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Antonov An-2 Colt in Detail

General views and engine installation

n Text by Martin Waligorski
n Photos by Martin Waligorski and Frank Spahr

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Your trusty webmaster warms up hopping in front of the An-2 on display at the Army Museum in Warsaw on a cold  Autumn afternon. There could hardly be any better place to shoot a walkaround of an An-2 than Poland. The bulk of its long production run was made by WSK Mielec. Many of the produced machines were, and indeed still are used by the Polish Air Force as unit hacks, light transports, parachute training or special duty aircraft. One retired Polish Air Force example is being shown here.


Configuration-wise, the An-2 still holds the record as the World's largest single engine biplane. I don't know of any other similar aircraft ever produced. Noorduyn Noresman and DHC Beaver come to mind, both originating in the same time frame and out of a similar need. However, these  aircraft were monoplanes, and much smaller.


The engine of the An-2 is a 1000-horsepower single-row nine-cylinder radial Shvetsov ASh-62, driving a four-blade propeller. 

The engine has a history on its own.  It  is in fact a direct descendant of the Wright R-1820 Cyclone, which has been licensed and produced by the Soviet Union in the 1930s to power the Polikarpov I-15 and I-16 fighters. As such, it always ranked as one of the world's most durable aircraft engines.

A rudimentary circular oil cooler is provided below the cowling. 


The same aircraft in full daylight showing what's visible inside the cowling from the distance.  This view also shows that the propeller is painted in a rather vivid blue colour. 


Close-up of the engine shows details of the nine-cylinder radial and the propeller hub with its characteristic pitch control mechanism.


Lower forward fuselage of another An-2 from one of the German air museums shows an oil cooler of a different type. 

Even though the majority of An-2 were produced in Poland, the standards of manufacturing seemed to have closely followed Soviet industrial practice in that aircraft modifications on the production line were not seen as justifying change of model designations. Therefore, one can expect to find numerous small differences between An-2 airframes of different production series.



The engine has an exhaust collector ring placed behind the row of cylinders with a single exhaust pipe going out on the starboard side of the cowling.  Very visible oil leaks on the entire lower forward fuselage area are another signs of the 1930s ancestry of the engine.


Close-up of the lower cowling showing its fasteners and the additional air scoops and access hatches in this area.



More scoops and vents of the lower right cowling. 

Note how the engine oil formed a brown residue collecting along and emphasizing major panel division lines.

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