Aviation of World War II

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Multipurpose aircraft


R-5 Aerial Photography

The first aircraft accepted for mass construction in post-revolutionary Russia was the R-1 reconnaissance aircraft copied from the captured English DH-9.

R-5 is a two-seater one and a half-plane, a classic type of reconnaissance aircraft of 1928-1933. - belongs to the best examples of aircraft of this purpose. Its design, lines and aerodynamics had much in common with the U-2, P-2 and I-3 aircraft. The choice of the main dimensions and parameters of the R-5 was made especially carefully after numerous preliminary calculations and statistical studies. R-5 replaced P-1 and other scouts, showing undeniable advantages over them. The aircraft possessed more than sufficient general and local strength, was distinguished by thoughtfulness and quality of performance, without noticeable overweight and without a decrease in its flight qualities from this.

Its design turned out to be hardy, it was in operation for a long time. The P-5 was used by the Air Force in 1931-1937. as a scout, light bomber and attack aircraft. Used until 1944 in the Great Patriotic War. In addition, even before decommissioning and especially after removal, it was used in Aeroflot under the name P-5 as a transport, postal, and had many other purposes. The last P-5s were encountered even after the Great Patriotic War. The aircraft was produced in 1928, built in large series at Plant No. 1, mainly in the reconnaissance version.

More than a thousand copies were transferred to Aeroflot under the P-5 brand name.

The structure of the R-5 aircraft is made of pine and plywood, steel is soft in the knots, grade M (tensile strength 40-45 kgf/mm²) with a wide application of welding. The engine on the prototype was a BMW-VI of 500/680 hp, later - M-176 in 500/680 hp; and from 1934 - M-17f in 500/730 hp.

Thanks to well-established production, the mass of the serial structure of the R-5 aircraft was extremely stable and was equal to 1969 kg, the mass of an empty aircraft with non-removable equipment was 2169 kg, the flight weight as an army reconnaissance aircraft was 2955 kg, as a light bomber was 3247–3347 kg. maximum weight - 3800 kg.

The fuselage of the aircraft had a four-sided cross-section with a rounded top edge. The frame consisted of four spars, and 12 frame frames, upper stiffening frames, cab floors, stringers and individual braces. Sheathing - plywood from 3 to 2 mm. Assembly - on casein glue, iron galvanized screws and nails. The motor mount is a truss made of duralumin box beams, connected by an arcuate riveted frame, and of 12 steel and duralumin rods - pipes with tips, partly adjustable in length.

Wings - normal two-spar design. The spars are box-shaped 80 mm wide (in the front spar of the lower wing 55 mm) with the thickness of the shelves in the spans 30 mm, the walls are made of 5-mm plywood directed in layers at an angle of 45 ° Ribs are made of pine battens and plywood walls with oblong relief holes, through which the brace bands in the wings passed (single crosses). Racks of the wing box — drop-shaped duralumin tubes with adjustable forked tips. Braces - profiled belts with tips, bearing braces - paired No. 12 (initial diameter and thread 12 mm), reverse - single No. 11, under the center section — No. 10 and 7.

The tail unit is of the usual wooden structure, all the rims of the wings and rudders are duralumin. Control - cable, double - from the pilot and observer, control of the ailerons - differential, their deflection up - 32 °, down - 10 °3 '.

Chassis M-shaped scheme with rubber plate shock absorption. Wheels - originally spntsevye, since 1933 - disc brake with pneumatic dimensions 900×200 mm. The tanks are made of galvanized iron, the pipelines are copper, the radiator is a retractable honeycomb made of brass thin-walled tubes of shaped cross-section. Its control is from a wheel with a Gall chain.

Wing profiles - 10% thick, with a straight underside. The centering of the aircraft: empty - 24.5% of the MAR, in flight in the reconnaissance version - 33.7% of the MAR, of the bomber - 33.5- 35.8% of the MAR, with the burnout of gasoline it could reach 40% of the MAR.

Armament - one PV-1 machine gun synchronous and one (later twin) for the turrets, bombs on underwing holders 256 kg for a reconnaissance officer (normal load) and 300-400 kg for a bomber (overload).

