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OTH-079 Tupolev Tu-2 Bomber story. From prison to Berlin book
OTH-079 Tupolev Tu-2 Bomber story. From prison to Berlin book
At the very beginning
In 1937-38 the NKVD (State Security Police for Interior Affairs) bodies arrested many senior executives and designers of aviation industry. Among them were: Tupolev, Petliakov, Myasishchev, Tomashevich. At interrogations Tupolev pleaded guilty that he had organized an anti-Soviet group out of TsAGI (Central Aero-Hydrodynamics Institute) workers which participated in sabotage and then took part in wrecking work; that he was to blame for the first abortive attempt of Levanevski to fly from Moscow via the North Pole to the USA in 1935 as well as for his death during similar flight in 1937. It must be kept in mind that during his first flight Levanevski flew on a unique ANT-25 aircraft of Tupolev's design; as far as the second flight is concerned Tupolev didn't bear the slightest relation to it. Nevertheless such "avowals of guilt" suited the NKVD all the same. Other prisoners wrote similar cock-and-bull stories about themselves. To understand it one should remember that "...the usage of force in the NKVD practice was allowed since 1937 with the permission of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks)".
In the letter addressed to Beria Tupolev wrote "...Everything in the examination records signed by me doesn't correspond to reality and is a pure fabrication...". Further he wrote that the records were signed by him as a result of "perverted investigation methods" applied to him.
Everybody wrote the truth to Beria, but no one received an answer.
After prisoners "admitted" their guilt a decision was left to them - either to be sent to a reformatory/concentration camp for 10 -15 years or "to redress a wrong to their Motherland" working in a special prison - TsKB (Central Design Bureau) N 29 of the NKVD. Naturally, everyone chose the latter. All arrested aircraft specialists were concentrated in TsKB N 29. Four design departments were set up. The technical guidance of the departments was entrusted to the abovementioned wellknown soviet designers. Each department had its number and designed a separate aircraft project.
Department "103" headed by prisoner Tupolev worked on a twin-engined front bomber project. Discrepant versions as to how this idea came to Tupolev's mind are known. According to one of them he was maturing it when he was still in Butyrskaya prison. With great efforts he uphold his project speaking with Beria. Beria wanted a four-engined dive bomber to be built. Another version says that Tupolev, believing the Englishmen were the enemy number one, on his own initiative started the design of a four-engined diver to conquer the marine of the "sea sovereign". But later when the war broke out in Europe he believed that the fashist Germany became the main enemy of the USSR. In these conditions the major tasks were to be solved by front aviation, Tupolev thought. He ordered to stop the work on a four-engined aircraft and to start designing a twin-engined aircraft.
The archives' materials found recently made it possible to reconstitute the real march of events.
After being appointed the head of the team Tupolev gathered his employees and told them how he saw the task they faced. In his opinion the design of the dive bomber was the most promising. To be more sure that the WS (Air Force) would approve the project Tupolev suggested an unusual solution. The structure of the aircraft was to make it possible to transfer from the main four-engined variant to a reserve one with two engines. One of the variants would be approved by the military by all means, Tupolev believed.
The work that lay ahead was very difficult. It was complicated by the fact that the collective was new and small. Many specialists got acquainted quite recently, after being transferred from Butyrskaya prison to TsKB N 29. The work started with defining the technical outline of the aircraft. M-105TK engines were chosen for a four-engined variant, in case of transfer to a twin-engined variant it was decided to use M-120TK engines. Early in June 1939 a draft outline of the aircraft was ready as well as its first rough weight estimate. According to the scheme it was an allmetal cantilever monoplane with high mounted wing and a twin-finned vertical tail. Four water cooled M-105TK engines were installed at leading edges over the wing span.
The fuselage had two pressurized cabins: the front one for a pilot and a navigator, the rear - for a gunner-radio operator. The big bomb bay housed bombs up to the largest calibre. For the first time in domestic practice a free (not forced) outlet of bombs of any calibre at a steep dive was provided.
Aircraft armament consisted of 6 machine guns of 7.62 mm calibre, installed in pairs on three units: nose, rear turrent mount and hatch.
