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Aircraft Review : Antonov An-2 by Red Eyes

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Aircraft Review : Antonov An-2 by Red Eyes (X-Plane aircraft design Bureau)

 

The Antonov An-2  is known endearingly by the Russian nickname of "Annushka" or "Annie" that was built by the Antonov Design Bureau (now State Company) to meet a 1947 Soviet Ministry of Forestry requirement for a replacement for the then popular Polikarpov Po-2. It is a Soviet mass-produced single-engine biplane for utility/agricultural use and hence its other nickname "Kukuruznik" which means literally "cropduster". The Antonov An-2 was a large single bay biplane of all-metal construction, with an enclosed cockpit and a cabin with room for seats to accommodate up to twelve passengers and cargo.

 

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The first prototype was designated SKh-1, and was powered by a Shvetsov ASh-21 radial engine, and it first flew on 31st August 1947. The second prototype was fitted with a more powerful Shvetsov ASh-62 engine, which then allowed the aircraft's payload to be significantly increased from 1,300 kg (2,870 lb) to 2,140 kg (4,720 lb), and it was in this form it was ordered into production. It was first built in the State Factory 473 in Kiev, in the Ukrainian SSR where the bulk of up to 5,000 units had been produced by 1960. Later Soviet production (after 1965, of model An-2M especially) was at the State Factory 464 at Dolgoprudniy, Russian SFSR. After 1960, most of the remaining An-2s were built at Poland's WSK factory in Mielec, with over 13,000 aircraft being made there before full production ended in 1991. For the long period of 45 years the An-2 held the record of the aircraft of the longest period of any aircraft in production, that record was held until just recently when it was finally exceeded by the Lockheed Hercules.

 

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The An-2 has many design features which make it suitable for operation in very remote areas with unsurfaced airstrips. The features include a pneumatic brake system, with the option of an air-line which is fitted to the on-board compressor. With the air-line you can  change the pressures in the tires and shock absorbers which can then be adjusted without the need for any other special equipment, the batteries are large and very easy to remove, so the aircraft does not need a ground power unit to supply power, There is no need for an external fuel pump to refuel the aircraft, as there is an on-board pump that allows the tanks to be filled from simple fuel drums, the crucial wing leading edge slats that give the aircraft its slow flight ability are fully automatic, and are held closed by the airflow over the wings. Once the airspeed drops below 64 km/h (40 mph) then slats will extend because they are on elastic rubber springs!  And the An-2 has a very short Take-off run of 170m and a landing run of only 21 m (these numbers will of course vary depending on take-off/landing weight, outside air temperature, surface roughness, and headwind).

 

Antonov An-2

To recreate a modern airliner there is without doubt a multitude of resources. But what about an aircraft that is over 64 years old?  There are a few An-2's still flying and at last count it was around 72 aircraft. However you would be pushed to find the harder details to put such an aircraft together. Once over that hurdle then where would you start? To a point all modern aircraft have a sort of similarity, but the An-2 was created in a time before standardization became the normal and then on top of all that it was then created in Russia. Russian aircraft were very advanced for the period. But also Russian Aircraft tended to be more agricultural, practical and stronger than their western counterparts, because of their poor distribution and service networks over a very vast area.

 

The Antonov An-2 legend would come out of such beginnings and to make it one of the most versatile and practical aircraft ever built. However to recreate the legend it was going to take far more than being a hobby project - It would require dedication and passion for the aircraft to bring it to life.

 

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One look of the cockpit alone and you can see the scale of the problem. The panel is a complex design of switches, dials and levers. Not a computer in sight or any real electronics either. This was the world before the micro-chip, silicon chip and even before the potato chip as they were called "Saratoga Chips" back then.

 

So the first view of the An-2 is it looks at first like a complex mess. and made worse in that it is all written in cyrillic. And is totally indecipherable to anyone this side of Poland. It is not that you couldn't work out where everything is, because there is a very ordered configuration of the items....  But what they are and what they do is another thing entirely.  Ignore this and just go for a flight will mean you will just crash...   badly.

