Published: Thursday, March 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The Polikarpov I-16 is a solid little machine. You only have to be involved in pushing it around to know that it feels like it's made of bricks. When outnumbered and out of ammunition, Soviet pilots on the Eastern Front resorted to ramming German bombers. In the least dangerous method (still more than scary), a Soviet pilot would hit an enemy plane with a part of his own, bumping it with his wing for example. Other pilots chose to use their propeller to saw into the control surfaces of a fleeing German bomber. The last method, the most dangerous, was the "direct attack" — an all-out collision with the enemy plane. If a pilot was skilled (and very, very lucky) they might survive the intentional crash and bail out.
Story tags » • War -- history