On September 29,1939 prisoner Tupolev reported the technical project "PB" (the Russian initials for the dive bomber) to the WS chiefs and TsKB N 29 top officials. The military were satisfied and reported their opinion to Beria. The latter sent a letter to People's Commissar of Defence of the USSR Voroshilov:
"ln the Special Technical Bureau of NKVD of the USSR a group of imprisoned specialists headed by engineer Tupolev worked out the project of a high-speed dive bomber "PB"...
The aircraft is designed for four M-105 engines, however the possibility of being transferred into two engines of greater capacity M-120 with minimum changes in the construction is foreseen... Please ... give me your opinion".
Early in January 1940 Beria received an answer from Voroshilov (it was prepared by aviation specialists of the People's Commissariat of Defence):
"...The construction of a four-engined dive bomber is not feasible because the tasks entrusted to a dive bomber can be solved easier and cheaper with a twin-engined variant. Taking this into account I believe it's necessary to instruct Tupolev's group to design a twin-engined dive bomber with M-120TK engines..."
This conclusion put an end to the four-engined program of "PB".
All efforts of the group concentrated on a twin-engined variant. Tupolev's foresight proved its value. On February 1, 1940 the military listened to Tupolev's report on this aircraft and discussed it.
The aircraft with M-120TK engines, having the code "FB" (front bomber), was defined as a high-speed aircraft for delivering blows in a combat zone and in the enemy's rear. The crew consisted of two members. A pilot was in a fore cockpit, a navigator - in a rear cabin, behind the wing centre section. A third member of the crew - a gunner of the hatch unit could be seated in a navigator's cabin. The possibility of carrying out fire attacks on land targets was foreseen. The design speed was up to 700-740 km/h(435-460 mph) at altitude of 12,000 metres(~ 40,000 ft), with bomb load 2,000 kg(4,410 Ib).
It was considered necessary to have such kind of an aircraft for the VVS. But the engines M-120TK were not available yet.
On June 1,1940 the Defence Committee ordered to build three prototype aircraft: the first one with AM-35A engines by January 1, 1941, the second and the third with M-120TK engines by March and May, 1941. "103" department had to make a new draft project for the usage of AM-37 engines. It was decided to use them in the last moment. The project became practically the technical description of aircraft "103" 2 AM-37. A finished aircraft stood in the assembly shop on January 8, 1941. On January 29 a test-pilot Nyukhtikov made a flight. The state tests, not fully completed because of the war that broke out, showed that the aircraft had an outstanding performance. It was noted "... to recommend the aircraft that has a speed of a modem fighter and that has passed the first stage of state tests for construction as a multi-purpose aircraft..."
In May 1940 the military claimed additional requirements to "103" aircraft. They defined the features of the second prototype aircraft "103U". A pilot and a navigator'were in a fore cabin, and a gunner-radio operator was in a rear one. Thus, the crew of "103U" could be 3 - 4 persons. On August 23,1940 the VVS Commission inspected the mock-up of the aircraft. It noted that "...the aircraft is of great interest for the WS of the Red Army as regards its flying characteristics, bomb load, armour protection and serviceability, it's necessary to speed up its production..."
The aircraft was built on April 9,1941, on May 18 Nyukhtikov made the first flight. The flying characteristics were recorded, then armament tests began.
On July 6, 1941 the right engine caught fire during the regular flight. In the emergency escape two people died, the pilot survived. The emergency commission didn't find construction defects. On July 27, 1941 the aircraft went into serial production.
The structure basically repeated the first aircraft and had many common invariable units. The fore cabin was designed anew because it was intended both for a pilot and a navigator. The stabilizer-elevator unit changed principally. During landing, simultaneously with shields letting out, the stabilizer could change the unit angle up to 4 degrees turning around fore units of fitting. It happened automatically, without pilot's participation, by means of a hydro gear which switched on when the shields deviated more than by 27 degrees.
Bomb armament included bombs of calibre ranging from 10 to 1,000 kg (22-2,205 Ib). Offensive armament included two cannons in the wing centre section, two machine guns in the fuselage fore part, ten rocket weapons under wing cantilevers.
