Aviation of World War II
Reconnaissance Flying Boat
The second production copy KOR-2 aircraft (serial No.28802). September 1942.
KOR-2 was intended, first of all, for conducting close naval reconnaissance, adjusting the fire of naval and coastal artillery, as well as protecting heavy warships from enemy submarines, anti-submarine search, and fighting small warships and boats. The KOR-1, which was adopted by that time, did not satisfy the sailors at all.
Construction . The KOR-2 seaplane is an all-metal boat monoplane made according to the scheme of a flying boat with a parasol wing on a pylon and short struts. A single-row air-cooled radial engine M-63 with a capacity of 1100 hp was chosen as the power plant on the experimental KOR-2. with pulling screw. In the engine nacelle, which is inscribed in the center section of the wing, there are gas tanks and an oil tank. Wing of a two-spar structure with working skin. The wing cantilevers can be easily folded and unfolded. The wing mounting angle is 5 degrees. In front, the wing looks like a "reverse gull" and rests on a pylon, which is structurally integral with the boat. To reduce the landing speed, Schrenk flaps are installed. The boat is two-legged. The first step is wedge-shaped in plan, and the second is curved. To ensure lateral stability on the aircraft there are underwing floats, each attached by two streamlined struts to the consoles.
The crew consisted of a pilot and a navigator, and a second detachable set of aircraft controls could be installed in the cockpit. The armament consisted of one fixed 7.62-mm ShKAS machine gun in the bow of the boat, the same machine gun on the MV-5 turret located in the middle of the boat, and 200 kg of bombs.
In December 1940, in accordance with the order of the NKAP No. 704 "On the renaming of combat aircraft" KOR-2 received the designation Be-4. On January 21, 1941, factory tests were completed, which made it possible to draw the most favorable conclusions regarding the flying boat.
On August 11, 1941, the construction of the first production aircraft (serial number 28801) was completed. Unlike the prototypes, it was equipped with a less powerful, but more resourceful M-62 engine with a takeoff power of 1000 hp. and rated 850 hp. on the first border of altitude. The propeller is a three-bladed VISH-105-62 or AV-24. In addition, we made some modifications to the design and equipment. In particular, the aircraft was equipped with an emergency reset mechanism for the cockpit canopy, an armored backrest, the RSMR-3 radio station was replaced with an RSBM-bis, and the AFA-27 camera was replaced with an AFA-27T. This machine was destined to perform only 6 flights. On September 9, in good sunny weather and complete calm, the sun glare led to the appearance of a mirror effect, and N.P. It was very difficult for Kotyakov to determine the distance to the water when landing. As a result, the touchdown occurred at high speed, the aircraft received significant damage and quickly sank to the bottom. Together with him, the 1st rank military technician Sukachev drowned, and the pilot and engineer of the Beriev design bureau Morozov were able to escape. However, the accident report emphasized the general opinion that "the car is good."
On September 14, Reidel took off the second serial Be-4 (# 28802). In total, during the tests, which lasted until October 10, 49 flights were performed with a total flight time of 10 hours 3 minutes. In the flight and aerobatic assessment it was noted that "the Be-4 is an easy-to-fly machine, quite designed for an average pilot, and the aircraft is perfectly controllable during taxiing due to an effective water rudder."
After the evacuation of the factories, the Be-4 was produced at two factories - No. 288 in Omsk and No. 477 in Krasnoyarsk.
From 1941 to 1945, 44 aircraft were built.
The armament of the vehicles assembled in Omsk was strengthened: the course ShKAS was replaced with two 12.7-mm UBK machine guns, the number of underwing bomb racks was increased to four, and now the plane could lift 400 kg of bombs (4 high-explosive FAB-100 or 4 anti-submarine PLAB-100 ). The design of the boat and the arrangement of a number of systems were also partially changed.
Combat use . On the Black Sea, the Be-4s were used as close naval reconnaissance missions, systematically scanning the 40-mile coastal zone and performing ASW missions in the areas of naval bases. Several times the Be-4 met in the air with the German flying boats BV-138 and Do-24, sometimes it came to shooting, but these duels passed without consequences for both sides. As the general situation at the front changed in our favor, the Be-4s appeared on board the warships. On the cruiser "Molotov" by the decision of GKO # 4093 of September 12, 1943, a modernized catapult ZK-1A was installed. In Batumi in August 1944, blanks were launched from it, and the next month acceptance tests began in Novorossiysk. In the act of October 24, 1944, it is noted that "the catapult, tested by multiple launches of Be-4 and Spitfire aircraft, works perfectly and can be approved for use." In June 1944, the 24th separate squadron of naval aviation was formed at the Black Sea Fleet, which, in addition to the Be-4, included Spitfire Mk.VB fighters. In July 1945, this squadron included 8 Be-4s.
