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Soviet Heavy Bombers
Tyazhelyiy Bombardirovshhik TB

TB-1 ANT-4B-9
TB-2 Polikarpov
TB-3 ANT-6
TB-4 ANT-16
TB-6 ANT-26B-19
TB-7 ANT-42 / Pe-8B-17
Italian General Giulio Douhet published a book in 1921 on the role of aviation in modern warfare, three times reissued under the title "Command in the Air." Its main thesis was the assertion about the possibility of achieving victory in general without the use of troops on the ground. In the Soviet Union, the Italian was publicly criticized, considering the theory of reactionary, because he spoke about the possibility of winning relatively small but well-equipped forces of professionals over the classical mass, "people's" army.

The first heavy bombers of the Air Force of the Red Army were the German Ju-1. Under this designation, the Soviets used the Junkers KZO aircraft. It was a military version of a full-metal passenger vehicle G.24 with three L5 engines. Since Germany was bound by the limitations of the Treaty of Versailles, which prohibited not only the construction of military aircraft, but also the production of machines suitable for military use, the final assembly of KZO was carried out at a subsidiary of the Junkers firm in Limham, in Sweden.

The first Ju-1 models appeared in the Soviet Union even earlier than the French Goliaths. July 1, 1925 with the Junkers signed an agreement on the purchase of three aircraft with sets of wheel and float chassis (228 thousand rubles each), as well as two spare engines. In the case of a successful outcome of the tests, they intended to give the concession factory Junkers, located in Fili, an order for three batch bombers of 10 or 15 cars each. This enterprise was an unfinished plant of the association RBVZ. After the transfer to the concession, the Germans brought it in order, brought their engineers and skilled workers, and then established the production of land and float all-metal scouts supplied by the Air Force of the Red Army.

In March 1924, the task of designing a new bomber-biplane with two Liberty Motors was given to the plant GAZ #1. American Motor Ford "Liberty" with a capacity of 400 hp was copied from the trophy samples captured during the Civil War. Design of the aircraft was conducted under the direction of L.D. Kolpakova-Miroshnichenko. He conceived a large wooden biplane with the placement of engines on the farms between the upper and lower wing. The plane was called L1-2M5 or B-1. In November 1925, the B-1 was put on trial. The bomber was tested until the autumn of 1926, when it was finally recognized that it was unfit for serial production. The tail part of the fuselage was not rigid enough and in flight suffered from torsional oscillations.

In April 1925, a new technical assignment was issued for a larger bomber in size and weight - Tyazhelyiy Bombardirovshhik TB - Heavy Bomber. The four-engine vehicle was supposed to carry up to 2,000 kg of bombs. As engines, M-5 was again chosen - the most powerful of the then-produced in the Soviet Union. The fuselage was to be made entirely of wood. Only the Polikarpov project, called B-2, was subjected to more detailed elaboration. In the course of the design of the aircraft, renamed to TB-2, designers switched to the use of more powerful German engines BMW Ch1. A large wooden biplane could carry up to 2,000 kg of bombs (800 kg of them inside the fuselage). In the spring of 1930 the plane passed a short factory test, at which it showed a speed of 216 km / h - slightly more than that of the Tupolev TB-1. But for all other characteristics, it was inferior to the competitor, which was already running in mass production, the work on TB-2 was stopped.

The next stage in the development of heavy bomber aviation in the USSR is inextricably linked with the advent of the TB-1 (ANT-4) aircraft, created in TsAGI under the leadership of A.N.Tupolev. Initially, this machine was designed as a specialized carrier aircraft for new types of weapons - aviation mines and torpedoes. The customer was the Special Technical Bureau for Military Inventions (abbreviated Ostebbyro or OTB), headed by V.I. Bekauri. Design began in November 1924. ANT-4 was in all respects an advanced machine. It was a twin-engine all-metal freestanding monoplane with a corrugated sheathing, which had very high flying data.

The Air Force ordered several hundred TB-3. In the spring of 1932, Soviet aviation received the first "real" heavy bombers - four-engine TB-3. The task for this machine was issued in 1925 by the Ostehburo. Then the plane was called T1-4PT3. The design was conducted in TsAGI under the supervision of A.N. Tupolev. The aircraft inherited many features of its predecessor, TB-1, but with an increase in scale.

The deployment of mass production of heavy bombers made it possible to create a really powerful strategic aviation. The rapid introduction of TB-3 into operation was given very great importance. Parts and combinations of heavy bombers often wore colorful names, characteristic of that time. For example, "9th Brigade named after the 10th All-Union Congress of the Leninist Komsomol." The five squadrons that were part of it bore the names of Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Kirov, Postyshev and Kosarev.

In the 1930s, the Red Army command adhered to a purely offensive doctrine, to fight on foreign soil. It seems that there were two main scenarios of military operations. On the first, an enemy attacks the USSR, immediately receives a crushing rebuff and rolls back, and behind him follows the heels of the Red Army. In the second, everything begins with the uprising of the proletarians in the neighboring countries, and the Soviet Union hurries to help the brothers in class, one by one waving state borders.

The system of strategic aviation was supposed to be of two types. Coupled with the bomber "battleship" was to be created "cruiser" - an aircraft escort. The "cruisers" had powerful machine-gun and cannon armaments and a minimum bomb load. Such machines during operations would be located at the edges of the bomber system. They had to create a fire barrier in the way of attacking fighters. In the absence of such "cruisers" they could suppress antiaircraft artillery with small bombs or machine-gun fire.