R-5 Specification
Crew 2
Wing span, m 15.30
Wing area, m² 50.20
Length, m 10.56
Height, m 2.62
1×PE M-17F 680 hp
Weight, kg:
Empty 1,965
Loaded 2,805
Speed, km/h maximum 244
cruising 210
Time to 6000 m, min 13.2 min
Rate of climb, m/min 295
Service range, km 2,700
Defensive Armament
1 × 7.62-mm machine gun PV-1
2 × 7.62-mm DA machine guns after rear cockpit
Bombs, kg 400
R-5 line

Participation in the Second World War . During the Great Patriotic War, aircraft of the R-5 type did not participate in the combat composition of the Air Force, they were given a rear niche. They were used in flight schools, spare parts. But the Soviet aviation suffered heavy losses, and it was necessary to remember the honored veterans. In November 1941, it was decided to send 27 regiments to the front on R-5. The pilots had no time to prepare, and after several familiarization training flights, the R-5s were sent to the front.

The bulk of the R-5 aircraft were sent to the Western Front. R-5s bombed bridges and crossings across the Oka, Protva and Ugra rivers, delivered military strikes on roads, airports and concentrations of enemy troops. Already in December 1941, 45 R-5 units fought on the fronts, and every day, their number increased.

During the Lyuban operation, the purpose of which was to push back the enemy and lift the blockade of Leningrad, the Air Force arranged night sorties, bombed trains, adjusted artillery fire and helped the 2nd Shock Army in every possible way. But the number of aircraft was very small, and the number of sorties had to be increased.

In the 42nd year, the Air Force delivered 181 U-2, R-5 and P-Z aircraft to the breakthrough site, which took part in the Soviet offensive. The aircraft performed not only combat missions, but also missions to supply troops and evacuate the wounded. The Luban operation was not the most successful, but in spite of this, 27774 sorties were made, and a significant part of them were sorties on R-5 aircraft.

During this period, two R-5 aircraft were captured by the opponents, one of them was serviceable, and the opponents decided to overtake it to the aircraft factory, but the plane did not reach the cherished destination and crashed.

In 1945, only 38 R-5 aircraft remained at the front. By the time the Great Patriotic War ended, all aircraft were decommissioned, but, nevertheless, they were used in the Far East for border protection and were also operated in Mongolia.

Photo Description
Drawing R-5

Drawing R-5

R-5 aircraft with split wing

Multipurpose R-5 aircraft with split wing.


Light Attack Aircraft

The first assault version of this biplane appeared as a result of the initiative of the commander of the 252nd air brigade A.A. Turzhansky and brigade engineer Pavlov. In 1931, they removed the ventral bomb rack beams from the serial R-5 and installed four PV-1 machine guns on the lower wing (two side by side on each wing), the cartridges closed by fairings were placed right there in the wings. The rest of the small arms (synchronous machine gun PV-1 and twin machine guns DA-2 on the TUR-5 turret) remained the same. In addition, they planned to hang light bombs in the ventral streamlined container, although it was practically not used in parts. Sometimes the number of bomb racks was increased to 40. There were no other significant differences from the serial reconnaissance R-5Sh (aka R-5Sht).

The assault variant was intended for strikes from low altitudes ("shaving flight") against uncovered manpower, cavalry, and transport columns. The aircraft was successfully tested and declared the standard for alterations in other aviation units, and then for serial production at plant No. 1. The R-5Sh accounted for a significant share of the entire serial production of the R-5. They were released about 500 (some sources say more than 800 copies). In addition, some of the conventional P-5s were converted into attack aircraft right in the units.

In 1934, a very small series of the R-5LSh attack aircraft was produced, the same R-5Sh, but with eight ShKAS machine guns (four machine guns in each wing) for firing forward and one defensive ShKAS on the TUR-8 turret. It is interesting that other weapons were also tested on the R-5Sh aircraft, for example, aviation flamethrowers (AOG) of the GSKB-47 design and mobile machine-gun installations of the "Grom" design.

R-5Sh Specification
Crew 2
Wing span, m 15.50
Wing area, m² 50.20
Length, m 10.56
Height, m 3.62
1 × PE M-17B, power, hp. 680
Weight, kg
Empty 2,005
Gross weighr 3,450
Speed, km/h maximum 202 over ground
192 at altitude
Cruising 170
Rate of climb, m/min 150
Service range, km 800
4 × 7.62 mm PV-1 machine guns on the lower wing,
one synchronized PV-1, 2 × 7.62 mm YES on the turret,
up to 500 kg of bombs on an external sling.

In the winter war with Finland, the worn-out R-5Shs were practically not used as attack aircraft, most air regiments were re-equipped with I-15 and I-153, and more or less serviceable aircraft were transferred to combined arms squadrons. Some of them survived until the Great Patriotic War and were used in the north of the USSR as light bombers and messengers, however, to increase the carrying capacity, wing machine guns were removed.