 

At the heart of what everyone calls lovingly "Annie" is a deep procedural mechanical system, that has to followed to the letter to make "Annie" performs or at least fly a decent distance.

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Close up the panel detailing is extraordinarily beautiful, gauges and dials are like crafted jewels and their glass has excellent reflections. The central pedestal is festooned with levers and switches that you can't wait to get your hands on. To be able to zoom in close with the 3d cockpit is a huge advantage in finding out the detail (or details). The Yoke is restrained by a tie to the crafted rudder pedals and has to be removed for flight.

 

The visual aspect is quickly added by the aural as well...  A ringing telephone sound that sounds like the Kremlin is calling you. It is a low fuel warning that can be silenced (thankfully) by a switch on the pilots side panel.

 

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But where to start to understanding the An-2? The best way is through the Menus's which are activated by a zone on the glareshield and they pop up on the lower left of your screen. There are four menu's available, and here are the first two.

 

External Visual Inspection/Ground Service : In the top section you can see the views on a walkaround of the aircraft and install or remove the tie-down cables, Tags and rudder-tags. In the lower section you can: Connect the "Ground Power", "Recharge the Fire Protection System", Add the "fuel pipe", add or remove the "recoil devices" (or Chocks to you and me) and Repair (Or reset failures).

 

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Weight and Balance : Another menu is the weight and balance (W&B)sheet. To use the the W&B sheet is to use the first An-2 feature, which is using the on-board pumps to fill the tanks.

 

The fuel system consists of 6 tanks with three connected each side. On the side panel there is a big switch to select each set of tanks or back to the flow of fuel to the aircraft. First in the "Ground Service' menu you connect the external fuel pipe. Connect to "ground power" or the battery and then select the set of tanks you want to fill, when selected then flip the switch under the red cover. Deep within the aircraft the pump will then noisily fill the tanks selected and it will show the amount on the W&B sheet. The sounds on this aircraft are extremely realistic. pumps whirr and switches clunk and handles crank... Get the process wrong and the aircraft will complain at you very loudly.  So you are very much involved in the process of the aircraft through these aural connections. You can then select in the menu the cargo weight and the number of passengers (and their weight), assign the fuel required to each wing and when completed you can press the "Load" button to activate the configuration (and the total weight).

 

Electrical Systems

 

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Understanding the An-2 can go a long way if you can know how the way the electrical systems are installed on the aircraft. The An-2 has a main power supply unit : TCH-3000 that provides a DC voltage at 28.5V (volts) and a current supply at 100A, The standby (large batteries are 25V at 27Ah. The An-2 has an automatic system that if the Ah drop below 15-35A then the system will switch the supply to the batteries. You can see this on the Volt-Ammmeter (long yellow arrow) when the engine is past the idle position and is providing engine RPM. Pull the throttle back into idle and the voltage will suddenly drop to zero as it switches over to the battery supply (Short Yellow arrow). You can select either the battery supply or the External power supply by the second switch on the lower row of switches (for refueling).

 

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There are other items however that require an AC voltage. To do this there is another converter, the NO-500 that converts the DC power of 27V to AC Voltage of 115V. And that is situated on the central panel. The NO-500's main purpose is to supply power for the APK-5 which is an early Navigation tool that can select the operation of the compass selector and adjust to a frequency of a Non-Directional Beacon (NDB) in the Ranges: 150 to 310khz - 310 to 640khz and 640 to 1300khz.  A warning in switching on the AC current of the radio altimeter and the APK-5 (loading devices before the NO-500 is switched on. There are two NO-500's - a main and a backup that can be switched to by putting the three way switch to the bottom and the switch is noted as "operation - Off - Backup.

 

Pneumatics

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The An-2 has an interesting pneumatic system. The red lever behind the pilots wheel (yoke) is your braking system, that uses compressed air to turn the aircraft and control the brakes. You can see (and hear) the system in operation by pulling on the red lever, which is set up using the X-Plane key request "brakes_regular". I already have that set on my trigger on my joystick and that works very well. Pull the lever to help with your taxiing and general braking conditions and the pressure is noted on the dial (both sides) on the dial on the side panel.

