Polikarpov P-2

Polikarpov P-2

Polikarpov P-2

The Polikarpov P-2 was a unsuccessful transitional trainer largely based on the Moiseenko P-1 (2U-B3). This earlier aircraft was designed by V L Moiseenko, a designer working at GAZ No.1 in Moscow, in response to a February 1925 specification for a training aircraft to be used between basic training and conversion training onto combat aircraft.

The P-1 was a two-seat single-bay biplane. Its main distinguishing feature was the use of a single diagonal bracing strut than ran from the lower wing root to the upper wing instead of more traditional bracing wires.

The prototype P-1 was completed early in 1926 and underwent state trials between September 1926 and February 1927. A small batch of ten production aircraft was then ordered, but at this point Polikarpov appears on the scene (at this time he was also working at GAZ No.1). He designed a version of the same aircraft, but using the M-6 engine - a licence built version of the 300hp water-cooled Hispano-Suiza 8Fb engine. The nose was redesigned to hold the new engine, but the rest of the aircraft was very similar to the P-1, with the same staggered wings, single-bay design and diagonal bracing strut, tail and cockpit arrangement.

On 14 April 1927 a mock-up of the new P-2 was inspected, and it was decided that this design showed more potential than the BMW-powered P-1. The batch of ten P-1s was cancelled and two prototype P-2s were built instead. This was followed on 12 August 1927 by an order for sixty production aircraft.

The first prototype underwent factory tests in June 1928, and state acceptance trials between 25 June and 9 August. Production of the first thirty series aircraft was then approved, and began at Zavod 23 in Leningrad. These aircraft were completed in 1929-30, and may have been the only production aircraft completed, although some sources state that 55 were built (one source of confusion may be that the Red Air Force accepted 25 P-2s in 1931, possibly from this original batch of 30).

The second prototype was completed in August 1928 and tests lasted until May 1929. A number of problems with the aircraft were uncovered at this stage - the wings on one prototype collapsed on 10 August 1929 in flight, and a second was lost after it entered an unrecoverable spin. More tests in 1930 produced a generally negative report - the P-2 was ruled out of its secondary reconnaissance role, and only approved as a trainer after its faults had been fixed.

The P-2 saw little use at the trainings schools. Ten had been issued by the start of 1932, two were with operational units and the rest were in storage. By the end of 1932 all of the surviving aircraft were in storage, and they didn't return to service. Instead the Polikarpov R-1 was used as a transitional trainer.

Engine: M-6
Power: 300hp
Crew: 1
Wing span: 10.47m/ 34.34ft
Length: 7.85m/ 25.7f
Empty Weight: 1,064kg/ 2,345lb
Loaded Weight: 1,424kg/ 3,140lb
Max Speed: 220km/h/ 136mph
Service Ceiling: 5,330m/ 17,500ft


Polikarpov Po-2

The U-2 was powered by a Shvetsov M-11 engine that was capable of propelling it at speeds of up to 150 kilometers per hour. However, the stalling speed of the U-2 was only 64 kilometers per hour. This meant that the U-2 was extremely hard to intercept because advanced fighters such as the Bf 109 and Fw 190 would stall before they could get a shot upon the aircraft. The total weight of the U-2 was around 635 kilograms unloaded while the total length was around 8.1 meters. The service ceiling was only 4,000 meters with rate of climb only being 166 meters per minute.

The operational range of the aircraft was 630 kilometers. Ώ] The first U-2 model was unarmed, though the later ground attack models could either be equipped with four rockets, six 50 kilogram bombs, and a 7.62mm machine gun mounted in the rear gunner position. The U-2 was of a wooden construction covered in canvas. The aeilrons and rudder were connected by exterior cables running along the length of the aircraft.

What made the U-2 so effective in combat was that it was extremely cheap to produce. It was a simplistic aircraft with very few advanced parts. This also aided maintenance in the field. Being produced at a rapid rate, the U-2 could be replaced easily when aircraft were lost in combat.

Variants

The U-2, being the most produced biplane in the world, naturally had many different variants of itself designed to keep up with demands. The first of these military variants was the U-2LSh which was the standard ground attack model used during the war. Other specialty variants were also built, such as the U-2GN "Voice from the Sky", a propaganda aircraft with loudspeakers to demoralize enemy combatants. Next was the U-2S, a model fitted with stretchers to evacuate wounded personnel. ΐ] The U-2ShS was a staff aircraft used to move critical personnel from place to place. The U-2VS was a training model and the U-2LNB was the definitive night harassment bomber. The U-2NAK was used as an artillery spotter. The difference between the Po-2 and the U-2 was that the latter was renamed to the Po-2 in 1944 following a request to honor the original designer of the aircraft.