The Be-4 did not serve in the Northern Fleet, which had no ships larger than a destroyer for almost the entire war. However, in the Arctic, Beriev's seaplanes still had to fight. In 1943, German submarines began active operations on Soviet Arctic communications. To fight them, the Northern detachment of the White Sea military flotilla did not have enough strength, so, among other measures, it was decided to send to about. Dixon two Be-4. The choice fell on cars with numbers 28811 and 28812, which were registered with Polar Aviation and received civil registration of the USSR-NZZO and USSR-N331, respectively. The first was piloted by pilot V.V. Malkov, the second - M.V. Thaiman. The planes flew from Krasnoyarsk to Dikson and on 2 August 1943 began anti-submarine patrols. The weapons used were PLAB-100 anti-submarine bombs. The only combat encounter took place on 28 August. After a German submarine sank the Dixon transport 20 miles from Cape Sterligov, the Be-4 bombed the area. The crews did not observe the results of the attack. At the end of September, the temperature dropped sharply, freeze-up began, which made it necessary to overtake the seaplanes back to Krasnoyarsk. By that time, the NZZO flew in the Arctic 35 hours 15 minutes, and H331 - 31 hours 20 minutes. The Be-4s appeared in the Baltic in 1944, when the first 9 aircraft entered the 29th separate reconnaissance squadron. At the beginning of 1945, there were 10 Be-4s in it: No. 4770205, 4770301, 4770302, 4770303, 4770305, 4770401, 4770402, 4770403, 4770404, 4770405. The tasks of the seaplanes were to conduct anti-submarine search, as well as rescue crews of downed aircraft. For example, on July 22, 1944, after striking German ships, an Il-2 attack aircraft from the 8th Guards Assault Regiment of the 11th Assault Aviation Division made an emergency landing in the Gulf of Finland. The plane quickly sank, and the pilot Kuznetsov and the shooter Strizhak got into a rescue boat and a little later were taken out by the Be-4, which took off from the Mount Valdai hydro aerodrome.
On January 1, 1945, there were four Be-4s (Nos. 28808, 28809, 4770201 and 4770203) as part of the 115th naval short-range reconnaissance aviation regiment of the Pacific Fleet Air Force. They did not participate in hostilities against Japan, but after the end of the war they confirmed their appointment as ship reconnaissance missions with catapult flights from the Pacific cruisers Kalinin and Kaganovich.
It is curious that in May 1945 an order was issued by the People's Commissar of the Navy on the establishment of additional remuneration for flight crews for catapult launches. For the first such takeoff, the pilot was entitled to 150 rubles, for all subsequent ones - 75 rubles each. The navigator was paid a bonus of 75% of the pilot's remuneration, and the technicians - 50% each. If the pilot performed a control flight of an aircraft that had just arrived at the ship from the factory or after a major overhaul, he was owed 500 rubles.
In the summer of 1946, the Be-4 No. 4770702 was tested on the Kaganovich and Kalinin in the reloading version. The plane was piloted by test pilot V.F. Sokolov. To ensure the correct position of the pilot and navigator at the workplaces during the start, their seats were equipped with armrests, thrust and headrests. From 3 to 12 July from the ZK-2A catapult of the cruiser "Kalinin" 32 launches of blanks and 13 aircraft launches were carried out in the ship's parking lot at different wind strengths and with different flight weights. On August 16-28, 5 aircraft launches were carried out from the cruiser Kaganovich (catapult ZK-2B) (one with a takeoff weight of 3200 kg and four with a take-off weight of 3200 kg and four with a takeoff weight of 3345 kg) while the ship was underway at an ejection speed of 130 km / h and a maximum acceleration of up to 4, 5 days. It was noted that all takeoffs went well, without "subsidence" and "swelling" of the aircraft, and the Be-4 in the overload version can be piloted by a pilot of average qualification.
Summing up, I must say that the Be-4, compared to its predecessor KOR-1, has become a significant step forward. This flying boat was quite modern, seaworthy, comparable in flight performance with its foreign counterparts to the ship reconnaissance. The Be-4 was the only domestic seaplane serially built during the war years. But created for the ships of the "large sea and ocean fleet", which did not manage to get off the stocks before the start of the war, the Be-4 was actually left without work. His post-war career was also quite short. With the advent of radar stations on warships, ejection reconnaissance aircraft lost their former significance, and in 1947 the catapults were dismantled on all cruisers.