The Antonov An-2M is one of the largest single reciprocating engine biplanes in the world. It is part of the An-2 aircraft family, highly successful utility aircraft that, after a nearly fifty-year run, produced over 18,500 airplanes, many under license by Poland and China. Its principal uses have included military services, 12-passenger transport for Aeroflot, freighter with a payload of more than 4,000 pounds, aerial reconnaissance and photography, weather observation, agricultural spraying, forest fire water bombing, and a seaplane on floats.
The An-2M was designed and first flown in 1964 by the then-Soviet aircraft manufacturer Antonov, located in the Ukraine, as an agricultural aircraft capable of performing diverse missions. The Museum's An-2M was manufactured in the Soviet Union in 1966 as an agricultural sprayer. After being rebuilt in the early 1980s and featured at air shows in its interior paratrooper configuration, it was donated to the Museum in 1983.
Gift of E.J. Gothard
N84762; single-engine, semi-monocoque, utility biplane with 1000 ho Shvetsov AShh-62 radial engine; red and silver; restored in cargo configuration.
The Antonov An-2M is one of the largest single reciprocating engine biplanes in the world and is part of a family of highly successful utility aircraft with a fifty-year production run. The An-2 was designed and first flown in 1947 by the then Soviet aircraft manufacturer Antonov, located at Kiev in the Ukraine, as an agricultural aircraft and a replacement for the Polikarpov Po-2. More than 18,500 of these airplanes have been produced, many under license by Poland and China. It is a simplistically designed airplane with fabric-covered wings and tail planes and a semi-monocoque aluminum fuselage. It is capable of performing diverse missions while carrying large payloads in and out of primitive fields in virtually any kind of weather conditions, including the temperature extremes of Siberian winters and Kazakhstan summers. Its principal uses have included: military service, 12-passenger transport for Aeroflot, freighter with a payload of more than 4,000 pounds, aerial reconnaissance and photography, weather observation, agricultural spraying, forest fire water bomber and as a seaplane on floats. There were, no doubt, many other uses made over its long life. Almost all the Eastern Bloc countries used this airplane in several of these roles during its long operational history.
The historical significance of the An-2 is its legendary status as a workhorse over a span of half a century even though the biplane might have been considered a throw-back to 1920s technologies at the time of its introduction in the mid 1940s. Several models of the An-2 were built in the Soviet Union at Kiev-Svyetoshino and Dolgoprudny through the early 1960s, but by mid-decade, only the An-2M model was still built in the country. China and Poland built models by the thousands and production of subsequent versions by SAMC in China and PZL in Poland continues today.
While its cruise speed of 110 to 120 knots is slow by today's standards, its short-field take off and landing (STOL) characteristics made it capable of operating from extremely small unprepared fields. Also with its large array of high lift devices (drooping ailerons and full-span slats on the upper wing, and slotted flaps on both wings) the An-2 is capable of "slow flight" down to speeds as low as 35 knots. These flying characteristics made it extremely useful in countless situations, specifically in North Korean low level support missions during the Korean War when none of the United Nations aircraft could slow down sufficiently to be effective against it. In 1950, the helicopter had not yet been developed to where it could be deployed in sufficient numbers to be involved in battlefield support missions.
The museum's An-2M, serial number 600810, was manufactured in the Soviet Union in 1966 as an agricultural sprayer and the interior was configured as a utility passenger/cargo airplane. The An-2M was a modified agricultural version of the original An-2 design with an increased horizontal tail area and the squaring of the vertical tail and propeller tips. E.J. "Buzz" Gothard of Chehalis, Washington, purchased this aircraft in 1978 as unassembled scrap pieces from an airstrip near New Delhi, India, where it had been in storage for four years because of the unavailability of parts. Unfortunately, nothing is known of its operational history in the Soviet Union, or why it was in India. In the spring of 1980, Gothard shipped the aircraft to the United States with a spare engine and parts, but left spraying equipment behind. Gothard recovered the aircraft with modern Ceconite fabric and restored it to a paratrooper configuration. With its new registration number, N84762, Gothard flew the restored aircraft in 1981. For the next two years, Gothard used the An-2 for parachute drops at air shows.
In 1983, he offered the airplane to NASM in trade for a military surplus Grumman S-2 Tracker. Gothard ferried the aircraft cross-country from Washington via Tucson, Arizona, where he picked up a friend and then delivered the airplane to NASM at Hyde Field near Clinton, Maryland, on May 24, 1983. The flight took a leisurely five days with several stops including Louisville, Kentucky and Charleston, West Virginia, but the actual flight time was only 35 hours. Gothard removed the American radios and instruments he had installed and replaced with the original Russian equipment.