As far back as 1927, S.A. Mezheninov in the book "Air Forces in War and Operation" expressed the idea of creating a "long-range air fleet". In fact, in the early 1930s, the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation took a course toward the creation of a powerful strategic aviation. Its main weapon was to be a giant bomber. This was a reflection of the so-called "deep" strategy of the air force, which was supported by many prominent military leaders. It was well associated with the general plans of the leadership of the Red Army, focused on offensive operations in foreign territory.

According to the plan for the future development of strategic aviation, approved in May 1935, the Air Force Directorate wanted by May 1, 1938, to bring its composition to 18 brigades, including 70 squadrons of 16 aircraft each. It is more than 1100 heavy machines. By January 1, 1938, the RKKA Air Force was planning to have 384 TB-3, 288 TB-4 and 96 TB-6.

In the 1930s, the idea of creating a well-armed aircraft, carrying tens of tons of bombs, a relatively low-speed and slow-climbing bomber that could also be used for military transport and landing operations, continued to live and win, both in the military and in the aircraft industry. By 1935, the military's views on the value of huge super-bombers gradually began to change. The Air Force leadership gradually departed from the idea of using the fleets of huge slow-moving bombs. Already in 1935, the center of gravity of all plans for experimental aircraft construction is transferred to smaller machines, but with a sharp increase in the requirements for their flight performance.

Tukhachevesky, a leading Soviet military theorist as well as top-ranking army commander prior to his purge in 1937, studied the use or the air weapon as an instrument of revolutionary warfare and concluded that utilities and communications were the proper targets, rather than large scale attacks upon industrial plants, which would affect the industrial workers, who were considered the "natural allies" of the revolution. His thesis was that as regards the United States, New York, San Francisco and the Panama Canal were the most important targets.

By the time of the formation of the technical task for the design of TB-7, the military doctrine of Marshal Tukhachevsky had assumed England as the main probable enemy of the USSR. England had sought to smother Bolshevism in its cradle, while Germany had helped build Soviet air power in the 1920s. The calculated distance (air line) between Petrograd and London and is approximately 1,300 miles [respectively 2,100 kilometers], while the calculated flying distance from Moscow to London is 1,555 miles, which is equal to 2,500 km.

The "TB" series had reached TB-7 by the start of the Great Patriotic War. This aircraft, redesignated the PE-8, was the principal -- though ineffective -- Soviet "heavy" bomber throughout the war. Somewhat larger than the B-17 (span 129 feet and length 76 feet, as against the B-17's 104 feet span and 75 feet length), the PE-8's had a maximun speed of 209 knots as against the B-17's 255 knots. Maximum range of the PE-8 was 2,500 miles, and with four metric tons of bombs aboard it still had a 1,250 mile range.

"Long-range Bomber Aviation (DBA)," the 1940 Bomber Aviation Regulations said, "has the main purpose of undermining the enemy's military and economic might by acting on its deep rear, the destruction of the navy's linear forces, the cessation and disruption of rail, sea and road transport of large scale. The long-range bomber aviation operates outside of tactical and operational communication with ground troops, in the interests of war in general".

But in the late 1930s, once Marshal Tukhachevsky had been purged, the leadership of the USSR and the Air Force, came to the conclusion that in the forthcoming war with Germany, long-range aviation was not needed. This concept was reflected in the meeting of aviation workers in early 1939. So the opportunity to deploy large-scale production of TB-7 aircraft was missed. Instead, the production of front-line dive-bombers Pe-2 and medium-range long-range bombers Il-4 was started. Another complicating condition was the fact that a lot of scarce duralumin was used to manufacture the aircraft.

The production of the most modern strategic bombers was abandoned in the second half of the 1930s. There were attempts for production to resume, but, for a number of reasons, they failed. During the war, the aviation industry could not restructure itself for the mass production of long-range bombers of new modifications.

Each country was preparing for war in its own way. In the USSR, first they built heavy long-range bombers, considering them an effective means of influencing the industry of likely adversaries. At this time, Stalin considered it possible for the capitalist countries to attack the country of developed socialism. But when Hitler came to power in Germany, Stalin realized that the imperialists would no longer be up to him. Stalin realized that Hitler would very soon fan the fire of World War II. And then there will be an opportunity to seize Europe under the pretext of its liberation from the fascists. And since strategic bombers were not needed for the war of aggression, Stalin refused to produce them.

Long-range Heavy Bombers
TB-1 TB-3 TB-3 TB-7
Year of issue 1929 1933 1936 1940 1941 1942
Length, m 18 24.5 25.18 23.2 23.2 23.2
Wing span, m 28.7 39.5 41.02 39.13 39.13 39.13
Wing area, m² 115.8 230 234.5 188.6 188.6 188.6
Weight, kg:
Loaded weight 6720 17200 18700 26000 27000 27200
Maximum takeoff weight 7750 20000 21000 33500 35000 36000
Engine M-17 M-17 M-34RN M-40 AM-35A M-82
Power, hp 2x680 4x680 4x970 4x1500 4x1350 4x1700
Maximum speed, km/h at altitude 178 179 288 393 553 422
m 0 0 4200 5680 6360 5600
Service ceiling, m 4700 3800 7740 9200 9300 9500
Service range with normal bomb load, km 1350 2250 1960 5460 3600 5800
Bomb load, kg Normal 730 2000 2000 2000 2000 20000
Maximum 1200 4000 4000 4000 4000 4000
Defensive Armament Machine guns 6 6 4 7 4 4
Cannon - - - 1 2 2
Crew 4

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Page last modified: 07-09-2018 07:17:54 ZULU