A Po-2 in 1941 captured by German troops in Ukraine


Polikarpov Po-2VS

Po-2, also nicknamed ‘Kukuruznik’ and less known under its NATO designation ‘Maule’, was designed in the 1920’s and went into production in 1928. It is one of the most produced aircraft in the history with exact number unknown, but believed to be somewhere between 20.000 and 30.000 airframes. It’s initial purpose was for training new pilots, but the impending Second World War transformed the trainer into a light bomber, reconnaissance, liaison and psychological warfare aircraft. Initially designated as U-2, it was renamed into Po-2 after its designer, Nikolai Polikarpov, died in 1944. U/Po-2VS was a designation for militarized aircraft, which was armed with a rear facing machine gun for self protection and 4 bomb pylons that could carry 50kg or 100kg bombs. Its combat use has not ended with the fall of the German Reich though. During the Korean War, N. Koreans used Po-2s in similar fashion as the Soviets did during the WW2 and with some great successes. Po-2 is also the only biplane credited with a jet kill – USAF F-94 Starfire intercepted low and slow flying Po-2 and while trying to engage, the pilot of the jet fighter slowed below the stall speed and crashed.

The Po-2 became most known by a group of women. In October 1941, Stalin issued an order to establish three women aviation regiments – a fighter, bomber and night bomber one. 588th NBAP, night bomber regiment, was the only to be an all woman regiment, including the ground crews. Consisting of young volunteers, 588th started their operations in the spring of 1942 and continued until the war was over. As of recognition to their success, they were later in 1943 renamed to 46th ‘Taman’ Guards Night Bomber regiment. They flew precision bombing as well as harassment sorties, denying German soldiers the well needed sleep. The standard procedure during those attacks was to switch of the engine, glide over the enemy positions, drop bombs and then retreat. These stealth attacks earned them a German nickname ‘Nachthexen’ – the Night Witches. 588th/46th was one of the most highly decorated aviation regiments of the WW2!

Commander: Yevodkiya Bershanskaya
Combat Missions: more than 24.000
Dates of service: 27 May 1942 – 15 October 1945
Theaters of operation: Donetsk, Mozdok, Terek Valley, Kuban, Krasnodar, Novorossiysk, Kerch, Sevastopol, Minsk, Warsaw, Berlin
Female pilots: 61
Female navigators: 63
Female staff and political officers: 24
Female ground crew: 99
Heroes of the Soviet Union: 24

ICM released this kit in 2012. Although there has been KP and its copies on the market since at least 1975, a modern tooling Po-2 in 1:72 was long overdue. Plastic is molded really nicely with beautiful surface details, leaving KP kit literally 40 years behind. The fit of the kit is generally good, though one has to be careful with many tiny parts. Special care has to be taken with the vertical stabilizer assembly as it is molded extremely thin and the result is very weak attachment to the tail. The known mistake of this kit is its propeller – it is turned the wrong way – Quickboost offers a simple and cheap replacement. Rigging was done with Uschi Van Der Rosten 0.02mm elastic rigging thread – but looking at the reference photos, some bigger diameter might be better. Anyhow, this model was built for my lovely wife. She got interested in Night Witches upon hearing the song Night Witches by a Swedish metal band Sabaton, which you can hear in the below link.


A 1930-40s historic two-seat training biplane and light bomber!

Manufactured in 2006 by the Aircraft Restoration Department of Rusavia, Ltd, as per the original technology and original drawings. Differences: a more powerful engine (M-11FR) and pressurized air start system.

The aircraft has only been stored in hangar. Certificate of airworthiness was valid until July 7, 2015. All documents are available.

Total flight hours &ndash 47 hours. Total hours of engine service &ndash 57.5 hours (TBO &ndash 250 hours). Integral wooden U-2 type propeller with an erosion shield of the leading edge.

Additional equipment: Briz radio station, ARTEXME406P emergency locator transmitter, float-type landing gear. Floats are made as per the drawings provided by the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute and aircraft factory No. 23.

Parking dimensions (wing span / length / height) &ndash 11.4/8.2/3.1 m.

Empty weight &ndash 750 kg.With float-type landing gear &ndash 900 kg.

