The I-153 was a major redesign of the earlier I-15 and I-15bis, undertaken in late 1937. The new aircraft was fitted with retractable landing gear, an upper gull-wing and a more powerful engine, it was to prove to be the best and the last of the Polikarpov biplanes.
In September 1940 to increase the I-153 performance, one aircraft was fitted with 2x Merkulov DM-4 ramjets mounted under the lower wings. After a number of test flights at the Central Airfield from September to October 1940, this combinded powered aircraft accelerated to over 440 km/h at 2,000m on the 27/10/1940. But even this could not save the Soviet Biplanes from thier fate, as this form of mixed power was considered unsuitable for a biplane.