Why The AN-2 Plane Was Nicknamed The Maize

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Why The AN-2 Plane Was Nicknamed The Maize
Why The AN-2 Plane Was Nicknamed The Maize

Video: Why The AN-2 Plane Was Nicknamed The Maize

Video: An-2 | The history of the eternal biplane 2022, November

The An-2 aircraft inherited the nickname "maize" from the pre-war agricultural aviation aircraft AIR-1, AIR-2, and then Po-2. The very same nickname was born from the fact that the first agricultural aircraft in the USSR were used to save experimental crops of corn from pests.



Step 1

"Corn" is a hereditary nickname. The An-2 aircraft is the most famous, but not the first and not the last in this glorious family. The history of corn planes began with the USSR and continues to this day.

Step 2

The prehistory of the maize

The 5 main tasks of the first five-year plan included the development of animal husbandry. Scientists sounded the alarm: per capita meat consumption fell to catastrophic levels. If the consumption of animal protein is not brought to the norm, the degeneration of the people is inevitable.

The semi-insane, brutal despot Stalin and his minions cannot yet be denied strategic ability, and the medical warnings were taken seriously. The only way out of the situation was the transition to stall keeping of livestock, which was practiced sporadically in tsarist Russia.

Stall keeping requires a cheap complete feed for ruminants - silage. Its most abundant source is corn. In addition, it provides high-value grains and medicines. Therefore, back in the mid-20s of the last century, corn in the USSR began to be introduced into culture.

But the overseas newcomer first of all came to the taste of domestic pests of agricultural crops: the experimental crops were eaten completely. It was necessary to develop and apply plant protection products.

Experiments in the fields of the All-Union Research Institute of Plant Protection (VNIIZR), created at the same time and still operating, have shown the high cost and low efficiency of manual or mechanized spraying of crops with biocides from the ground. Then someone from Stalin's entourage (according to unverified information, Sergo Ordzhonikidze) suggested using aviation. The decision for that time was far from trivial: agricultural aviation all over the world was still in its infancy.

Step 3

Name history

For the first experiments, the sports cars of Yakovlev AIR-1 and AIR-2 were adapted for spraying. At first, their brave colleagues called the agricultural pilots "cornmen", but soon the ironic nickname acquired an honorable meaning: work in agricultural aviation demanded extreme exertion, attention and the highest flying skills.

Agricultural aviation also required specific machines: cheap and easy to manufacture, economical (a lot of fuel was spent on frequent takeoffs and landings), reliable, not requiring an equipped ground base, hardy, capable of a long low level flight under the control of an average pilot, as they say now - in the mode of following the terrain relief without continuous manual trajectory correction.

AIRs met most of these requirements. They became the first corn planes. But according to one of the conditions, the cars, originally intended for flying clubs, did not pass in any way: their flight resource was small, and during agricultural work, they fell into disrepair literally in a season. An aircraft of a special design was required.

Step 4

The first real maize

I must say that the leaders of the USSR and designers did not have to puzzle over the concept and creation of a new machine: on January 7, 1927, it made its first flight, and in 1929 the legendary light multipurpose biplane U-2 (Po-2) designed by N.N. Polikarpova. Initially, the qualities incorporated into it, with a large excess, satisfied all possible and impossible operating conditions. Including in agricultural aviation, there was also an agricultural modification U-2SX in production, see Fig.

The Po-2 became a "corn man" automatically, by inheritance. But already in the pre-war years he became more famous as a "wolfhound", "forester" and "orderly".

After the civil war, wolves multiplied incredibly, their thousands-strong flocks devoured all living things in winter, including people; the massive extermination of predators from the air made it possible to take control of the wolf population. Aerial patrolling of forests and fighting forest fires also proved to be very effective.

But the main merit of Po-2 before the war - with its help, it was possible to defeat malaria, which mowed people down in the Transcaucasus and Central Asia. Accumulative reservoirs (exhausted, houses) there, for the sake of saving moisture, were densely planted with vegetation, became nurseries for the transmitter of the malaria plasmodium - the anopheles mosquito - and were accessible for sanitization only from the air.

