Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Yellow Colt and Uncle Joe

In case you were curious as to what an An-2 looked like from the outside, here's a shot of the beast during the overcast morning hours while we waited for the clouds to burn off. Bob Cable is giving the press a briefing on the airplane during the interlude.

As can be seen, the Colt was short on beauty. But she made up for it in her superb low speed handling and rough field capabilities. Indeed, the An-2 was called the DC-3 of the Eastern Block, a rather apt comparison, all things considered.

An interesting note is that the wings, horizontal tailplanes and vertical tail are fabric covered. The fuselage and narrow walk panels on top of the wing are metal (the fuel tanks are filled from the top of the wing).

Below is the photo of Stalin that so bemused the young woman. His moustache is rather grand. The AK-47 mounted to the wall was a nice interior decorating touch.

In retrospect, it is ironic that during World War II, at least during the period the Soviet Union was on our side (they did start off allied with Germany and rather coldly bisected Poland), Stalin was viewed rather benignly here in the States, so perhaps the young woman can be forgiven. He was cheerfully known as "Uncle Joe" and we sent an incredible amount of planes and war material to the USSR to keep it going during the war. The purges of the 1930s and the treachery of Poland were conveniently forgotten in the need to keep a united front against the Nazis. That, of course, would change after Germany was defeated, but at least the primary objective was met.

War and politics do indeed make for strange bedfellows.

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