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Tu-2 Dive Bomber / Night Fighter

The Tu-2 dive bomber, also used as a light bomber and reconnaissance plane, was an exceptional Soviet aircraft of World War II. The first airplanes entered combat in July 1941, but mass production was delayed until the end of 1943. By the end of the war the Tu-2 had proved itself in variety of different operational roles. The aircraft was successfully used against Japanese troops in China and later by the Soviet and Chinese Air Forces during the Korean War in 1950-1953. The Korean War was the last major war to witness the deployment of piston aircrafts. The Soviet Yak-9 fighters and Tu-2 bombers frequently appeared in the skies above the battlefield in support of Northern forces.

At that time, although the Mig-17 had night flying capability, the intercept range was too short. Regardless of whether the fuel tank was full on takeoff, soon after the MiG pilot took off, surely the fuel mass indicator made a sound warning that the fuel was low. This sound made the pilot anxious while in pursuit of enemy airplanes. Sometimes even before the target was discovered the goal, the fuel indicator had already started to report an emergency.

Therefore the Continental air command urgently needed a long night flight combat aircraft. In June 1958, the Continental air command installed RG-5 the radar on the Tu-2 bomber aircraft. When intercepting the low altitude Kuomintang airplanes, its cruise endurance may be up to 8 hours.

The Tu-2 airplane's shortcomings is that it is a slower aircraft. China implemented a a distributed deployment of the radar equipped Tu-2 at airports in vital areas, such as Jiangxi Xiangtang, Jiangsu Shuo, Zhengzhou and other places. However this attempt to use the Tu-2 to intercept the P2V-7U was not successful. The re-equipped Tu-2 night fighter had a detection range of less than 10 kilometers with th RG-5 radars, can only make an azimuth of 60 degrees scanning to the front. But the P2V-7U actually had an early-warning APS-20 radar that could scan 360 degrees azimuth, and had a moving target indicator that could show a moving target in the background clutter. The ASP-20 had a 105 kilometers range for low target detection. The detection range and scope of both the target and clutter detection capability of the Tu-2 were less favorable than the P2V-7U, and the Tu-2 maximum speed was only 547 km per hour, while the P2V-7U had a maximum flight speed of 556 km per hour. The technical indicators for the completion of the task made it very difficult to intercept. In the five years from 1959 to 1964, the Tu-2 night fighters did not obtain any victory.

On the dark night of 19 November 1960, a pair of Tu-2 took off from Henan Zhengzhou to intercept the P2V-7U from Anhui, but one crashed into Mt. Songshan. The reason is RG-5 the radar does not have the means to discriminate the mountain and the target, but on the P2V-7U APS-20 radar can actually see clearly the mountainous region, and found the route to detour around the mountain. At that time P2V-7U adopted the tactic flying straight to the mountain peak, then following the terrain to leap around the mountain peak. The pursuing Tu-2 could not distinguish clearly the mountain from the airplane.

When this P2V-7U returned from the Sanmen Straits, the other Tu-2 RG-5 radar detected it. Because of their relative positions, the two airplanes approached to within 1 kilometer but the P2V-7U was not discovered. Because it was excessively near, at that time the ground P-3 meter-wave radar was already unable to differentiate the target and Tu-2, as the two signals folded nearly in the same place. Therefore the ground control ordered the ground-to-air units to shoot blindly. The intense muzzle flash blinded the pilot, who was unable to see clearly and crashed into thee mountain. One P2V-7U caused two Tu-2 night fighter aircraf to crash, because the RG-5 radar performance was inadequate.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:47:30 ZULU