 

Starting "Annie"

Slightly different variations are required to start the An-2 with hot or cold conditions. Engine and Oil cowl's must be closed in cold weather and the start depends on ground power, or if enough voltage then you can start from the batteries.

 

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Set the switches, then make sure the fuel tanks are "open". Then pressurize the fuel line by the knob by your left, Then prime engine cylinders by cranking the arm down to your right of the pilots seat. Setting the carburettor heat (green lever is to get the right setting). Pop the red lever full up to "open the cocks". The starter switch is on the top panel and set the Magneto switch to 1+2. Ready to start then pull then pull the (lower) KC-3 (starter, spin-up and clutch) when the engine starts to fire, then adjust the throttle to catch the sequence of cylinders lighting up the fuel...  when you have a running engine then let it settle to 700-800rpm and then as the engine warms up up the throttle to 1200rpm.

 

Sounds easy. It isn't. It takes practice and a lot of patience to get it all right. This An-2 is a cantankerous old bird to get the sequences right, and you will never get it right the first time or the second. Do it four times wrong and you are looking at a grounded aircraft.

 

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Checklists

To help you there is a set of "Checklists" in the menu to help you along. You go through the list and tick-off the done jobs. Ready to fly the An-2 is holding on the brakes. The detailing overall is very good, but there are a few unfinished objects like the flap runners, aerials and the front suspension. They could be noted as metallic gray, but they really look like untextured objects.

 

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The double-wing flaps are unstepped, and so you really have to chose your degree of angle by just guessing and looking at the actual flap position. The An-2 is a tail-dragger and that creates a lot of unintentional fun while taxiing, It can flip on the tail if you push the rudder to far, but after a bit of practise you can steer "Annie" quite well. 

Power up and the short take-off is very short. The flaps depend on the weight, and even then you don't need much angle. "Annie" will climb with all that lift as its cropduster heritage shows through. But don't get carried away...

 

     ...nothing is more critical that pleading with "Annie" to keep herself in the air.  You have to caress her and gently adjust her controls to keep her in a very tight band of happiness. To help you there is a performance and data menu that you lie in bed at night and recite it, until it is known off by heart and then still do the mantra all over again and again.

 

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If you don't want to pop off! a cylinder or two, then "Annie" has to be kept quite cool and at or under these critical numbers and data. It is not as easy as you think it is to do.  Each lever is crucial in adjusting the dials to keep everything in check.

 

Yellow Arrow: Throttle or boost pressure. This matches the "Vacume Manometer" boost pressure that must be kept between 6-8.

Purple Arrow: Propeller pitch that has to keep the revs at 1600 in the Tachometer

Green Arrow: This is the carburettor heat/cold lever (Green) and dial. and the setting must be kept at 0 (zero)

 

Easy, from a distance yes. But it can be challenging over a period, get it right and "Annie" will fly all day.  Another help to keep the engine cool is to adjust the cowlings for the Oil and Engine heat (The switch is behind the levers)

 

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Once airborne "Annie" is endearing and great fun, The aircraft clatters it's way across the country side as you hold on to the vibrating yoke. The view is magnificent out of that huge glass cockpit. You have fans on each side that rotate (I had a fan at home and set it up next to the computer for realism...  It stops the sweating from the stress). The windows open, and the wipers work and the ancient radio sits on the side.

 

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It is quite brilliant to fly. Heavy as you would expect but not ponderous, turns have to be watched for loss and gain of height, stall is quite non-existent unless you do some thing really stupid, but otherwise fun to toggle along behind the banging and poofing cylinders.

 

No autopilot?   Well yes there is actually. It called a Co-Pilot!. Red Eye has created an autopilot where you set up a Keyboard "Key" function (Via the custom cmnd) and assign a key (You can set the Scoop function the same way). Set "Annie" level and at the right height and speed and press your assigned "key". At first you think the Co-Pilot is a bit of a dork as the aircraft lowers or rises as the idiot takes the control "He say's something like "OH God" in Russian as well. But then "Annie" rights herself and flies on that heading until you change it. Then the aircraft will just keep the new course until you take command again via the say key stroke....  Brilliant.

