Polikarpov U-2/Po-2


Place in history: The PO-2 was named for the famous Soviet designer Nikolai Polikarpov. This was a reliable, uncomplicated and forgiving aircraft that was originally designed to be a crop duster. Before WWII, it was mainly used as a flight trainer. Though it was extremely maneuverable it was also very slow; many German planes would stall when slowing down enough to attack it. The PO-2 became famous as the aircraft flown by female Soviet pilots in their daring nighttime raids against German forces. The female pilots' tactics involved flying into position close to the ground, cutting off their engines and then gliding through a bombing run. They inflicted little damage, but demoralized the Germans by keeping them awake night after night, and by the fact that they were women.

This aircraft: Manufactured in Russia in 1944, this craft flew on the Russian Front in WWII and later in the Korean War. It was recovered as a derelict airframe in Belarus, and restored by the Polish Aero Club. This aircraft is painted in wartime colors, with honorary markings of the 46th Guards Regiment. The tail number honors the twenty-three Night Witches who earned "Hero of the Soviet Union" citations. The lettering on the fuselage translates into "Revenge for Ducia," a tribute to the first Night Witch to be killed in combat.

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