Igor I. Sikorsky's S-16
The S-16 was a small, two-place, reconnaissance and escort-scout aircraft built to operate with the Ilya Mourometz bomber units which were being sent to the front. The prototype S-16 made its first flight on February 6, 1915. Though designed fro the 110 horsepower Le Rhone rotary, the production aircraft were fitted with the 80 horsepower Gnomes. Two additional prototype aircraft were completed and delivered to the Ilya Mourometz operating unit in March 1915 for test and evaluation. Production of 18 additional aircraft followed from January to March 16 and another small batch (perhaps 6 aircraft) in 1917. The S-16 series, with slight modifications from batch to batch survived the Revolution and were operational with the Red Air Force through the Civil War; The last aircraft seemed to have been scrapped about 1923-1924. 4
The S-16 was also the first Sikorsky fighter to be equipped with a synchronized machine gun which fired through the propeller. However, the synchronization left much to be desired; frequently the pilots had to abort the combat mission because of a malfunction. A few S-16's were fitted experimentally with the Russian 60 horsepower Kalep engine which was basically a copy of the Gnome. On the Kalep-powered aircraft the upper wing surfaces were slightly increased to make up for the reduced engine power. Other structural modifications included curved fin and rudders, some had coupled ailerons on both upper and lower wings, and others had ailerons on upper wing only. A few were armed with an additional Lewis gun mounted on the center of the upper wing. At least one S-16, built in 1916, was mounted on twin floats. During winter operations, the wheels were removed and skis were installed. Contemporary accounts indicate that the pilots enjoyed its stability, maneuverability and delicate controls.
S-16 Specifications: (80 hp Le Rhone) Dimensions: Span, 8.4 m (27 ft. 6 in.); Length, 6.2 m (20 ft. 4 in.); Height, 2.78 m (9 ft. 1 1/2 in.); Wing Area, 25.3 sq. m. (273 sq. ft.); Wing Area of Kalep-engined S-16, 27.3 sq. m. (294 sq. ft.); Weight Empty, 407 kg. (897 lb.); Weight Loaded, 767 kg.
S-16 Performance: Maximum Speed, 117 km/hr (73 mph.); Climb to 1,000 m (3,280 ft.), 7 minutes; Ceiling, 3,500 m (11,480 ft.).
last update SEPTEMBER 11, 2012
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