 

Liveries

The liveries are exceptional. And there is a lot of them to choose from.

 

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Aeroflot has the most in "Wright" (default) (top line)

Blue - Red -Yellow (second line)

Alaska - Arizona - Green - MCHS (third line)

Orenair - Polar old - VVS (bottom line)

"Polar old" is a masterpiece of faded paint, however all are very good.

 

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Back on the ground. The night lighting is very good. The cockpit is sensational at night with the glow from the instruments and lit switches. The yokes are also beautifully spot lit, Forward lighting has taxi, landing in the lower wings and Nav lights on the ends of the top wing. The aircraft has ultraviolet lights as well in patches over the wings and fuselage.

 

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The cabin is quite basic with no cargo or any finer detailing except for some curtains and shelving. The rear door opens but only the cargo (larger) section via the F2 key slider.  No frame-rate issues were noted - as the An-2 never went below 30fr in any situation.

 

Conclusions

In the first week "Annie" will make you curse. Then in the second week you will caress her and lovingly guide her and will be hoping you are doing everything right to keep her happy.  If any aircraft has personality then the An-2 has it spades, Red Eyes has put his personality into the aircraft as well, with not only the great design and the detailing of the cockpit. But also with the sounds and mechanical movements of the activity of this past history of Aviation.  It is a very hard aircraft to understand and to get behind its Soviet - Russianness. The manual In English and Russian does not help in the matter either. It is very authentic. And detailed. But it is missing the vital information that connects you to the aircraft that bridges the gap between helping you understand the systems and design. There are however excellent video's that can help (and the music is great as well) - all are listed below. But the An-2 does bring something very unique to your simulation world. An experience of the past and the joy of flying in an aircraft that was both before its time and now well behind its time. Loving "Annie" is sitting behind all that noisy chatter of that huge radial engine that shakes you and your yoke across the sky. This means you are flying in a time of freedom and the clear skies before the world closed in and regulated the dream to just regulations and on-time performance. This versatile machine stayed in production for so because it could do so many things. Master the machine and the An-2 gives you the challenges to do so much. If any aircraft is as rewarding as this for the experience that is returned - then I have yet to fly it.

 

Yes! this amazing Russian aircraft is now Available from the X-Plane.OrgShop : Antonov An-2

 

Price is US$35.00

 

Documents : post-2-0-25995000-1384937463.jpg

 

Dev Thread : AN-2 Support  - videos avaliable  Video 1 - Video 2 - Weight and balance - Startup - Shutdown

 

Review By Stephen Dutton

24th November 2013

 

©copyright 2013 : Stephen Dutton

 

Technical Requirements:

Windows XP , Vista, 7 or 8 (32 or 64 bits) or MAC OS 10.3.9 (or higher) or Linux

X-Plane 10.20+. 32 or 64 bit. or X-Plane 9.70

4GB RAM- 1GB+ VRAM Recommended.

X-Plane 9 version is not included in the download package but it is available on demand. Just place the order and send us an email to get it.

 

Review System Specifications:

Computer System:     

- 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27”

- 6 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3

- ATI Radeon HD 4850 512mb

Software:     

- Mac OS Mavericks 10.9

- X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.22 (final)

Addons

- Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle

- General Electric 9 inch Fan

Scenery

-  EDFH - Frankfurt Hahn : Aerosoft  (X-Plane.OrgShop US$17.06)

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Guest François Poncet   
Guest François Poncet

I already love her ! We are not yet airborne, the russian manual is to be read with utmost care, it will take some days till the starting process can begin : I can hardly wait for it, but the exploration of the cockpit is already an adventure.

Thanks for your nice reviews and explanations ; so long,

 

francoponce

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Guest Guest   
Guest Guest

Hi Stephen,

 

Fantastic review and what a great aircraft.

 

Just wondering; how did you find the performance on your iMac?  I notice that requirements of 1GB+ are needed, but you have 512Mb, how did you find it?

