Aviation of World War II

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Medium Transport aircraft


Li-2 USSR Aeroflot

Twin-engine passenger aircraft (14-21 passengers) - a reproduction of the American Douglas DC-3 aircraft (abbreviated from - Douglac Commercial), the military version of this aircraft was produced at Douglas under the name C-47. The aircraft proved itself well as a passenger and transport aircraft, was widespread, distinguished by reliability, efficiency and ease of operation. It was used in the Great Patriotic War for a wide variety of transportation at the front and in the rear.

In parallel with the purchase of DC-3 aircraft, our country also acquired a license for the production of its modification - DC-3-196, mastered by Plant No. 84 named after V.P. Chkalov in Khimki, as PS-84 (Passenger aircraft plant No. 84).

Significant difficulties in mastering the production of the aircraft arose during the development of the plaza-template method and the translation of license documentation (drawings) from inch to metric measurement system. This important work was supervised by Vladimir Mikhailovich Myasishchev, whose design bureau was located in Tushino at plant 84.

In the summer of 1937, Plant 84 produced the first PS-84. The complexity of the work done is indicated by the fact that the Fokker and Mitsubishi firms, which also bought licenses for the DC-3, could not master the new production method and produced aircraft from units manufactured in the United States. In the same 1937 V.M. Myasishchev was arrested.

Since the middle of 1938, the introduction and mass production of this aircraft under license with the designation PS-84 began at our factories, and since September 1942. - Li-2, named after the chief engineer of the plant Boris Pavlovich Lisunov, who led the implementation.

In April 1941, the 100th aircraft was assembled at the plant in Khimki; by the beginning of the war, Aeroflot had 72 PS-84s, 49 in the Air Force, 5 in the Navy.

Initially, the crew of the passenger PS-84 consisted of 5 people, two pilots, a flight mechanic, a radio operator and a stewardess, who was called a barmaid.

Immediately after the start of the war, PS-84 was assembled into separate air groups of the Civil Air Fleet, supporting combat operations; as of June 25, there were 68 PS-84 and DC-3 in them. With the outbreak of the war, the plant was evacuated to Tashkent and within a month it restored production by 30%, producing mainly a military transport version of the aircraft. Since July 1941, defensive weapons have been installed on the Douglases. During the war years, the Soviet Air Force received about 2,000 Li-2 aircraft.

C-47, PS-84, Li-2 Specification
Length, m 19.57
Height, m 5.16
Wing span, m 28.96
Wing area, m² 91.69
C-47 PS-84 Li-2 Li-2NB
Weight, kg
Empty weight 2277 2298 2350 2382
Maximum takeoff weight 2873 3025 3117 3356
Type R-1830-93 M-62IR ASh-82FN ASh-82FN
Maximum at take-off, hp 1200 1000 1850 1850
Max speed, km/h at sea level   309 380 370
at altitude 369 338 434 424
m 2285 1760 5150 5150
Service ceiling, m 7070 5750 9100 8870
Service range, km 2414 2655 820 2115
Number/kg passengers 28 21    
cargo 2722   2500 1000
Li-2 in VVS

Construction - all-metal with linen covering of rudders and ailerons. Conversion to metric measures of all sizes and thicknesses of the material and with a careful recalculation of all structural elements according to our strength standards (which were themselves specified in the part of civil aircraft) is a difficult task that was successfully solved. From this, the mass has increased slightly, but the security has increased. V.M.Myasishchev supervised the revision of drawings in relation to domestic technology and the conversion of dimensions from inches to millimeters. In the first version, the plane had 14 passenger seats. Then, in the second version, the number of passenger seats was increased to 21.

We have reconfigured the cab and the passenger compartment, provided for the replacement of wheels with domestic, larger ones, and designed shock-absorbing struts designed for heavy loads.

Powerplant . - The plane was equipped with Soviet M-62IR engines with a takeoff power of 1000 hp, maximum power of 840 hp. at an altitude of 1500m. This engine was the "cousin" of the American Wright Cyclone SGR-1820-G2. Both of them were a product of improvement of the original SR-1820-F3, produced in USSR under the brand name M-25. Variable pitch propellers were also domestic, such as VISH-21 (automatic machines).

