Li-2 Military Aircraft Technical Specifications
- Crew – 4 people
- Engines – 2 x ASH-62IR
- Power – 1000 hp
- Wingspan – 28.81 m
- The wing area is 91.69 sq. m
- Empty aircraft weight-7700 kg
- Maximum take-off weight-10 500 kg
- Full load weight-2500 kg
- Maximum speed at altitude/near the ground-320/290 km / h
- Practical ceiling – 5600 m
- Maximum range – 2150 km
- Armament: 3×7. 62 mm SHKAS machine gun or 1×12. 7 mm UBT machine gun and 2×7. 62 mm SHKAS machine gun
- Maximum bomb load-2000 kg.
Li-2 Military Aircraft Details
In the mid-1930s, in the face of a worsening international situation, the Soviet government took a number of measures to strengthen the country’s defense, including measures to raise the production of aircraft and engines for them to a new, higher level. These measures included the purchase of license-built aircraft (Valti V-11, Consolidated LVU-1 and Glenn-Martin 156), as well as the purchase of equipment, documentation and technologies abroad. Along with this, in the USSR, back in 1936, it was decided to update the civil Air Fleet (GVF) and organize production in the Soviet Union under the license of the American DC-3 twin-engine passenger aircraft from Douglas. Interest in the production of the DC-3 was also shown by the leadership of the Red Army Air Force, which was in dire need of a modern transport and landing aircraft.
Licensed serial production of the new aircraft was organized in 1938 at the V. P. Chkalov Aviation Plant No. 84 (Khimki, Moscow region). All preparations for the DC-3 production were carried out in the specially created KB-6 at this plant, initially under the supervision of Chief Designer V. M. Myasishchev, and later – A. A. Sinkov and Chief Engineer B. P. Lisunov.
On February 16, 1938, a joint commission consisting of representatives of the Red Army Air Force and the GVF presented a full-size model of the aircraft in a passenger modification, and by the beginning of November, the first aircraft was assembled from American-made components at the plant. From September to December 1939, the car successfully passed state tests and was recommended for production. The new Soviet aircraft received the designation ” passenger aircraft factory No. 84 (PS-84)”.
For the Red Army Air Force, modifications of the PS-84 were developed in the transport-amphibious and sanitary versions (PS-84K and PS-84I, respectively). The PS-84 aircraft was a reproduction of the American Douglas DS-3 aircraft, but with the translation into metric measures of all its dimensions and material thicknesses and with a careful recalculation of all structural elements according to Soviet strength standards (which themselves were clarified for civilian aircraft). This increased the mass, but increased the security. V. M. Myasishchev supervised the processing of drawings in relation to domestic technology and the conversion of dimensions from inches to millimeters. For the first time in the USSR, a template method was used in aviation production to produce a large batch. Along with plant No. 84 in 1940, the production of PS-84 aircraft was established in Kazan at plant No. 124, but after the release of 10 cars, production there was curtailed. In the same year, construction of a special aviation plant was started in Tashkent, where it was planned to organize the production of PS-84 aircraft.
The PS-84 was a twin-engined piston low-wing aircraft with a retractable landing gear with a tail wheel and a single-keel tail. It had an all-metal structure with a canvas skin of the rudders and ailerons. The aircraft had two M-62IR engines with variable pitch VISH-21 propellers (1000 hp). The flight speed was 220 km/h. For the take-off of this aircraft, a runway with a length of no more than 1300 m was required. In the first version of the aircraft, there were four crew members and 14 passenger seats (later, the number of passenger seats was increased to 21).
The PS-84 aircraft has proven itself well as a passenger and transport aircraft, it has become widely used, being distinguished by its reliability, economy and ease of operation. The first PS-84K transport aircraft took part in combat operations in the Soviet-Japanese conflict near the Khalkhin Gol River and in the Soviet-Finnish war.
By the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the Civil Air Fleet of the USSR had 72 PS-84 aircraft, another 49 aircraft were used in the Air Force, 5-in units of the Air Force of the Navy, and several units – in the NKVD. In the first days of the war, most of the civilian vehicles were transferred to separate air detachments and groups. As of June 25, 1941, they included 68 PS-84s and DC-3s, including 51 aircraft belonging to the Moscow Special Purpose Air Group (MAGON). By July 29, there were already 96 PS-84 aircraft in 3 detachments and 5 air groups. These vehicles took an active part in almost all operations of the initial period of the war for a wide variety of transportation at the front and in the rear. The planes were used to deliver reinforcements and supplies to the front, as well as to take out the wounded and evacuees. They delivered ammunition and food to the encircled units, dropped reconnaissance and sabotage groups to the rear of the Germans. Only in October 1941, PS-84 aircraft from MAGON were transferred to the Orel region by the 5th Airborne Corps. These planes carried 5,440 people and 12.5 tons of various cargo. Also in early October, they flew to the island of Dago in the Baltic Sea, where they carried ammunition and fuel, and back-the wounded. Along with this, PS-84 aircraft from MAGON also contributed to the creation of an “air bridge” to besieged Leningrad. On an average day, PS-84 aircraft delivered about 150 tons of various cargo to the city, sometimes up to 200 tons, and back from the city they carried children and women, valuable specialists, mortars and guns that continued to be produced by Leningrad factories. MAGON planes alone were able to take more than 29,000 people out of besieged Leningrad.