 

Also; what kind of copy protection comes with the aircraft?  A big turn of for me is DRM.  I don't mind serial numbers, but if one has to be connected to the internet, then it's a bit of pain (for me).

 

Thanks again for a wonderful review.

 

Dom

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Guest Vadim   
Guest Vadim

 

 

Also; what kind of copy protection comes with the aircraft?  A big turn of for me is DRM.  I don't mind serial numbers, but if one has to be connected to the internet, then it's a bit of pain (for me).

 

 

 

You needed internet connection only for activation aircraft in first start model.

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Hi Stephen,

 

Fantastic review and what a great aircraft.

 

Just wondering; how did you find the performance on your iMac?  I notice that requirements of 1GB+ are needed, but you have 512Mb, how did you find it?

 

Also; what kind of copy protection comes with the aircraft?  A big turn of for me is DRM.  I don't mind serial numbers, but if one has to be connected to the internet, then it's a bit of pain (for me).

 

Thanks again for a wonderful review.

 

Dom

 

No issues on framerate at all... The basic modeling is very light in design.

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Guest youngflyer   
Guest youngflyer

Hello Stephen, i agree, it is a super aircraft , more then welldone from the developers , but i have not the Time and the will to learn a cuple of days to fly it. Like others i miss the possibillity to start with any problem. Where are the keystrokes for made a first fly of Fun with full tanks and removed Ground wheel-Blocks...? I choose the bevore Start handling in the way as CARENADO and 90% of all Aircraft builder will made possible. Now, 25 days after received the " Anni " i did not find how the "wheelblockers" will removed.No hint in the manuell. Do you new to fix this problem ? Are there keystrokes availiable to fill the Tanks ? Aso i did not found the "Menue" i see on your pictures. Max bee

i have not a Windoes or Mac world , i work with Linux ( Ubuntu 12.4 ) Thanks if you can help. Sorry for the bad english. willibald youngflyer (83 years ald)

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Hello Stephen, i agree, it is a super aircraft , more then welldone from the developers , but i have not the Time and the will to learn a cuple of days to fly it. Like others i miss the possibillity to start with any problem. Where are the keystrokes for made a first fly of Fun with full tanks and removed Ground wheel-Blocks...? I choose the bevore Start handling in the way as CARENADO and 90% of all Aircraft builder will made possible. Now, 25 days after received the " Anni " i did not find how the "wheelblockers" will removed.No hint in the manuell. Do you new to fix this problem ? Are there keystrokes availiable to fill the Tanks ? Aso i did not found the "Menue" i see on your pictures. Max bee

i have not a Windoes or Mac world , i work with Linux ( Ubuntu 12.4 ) Thanks if you can help. Sorry for the bad english. willibald youngflyer (83 years ald)

83 years old and your flying "Annie", your a brave soul sir, lovely you enjoy it so much. The ground blocks are on the first menu as recoil devices, annoying in that you have to switch them off every time you want to fly. The fuel load is on the "weights and balances" but you have to turn on the noisy fuel pump first.. The menus are in a zone in the very centre of the glareshield .. All items are noted in the post above...I am not really sure about Linux. I would ask red eyes directly on that one on the dot org AN-2 Support link above in the post.... SD

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Guest Guest   
Guest Guest

>This means you are flying in a time of freedom and the clear skies before the world closed in and regulated the dream to just regulations and on-time performance
Heheheh.)) Tell it to the people who operated the actual aircraft in Siberia back in the 1950's. Since the An-2 is not suited for IFR, there were very strict regulations on daylight-only flying. The height record was also monitored, though the majority of the pilots knew how to use a wet matchstick to draw a proper height map after the flight, and there were not many civilian radars back then, so actually there was some frredom. Of course, those caught cheating with the recorders would face disciplinary measures up to being kicked out of the fleet, but it was indeed the time of adventurers, so noone really cared. But still the age of the Free Sky has ended before the first An-2 took off.

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Hi,

The plane looks great but I wanted to know if it was easily compatible with FSEconomy?

 

Thank you

FSEconomy is a FS or Flight Simulator online game system?  This is X-Plane...  so no I don't think so.

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