Will This 1952 Polikarpov PO-2 Do Any Better Under Capitalism?

If you know about the Polikaprov PO-2 biplane, it's probably because it was one of the few airplanes in the War Thunder video game to ever be so useless, the game devs had to remove it from the Soviet tech tree for being too bad. But outside of this, the airplane had a remarkably long career in service with the eastern bloc.
Polikarpov PO-2 10 photos
Photo: Boschungglobal
By 2022, enough time has passed that a handful of Ex-Soviet PO-2s has found their way over to western soil. This particular example of a 1952 Polikaprov PO-2 comes to us not from Russia but from Boschung Global Ltd of Sarnen, Switzerland. Dubbed the Mule by the people who served aboard them. These cute little biplanes are powered by a Shvetsov M-11 five-cylinder radial engine making around 125 horsepower, or around as much as a late model Toyota Corolla.

This makes for a very unimpressive top speed of 145 kilometers per hour (94 mph, 82 km). The sub 10,000 foot (3,000 meters) service ceiling isn't much to write home about either. Back in the day, PO-2s were equipped with a single 7.62×54mmR (0.30 in) ShKAS machine gun as the only piece of self-defense for the crew of two. There was also room for six 50-kilogram (110-pound) bombs on the undercarriage, but Lord help any pilot that tried to fly with them in tow.

Even so, there's a palpable charm to the PO-2s construction. A sense that it was built to be the bare-minimum acceptable airplane that could take off, land, train its pilots for better airplanes, and then move on to the next one. An airplane this simple is one of the most hands-on ways of getting to grips with the intimidatingly tricky world of aviation.

Plus, if you wreck it, you'll only be going about as fast as a station wagon on a two-lane rural road. At $131,803 straight out the door from Europe, it's not a bad price for a warbird as storied and polarizing as this one.
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