Antonov AN-2 Meeting at the ILA-98 Berlin Airshow at Shonefeld airport, Berlin (May 1998)
The An-2 Colt has been used as a paratroop transport, glider tug, navigation trainer, utility transport and light bomber. Despite being a versatile and adaptable machine, the large, fabric-covered An-2 biplane remains firmly rooted in much earlier days of aviation.
The An-2 prototype was first flown on August 31, 1947, and the aircraft is still in production, although the Antonov Bureau has not produced any since 1960. The An-2s designer, Oleg Antonov, had been an aircraft designer during the Second World War. He then formed his own bureau with the intention of creating an aircraft capable of almost any task. He succeeded. Originally designed for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in the former Soviet Union, the aircraft was soon adopted by the Soviet Air Force and built for its client states. It is ideally suited to less developed countries because it requires little maintenance and is easy to fly.
The An-2's admittedly-antiquated design gives it extremely short take-off and landing (STOL) capabilities. This is partly achieved not only by the high-lift double wings, but by the use of the drooping ailerons which can be lowered 20 degrees to compliment the flaps. The wings are covered in fabric aft of the front spar and the tailplane is also covered with fabric, making field repairs easy. It has a crew of two in a heated crew compartment and a single bay running the length of the aircraft.
The An-2 is still in service with over 30 air forces and has been used by Aeroflot and other eastern airlines. With the collapse of the communist regime over a decade ago, a small number of An-2s have begun to appear on the civilian rosters in Europe and the United States, although the type is difficult to register in the United States due to regulatory issues
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