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Lisunov Li-2/ PS-84

Lisunov Li-2/ PS-84

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Lisunov Li-2/ PS-84

The Lisunov Li-2 was a version of the Douglas DC-3 produced under licence in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union purchased 22 DC-3s and manufacturing rights through Amtorg, its commercial arm in the United States. Boris P. Lisunov was sent to Douglas’s Santa Monica plant in 1938, and spent the next two years studying their manufacturing techniques.

Production began at State Aircraft Plant No.84, in Moscow, before the German invasion forced production to move to Tashket. The aircraft was designated the PS-84 until 17 September 1942, and then became the Lisunov Li-2.

The cargo door on the Li-2 was moved forward, placing it just behind the wing trailing edge, and was a different shape to the standard C-47 door. Passenger transports had their door on the starboard side.

Early aircraft were powered by the 900hp Shvetsov M-62 radial engine, a Soviet development of the Shvetsov M-24, itself a licence-built version of the Wright R-1820 Cyclone. Later aircraft received the 1,200hp ASh-62. The engine cowlings were modified to take these engines.

A number of Li-2s were armed with up to three machine guns, one in a manually powered dorsal turret that could be armed with either a 12.7mm or 7.62mm machine gun, while two more guns could be mounted in windows positioned behind the cargo door. The armed version of the Li-2 was sometimes used as a night bomber, carrying 4,000lb of bombs below the wing centre section or rockets under the outer wings.

Nearly 3,000 Li-2s were constructed during the Second World War, and production continued for some time after the war. The Li-2 remained in use in the Soviet Union until the 1970s, and was also used in large numbers by Eastern Bloc countries.

Engines: Shvetsov M-62 x2
Power: 900hp
Wing span: 94ft 10 3/16in
Length: 64ft 5 5/8in
Empty weight: 16,976lb
Loaded weight: 23,589lb
Maximum weight: 24,868lb
Maximum speed: 174mph
Cruising speed: 137mph
Service ceiling: 18,375ft

Lisunov Li-2

The Lisunov Li-2, originally designated PS-84, was a license-built version of the Douglas DC-3. It was produced by GAZ/State Factory #84 in Moscow-Khimki and, after evacuation in 1941, at TAPO in Tashkent. The project was directed by aeronautical engineer Boris Pavlovich Lisunov.

Despite the original intention to incorporate as few changes as necessary to the basic design, the GAZ-84 works documented over 1,200 engineering changes from the Douglas engineering drawings, and it was no small task for Vladimir Myasishchev to change all dimensions from U.S. customary units to metric units. Some of the changes were substantial, such as the use of the Russian Shvetsov ASh-62IR engines, a Soviet development of the nine-cylinder Wright R-1820.

Some military versions of the Li-2 also had bomb racks and a dorsal turret, unlike the military C-47 development of the DC-3.


* There had been considerations of what else might be done with the PS-84 before the German invasion, with concepts drawn up of machines with various powerplants, including liquid-cooled and diesel engines a staff transport a "gunship" version, to be armed with an array of heavy cannon and machine guns and a bomber version. The only option that was seriously investigated in this timeframe was to modify the PS-84 to create a machine that could be easily converted in the field between passenger, troop carrier, cargolifter, or medevac configurations. A prototype of the "PS-84-K", as this convertible variant was known, was converted from an early production PS-84, but this machine performed a crash landing in bad weather in January 1940 and had to be written off. A second prototype was put together and state trials began in the spring.

The PS-84-K's most prominent feature was a large cargo door that opened upward and outward on the left side of the rear fuselage a paratroop door that opened inward and upward was embedded in the cargo door. The regular door on the other side of the fuselage was retained. The floor was reinforced to handle cargo, and a crane was fitted behind the cargo door to simplify loading and unloading of freight. 27 tip-up seats could be installed along the walls for passenger carriage.

The PS-84-K could be configured as a paratroop transport by setting up two rows of benches back-to-back along the centerline installing static parachute release lines. 24 fully-equipped paratroops could be carried. The aircraft could also be configured for the medevac role, fitted with eighteen stretchers -- a row of nine along each wall of the fuselage, with the rows in tiers of three. Two walking wounded and a medical attendant could be accommodated on tip-up seats. When configured for the medevac mission the machine was designated the "PS-84-I" once the medevac kit was yanked, it was just a plain PS-84-K again.

