Designed by Nikolai Polikarpov, the Polikarpov R-5 was a reconnaissance aircraft and light bomber that replaced the older R-1. In addition to being supplied in huge quantities to the Soviet air force, or VVS, it was also produced in civilian guises for Aeroflot.
Designed in 1928, with the initial prototype flying that same year, the R-5 prototype was powered by a German BMW VI V-12 engine which was produced under license in the USSR as the Mikulin M-17. It was constructed mainly of wood, with a fabric covering. As was usual for the era the R-5 was a biplane, with fixed landing gear.
An improved version, called the R-Z, featured a more powerful engine and the ability to carry more bombs. This version equipped many Soviet light bomber regiments until the ubiquitous Ilyushin Il-2 came into service in 1941.
R-5s saw extensive service with the Republican Air Force during the Spanish Civil War, as well as with the VVS and the Mongolian People’s Air Force during the Nomonhan Incident near the Khalkhin Gol River. R-5s were extremely slow and vulnerable to enemy aircraft and were sometimes relegated to night duties as a result. Still, R-5s remained in service with the VVS well into the ‘Great Patriotic War’ of 1941-45.
|Crew||2: Pilot, observer|
|Powerplant||1x Mikulin M-17, 680hp|
|Armament||2x 7.7mm machine guns|
|Dimensions||34ft 8in (length)|
50ft 10in (wingspan)
10ft 8in (height)
|Wing Area||540 sq.ft.|
|In service with||VVS|