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TsAGI—Tupolev: ANT-2 First All-Metal Airplane

8 July 2022

  • Tupolev ANT-2 at TsAGI’s Moscow premises
  • N. Nekrasov and A. Tupolev in ANT-2

Established in 1918, TsAGI (a part of NRC “Zhukovsky Institute”) was the first national center of aviation. It became an alma mater for the majority of large-scale design bureaus and national aircraft industrial institutions—including Tupolev Design Bureau, which is now called Tupolev PJSC. Once, Andrey Tupolev would check his theories and would create the first ANT aircraft in TsAGI test facilities. Since then, the two enterprises have had century-long productive dialogue and fruitful cooperation. The reliable union between aircraft science and production provides successful, advanced and global development. Today, we start ‘TsAGI—Tupolev’, a new block of publications on the 100-year anniversary of the Tupolev PJSC.

Created under Tupolev’s guidance, ANT-2 was among the first USSR all-metal aircraft. It was produced with Duralumin-type alloy, a new material which had better qualities than wood and metal. The alloy was suitable for aircraft production; it was developed in 1922 by TsAGI Material Test Section.

Tupolev, the-then leading figure at TsAGI, tested the Duralumin-type alloy on aerosledges and hydroplanes. Afterwards, he started creating ANT‑1, a mixed-type wood-and-metal aircraft. Tupolev’s success opened the track for designing and manufacturing all-metal aircraft.

The work on ANT-2 started in spring 1923. Tupolev and his colleagues faced the task to create an aircraft that would be suitable both for passenger freight and military purposes. It was manufactured by TsAGI Department for Aviation, Hydroaviation and Manufacturing. To create the aircraft, the specialists had to provide good aerodynamic performance, simple structure and mass reduction without compromising strength.

The fuselage of the ANT‑2 had a triangular cross section which increased the strength and made any bracing unnecessary. The aircraft had two-spar straight cantilever wings. Its undercarriage consisted of two-wheeled spring landing gear in the nose part and a tailskid. Structurally, the ANT‑2 could still be equipped not only with wheeled landing gear but also with skis. The aircraft had an open cockpit with a celluloid windshield. The passengers sat face-to-face and closely to each other.

The ANT-2 had its first flight on May 26, 1924, piloted by Nikolay Petrov. It showed good controllability, especially after its tail area was increased.

The first public flight by the Tupolev ANT-2 all-metal aircraft took place the same year, during an air parade at Moscow Central Aerodrome. The spectators were largely impressed with the new aircraft’s novel shapes and running smoothness.

Civil aviation was interested in TsAGI’s new aircraft; however, engine shortage and small passenger capacity prevented it from mass production. Still, Tupolev ANT-2 became a milestone in aviation development by laying the cornerstone of national metal aircraft industry and by preparing the basis for large military aircraft design.

From Kerber L. Tupolev: The Man and Aircraft. [In Russian]. Published in Moscow by Sovetskaya Rossiya in 1973.

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