Po-2 aircraft took part in the following aviation salons:

2012 &ndashTook part in a static exhibition at the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Air Force at the Ramenskoyeairfield, Zhukovsky.

2010, 2012, 2014 &ndashDemonstrated at the sea aviation salon in Gelendzhik.


In 1953, North Korea Used 1920-Style Planes to Fight America. They Did a Lot of Damage.

The fire “lighted the sky for more than 20 miles” and took three days to put out, having consumed 5.5 million gallons of fuel.

On the night of June 16, 1953, the Associated Press reported on “a boiling mass of flame, mushrooming like an atomic bomb, shoots skyward from a burning fuel dump, set afire at the South Korean port city of Inchon.” The fire “lighted the sky for more than 20 miles” and took three days to put out, having consumed 5.5 million gallons of fuel.

The perpetrators of this devastating attack? A flight of four pokey North Korean two-seat trainers flying blindly through the night.

The Marines, Navy and Air Force fielded their most advanced radar-equipped jet fighters to intercept these low-tech night raiders—but soon also had to contend with deadly MiG-15 jet fighters stalking the night skies over Korea.

Washing Machine Charlie Heckles at Night

The Polikarpov Po-2, or U-2, was a two-seat wood-and-fabric biplane developed in the late 1920s for use as a primary flight trainer. The aircraft’s 125-horsepower Shvetsov engine could lift the plane no higher than ten thousand feet and to a maximum speed of around ninety-five miles per hour. You could outrun one with your typical modern car. Up to five one-hundred-pound bombs could be carried underwing, while backseaters sometimes operated a machine gun on a flexible mount, or hefted mortar shells or bunches of propaganda leaflets to be dropped by hand.

During its darkest hour in World War II, the hard-pressed Soviet air force deployed Po-2 units to harass German troops at night, including the famous all-female 588th “Night Witches” regiment. Though the night raiders inflicted only minor damage, they were devilishly difficult to track and shoot down, and kept troops on the ground stressed and fatigued.

By late 1950, the Korean People’s Air Force had most of its piston-engine fighters and bombers swept from skies or destroyed on the ground by UN fighter planes. While Soviet MiG-15 jets based in China joined the fray in November, it would be a few years before the KPAF’s own MiG-15 pilots were ready for prime time. In the meantime, the KPAF adopted Soviet night-raiding tactics to harass frontline positions, logistical bases and airfields.

The North Korean Po-2s were later joined by around a dozen Yakovlev Yak-18 two-seat basic trainers. A more modern metal-and-fabric design that entered production in 1948, the Yak-18 could fly faster at 150 to 180 miles per hour but had shorter range. Nonetheless, both the Po-2 and Yak-18 could operated from short frontline airstrips at night, and concealed in barns or underground caves during the day.

These “heckling” raids were frequent, scary and noisy—the throaty drone of their motors led to the nickname “Washing Machine Charlie”—but they usually didn’t cause too much damage.

Airbase technician Herbert Rideout recalled that Bedcheck Charlie “would fly over toss out small bombs hoping to hit a tent, aircraft or something else of importance. I found these night time extravaganza’s rather exciting. The sirens would go off, big search lights would come on to try to find him and anti-aircraft batteries would begin firing with tracers which would light up the sky better than any Fourth of July that I had ever seen, and all the time we in trenches were shooting our rifles in all directions. Bed Check Charlie was very elusive and only one was ever brought down.”

But as the 1953 raid on Incheon demonstrated, the night raiders did get lucky sometimes. Late in 1950, two Po-2s hit a line of P-51s at Pyongyang with a cluster of small bombs, damaging eleven and forcing three to be abandoned. Later, two Po-2s ventured over Suwon Air Force Base and managed to destroy an F-86A Sabre of the 335th Fighter Squadron on the runway, and damage eight more of the advanced jets.

Though UN forces disposed of air defense radars, they had only a few squadron of F-82 Twin Mustangs, F4U5N Corsairs and F7F Tigercat fighters designed for night fighting. The Po-2s and Yaks flew low and slow, and were not highly visible on radar due to their small size and fabric construction.

Still, Marine fighter pilots did make a few successful intercepts. Benefitting from onboard radars, twin piston-engine Tigercats shot down two Po-2s, while gull-winged F4U-5N Corsair, arguably the best naval fighter of World War II, also scored several kills. Corsair pilot Guy Bordelon would shoot down three La-11 fighters and two Yak-18s at night over Korea, becoming the only Navy ace of the Korean War.

