The origins of TB-4 are the same as those of TB-1 and TB-3. The Leningrad Ostekhburo (OTB), engaged in inventions in the field of military affairs, was interested in aircraft for the transport of heavy and large-sized military equipment. It was with the filing of the OTB in the AGOS TsAGI, led by A.N. Tupolev, began work on machines that later turned into TB-1 and TB-3. Already later, the Air Force Directorate (VWS) became the customer for these aircraft , changing the technical specifications and turning them into heavy bombers.
A similar path was passed by TB-4. As early as 1929, OTB was interested in the possibility of constructing a large-capacity aircraft - up to 25-30 tons. The estimates made in TsAGI showed that at present it is unrealistic, but it is possible to create a machine capable of lifting about 10 tons. In the dialogue between the OTB and TsAGI, the UVVS intervened , deciding to make a flying giant a super-bomber. In November 1929, the AGOS TsAGI, the military officially ordered the design and construction of a prototype heavy bomber under the designation TB-4.
Although the country lived poorly, money was not spared money for military equipment. The Red Army really had to become stronger "from the taiga to the British seas". A powerful army required numerous air forces equipped with modern technology. Their attack force was to be the armada of huge bomb-carriers. One of the steps on the way to fulfill this dream was TB-4. The first version of the technical requirements for the aircraft was prepared by the military in March 1930. In April of the same year, the bomber entered the experimental work plan approved by the Labor and Defense Council (SRT). A month later, TsAGI started work on a project called ANT-16. The general leadership was carried out by A.N. Tupolev. The new aircraft was to be a development of the concept, embodied earlier in the ANT-6 (TB-3),but with an amendment to a completely different scale. In the report of TsAGI for 1929/30 fiscal year it was written: "ANT-6 is a transition stage to the next even more powerful and much larger aircraft". That's them and was TB-4.
The creation in the USSR in the early 1930s of the heavy bomber TB-3 and its acceptance into the Red Army's armament put forward the Russian air force to the forefront in the world. For the first time in world practice, the USSR deployed powerful strike aviation groups capable of independently solving strategic tasks.
The apparent success of AN Tupolev and his colleagues in the creation of TB-3 allowed the team to continue to find ways to create heavier "bomb-carriers". They were, in fact, the development of the basic design of TB-3 in the direction of increasing the size of the glider and the total power of the power plant while maintaining the specific loads on the wing and engine power.
As a result, in the first half of the 1930s, several projects of superheavy bombers appeared that literally amazed contemporaries in size and carrying capacity, while they had relatively low speeds and altitudes. By the mid-1930s, Tupolev's concept of the basic design of a low-speed low-powered multimotor bomb with the advent of the first high-speed fighters and the general development of air defense weapons began to quickly become obsolete.
Although the doctrine of the Italian General D. Douhet about the decisive role of heavy bomber aviation in the war in the USSR has never been fully accepted, many of its provisions have had a significant impact on the creation of domestic heavy bomb-carriers. At this stage, the aviation industry was faced with the task of sequentially creating superheavy bombers with a bomb load of up to 25,000 kg, while maintaining the range and speed achieved on TB-3.
The first step in this direction was the exchange of views in October 1929 between the STC UVVS and TsAGI on the possibility of building heavy military aircraft with a carrying capacity of 10,000-25,000 kg.
In December 1929, on the basis of TsAGI calculations, the UVVS reported that it considered the construction of an airplane with a carrying capacity of 25 tons unreal, since it could not be based on domestic industry and would require large foreign orders. In addition, the separation from the real industrial capabilities of the country would limit the construction of aircraft of this class only in selected prototypes.
TsAGI believed that in relation to such machines, only research and development work can be organized so far, and the design and construction of an airplane with a carrying capacity of up to 10 tons can be carried out within the next 2-3 years. As a result of these discussions, at the beginning of November 1929, the Air Force ordered a heavy bomber TB-4 (ANT-16) from TsAGI . In March 1930, the UVVS approved the requirements for a new bomb for engines M-35, the total capacity of 5000 hp.
This machine, according to the military, was supposed to have a maximum total load of about 18,000 kg, of which the combat load would be up to 10,000 kg, a range of -2,000 km, the speed at the nominal operating mode of the engines is 200 km / h, the practical ceiling is 5000 m, landing speed - 100 km / h, takeoff -250 m, mileage with the use of brakes -100 m (without brakes - 300 m).