Defensive armament: navigator's and gunner-radio operator's machine-gun units to protect the upper rear hemisphere; gunner's (hatch unit) machine gun to protect the lower rear hemisphere.
The production of units for a third «103B» aircraft took place at experimental plant's shops. It was desided to use M-82A air cooled engines. June 22, 1941 saw the beginning of the war. The German offensive moved swiftly. Tupolev was released on July 21. He was offered to adjust the serial production of "103U" in Omsk. The first factory's special train went there on July 25. Soon the prisoners of TsKB N 29 were transported there in cattle vans with guard. In Omsk they were gradually released and in 1943 the special prison ceased to exist.
In mid-November 1941 the construction of "103V" was finished. On December 15 the third prototype aircraft of «103» family raised into air. M.Vasyakin was a test-pilot.
The tests were finished after the first production aircraft were manufactured due to the non-completion of operational development of a propeller-engine unit. But even the preliminary conclusion on the results of plant and state mutual tests marked that "... aircraft "103V" meets tactical and technical specifications as regards its controllability, stability in relation to taking off/landing properties, manoeuvrability and temperature rejime of a propeller-engine group..."
At the end of the tests after some operational development "103V" met all the requirements of the WS and became the productional standard.
The reliable work of the modified engine M-82A, which was given the coded designation of ASh-82FNV, contributed to it very much.
Thus ends the unusual story about "103" prototype aircraft creation. Tupolev and his collective managed in complicated conditions to create and start the production of the aircraft that became the best front bomber of the Soviet VVS.
Serial production: projects and reality
Factory N 18. Voronezh. 1941.
Early February of 1941 saw the preparation for putting "103 "aircraft to serial production at Boronezh factory. To speed up the work it was planned to send there a group of arrested engineers headed by Tupolev. The war ruined this plan.
Factory N 166. Omsk. March - October 1942.
On June 23,1941, the following day the war broke out, the construction of bomb-proof shelters began. The prisoners also took part in it - two hours before the work and two hours after. On July 21 "the chief saboteur" - Tupolev - was released. He was instructed to organize the production of "103U" aircraft at factory N 166 in Omsk. The order was issued on July 27. The difficulty consisted in creating aviation factory (practically on an empty site) before starting aircraft production. However this fantastic task was fulfiled in complicated conditions. The assembly of the first aircraft began in November 1941. On November 20 an order was received: to start the production of aircraft with M-82A air-cooled engines according to "103V" type beginning with the first series. The task was coped with. The first production aircraft "103VS" appeared in March 1942. There were problems, failures, but in 1942 the factory produced 80 aircraft for two air regiments of the VVS. In October another order was received: to start the production of fighters instead of Tu-2...
Factory N 166. Omsk. June 1945 - April 1950.
The repeated serial production of Tu-2 was resumed after the war. 225 aircraft of various modifications were built.
Factory N 124. Kazan. January 1942.
At the end of 1941 the Defence Committee made a decision to start the production of Tu-2 at factory N 124 (at the time when serial production of the aircraft was not yet set going in Omsk!). A representative delegation headed by Tupolev came to the plant from Omsk. At that time the plant produced Petlyakov's Pe-2. Petlyakov, being not informed about a new order, urgently flew to Moscow for the explanation. The aircraft crashed in awful weather conditions. Everybody died. Petlyakov's death lead to disaffirmation of the strange decision. Factory N 124 continued to produce Pe-2 till the end of the war.
Factory N 23. Moscow. July 1943 - May 1949.
Early in 1943, after Tu-2 production was stopped at factory N 166, Tupolev returned to Moscow. He took energetic steps to be given a factory to resume Tu-2 production. Several times he addressed Stalin. On July 17, 1943 he was given the factory N 23. The factory became the major supplier of Tu-2 and more than a half of all the aircraft were built there.
Factory N 39. Irkutsk. 1947 -1950.
The factory built various modifications of Tu-2. All in all 218 aircraft were built.
Factory N 82.Moscow. 1947.
The factory produced ten Tu-2 manufactured as a high speed day bomber variant.
Factory N 1. Kuibyshev. 1946.
The factory built six Tu-2 as a reconnaissance variant.
Certain quantity of Tu-2 were built at factories N 39 and N 82 during the Korean war 1950-53.
