The Lisunov Li-2, originally designated PS-84 (NATO reporting name Cab), was a license-built version of the Douglas DC-3. It was produced by the GAZ-84 works near Moscow, and subsequently at GAZ-34 in Tashkent. The project was directed by aeronautical engineer Boris Pavlovich Lisunov.
Design and development
The Soviet Union had already received its first DC-2 in 1935 and although a total of 18 DC-3s had been ordered on 11 April 1936, the Soviets managed to purchase 21 DC-3s for operation by Aeroflot before World War II. The arrangement (possibly through a third country) accompanied a production license "for free" on 15 July 1936. Lisunov spent two years at the Douglas Aircraft Company, between 1938 and 1940 and modified the C-47 into a Soviet version, which was given the designation PS-84 (Passazhirskiy Samolyot 84, passenger airplane 84).
Despite the original intention to incorporate as few changes as necessary to the basic design, the GAZ-84 works documented over 1,200 engineering changes from the Douglas engineering drawings, and it was no small task for Vladimir Myasishchev to change all dimensions from inches to metric units. Some of the changes were substantial, such as the use of the Russian Shvetsov ASh-62IR engines. The Russian standard design practice also usually mandated fully shuttered engines in order to cope with the extreme temperatures. A slightly shorter span was incorporated but many of the other alterations were less evident. The passenger door was moved to the right side of the fuselage, with a top-opening cargo door on the left side in place of the original passenger door. The structural reinforcement included slightly heavier skins necessitated since the metric skin gauges were not exact duplicates of the American alloy sheet metal. Standard Russian metric hardware was different and the various steel substructures such as engine mounts and landing gear, wheels, and tires were also quite different from the original design. Later modifications allowed the provision of ski landing gear in order to operate in remote and Arctic regions. The first PS-84s began to emerge from the GAZ-84 production line by 1939.
Some military versions of the Li-2 also had bomb racks and a dorsal turret, unlike the C-47 development of the DC-3.
The PS-84 had flown with Aeroflot primarily as a passenger transport before World War II. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941 many of the PS-84s were taken into military use and redesignated the Lisunov Li-2 in 1942. The military models were equipped with a 7.62 mm (.30 in) ShKAS machine gun, and later with a 12.7 mm (.50 in) UBK heavy machine gun. The aircraft were used for transport, partisan supply, bombing, and as ambulance aircraft. A version designated Li-2VV (Vojenny Variant = military variant) had a redesigned nose for extra defensive armament and could carry up to four 250 kg (551 lb) bombs under the wings. Smaller bombs could be carried inside the fuselage and thrown out the freight hatch by the crew.
4,937aircraft were produced of all Li-2 versions between 1940 and 1954and it saw extensive use in Eastern Europe until the 1960s. The last survivors in use were noted in China and Vietnam during the 1980s . There were many versions, including airliner, cargo, military transport, reconnaissance, aerial photography, parachute drop, bomber, and high altitude variants. The Li-2 also saw extensive service in the Chinese Air Force in the 1940s and 1950s.
There is only one Li-2 restored to airworthy condition. Hungarian registered HA-LIX was built in 1949 in Airframe Factory Nr.84 of Tashkent, as serial number 18433209 and still flies sightseeing tours and regularly participates at air shows. 
Published - July 2009
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