Aviation of World War II

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Reconnaissance Seaplane


Beriev MBR-2

The MBR-2 seaplane is intended for use as a close-range naval base reconnaissance aircraft and light bomber. It is a flying boat of mixed design with a cantilever wing. The crew consists of three people - a pilot, a navigator-pilot and an air gunner-radio operator.

The fuselage is a two-redan boat with a keeled bottom. The boat is divided by four watertight bulkheads into five compartments. In the first compartment there is a navigator's cabin with a rifle installation, a hatch for a bombsight and an anchor attachment. The cockpit has two windows. The second compartment contains the pilot's cabin, closed from above by a canopy. There is an emergency folding seat next to the pilot. The third compartment contains additional gasoline tanks and an additional oil tank. At the end of the compartment there is an RRK radio station with a table and a radio operator's seat. In the fourth compartment there is a shooting unit and a motor-compressor for starting the engine. Fifth - the tail compartment is empty. For the passage of the crew inside the boat, there are watertight doors in each bulkhead. The boat is made of solid wood. The main parts of the frame are made of ash and pine, the secondary elements are of linden. The boat is sheathed with birch plywood, on top of which a canvas is laid on the enamel. Both steps are superimposed directly on the hull of the boat, thus in the lower part the boat has a double bottom.

Two-spar wing, consists of a center section and two detachable consoles. The center section is made of solid wood. Its main part is a rigid power box (caisson), consisting of spars, middle parts of ribs and working skin. Each console consists of a wooden toe box and a central part with a sealed compartment at the end, as well as two detachable duralumin rear compartments. Ends - duralumin with aeronautical lights. The wing is equipped with two-section ailerons with axial compensation and flaps. Underwing fixed all-wood floats are installed on the wing consoles.

The tail unit consists of a strut stabilizer with a variable installation angle in flight, a keel and rudders. The lower part of the keel is all-wood, made integral with the fuselage, the upper part is all-metal, pasted over with a sheet of duralumin sheathing and covered with dope. The rudder is all-metal, equipped with a trim tab. The stabilizer and the elevator have a duralumin frame and linen sheathing, covered with dope.

Aircraft control is double. The steering wheels are located on one column, while the right one is removable. The control wiring to the rudder and stabilizer is cable, and to the elevator and aileron is semi-rigid, including steel cables and tubular rods.

The landing gear can be installed on the aircraft for operation from the ground. A chassis with a rear crutch is equipped with wheels or skis, depending on the season. The main landing gear includes a shock absorber strut, an axle shaft and a strut, which are bolted to special assemblies on the center section and sides of the boat. For rolling the MBR-2 on the ground, lowering, and lifting from the water, there are two bogies: the main one, installed under the front step, and the tail one. A special rolling chassis can be installed instead of the main bogie.

Power plant includes a liquid-cooled piston engine AM-34N with a pushing metal two-bladed propeller with a diameter of 3 m and variable pitch on the ground. The power plant is located on the racks above the center section. The cooling system consists of a water radiator located in front of the engine on the sub-engine beams. The fuel is placed in two main center-section tanks with a capacity of 670 liters and two additional removable boat tanks with a total capacity of 460 liters. The oil system includes two tanks: the main 650-liter, installed on the engine unit, and the additional 47-liter, in the boat. The engine is started by compressed air from a cylinder or using a starting motor compressor.

MBR-2 with M-17 MBR-2 with M-103 MBR-2 with AM-34NB
Crew 3 3 3
Length, m 13.58 13.5 13.5
Wing span, m 19.0 18.8 18.8
Wing area, m² 52.75 54.4 54.4
Weight, kg:
Empty weight - 3153 3306
Maximum takeoff weight 3630 4424 4424
Engine M-17 M-103 AM-34NB
Power at sea level, hp 500 850 750
Maximum speed, km/h at sea level 215 265 224
at altitude - 291 234
m - 4000 4000
Service ceiling, m 5100 8050 7400
Maximum range, km * 960 1200 1230

* Service range, km.

Small arms and bombs. Small arms consists of two 7.62 mm ShKAS machine guns mounted on Tur-8 turrets with 1000 rounds of ammunition per machine gun. On an external sling, the aircraft can carry bombs up to 250 kg in caliber with a total weight of up to 500 kg. Bombing is carried out using the OPB-1 sight.

Combat use. Huge losses of the Air Force in the early days of the war forced the use of naval aircraft to attack the advancing columns of the Wehrmacht. The pilots of the MBR-2 squadrons dropped bombs from low altitude and poured machine-gun fire. But the use of low-speed "barns" in the daytime and without fighter cover led to large losses. Only in July 1941, the pilots were transferred to night bombing missions.