Skyknight and Starfire to the Rescue

In December 1951, a flight of MiG-15s buzzed the South Korean capital of Seoul at night, startling the U.S. military with the realization they had no night fighters jets that could meet the Soviet jets on equal terms. All three branches of the U.S. military hastily deployed their most advanced radar-equipped jets to counter the threat.

For the Air Force, this meant transferring F-94B Starfire jets of the 319th Fighter Squadron to Korea. The two-seater straight-winged jets were derived from the P-80 Shooting Star, the first operational jet fighter of the U.S. Air Force. The F-94 had first been developed in 1949 to counter the Soviet Tu-4 strategic bomber, a reverse-engineered B-29. The Starfire’s nose-mounted APG-33 radar helped it home in on enemy aircraft at short range, but it still required ground controllers with longer-range radars to direct it in the general direction of the enemy. An uprated J-33 turbojet compensated for the weight of the radar and radar operator, and even featured the first functional afterburner on a U.S. military aircraft.

However, the Starfire’s gear was still considered so advanced in 1951 that it was initially forbidden from flying over North Korean territory for fear that crashed aircraft would offer a technological bounty to the Soviets.

But while hunting night intruders, the Starfires were so fast that they closed too rapidly and often made repeated passes, unsuccessfully attempting to line up the propeller planes in their gunsights. The commander of the 319th perished when he fell below his Starfire’s stall speed of 110 miles per hour while attempting to slow down enough to fall in behind a Po-2—a circumstance some consider the only biplane-on-jet “maneuver kill” in history. Another F-94 crew reported “splashing” an intruder and then was never heard from again, possibly having collided with the wreckage of their victim.

Larger F3D Skyknight jets of the Marine Corps and Navy were more successful over the night skies of Korea. Designed by legendary aviation engineer Ed Heinemann, who created the A-4 Skyhawk, the chunky Skyknight was nicknamed “Willy the Whale” due to its capacious fuselage, necessitated to accommodate both the extra large thirty-inch radar antenna in the nose, and its operator, seated beside the pilot.

The F3D’s AN/APQ-35 radar was more effective than the F-94’s, because it actually compromised three radars employing more than three hundred vacuum tubes: both a long-range search radar and a short-range tracking-and-targeting radar in the nose, plus a third rear-facing threat-warning radar to detect approaching attackers. The APQ-35 could detect fighter-size targets over twenty-five miles away, which made the Skyknight more effective as a patrol plane—and its four twenty-millimeter cannons packed a heavier punch.

Though the Skyknight had arrester hooks and folding wings for carrier operations, they were mostly flown from bases on land their sensitive equipment was easily banged up by carrier landings, while their powerful, downward-canted engines were known to set decks on fire if left idling too long.

Therefore, the Marines’ “Flying Nightmares” squadron VMF-513(N), flying from land, was the first to use the type in action from a base in Suwon. They were later joined there by the Navy’s VC-4 “Night Capper” squadron, detached from the carrier USS Lake Champlain.

With a maximum speed of 565 miles per hour, the clunky F3D-2 was over a hundred miles per hour slower than the MiG-15, and no match in a conventional dogfight. But the F3D’s radar allowed its crew to “see” its opponents better at night, while the MiGs relied on their ground-based radars to direct them.

On November 8, 1952, the F3D flown by Oliver Davis and Dramus Fessler were directed towards a MiG-15 flying ten miles ahead of them at seven thousand feet. Fessler was able to track the MiG’s position on his radar until Davis spotted the bloom from the MiG’s turbojet engine and fired a burst from his twenty-millimeter cannons. Lt. Ivan Kovalev successfully ejected from the Soviet fighter after it burst into flames.

Five days earlier, Major Stratton claimed to have shot down a Yak-15 in his Skynight—though, as the type was never operated over Korea, it’s not clear what exactly he engaged.

In another unusual engagement, Lt. Joseph Corvi and Sgt. Dan George tracked a Po-2 biplane over Sinanju on December 12, 1952. Unable to spot the tiny biplane far ahead, Corvi aimed a burst of his cannons purely based on the radar contact, and scored the first beyond-visual-range kill in air-combat history.


