Lisunov Li-2 Cab

The Lisunov Li-2 (NATO-code: Cab) is a Soviet-built, modified version of the pre-war DC-3. In 1936, ironically, during a period of self-containment, 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.

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.

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. 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.

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. 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.) it was organized an SKB under his management.

However, the requirement to produce aircraft with pillar from the Soviet materials on the 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 beginning of 1938 Myasishchev was arrested and 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.

In 1938, with the commencement of the third five-year plan, priority was given to developing technical facilities and installations at major airports throughout the Soviet Union, resulting in massive airport construction programs. Hundreds of new rural routes were also established over the next five years, and these serviced remote areas previously connected by Russian railways. A breakthrough in aircraft supplies came in 1939, when the Douglas DC-3 was manufactured under licence in the Soviet Union as type PS-84, built by the Lisunov manufacturing plant as the Li-2.

In January 1939 the representatives of VVS and Aeroflot accepted the mock-up of the future machine. To gather the first flying copy it was possible only in summer (before this it was assembled two copies DC-3 from the components from the Douglas firm. On September 3, 1939 began the tests in NII (Scientific Research Institute) GVF. Aeroflot employees tested machine prior to the end of the year. The aircraft obtained positive estimation, and series production was begun under the name PS-84.

In 1939 the USSR began to build the Douglas DC-3 under license - first using the designation PS-84 and later redesignating the aircraft Li-2, apparently for B.P.Lisunov, who seems to have added a window aft of the pilot's side window. Boris Pavlovich Lisunov was the Engineer Major of the factory built DC-3 under license. He organised study of new technologies and arranged the mass production of this remarkable aircraft. Altogether, over 10,000 DC-3s were built in the US, with more made in the USSR as the Lisunov Li-2. It has been confirmed that a total of 6,157 Li-2s in various versions were built at the Khimky and Tashkent plants from 1939 thru 1952.

The characteristics of the Li-2 were inferior DC-3. The Soviet airliner was heavier, developed lower speed, bore smaller payload. Onboard equipment more modestly appeared. The engines possessed worse thrust characteristics, and they were more complex in operation. Nevertheless, the Li-2 became the best Soviet airliner and it remained the same prior to the beginning of 1950[kh]. The construction of aircraft was durable, the work of its engines was reliable. It could fly, also, on one engine. Instrument and radio navigation equipment made it possible to fly by night, also in adverse weather conditions. The aircraft required a comparatively small takeoff and landing strip.

Widely used in WWII, the Li-2 was to revolutionize air transport in the Soviet Union and outlasted many subsequent designs into the late 1980s. A total of 6,150 Li-2s were built over 15 years between 1939 and 1954, most of which carried Aeroflot titles. Many of the pre-war airliners and Li-2s were quickly deployed to help break the German blockade of Leningrad. The airlift lasted ten weeks and over 50,000 people were evacuated from the city, while 6,500 tons of military supplies were flown in, provided mainly by Li-2s.

The disrupted third five-year plan actually lasted six years due to the diversion of Aeroflot output into the war effort. However, the fourth five-year plan of 1946-1950 was drawn up to improve and expand the services from Moscow to the capitals of the Union Republics. In a huge increase in capability, vast amounts of military Li-2s were civilianised and pressed into Aeroflot service in order to to support the new routes and higher frequency timetables. Towards the end of 1954, the long-awaited Li-2 and 11-12 replacement, named as the II-14, entered service, and over the next six years became a key aircraft in the airline's long-haul structure.

Although World War II brought the two countries into alliance, based on the common aim of defeating Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union's aggressive, antidemocratic policy toward Eastern Europe had created tensions even before the war ended. The Soviet Union and the United States stayed far apart during the next three decades of superpower conflict and the nuclear and missile arms race. Beginning in the early 1970s, the Soviet regime proclaimed a policy of détente and sought increased economic cooperation and disarmament negotiations with the West.

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