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Polikarpov I-15, I-16 and I-153 Aces

Polikarpov I-15, I-16 and I-153 Aces Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review April 2012 Title Polikarpov I-15, I-16 and I-153 Aces
Author Mikhail Maslov Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2010 ISBN 9781846039812
Format 96 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $22.95


Nimble little Polikarpov fighters ranked among the most potent warplanes of the 1930’s.

Some 16,000 I-15’s, I-153’s and I-16’s won battle honors from Spain and China to Nomonhan and Finland.  And when Germany attacked the USSR in 1941, Polikarpov’s stubby relics bore the brunt of fighting until newer generation Soviet interceptors turned the tide of war in Russia’s favor.  Some even continued serving as trainers and frontline fighters until 1945!

Aviators worldwide made ace in Polikarpov mounts.  And Mikhail Maslov’s superb Polikarpov I-15, I-16 and I-153 Aces from Osprey Publishing tells the terrific tale in 96 fascinating pages.

Liberally spiced with personal accounts, Maslov’s précis seamlessly covers the exploits of Soviet, Spanish, American, French and Chinese aces in one handy, compact tome.  After an informative preface on Polikarpov design and production, contents chronologically course through all major war zones:

  • Spanish Civil War
  • Swallows Over China
  • Khalkhin Gol
  • Winter War
  • Great Patriotic War

Dozens of rare photos and 40 color profiles supplement the profusely illustrated, ably indexed effort.  Helpful tables and appendices also augment coverage.

And it doesn’t demand sequential reading.  I happily tracked Polikarpov aces from China and Mongolia through Spain and Finland to Russia.

But minor Gremlins mar an otherwise outstanding effort.  Illustrations of Vasiliy Golubev’s I-16 Type 24, for instance, differ in detail from a shot of the same machine on page 88.  And that photo caption, in turn, labels the aircraft a Type 29.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed Polikarpov I-15, I-16 and I-153 Aces.  Text says at least 17 Spaniards made “ace” during the Spanish Civil War – most in Polikarpov fighters.  And author Maslov promises a future volume detailing their story.

I can’t wait for that sequel!


My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!