Fast Light Attack Aircraft

R-5SSS (high-speed, quick-climb, rapid-fire). The word "rapid-firing" was associated with the use of new ShKAS machine guns on the attack aircraft, capable of firing 1500 rounds per minute, which was twice the capabilities of the PV-1 (a variant of the well-deserved "Maxim"). Such a significant increase in the second salvo made it possible to limit ourselves to a four-barreled wing battery, abandoning the fifth PV-1 standing under the hood of the R-5Sh. The space above the engine was occupied by the expansion tank of the water system, previously located in the center section of the upper wing.

The machine guns on the SSS were hidden inside the lower wing, laying them on their side between the 5th and 7th ribs. The barrels protruded from the leading edge through steel plates. Each ShKAS was equipped with a box for 200 rounds. Below was a store - a link collector. Spent cartridges were thrown under the wing. The compartment was closed with metal lids at the top and bottom. Machine-gun triggers were on the pilot's control stick. He could shoot either from two extreme, or from two middle ones, or from all four barrels at once. When firing on the dashboard, an electric signaling light flashed. The letnab was engaged in reloading machine guns in case of a delay. He had a special handle connected to the bolts with Bowden cables. Machine-gun armament of the SSS was considered quite effective against infantry and cavalry, as well as artillery in positions, convoys, convoys, aircraft at airfields.

To defeat such targets, the attack aircraft's bomb armament was also optimized. In the fuselage, under the floor of the cockpit, there were two small bomb bays for 20 bombs with a caliber of 8-10 kg. They were placed horizontally in the so-called. "cassette holders": in front in three rows, in the back - in two. In addition, bombs with a caliber of up to 250 kg could be hung on four Der-31 bomb racks, the duralumin beams of which were removed inside the lower wing. A novelty has entered the SSS arsenal - the RRAB-250 rotary-dispersive (cluster) bomb, filled with small fragmentation or incendiary ammunition. Thanks to this, the range of bombs that the SSS could carry was very wide.

As a defensive armament, instead of the Tur-6 turret traditional for the R-5 with twin DA machine guns, a new Tur-8 designed by Tokarev with one ShKAS was installed on the SSS. It had a continuous belt feed from a 1000-round cartridge box, which was already a significant advantage over the YES, which required changing disks after every 48 shots. In general, the new installation turned out to be lighter than the old one, more mobile and much faster, but it required a very long fine-tuning.

R-5SSS Specification
Crew 2
Wing span, m 15.50
Wing area m² 50.20
Length, m 10.56
Height, m 3.62
1 × PE M-17F, power 715
Weight, kg:
Empty 2042
Loaded weight 3,003
Gross weight 3,258
Speed, km/h maximum 249 over ground
235 at altitude
cruising 190
Service range, km 1080
Service ceiling, m 6540
Two 7.62 mm ShKAS machine guns or one 7.62 mm PV-1 and one ShKAS.
Four 7.62-mm ShKAS were placed under the lower wing
Bomb load - 328-700 kg.

The scale of production of the SSS turned out to be very small, and he failed to displace the old P-5Sh from the combat units. Most of the built aircraft were concentrated in several attack air brigades (SHAB). By October 1, 1936, 78 vehicles were delivered to the 100th ShAB stationed in Detskoye Selo near Leningrad, 80 to three squadrons of the four already mentioned 114th ShAB and another 31 to the 32nd squadron of the 48th ShAB from the Air Force Separate Far Eastern Army (airfield Khorolskoe). In addition, the Higher Flight and Tactical School in Lipetsk and the 2nd Command School in Borisoglebsk received 10 aircraft each.

By the middle of 1937, the value of the SSS as an attack aircraft was already in great doubt. The fact is that the planes had time to try in a real war, and this attempt was unsuccessful.

As you know, during the Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union actively supplied military equipment to the republican government, incl. aircraft. Along with I-15, I-16 fighters, SB bombers, SSS attack aircraft also hit the Pyrenees. The government decided to send to the country "X" (as Spain was encrypted in secret documents) a full-blooded attack squadron of 31 CCC, airfield equipment, spare parts, engines and ammunition. Mr. KM Gusev was appointed commander of the unit. In his submission were 109 people of flight and ground personnel, recruited from different brigades, but mainly from the 114th, which was the leader in the development of the SSS.

