Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Russia - 1915 Sikorsky S-16

One Of The Best Russian Designed Fighters of WWI

Even though early Russian Aviation design never had the resources to produce enough aircraft for their needs during the Great War, They did design some effective aircraft. Igor Sikorsky proved himself as one of the truly great Russian aircraft designers. His career is marked by innovation and a firm grasp of the fundamentals of Aerodynamics

This is an early version of the S-16. It has the pendant version of the Russian colors on the fuselage and rudder. The wings have the roundel type national insignias. The aircraft is finished in varnished cloth. As with all the examples I have seen the wheels do not have covers.

In this example you can see some variation in the construction of the S-16. The tail fin has a different shape and additional panels are added to the metal forward section and cowling. The wheel is more robust than in the earlier version.

This later version has a change to the fuselage. The wheels have been replaced with pontoon like skis for use on snow and muddy improvised runways. The pendant insignia has been over-painted in red. The wings have the white circle and red star style markings.

A Brief History Of The Sikorsky S-16

The Sikorsky S-16 (named after its designer) or RBVZ S-XVI (named after its manufacturer) was a Russian equi-span single-bay two-seat biplane designed by Igor Sikorsky in 1914-15. Conceived in response to demand for an escort fighter for the Ilya Muromets bombers. The prototype S-16 made its first flight on February 6, 1915. This prototype was fitted with an 80 hp air-cooled 7 cylinder, Gnome rotary engine instead of the intended 100hp because of supply problems. The S-16 was the first Sikorsky fighter to be equipped with a synchronized machine gun firing through the propeller. However, the synchronization left much to be desired. The S-16, with slight modifications from batch to batch survived the Revolution and were operational with the Red Air Force through the Civil War.

On 17 December 1915, the Russian government placed an order for 18 aircraft, these being delivered in early 1916.Although highly maneuverable, the S-XVI possessed a comparatively poor performance due to insufficient power. A further small batch were completed in 1917, with the aircraft being used during the Russian Revolution and staying in service until 1923.


  1. From Wikipedia Sikorsky S-16, ""
  2. Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. "The Complete Book of Fighters". Colour Library Direct, Godalming, UK: 1994. ISBN 1-85833-777-1.


Gary C. Warne said...

Very nice. The S-16 is one of my favorite Russian aircraft. Sikorsky was far ahead of his time.

Unknown said...

Thanks Gary, I have done a few attempts on this plane and I think this version came out a lot better than the earlier attempts. I found a few more sources and I will be working them up soon.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick FYI on the Sikorsky S-16 fighters. Only the very first prototype has the swept wings you have depicted. All others were straight with no sweep but a significant amount of dihedral.

Unknown said...

Sorry about the delay. I looked and you are correct. Thanks! The fix is on my work list.

Unknown said...

Lower wings fixed.