All in all there were built 2,527 Tu-2 of various modifications.
In the mid 1942 the WS expressed their wish to have a reconnaissance variant of Tu-2. Such aircraft with an additional fuel tankage in a bomb bay and the necessary photo equipment were produced and used on the front. However, the reconnaissance Tu-6, that was build in series, had tests only in 1946.
Tu-2Sh Ground Attack Aircraft.
The 0KB (Experimental Design Bureau) designed several variants of ground attack aircraft but they were not put into production due to various reasons.
Tu-2T Torpedo Carrier.
The work on torpedo carrier began at the end of 1944. In February-April 1945 it passed state tests and it was recommended to add it to the armoury.
Tu-2 SDB High-Speed Day Bomber.
The experience of using Tu-2 in solving various battle tasks made the WS understand the necessity of creating a new type of a battle aircraft - a high-speed day bomber. The 0KB got the task to design SDB in May, 1944. Three prototype aircraft of this class were built in a short period of time. The report on the second aircraft tests that took place in the middle of 1945 marked that the technical performance of the aircraft considerably exceeded those of home and foreign aircraft of the same type, "Mosquito" included. The third prototype aircraft with two AM-39FN2 engines with code Tu-10 was put into serial production. It embodied all the best characteristics of an aircraft of such purpose - high speed in conjunction with high bomb load, powerful defensive armament and the required range of flight. Tu-10 became the last piston bomber of such class. The 0KB began to work on jet aircraft.
At the end of 1943 the VVS gave the task to design an interceptor to fight strategic bombers both in the day-time and at night. It meant that an aircraft with powerful offensive armament and radio-locator equipment was needed. In July 1944 such aircraft was built. It had "Gnace" equipment that could locate an enemy at night and in cloudiness at distance 6-8 km (3.7-5 miles) and lead the intercepter at a distance of aimed fire. However non-operational development couldn't allow to take it to armoury.
The second interceptor with «Gnace-7» equipment was tested in 1947. The results were rather good. This time the aircraft was not put into production because of the absence of serial engines AM-43. The aircraft used pilot engines that soon worked out their service life.
Tu-2D Long-Range Bomber.
The first estimates and structure outline of the aircraft were made in 1941. But at that time the priority was given to front bombers, not long-range ones. That is why the "103D" program was discontinued. It was decided to return to Tu-2 - long-range variant in 1943 when the Red Army assumed the offensive. The main differences in comparison with the production aircraft were as follows: the surface of wing and fin assembly was increased; fuel tanks' volume increased from 2,650 I to 3,930 I; pilot's field of view was improved. Five modifications of Tu-2D with various engines were built during four years. All the attempts to fulfil the main task - to reach the required flight range - turned out to be futile. In 1948 it was decided to stop the program on Tu-2D. At that time the serial production of a four-engined bomber Tu-4 began that solved all the tasks that were entrusted to Tu-2D.
UTB-2 Trainer Bomber.
The Tu-2 production didn't stop after the war. The output of aircraft increased. A simple and cheap aircraft for airmen preparation for Tu-2 handling was needed. The Design Bureau of P. Sukhoi was entrusted with the task. The scheme of Tu-2 was taken as a basis. Consultations with the WS made it possible to simplify the structure and considerably decrease the take-off mass of the aircraft.
The production of UTB-2 began in 1946. The aircraft was used in the VVS schools, for towage of cone-shooting marks and preparation of civil aviation aircrew members.
102 pages, 66 photos, 5 schemes, 8 illustrations
1. 103V aircraft
2. The first Tu-2 serial airplane
3. The first Tu-2 serial airplane
4. Serial Tu-2 plant No.38/49
5. Side views of serial Tu-2 with plant No.10053915 manufactured at air plant of Irkutsk
6. 68 with AM-39FN2 engines, identified as Tu-10 had been manufactured by the small series
7. 67 - version of Tu-2 long-range bomber, equipped with ACh-30BF diesel engines
8. Serial bomber aircraft of Tu-2 (factory No. 10013901) - reference copy issued by the Irkutsk airfactory ? 39 in May, 1949. By the plane the fodder gun installation VEU-1/B-20