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Polikarpov U-2/Po-2

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The Po-2 was a reliable, uncomplicated, and forgiving aircraft originally designed as a crop duster and training plane.  The plane became famous when flown by female Soviet pilots in daring nighttime raids against German forces. Their tactics involved flying close to the ground, cutting their engines and then gliding through a bombing run—a very challenging and dangerous maneuver. The attacks inflicted little damage, but demoralized the Germans by keeping them awake night after night. Unable to stop the harassment, the humiliated German soldiers coined the nickname, Nachthexen (“Night Witches”) for their tormentors.

Po-2s were later used against American forces in Korea much as they had been years before. When U.S. soldiers were bombed at night, they called the plane and its pilot “Bedcheck Charlie.”

History of the Artifact
This aircraft was manufactured in Russia in 1944 and flew on the Russian Front. It was recovered as a derelict airframe in Belarus and restored by the Polish Aero Club with a Polish-built engine. The Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum acquired the aircraft in 2000.

It is painted in wartime colors, with honorary markings of the female 46th Guards Regiment. The tail number honors the 23 Night Witches who earned “Hero of the Soviet Union” citations by the end of World War II. The lettering on the fuselage translates to “Revenge for Dusya,” a tribute to Dusya Nosal, a Night Witch pilot killed in combat.

Did you know?
The Po-2 is the most-produced military plane of all time.
General Statistics
Crew: 2
Length: 26 ft 10 in
Span: 37 ft 6 in
Height: 9 ft 6 in
Empty weight: 1,444 lbs
Loaded weight: 2,006 lbs
Engine: 1 x Shetsov M-11D 5-cylinder radial engine
Engine power: 115 hp (86 kW)
Performance
Maximum speed: 99 mph
Cruise speed: 68 mph
Range: 249 miles
Ceiling: 15,091 ft
Rate of climb: 585 ft/min
Armament
1 x 7.62mm ShKAS machine gun
6 x 50 kg bombs