* After passing trials, the PS-84-K was recommended for production, but it didn't happen. It would have meant modifying the production line, and the PS-84-K was more complicated to build. Given the pressures of events, nobody wanted to interrupt or slow down production, and so the PS-84 was modified to a compromise multirole configuration -- with the cargo door, but no crane and no strengthened floor. The machine could be fitted with 25 tip-up seats or set up for medevac operation.

The German invasion was staggeringly successful at first, and the Soviets would not completely reverse the tide against them until 1943. Aeroflot had been put on a war footing after the invasion and employed its PS-84s for military supply and transport missions. The crews generally had little or no combat training, having only flown commercial routes in the past, but they sometimes conducted themselves heroically under extremely dangerous circumstances. The PS-84s often operated in forward areas where they stood a good chance of being attacked, and they had no defenses. A repair depot came up with a scheme for installing a turret on top of the forward fuselage, as well as a machine gun on a flexible mount at each side of the rear fuselage. The armament fits were varied, depending on what spare turrets and machine guns were at hand.

From July 1941, the existing PS-84 fleet was gradually upgraded to an armed configuration the armament cut into performance and payload, but it was far better than being helplessly shot down in flames. A few Luftwaffe pilots were shot down when they pounced on an "easy kill", without realizing that it could fight back their surviving brethren became more cautious in their attacks on the PS-84. By August 1941, new-build PS-84s were rolling off the production line fitted with armament from the start.

The initial armament configuration was an MV-3 turret with a 7.62 millimeter (0.30 caliber) ShKAS machine gun. Armament was quickly improved by adding two DA machine guns of similar caliber in the fuselage positions, as well as a ShKAS gun fitted in a fixed position in the nose -- not surprisingly, the nose gun was almost useless, and was later deleted. The armament was later upgraded to a UTK-1 turret with a UBT 12.7 millimeter (0.50 caliber) machine gun, with the beam positions fitted with ShKAS instead of DA machine guns. Both the ShKAS and DA fired the same 7.62 millimeter round, but the ShKAS had a substantially greater rate of fire. Sometimes additional machine guns were installed in windows in the field.

Given the severity of the military situation in 1942, it wasn't surprising that the PS-84 was thrown into action as an offensive weapon. In the spring of that year, a few PS-84s fitted with belly bomb racks in the field took part in raids on Finland -- operating at night, since they were too vulnerable for daylight attacks. Soviet Premier Josef Stalin personally liked the idea of using the PS-84 as a night bomber, and the appropriate directives went down from the Kremlin to make it happen.

As it emerged, the bomber version of the PS-84 featured the four-gun defensive armament of the military transport variants, with racks for four bombs under the belly. A window for a bombsight was pigeonholed into the baggage loading door on the left side of the nose -- the bomber did not have nose glazing. There were three windows in the door, and the bombardier had to hinge the bottom window out to deploy the bombsight for use.

Bombload was either four FAB-250 250-kilogram (550-pound) general purpose bombs, or two FAB-500 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) general purpose bombs. Sometimes four RRAB-250 250-kilogram cluster bombs were carried instead of FABs. In principle, the bomb racks could also carry two 500-kilogram liquid dispensers -- an odd weapon that could be filled with toxic agents or inflammable liquids. It is unclear if the liquid dispensers were ever used operationally.

Parachute-dropped supply canisters could be carried in place of munitions. The bomber variant could still be used as a transport, and in fact it was really less a bomber and more a multirole machine that could be pressed into various services as the need arose. Other changes included an inert gas system that fed cooled engine exhaust gases into the fuel tanks to reduce battle fire hazard, plus structural reinforcements. There was no improvement in engine power, and so performance degraded again.

