To follow up my recent post about making more use of Facebook to supplement my blogs and try to keep things a bit fresh on both of them, I’ve decided to experiment a bit with adding links to extended photo galleries on some blog posts.
To see how this works, I’ve set up an account for this blog on Photobucket and downloaded a small gallery to experiment with.
Our lab specimen for this will be the Cessna O-2 Skymaster page:
This is just a quick note for those of the readership who would like to follow Pickled Wings on Facebook or Twitter.
In the sidebar, you can now find a widget for social media applications with icons for both my Facebook and Twitter presences.
While I had a Twitter widget for sometime and my Twitter account hasn’t changed; I’ve revived the connection to Facebook after a long while of dormancy while I figured out how I best wanted to use that function in connection to my blogs.
I’ve cleaned my Facebook pages for my blogs down to pretty much “clean slate” level, so there isn’t much there at the moment. However, please check in there regularly as I will most likely be making use of them for one off pictures, short notes and extend photo galleries of subjects already covered in the blogs.
If you’re at all a fan of the legendary Sabre jet, Larry Milberry’s exhaustive volume of the subject is one of the best references around. Certain books become known as “The Bible” of a particular subject matter; I would say that if there is a “Bible” on the Sabre, this book deserves to be known as such.
Mr. Milberry recently made a post marking the book’s 30th anniversary. The post included some pictures from the book’s release party in 1986 and also gives you the opportunity to purchase your own copy from his now limited supply of them.
Please visit the post and, if your finances permit, purchase a copy of the book. It is money well spent.
Thirty, even 20 years ago, there still was great enthusiasm for the printed word. When a new aviation book appeared, readers would hurry out to find a copy, and there sure never was a problem filling a room for a book launching. The evolution of the internet has greatly altered this historic scenario – news […]
In the mid 1930s, the Soviet Union expressed an interest in purchasing and license producing certain American aircraft for the national airline, Aeroflot. Among the machines which captured their interest were the Douglas DC-2 airliner and its legendary follow on, the DC-3.
In 1935, a delegation headed by Andrei Tupolev travelled to America to visit a number of American aircraft firms and arrange purchases of aircraft or production licenses. It was through this delgation that a DC-2 was purchased for evaluation.
Once in the Soviet Union, The DC-2 was inspected in great detail and evaluated quite favourably. Shortly after the evaluation, the Soviets proceded with securing production licenses for the DC-2 and DC-3.
The foundation for what would become the Li-2 was laid in the summer of 1936; when a delegation of Soviet aviation professionals which included Boris Lisunov, Vladimir Myasishchev and Anatoliy Senkov were sent to the Douglas aircraft factory in California to observe production methods and begin the labourious task of translating the DC-3 plans and specifications to make them suitable for Soviet production lines. It was a task that would take approximately two years and incorpoarate many more changes to the original DC-3 design than at first anticipated.
A Dakota, and Yet Not
While most references on the Douglas DC-3 include sections on the Soviet variation of the aircraft, they don’t always give fair space to expand upon the differences that existed between it and the Douglas original. If one is to be fair about things, the DC-3 and Li-2 are distant cousins at best once one looks beyond the family resemblance.
Part of the herculean task of translating the DC-3 plans and specifications to Soviet ones was the redrawing of the plans from American measurement units to metric ones. Metric conversion contributed to the Soviet version having a higher weight than the original DC-3. This was the result of the closest equivalent metric calibrated sheet metal for covering the aircraft being slightly thicker than its American counterpart.
Dimensionally, the Soviet variation of the aircraft was slightly smaller in both length and wingspan than the Douglas original. In addition, while the American version had the cargo and passenger boarding doors both on the left side of the fuselage, the Soviet variant moved the passenger door to the right side while retaining the cargo door on the left.
The Shvetsov ASh-62 engines which powered the Soviet version were themselves a development of the Wright R-1820 Cyclone engine which powered early versions of the DC-3. However, like the aircraft themselves, there were many technical differences between the Shvetsov engine and its Wright designed forbear.
A great many more changes took place under the skin of the aircraft, close to 1,300 in total, to meet the Soviet specification for the aircraft. Many of these changes were connected to the Soviet specification doing away with some of the design refinements of the DC-3 in favour of stronger internal structures and winter specific gear.
An assembly facility was established near Moscow and the first aircraft built to Soviet specification, then designated PS-84, was completed in 1938. After a year of testing and evaluation, full production was approved and several had been built by th end of 1940; further production of the airliner version through 1941 provided Aeroflot with a mixed fleet of PS-84 and Douglas built DC-3 aircraft.
While the PS-84 had greater stuctural strength than the DC-3, it did lack the speed and range of the Douglas aircraft. Many references mention that the Shetsov engines were not as reliable as their Wright counterparts and that many of the Soviet made systems, notably radio equipment, were considered inferior to their American made equivalents by aircrew. Many of these same references go further to say that PS-84 crews prefered to fly the DC-3 when they had the chance.
