Tu-4P Giant Night Fighter
The Continental air command early-warning radar aircraft combat airplane is the Tu-4, re-equipping as a giant night fighter aircraft, possibly the world the biggest air combat fighter. The Tu-4 was the American B-29 bomber aircraft which the Soviet Union imitates, and in March 1953 gave 10 to China. This batch of Tu-4 airplanes equipped the air force 4th Independent Groups, then stationed in the Hebei Shijiazhuang. Harassed by the Taiwan P2V-7U, the mainland air force, during re-equipping the Tu-2 night fighter, also proposed making modifications and re-equipping the Tu-4.
The Tu-4 night fighter re-equipping used a different plan. The airborne radar approach used was called "Cobalt" PSBN bombing aiming radar. This kind of radar's search range amounted to 100 kilometers, can be steered around 60 degrees, but can also make a 360-degree panoramic scan. This kind of radar was mainly used in the Il-28 bomber aircraft, where it was installed in the front of and underneath the the airplane. With the re-equipped Tu-4 night fighters, the "Cobalt" the radar was installed on the airplane's back turret, and the radar and optical sights needed to be cross-linked. To ensure night operation, the optical sight, searchlights and infrared sights were installed in the front cabin, and this kind of sight can discover the P2V-7U target within 3 kilometers. The Tu-4 spacious bomb bays were converted for use as an airborne command post, mounting in the cabin the radar external connection monitor, and placed the chart table and communications link in the cabin, for receiving ground air intelligence and coordinating Tu-4 airplanes on the emplacement of the operations.
After the conversion the Tu-4P giant night fighter was simply a giant airborne cruiser. Equipped with five pairs of body-mounted 23 millimeter aerial cannons in revolving turrets, even Taiwan's F-86 fighter aircraft were not the Tu-4P's match. At that time the four powerful engines which drove the giant invincible night fighter made a huge roar in the sky and raised dust everywhere to capture the mouse-like P2V. The pilot's hearts are always filled with invincible, indomitable pride and feeling of superiority. However, the Tu-4P record is not satisfactory.
On 19 December 1960 an attempt was made to intercept one P2V at night in Zhangjiakou by three batches of giant Tu-4P night fighters. The Tu-4P almost did not need the ground radar control, as they could use their own "Cobalt" radar to find the goal very quickly. The ground director guiding the Tu-4P to intercept at night was the opposite to guiding the Mig-17, the difference between "heaven on earth". The P2V was nearly unable to get rid of these giant fighter aircraft. But the equipment was really bad - the infrared sights' error amounted to nearly 2 degrees, and had a very heavy afterglow. In several raids the Tu-4P opened fire in pursuit, but did not cause P2V mortal harm. And when this P2V arrived in the Shandong Linyi sky, it encountered the third batch of Tu-4P in dogfight which lasted for 35 minutes, but the P2V finally escaped.
Although the modified Tu-4P was too unwieldy as a night fighter, there was already the early early-warning aircraft's embryonic form. During World War II the performance of the U.S. Navy's carrier-borne TBM-3W "Avenger" early warning aircraft was also mediocre. However, in the nine years from 1960-1969 the mainland air force di not make further effort in the development of airborne early warning aircraft. In 1966 the Great Cultural Revolution erupted, which had a large negative impact on technology advancement, and many very good projects and proposal were put aside.
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