To carry out anti-submarine warfare (in fact, for which the MBR-2 was created) in the summer of 1941, vehicles were occasionally involved. Naval reconnaissance was carried out by the MBR-2 15th air force, based at Moonsund. However, almost every such flight ended in loss.

So, for example, on July 1, the Finnish Fokkers D-21 shot down a pair of MBR-2 near the island of Gogland. On July 6, a couple more "barns" fell victim to the attack of the Six Fokkers. However, there were exceptions, so on August 3, a pair of ICBMs over the Gulf of Finland was attacked by a pair of Messers Me-110. As a result, one German plane was shot down, and the second left with damage. Both Soviet flying boats left without damage.

MBR-2s were widely used for anti-submarine warfare on the Hanko - Tallinn, Moonsund - Tallinn and Tallinn - Leningrad routes. However, the area of ‚Äč‚Äčtheir search was limited to 50 - 70 nautical miles, which negatively affected the effectiveness. Although, for example, eye contact during the summer of 1941 was observed 22 times. The most famous case was the attack by a pair of ICBMs on a German submarine on July 9 west of Bengschber Island. Four FAB-50s were dropped, one of which hit the boat. The crews of the aircraft observed an oil slick, but it is unlikely that a single 50 kg bomb hit could seriously damage the submarine.

MBR-2 from the Moodzund Group were widely used as minesweepers, due to the almost complete absence of ships of this class in the Red Banner Baltic Fleet. Bombs were used to destroy the mines.

In total, in July - August 1941, the Balts lost 95 MBR-2 (and these are only combat losses, non-combat losses are not included here). This is 63% of the pre-war number of these flying boats (151 cars). So only the 15th ORAP until the end of 1941 was missing 40 crews and 75 vehicles.

Such losses forced reconnaissance to be abandoned, but aircraft were used as night bombers until 1943. After January 1942, the vehicles were also used to deliver saboteur groups and supply the encircled garrisons of Gogland and Big Turba. In 1943, the crews of ICBMs were transferred to the cockpits of the Pe-2 and Bostons.

Before the war, the Black Sea Fleet aviation had 140 MBR-2. With the outbreak of war, the crews of these aircraft began to escort ships that mine enemy communications and were engaged in reconnaissance. In July 1941, 119 ORAP aircraft were used for the war on the Danube. In early August, when the battle for Odessa unfolded, the MBR-2s began to be used for attacks on the advancing Romanian and German units. After the capture of Nikolaev and Kherson, the Black Sea Fleet aviation relocated to the Crimean airfields. In the Black Sea, the losses of these aircraft were very high, which forced them to switch to "nocturnal lifestyle." The main targets for the attacks were German airfields in Saki and Sarbuz.

MBR-2 was actively used in all operations of the Black Sea Fleet. From the end of 1942, their main opponents were German submarines from the 30th Kriegsmarine flotilla. In December 1942, the crew of the MBR-2 attacked U9 from this flotilla. The boat arrived at its base only on January 7 with heavy damage. In addition, the crews of the MBR-2 were engaged in the rescue of downed pilots and sunken ships. On the Black Sea, MBR-2 were used until September 1944, when hostilities ended here.

At the beginning of the war, the aviation of the Northern Fleet had 54 MBR-2s, which were distributed between the 118 OPAP and the 49th ORAE. Flying boats were used mainly for escorting transport ships and anti-submarine warfare. Already on September 4, a pair of MBR-2s to the west of Kanin Nos discovered and attacked a German submarine. However, ICBM activity was significantly limited by the freezing of the North Sea.

On August 21, 1941, the first convoy with Western aid arrived in Arkhangelsk. Since that day, escorting convoys has become the main task for the crews of the MBR-2. In the summer of 1942, the battleship Admiral Scheer appeared at this theater of operations, which posed a serious threat to the allied communications. The SF command created the 3rd Aviation Group, the core of which was 17 MBR-2.

In 1943-44, the Germans used the tactics of the "wolf pack" in the North and the old "barns" could not compete with the newest Blomm und Voss Bv 138 and were replaced by "catalins". The remaining vehicles were used for a long time to escort Arctic convoys.

Production of the MBR-2 was discontinued in the second half of 1940. By this time, 1365 machines of all modifications were built. In a number of publications, another number is found - 1400. This is probably due to the fact that Plant No. 31 received a firm state plan not only for aircraft, but also for group sets of spare parts, and three of these sets were counted for one MBR.

Photo Description
Drawing MBR-2 with M-17 engine
Drawing MBR-2 with M-34N engine
MBR-2 with M-34N engine