The bomber variant was accepted for service in September 1942, to be given the designation "Lisunov 2" or "Li-2". The choice of designation was odd because Boris Lisunov was only one of a number of senior engineers on the project and arguably not the most prominent of them. However, all the Soviet DC-3s became "Li-2s" from that time on. Following the production of other variants, late-production Li-2 night bombers, with improved kit, were given the designation of "L-2NB" -- where "NB" stood for "nochnoy bombardirovshchik (night bomber)". It is unclear if the Li-2NB designation was retroactively applied to earlier machines in the series.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 5-6
  • Capacity: 20+ passengers
  • Length: 19.65 m (64 ft 5 in)
  • Wingspan: 28.81 m (94 ft 6 in)
  • Height: ()
  • Empty weight: 7,750 kg (17,485 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 10,700 kg (23,589 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 11,280 kg (24,867 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2× Shvetsov ASh-62IR 4-bladed VISh-21, 746 kW (1,000 hp) each

3 × 7.62 mm (.30 in) ShKAS machine guns
1× 12.7 mm (.50 in) UBK machine gun
1,000 kg bombs (normal load)
2,000 kg (4,409 lb) of bombs (short distances)

Lisunov Li-2

The PS-84 had flown with Aeroflot primarily as a passenger transport before World War II. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941 many of the PS-84s were taken into military use and redesignated the Lisunov Li-2 in 1942. The military models were equipped with a 7.62 mm (.30 in) ShKAS machine gun, and later with a 12.7 mm (.50 in) UBK heavy machine gun. The aircraft were used for transport, partisan supply, bombing, and as ambulance aircraft. A version designated Li-2VV (Vojenny Variant = military variant) had a redesigned nose for extra defensive armament and could carry up to four 250 kg (551 lb) bombs under the wings. Smaller bombs could be carried inside the fuselage and thrown out the freight hatch by the crew.

A total of 4,937 aircraft were produced of all Li-2 versions between 1940 and 1954 and it saw extensive use in Eastern Europe until the 1960s. The last survivors in use were noted in China and Vietnam during the 1980s. There were many versions, including airliner, cargo, military transport, reconnaissance, aerial photography, parachute drop, bomber, and high-altitude variants. The Li-2 also saw extensive service in the Chinese Air Force in the 1940s and 1950s. Lisunov Li-2 of Aeroflot at Monino near Moscow in 1994

Several airlines operated Lisunov Li-2s, among others Aeroflot, CAAK, CSA, LOT, Malév, Polar Aviation, TABSO and Tarom .

Specifications (Li-2)

Wingspan: 28.81 m (94 ft 6 in)

Empty weight: 7,750 kg (17,485 lb)

Loaded weight: 10,700 kg (23,589 lb)

Max takeoff weight: 11,280 kg (24,867 lb)

Powerplant: 2× Shvetsov ASh-62IR 4-bladed VISh-21, 746 kW (1,000 hp) each

Maximum speed: 300 km/h (186 mph)

Cruise speed: 245 km/h (152 mph)

Range: 1,100-2,500 km (685-1,550 mi)

3 × 7.62 mm (.30 in) ShKAS machine guns

1× 12.7 mm (.50 in) UBK machine gun

1,000 kg bombs (normal load)

2,000 kg (4,409 lb) of bombs (short distances)

There is only one Li-2 restored to airworthy condition. Hungarian registered HA-LIX was built in 1949 in Airframe Factory Nr.84 (GAZ-84) of Tashkent, as serial number 18433209 and still flies sightseeing tours and regularly participates at air shows.

Original passenger airliner, equipped with 14-28 seats. Somewhat smaller span and higher empty weight, it was also equipped with lower-powered engines compared to the DC-3. The cargo door was also transposed to the right side of the fuselage.

Redesignation of PS-84s impressed into military use.

Paratroop transport version (1942), with reinforced floor and tie-downs, plus cargo doors (slightly smaller than the C-47 doors) on the left.

Aerial photography version.

Military transport aircraft with defensive armament (designation started from 17 September 1942).

Basic civil passenger model (1945).

Civil “combi” passenger-cargo version.

“Reconnaissance” version, with bulged windows fitted behind the cockpit.

Polish bomber trainer version.

High-altitude weather surveillance version of the Li-2, equipped with turbocharged engines.

