Aviation of World War II
It can be said without exaggeration that the SB was an outstanding aircraft for its time, which had a significant impact on the development of military aviation. He became the ancestor of a whole class of bombers, distinguished by their high flight speed and operating in the front zone in close cooperation with ground forces and the navy. Aircraft of this class became the main striking force of the future front-line bomber aviation.
The design of the SB began in 1933, when the design bureau of A.N. Tupolev was tasked with developing a bomber with a maximum flight speed of 330 km / h. A.N. Tupolev, based on the technical capabilities of aircraft construction at that time and taking into account the prospects for the development of aviation, believed that a bomber could and should have a speed of at least 400 km/h. Therefore, in the brigade of A.A. Arkhangelsky, where the design of the new bomber was carried out, work was carried out in parallel at once on two versions of the aircraft, which received the factory designation ANT-40. The first, which had to meet the requirements of the Air Force, was equipped with two licensed air-cooled engines "Wright Cyclone" F-3.
SB-2RC with two Wright R-1820-F-3 Cyclon engines.
The second version was developed for more powerful French liquid-cooled motors Hispano - Suiza 12U, which were planned to be released under license under the designation M-100.
While creating the new aircraft, the designers paid the main attention to the perfection of its aerodynamic layout, as one of the most important means of achieving high speed. Many design and technological solutions were subordinated to aerodynamic requirements. In particular, for the first time on an aircraft of this class, a smooth metal sheathing was used instead of a more rigid corrugated one, then new high-strength materials were used, riveting was used, a retractable landing gear was installed, and the cockpits were made closed. The choice of the aerodynamic configuration of the SB was preceded by numerous experimental studies in wind tunnels. TsAGI has developed a new biconvex wing profile especially for this aircraft. Thus, the SB embodied the most advanced experience and achievements in the field of aerodynamics, aviation materials and technology. The results were brilliant.
If the first copy of the ANT-40 during flight tests started in October 1934 showed a speed of 325 km / h, then the second aircraft, tested since December 1934, developed a maximum speed of 430 km / h, those almost the same as the I-16, which was then the world's fastest serial fighter! The flight qualities of the second prototype aircraft, which received the military designation SB - high-speed bomber, were recognized as outstanding. After extensive testing, it was accepted for serial production, which began in 1936.
SB bombers took an active part in hostilities in Spain (from the fall of 1936) and China (from the fall of 1937). Before the enemy had new high-speed monoplane fighters, the SB operated without fighter cover, since their speed was much higher than that of enemy aircraft. For the first time in the history of aviation, a bomber aircraft surpassed fighters in speed.
In the process of serial production, the SB has been repeatedly improved and modified. More and more powerful motors were installed on it: first, the M-100A (in 1936), and then the M-103 (in 1937), and finally. M-105 (in 1940). By 1938, the bomb load had been increased from 600 to 1600 kg. Since 1939, aircraft were produced with improved engine hoods, when tunnel radiators were installed instead of frontal ones. All the improvements made contributed to the constant build-up of the combat capabilities of the bomber.
Serial production of SB lasted until 1941 inclusive. A total of 6831 aircraft of this type were built. SB took an active part in the hostilities of the Great Patriotic War, at the first stage of which they were the main force of the domestic front-line bomber aviation.