Life in Uniform
The PS-84 became the Lisunov Li-2 in 1942 when production of military specific variants of it began. It must be stated that it was a peculiar choice to involve Boris Lisunov in the aircraft’s name; by 1942, Lisunov had fallen victim to the paranoia of Stalin’s Great Purge which lasted from 1936 to 1938. His involvement in the aircraft was well in the past by the time his name was put on it.
As with the Dakota, the Li-2’s main stock in trade during the Second World War was as a transport, medevac aircraft, glider tug and paratroop carrier. However, unlike the military variants of the Dakota, the Li-2 could often be seen fitted with defensive guns in place on either side of the rear fuselage and a dorsal gun turret.
Notable use of the Li-2 as a bomber was also made. Though crude and improvised, Li-2s flew many night bombing missions during the Battle of Stalingrad and later conflicts. The bomber versions of the aircraft had external fittings for carrying bombs as well as carrying bombs internally which could be tossed out the rear cargo door by the crew. As the war progressed, bomber versions of the aircraft were subject to a series of incremental improvements.
Beyond World War II, the Li-2 also saw use in the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Though the systematic replacement of the Li-2 began with the advent of the Ilyushin Il-12 and Il-14 in the 1950s; it proved a stubbornly long lived aircraft. The militaries of at least 14 nations used the aircraft extensively in the post war era and the type was known to be flying in military service until at least the mid 1970s with some limited service being observed into the 1980s. Outside of the transport role, military Li-2s saw use in reconnaissance and surveillance roles as well as radiation sampling, electronic warfare and intelligence gathering.
During the Cold War period, the Li-2 recieved the reporting name “Cab” in NATO’s code naming system for Soviet aircraft.
The post war civil career of the Li-2 was also a varied one. The aircraft was modified for work in polar regions and at high altitudes. Additionally, the aircraft was fitted for forest fire work, fisheries monitoring and meteorological studies to name a few.
What Remains and Learning More
Of nearly 5000 built, a number of Li-2s remain extant in whole or partial form in museums. Between at least 15 and 20 can be found in museums across central Europe, Russia and China as of 2016. No doubt there are several others standing alone on pedestals or corroding away anonymously in more remote locations.
Since 2004, the world has known only a single airworthy Lisunov Li-2. Part of the Goldtimer Foundation collection at the historic Budaors airfield in Budapest, Hungary; HA-LIX makes appearances at a variety of European airshows resplendent in period colours of the former Hungarian air carrier, Malév.
This link will take you to the Li-2 page of the Goldtimer Foundation website and give you some insights into the restoration of HA-LIX:
Today, I paid a visit to the air museum in Kunovice. Regular visitors to Pickled Wings will be familiar with this museum in the south east of the Czech Republic through my existing article on it that can be found in the sidebar menus.
My visit today reacquainted me with the museum’s collection of longstanding exhibits and gave me the opportunity to take some new pictures to freshen up the existing article with. It also enlightened me as to the progress of some exciting new and upcoming developments the museum has in store.
Putting Out a New Welcome Mat
Without a doubt, the biggest change for 2016 is the museum’s fresh new entry building which houses the ticket desk, souvenir shop and display cases with a number of aviation related items. This is a huge improvement over the cramped and uninspiring shed that formerly housed these facilities.
The selection of souvenirs is respectably varied. It contains T-shirts and coffee mugs of many designs, keychains, stickers, patches, postcards and magnets among others.
Velký Přelet – The Great Flight
Perhaps the most exciting development the museum will see over the next couple of years will be the inclusion of a major new exhibit in the collection: The Nagano Express.
The Nagano Express is one of two retired Czech air force Tupolev Tu-154 transports that have been sitting idle in a corner of Prague’s Kbely airport since they were retired in 2007. Happily, both aircraft will be preserved thanks to the air museums of Kunovice and Olomouc.
Since taking possession of the aircraft, crews from both museums have been making regular trips to Kbely to begin restoration work and prepare the aircraft for land transport to their respective new homes sometime in 2016. While the aircraft must be moved from Prague before the end of 2016, it may be a year or two more before they go on public display.
The Velký Přelet project recently raised more than enough money through internet crowd funding to finance the land transportation plus several improvements to the aircraft such as fresh paint.
The Nagano Express has it’s place in Czech aviation history as the aircraft that was used to transport the Olympic gold medal winning 1998 Czech hockey team home from Nagano, Japan.
An english summary of this project can be found on the museum website:
Today, we have lost legendary test pilot Eric “Winkle” Brown at the age of 97.
Brown was one of the most legendary test pilots in history as well as the Royal Navy’s most decorated pilot. In his flying career, he flew a record 487 different aircraft types and made a record 2407 aircraft carrier landings.
Immediately following the end of the Second World War, Brown test flew and evaluated a number of captured German aircraft. Notable among these flights is the only official flight of an Allied pilot in the notoriously dangerous Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet rocket powered fighter.
Fluent in German, Brown was selected to travel to Germany in 1957 to help train pilots of the newly established German navy’s air arm.
After his military service, Brown wrote several books and gave many lectures on aviation related subjects.
Clear skies to you Mr. Brown. Thanks so much for your service and contibutions.