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.
Antonov An-2 Walk-Around
Externally, the An-2 shares many similarities with other light aircraft of this class. 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.
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.
Soviet / Russian Production
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.
Antonov An-2 Operators
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).
Azerbaijan utilized a locally-modified form of the Soviet-era Antonov An-2 as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in the kamikaze role. About sixty are in service (2020).
July 2017 - A Fully-composite reworking of the classic An-2 biplane aircraft was debuted at MAKS 2017. The aircraft is designated as An-2TVS-2DTS. The aircraft recorded a first-flight in July 2017 and is powered by 1 x Honeywell TPE331-12 turboprop engine.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.
Used in the Very-Important-Person (VIP) passenger transport role, typically with above-average amenities and luxuries as standard.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Developed ability to be used as a dedicated trainer for student pilots (typically under the supervision of an instructor).
40.7 ft (12.40 m)
59.7 ft (18.20 m)
13.5 ft (4.10 m)
7,275 lb (3,300 kg)
12,125 lb (5,500 kg)
+4,850 lb (+2,200 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Antonov An-2 (Colt) production variant)
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