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Lisunov Li-2 Cab - Background

The Lisunov Li-2 (NATO-code: Cab) is a Soviet-built, modified version of the pre-war DC-3. At the beginning of the 1930s, the firm Douglas began to develop a machine for TWA's requirements for a twin-engine passenger plane, which was to become a competitor to United Airlines's Boeing-247. Douglas coped with the task perfectly, and on July 1, 1933, made its first flight DC-1 (Douglas Commercial-1). Less than a year later, on May 11, 1934, DC-2 was launched into the air, and within 7 days TWA began operating it with the New York-Los Angeles flight. Then the new DC-3, incorporating the most advanced technological solutions at that time, first took off in Santa Monica on December 17, 1935. Compared to its predecessor, the aircraft had a larger fuselage, a wing and horizontal tail of increased scope, more powerful engines.

Low cost, simplicity of construction, reliability, the possibility of using from unprepared airfields - all these qualities have prolonged the life of DC-3. They flew almost in all corners of our planet and did not hurry to resign, even with the appearance of new significantly more advanced airliners. The US military showed interest in them. In September 1940, he was followed by an order for 545 vehicles. These were the first C-47 "Skytrain", later named in the British Royal Air Force "Dakota". During the war these planes were used by the Allies with great success on all fronts, but as soon as the military operations were over, their production was stopped. The release of the passenger DC-3 continued until March 1947. In total, 10655 aircraft of this family were built at three Douglas plants.

In 1932, the Soviet Union completed a series of reorganization measures in Civil Aviation, which resulted in the emergence of Aeroflot. This child of the first five-year plan began to develop rapidly: from 1933 to 1935 the volume of passenger transportation increased almost fourfold. For such rapid growth, more and more aircraft were required, and competition on international lines made us think about the level of service. The most mass - produced machine of Aeroflot was still the K-5.

In 1935, the Soviet-American foreign trade company Amtorg Trading Corporation purchased DC-2-152 (register No. 14949, No. 1413), and on April 11, 1936, it was decided to purchase a license to manufacture DC-3 in the US. In addition to the license, 18 cars were also purchased, which were transported to the Union through two fictitious airlines "North Eastern" and "Excello" created by "Amtorg". It was they who, from November 1936 to March 1939, Douglas Aircraft transferred the said 18 aircraft.

In 1936, during a period of isolation, the United States permitted Soviet technicians to visit the Douglas Aircraft Companyand granted manufacturing rights for the revolutionary DC-3 design to the USSR. In the middle of the 1930s Aeroflot confronted problems with their aircraft. The basic main liners - Ant-9 and K-5, had become obsolete and the development of the aircraft of the new generation - Khai-1, Zig--1, Ant-35 and others, had characteristics that were far from entirely satifactory for the customer. In this situation in the leaders of the USSR was formed the opinion that the acquisition of license to the production of foreign airliner will be the best solution. The best aircraft at that time were the DC-2 and DC-3.

The United States had greeted the democratic Russian Revolution of February 1917 with great enthusiasm, which cooled considerably with the advent of the Bolsheviks in October 1917. The United States government was initially hostile to the Soviet leaders for taking Russia out of World War I and was opposed to a state ideologically based on communism. The United States, along with many other countries, refused to recognize the new regime, arguing that it was not a democratically elected or representative government.

For a variety of reasons -- compassion for the sufferings of the Soviet peoples, sympathy for the great "socialist experiment," but primarily for the pursuit of profit -- Western businessmen and diplomats began opening contacts with the Soviet Union.The United States embarked on a famine relief program in the Soviet Union in the early 1920s and American businessmen established commercial ties there during the period of the New Economic Policy (1921-29). Among these persons were Averell Harriman, Armand Hammer, and Henry Ford, who sold tractors to the Soviet Union. Such endeavors facilitated commercial ties between the Soviet Union and the United States, establishing the basis for further cooperation, dialogue, and diplomatic relations between the two countries. The Amtorg Trading Company was a company established in the United States by the Soviets, that by the late 1920s had placed orders for aircraft and equipment with American companies. This era of cooperation was never solidly established, however, and it diminished as Joseph Stalin attempted to eradicate vestiges of capitalism and to make the Soviet Union economically self-sufficient.

