Aviation of Word War II

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Front Reconnaissance Aircraft



Reconnaissance Pe-2s were created on the basis of various series and, accordingly, inherited many characteristic features from them: various weapons, aerodynamic improvements, type of engines, and so on. But they also had common features. Factory-made reconnaissance aircraft (re-equipment of bombers into reconnaissance aircraft was carried out directly in the units, but there it usually came down to installing additional cameras) there were no brake grilles, they were mainly equipped with M-105RA engines, the aircraft finishing was carried out more thoroughly, sometimes the wing was polished up to a third chords. Accordingly, the flight data of reconnaissance vehicles turned out to be slightly higher than that of conventional bombers of the same series, and sometimes even exceeded the performance of experimental aircraft.

The scouts, as a rule, had an increased supply of fuel due to the placement of additional fuel tanks in the bomb bay, or, which was more often, they used suspended drop tanks (with a capacity of 335 liters each). The suspension of the tanks reduced the maximum horizontal flight speed by 30-35 km / h at all altitudes, and the ceiling - by 300-400 m. At the same time, the takeoff run was lengthened and the climb rate worsened, but the range increased by 450-650 km. After running out of fuel, the tanks could be dropped and the aerodynamics of the aircraft improved.

The reconnaissance's special equipment was somewhat different from that of the Pe-2 bomber. First of all, the AK-1 automatic course was installed on reconnaissance options - a gyroscopic device that stabilizes the aircraft relative to the vertical axis by acting on the rudder. AK-1 ensured heading with an accuracy of 1-2 °, relieving the pilot's attention. The machine gun could also make specified turns, for which the pilot and navigator had special controls. The dive assault rifle was removed from the scouts. In late 1941 - early 1942, only reconnaissance options were equipped with RPK-2 semi-compass. Sometimes at the front, radio equipment was improved by installing an SPU, through the subscriber panels of which all crew members had communication.

A version equipped with photographic equipment was also available for the Pe-3 fighter (sometimes it was called Pe-3R or Pe-3F). It should be noted that the crews of the reconnaissance aircraft preferred the Pe-3bis, which had a slightly longer range and was armed with a cannon. On these machines, cameras were not placed in bomb compartments (occupied by additional fuel tanks), but in the rear of the fuselages.

Pe-2R Specification
Crew 3
Length, m 12.66
Wing span, m 17.13
Wing area, m² 40.50
Weight, kg
Empty weight 6,200
Loaded weight 8,400
Engine 2 × PE M-105PF
Power, hp 2 × 1210
Maximum speed above the ground, km/h 475
Maximum speed at altitude, km/h 520
Service range, km 1,600
Service ceiling, m 8,000

Equipping with camera . In the first period of the war, in addition to the usual AFA-B camera for a bomber, in the cockpit of a radio operator on reconnaissance Pe-2, as a rule, two large AFA-1 planes were mounted in the bomb bay. They had two types of lenses - with focal lengths of 30 and 50 cm. It was allowed to install two identical or two different devices on an aircraft. When the AFA-1 was mounted, the bomb bay doors were replaced with new ones, more convex and having cutouts for lenses. The work of AFA-1 was controlled by a navigator. Instead of AFA-B, it was possible to put a special camera for night shooting NAFA-19. In this case, the shutter of the apparatus was triggered by a signal from a photocell located behind a transparent hatch in the rear of the aircraft and fixing the flash of the FOTAB lighting bomb. During night photography, 6-8 FOTAB-50-35 photobombs were suspended on the Pe-2.

In addition, the radio operator had a handheld camera AFA-27T-1 for perspective shooting through the cockpit glazing. In the stowed position, he lay in a special box on the left side. Since 1942, AFA-3C devices or American cameras obtained under Lend-Lease began to enter the combat units. In order to increase the area of ​​the terrain photographed in one run, sometimes they resorted to installing dual cameras. They also made original installations, for example, swinging ones, which doubled the width of the removed strip of terrain. A special fairing covering the lens made it possible to mount a large AFA-33 camera with a focal length of 1 m on the "pawn". The 72nd ORAP prepared a special Pe-2 with space for a fourth crew member and four additional devices for shooting Berlin. Pictures taken from it on April 7, 1945 by V.A. Tyomin, bypassed newspapers around the world.


  • Pe2 with "Shvetsov's stars; / Vladimir Kotelnikov, Alexander Medved, Dmitry Khazanov /
  • Pe-2R dive bomber; / A.N. Bear, D.B. Khazanov /

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Пе-2Р с подвесными топливными баками Pe-2R with outboard fuel tanks. At the bottom of the cockpit is the RPK-10 radio compass frame.