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The Front Demands

Leonid Selyakov

Leonid Selyakov

The author of the published memoirs is a legendary personality in aviation, Leonid Leonidovich Selyakov. Having started his career even before the war, he worked as a deputy for Myasishchev, Chelomey and Tupolev. In the last more than twenty years - the chief designer of the Tu-134.

We had the following order at the 22nd plant: when a large group of flight personnel arrived for combat aircraft, a rally was going to be held in the assembly shop. Workers and representatives of the Air Force command, ordinary pilots spoke. The matter came down, in practice, to an expression of mutual gratitude: the workers thanked the military for their actions at the front, and the military thanked the workers for the equipment that went to the front. But once a young pilot, leaving the podium, being in a very excited state, said quite loudly: “As much as possible, as much as possible ...

Thank you all. We beat the enemy perfectly, the technique is excellent, but in fact ... The enemy shoots us like chickens. When will this talk end..."

I stood close, went up to him and calmly asked: "What's the matter? What needs to be done specifically for the Pe-2 aircraft?" He looked at me carefully, we stepped aside, and he answered me: “You see, what's the matter. On the "Pawn" the upper rifle defensive installation with the "ShKAS" machine gun is no good. "Messer" comes almost close, it has armored glass, we hit it point-blank from ShKAS. We saw him smiling... Bastards..! It rolls off to the side, makes a combat turn and calmly shoots you from the upper hemisphere ... You need at least a 12.7-caliber Berezin machine gun. This is where the conversation ended."

That day I stayed at the factory, gathered my friends - P. Chugunov and A. Arkhipov and said: "Guys, we must install a Berezin machine gun at the top gunner of the Pawn."

Until that moment, except for Andrey Arkhipov, a master gunsmith, none of us was seriously engaged in weapons.

For 10 days we did not leave work until we made a pilot installation, which could simply be installed on an airplane at the front to replace the old one under ShKAS.

The general view of the installation was signed by me on February 28, 1942. It was necessary to shoot it in the shooting range. They took a machine gun, ammunition and the installation itself and went to the airfield to the shooting gallery.

10 days of titanic labor without tolerable food, without sleep made themselves felt. They found some goats in the shooting range and built an installation, which they dubbed "FT" (the front requires it). I had no idea what kind of shooting it would be. I spread my legs wider, rested the machine gun on his shoulder and pulled the trigger. What happened next happened instantly and according to all the laws of mechanics. I began to fall with a firing machine gun. Tracer bullets arced in the sky. Instantly I realized: a little more, and I will shoot the assembly shop. Gathering all my will in the fall, I released the trigger, and the machine gun, silent, crashed down on me. Be that as it may, but the installation lived, acted, and this was the main thing, and that I turned out to be a weakling and could not hold the firing machine gun, this is mere trifles.

The management of the plant treated our product with due understanding: without any bureaucratic delays, "FT" was put into series.

The launch of the FT rifle launcher into mass production was carried out at the plant without observing the necessary formalities. Indeed, the FT installation did not pass state tests, and the factory ones were very short. Normally, the launch into mass production can be carried out only by the decision to put it into service after passing state and military tests.

We must pay tribute to the management of the plant, director Vasily Andreevich Okulov and chief engineer Mikhail Nikiforovich Korneev, who took on a huge responsibility, trusted us, the designers, in the unconditional reliability of the FT rifle installation, its strength, the necessary rigidity, the reliability of its fastening and cartridge magazine lock, reloading and ammunition supply system.


FT - Front trebuyet - The Front Demands

OKO - Opytnyy Konstruktorskiy Otdel - Experienced Design Department

GKO - Gosudarstvennyy Komitet Oborony - State Defense Committee

LII - Letnyy issledovatel'skiy institut - Flight Research Institute

NKAP - Narodnyy komissariat aviatsionnoy promyshlennosti - People's Commissariat of Aviation Industry

VVS KA - Voyenno vozdushnyye Sily Krasnoy Armii - Air Force of the Red Army

FAB - Fugasnaya avibomba - High-Explosive Bomb

Tests directly at the front confirmed the great survivability and the absolute need to re-equip all Pe-2 (Pe-3) aircraft in front-line conditions. The weight turned out to be correct and well thought out.

The first good news came from the front, letters of gratitude to the plant and categorical demands for the speedy re-equipment of the entire fleet of combat aircraft. The first combat tests were on May 5, 1942 near Kerch. Factory installations "FT" was tested by the 30th bomber regiment under the command of Colonel Nikolaev. Their appearance was a complete surprise for the Germans. When our planes, after completing a combat mission, returned to base, they were intercepted by German fighters. Confident in their impunity, they, as before, approaching from the tail, tried to get closer to 300 meters in order to beat for sure.

Several FT installations opened fire almost simultaneously, and 3 fascist fighters, engulfed in flames, collapsed to the ground. Not realizing what happened, the other "Messers" routinely repeated the maneuver and were also shot down. It was a victory for the new weapon. Meanwhile, Moscow, more precisely the 10th Main Directorate of the NKAP, represented by the head of department B. N. Tarasevich, “bombed” the plant with telegrams about the immediate removal of the “FT” installation from mass production.

A difficult situation has arisen: on the one hand, the front, its categorical demands, the complete refusal of the Air Force crews to accept Pe-2 aircraft with the ShKAS installation, and on the other hand, the leadership categorically demanded an end to "amateur activities" and bringing the perpetrators to trial by a military tribunal.

