The fate of the famous U-2 World War II plane, which received the more familiar Po-2 designation in 1944, is truly unique in memory and gratitude to the fallen aircraft designer N. Polikarpov. The names of many Soviet wartime female pilots are associated with this legendary machine.
U-2 without any reservations can be attributed to the number of the most famous aircraft in the history of world aviation.
With the development of aviation, the need for a training aircraft has increased. The creation of such an inexpensive and reliable machine began to be thought about back in the early 1920s.
Using the English model – “Avro-504k”, Soviet aircraft designers created the U-1, which perfectly coped with its duties, while the number of students remained small. But with the massive growth in training, the requirements for the training biplane increased: an easy-to-pilot and cheap to manufacture aircraft was needed for initial training.
After the appearance in 1924 of technical requirements for training aircraft N.N. Polikarpov designed the 2UB-3 aircraft. His tests began in March 1927. But soon the requirements changed, the aircraft received the designation P-1 and was considered transitional. Then, a machine gun and a new engine were installed on the machine, and this modification was named P-2. With the advent of domestic engines in July 1926, Polikarpov received an official assignment for the design of a training aircraft.
A year later, the first prototype of the U-2 with the M-11 engine was ready. The aircraft was a single-post biplane, mainly of a wooden structure with linen sheathing. The wings had a relatively thick profile (14%). The chassis had a through-axle and rubber cushioning. June 24, 1927, the first flight of the U-2 took place, piloted by the famous test pilot M.M. Gromov. The M-11 engine, which had not been brought up to the performance, caused a lot of problems, and at first, the design team had to bring not so much an airplane as a whimsical engine. In general, the training biplane received a good mark, but it was heavy and had a low rate of climb: 2000 m was reached in 29 minutes.
It was possible to eliminate the deficiencies discovered during the tests on the second machine. The wing profile has become thinner, the wingtips and feathers made elliptical, and the rudder unusually large. On January 7, 1928, the modernized U-2 made its first flight. By the end of 1928 the tests of the experimental U-2 series were completed, after which its serial production at factory No. 23 of Leningrad was started.
During production, the aircraft and its power plants were continuously improved. For example, after 1935, a more powerful M-11D engine with a capacity of 115 hp began to be installed on the U-2. A large number of modifications were created on the basis of U-2. In addition to training, aircraft were built for pollination of crops (AP version – “aerofoil”), combat training (AF – “armed aircraft”), a three-seat administrative joint venture (“special use aircraft”), and sanitary options S-1 were produced. S-2, Po-2C. During the war, the U-2 was used as light night bombers (LNB), in the post-war years, the Po-2 Limousine was built with a closed cabin for transporting people and goods.
The serial production of Po-2 aircraft continued until 1953 at several plants. In addition, the successful biplane was issued under license in Poland. In total, about 40,000 aircraft were produced, which puts it in the category of the most massive aircraft in the world.
The arrival of aircraft in the U-2 (Po-2) of the USSR Air Force began in 1930. They received their first baptism of fire in battles on Lake Hasan in 1938 – several ambulance aircraft of the S-1 sanitary modification was used to evacuate the wounded. During the Great Patriotic War, this aircraft became truly legendary. By the start of the war, there were 3,500 U-2 units in army units. In the role of a light night bomber, they played a decisive role at the front. The Luftwaffe command, nicknamed our plane “Russ-plywood”, even issued an order that for each downed plane Po-2 pilots were presented for awards. The range of application of this thunderstorm of the German army at the front was extremely wide. For example, throughout the entire Great Patriotic War, the U-2 remained the main connected aircraft, secretly delivering ammunition, food, and medicine to partisans.
Po-2 aircraft participated in yet another war – in Korea in 1950-1953. The “nightlights” in North Korea continued their work until the last day of the war. They caused a lot of trouble to the Americans, causing them sensitive losses while losing only 9 of their cars.
- Crew, pers .: 2
- Engine, type x count, name: PDx 1, M-11
- Power, hp: 100
- Wing span, m / wing area, m2: 11.4 / 33.15
- Aircraft length / aircraft height, m: 8.17 / n / d
- Weight: maximum take-off / empty, kg .: 912/655
- Full load, kg .: 257
- Maximum speed at altitude / near the ground, km / h: 138/152
- Practical ceiling, m .: 4350
- Maximum range, km .: 400