IPMS/USA Reviews

The Polikarpov U-2 biplane was designed and built during 1928 as a primary trainer for the fledgling Soviet Air Force, and it seemed to possess all of the characteristics desired by that service, including rugged all-wood construction, a low-powered but reliable power plant, and excellent flying characteristics. It was produced in massive numbers, approximately 40,000 of them eventually being manufactured in the Soviet Union and foreign countries. The type was adaptable to many uses, including training, air ambulance, night bombing, crop dusting, and a few were even used as floatplanes. During the war, the plane was re-designated Po-2 in honor of the designer, Nikolai Nikolaevich Polikarpov. A few were even used by the North Koreans during the Korean War for night harassment, as, having all-wood construction, they had a very low radar profile. There are still a few flying today, especially in Europe.

As a comparison, the all-wood U-2 had a 125 hp. radial engine and a gross weight of around 2000 pounds, while the American wood and metal Stearman PT-17 had a 220 hp. radial engine and could fly at a gross weight of about 2600 pounds. The Stearman was slightly smaller, but was adaptable to engines of 450 hp. to 600 hp. for postwar ag-plane conversions. At least one Po-2 was fitted with a 700 hp. Wright Cyclone engine for record attempts before the war, but most power increases did not exceed 200 hp.

References

Aside from the internet, there aren't a lot of materials available on this aircraft. Several years ago, I obtained a book from Kagero entitled Polikarpov Po-2 which included 44 pages, 175 photos, color information, and a set of Polish decals for 1/72 and 1/48 models. This book primarily shows the structure of the aircraft, using the restored example in the Polish Aviation Museum. This is in English and Polish, and has been extremely useful in showing the details of this aircraft, but it doesn't have a lot of information on markings of specific aircraft. There are lots of photos of the type online, but the kit provides color schemes for three aircraft, including one snow-camouflaged ski-plane.

The Kit

This is certainly not the first kit produced of this aircraft, as Burns' Guide lists kits issued by ABC, Ace/Poland, A-Model, Frog, KP, Omega, and Ursus. My suspicion is that most of these kits were issued using the KP molds, or molds based on them. I built one of the KP kits, which was produced before 1975, so these models have been around for quite a while. The KP kit was accurate in outline, but very basic in detail, and the new ICM kit is infinitely better in interior and engine detail, as well as in surface finish. Consisting of about 75 parts in light grey and clear plastic, it has crisp, clear detail, a complete interior with excellent sidewall features, delicate engine parts for the five-cylinder radial, and an alternative wheel-ski landing gear. In addition, it hosts very petite bomb racks, bombs, and a very finely done rear machine gun and mount.

The instructions are entirely pictorial, and the sprue diagram is very useful in locating the parts when they are needed. Although the kit appears to be overcomplicated, it really isn't, and the parts are positioned where they can be taken from the sprue at the time they will be attached, therefore reducing the possibility of losing them, as some of these parts are very small.

There were some discrepancies in the kit I built, including a lot of flash and some parts not complete. The seat bracings (parts 48 and 49) are supposed to have the side structure the same length, but both parts had one much longer than the other, requiring trimming to the shorter length. In addition, the vertical stabilizer is very weak, and care must be taken when handling the fuselage until the horizontal stabilizers are attached.

Assembly

This kit has a lot of detail, requiring many of the small parts to be assembled before major components can be joined. The cockpit interior consists of two seats (5 pieces each, not including seat belts) and a floor positioned on the upper portion of the lower wing, which holds the rudder pedal structure and the control sticks. The instrument panels are supposed to be glued to the side of the fuselage interior, but they don't fit, and I had to trim them and then insert them into the fuselage after the halves were joined. The seats, however, were narrow enough to fit inside the fuselage, but due to the above-mentioned defect in the seat bracing, they are probably too low. I also added masking tape seat belts.

The five-cylinder radial engine goes together easily, although there are a number of exhaust stacks that must be added after the engine is installed. The prop, by the way, is backwards and rotates the wrong way. All the photos I have of the airplane show that the prop rotates in the American fashion, or clockwise from the pilot's seat view, whereas the prop in this kit rotates in the British fashion, or counterclockwise. This really jumps out at you when you've hand-propped airplanes all your life. I had to replace the prop. There is a nose cap that is supposed to cover the front of the engine. This shows in the instructions, but does not show on any of the three-view drawings except for the front view. The problem is that this part does not show up on any photos I can find of the aircraft, either the wartime examples or restored or museum types. I left it off.