For the pilots, it was a hell of a job, associated with a deadly risk: a whole day, with short breaks for food and refueling, dive after dive into a green well. The slightest wrong movement of the handle or pedals - and the end, there is no headroom. The exceptional flying qualities of the Po-2, however, helped out.

As for corn, experiments with it were postponed by the mid-30s. Agronomists could not understand the reasons for her whims, but for the market animals they managed to get by with clover, lupine and alfalfa so far.

Aircraft Po-2SX
Aircraft Po-2SX

Step 5

The maize goes to war

Because of the war, the civil nicknames Po-2 were largely forgotten, but not because the maize himself remained in the rear. On the contrary, they were completely overshadowed by his military glory: a plywood low-speed biplane with an engine of only 100 hp. unambiguously recognized as the most successful aircraft of the Second World War.

Light night bombers Po-2 initially caused laughter in the Wehrmacht. They were called "Russian plywood", "coffee grinders", "sewing machines". But soon the laughter gave way to uterine horror: all night long, Po-2 quietly, on a low shave with a muffled engine, treated enemy trenches with small bombs as steadily and methodically as fields infected with weevils with pesticides.

I had to re-christen the maize into the "black death", like another legendary plane, the Il-2 attack aircraft, the "night devil" and "vampire". "Russian plywood" did not inflict strong direct damage on the enemy, the weak engine did not allow taking a large combat load. But harassing raids have proven to be extremely effective indirectly. According to Field Marshal von Bock, the loss of the combat capability of the soldiers just because they could not get enough sleep was no less than from direct daytime strikes of the IL-2. Which were by no means weak.

The "Heavenly slug" did not experience large overloads in flight, so many Po-2 regiments were equipped with female crews. The Nazis called them "night witches", and they themselves perceived this name not at all as a metaphor. The secret recommendation of Anenerbe (fascist mystical-esoteric service) is known: the captured "night witches" should not be raped in any way. Otherwise, they say, the Aryan spirit will disappear, and the “yubermensch” will turn into a subhuman.

Step 6

Rebirth in a new quality

The war ended with the triumph of the Soviet Union, and the task was no longer to survive somehow, but to develop comprehensively. In this connection, animal husbandry and silage again acquired special importance.

Meanwhile, the secret of the whims of corn was revealed: it is one of the plants with the so-called kranz syndrome. They need a lot of warmth and light, but they should not be pampered with rich soil and sufficient moisture - the plant will switch its metabolism, the yield will drop, and far from the homeland in higher latitudes it will also start to hurt. It is this circumstance that explains the final rooting of corn in our 50s, and the speeches of the "bald clown" Nikita Khrushchev are just the tip of the iceberg.

The transition to corn silage made it possible to free up a lot of fertile land for food crops, but the pests did not lose their taste for corn. A corn-plane was needed again, but not a Po-2. The heavenly slugs were still in production, but they clearly could not cope with the upcoming volume of work.

And again there was no need to look for a car: in 1947, Antonov An-2 flew.Its concept is the same as that of the Po-2: a multipurpose, cheap, economical and eternal biplane. But the economical engine of A.D.Shvetsov ASh-62IR with 1000 hp. completely transformed the car: the new maize operator was no longer lifting 300 kg of payload with effort, but one and a half tons freely, and a fuel supply of 1240 liters allowed him to stay in the air for more than 6 hours without landing at a cruising speed for agricultural work of 135-150 km / h.

That is, the new maize could work a full shift without diving every now and then to the airfield. As a result, the cost of processing fields has decreased 2-4 times and its use has become economically justified. Why An-2 became a corn-grower forever.

Step 7

The story continues

By the beginning of the 80s, it became necessary to replace the heart of the corn plant. The ASh-62IR, developed before the war, no longer met the requirements of the time: after the oil crisis of the 70s, the price of a barrel of oil jumped fivefold, and the expensive aviation gasoline B-70 did not fit into the economic indicators.