Transport/bomber version (1942)

Yugoslavian version equipped with American Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engines (similar to the DC-3)


The Soviet Union received its first DC-2 in 1935. Although a total of 18 DC-3s had been ordered on 11 April 1936, the Soviets purchased 21 DC-3s for operation by Aeroflot before World War II. A production license was awarded to the Soviets on 15 July 1936. Lisunov spent two years at the Douglas Aircraft Company, between November 1936 and April 1939 translating the design. One of the engineers who accompanied him to Douglas was Vladimir Mikhailovich Myasishchev. The Soviet version was given the designation PS-84 - Passazhirskiy Samolyot 84, passenger airplane 84 (i.e. made in GAZ/State Plant No. 84). The design incorporated 1,293 engineering change orders on the original Douglas drawings, involving part design, dimensions, materials and processes. Β]

Despite the original intention to incorporate as few changes as necessary to the basic design, Γ] the GAZ-84 works documented over 1,200 engineering changes from the Douglas engineering drawings, and it was no small task for Vladimir Myasishchev to change all dimensions from U.S. customary units to metric units. Δ] Some of the changes were substantial, such as the use of the Russian Shvetsov ASh-62IR engines, a Soviet development of the nine-cylinder Wright R-1820.

The Russian standard design practice also usually mandated fully shuttered engines in order to cope with the extreme temperatures. A slightly shorter span was incorporated but many of the other alterations were less evident. The passenger door was moved to the right side of the fuselage, with a top-opening cargo door on the left side in place of the original passenger door. The structural reinforcement included slightly heavier skins necessitated since the metric skin gauges were not exact duplicates of the American alloy sheet metal. Standard Russian metric hardware was different and the various steel substructures such as engine mounts and landing gear, wheels, and tires were also quite different from the original design. Later modifications allowed the provision of ski landing gear in order to operate in remote and Arctic regions. The first PS-84s began to emerge from the GAZ-84 production line by 1939. Ε]

By the time Nazi Germany invaded the USSR on 22 June 1941, 237 PS-84s had been built at GAZ-84, all in civil passenger configuration. In response to the invasion, the Kremlin set in motion a plan to relocate much of the industrial capability of the Soviet Union to the East, with production of the Li-2 ending up at GAZ-33 in Tashkent, now the capital of Uzbekistan. After a monumental struggle, the factory was rolling out PS-84s again by January 1942. Β] Ζ]

GAZ-124 at Kazan also built 10 aircraft before the start of World War II, and 353 Li-2Ts were built by GAZ-126 at Komsomolsk-na-Amure between 1946 and 1950 before this plant switched to MiG-15 production in 1950. Η]

Some military versions of the Li-2 also had bomb racks and a dorsal turret, unlike the military C-47 development of the DC-3.


To relieve the pressure on the factory, Douglas sold the licenses to manufacture the DC-3 to three countries Holland, Japan, and Russia. A royalty paid to Douglas for each aircraft manufactured was part of the license agreement. Tony Fokker never manufactured any DC-3s for Holland, but he distributed 63 before the war in Europe ended his operation. Fokker died of pneumonia complicated by meningitis a week before Germany invaded Holland.

In 1935, the State Commission of the USSR under the guidance of aircraft designer A.N. Tupolev purchased in the U.S. the Douglas DC-2 aircraft. After extensive testing, it was decided to purchase a license for its production back in the USSR.

A Russian Li-2 flying over the snow covered Russian terrain. (FLARF)

In the summer of 1935 a special commission from the USSR arrived at the Douglas Aircraft Corp plant and after much discussion and evaluation chose the more advanced Douglas DC-3 aircraft.

On July 17, 1935 an agreement was signed with Douglas in the amount in excess of 350,000 rubles to license the DC-2. The contract stated that the USSR was not only buying a license to build the aircraft, but Soviet engineers would be trained As part of this agreement, in 1937-1938 the USSR purchased 21 DC-3s.

The Russians imported 21 prewar DC-3s and two unassembled airframes. Initially the Russians designated their home-built DC-3s, PS-84 (Passazhirskii Samolet -Plant 84 ). In early November 1938, the first aircraft rolled off the assembly line from imported U.S. parts. From September to December 1939, the aircraft passed Government tests and was recommended for release to flight. The aircraft was designated the PS-84.

On September 17, 1942, the Soviets renamed them “Li-2s,” after Boris P. Lisunov, the aeronautical engineer who supervised production (Lisunov had spent almost two years in the United States, in Santa Monica, studying DC-3 production methods). The Russians built at least 3,500 DC-3s and according to Douglas records, a Russian official of the old Soviet Union said they built as many as 7,500. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union there have been unsubstantiated and no doubt exaggerated reports that Russia built as many as 20,000 Li-2s. Russia has never paid Douglas a cent in license fees.

