Aviation of World War II

Home Russian


Dive Bomber


Tupolev '103'

The development of the Tu-2 bomber began at the end of 1939. This aircraft, created, like the Pe-2, in prison conditions, had a largely unusual and difficult fate, but it was he who was destined to become one of the the best combat vehicles of this class in the world aircraft construction. In 1939, the design team headed by A.N. Tupolev, on the instructions of the NKVD leadership, worked on the creation of a heavy four-engine dive bomber "PB". Realizing the absurdity of such a task, A.N. Tupolev, in parallel, and essentially semi-legally, conducted preliminary design research on the twin-engine front-line bomber "FB". When the first encouraging results were obtained on "FB" A.N. Tupolev proved that the Air Force, first of all, needs just such an aircraft, and not "PB". Although in a prison setting, it was not only very difficult, but also risky.

Since at the initial stage the work on the "FB" was carried out on an initiative basis, the designers themselves determined its basic tactical data. Among them, the main ones were: speed like that of fighters: range - up to 2500 km; the ability to fly at high altitude and in any weather conditions; bomb load from 1 to 3 tons with the ability to carry bombs of the then largest caliber of 1000 kg and drop them from a dive. And not only from the external suspension, as was the case on the Pe-2, but also from the bomb bay. Military experts, having familiarized themselves with the project, warmly supported it, noting the completeness and thoroughness of the elaboration.

In the fall of 1939, the TsKB-29 team began work on a new aircraft. It was the "FB" project (front-line bomber), or "project 58". (Tupolev about the plane: "... is a fatal number for me, article 58 of the prosecution, 58th cell, 58th car." ) The work was carried out in an atmosphere of increased secrecy. The speed of 643 km / h shown in the fourth or fifth flight seemed fantastic, it was ahead of the speed of modern fighters. A report through the administration of Beria's "sharazhka" and then to Stalin decided the matter, it was decided to build the "103rd" and a year was set before the first aircraft were released.

Aircraft "103" 2AM-37

In 1939, the Tupolev group was tasked with creating a high-speed bomber that would develop a speed comparable to that of a fighter. The new bomber was supposed to carry heavy bombs internally and drop them at dive. The plane had to fly in difficult weather conditions, day and night. The result was the 103 twin-engine dive bomber. The first sketches were ready at the end of 1939, and general drawings were ready in February 1940. In the meantime, the Tupolev Design Bureau was transferred from the Bolshevsk colony to the aircraft factory number 156.

On February 29, 1940, the Special Technical Bureau of the NKVD, which included the Tupolev team, requested that the FB 2M-120 (103) aircraft be included in the 1940 prototype construction plan. Since March 1940, the FB bomber has officially received the number 103.

On April 21, 1940, the model of the aircraft "103" was examined by the commission and approved. In accordance with the decree of the State Defense Committee (GKO) No. 239 of June 1, 1940, the plant No. 156 was supposed to build three prototypes "103": one with AM-35A engines, and the second and third with M-120TK-2 engines. The first prototype was to be submitted for state testing by January 1941, and the second and third in March and May of the same year. The designers had to prepare drawings for the version with AM-35A engines.

Assembly of aircraft "103" began in May 1940. These days the Soviet delegation paid a visit to Germany. The Germans showed off many new vehicles, including the twin-engined Ju 88. The Soviet Air Force liked the idea of ​​placing the crew in the bow cockpit. There was a proposal to use such a cabin on "103". The offer was fulfilled. The aircraft has been recycled. Simultaneously with the new cockpit, a fourth member was introduced to the crew - the navigator, who was supposed to sit next to the pilot. Another firing point was also organized. The resulting modification was called "103U" (ANT-59).

Since May 1940, the work has been carried out in three directions.

Plane "103" 2AM-37 Plane "103U" 2AM-37 Plane "103" ("103V") 2M-120. In July 1940, the construction of the prototype "103U" began. The first to complete the "103" 2AM-37. The finished aircraft was disassembled and transported to the airfield of the Air Force Research Institute in Chkalovsk. On December 4, 1940, by order of the NKAP (People's Commissariat of the Aviation Industry) No. 689, a crew was manned for testing the prototype. The first pilot was M.A.Nyuchtikov, the second pilot was F.F. Opadchy, and the navigator - A.M. Hakobyan. On January 8, 1941, the plane was assembled and three weeks later made its first flight. Factory tests continued until May 1941. In June and July, the state tests of the aircraft took place.

