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Soviet Polikarpov U-2 bomber, trainer; Polikarpov Po-2 bomber, trainer


Polikarpov Po-2 bomber:
USSR's Polikarpov Po-2 bomber


The Polikarpov U-2 was to be a replacement for the U-1 trainer. Nikolai Polikarpov designed the plane in 1927.

Russian troops called the U-2 the Kukuruzhnik (corn cutter).

In 1944 the U-2 was renamed the Po-2 to recognize Polikarpov's role in its creation. He had died and this was to honor him.


The Po-2 had a composite skeleton and a fabric cover.


The engine did not have a cowling in most variants.


The pilot and the rear passenger each had a windscreen. A few models had enclosed cabins.


The wings each had ailerons that were connected by cables. The tips of the lower wings had skids that protected the wings if the undercarriage failed.

The wings were in a staggered layout. There was a single set of struts bracing the wings.


There were cables that went along the fuselage that connected to the elevators. One aircraft had the controls connected to the control column.


The rudder was tall with a broad chord. This was linked to the cockpit by control cables.


The U-2PK prototype first flew in 1927. It had poor flight characteristics and the redesigned prototype flew on January 7, 1928.


After World War II production was resumed.

  • Total: >20,000, ~33,000
    • Manufacturer: State Industries
    • Production: 1928 - 1944, 1928 - 1952

Invasion by Germany

By June 1941 there had been 13,000 U-2s produced.


A total of 80 variants were produced. Some of these were training, observation, light attack, night bombers, psychological warfare, crop dusting, float plane, and ambulances.

  • Polikarpov U-2PK: Prototype.
  • Polikarpov U-2 / Polikarpov Po-2:
  • Polikarpov U-2GN: Loudspeaker equipped.
  • Polikarpov U-2LSh: A light Shturmovik.
  • Polikarpov U-2LNB: Light bomber. Engine was silenced for night raids.
  • Polikarpov U-2NAK: Air observation and night artillery direction.
  • Polikarpov U-2P: Seaplane.
  • Polikarpov U-2S: Ambulance.
  • Polikarpov U-2SP: Three seats.
  • Polikarpov U-2SPL: Passenger carrier. Rear cabin was enclosed for two passengers.
  • Polikarpov U-2VS / Polikarpov Po-2VS:
  • Polikarpov U-2UT: Trainer.
  • Polikarpov Po-2ShS: Had an enclosed cabin and could cary the pilot and three passengers.
  • Polikarpov Po-2SKF: Could carry two stretcher patients under the wings in pods.
  • ???: Had floats installed with a Wright Cyclone 720 HP engine. Set altitude records for seaplanes in 1937.


Finland, Germany, Romania, and the Soviet Union used the Polikarpov U-2 during World War II.

Approximately 100 air regiments were equipped with the U-2.

Eastern Front

Some U-2s flew nighttime nuisance raids against the Axis forces in Russia.

After World War II

Production was resumed and NATO designated it "Mule" in 1954.

Poland and the Soviet Union produced the Po-2s from 1948 to 1953.

Korean War

Po-2s were used in the nighttime nuisance raids against UN forces in the Korean War.


  Polikarpov U-2 / Po-2
Type Trainer, Multi purpose utility
Crew 2, 2 or 3
Engine (Type) M.11, Shvetsov M-11
Cylinders Radial 5
Cooling Air
HP 100 - 125, 110
Propeller blades 2
Span 37' 5"
Upper wing span 37' 5"
11.4 m
Lower wing span 34' 11.5"
10.65 m
Length 26' 9"
8.15 m
Height 9' 7", 9' 11"
2.92 m
Wing area  
Empty 1,350 - 1,400 lb
612 - 635 kg
Loaded 1,962 - 2,167 lb, 2,167 lb
890 - 983 kg
Speed @ sea level  
Speed 91 mph
Minimum speed 40 mph
64 kph
Maximum speed 93 mph
150 kph
Landing speed  
Service ceiling 13,120', 13,125'
4,000 m
Range 248 - 329 miles, 267 miles
400 - 530 km
Armament 1: MG
Rear cockpit 1: 7.62 mm MG
Bombs 550 lb
Under wings 550 lb ordnance
250 kg ordnance
  Polikarpov U-2VS
Type Trainer, Bomber
Crew 2
Engine (Type) M-11
Cylinders Radial 5
Cooling Air
HP 100
Propeller blades 2
Span 37' 5"
11.4 m
Upper wing span  
Lower wing span  
Length 26' 9"
8.17 m
Height 10' 2"
3.1 m
Wing area 357 ft2
33.15 m2
Empty 1,397 lb
635 kg
Loaded 1,958 lb
890 kg
Speed @ sea level 97 mph
156 kph
Minimum speed  
Maximum speed  
Landing speed 43 mph
69 kph
Service ceiling 13,000'
4,000 m
Range 250 miles
400 km
Rear cockpit 1: 7.7 mm ShKAS MG
Under wings 260 lb bombs
120 kg bombs
AND 4: RS-82 Rockets


  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  3. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site