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TB-7, Pe-8 (ANT-42) Heavy bomber - Program

In July 1934, before the unveiling of the Boeing Model 299 a yar later on July 17, 1935, in the Tupolev Design Bureau, a new four-engine heavy bomber began to be developed by Vladimir Michajlovic Petlyakov's brigade. It flew to bomb Berlin in the first months of the war. Long-range aviation (ADD) carried out a number of operations on these aircraft. On a TB-7 for the first time, before the US and England, were raised 5-ton bombs, although the action of the aircraft in Soviet conditions often were more tactical than strategic. In May 1943, Koenigsberg was bombed on it, and on the Kursk Bulge in July 1943, 5-ton bombs were dropped onto the German strike group.

The first copy of the aircraft was released in the autumn of 1936. The first flight (MM Gromov and NS Rybko) was held on December 27, without the ACN, and only on August 11, 1937, a flight was made with four AM-34FRN engines at 930 / 1200 liters. from. and one M-100 engine in 850 hp. with the ACP turned on.

At an altitude of 8000 m, the aircraft showed a speed of 403 km / h and reached a ceiling of 10,800 m. It was noted that the aircraft at a higher altitude is faster than all known heavy bombers and equaled the best fighters. The design of the backup airplane was started in April 1936, and its first flight took place in July 1938.

The plane TB-7 (Pe-8) was created and entered into life in difficult conditions of incomplete clarity of the question, to what extent the Soviet Union needed a heavy strategic bomber, provided that the Red Army was to conduct offensive actions, and not to defend itself. Nevertheless, the TB-7 aircraft left a significant mark in the history of Soviet aviation.

At the beginning of 1939, serial production of the new bomber began, which lasted until the end of the year. With no engines, only 12 machines were built. At the same time, the supreme command of the Soviet aviation lost interest in the project, considering it to be too expensive and unhelpful. Despite the suspension of production, Zaklady nr. 124 in Kazan, where bombers were produced, retained the possibility of resuming serial production. The changing situation on the front meant that the decision of Jzef Stalin himself resumed the production of TB-7, which received the new designation Pe-8. The change of name was dictated by the general reorganization of aircraft naming in the Soviet aviation, shfting from mission designators to designer designators. After the release of AM-35A engines, the Pe-8 bombers began to be equipped with M-82 air-cooled engines. This version of the Pe-8 was also used after the war, in particular for research purposes, as well as for the Polar aviation.

Despite the positive decision of the commission on the results of the test of the aircraft, its mass production was really not organized. It is unclear how many Pe-8s were built. Western sources list only 79 built into October 1941, when the state factory building the type had to be abandoned in front of the German invasion, and that the M-82-powered aircraft were mostly or all refits. More reliable Russian sources claim that the Pe-8 was actually built into 1944 and that total production was 93 or 96, with later production of new M-82 powered machines from a state factory in Kazan.

The manufactured aircraft received the 14th heavy bomber regiment, whose numerical designation later changed to 412th, 432rd, 746th, and finally 25. Colonel Lebedev stood at his head and, almost immediately after the German attack, began preparations for a raid on Berlin . The machines started in the evening on August 10, 1941 from Pushkin Airport near Leningrad, but the result of the first event was disappointing.

A total of eight diesel engine aircraft were deployed, but the first one crashed shortly after the start, three more before reaching the German capital, and of the four machines that actually dropped their bombs at the center of the Third Reich, only two returned. Of the six lost machines, five of them fell on engine failures (the sixth first attacked the Russian fighter by mistake and then damaged the German flak).

Thediesel had excellent paper outputs, but they did not fit for long-term operation at altitudes . Therefore, the accelerated rebuilding of TB-7 aircraft with diesels began back to a version that had less powerful but more reliable AM-35 petrol engines. Production of this form continued in 1942, when the aircraft was renamed according to the new system introduced by the Soviet Air Force.

The engineer Petljakov was killed in a crash on January 12, 1942, and his "machine" was named Pe-8. (nicknamed "Petljakov" while smaller Pe-2 was known as the "Pesek".) Still also continued the search for an optimal engine and soon actually came outcome as excellent radial M-82 (later known as A-82), which had proven themselves, for example, in Lavochkin fighters. Although it was necessary to rebuild the motor gondola, the result was worth it because the four engines, each delivering almost 1,300 kW, finally ensured reliability and good performance. The maximum range increased to 5,800 km.

In any case, by 1944 the Pe-8 was no longer up to first-line combat against much improved Luftwaffe night fighter defenses, and was retired to second-line duties. It operated in various roles in the postwar period, including operation as a test bed and transport service with Aeroflot, and flew into the early 1950s before being phased out entirely.

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Page last modified: 30-08-2018 17:21:22 ZULU