|This page is about the Soviet fighter I-15 M-25. For other versions, see I-15 (Family).
The I-15 M-25 is a rank I Soviet fighter with a battle rating of 1.0 (AB/RB/SB). It has been in the game since the start of the Open Beta Test prior to Update 1.27.
The I-15 M-25 is a single-engine fighter developed from the OKB Polikarpov I-15 (TsKB-3) for a 1935 release. Attempt to introduction the Soviet license modification of the Wright Cyclone SGR-1820 engine under the designation M-25 was progressing very slowly, therefore most of the production I-15 aircraft at this time were outfitted with the 9-cylinder Gnome et Rhône air-cooled M-22 engines (the licensed version of the British Bristol Jupiter VI) which had a nominal power of only 480 hp.
This version of the I-15 in game can be determined superior to the I-15 M-22, as it features a much more powerful engine.
The I-15 M-25 has decent performance as a reserve fighter. This aircraft will often get into aerial engagements averaging with a 1.0 battle rating, however, the I-15 M-25 can still be a formidable machine, even in the hands of a novice:
- Rate of climb - Among the reserve aircraft, the I-15 does not have the best performance in climb rate, but because early matches consist of low-level dog-fights which take place at more or less the same height, this is not an issue.
- The top speed of this fighter is not a record characteristic of the "Seagulls". While it is possible to catch up to and overtake the German He.51, most of the other remaining reserve aircraft are superior to this Soviet fighter, especially aircraft reaching into the Battle ratings of 1.3-2.0,
- While lacking advantages with speed and rate of climb, manoeuvrability is one of the best advantages in the game for this aircraft in early matches. In fact, due to the quick turn time, the "Seagull" pilot is able to outmanoeuvre many other early aircraft in the game.
| Max Speed
(km/h at 3,000 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run
|Max Static G
|Optimal velocities (km/h)
|100% Engine power
|WEP Engine power
Survivability and armour
Early attempts to protect the pilot outfitted the aircraft with a 9 mm armoured backrest. Although many of the planes encountered in early battles and other I-15s do not have any armour at all, the survivability of the Seagull leaves much to be desired - unprotected fuel tanks can catch fire while fragile wings and fuselage can easily detach from a relatively short burst of a machine gun or cannon fire. Owing to an inefficient cooling system, the player is forced to make full use of the manoeuvrability of the aircraft.
Modifications and economy
The I-15 M-25 is armed with:
- 4 x 7.62 mm PV-1 machine guns, nose-mounted (750 rpg = 3,000 total)
Available belts for 7.62 mm PV-1 machine gun:
- Default: T/Ball/AP-I/AI/AI/AI — 50% of the belt consist of incendiary bullets which deal more damage to the crew at a distance of 500 m and above than other bullets. On the other hand, this belt has almost 33% bullets without any additional effect, so this belt can be found useful against fighters;
- Universal: T/AP-I/AI/AI/API-T — The belt consists of the same amount of AI and AP bullets which makes it useful against all types of targets, but it still has one tracer bullet without any additional effect;
- Tracers: API-T — The whole belt consists of AP bullets, which deal most damage to the modules of aircraft and makes more damage to the crew at a distance lower than 500 m. The best choice against bombers;
- Stealth: AP-I/AP-I/AP-I/AI/AI — 60% of the belt consist of AP bullets. Recommended for unexpected attacks and may help new players get used to stealth ammunition. Quite universal, so can be used against all targets with the same efficiency.
The damage dealt from these machine guns is not bad, especially against biplanes and early wooden monoplanes, however, with opponents having a greater battle rating, the pilot will need to test different options to see what works best for them. All belts are quite similar in effectiveness to each other. While using an all tracer belt does not seem as powerful as the universal belt, they are extremely effective against early aircraft by lighting fuel tanks on fire, knocking out pilots and are extremely easy to use for new pilots as they will be able to see where all of their rounds are going and adjust fire to compensate when necessary. For the advanced pilot who wants to exercise the element of surprise, Stealth belts are the way to go.
The I-15 M-25 can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
- Without load
- 2 x 50 kg FAB-50 bombs (100 kg total)
Under the wings of the "Seagull", you can hang 2 x 50 kg FAB-50 bombs. Choices are very limited with early aircraft due to the amount of weight they can haul. Overall bomb damage is mediocre, requiring the pilot to drop their ordnance exactly on the enemy vehicles to maximize the chance for destruction or at the least, disabling of the vehicle. This aircraft is not meant to be a bomber, however, it does have the opportunity selectively take out soft targets on the battlefield such as mobile anti-aircraft vehicles and anti-aircraft artillery sites.
