Lisunov Li-2: the Soviet DC-3


Yefim Gordon & Sergey and Dimitriy Komissarov




$36.95 from Specialty Press


Scott Van Aken

Notes: ISBN 1-85780-228-4, 128 pages, 150 photos, softbound

The DC-3/C-47 is one of the world's most famous aircraft. First flying in the mid 1930's with the last one built in 1945, there are still hundreds of these planes flying either as warbirds or hauling goods or in military service, albeit modified from the original. The aircraft was also license built in Japan and the Soviet Union. Little is known about these planes and we finally have a book that tells us the story of the Soviet-built aircraft; the PS-84/Li-2.

Realizing that current aircraft were no longer at the head of the pack in terms of technical advancement, a manufacturing license was obtained in the mid 1930s to build the DC-3 in the Soviet Union. Of course, many changes to the original had to be made, including a switch from English to Metric, as well as the use of Soviet-made engines and other systems.

The result was an aircraft that looked like a DC-3/C-47, but was not. The Russians required the entrance door to be on the right side, unlike most DC-3s. The aircraft was also modified when it entered Russian Air Force service to act as a bomber and night attack aircraft, so bomb bays were incorporated along with external bomb racks and an upper fuselage turret for defense. This turret was also incorporated into the cargo/passenger versions as the PS-84/Li-2 had to operate in a hostile environment, often without fighter cover.

Many of these aircraft survived the war and along with Lend-Lease C-47s (which post war had to be retrofitted with Soviet engines and electronics due to a lack of US-provided spares), soldiered on until the 1960s in airline and military service.

Yefim Gordon along with Dmitriy & Sergey Komissarov have been co-operating in a number of super books in the Red Star series and #27 is one of their best. In addition to the developmental history of the type, there is a comparison of the C-47 with the Russian-built Li-2. As one might imagine, the Li-2 comes out second best in all regards due as much to the lower quality standards of the build and the lower powered Soviet engines. Soviet electronics seem to be quite lacking as well. In all respects, pilots preferred the C-47s if they had the option! Even the cargo door of these planes was smaller than what was standard in the C-47.

Also included are numerous war-time exploits of these planes as they often had to carry out bombing raids or cargo missions without fighter escort. PS-84/Li-2s were the main equipment of several bomber regiments as there was little in the way of a pure cargo requirement until much later in the war. These planes were used by a number of Soviet-friendly countries and there is a section on exported planes in both military and civil use. This is followed by several pages of superb color profiles and color photos of extant examples, most of which are in museums as only one Li-2 is still flying.

Probably due to the subject of this book, I found it to be one of the best and most interesting I've read in a while. I know that you will as well and so most highly recommend this one to you.

June 2006

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