Slow speed is often considered a disadvantage when entering enemy territory. However, this helps the An-2 to evade enemy anti-aircraft radar, because their filters often ignore slow moving objects, especially at an angle with the transmitter. Even in Washington DC, the most heavily guarded airspace in the United States, the Pentagon’s radar cannot detect an unmanned aircraft until it lands on Capitol Hill.
Although born in 1947, the An-2 line still possesses many special advantages, making them a threat that cannot be underestimated. Aircraft covers are covered with fabric materials that almost do not reflect radar waves, making them difficult to detect on radar and fire control system. In addition, the ability to travel at extremely low altitudes and follow the terrain of An-2 makes it more difficult for detection and interception.
The Antonov An-2 is a mass-produced single-engine biplane utility aircraft designed and manufactured in 1946 by the Antonov Design Bureau. Its remarkable durability, high lifting power, and ability to take off and land from poor runways have given it a long service life. The An-2 was manufactured up to 2001 and is still in service with military and civilian operators worldwide.
The An-2 has been designed for use in forestry and agriculture as a utility aircraft. The basic airframe, however, is highly adaptable and numerous variants of the type have been developed, including hopper-equipped versions for crop-dusting, scientific versions for atmospheric sampling, water-bombers for forest fire fighting, flying ambulances, float-equipped versions of seaplanes and lightly armed versions for dropping paratroops.
The An-2T 12-seater passenger aircraft is the most common version. All versions are powered by a Shvetsov ASh-62 radial engine, developed from the Wright R-1820, nine-cylinder 1,010 horsepower. The An-2 usually consumes 2.5 liters per minute of fuel.
The Soviet Union made extremely good use of the small Polikarpov Po-2 biplane during World War II, which was at heart a trainer but pressed into a wide range of other roles, including liaison aircraft, light attack aircraft, cropduster, and air ambulance. Maybe the Po-2 didn’t seem like much, but it did a great job, and it would be replaced by a bigger and better successor after the war.
The Antonov An-2 was designed to meet a requirement for a replacement for the PolikarpovPo-2 by the Soviet Forestry Ministry in 1947. Antonov designed a large all-metal construction single-bay biplane with an enclosed cockpit and a twelve-passenger seat cabin. On 31 August 1947, the first prototype, named SKh-1 and powered by a radial Shvetsov ASh-21 engine, flew. The second prototype was equipped with a more powerful Shvetsov ASh-62 engine, which enabled a significant increase in the aircraft’s payload from 1,300 kg to 2,140 kg and ordered it into production in this form.
Things certainly might have seemed to be on track by that time, but late in 1952 the word came down that An-2 production would have to cease, with the Kiev factory reassigned to the manufacture of fuselages for the new Ilyushin Il-28 jet bomber. Antonov may have been desperate, but the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin died of a stroke in March 1953, with a large number of changes in the way things were done. One change was to restore An-2 production to Factory 473, which was implemented as early as April 1953.
Initial Soviet production was at State Factory 473 in Kiev, Ukrainian SSR, where the bulk of up to 5,000 units had been produced by 1960. After 1960, however, most An-2s were constructed at Poland’s WSK factory in Mielec; it is believed that over 13,000 aircraft were built in Poland before principal manufacturing activity ended during 1991. However, up until 2001, limited production was undertaken using remaining stocks of components, spares and maintenance coverage, such as a small batch of four aircraft that were produced for Vietnam. China also builds the An-2 under licence.
The initial production An-2T utility transport version of the An-2 makes a reasonable baseline for description of the family. The An-2T was a fairly big and bulky machine as single-engine piston aircraft go, with a ASh-62IR radial engine, a greenhouse style canopy, biplane wings, and fixed tailwheel landing gear. There were porthole windows on both sides, and an upward-opening cargo door with an inset inward-opening passenger door on the left rear of the aircraft.
The engine is held in the extreme forward of the fuselage to which the cockpit is located directly aft, powering a four-bladed propeller. The cockpit is heavily glazed and port windows of observation can be seen along the sides of the fuselage.
Although consideration was given to building the An-2 of steel tubing and fabric, the final decision was to use riveted aircraft aluminum construction with some fabric skinning. The fuselage was all metal; the flight surfaces had aluminum framework, with the two-spar wing skinned with aluminum back to the front spar and covered with fabric elsewhere.
The wing arrangement on this aircraft is a biplane assembly of sesquiplane with the top wing significantly wider than the lower element. Each wing is connected through a single large vertical strut forming a single wing bay and each wing system displays dihedral.
The fuselage slightly tapers into the empennage to which a single large, smooth-edge vertical tail fin is attached and its applicable stabilizers are mounted on either side of the tail fin. The An-2 sports a pair of fixed landing gear legs, like other aircraft of this classification, complimented by a smaller tail wheel. The main landing gear legs feature wheel bogies, with each leg braced at two points along the underside of the fuselage, firmly angled inwards.
The ancient An-2’s design actually had a clear goal: the two wings would create a stronger lift, so it could take off on a short runway.
The strong lift of the double wing makes the An-2 keep the lowest cruising speed quite slowly. Pilots can drive easily at speeds of 40 km/h. Even its flight instructions do not have a specified speed.
Low speed makes An-2 quite popular in skydiving and skydiving training schools. In aviation exhibitions, pilots also like flying backwards by this plane.
To do so, the pilot flies against the wind and when the wind is strong enough, it can slowly blow the receding plane that the pilot still controls.
The Antonov An-2 has seen its fair share of fighting action despite its fragile appearance. During the Korean War and later the Vietnam War-the latter by the North Vietnamese – it debuted in such a way. Some An-2 have been converted to make-shift bombers in the Croatian War of Independence from their traditional crop dusting roles.Considered as one of the most reliable aircraft in the world, although nearly 70 years have passed, there has been no indication that she will soon be retired.