Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Antonov An-2 multi-role light utility biplane

The Antonov An-2 is a multi-role light utility biplane initially produced under the Soviet flag. Despite its 1940's pedigree, the system has continued service and operations throughout the world and production itself has totaled over 18,000 examples as of this writing. The An-2 goes under the NATO codename of "Colt" and is designated in US DoD nomenclature as the "Type 22". The Soviet Union/Russia, Poland and China have all lent a hand in production of local base and specialized variants. Operators are numerous and range from those with military service to those with civilian-minded needs.

The Antonov An-2 Colt biplane was developed to replace the Polikarpov Po-2 in the utility and agricultural roles.

The engine - powering a four-bladed propeller - is held in the extreme forward of the fuselage to which the cockpit is situated directly aft. The cockpit is heavily glazed and observation port windows can be seen along the fuselage sides. The wing arrangement on this aircraft is of a sesquiplane (uneven span) biplane assembly with the top wing noticeably wider than the lower element. Each wing is connected via a single large vertical strut making up a single wing bay and each wing system showcases dihedral (upward angle). The fuselage tapers slightly into the empennage to which is affixed a single large, smooth-edge vertical tail fin and its applicable stabilizers mounted to either tail fin side. Like other aircraft of this classification, the An-2 sports a pair of fixed landing gear legs complimented by a smaller tail wheel. The main landing gear legs feature wheel bogies decidedly angled inwards with each leg braced at two points along the underside of the fuselage. Power is supplied from a single Shvetsov ASh-62IR 9-cylinder, supercharged radial piston engine of 1,000 horsepower. Maximum speed is a reported 160 miles per hour with a listed range of 525 miles and a service ceiling equal to 14,750 feet.
Externally, the An-2 shares many similarities with other light aircraft of this class.

Accommodations are generally made for a crew of one pilot but an observer/co-pilot is preferred. Cabin seating can hold an additional 12 passengers.

Beyond the typical prototype and evaluation models, the Soviet Union/Russia has produced the majority of the existing An-2 variants while Poland contributed as well.

Produced types ranged from basic observation and reconnaissance aircraft to specialized floatplanes, artillery observation, mail carrier, cargo transport, VTOL-minded projects, survey and photographic platforms, fire bombers and firefighters, research and VIP transports. Agricultural versions have seen extended use in for both Poland and China.

China has produced many versions of the An-2 beginning with the Fong Shou-2 ("Harvester-2").

This was the first An-2 built to agricultural specifications. The Nanchang Y-5 is a transport version since taken over in production by Harbin with 727 examples delivered. Nanchang Y-5II was an agricultural form seeing production number 229. Shijiazhuang Y-5A was a light passenger model based on the An-2T and produced in 114 examples. The agricultural derivative became the Shijiazhuang Y-5B based on the An-2 SKh. The PLAAF makes use of the Shijiazhuang Y-5B(T) para-drop model. The Nanchang Y-5C is an amphibious version of the Y-5A while the Nanchang Y-5D is a bomber crew trainer. The Nanchang Y-5K became a VIP passenger transport seating five.

Notable operators of the An-2 include (or have included) Afghanistan, China, Cuba, East Germany (and Germany proper), Egypt, Georgia, Hungary, Iraq, Laos, Lithuania, Macedonia, North Yemen, North Korea, Poland, South Korea, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, Vietnam, Yemen and Yugoslavia.

Despite its fragile appearance, the Antonov An-2 has seen its fair share of combat action.

It was debuted in such a manner during the Korean War (1950-1953) and later in the Vietnam War - the latter by the North Vietnamese. Some An-2's were converted from their traditional crop dusting roles to become make-shift bombers in the Croatian War of Independence (1991).

Specifications for the Antonov An-2 (Colt)
Length: 40.68ft (12.40m)
Width: 59.71ft (18.20m)
Height: 13.45ft (4.10m)
Max Speed: 160mph (258kmh; 139kts)
Max Range: 525miles (845km)
Rate-of-Climb: 700ft/min (213m/min)
Service Ceiling: 14,764ft (4,500m; 2.8miles)

Accommodation: 2 + 12
Hardpoints: 0
Empty Weight: 7,275lbs (3,300kg)
MTOW: 12,125lbs (5,500kg)
Engine(s): 1 x Shvetsov ASh-62IR 9-cylinder supercharged radial piston engine delivering up to 1,000 horsepower.
Armament Suite:
Usually none.

Some may be fitted with defensive machine guns. Crews may carry individual weapons while other An-2s modified for dropping bombs as needed.



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