Photos & Drawings
Soviet political and military leaders were very impressed by early flights of the DB-240 in May 1940 and developed high opinion of it. Factory trials were not even finished when it was pressed in mass production at factory #18 at Voronezh. But the powerplant of the new bomber two M-105 engines had many technological defects and the plane proved to be underpowered, so at the end of the year it was decided to terminate the production. In all 71 planes were produced that had to be put in storage until spring, because the factory was given another important task — mass production of II-2 ground attack planes. Only in May 1941 the first batch of production Er-2s (new designation of the DB-240 in accordance with Government decision, made in December 1940) got airborne, but none of this planes was handed over to operating units before the German invasion.
In July 1941 two air regiments, specially formed to be equipped with Er-2s, were ready and became part of the Special Mission Air Division. On the night of 11 August 3 Er-2s took part in an air raid on the capital of the Third Reich Berlin. In Autumn 1941 operation «Typhoon» (offense on Moscow) began, and Er-2s had to be employed as tactical bombers, flying bombing missions against troops concentrations, railway iunctions and other targets at frontline zone. These targets were much closer, allowing Er-2 crews to use capacious bomb bays to good effect sometimes the bombers had loads up to 2500 — 3000 kg of bombs. But the bombers usually flew daylight missions and mainly without fighter escort, moreover difficult weather conditions kept the aircraft at low altitudes, making them vulnerable to German flak. Losses were made even higher by numerous incidents and crashes due to not-cured teething problems of the Er-2. By the end of the year remained only one operational regiment with about twenty Er-2s. But in encounters with Bf109Fs of III/ JG51 new bombers fought well. During Autumn they were armed with 0,5-caliber BT machine-guns and could hold their own. There were several instances when crew of a bomber shot down two Bf-109s.
People & Aircraft
Photos & Drawings