Some of the drawings on the instruction are not very clear, including the actual configuration of the bomb racks, and the completed seat assembly on the top of the lower wing center section. The drawings shown aren't very helpful, even under high magnification. This would have been helpful. On the color scheme drawing of the ski-equipped version, there is an external fuel tank that does not appear on the sprue. Although the skis are provided and the drawing shows the installation, there is no indication on the assembly instructions concerning the wire bracing that is attached to the front and rear of the ski assemblies.

The horizontal stabilizer is very realistically done, but it attaches to the rear fuselage with three small pins, and this is replicated in the kit. The result is a joint that appears to be very weak, and I had to be very careful when handling and masking that portion of the model. That worked, and I didn't break it off, although it certainly looks very fragile. On the bomb racks, there are two small attachment points for the bombs, and while one attaches to the rack, the other attaches to the bomb itself. There are small notches for the attachment points, but they are not complete and the little parts will not fit without trimming.

The lower wing attaches to the fuselage quite nicely, and all of the seat detail is mounted on this. The main problem comes with the attachment of the upper wing. My usual procedure is to glue the "N" struts onto the wings, let them dry overnight, and then attach the upper wing the next day. Once this was securely dried, I add the cabane struts, which attach to the fuselage and wing center section. The problem is that the cabanes don't fit quite right, and it took a lot of twisting and jockeying around to get them into an acceptable position. The struts are quite flimsy, but they look really good once they are in place. With the wing in place, the landing gear can be attached. This looks a lot harder than it is, and although it doesn't look like there's a place to attach it, it goes on easily. The tailskid doesn't have any real attachment points, just a large hole, but I managed to glue it in place anyway. The tail bracing struts were very tiny, and after looking at them and trying to trim the attachment points (which were in the middle of the struts), I just replaced them with plastic strip. The windshields are very tiny, but there was no outside bracing on the real thing, so I just glued them on before I attached the upper wing.

Painting and Finishing

I opted for the green and black camouflaged U-2VS used by 213rd NBAD (Night Bomber Air Division) in Russia during 1943. Most painting was done before assembly, and all of the small parts had been painted right at the beginning. Decals were of good quality, although I had the points of two stars separate from their bodies, but these were not a problem as I just moved them around into the proper position. They don't require trimming.

I used electronic wire for rigging, rolling it out and cutting each wire to the proper length. There are a LOT of wires on this plane, including the usual flying and landing wires, but also including aileron, rudder, and elevator cables. Towards the end, handling the model became a very touchy procedure, but I didn't break any wires loose.

Recommendation

While I was building this kit, I decided to build an old KP kit that I had in the stash, and it is interesting to compare the two kits. The ICM kit has much better detail in every respect. Although there are some glitches, especially the prop, the ICM kit builds up into a very nice representation of this classic little biplane, and it is certainly worth getting, especially if you can't obtain a KP kit. The KP kit is a lot easier to build, but the ICM kit results in a much more sophisticated model, provided you are careful and do things like replacing the prop. If you're serious about building this one, get hold of the Kagero book on the Po-2, as I found it very useful. I certainly wouldn't recommend this kit for a beginner, but an experienced modeler should have no problem making a decent model out of this one.

Thanks to Squadron for supplying the kit for review, and IPMS for supplying the opportunity to review it.


Kermit’s Comments

During World War II, the U.S.S.R. formed a squadron composed completely of women, including pilots, officers, mechanics, and ground personnel. The Russian pilots that flew these aircraft performed various duties, including night harassment raids on the Germans.

Imagine flying one of these at night during a Russian winter, open-cockpit, low over enemy territory. On top of that, they would temporarily shut the engine down to avoid being heard, glide over enemy troops, and throw bombs and grenades out of the cockpit! Later, under-wing bomb racks and rockets were installed. The Germans named them Nachthexen, which translated, made them famous as the “Night Witches”!


Pin (Znachok), Polikarpov Po-2

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Pin (Znachok), Polikarpov Po-2

Commemorative Polikarpov Po-2 (znachok) pin bottom profile of single engine Po-2 biplane aircraft depicted pin divided per pale light blue left and slate blue right red enamel five point stars on each wing raised letter text.

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There are restrictions for re-using this media. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

Pin (Znachok), Polikarpov Po-2

Commemorative Polikarpov Po-2 (znachok) pin bottom profile of single engine Po-2 biplane aircraft depicted pin divided per pale light blue left and slate blue right red enamel five point stars on each wing raised letter text.

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Commemorative Polikarpov Po-2 (znachok) pin bottom profile of single engine Po-2 biplane aircraft depicted pin divided per pale light blue left and slate blue right red enamel five point stars on each wing raised letter text.