Li-2-315 (Pierre-Alain Petit via Grady Cates

The PS-84 used the 900 hp Shvetsov M-62 engine (developed from the licensed Wright SGR-1820F which powered the DC-2) and the engine configuration gave the nacelles a narrower chord. Even after they upgraded the engines to 1200 hp ASH-62, the nacelle shape remained close to the first models .
Besides receiving civilian DC-3s the Russians also received 707 Lend Lease C-47s. After the war, the survivors went to Aeroflot, the Russian state-owned airline, and other Communist bloc countries, and were in service up through the 1970s. American ferry crews, either from the Air Transport Command or by contracted airline pilots, delivered most of the Russian Lend Lease C-47s to Fairbanks, Alaska. The Russian pilots took over from there and delivered the ships to Russia.

Between the Lend Lease and Russian production, the numbers were so large that the survivors remained in service with some being observed in China, and with Aeroflot in the remote parts of Russia as late as 1980.

This photo of Li-2 FLARF gives some detail of the metal engine covers. (Court Munk, 1994)

Holland’s KLM Airline was the principal purchaser of the DC-3s, buying a total of 25. Sweden, Swissair, Czechoslovakia (CSA), France, Poland, Hungary, Australia (ANA), Sabena, and Romania (LARES) purchased the rest.

©Copyright Henry M. Holden 1996, 2013

For the complete story on the Douglas DC-3 see “Legacy of the DC-3”

Lisunov Li-2/ PS-84 - History

Lisunov Transports in Arctic Service
Perhaps the most widely flown aircraft in the hundred years of powered aviation, the Douglas DC-3 is perhaps the classic aeronautical design. The beloved 'Dakota' has been a stalwart and trusty servant of nations worldwide for more than half of the entire epoch of modern flight a record which has known--and probably never will--any equal, anywhere.

Perhaps it is the DC-3's widespread service that is even more impressive. In every corner of the world the aircraft has served in myriad roles, in the very worst of all meteorological and operating conditions, and surely in ways never envisioned at the time of its inspired design. This fact is highlighted, indeed, by the remarkable history of license manufacture of the DC-3, spanning 20 years and a dozen countries.

At the time of this writing, Airwaves has just annonced the imminent release of a series of resin conversion sets in 1:48 scale to make a Soviet Li-2 and PS-84 from the Monogram DC-3 kit. We understand that the first release will be a set of corrected engine cowlings for the PS-84 airliner (this should be followed by an MV-3 turret and various doors and windows for the Li-2 bomber and transport versions). To celebrate this fine release, we here present an article on colourful PS-84 aircraft in Soviet service hopefully it will whet the appetites of modelers and we'll see some wonderful conversions soon.

In the USSR, great interest was shown in the Douglas DC airliners, and an example of the DC-2 was purchased in 1936. Following examinations by both of the major testing fraternities (the LII and NII VVS), Aeroflot, and by some of the design staff at Zavod 84, the decision was taken by GUAP to pursue a license for series manufacture in the Soviet Union. By this time, numbers of the Douglas DST, or DC-3, began to operate in airlines worldwide, and negotiations shifted to permission to manufacture this newer model.

An extensive and somewhat complicated license production agreement was signed on 15 July 1936. The contract included not only the purchase of several pattern aircraft (21 in all later being supplied), but also made provision for Soviet designers to study the aircraft's construction techniques at the Douglas factory in Santa Monica, California. One of the Senior Engineers from Zavod 84, B. Lisunov, arrived at once in America and began a survey of the advanced techniques employed in the DC-3 programme. Despite the rather asinine and farcical comments made by certain Western authors on the matter, a full payment for the production license was indeed made by the Soviet Government in 1936 (the amount is unknown, and has never been disclosed), in addition to several later payments made for consultation and assistance during early manufacture.

