Aviation of World War II
In the second half of the spring of 1942, to exchange views on the opening of the second front, the USSR government decided to send a delegation headed by V.M. Molotov to the United States. After discussing possible route options and means of delivery, we stopped on the route through England, the flight was supposed to be on a Pe-8 bomber. To test the possibility of such a risky event, at the end of April 1942, the plane under the control of the commander of the ship Asyamov took off on the Moscow - Dundee route. Overall, this flight went well. Already upon arrival, during a local flight from the airfield to the airfield on the English transport plane "Flamingo" a disaster occurred, during which Sergei Asyamov died. The Pe-8 was brought back by the co-pilot E.K. Pusep. It must be said that Major Pusep was also the commander of the ship and took the place of the co-pilot for greater reliability. As these sad events have shown, this precaution was not superfluous. The return to Moscow went well. The start of the flight to America took place on the night of May 19, 1942. They decided to fly in the well-tested aircraft No. 42066, equipped with AM-35A engines. The commander of the ship was Endel Pusep, the co-pilot was Vladimir Obukhov.
The flight took place with landings at the Teeling airfield in Scotland, in Reykjavik (Iceland) and at the Canadian airbase Goose Bay. On the afternoon of May 29, 1942, the Pe-8 delivered passengers safely to Washington. After negotiations, on June 4, the car started on its way back and returned safely to Moscow. For the performance of this flight, the entire crew of the bomber was awarded military awards. The pilots and navigator Shtepenko received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
The flight of the delegation led by Molotov to America took place in a standard Pe-8. The only thing that was done for the passengers was the installation of temporary seats in the center compartment. The passengers, including women, were dressed in fur coveralls and supplied with oxygen devices. The temperature overboard reached - 40 ° С, in the improvised passenger compartment it was also cold.
The development of special passenger aircraft for the transportation of senior management and government delegations during the war became a special topic for some design bureaus during this period. This work was carried out under the name "Special Purpose Aircraft" ("ON"), for alterations of this kind the Er-2, B-25 and S-47 were subjected to. The beginning of work on the re-equipment of the Pe-8 dates back to the middle of 1943, when the People's Commissar of the Aviation Industry A.I. Shakhurin summoned Nezval to Moscow and invited him to take up this issue. The official decision to carry out the work was made by the State Defense Committee much later - on March 15, 1944. Around the same period, another shift took place in the fate of aircraft diesel engines. Since 1942, designers and production workers have been working on airplanes equipped with ASh-82, they managed to forget about all the difficulties associated with the M-30 and M-40, there was a general opinion that they were done with. However, at the beginning of 1944, the designer of diesel engines A.D. Charomsky appeared in the design bureau, who was imprisoned in Kazan. He said that soon the fate of these engines will change for the better. And indeed, soon Charomsky was taken to Moscow, where he was received by Stalin, after a corresponding report he was released and appointed Chief Designer of the plant where M-30 diesel engines were produced. At the same time, Charomsky was promoted to major general and awarded the title of Stalin Prize Laureate. Returning to the plant, he very energetically set about fine-tuning his engines, which have now become known as ACh-30B (Charomsky aircraft diesel engines).
Soon aircraft plant number 22 received an order to install ACh-Z0B on Pe-8 bombers. The last two combat aircraft produced by the Kazan aircraft plant (serial numbers 42812 and 42912) were equipped with these diesels.
ACh-Z0B were also installed on two passenger Pe-8 "ON" # 42612 and 42712. These aircraft were completed at the end of 1944. A comfortable cabin for 12 people was equipped in the central compartment of the aircraft, it had three berths , buffet and dressing room. Inside, the passenger cabin was sheathed with sound-insulating material with decorative upholstery, which was not easy to find in wartime conditions. The cabin had heating, however, it was not airtight, so passengers had to use oxygen masks during high-altitude flight. The bomb compartments of these two Pe-8 "ON" were converted to carry baggage (up to 1200 kg).
Externally, the planes differed from bombers by the presence of cut windows in the area of the passenger cabin and a streamlined upper part of the fuselage - the TAT cannon turret was abolished. The rest of the defensive weapons remained the same. An additional distinction of the Pe-8 "ON" was the presence of a long fairing in the area of the keel base, the so-called forkil (then it was called "comb").
After trial factory flights in the spring of 1945, the Pe-8 # 4217, equipped with ACh-30B engines with VISH-61-V-1 propellers, was sent to the Air Force Research Institute for State tests. Control and acceptance tests took place in Kazan at the airfield of Plant No. 22 in the period from February 25 to March 4, 1945. It was recognized that the aircraft was overweight by 1362 kg due to re-equipment. The maximum technical range was 5600 km. Based on the test results, it was determined that the aircraft was performed basically satisfactorily and corresponded to its purpose. The disadvantages that are common in such cases were also noted. In particular, it was admitted that the oil system was not completed, and the smell of fuel was noticeably felt in the passenger cabin. As for the instruments, it was proposed to replace the outdated RPK-2S radio semi-compass with a more modern American SCR-269. All this was discussed already in the summer of 1945. The war ended, and the use of special-purpose aircraft became questionable.