This is the first public display of rebuilt Polikarpov I -16. WWII fighters were displayed at the Wanaka Air Show New Zealand in 1998. Mark Hanna flew in Number. 4 which is shown in this video clip. Mark was killed after landing a Hispano Buchon ME Bf 109 in Spain in 1999 prior to displaying at an Air Show.
When Operation Barbarossa erupted on 22 June 1941, 1,635 of 4,226 VVS aircraft were I-16s of all variants. During the early phase of the campaign the I-16 bases were the main targets for the German aircraft and after 48 hours of combat, of the 1,635 Polikarpov monoplanes in service on 21 June 1941, only 937 were left.
Its main opponent in the sky in 1941 was the German Messerschmitt Bf 109. The I-16 was slightly more maneuverable than the early Bf 109s and could fight the Messerschmitt Bf 109E on equal terms in turns. Skilled Soviet pilots took advantage of the Polikarpov's superior horizontal maneuverability and liked it enough to resist the switch to more modern fighters. The German aircraft, however, outclassed its Russian opponent in service ceiling, rate of climb, acceleration and, crucially, in horizontal and diving speed, due to better aerodynamics and a more powerful engine. Moreover, in terms of armament, Messerschmitts had a slight edge on the I-16. The I-16 had a more durable engine than the liquid-cooled engine of the Bf 109.
It was the hero of the Civil War in Spain. The first Bf 109 shot down ever was by a I-16 in the Spanish Civil War.