Asobo and the Microsoft Flight Simulator team have to be lauded for ensuring that we have a steady supply of relatively inexpensive aircraft available to purchase in the marketplace. Even better, they have done a great job of covering a wide variety of types and giving us a whole lot of aviation history all at once. Some of these aircraft feel like interactive museum pieces, recreated in digital form, while others feel like living breathing aircraft. What category does the An-2 fall into? Let’s have a look!
A bit of history
The Antonov An-2 is closely connected to the overall history of the Antonov Company starting with aircraft designer Oleg Antonov. Starting as chief designer of the Moscow Glider Factory, Oleg would then go on to work for Yakovlev during WWII, before starting his own design office in Novosibirsk in 1946.
Appointed head of this new office, Anotonov’s first task was to create a new utility and agricultural aircraft to replace the Po-2/U-2 biplane. The requirement, coming from the Soviet Ministry of Forestry, would lead to the design of a large, single bay, biplane of all-metal construction and the first prototype would fly on August 31st of 1947.
In 1952 the Antonov group would move from Novosibirsk to Kiev (Kyiv) Ukraine where further development of the An-2 and other Antonov aircraft would commence alongside a production line located nearby. The An-2 would also end up being produced in several other locations including Dolgoprudniy, on the northern edge of Moscow, in Poland’s WSK factory in Mielec, and in China under licence as the Shijiazhuang Y-5.
Approximately 18,000 would be produced worldwide with continuous production from 1947 until 2001. Several have found their way to private owners in the US, Canada and in Europe. There have been several attempts at restarting production with more modern engines and avionics.
Created by ATSimulations, the An-2 for Microsoft Flight Simulator is an Asobo/Microsoft released product exclusively available in the MSFS Marketplace for both PC and Xbox pilots. 4K textures, four variants, and several different liveries are available with the An-2. Those include a started wheeled variant, a modified wheeled variant with modern GPS technology, a float plane version, and a ski equipped variant.
Visuals and sounds
The An-2 for MSFS spent a long time in development (and waiting for licensing) and that seems to have ultimately been a good thing as this is one impressive aircraft both visually and aurally. ATSimulations really nailed the creation of this aircraft!
Let me start with the nitpicks and then I’ll get to the gushing. I feel like the black colour on the base cockpit texture might be a little bit too dark and the fuzzy seat isn’t very fuzzy. It’s marginally better than the DHC-4’s fuzzy seat that I reviewed earlier. Nitpicky, I know! That’s it. Everything else here is magnificent!
All of the toggle switches, the lights, the instruments, and the way that everything is integrated together and animated all feels like one cohesive and polished whole. Two cockpit variations, one with a old style Soviet ADF homing beacon system and a second with a GNS430/GNS530 setup, feel absolutely well integrated. Even these GPS systems feel like they belong on the aircraft thanks to great art design.
Those strong visuals go back into the rear cabin as well. Passenger seats are well rendered, the overhead cargo trays are highly detailed. Even the portholes out are sufficiently high poly to stand-up to reasonably close scrutiny. There are two variations on the back seat with some featuring some very uncomfortable looking benches while the other has only slightly more comfortable looking seats.
The outside of the An-2 is spectacular. Everything is beautifully detailed, the prop arc has an awesome custom striped texture, bump mapping is immaculate, and even the engine holds up to scrutiny at close range.
The sounds are great too. The engine sounds great, the startup sounds convincing, and the toggle switches are satisfying. Controls make movement sounds, the cabin door makes a satisfying click and thunk as it opens and closes, and the leading edge slats make a slightly alarming thunk of their own as they deploy and retract. Excellent work all around!
Flying the An-2
In the real world, the An-2 is a really impressive aircraft in some notable areas. It’s powerful engine, leading edge slats, tough landing gear, aerobatic capability and almost non existent stall means that the An-2 is terrific fun in the sim. And sure enough the real world and simulated world seem to come together nicely here.
Now, if you’re looking for an airplane with bad habits and razor edge handling the An-2 isn’t it. This is one of the most docile airplanes you can fly in MSFS. It feels very easy to chuck around and with proper trimming it almost flies itself.
There is no autopilot so you do have to hand fly this thing but its easy to manage without. I’m not completely sure if this is exactly how the An-2 is in real life but that’s how it is here.
The most fun you can have is to fly into small airports, in rough conditions, and still manage to nail the landing because you were flying so slowly that it made the landing a piece of cake. For example, I had a terrific time flying the ski equipped version in a mountain adventure just a few days ago. Landing on a frozen river and then heading back to base was awesome in the An-2!
Because this came up in my DHC-4 review, I do have to mention that the windscreen heater absolutely works here in the An-2 and helps keep the windows clear in icing conditions. Important for an airplane that might be flying into some rough strips in rough weather.
It’s also worth mentioning that the An-2 is not fast. It’s capable of 139 knots and that means it will take a while to get wherever you need to be going. A bit of time compression might be called for if you’re covering longer distances and you’re pressed for time. If not, sit back and enjoy the ride but be sure to stay on those controls.
The An-2 is really great in Microsoft Flight Simulator. This is a simple, quality package that comes with a good number of features, a reasonable though sometimes minimal number of liveries, great modeling, great audio work, good flight modeling that seems to live up to the reputation of the real thing, and it all comes together in a great package. And they are selling it for $14.99 USD so it’s not an expensive add-on.
On the downsides, the An-2 is slow and perhaps not the most exciting airplane from a handling perspective. It’s also worth reiterating that the cockpit is in Cyrillic and tool-tips are required for us who know our Latin/Roman alphabet and don’t know the Cyrillic print. Fly it for a little while and you stop reading the controls anyways.
The An-2 is a terrific and somewhat more esoteric bush plane option in a sim that already has quite a few of them. This one stands out thanks to its mystique that comes together to become more than the sum of its parts. I can easily recommend this one!
5 Comments Add yours
Been looking forward to this for a long time – glad it was worth the wait!
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I’m torn between this and the DHC-4.
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Both are good but I think the An-2 is a bit more completely realized. I had high hopes for the DHC-4 and was let down on a few items. It’s still good and its still fun and if that’s what you really want… go for it 🙂
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Glad you checked out the An-2, it’s quickly become my most used MSFS aircraft. The community has already made Polish and English cockpit labels, and a variety of cockpit colors, if that’s a barrier to anyone getting it.
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I knew someone would be along with some language modifications for the An-2. What a spectacular addition!