Usage in battles
In aerial realistic battles, the use of gulls is very simple - removing the enemy fighters chasing the tail of allied fighters who failed to gain altitude. Doing so can make a high contribution to the development of the battle and seriously influence its outcome. During tank battles, the "Seagull" pilot can utilise the FAB-50 bombs to attack softer enemy armoured vehicles (if you practice, you can learn how to drop bombs accurately), and with the help of machine guns you can destroy equipment with open tops, exposed crews and various anti-aircraft guns and self-propelled guns from enemy air attacks.
I-15 is not bad for beginners who have just begun to master aviation - excellent manoeuvrability and good armament provide high chances for success in shooting down the enemy during frequent "Dogfights" in the lower battle rated matches. The main thing to remember for the I-15 pilot is the inefficient cooling system - even on winter maps, the plane is prone to overheating when continuously using the engine at 100%. Outside the active combat phase, it is better to lower the flight power to between 92-95% to preserve your engine for when you really need it.
With 3,000 rounds of ammunition, you can afford to shoot with low accuracy, especially if you are just learning how to fly and shoot, beware though even with that much ammunition it is very easy to run through all the bullets if you continuously hold down the firing trigger.
This fighter is relatively easy to destroy, however, you should be careful to face this enemy in a 1 vs 1 as this fighter does very well in a turn fight.
The I-15 can be used in turnfighting, bomber intercepting and ground pounding. Like in AB and RB, it is excellent in turning tightly and continuously, and it has lovely low-speed handling and low stall speeds (unlike its successor I-16), making it a great starter plane for sim. However it does have its drawbacks: the rather big nose blocks the visibility a lot, offering very poor over-the-nose visibility which is a disadvantage in a turn fight, because when leading a shot the enemy will always get obstructed by the engine, making the player guess the shot. Also its upper wings will get in the way when you look aside. Plus, it has an awful telescope-like gunsight, so when zoomed in the I-15's nimbleness is magnified, making the aim super wobbly. You cannot see anything around which greatly reduces your situational awareness.
Note: it is recommended to set the convergence within 300 m, with vertical convergence on, because the majority of turnfights happen at that range or closer.
Note 2: in a turnfight you must get used to shooting without zooming in, as you really can't see anything with its awkward scope when zoomed it. However when tailing a straight-flying plane that scope doesn't seem that bad
Before engaging a fight, it is better to have an altitude advantage first. When approaching the fight try to figure out which is your teammate and which is the enemy, to avoid going for a second pass, as the energy retention of the I-15 is rather slow. Also pick your target carefully. For easier aiming, you want to go for those unmanoeuvrable twin engine aircraft like Ju 88 or Ki-45, or bombers if there are any. Given the bad forward visibility of the I-15, these are the best options as they are quite slow and sluggish, and are a bigger target to hit. However getting hits on them doesn't mean good damage, so you must be patient. When dealing with fighters, it is way harder to aim. The elevator control of the I-15 is extremely sensitive, giving it good manoeuvrability, but at the same time, bad handling. The I-15 will respond in a very fast turn upon moving your stick / mouse by a little bit, which makes tracking nimble planes quite hard. But once you get used to it, try to lure every enemy into a turnfight, as that is where the I-15 shines. Quite a bit of bullets are required to effectively damage the enemy so you must be patient. If you find an enemy at your 6, utilise your great roll rate to do defensive manoeuvres like scissors to make them overshoot. Or you can simply do tight turns, most monoplanes won't be able to cut inside your turn and they might disengage.
If you are not very experienced in sim, you can also go for even bigger targets (bombers) for easier aiming. However you want to be more careful when hunting bombers, since with the Sim control (whether it be mouse joystick or a real stick) the plane will manoeuvre much more gently, making itself a great target for the bomber's gunners. Do not follow behind a bomber's 6 unless you are sure that its tail gunners are unconscious. Chasing behind a bomber makes yourself stationary for the tail gunners, and you will be showered with bullets. Your big radial engine will usually get damaged. Instead, before attacking, get an altitude advantage over the bomber by flying around 2 km above it. The bomber should only fill up about 1/6 of your gunsight. The best position for an attack is at the bomber's high 6 so you can adjust the lead much easier. Dive at the bomber, but not directly at it, try to predict where you two will crash by imagining yourself as a missile, that's where you should aim at (deflection shooting). To maximise the damage it is better to aim for their wings and engines, as the fuselage usually soaks up quite some bullets. Only fire when the bomber passes in front of your guns. This short window might seem inadequate to do anything, but with a accurate burst on the engine the 4 MG can at least damage it. With an engine damaged most bombers cannot go far.
Ground pounding ability is average as there are only small bombs. The small 50 kg bombs can be used on light pillboxes. Once the suspended armaments are gone, the 4 MG are good for killing soft targets like trucks, artillery and AA cars.