In March 1930, the UVVS ordered the TsAGI to develop an ANT-16 heavy bomber (TB-4). The new machine was supposed to have a maximum total load of about 18,000 kilograms, a flight range of 2,000 kilometers, a speed of 200 kilometers per hour and a practical ceiling of 5,000 meters. The plane was planned to be equipped with 6 engines. The bomber was intended for the destruction of large military-industrial facilities and rear communications of the enemy.
In April 1930, the Soviet of Labor and Defense of the USSR approved a plan for pilot aircraft construction, which featured work on the creation of TB-4 (ANT-16). Actually, work on the experimental machine took more than two years instead of the planned year, in May 1930, the sketch design began. Only in December 1932, the required engines were received, and in February 1933 they began to take out the machine units to the airfield. By April 1933 ANT-16, basically, assembled, the debugging and small installation works began. In July - flight tests.
October 12, 1930. The Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR approved the plan of experimental work for 1930-1933. It set the following parameters for the new bomber: maximum speed 200 km / h, practical ceiling 5000 - 6000 m, range 1000 km, bomb load 7000 kg, armament of six - eight machine guns and one gun (caliber 20 or 37 mm). The deadline for the prototype of a huge bomber was determined by December 1, 1931. The priority of the claims was clearly defined: the first was the payload, the second - the range of flight, the third - "fire independence" (the ability to defend oneself from enemy fighters), and the height and speed was last.
The practice of designing an airplane for engines that do not yet exist, of course, was vicious. But for grandiose Soviet plans, it was the norm - so they constantly had to change, adjusting to the actual situation. They wanted to get it faster and with the best, the newest bundle. Therefore, the tasks were written down by engines that are only drawn on paper, devices that are not yet available, guns and machine guns, which undergo a painful process of fine-tuning. In TsAGI, first a draft ANT-16 design was completed for four M-35 engines in full compliance with the assignment. It was completed in October 1930. Then they realized that the plane should be built according to the plan, and there are no required engines, and it is not expected in the near future.
The serial production of TB-4 was intended to be carried out until 1937. It was assumed that by this time these first-class battleships would constitute 40% of the heavy-bomber aviation fleet. By January 1, 1938, the RKKA Air Force was supposed to have 288 TB-4s.
The reasons for the low flight data of TB-4 were clear. The power of six M-34 for a bomber of this weight simply was not enough. The old TB-3 with M-17 engines had a load of 7.4 kg / hp, and ANT-16 had a load of 8.6 kg / hp. Even reducing the load on the wing (63.3 kg / m 'vs. 78.3 kg / m'), it was not possible to parry. In addition, the speed of the M-34 engines was too great for slow-moving TB-4. The efficiency of the screws was quite low, not allowing to fully use even the available power. The aircraft was equipped with old-fashioned wooden two-bladed propellers of fixed pitch of three different sizes.
The design was led by AN Tupolev, AA Arkhangelsky engaged in the construction of the fuselage, VM Petlyakov - wings, NS Nekrasov - plumage, I. Pogossky and E. I. Pogossky - power plant, N. I.Petrov - the chassis.
The creation of an experimental machine took more than two years. From February to July 1933, the aircraft was assembled and refined at the Central Airfield.
July 3, 1933, the crew of test pilot MM Gromov raised ANT-16 on the first flight. The pilot highly appreciated the advantages of the machine and the aircraft was transferred to joint state and military tests. The bomber on most parameters met the requirements of the UVVS, but it was noted that the machine has room for improvement.
Military specialists provided a number of requirements for the ANT-16, which should be taken into account when constructing the "backup" and the first production aircraft. Construction of the "double" was started in 1932, but on July 2, 1933, before the tests began, all work on it was stopped, and the main bomber equipment was transferred to create another giant aircraft, ANT-20 (Maxim Gorky).
At the end of 1933 the entire program for ANT-16 was canceled. The main reason is a change in the views of the army leadership on the future of the bomber aviation. The UVVS gradually declined in favor of high-speed and high-altitude machines capable of overcoming long distances and performing tasks without the constant support of fighters.
In the future, the experimental ANT-16 was used for tests related to the creation of heavy aircraft and the development of light armored vehicles transport systems. Work was underway to create a passenger aircraft on the basis of the ANT-16; in 1932, the possibility of using a steam turbine power plant with a maximum output of 6,000 hp was studied.
The design team of AN Tupolev, relying on the experience of creating ANT-16 (TB-4), continued work on multi-engine aircraft, later designing ANT-20 "Maxim Gorky", ANT-24, ANT-26.
Under the designation ANT-24 in the design bureau, preliminary studies were made of an enlarged version of the TB-4 aircraft for four new M-44 engines with a nominal design capacity of 2,000 hp. The ANT-24 project became transitional to the ANT-26 (TB-6) heavy bomber project.
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