In Spain, the SSS lived much longer than in the Soviet Union. Given the not very successful experience of using these machines in the Iberian Peninsula, their production began to be quickly curtailed. New units in the SSS were not re-equipped, the number of equipment in the old ones remained approximately the same - about 300 vehicles. The Civil Air Fleet received about a dozen CCCs, three of which ended up in the West Siberian Directorate. The losses from the accident rate of the SSS were small; they were not exported to any country except Spain. Probably, they actually released about 350-400 R-5SSS.

In the summer of 1938, attack aircraft of the 2nd ShAP were noted in the conflict on the lake. Hasan. The aircraft were used for their intended purpose and completed 53 sorties. The Far East suffered no losses. A year later, they again had to fight, this time in Mongolia on the Khalkhin Gol River. Here they acted less successfully, having lost 2 vehicles in battles.

As of January 1, 1939, attack aviation included 223 SSSs (two less than R-5Sh), another 19 were part of military reconnaissance aviation. In 1939, they planned to withdraw 144 SSS from the regiments: send 42 for repairs and 102 to educational institutions. But there was nothing to replace them, and the plans were not implemented.

In the winter of 1939-40. The SSS came in handy in the fighting against Finland. By the beginning of the campaign, the 9th ShAP was completely transferred to the I-15bis, but the equipment handed over to them was transferred to light bomber aviation. On December 1, 1939, in the 68th air brigade, 49 SBs accounted for 63 R-5s and 21 SSSs. However, after a couple of weeks, most of the old vehicles were transferred to military aviation. By the new year, only the 3rd light bomber regiment (LBAP) used them as bombers ), which was first at the Lisi-no airfield, and later - in Lodeynoye Pole. It was equipped with motley machines: SB, P-Z, R-5, SSS. There were only five of the latter, of which four were serviceable.

On April 1, 1940, 241 SSS remained in the Red Army Air Force (including about a dozen in schools), of which about a fifth were out of order.

On June 22, 1941, there were still 104 SSSs in the Air Force, of which less than half could take to the air. The military aviation of the western districts was based near the border. So, in Chernivtsi there was the 17th corps AE (six SSS and seven U-2). The first strikes of the Luftwaffe fell precisely on these forward sites. Many aircraft were destroyed on the airfields or abandoned and burned during the retreat. By September 22, not a single SSS remained at the front. Only four aircraft of this type were operated in different districts, and another 29 were registered with educational institutions. So, when night regiments of light bombers began to be formed in November, the SSS no longer hit them - there was simply nowhere to get them from.


Torpedo Bomber

The proposal to convert this car into a torpedo bomber was first put forward by B.C. Connert, head of the armaments department of the Air Force Directorate. On July 9, 1933, the Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR adopted a resolution stating: "To set the industry the task of adapting the R-5 to high-altitude and low torpedo throwing for action off its coast."

In the fall of 1933, the design of a new modification, called the R-5T, began. The alteration of the airframe was carried out by a group of designers from plant No. 1, headed by engineer Grebenev. The main role in it was played by engineers Shishkin and Nikitin. The torpedo suspension was developed in the 16th Air Force Department under the leadership of M.I. Protsenko.

Such a heavy load, like a torpedo, could only be hung under the fuselage of the aircraft. To do this, it was necessary to release its entire lower surface. But the R-5 had an old-fashioned chassis with a solid axle, which did not allow a torpedo to be placed between the racks. It was replaced with a new design. Two separate pyramidal racks with half shafts freed up space along the axis of the aircraft. The main rack with a lamellar rubber shock absorber was now attached not to the fuselage, but to the front spar of the wing and was reinforced with a brace going up. The power set of the wing and fuselage was somewhat strengthened based on heavy loads.

For the R-5T, they chose the TAN-12 torpedo (aka Air Force 12 and 45-12), which was a modification of the 1912 model marine torpedo. Such a torpedo could be dropped from a height of 10-20 m at a speed of no more than 160 km / h TAN-12 was placed under the fuselage obliquely, front part down.Suspension (torpedo holder) was supplied with locks from the bomb rack Der-13. The suspension and the torpedo together weighed 930 kg.Dumping was carried out by a mechanical bomb release, standing by the pilot.The last drawings of the torpedo holder were transferred to the plant 15 January 1934. A simple torpedo sight was designed for the aircraft.In principle, any P-5 could be converted into a torpedo bomber directly in the aviation unit using a set of components supplied by the factory.