The maize glider seemed (and turned out to be) eternal, so it was decided to simply change the engine to a turboprop engine (TVD) running on cheap kerosene. This is how a new maize plant was born - An-3, originally planned for the agricultural modification of the An-3SKh, see fig. The An-3 made its first flight in 1980.

It turned out to be a difficult task to select or make a turbine engine for the celestial slug, and when the TVD-20 developed specifically for the An-2 in Omsk was completed, the USSR collapsed. Therefore, the new corn machine went into production only in 2000. Engine power 1350 HP allowed to increase the payload up to 1800 kg, and the filling with chemicals for agricultural work up to 2200 liters. An-3 also received new instruments and radio navigation equipment.

An-3SKh aircraft
An-3SKh aircraft

Step 8

The story continues

The operating experience showed that the transfer of the maize plant to the turbine turned out to be erroneous. The theater is economical on airliners, where it operates in optimal mode almost all the time of the flight, and in a “jack of all trades” airplane it consumes too much kerosene for the current prices for oil products. Therefore, An-3 took root well only in the Ministry of Emergencies, where its incredible endurance and "penetrating ability" fit just right. In 2009, the production of a new generation corn machine was discontinued.

Meanwhile, engine engineers, using computer simulations and modern materials, have made a quiet but profound revolution in the development of piston engines. And the need for maize machines has not diminished at all.

The old An-2s were not scrapped, they stand idle. As a glider, they can still fly and fly, only the motors are worn out. Therefore, in the same 2009 in the Russian Federation, a government decree was adopted on the revival of the An-2 park on the basis of remotorization. And then it turned out that it is very difficult to find a ready-made engine worthy of the outstanding qualities of a corn-grower, abroad they have forgotten how to make such durable and hardy motors.

Nevertheless, work is underway to create a new "heart" for the An-2, and we, presumably, will soon be able to see the corn plant in the sky again. The glorious tribe of cornmen will not die out or degenerate: we all really need them.

Step 9

Curious facts

During the war, the first real Po-2 maize operator brought another pleasant surprise to our enemies, and an unpleasant surprise to our enemies. Little is known to the broad masses that radars were already in widespread use during the war. The air defense of Moscow and Leningrad was provided by the Redut radar, and the Pe-3 night fighters with onboard radar made a significant contribution to the destruction of the "air bridge" that the Germans tried to lay to the Paulus army surrounded in Stalingrad.

The Germans also had radars, and very good ones. But they were powerless against Po-2: the plywood and the canvas are transparent for the radar beam. So the heavenly slug was also the then stealth.

An-2 was included in the Guinness Book three times: as the largest single-engine biplane in the world (before the appearance of the An-3), as the longest-lived aircraft (it has been in production for more than 65 years; it is still produced in China under the name Fong Shu-2) and as the most widespread light multipurpose aircraft (more than 18,000 units were produced, of which approximately 11,500 were produced in Poland).

An-2E ekranoplan was created on the basis of An-2, see fig. The ekranoplanes fly using the effect of a dynamic air cushion under the wing of a special configuration. In terms of fuel consumption per ton-kilometer of cargo, they are comparable to lorries, but fly 5-10 times faster. The Russian Federation is the only country in the world that knows how to cost ekranoplanes.Already in the USSR, combat and military transport models were in service, but until the end of the last century they were considered secret. Now the Russian Navy has the Eaglet landing craft and the Lun striker. The beginning of the creation of Soviet / Russian ekranoplanes was laid by the author of the hydrofoils "Raketa", "Meteor", "Kometa" and others. Rostislav Alekseev.

An-2, like his younger brother, did not escape participation in hostilities. He did not deserve the same loud fame, but in several local conflicts he proved to be a good light attack aircraft. Armament - 2 machine guns, 16 NURS and 250 kg of bombs.

After a month of training, a 5-year-old Chinese boy He Ide (Dodo) made an independent flight on the An-2, lasting 35 minutes. Thus, Dodo entered the Guinness Book as the youngest pilot in the world and showed adult pilots: “Just don’t bother the corn man, he will fly himself. And in order not to crash, you don't need to drink before the flight or to yawn on the sides”.


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