With the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the need for such transport aircraft has increased many times. However, in the conditions when the front line was steadily approaching Moscow, it was decided to evacuate plant No. 84 and related enterprises from the Moscow region to Central Asia. On October 14, 1941, plant No. 84 ceased production of the PS-84. Production of the aircraft resumed on January 7, 1942 at the aviation plant No. 34 (Tashkent), which became the main enterprise for the production of PS-84. In the same year, the aircraft received a new name “Li-2” after the name of the chief engineer of plant No. 84 B.P. Lisunov, who led its introduction into production.
During the Great Patriotic War, the Li-2 aircraft was produced in several modifications, in which the contours, dimensions and design remained unchanged (except for a number of equipment and armament details), and the load changed mainly. There was no trim on the cabin or passenger seats, and all the planes were transport planes. First of all, the Li-2 was put into production in a transport-amphibious version of a simplified design. To protect it from fighters, defensive weapons were mounted in a hatch in the rear of the cargo cabin-initially a 7.62 mm SHKAS machine gun, later replaced by a 12.7 mm UBT machine gun on a shielded turret. To facilitate the work of pilots on the Li-2 aircraft, the AP-42A autopilot was installed. From the PS-84 passenger plane, its military version also differed in replacing soft passenger seats with folding wooden ones. The plane could now carry up to 26 soldiers with weapons, in addition, it could be equipped with devices that allowed it to be used as an ambulance – for transporting 18 lying wounded on stretchers and 2 more sitting wounded or accompanying medical personnel, who were placed on the side folding seats. In addition, the military version of the Li-2 was able to transport bulky cargo weighing up to 2 – 3 tons, which did not require special loading facilities and work to strengthen the fuselage floor. The aircraft was equipped with an additional cargo door with a spare passenger door for dropping parachutists, unloading and loading cargo. Also, the toilet and buffet were removed from it, the inner skin in the passenger cabin was removed, heating and ventilation were removed, armored plates were mounted on the pilot and navigator’s seats. The aircraft also received four additional fuel tanks of 350 liters, i.e. about 1200 kg. In this version, the Li-2 was mass-produced until the end of the war and was widely used for flights at the front, to partisans, etc. Since the summer of 1942, the newly produced vehicles were equipped with external bomb racks and devices for installing a bomb sight. And soon there was another modification of the Li-2 BB (military version) – a night bomber with defensive small arms. It had two ASH-62IR engines. Externally, it differed from the standard LI-2 amphibious transport aircraft with a shielded UTK-1 turret on the fuselage (to protect the rear hemisphere) with a SHKAS machine gun, soon replaced by an UBT machine gun. Two other SHKAS machine guns were mounted in the rear windows of the cargo cabin in the sides of the fuselage. Under the center section of the aircraft, aerial bombs with a total mass of up to two tons of bombs of various calibers and types (high-explosive, incendiary, thermite, etc.) could be suspended: 4 FAB-250 (1 ton) or 2 FAB-500 + 2 FAB – 250 (1.5 tons) or with overload-four FAB-500 (2 tons). In addition, several RS shells were sometimes suspended under the wing consoles. The crew of the military version of the Li-2 consisted of two pilots, a navigator-radio operator and a gunner. However, due to the turret and external suspensions of this Li-2VV model, the flight performance slightly decreased-the maximum speed was almost 25 km/h less than that of the transport Li – 2.
In 1942-1945, the Tashkent aircraft factory built 2,258 Li-2 aircraft of all variants. And already in 1945, two more modifications of the Li-2 were developed there: Li-2T-a transport version and Li-2P – a passenger one, which were in production in the post-war years. The transport version of the aircraft in 1946 was transferred for mass production to the aviation plant No. 126 (Komsomolsk-on-Amur). There was also a training modification of the aircraft – Uchli-2. Serial production of the Li-2T transport aircraft ended in 1950, when it was replaced by a more advanced Il-12.
Li-2BV night bombers were actively used by the Soviet command on all fronts of the Great Patriotic War. For example, in March 1945 alone, pilots of the 18th Air Army, created in December 1944, from the long-range aviation of the Supreme Command Headquarters, made 5,126 combat sorties, and 1,224 of them were carried out by Li – 2BV aircraft. Military transport Li-2s also provided effective support for combat operations. So, pilots of the 2nd Special Purpose Aviation Division (ADON) on Li-2 aircraft from October 1942 to October 1944 took part in the relocation of 237 air regiments, 89 air divisions and 40 aviation corps on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, 4487 aircraft united in 485 groups, which were validated by them in the active army. During the same time, the pilots of 2-1 ADON threw 365 paratroopers into the enemy’s deep rear and delivered 111 tons of ammunition, weapons and equipment for reconnaissance groups and partisan detachments.
In total, 5374 Li – 2 aircraft of all modifications were produced in the Soviet Union in 1938-1950. In the military transport aviation of the USSR Air Force, the Li-2 aircraft was operated until the 1970s, it became one of the most durable aircraft in the world.