Guards Lieutenant Natalya Fedorovna Meklin, Hero of the Soviet Union

Guards Lieutenant Natalya Fedorovna Meklin, Hero of the Soviet Union. (Colorized by Olga Shirnina: “Color by Klimbim”)

23 February 1945: Guards Lieutenant Natalya Fedorovna Meklin, a senior pilot with the 46th Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, 325th Night Bomber Aviation Division, 4th Air Army, was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union by decree of the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This was in acknowledgement of the 840 combat missions that Lieutenant Meklin had flown to date. She was also awarded the Order of Lenin with Gold Star. The medals were presented to her by Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky, 8 March 1945, while she was on duty in Poland. By the end of The Great Patriotic War, she had flown 982 combat sorties.

Natalya Fedorovna Meklin, circa 1940

Natalya Fedorovna Meklin was born 8 September 1922, at Lubny, Poltava, Ukraine. As a teenager, she attended High School No. 79 in Kiev, where she participated in gymnastics and competitive small-bore rifle and pistol shooting. She graduated in 1940.

Following high school, Natalya Fedorovna learned to fly at the Kiev Young Pioneer Palace glider school. In 1941 she went to the Moscow Aviation Institute. During July and August the students were sent to Bryansk to dig tank traps as defense against the Nazi invasion.

Inspired by famed Soviet pilot Marina Mikailovna Raskova, in October 1941 Natalya Fedorovna joined the women’s aviation regiments being formed by Raskova. She was sent to the Engels Military Aviation School, near Saratov, Russia, where she spent seven months in training as a pilot and navigator. Graduating in May 1942, Lieutenant Meklin was assigned to the 588th Night Bomber Aviation Regiment as chief of communications. The unit was then fighting on the southern Caucasian Front.

The women in the night bomber regiments made night attacks behind enemy lines flying the Polikarpov U-2 light bomber. They often approached their target at very low altitude and made gliding attacks. Their effect was to demoralize enemy soldiers and keep them awake. The Germans called them die Nacthexen (the Night Witches).

Lieutenant Meklin circa April 1943. She is wearing the Order of the Red Star and Order of the Patriotic War.

Lieutenant Meklin was awarded the Order of the Red Star on 19 October 1942. In 1943, she became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Comrade Melkin flew 380 combat sorties as a navigator, and was then assigned as a pilot.

In February 1943, the 588th Aviation Regiment was redesignated the 46th Guards Night Bomber Aviation Unit. On 27 April 1943, Guards Lieutenant Meklin was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War, Second Class.

The following year, 14 April 1944, Lieutenant Meklin was awarded the first of three Orders of the Red Banner. A second followed on 14 December 1944, and the third, 15 June 1945.

Following The Great Patriotic War, Lieutenant Meklin’s status became that of a reserve officer. For the next two years, she studies at Moscow University, then in 1947, returned to active duty. She rose to the rank of major. She attended the Military Institute of Foreign Languages, graduating in 1953, and served as a translator in the 6th Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, where she was involved in the development of proposals for the production of various types of nuclear weapons, and preparation and coordination of tactical and technical requirements of nuclear weapons.

In January 1956, Major Meklin married Yuri Fedorovich Kravtsov, and she assumed the name Kravtsova.

Major Natalya F. Kravtsova retired from the Air Force in September 1957. She was employed as a supervising editor at the Publishing House of Military Technical Literature in 1960, and then in 1961 as a translator/editor inn the Bureau of Foreign Military Literature.

On 11 March 1985, Natalya Fedorovna was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War, First Class.

Natalya Fedorovna Kravtsova with her son, circa 1960.

Comrade Kravtsova was the author of many articles and books, the last being We Were Called Night Witches (published in 2005).

Natalya Fedorovna Kravtsova, Hero of the Soviet Union, died 5 June 2005, in Moscow. Her remains were interred at the Troyekurovskoye Cemetery in Moscow.

Three-view illustration with dimensions in millimeters. ( Самолет У-2 manual) Михаи́л Миха́йлович Гро́мов

The Самолет У-2 (Airplane U-2) was designed by Nikolai Nikolaevich Poliparkov as a basic trainer. It made its first flight 7 January 1928 with test pilot M.M. Gromov. The airplane was produced in two- and three-place variants, some with an enclosed rear cabin. A float plane was also built.

