07/31/2011. Nikolai Nikolayevich Polikarpov became Director of the Department of Landplane Construction (OSS) at State Aircraft Factory No 25 in 1926, and in the same year Polikarpov designed the prototype of his famous U-2/Po-2 biplane series. Though not famous outside the Soviet Union, this aircraft was possibly built in greater numbers in more variants than any other in history.
In its original form, for economy and simplicity of construction and ease of maintenance, all flying surfaces were constant in chord and section so that all four wing sections were interchangeable, as were all three components of the tail unit. The ailerons could even be swapped with the rudder and elevators. The performance, apart from maximum speed, suffered in consequence and Polikarpov redesigned the U-2 to more aerodynamic principles. The first flight of the redesigned U-2 took place on January 7, 1928 and the aircraft thereafter remained much the same for its long life.
Designed as simple biplane trainer, its robust reliability led to adaptation to countless other duties, including crop-spraying, glider-towing, parachute drops, passenger and freight transport, ambulance work, forestry and fishery patrols, ice reconnaissance, aero-survey work and, during WW II, for night bombing and dropping agents behind enemy lines.
It was in continuous production from 1928 till 1951 in the USSR, and in Poland from 1948 till 1955, and others were assembled from spares until at least 1959. Production included circa eighty factory-built variants, and the total produced is estimated 32,600 to 33,300.
The pictured aircraft was built in the USSR in 1944, and was donated to Yugoslavia in 1946 and serialed 0094 it was used at the Military Air Force Academy untill 1952. Subsequently it was transferred to the Yugoslav Aero Club where it was used for glider towing and parachute training.
On March 1, 1958 the aircraft was registered YU-CLJ and flew at the Federal Aircraft Centre until April 1961, then being transferred to the Murska Sobota Aero Club. In 1979 it was donated to the Yugoslav National Museum, but was later sold to Jim Pearce and was registered to the Sussex Spraying Services Ltd. of Worthing in the UK as G-BSSY on November 6, 1990.
Reportedly it was not flown in the UK and the registration was cancelled by the CAA on June 23, 1994. In 1996 the aircraft was sold to Patrick Donovan and shipped to Seattle, Washington, USA, were a restoration was started. It was transferred to New Zealand in December 2000, where the registration
ZK-POZ was reserved.
The aircraft taxied under its own power at the Classic Fighters Marlborough Airshow at Omaka Aerodrome, Blenheim in April 2003, and although the aircraft flew at Blenheim on May 15, 2003, the registration ZK–POZ was not taken up. On May 28 the aircraft was instead registered in the USA as N588NB to Patrick Donovan, Renwick, New Zealand.
The registration was cancelled on August 1, 2003, as exported to the UK. It was purchased for The Shuttleworth Collection in 2004 and subsequently completely dismantled for a thorough restoration. Being registered again as G-BSSY on August 11, 2009, the aircraft was finally flown again on January 10, 2011, piloted by 'Dodge' Bailey.