The characteristics of the aircraft "103", shown during the tests, made it one of the best bombers in its class in the world. The aircraft could strike both in areas and on point targets from level flight or from a dive. The plane could carry bombs weighing from 100 to 1000 kg. The offensive armament was supplemented by two 20-mm ShVAK cannons and two 7.62-mm ShKAS machine guns. Two more machine guns covered the rear hemisphere. The seats of the crew members were protected by armor, all gas tanks had self-sealing walls and an inert gas filling system. The plane "103" 2AM-37 developed a speed comparable to the speed of modern fighters.

Aircraft "103U" 2AM-37

In May 1940, the command of the Red Army Air Force presented additional requirements for the aircraft "103". It was ordered to increase the crew by one person, while the navigator had to take a seat next to the pilot, as was the case on German aircraft. In addition, it was required to install an additional firing point to defend the rear hemisphere and make several other changes to the aircraft design. The introduction of a fourth member to the crew required noticeable changes in the nose of the fuselage. The nose had to be widened, so that now, in the plan from above, the cabin was somewhat reminiscent of a tadpole. Layout "103U" was approved by the Air Force commission on August 23, 1940. The assembly of the 103U AM-37 prototype was completed on April 9, 1941. On May 15, the pilot M.A. Nyuchtikov lifted the car into the air for the first time.

In June-July 1941, state tests passed.

Tests have shown that it is necessary to improve the longitudinal stability of the aircraft. The problem was solved by increasing the tail area from 4.37 to 5.28 m ².

On July 6, 1941, when the tests were already approaching the end, an accident occurred. During one of the flights, the propeller collapsed. Debris from blades damaged the engine and fuselage and killed navigator A.M. Hakobyan. The pilot M.A. Nyuchtikov had to jump with a parachute. Engineer Maltsev did not manage to leave the plane and died under the wreckage of the car.

Despite the disaster, it was decided that "103U" passed state tests. On July 17, 1941, by order of the NKAP, serial production of the 103 aircraft was to be deployed at the aircraft factory number 18 in Voronezh.

On July 19, 1941, by a decree of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, Tupolev and his designers were released. Full rehabilitation followed in 1955.

The outbreak of war with Germany forced to change plans. Plant No. 18 in Voronezh switched to production of Il-2 attack aircraft. On July 27, 1941, the State Defense Committee ordered the start of production of "103" at plant number 166 in Omsk. The plans were optimistic: before October 1, 1941, it was planned to release the first nine production vehicles, in the fourth quarter, 45 more, and in 1942 it was planned to produce 600 vehicles.

However, the evacuation of factories No. 156 and No. 81 began, and factories were evacuated to Omsk. In July 1941, Tupolev arrived in Omsk with his design bureau, where he began to prepare production documentation for "103U". Already in September, a set of drawings was ready and the plant could start producing the machine, which was assigned the production designation 103C 2AM-37. But life turned out to be more complicated than any plans. Another version of the aircraft - "103B", went into production.

«103» «103U»
Crew 3 4
Year of issue 1941 1941
Length, m 13.2 13.8
Wing span, m 18.8 18.8
Height, m 4.5 4.5
Weights, kg
Takeoff weight Loaded 9,950 10,435
Maximum 10,992 11,477
Engine 2xAM-37 2xAM-37
Power, h p. 2x1,400 2x1,400
Propeller VISh-61T VISh-61I
Diameter of a propeller, m 3.4 3.8
Maximum speed km/h 635 610
at altitude 8,000 7,800
Time to level min 8.6 9.5
altitude, m 5,000 5,000
Service ceiling, m 10,600 10,500
Service range, km   1,900
Taking - off, m 440  
Run, m 730  
Bomb load, kg Normal 1,000 1,000
Maximum 2,000 2,000
Defensive armament ShVAK cannon 20mm 2 2
ShKAS machine guns 7.62mm 4 5
RS-82 (RS-132) - 10
Photo Description
Drawing 103U

Drawing 103U

Tupolev «103U», spring of 1941

Tupolev «103U» in assembly shop of a factory # 156, spring of 1941

Tupolev «103U», November 23, 1941

Tupolev «103U» before sending on tests, November 23, 1941


  • "The history of designs of planes in USSR 1938-1950" /Vadim Shavrov/
  • "Planes of Stalin falcons" /Konstantin Kosminkov and Dmitriy Grinyuk/
  • "Tupolev" /Leonid Kerber/
  • "The air war" /№ 66, № 67/
  • "The Soviet planes" /Alexander Yakovlev/