Enemies worth noting:
Ki-27, N1K1, He 51, Gladiator, etc. - Those commonly seen planes are equally good at turnfights and will be a hard target to down since they are very small and agile. To deal with them you need to practice leading and deflection shots, plus manoeuvres like barrel rolls and scissors. They still need plenty of bullets to get damaged, so these kind of targets are the hardest to kill and requires great skills from the player.
Do 17 Z - This early twin-engine plane always shows up as an AI-controlled recon aircraft that you have to down, which is a good news as AI won't manoeuvre aggressively. However this plane is extremely durable for the I-15's weak MGs. When it shows up as an AI, deflection shots are not recommended as the small shooting windows really does nothing. Instead, try disabling its 2 gunners first, then just sit behind it and burst on its wings and engines. When attacking the gunners try to not get your engine damaged by pulling evasive manoeuvres as soon as the bullets come close, since the Do 17 can outrun the I-15 in a level flight.
Manual Engine Control
| Not controllable
Not auto controlled
| Not controllable
Not auto controlled
Not auto controlled
| Not controllable
Pros and cons
- Extreme turning abilities: one of the best turn-fighters in-game, able to turn tightly and continuously with other biplanes
- Firepower is rich with 4 x 7.62 mm MG, moderate damage and plenty of ammo
- Good rate of climb
- Small silhouette meaning you are harder to hit
- 2 x 50 kg bombs allow you to have some ground-pounding abilities in ground battles
- Very short take off distance
- Low stall speed, beginner friendly to land and manoeuvre
- Open cockpit allows you to easily hear nearby aircraft in Simulator
- Nose-mounted MGs means no need to worry about convergence distances
- Very slow: cannot keep up with early monoplane fighters (e.g. He 112) or even some bombers such as Do 17 E-1
- Will quickly lose speed gathered in a dive
- Open cockpit can usually get the pilot sniped
- Small 50 kg bombs require very accurate aiming
- Telescopic gunsight offers very limiting field of view in Simulator
- Big engine blocks the visibility over the nose, a disadvantage in a turnfight in Simulator
- Side views are obstructed by the upper wings and supporting structures
- Very wobbly with Simulator controls, making it hard to aim precisely
- Vulnerable to heavy machine gun fire (e.g. .50 cal M2 Browning, 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT)
- Wings can break in a dive or turn exceeding 560 km/h in RB/SB
The aircraft was initially developed in 1933 as a further development of the I-5 and I-6 with a specific focus in improving aerodynamics. On the first production aircraft set, the I-15 WR utilised the Wright Cyclone SGR-1820 F-3 engine which had a nominal power of 630 hp on the ground. In 1934 there was still no serial M-25 Soviet licensed engine, so the less powerful M-22 had to be installed (the licensed version of the Bristol Jupiter) - several hundred copies of them were produced in 1934-1936. In 1935, the aircraft was adopted by the Red Army Air Force as their premier combat aircraft. In 1936, only 12 combat vehicles were manufactured, however, in 1937, the I-15 went to serial production with the new M-25 engines. In the 30s, the aircraft had no equal manoeuvrability on the horizontal (8-8.5 s. turning time), was stable in all flight modes, easy to fly and had good takeoff and landing qualities. In the words of Colonel E. N. Stepanov, who fought with this aircraft in Spain and committed the world's first night ramming with the I-15 stated that "it is possible with a certain skill to catch up with your tail in a turn". This aircraft had good repair properties and vitality.
Further development of the I-15 became the I-15bis and I-153 "Seagull."
The good rate of climb of the I-15 allowed it to be used as a high-altitude fighter. On the first prototype of the I-15, after special training (maximally facilitating the construction and installation of a Wright Cyclone F-54 high-altitude engine), pilot V.K. Kokkinaki on November 21, 1935 exceeded the absolute world record of flight altitude, gaining 14,575 m, unfortunately, it wasn't until 1936 that Soviet FAI records were recorded. Since 1937, work began on equipping the I-15 with a pressurized cabin, which made it possible to make fuller use of the height characteristics. The I-15GK and I-153GK were tested with Shcherbakov's cabin and several Polikarpovskiy's less successful I-15V variants. All variants with a pressurized cabin remained only in experimental status and never went into production. Combat use:
- 1936 – 1939 The Spanish Civil War - Used under the name Chato as a fighter, attacker, and reconnaissance aircraft. In total, 368 aircraft of this type were used in Spain. This fighter went down in history as one of the best fighters in the world during this period of time.
- 1937 Second Sino-Japanese War – Used as a fighter. The I-15 worked together with the I-16 and utilised their talents with high-speed and manoeuvrability to shine in combat. In the summer of 1938, it was used in battles at Lake Hassan. 1939 - fighting in Mongolia on the Khalkhin Gol River, again was used as a fighter aircraft in conjunction with the I-16. Time was catching up to the I-15 as during battles with Japanese fighters it showed to have lost its manoeuvrability advantage and was starting to be bested by modern Japanese fighters.
