Skill Collector
A Russian military Gee-Bee? Sort of! It was an original design, not a knock off - it was actually cutting edge when it came out between the world wars - first low wing monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear! Russia had these as the main fighter in their airforce from the 30's to the early 40's. Unfortunately by the time WW2 got to the Russian front, these were outclassed by the ME-109s and took heavy losses. This one is in a Russian museum, but Kermit Weeks got a restored one last year for Fantasy of Flight in Orlando Florida, so there are multiple options to stand next to one!

Polikarpov I-16.JPG

Lots of other really fascinating history about these - you can start here for a good overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polikarpov_I-16

And there are dozens of really cool scale paint schemes for this model! Here's a couple sites with just some of the options:

In the book "Profile Aircraft #122 - Polikarpov I-16" I found this awesome looking winter scheme used by the Russians - should be easy to paint and great for orientation too!

Polikarpov I-16 Winter Russian Scheme 1941.png

For my build, I'm working with the 30" wingspan short kit designed by Derek Micko in 2008 and laser cut by Manzano Laser Works at https://manzanolaser.com/Polikarpov...an-WW2-Fighter-Model-Airplane-Kit_p_3030.html


As mentioned, this is a short kit so it comes with the plans, all the curved balsa and plywood pieces laser cut, and a canopy - but no other hardware, stringers, or spars.

The canopy is an unexpected bonus - didn't expect this in a short kit!


I'm starting with the horizontal stabilizer per the directions, and using Super-Phatic glue for lightweight performance and way better sanding characteristics than CA.

There are a couple differences already between the plans and the balsa - but they work in the builder's favor! The leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer is four separate pieces on the plans, but cut as just two pieces in the short kit. Took a minute of looking through the pieces for the right shape before I spotted that.

Time to start making 1/8" balsa stringers next.
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Master member
It is cool the way they notched the laser cut parts so they lock together like that. There is no fiddling around with alignment. Does super-phatic wick into joints like CA or do you apply it before joining the parts?


Skill Collector
I like the I-16 looks. I saw one at Warbirds Over Wisconsin, and laughed until I realize it was a real fighter. One thing is for sure, your motor won't be short of cooling :ROFLMAO: I'll definitely be watching this

She's a funny looking one for sure! Part of her charm! :D

You sir are a balsa building machine.

Fully addicted! :cool:

It is cool the way they notched the laser cut parts so they lock together like that. There is no fiddling around with alignment. Does super-phatic wick into joints like CA or do you apply it before joining the parts?

Super-phatic wicks in pretty well on balsa (less on plywood), but I still usually apply it to the joint before sliding the pieces in place.

Hi Rockyboy:
I builded a Polikarpov I-16 using a Sportster with a round nose. I hope the end of the lockout for test it.
In Spain this plane is also called "Mosca".
Good luck with your "Rata".

That's an excellent conversion!! Very nicely done sir! (y)


Legendary member
Looking forward to seeing this finished. I saw one with about a 70" wingspan at a fly in which would make it close to 1/5 scale. Certainly not a plane you see very often. I like this little one.


Active member
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Elite member


Skill Collector
Horizontal stabilizer and elevator stringers all finished up with cuttings from the waste balsa in one of the sheets.


And put together the wing jigs - these are slightly higher in the rear to build in the right amount of washout in addition to the dihedral.

Next up I'll cover these in clear tape to prevent the wing sticking to it, and get started building the wing :D


Skill Collector
does the raised rear of the wing tips give an upward twist?

Yep - that "washout" twist is a way of helping the wing stall more predictably so you don't suddenly lose all lift / aileron / roll control on one wing causing a dive into the dreaded "spiral tip stall", and instead get a "mushy" response warning the pilot to pick up some airspeed or drop the nose.

I'm sure I'm flubbing the explanation at some level, so here's a link to smarter people than me explaining it :D



Skill Collector
I'm making very slow (for me) progress on this build. But great progress on replacing deck railing, planting the garden, fixing up the yard for spring, and even cleaning up the workshop a bit! Can actually see (and walk) from one end to the other now and touch the FW-42 for the first time in months! :D


Anyway, next step of the Rata is getting the trusses covered in tape, aligned on the plans and clamped in place.


And setting the spars and ribs into place. I think I'm going to fit the main stringers too before adding glue to make sure everything stays lined up right.


Skill Collector
Holding things in place with clamps and weights while the top stringer goes in.


And the trailing edge.

Now the bell crank framing and the piece that will be the trailing wing edge when the aileron gets cut free...

And the leading edge and second part of the aileron framing...

Flipped the wing over and started with the bottom stringer. Yes, it would be better to have this as a single piece all the way across, but I don't have any basswood or spruce long enough.

Now masking off the ribs so I can sand the leading edge into shape for sheeting...


Skill Collector
Added the bottom spruce stringer on the other side and connected them with side "sister" plates just like the main spar.


Starting on the leading edge top sheeting - wing is supported on the jig again and held down with lead shot baggies. FYI, a cheap way to get lots of lead for weights is to tear into some diving weights or exercise equipment. For some reason buying little lead balls on their own is silly expensive.

Starting to look pretty wing like! :D


Next is the rest of the top sheeting & cap strips, and then some wingtips.
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