- Li-2 with ASh-82 FN engines. With their installation, the speed and takeoff weight increased significantly. ASh-82FN motors had a takeoff power of 1850 hp, at the second design altitude of 460 m - 1460 hp.

Weapons . Defensive armament initially consisted of four ShKAS machine guns, one was installed motionless in the nose cone in front of the cockpit, one - in the turret mount (later replaced by a large-caliber drill collar) and one each on the left and right on the pivot mounts in the side hatches in the tail section of the fuselage ... The upper installation was serviced by the gunner, the pivot machine guns were in the care of the radio operator and the flight engineer, who, when an air threat occurred, went to the tail of the aircraft, the ship commander fired from the course machine gun. The armament “ate up” at different altitudes up to 14-17 km / h maximum speed (it dropped to 281 km / h) with an equal take-off weight. Accordingly, the range fell (up to 2350 km), the rate of climb worsened (they began to spend 10 minutes more to climb to an altitude of 5000 m) and the practical ceiling decreased by half a kilometer. Armored seats have become mandatory. The weight of the weapon with ammunition was 134 kg.

Since the summer of 1942, PS-84s began to be used as night bombers. Bomb racks for 1000 kg of bombs were mounted under the center section. The maximum fuel supply was increased to 3110 liters. The takeoff weight of the vehicle exceeded 11,500 kg (with the pre-war rate of 10,900 kg). It was then, apparently, that the reinforced double strut of the "leg" of the chassis, which is considered a characteristic feature of the Soviet-made "Douglases", appeared. The ton load corresponded to the maximum range. On the "short shoulder" it was possible to take much more, but there was simply nowhere to hang bombs. In these cases, the crews often took additional small bombs into the fuselage, from where they threw them through the door with their hands. The main bomb racks were equipped with standard electric bomb throwers and emergency mechanical ones. There was no room for installing an optical bomb sight on the PS-84, so a primitive sight was placed at the right window of the cockpit.

Passenger PS-84s were no longer built during the war. The only exception can be considered five aircraft with pre-war interiors, specially manufactured in Tashkent in June 1943 for the flight of the Soviet delegation to Tehran. They were collected with great care and were accepted by a special commission. Another (according to other sources - three) aircraft was converted into the passenger workshops of the 1st NKVD Aviation Regiment in the village of Bykovo near Moscow. It had fewer seats than the standard one, the cabin was more spacious, and the trim was even more luxurious. But Stalin did not fly in any of these machines, preferring the American S-47 to all of them - without much comfort, but faster and more reliable.

As a night bomber, the PS-84 could not boast of either speed or maneuverability. But his crew worked in much more comfortable conditions than, say, on the IL-4. Spacious cockpits, dual control, which allowed the pilots to change each other, a cabin where, if necessary, it was possible to take a nap on covers, a toilet and a buffet, heating (in the IL-4 in winter it was not much warmer than outside) and ventilation, heat and soundproofing, good instrumentation made the plane very convenient for long-distance raids.

To combat ice freezing, alcohol de-icers were used to wash the propeller blades and glass of the pilot's cabin.

The behavior in the air of a slightly inert, but obedient to the pilot of the former liner favorably distinguished him from the unstable, exhausting Il-4 pilots. In terms of defensive armament, the PS-84 and Il-4 were approximately equal, although the Douglas did not shoot through the space behind the tail and under the fuselage at all. Having received a bomb suspension, the PS-84 did not lose the capabilities of a transport aircraft. Thus, the Soviet aviation received a dual-purpose aircraft that could be used in one way or another, depending on the needs. They began to actively staff the Long-Range Aviation Regiments (ADD).

But the capabilities of the Li-2 as a bomber were significantly limited by two circumstances: firstly, only the external suspension of bombs both limited their number and caliber, and reduced the already low speed of a passenger aircraft, and secondly, the accuracy of bombing suffered greatly from poor visibility down from the navigator and from the primitiveness of the sight on the machine. So the next step, quite naturally, was the improvement of the Li-2 in order to enable the navigator to look down and use a more modern optical type sight. In 1943, the Li-2NB appeared.

