Polikarpov Po-2/U-2

Polikarpov Po-2 G-BSSY

The Polikarpov Po-2 / U-2 is one of the world’s most produced aircraft ever. The Po-2 was license-built in Poland after WWII as the CSS-13 and the CSS S-13. The Po-2 was a general purpose biplane that was used in military and civilian roles as a trainer, crop-duster, ground attack, ambulance and observation platform. From the beginning it was produced in an agricultural aircraft variant, what earned it its nickname Kukuruznik.

Developing nation: Sovjet Union.
Manufacturer/designer: Polikarpov.
Production Lines: “Red Flyer” factory near Moscow/Factory Nr 23 in Leningrad.
Type aircraft: Utility biplane.
First flight: 24 June 1927.
First delivery: 1929.
Produced: 40,000+

After Nikolai Polikarpov’s death in 1944, the U-2 was redesignated Po-2 in his honour. The PO-2 became famous as the aircraft flown by female soviet pilots in their daring nighttime raids against German forces. In 1942 the Soviet Union formed three regiments of women combat pilots, and the ‘Night Witches’ were the women of the 588th Night Bomber Regiment , was the most famous. They flew their PO-2’s with great skill and courage. The Po-2 was almost impossible to shoot down due to tactics, low stall speed, and a tight turn radius.

WSK built about 500 of the ubiquitous Po-2 under licence between 1948 and 1956 as the CSS-13. Some served as air ambulances with a closed rear cockpit. The total number of aircraft built is credibly reported to be in excess of 33,000, with a number possibly approaching near 40,000.

Specifications (U-2)

Crew: 1, pilot/instructor
Capacity: 1, passenger/student
Length: 8.17 m (26 ft 10 in)
Wingspan: 11.40 m (37 ft 5 in)
Height: 3.10 m (10 ft 2 in)
Wing area: 33.2 m² (357 ft²)
Empty weight: 770 kg (1,698 lb)
Loaded weight: 1,030 kg (2,271 lb)
Useful load: 260 kg (573 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 1,350 kg (2,976 lb)
Powerplant: 1 × Shvetsov M-11D 5-cylinder radial engine, 93 kW (125 hp)


Maximum speed: 152 km/h (82 kn, 94 mph)
Cruise speed: 110 km/h (59 kn, 68 mph)
Range: 630 km (340 nmi, 391 mi)
Service ceiling: 3,000 m (9,843 ft)
Rate of climb: 2.78 m/s (546 ft/min)
Wing loading: 41 kg/m² (8.35 lb/ft²)
Power/mass: 60 W/kg (0.04 hp/lb)


(U-2VS / LNB only)

Guns: 1 × 7.62 mm (0.30 in) ShKAS machine gun
Bombs: 6 × 50 kg (110 lb) bombs

All pictures courtesy of Zijde Aviation Photo and Publishing, Rob Vogelaar and Marcel van Leeuwen