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Pe-2 bomber

The Pe-2 high-speed dive-bomber became the same symbol of the Great Patriotic War as the PPSh submachine gun, the T-34 tank, or the Katyusha jet guard mortar. Soviet pilots of bomber aviation met on Pe-2 the first day of the war and flew to Berlin and Tokyo in 1945. It was the most massive dive bomber in the history of domestic aircraft manufacturing and one of the most massive aircraft in the country in general: in the five years of serial production (from the beginning of 1941 to the beginning of 1946) four aircraft factories produced a total of 11 247 winged vehicles, and in all possible variants, from the most massive bomber to the very rare fighter with the possibility of night flights; and only in one quality - a torpedo - Pe-2 was never used.

The prototype, developed as a high-altitude fighter, emeged in the middle of 1938 from the CKB-29 acting under the auspices of the NKVD and formerly called the Spetstehotdel, or STO. According to the letter designation VI, there is no discrepancy: it was deciphered as a "high-altitude fighter".

The initial task before Petlyakov and his associates was set as follows: to create a fighter capable of effectively acting against the high-altitude bombers of a probable enemy and accompanying one's own. At the same time, among the main requirements, which is natural, were powerful cannon-machine-gun weapons, high speed and maneuverability, which, naturally, required a tenacious design. And the "Petlyakovites" managed to combine all this in one car, which was quite unusual for Soviet aircraft of those years of appearance: quite "lean", with a low-lying wing with two engines and two-keel plumage. In this case, since it was a high-altitude airplane, the cockpit (the aircraft was designed in a double, with the possibility of duplicating the control of the navigator) was supposed to be made airtight.

But this mission was eventually abandoned when it became clear that there were no high-altitude bombers, but the Red Army desperately needed a new frontal bomber. The Tupolev high-speed bomber SB-2, which made up the basis of the Soviet bomber aviation, which proved to be very successful in the mid-1930s, quickly became obsolete. First of all, because it ceased to be high-speed: the fighter planes of Germany and Japan that had entered service already doubled, or even more, its speed characteristics.

In the beginning of 1940, all efforts were directed to a new dive bomber. The rush was enormous: everyone understood that the country was on the threshold of war, and they demanded a new aircraft as quickly as possible. On April 11, 1940, state tests began, on May 1, an experienced PB-100 flew over Red Square during the May Day parade, and 10 days later the act on the end of its tests was signed. In the series the plane went on June 23, exactly one year before the start of the Great Patriotic War. The first regiment, armed with new aircraft, flew over Red Square on May 1, 1941.

The unique capabilities of the Pe-2, which he was endowed with by Vladimir Petlyakov and his associates, even in the first, most difficult days of the war, allowed pilots to demonstrate real miracles. The "pawns", as these pilots nicknamed, fought on all fronts of the Great Patriotic War, and not only in the Air Force, they were armed with the air units of all Soviet navies: the Baltic, Black Sea, North and Pacific. And everywhere the pilots, despite the uneasy character of the car and the difficulties of piloting, especially during take-off and landing, showed sincere respect and affection for it. So often they refused to change planes to more comfortable foreign bombers, although it was difficult to blame the very "pawn" for a surplus of comfort. But it was fast, maneuverable, well armed, reliable and tenacious.

Pe-2 showed itself so well at the front that the command of the Soviet Air Force directly and through the State Committee of Defense required as many aircraft as possible from aircraft builders. And the aircraft factories did the impossible, sharply increasing the pace of release of "pawns." If for the whole of 1941 they surrendered to the front 1671 aircraft, then in 1942 there are already 2524! Almost as many - 2,428 vehicles - the army and navy received in 1943, when the Pe-2 took the first place in the number of vehicles of this model in Soviet bomber aviation.

And "pawns" were continuously improved: gradually they were getting more and more powerful defensive weapons, more powerful engines and more and more effective equipment. That is why the Pe-2 fought without a break until the very end of the war. Their last documented combat sortie in the West took place on May 7, 1945, when they bombed the runway of the Zirau airfield, preventing German planes from flying to Sweden. And in the East, three regiments of "pawns" took part in the war with Japan from August 9 to September 2, 1945.

By that time the aircraft factories had ceased to produce the Pe-2 military variants for two months already: this decision was made in June 1945. In December of the same year, the last training UPE-2 was rolled out of the gates of Kazan Aviation Plant, and the issue of the legend of Soviet bomber aviation was discontinued. In the Soviet Union, the "pawns" were finally removed from service in 1946.

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Pe-2 bomber

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Page last modified: 30-08-2018 17:21:14 ZULU