Deliveries of the pattern aircraft were quite slow (not completed until 1939), and the American government sought numerous times to block, annul, and cancel the production license and contract. After much political battling, a USA export license and permission to sell the manufacturing rights to the Soviet AMTORG holding was at last granted on 4 April 1938. By this time, Lisunov had been in California for nearly two years, and was, therefore, well prepared to head the license manufacturing program upon his return to the Soviet Union.

Back at Zavod 84, Lisunov was placed in charge of the license DC-3 programme and the aircraft designated the PS-84 (essentially, 'passenger aircraft from Factory 84'). Later military versions were designated Li-2, in keeping with the revised naming system (noting the Head Designer, not the aircraft type) which followed in 1940. The civil passenger version, however, was not renamed, and remained the PS-84 (at least officially) throughout its operational life.

Of the many areas in the vast Soviet Union, service in the frozen North was amongst the most demanding of all operational regions. However, the PS-84 and Li-2 were favourites in this difficult environment, and served very well under these trying conditions.

There were several services in Soviet aviation operating the PS-84 and Li-2 in the Arctic zone. The most prominent service was the Polyarnaya Aviatsiya (Polar Aviation), or Aviaarktika, as it was commonly known. Aviaarktika was a civil airfleet and service, and had very close (and sometime indistinguishable) connections to Aeroflot and other branches of scientific and medical aviation. Aeroflot, the State Airlines, also operated a regular service in the Arctic, flying to many destinations, and including the famous Northern Sea Route (also served by Aviaarktika). Sanaviatsiya(Sanitary Aviation) was the medical branch of civil aviation directly associated with the Committee of the Red Cross/Crescent in the USSR. Sanaviatsiya also operated specialized Arctic flights, these often in conjunction with Aviaarktika and others. In addition, there were independent scientific flights meteorological flights an Arctic testing flight from the LII and other sundry organizations with Arctic aviation experience.

The following are aircraft serving in various aviation organizations in the Far North. [ Ed Note: All of the details were taken from issues of Modelist Konstuktur and Krilya Rodinu magazines, and alas do not constitute any original research by ourselves. ]

PS-84 c/r (Civil Registration) SSSR-N328
Aviaartika service, Krasnoyarsk - Dudinka route, 1947?

SSSR-N328 served with the Aviaarktika service on one of the primary Arctic routes during the 1940s. The exact date of the photograph has not been established, but other authors have given the year as 1947, which is certainly plausible.

N328 was fitted with ski type landing gear at the time it was photographed. The ski gear could be exchanged for normal tyres quite easily, and it is likely that this aircraft operated with both from time to time. There was also a type of main gear ski that could be attached to the tyre in the field. The windows aft of the main windscreen appear to have been omitted.

This aircraft wears a classic Aviaarktika finish consisting of a high-visibility red-orange colour on many of the upper surfaces over an unpainted metal base. The ailerons on the wing lower surface were striped with this colour, as well. The Civil Registration was rendered in black over the dural (unpainted) areas, and as 'exposed' metal surface colour over red-orange. The cowlings were nicely trimmed in red-orange, and the machine looked to have been in impeccable condition and free from grime. The inscription on the nose in white (both sides) reads, "Aviaartika".

PS-84 c/r SSSR-N359
Aviaartika service, Anadir - Kamenskoe - Ust-Kamchatsk route, 1952

N359 was another classic Aviaarktika machine serving in the northern Kamchatka Peninsula region. The aircraft was photographed in 1952 while delivering fishing supplies to a small collection of Chukchi (Inuits).

SSSR-N359 is thought to wear the usual Aviaartika finish of red-orange over unpainted metal. However, in an older issue of Modelist Konstruktur magazine, the colouration is suggested to be a "light red colour similar to that of Imperial Russia". Early issues of MK are notorious for their inappropriate and spurious colour suggestions, but, to be fair, such an interpretation might look like this drawing.

However, it must be said that such colouration is highly unlikely. The cowlings on this aircraft looked to have been unusually well polished, and generate considerable light reflection.

N359 carried the "Aviaarktika" inscription on the nose (probably both sides) in red-orange, and all Civil Registration markings were in black. The aircraft was fitted with removable ski gear at the time it was photographed, and many Aviaarktika PS-84s carried such strap-on skis in the rear of the fuselage.