Airplane U-2 was a single-engine, single bay biplane, constructed of a wire-braced wood framework, covered with fabric. There were ailerons on upper and lower wings. It was 8.170 meters (26 feet, 9.7 inches) long, with an upper wing span of 11.400 meters (37 feet, 4.8 inches), and lower span of 10.654 meters (34 feet, 10.9 inches). The wings’ chord was 1.650 meters (5 feet, 5 inches). The vertical gap between wings was 1.777 meters (5 feet, 10 inches), and the lower wing was staggered 0.800 meters (2 feet, 7.5 inches) behind the upper wing. The wings had 2° dihedral, and an angle of incidence of 2° 20′.

The U-2 was powered by a normally-aspirated, air-cooled, 8.590 liter (524.212-cubic-inch-displacement) Shvetsov M-11 five-cylinder radial engine, driving a two-bladed fixed-pitch wooden propeller. The engine produced 90 horsepower at 1,520–1,560 r.p.m. 100 horsepower from 1,580–1,600 r.p.m. and a maximum 110 horsepower at 1,650–1,670 r.p.m. The M-11 weighed 165 kilograms (364 pounds).

The U-2 was first armed in 1941. It could carry 350 kilograms (771 pounds) of bombs. A single 7.62×54mmR Shpitalny-Komaritskie (ShKAS) revolver machine gun was mounted in the rear cockpit.

The U-2 was redesignated Polikarpov Po-2 following the War. It was in production from 1928 to 1952. Sources vary as to the number built, ranging from 20,000 to 40,000.

Группа легких бомбардировщиков У-2 271-й ночной бомбардировочной авиационной дивизии летит на задание (“ A group of U-2 light bombers of the 271st Night Bomber Aviation Division is flying on a mission .”) Cemetery


Scale Build-off 3 - 45" Polikarpov PO-2

This will be a joint effort with me doing the drawing and Pat Lynch doing all the hard work of getting the model built.
I've been threatening to draw up one of these for years and this comp, together with some prodding from Pat, has provided the impetus to finally make a start.

Just looked the aircraft up to see exactly what it was like - l thought it would be a monoplane (only kind of Polikarpov I know) but what a nice bipe it is. A quick Google image search shows every colour scheme from all-white to various camo's so plenty to pick from.

Will you be drawing it with both wheels and ski details? The versions with skis are particularly attractive and would work well at 45" size.

Look forward to the design and build.

Although my design techniques are nothing special, I don't do 3D or technical stuff like that, I'll attempt to go through it more or less as it happens. No, don't panic, it won't be a line by line description of drawing a plan.
The idea with this one is to try to get away from the need for laser cut parts. In other words, while the parts will ultimately become available, I want to try to keep the construction simple enough that they aren't essential for a successful build. They'll make life a lot easier, but won't be an absolute requirement.
Over the last few models I feel I have come to rely on the accuracy of CAD and the availability of laser cut parts in my designs. This, to some extent, has lead to quite intricate builds with precisely fitting parts. On this model I want to go back more towards my designing roots. Those early models were all designed to make cutting parts by hand relatively painless and I'd like to make this model the same - but still retain scale outlines, rib count, etc. What it won't contain, if I can avoid it, is lots of intricate ply formers and parts that need to be precisely cut if the thing is to go together at all.

So far all I've done is enlarge the 3 view to model size, trace off the basic fuselage details and start tidying that and filling in construction details. I'm aiming for a relatively lightweight model (around 28 ounces) that will be powered by a 450 size outrunner and have 4 function control. Control linkages will (hopefully) follow scale practice and all be external.

Hopefully it will also be fun to build

The PO-2 is typically Russian of the period - fairly straightforward, no frills and seems to have been a fairly tough airplane. I liked it from the start with its 5 cyl radial all exposed up front, external linkages to the tail, general no-nonsense construction and a wealth of available data. As Steve stated - there is an almost unlimited range of schemes, although I'll probably opt for a common camo version. My input to the project so far has been to request the type, supply some 3-views and discuss scale, motor, battery size and hatch placement. From here on it is mostly up to Pete to wave his wand over the 3V and produce something buildable, and more importantly, flyable Just how much detail will be included is unknown at this point - as usual it will depend on how the design pans out.

I'm pottering around on existing projects to keep the bench clear(ish) for when the s..t hits the fan (or PO-2 prop). I hope, in addition to Pete giving ideas about how the design involves, we can see some interaction between designer and builder as the task progresses. should be fun