- 1941 - Used at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War.
- 1947 - 1948 - Mongolian-Chinese border conflict, as well as the Mongolian-Eastern Turkestan border conflict.
Polikarpov I-15 (TsKB-3) single-engine fighter, produced in 1935
The launch of the Soviet licensed version of the Wright Cyclone SGR-1820 engine, under the designation M-25, was quite drawn out; therefore, a majority of production I-15s were equipped with M-22 (a licensed version of the British Bristol Jupiter VI) nine-cylinder, air-cooled engines, whose rated power was only 480 hp. This significantly worsened the plane's flight characteristics.
Aircraft from the final production series had M-25 engines. In addition, they had one more pair of 7.62 mm synchronous PV-1 machine guns.
Most I-15s had fixed-pitch propellers, but some machines received VISh-6 controllable-pitch propellers.
In Spain, in the autumn of 1936, the I-15 fighter was used for the first time in the field. The first air battle involving an I-15 took place on November 4. A total of 186 I-15 fighters were received by the Republicans from the USSR.
I-15 fighters were also used in the Khalkhin Gol frontier conflict, in the Winter War of 1939-40, and even during the initial period of World War II (mainly as ground-attack aircraft). However, the plane was considered obsolete even by the Battle of Khalkhin Gol.
Stable and handy, with good flight characteristics, exceptional manoeuvrability, and excellent takeoff/landing parameters, the I-15 fighter enjoyed a well-deserved success among pilots.
Some I-15 fighters were used as personal command vehicles. For example, a drawing of a flying red banner with the words "FOR VKP (B)", i. e. "For the All-Union Communist Party (of Bolsheviks)", was applied to the fuselage of the personal I-15 of Brigade Commander I. U. Pavlov, and a bent white arrow directed down was painted on the red rudder. The metal skin of the nose fuselage was polished in a frost pattern.
On November 21, 1935, the test pilot V. K. Kokkinaki established the world's unofficial (as the USSR was not yet a member of the FAI) flight altitude record of 14,575 m while flying a special TsKB-3 with a reduced weight.
The I-15's manoeuvrability was excellent, and its short fuselage and large control surfaces ensured the fighter's agility. Not a single major rival of the I-15 in Spain (neither the German He 51 fighter nor the Italian CR.32) was its equal in these characteristics.
The I-15's full-scale production was discontinued in 1936. A total of 384 aircraft were manufactured at Factories No. 1 and No. 39 from 1934-36. In addition, 291 more aircraft were built under licence in Republican Spain.
- Related development
Paste links to sources and external resources, such as:
- topic on the official game forum;
- other literature.
|Polikarpov Design Bureau (Опытное конструкторское бюро Поликарпова)
|I-15 WR · I-15 M-22 · I-15 M-25 · I-15bis · Krasnolutsky's I-15bis
|I-153 M-62 · Zhukovsky's I-153-M62 · I-153P
|I-16 type 5 · I-16 type 10 · I-16 type 18 · I-16 type 24 · I-16 type 27 · I-16 type 28
|I-180S · I-185 (M-71) · I-185 (M-82)
|Po-2 · Po-2M
|␗I-15bis · ␗I-153 M-62 · ␗I-16 type 5 · ␗I-16 type 10 · ␗I-16 type 17 · ␗I-16 Chung 28
|I-15 WR · I-15 M-22 · I-15 M-25 · I-15bis · Krasnolutsky's I-15bis
|I-153 M-62 · Zhukovsky's I-153-M62 · I-153P
|I-16 type 5 · I-16 type 10 · I-16 type 18 · I-16 type 24 · I-16 type 27 · I-16 type 28 · I-180S
|I-185 (M-71) · I-185 (M-82)
|MiG-3-15 · MiG-3-15 (BK) · MiG-3-34
|I-301 · LaGG-3-4 · LaGG-3-8 · LaGG-3-11 · LaGG-3-23 · LaGG-3-34 · LaGG-3-35 · LaGG-3-66
|La-5 · La-5F · La-5FN · La-7 · Dolgushin's La-7 · La-7B-20 · La-9 · La-11
|Yak-1 · Yak-1B · Yak-7B
|Yak-3 · Yak-3P · Yak-3T · Yak-3U · Yak-3 (VK-107)
|Yak-9 · Yak-9B · Golovachev's Yak-9M · Yak-9T · Yak-9K · Yak-9U · Yak-9UT · Yak-9P
|▂P-40E-1 · ▂P-47D-27 · ▂Hurricane Mk IIB · ▂Fw 190 D-9 · ▂Spitfire Mk IXc
|▂P-39K-1 · ▂Pokryshkin's P-39N-0 · ▂P-39Q-15
|▂P-63A-5 · ▂P-63A-10 · ▂P-63C-5