Turning to V. A. Okulov with the question “what to do?”, I heard the calm answer of Vasily Andreevich:

- Send all the leadership away, work calmly!

Finally, in complete despair, hungry and angry, I met one employee of the NKAP in the corridor, unfortunately, my memory did not retain her last name. She asked me about my affairs and promised to help. Apparently she had connections. After a while, they gave me the telephone number of Fedotikov, an employee of the Central Committee, and suggested that I call him.

After listening to me, Fedotikov asked me to call back the next day at 11.00. At the appointed time, I went to the reception of the Central Committee.

To my great joy, Fedotikov said that the issue was resolved. A decision was made to launch the FT plant in Kazan and at the Savelovsky plant.

Forgetting all the troubles, having issued a business trip, I returned with a victory to Kazan.

After some time, P. A. Chugunov, already from OKO, was sent to Savelovo to assist the plant in the implementation of the FT installation. 1010 such installations were produced at the Savelovsky Machine-Building Plant.

So the front received the necessary re-equipment of the Pe-2 aircraft.

Department of operation and repair of the plant named after. S. P. Gorbunova (NKAP USSR) in June 1942 issued the “Information Bulletin” No. 11 - 12 “Replacing the upper rifle mount for the ShKAS machine gun in the navigator’s cockpit with the FT mount for the Berezin machine gun” (repair method).

The bulletin says:

“In order to further improve the combat qualities of the Pe-2 aircraft, the plant has begun production of new FT shooting mounts. "FT" - front-line requirement - this is the factory name of the upper installation for the Berezin machine gun - UBT, designed by Comrade Selyakov and Chugunov, designers of the Experimental Design Department of the plant.

Instead of the upper firing point for the ShKAS machine gun on aircraft in units, the “FT” installation is mounted for the Berezin machine gun - UBT ... "

Pe-2 «I»

In the spring of 1944, we tested a new English bomber DH "Mosquito". This aircraft, having high speed and not having any defensive weapons, carried out raids on the rear of Germany with virtually impunity. V. M. Myasishchev called me and offered to work out a possible modification of the production Pe-2 aircraft with the aim of making it the Soviet Mosquito. Without thinking twice, I got to work.

As a result, an aircraft project appeared, which was supposed to reach a speed of 100 - 120 km / h more than the serial Pe-2.

In addition to obtaining high flight data, we were faced with the task of placing an aerial bomb of the FAB-1000 caliber on the aircraft, for which we had to create a cargo compartment, since the external suspension of bombs on a production aircraft significantly reduced its flight data, reducing speed, flight range and altitude. It was a difficult task. The Pe-2 aircraft is a low-wing aircraft, and it is impossible to place a compartment for a 1000-kg bomb without touching the center section.

To solve the problem, part of the lower steel belts of the spars of the center section was cut out and replaced with arched forged liners. The height of the wing spar along the axis of the aircraft decreased exactly by half. Then the fuselage was built up, changing the circular section in its lower part to an oval one.

The FAB-1000 bomb was placed in the resulting space.

Refinement of the spars, an increase in the midsection and fuselage surface led to some increase in the empty weight of the aircraft, but a significant improvement in aerodynamics more than compensated for this. A small gain in weight was given by the elimination of small cargo compartments for FAB-100 bombs in engine nacelles.

As a result of improvements to the aircraft, its tactical capabilities have significantly increased.

In order to achieve a decision on the creation of the Soviet "Mosquito", V. M. Myasishchev went to Moscow. I had to, without waiting for a decision, to deploy design work.

Soon the decision of the Government was received.

The aircraft, which received the Pe-2 "I" index, had no equal in terms of its speed characteristics.

During training air battles during state tests, it was shown that modern fighters Me 109, FV190 and our Yak-3 cannot intercept and attack it: the flight speed is too high. It differed from the production Pe-2 aircraft in the best contours of the forward fuselage, all radiators were removed into the wing with air outlet under the wing, and not on its upper surface. The wing tips, as on the latest production models, were blunted with a NASA 23012 profile, which improved stall characteristics at high angles of attack. The engines were VK-107 with a capacity of 1650 hp from each.

In the tail section of the fuselage, a remote shooting mount was installed under the Berezin machine gun cal. 12.7 mm, from which the navigator fired. Crew - 2 people.

The aircraft successfully passed state tests and was recommended for mass production. At the very end of the war, a small series was built.

Factory flight tests of the Pe-2 "I" - "Mosquito" aircraft were carried out by test pilot A. G. Vasilchenko.

During the creation of this aircraft, the aerodynamics group was led by Emmanuil Anatolyevich Osherov, a competent, very good and likeable person, but very cautious.

We had an interesting technical dispute with him. Having carried out all the necessary calculations, Osherov stated that the maximum flight speed could be obtained until 620 km / h, with a given one - 640.

I told him that he was being careful and making mistakes, and we would complete the task, but he firmly stood his ground - 620 and no more.

Flight tests showed - 656km / h!

Thus, the Pe-2 "I" became the fastest Soviet bomber during the Great Patriotic War. Unfortunately, he arrived too late.

July 25, 2015

Our plane would still have engines like the Mosquito, and not with our resource ...

Vyacheslav