In autumn of 1941, German forces were on the doorstep of the Soviet capital of Moscow. A bitter fought battle against time, the elements and each other resulted in a halt of the German offensive on the capital and eventually a gradual retreat away. In the skies over Moscow of 1941 and early 1942, a mix of late 1930s and early 1940s era aircraft fought for control.
I-16 Type 24
Short and stubby fuselage and wings typified the 1930s design of Russian aircraft designer Nikolai Polikarpov. Both the I-16 and I-15 designs were extremely successful and considered world beating designs of that inter-war period. By 1941, the I-16 was obsolete, bested by a generation of new fighters on both sides… yet, the I-16 remained popular and available in numbers. Available 20mm cannon modification makes the I-16 a heavy hitter and its agility and diminutive size allow it to punch above its weight.
- Extremely agile with a high roll rate and good turn rate
- Good all around visibility except immediately over the nose
- Available firepower modifications
- Unforgiving stall
- Poor overall top speed compared to more modern types
Designed by Mikoyan and Gurevich whose design bureau would go on to create the iconic MiG-15, MiG-25 and MiG-29, the MiG-3 was the beginning of an era. Designed for anticipated operations at high altitudes and fast speeds, the MiG-3 was ill suited to the low altitude tactical warfare that had erupted on the Eastern Front.
The later model represented by IL-2: Battle of Moscow has leading edge slats which make it easier to handle up to the stall and available gunpods (BK 12.7mm) and nose gun modifications (2xUB 12.7mm or 2xShVAK 20mm cannon) give the MiG-3 some flexibility in shooting down enemy bombers and fighters.
- Fast at high altitudes
- Good firepower options
- Poorer performance versus contemporary fighters at low altitude
- Poor visibility over the nose
- Not able to sustain much battle damage