The Polikarpov I-5 was a single-seat biplane which became the primary Soviet fighter between its introduction in 1931 through 1936, after which it became the standard advanced trainer. Following Operation Barbarossa, which destroyed much of the Soviet Air Forces (VVS), surviving I-5s were equipped with four machine guns and bomb racks and pressed into service as light ground-attack aircraft and night bombers in 1941. They were retired in early 1942 as Soviet aircraft production began to recover and modern ground-attack aircraft like the Ilyushin Il-2 became available. A total of 803 built (including 3 prototypes).
Fifty-four I-5s were delivered to the VVS by 1 October 1931, and 66 by the end of the year. These were all aircraft from Zavod Nr. 1 at Khodinka, but Zavod Nr. 21 in Gorkii began deliveries the following year. It delivered ten in 1932, 321 in 1933 and 330 in 1934. Zavod Nr. 1 delivered 76 in 1932 before beginning production of the Heinkel HD 37 as the I-7. The I-5 was first delivered to units in the Leningrad, Ukraine and Transbaikal Military Districts and comprised 20% of the VVS's fighter force by the end of 1932. During 1933 deliveries began to units in the Far Eastern, Belorussian and Moscow Military Districts and they comprised 40% of the fighter strength by the end of the year. By the end of 1934 most of the Polikarpov I-3s and Tupolev I-4s had been replaced and deliveries had begun to Naval Aviation. The I-5 began to be replaced by the Polikarpov I-15 in 1936, and was completely phased out from front-line use by the end of 1937, but continued to be employed as an advanced trainer.