According to experts from the Air Force Research Institute, the R-5T had a number of advantages compared to the R-6T float bomber, which was created almost in parallel at TsAGI - better maneuverability, smaller dimensions. It was lighter, cheaper, easier to manufacture and repair. It was considered very important that the minimum flight speed of the biplane was 130 km / h, and that of the R-6T monoplane - 157 km / h, which turned out to be close to the ultimate strength of torpedoes of that time.

R-5 Specification
Crew 1
Wing span, m 15.50
Wing area m² 50.50
Length, m 10.56
Height, m 3.75
1 × PE M-17B, power, hp 680
Weight, kg:
Empty 2,197
Loaded weight 3,247
Speed, km/h maximum 210
cruising 186
Rate of climb, m/mi 295
Service range, km 400
1200 with add tank
2 × 7.62-mm machine guns
One torpedo

The first mine-torpedo squadron armed with the R-5T, according to the decision of the Revolutionary Military Council, decided to deploy in the Far East. The 22nd Light Bomber Squadron was transferred from Novocherkassk to Suchan. She was armed with conventional R-5s in the light bomber version (with Der-19 ventral holders for large-caliber bombs).

Biplane torpedo bombers arrived not only in the Pacific Ocean, but also in the Black Sea. There they armed the 34th separate mine-torpedo detachment in Evpatoria. He received 16 aircraft - much more than the staff (10 aircraft). Soon their number was reduced to 12, and by October 10, 1937 - to 10. All torpedo bombers of the 34th detachment, in order to facilitate, were deprived of PV-1 machine guns. The remaining R-5Ts in the Black Sea Fleet were used as long-range reconnaissance aircraft without a torpedo suspension. In the middle of 1937, obsolete equipment was issued as temporary equipment to the emerging high-speed bomber squadrons. In August 1937, there were three P-5Ts in the 44th squadron, and four in the 45th.

Contrary to memoir statements, biplane torpedo bombers were not operated in the Baltic. There were conventional light bombers, including the 27th Mine-Torpedo Squadron.

As of January 1, 1938, Soviet naval aviation still had 43 R-5Ts. In that year, their mass decommissioning and replacement with new Ilyushin torpedo bombers based on the DB-3 long-range bomber began. They were far superior in speed, range, defense capability to all previous Soviet vehicles of this class. The last P-5Ts flew in the Far East for about two more years. On January 1, 1940, there were 21 more obsolete aircraft of this type.

R-5T can be assessed as a not very successful attempt to solve a complex problem simply and cheaply. This aircraft with one crew member, low flight performance, almost complete lack of defense capability and primitive equipment was considered only as a temporary equipment for mine-torpedo aircraft until more advanced equipment was obtained. Its low value was realized very quickly - it is no coincidence that they were built so little and for so short a time.


Light Transport Aircraft

PR-5 in the parking lot

Conversion of the R-5 into a transport and passenger version of the Rafaelyants' designer. The project for the manufacture of a new fuselage for 4 passengers was proposed by Rafaelyants in the spring of 1934, under the impression of the "Chelyuskin" epic, hoping to operate such an aircraft, first of all, in Arctic conditions.

Drawing PR-5

Pilot Piontkovsky took the prototype PR-5 into the air on November 18 and was very pleased with her behavior in the air. PR-5 developed a maximum speed of 245 km/h, which exceeded the speed of privates P-5.

The first serial PR-5 was tested by the pilot A.S. Shvedovsky in July 1936. Already after a short time, this machine was operated on the Ulan - Verkhneudinsk (now Ulan-Ude - Ulan Bator) line. A total of 200 passenger cars of the PR-5 type were built. A significant part of them were used in the southern regions of the Soviet Union and Central Asia. Some vehicles were improved during serial construction. The upper wing was moved forward 100 mm and a number of improvements were made. The aircraft received the designation PR-5bis.

A few years later, Rafaelyants replaced the biplane box with a cantilever, low wing with a canvas sheathing. The aircraft received the designation PR-12. After passing the tests, the PR-12 received the tail number USSR-L3600 and was transferred for operation to the Civil Air Fleet on the Moscow-Kharkov route. In 1940, the PR-12 flew 28,000 km, transported 9,532 kg of commercial cargo. Although the operation gave positive results, they did not build the aircraft in the series. PR-12 was the last modification of the R-5.


  • "History of aircraft in the USSR before 1938" /Shavrov V.B./
  • "R-5 aircraft. " Moscow, Aeroflot, 1937. /Labzin D./
  • "P-5 aircraft. M.17." Moscow, Aeroflot, 1937.