* - American military aircraft are named by types: "B" - from "Bomber" - bomber; "F" - from "Fighter" - fighter; "C" - from "Cargo" cargo, in our military classification, as transport.

** - from the article "Li-2 -" Air Horse "by Vladimir Perov and Oleg Rastrenin: " The appearance of the name "Li-2" remains mysterious for us. Perhaps the authors are not aware of any special merits of Lisunov, which prompted in 1942 to name the plane in his honor.

... at first the aircraft was called DC-3 in official documents, just like its American counterpart. After tests carried out in the SNII Civil Air Fleet, the name PS-84 appears on the initiative of Aeroflot.

September 17, 1942 signed by the head of the Main Directorate of the Civil Air Fleet, Lieutenant General F.A. Astakhov and the military commissar of the Main Directorate of the Civil Air Fleet Brigadier Commissioner Antonov Order No. 72 "On renaming PS-84 aircraft", which said: "Based on the order of the Air Force KA No. 0174 dated September 8, 1942, PS-84 aircraft will henceforth be called Li-2 2) ". An order was prepared on September 16, 1942, the surname of the executor is Snytkin.

In accordance with the decree of the Defense Committee, which appeared in December 1940, the order of the People's Commissar of the Aviation Industry No. 704 dated December 9, 1940 established the following procedure for assigning a name to the aircraft: it had to include the first letters of the designer's surname ( o) cars and number - even for military transport and bomber aircraft. The name was introduced directly by order of the People's Commissar of the Aviation Industry.

Recall that B.P. Lisunov in the 42nd year was the chief engineer of the plant number 84 and had nothing to do with the design of the PS-84 aircraft. In our opinion, the birth of this name looks somewhat unusual. The first letters did not belong to the designer, and the order of the People's Commissar to rename the aircraft to Li-2 appeared much later than the order of the head of the Main Directorate of the Civil Air Fleet.

Besides, the wording “... based on the order of the KA Air Force ...” looks strange. The reference could only be to the order of the Air Force Commander, but the word "commander" is not in the text. Whose order was it?

In one of the following orders, signed by Astakhov, the aircraft is referred to as LI-2 (PS-84), and later - as LI-2 or Li-2.

If we follow the logic of events, the name of the aircraft, produced in September 1942, could have become the name "Se-2" (Senkov-2) - in honor of the chief designer of plant # 84, who developed the military version of the PS-84 ... Without belittling Lisunov's merits in deploying the production of cars in Tashkent, preference, probably, should be given to the director of the plant Yarunin, on whose shoulders the entire burden of responsibility for the plant's activities fell, including the continuous improvement of the PS-84 aircraft. One could call the plane "Mo-2" - in honor of the chief designer (chief of the design bureau) of plant No. 84 Mosolov, who by that time had solved a number of problems of modernizing the PS-84. And best of all, use the name "Sem-2" - by the names of the main designer of the military version of the aircraft Senkov and his deputy and successor in this matter, Mosolov.

The name "Li-2" appears in the Air Force documents only in the second half of 1943 (contrary to the Air Force order?). It is curious that the personnel of the units operating the Li-2 aircraft, even after the war, deciphered this name as “licensed, second”.

Although, in my opinion, there is probably logic in renaming the aircraft into Li-2, because none of the above "applicants" in perpetuating their name in the famous American transport aircraft was not an aircraft designer. In addition, Lisunov's surname, as we can see, was ideally suited to the "license" one, and as the chief engineer, Lisunov undoubtedly performed a large amount of work to introduce improvements. The absence of the name of the Soviet designer in the name of the aircraft explained the fact that the aircraft was designed by a foreign designer, and the Li-2 is only licensed, by the way, not the best copy.

Photo Description
Drawing Li-2NB

Drawing Li-2NB (Night Bomber)

Li-2R with ASh-62IR engines

Li-2R with ASh-62IR engines



  • "Encyclopedia of military engineering" /Aerospace Publising/
  • "American Warplanes of World War II" /under cor. David Donald/