A US connection was established when a Soviet delegation, including Tupolev, visited the USA in 1929 and managed to obtain a number of 600 horsepower Curtiss Conquerer inline engines that were used on some Soviet prototype aircraft. A second delegation to the USA in 1932 secured manufacturing rights for the 700 horsepower Wright Cyclone 9-cylinder radial engine from which was subsequently developed the 14-cylinder twin-row radial Wright Cyclone as well. The ASh-62IR engines are still being built in Poland by PZL-Mielec as the ASz-62IR for the Antonov AN-2 biplane.

The policy of non-recognition ended in November 1933, when the United States, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, established full diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, the last major power to do so. By that time, the totalitarian nature of Joseph Stalin's regime presented an insurmountable obstacle to friendly relations with the West.

In 1936, many Soviet aviation specialists visited the United States, including V.M.Myasishchev, I.P.Tolstykh, B.P.Lisunov, A.A.Senkov, M.I.Gurevich, S.M.Belyaykin, P.A.Voronin, V.I.Zhuravlev and N.A.Zak. Initially the Soviets thought to acquire the the DC-2, but, after obtaining the characteristics of the DC-3, a selection they made in favor this machine. The corresponding government resolution was accepted on April 11, 1936. For the realization of the plan a large delegation headed by the chief of TsAGI (Central Institute of Aerohydrodynamics im. N Ye Zhukovskiy) N.M.Kharlamovym went to the USA. Besides Douglas the delegation had to acquire licenses and for other aircraft. On July 15, 1936 N.M.Kharlamovym concluded a very advantageous license contract. Douglas had to provide several copies of the DC-3, along a number of complete sets for assembly in the USSR (according to some data 21 complete sets).

The Li-2 was powered by two Shvetsov 1000-hp radials. These 9 cylinder Shvetsov ASh-62IR radial engines were uprated copies of the Wright Cyclone SGR-1820-F-series engines. The M-62IR engines were installed. These engines had a takeoff power of 1000 hp. and represented the further development of the American Wright "Cyclone" R-1830 F-3, the license for the production of which was acquired back in 1933 as the M-25. In addition to the power plant, the Soviet "Douglas" had a number of other differences from the transatlantic prototype: in a series of aircraft built almost entirely from domestic materials, they changed the internal layout of the compartments, the entrance door was opened inside, and not outside, etc., so that they can not be called an absolute copy of the American machine. True, the plane did not become any better from this - the mass of the structure increased, to put it mildly, the navigation and household equipment became simpler.

Douglas also had to provide instruction of Soviet aeronautical engineers in methods of production at the Douglas plant in Santa-Monica. Among these was Vladimir Mikhaylovich Myasishchev (1902-1978), who previously headed brigade #6 Tupolev's KB. In 1937, immediately after his return from Santa Monica, Myasishchev was appointed chief designer, and his team No. 6 of TsAGI COSS was transformed into a special design bureau at the plant No. 84 in Khimki near Moscow, where the development of the licensed DC-3-196 began. He was assigned the critical task of the introduction of machine into the production in the territory of the USSR. In April 1937 at the aircraft factory of #84 (Khimki, Moscow reg.) was organized as an SKB under his management.

The requirement to produce aircraft from the Soviet materials on Soviet equipment made it necessary to transfer all sizes from the American system into the metric. Construction was converted according to the Soviet stress standards. Developers changed the layout of pilot's cab and passenger cabin, strengthened shock struts, increased the diameter of wheels. Where it is possible, were selected Soviet analogs to American instruments and to equipment. The process of development was constrained because of technological problems. First of all, because of the difficulties with the mastery mold loft- pattern method. But not only technology proved to be guilty.

At the very beginning of 1938, the wave of arrests seized Myasishchev. What was he accused of by the NKVD investigators - the fall of ANT-41 , a trip to the US (after all, he traveled there alone, through London, Southampton, then on an ocean liner to New York and across America to Santa Monica, a suburb of Los Angeles) - or what else is still unknown. Myasishchev was confined in the so-called TSKB-29 of the NKVD, where he was the deputy of V.M.Petlyakov. The work on the aircraft was then headed by A.A.Senkov. In the American management, influential people were attempting to torpedo work on the contract and even to annul license agreement. This also impeded the work on the project.

Despite outwardly cordial relations between the two countries, American misgivings regarding Soviet international behavior grew in the late 1930s. The August 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact, which paved the way for Hitler's invasion of Poland in September, followed by the Soviet invasion of Poland's eastern provinces of Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia, caused alarm in Washington. The Soviet attack on Finland in November 1939, followed by Stalin's absorption of the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in 1940, further exacerbated relations.

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Page last modified: 31-08-2018 19:29:49 ZULU