When the Second World War broke out, Switzerland moved rapidly to declare its neutral status, just as it had in the First World War. This didn't mean that the Swiss did not trade for military equipment with the fighting powers. Indeed, the Swiss authorities concluded deals with both France (Morane-Saulnier D-3801 fighter, a development of the MS.406), and Germany (Bf 109D/E/F/G, the Bf108 Taifun and the Fiesler Fi 156 Storch) for the warplanes they needed.
The Second World War in Europe was winding rapidly down, when the Swiss aviation concern, Pilatus Flugzeugwerke AG, rolled out a prototype of their new trainer – the first flight coming on 27th April 1945, not long 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 from the Bf109s 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. This gave a maximum speed of 211 mph, a range of 530 miles and a respectable initial climb rate of 1,280 ft/min. One interesting feature is the finned spinner; this rotated and provided power to the actuator of the variable-pitch propeller, a Hoffman Argus L22.
Fifty two of these handsome aircraft were taken on charge by the Swiss Air Force, half as dual control trainers, the P-2-05, and half as weapons trainers (armed with a synchronized machinegun in the nose, light bombs and rockets), the P-2-06. The P2 had a long and useful life, finally being retired in 1981. After disposal onto the civilian market, they proved to be extremely popular with the ‘warbird’ fraternity, and have appear (painted as Luftwaffe aircraft) in a number of feature films – ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’, for example. This example, a P-2-05 built in 1946, and appropriately-registered G-PTWO, is seen parked in the sun at the Great Vintage Flying Weekend, Hullavington. Following its disposal, it was bought by Stephen Grey, the famous warbird owner and pilot, who founded 'The Fighter Collection' based at IWM Duxford. Following this it was acquired by 'Robs' Lamplough, a racing driver and vintage aircraft enthusiast. Very recently, (25th October, 2012), this desirable warbird has been bought by Radim Vojta of Prague, Czech Republic. Although the aircraft has remained on the British Register, I would say that a departure, eastward, is on the cards - which will be a sad thing, for the P-2 is a handsome aircraft!