PS-84 c/r SSSR-K602
Sanaviatsiya service, based at Kacha, 1949

SSSR-K602 was photographed at the large northern Kacha airbase, which served both military and civilian flights. K602 appears to have had a long and substantial career, and appeared on the IRC's Foreign Registration as late as 1960.

K602 was largely finished in the usual civilian manner for PS-84s with unpainted metal surfaces. However, the rear of the fuselage and upper stabilizers were painted an over-all red colour, this probably a concession to working in the Arctic zone. Red crosses were carried on the wing undersurfaces and nose, and in the IRC-proscribed white disc on the fuselage. The Civil Registrations were rendered in black.

The aircraft sports an usual letter 'K' on the rudder. The meaning of this marking is unknown, but it might merely suggest Sanaviatsiya service (K--- was the usual registration of these types). The 'K' marking looks to have been in white.

PS-84 c/r SSSR-Zh
Aeroflot (?) service, route unknown, 1950

SSSR-Zh was photographed at the main airfield in Okhostk in 1950. The photograph caption states that the aircraft was in Aviaarktika service on "Polar routes". However, I do not believe that this aircraft was an Aviaarktika machine. The registration SSSR-Zh is unusual, and so far as I know the only service with similar markings was Aeroflot. Furthermore, only Aeroflot airliners seemed to have omitted the registrations on the wing undersurfaces at times, which is how this aircraft seemed to have appeared. It is possible the this machine belonged to a scientific flight or other service, but to me Aeroflot seems the most likely.

SSSR-Zh was finished it what seems to have been the red-orange Arctic colouration over unpainted dural surfaces. The cowlings are expertly trimmed in the same colour, and there was a similar wonderful stripe along the fuselage. The Civil Registrations look to have been black, and applied to the upper wing surface only. The upper surface wing tips were also painted in red-orange.

The inscription on the nose clearly states, "Arktika II", and not "Aviaarktika" as it would usually do in that service. To my mind this is yet more evidence that the machine did not belong to Aviaarktika as well, Aeroflot also was known to have operated a machine titled "Arktika III". The inscription seems to have been in white, and probably on both sides.

PS-84 c/r SSSR-M201
Aeroflot service, Yakutsk - Kharbovsk - Vladivostok route, 1954

SSSR-M201 was a spectacular Aeroflot airliner of some considerable pedigree. The machine was photographed in its Arctic appearance in 1954 at Yakutsk. M201 started its known service life on the prestigious Rostov - Tehran route, where it remained until at least 1952. It was later transferred to Arctic service along the equally important Far East Northern Route.

M201 wore a typical civilian unpainted dural finish. The beautiful red trim seems to have adorned the machine throughout its life, but the tail was originally painted with a red 'flash'. The entire rear fuselage was later repainted in red altogether, this probably for Arctic operation. The red finish was very bright, and described in Russian literature as the colour aliy (scarlet).

The Civil Registrations were painted on the wing upper surfaces in red, and elsewhere in black. The aircraft was immaculately turned out in the photo (as might be expected), and looked to be in factory-fresh condition, despite its long history.

Lisunov LI-2, The soviet DC-3

When they bought a manufacturing license for the DC-3 in 1935, the Soviet aircraft industry’s decision makers had no way of knowing the place the Douglas airliner would come to occupy in aviation’s hall of fame. Yet, even less did they know of the part the Soviet spin-off would play in the nation’s aviation history. Suitably adapted to make use of Russian engines and structural materials, the DC-3 entered production as the PS-84 and gradually the design drifted further apart from the US original. In 1941 production was moved from Moscow to Tashkent to escape the advancing German troops and the aircraft was redesignated Li2. The Li-2 served an innumerable multitude of tasks, including the night bomber role during the war and flights in support of Soviet polar research in the post-war years. This addition to the ever-popular Red Star series describes all known versions of the PS-84/Li-2 and gives operational details as it explored what is probably the least-known aspect of the history of one of the world’s best-known airliners. Four pages of line drawings are included.

Lisunov Li-2/ PS-84 - History

Douglas C-47 Skytrain / Dakota

( Variants/Other Names: AC-47 C-53 C-117 DC-3 EC-47 Lisunov Li-2/PS-84 Nakajima/Showa L2D R4D, VC-47)

Douglas DC-3/C-47 Serial #1918, N17332, at Poplar Grove Airport, Illinois, USA. Photo by Buck Wyndham.

