Honorable Mention Russia’s Polikarpov Po-2
As if building 30,000+ Yaks and 36,000+ Shturmoviks wasn’t enough, the Soviet Union found time during WW II to build somewhere close (sources vary) to 30,000 of one of the most ungainly biplanes ever created. The Polikarpov Po-2 was a basic rag-and-tube biplane, but in typical Soviet style, it was bigger and slightly stranger in appearance than most biplanes. In fact, it would have looked in its element with Fokkers and Sopwiths during WW I—except that it would tower over them. Originally envisioned as a trainer, it found itself doing reconnaissance over the German lines, prowling those same lines in the dark, dropping bombs and grenades with female “Night Witches” at the controls. It also served as the Soviet’s primary liaison airplane. It was their least known, least appreciated, and most produced secret weapon.
A flight of Soviet Il-2 Shturmovik attack aircraft from 4th Air Army, commanded by Colonel-General K. A. Vershinin, in the sky during the Battle of Berlin in 1945. (Photo courtesy of EN-Archive)