis

The Polikarpov I-15bis was a Soviet built biplane 4-gun fighter employed by the Chinese Nationalist forces and the Soviet Air Force in China, and in other countries, including Spain in the Civil War, 1936-38. The I-15 was the most numerous (about 700) fighter the Chinese had in the pre-1940 phase of the war there, and gave a good account of itself in fierce combat with the Japanese Army Type 97 (Nate) and Navy Type 96 (Claude).

Many hybrids with various strange features, such as Wright engines and props, lower wing ailerons, etc, were created in China as they struggled with cannabalized parts, tape and bailing wire to keep them flying. (China's second most numerous fighter was probably the Hawk III, not license built in China as some have surmised but outfitted and rebuilt there by the Central Airplane Factory. This was followed in number by the I-16, and then perhaps the Gladiators supplied by Britain in 1939. There were also Fiat and Breda fighters as well as dozen Boeing P-26, (281 export fighter, not to be confused with the 218). The Breda looked like the P-26, and like the Boeing fighter it gave a good account of itself during the battle in front of Nanjing, November 1937. Delivered in grey, KMT P-26 acft were all OD with wing roundels, squadron fuselage numbers and tail stripes as of that time. In many mainland Chinese accounts photos of Curtiss Hawk IIs and IIIs are incorrectly labeled as I-15s, and KMT roundels are airbrushed off, the result of past tampering with history. (This has a long tradition in China but everything eventually gets straightened out).

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