Silver bullet! The Pilatus P2

The Second World War in Europe was winding down rapidly, when the Swiss aviation concern, Pilatus, rolled out a prototype of their new trainer – the first flight coming on 27th April, 1945, notlong before VE-Day. Designed to be produced as quickly and economically as possible, the Swiss company used as many components from their German aircraft stocks as possible. The tailwheel, some canopy components and the main undercarriage and fairings were the early model Bf109s that the Swiss had bought from Messerschmitt. The engine was an air-cooled inverted V-12 Argus AS 410 of some 485hp, as used in such Luftwaffe aircraft as the Focke-Wulf Fw189 and the Arado Ar96 trainer.

Fifty two of these handsome aircraft were taken on charge by the Swiss Air Force, half as dual control trainers, half as weapons trainers (armed with a synchronized machine gun and light stores). The P2 had a long and useful life, finally being retired by the Swiss Air Force in 1981. Since then they have proved to be popular aircraft with ‘warbird’ owners, not least in part because they resemble a ‘generic’ Luftwaffe aircraft from WW2. As such, they have appeared in many films, including ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’

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