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Service trials of the new fighter, designated I-16, began on 22 March 1934. The manually-retracted landing gear was prone to jamming and required considerable strength from the pilot.
Most of the test flights were performed with the gear extended.
The Ts KB-12 was designed around the Wright Cyclone SR-1820-F-3 nine cylinder radial engine (rated at 529 k W/710 hp); a license to build this engine was being negotiated.
The main gear was fully retractable by a hand-crank.
The armament consisted of a pair of 7.62 mm (0.30 in) Sh KAS machine guns in the wings, mounted on the outboard side of the main gear and carried 900 rounds of ammo. Tupolev, however the NII VVS was more concerned about the stresses a typical combat aircraft was subjected to in combat, and initially considered the risk too great.
As the license was not yet approved, Polikarpov was asked to settle for the less powerful M-22 (Soviet-built version of the Gnome-Rhone Jupiter 9ASB which itself was a licensed version of the Bristol Jupiter VI ) with 358 k W (480 hp).
This was deemed acceptable because the projected top speed still exceeded 300 km/h (185 mph).