"Probably the most memorable thing about the Dakota was the smell. The odour of the leather mixed with hydraulic fluid made a perfume second to none. The Dakota always treated me well, unlike some of the other birds I've flown, and my memories of it are all good."
-- Tex Gehman, Winnipeg, Canada

The Douglas DC-3 was born of the intense competition for modern commercial aircraft that characterised the post-World War I era. It was the direct descendant of the DC-1, which first flew in 1933 as Douglas' initial response to a short supply of competitor, Boeing Aircraft's, landmark 10-passenger 247, the first, low-wing, all-metal airliner. With only one 12-passenger sample flying, and already a record-breaking success, the DC-1 was quickly made obsolete, replaced by an a more powerful version with greater seating capacity, the 14-passenger DC-2, of which 193 were built.

When, in 1934, American Airlines asked Douglas for a larger version of the DC-2 that would permit sleeping accommodations for transcontinental flights, Douglas responded with the 24 passenger (16 as a "sleeper" craft) DST (Douglas Sleeper Transport), the 24-passenger version of which was designated DC-3 .

The DC-3 is given most of the credit for an almost 600% increase in airline passenger traffic between 1936 and 1941. Recognising its great potential as a military transport, the United States Army specified a number of changes needed to make the aircraft acceptable for military use, including more powerful engines, the removal of airline seating in favour of utility seats along the walls, a stronger rear fuselage and floor, and the addition of large loading doors. A large order was placed in 1940 for the military DC-3, which was designated C-47 and became known as "Skytrain," a name it would soon be asked to live up to.

Used as a cargo transport to fly the notorious "Hump" over the Himalayas after the Japanese closed the Burma Road, and as a paratroop carrier in various campaigns from Normandy to New Guinea, the Douglas C-47 was one of the prime people movers of WWII where, in one form or another, it was manufactured by belligerents on both sides, after first having been licensed to Mitsui before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and to the Russians, who manufactured it under license as the Lisunov Li-2 . During the war, Mitsui built their own version, via contract with the Showa and Nakajima companies, which built about 485 "Tabbys" (the code name given to the aircraft by the Allies) as the Showa L2D .

Known also as "Dakota" (British designation), R4D (U.S. Navy), "Skytrooper" and "Gooney Bird," the Douglas C-47 (USAAF) went through many modifications during its long service life, largely with respect to engine power ratings, but also with structural modifications for specific tasks like reconnaissance and navigation training. It was even tested as a floatplane, and as an engineless glider, a task it performed well, but too late in the war to matter. It was also used as a fighting machine as the AC-47D gunship ( "Puff, the Magic Dragon") of the Vietnam war, where the plane was equipped with three modernised Gattling guns (General Electric 7.62mm "Miniguns," each mounted and firing from the port side) for use as a "target suppressor," circling a target and laying down massive fire to eliminate or at least subdue the enemy position.

By the end of the war, 10,692 of the DC-3/C-47 aircraft had been built, with 2,000 Li-2s by the Soviets, and 485 Showa L2Ds by the Japanese, for a total of about 13,177. Between its first flight on December 17, 1935, and this writing, the DC-3 will have had 69 years of continuous service. From its pioneering of military airlifts over the hump, to its perfecting of the technique during the Berlin Airlift, the C-47 has been prized for its versatility and dependability, factors that explain its remarkable longevity as an active carrier worldwide.

Nicknames: Gooney Bird Super DC-3 (R4D-8) Skytrooper Biscuit Bomber Tabby (NATO code name for the Showa L2D) Cab (NATO code name for Lisunov Li-2) EM>Dumbo (SC-47 Search-and Rescue variant) Sister Gabby/Bullshit Bomber (EC-47 dispensing propaganda-leaflets in Vietnam) Spooky/Puff the Magic Dragon (AC-47 Gunship) Dowager Duchess Old Methuselah The Placid Plodder Dizzy Three Old Bucket Seats Duck Dak Dakleton (South African C-47s which replaced their Avro Shackletons), Vomit Comet (Nickname used by US Army paratroops during the Normandy invasion.)

Watch the video: Lisunov Li-2 in action WWII (May 2022).