Aviation of World War II
Tu-2. Combat Use.
First Stage: Military Trials in 1942/43.
The first three serial Tu-2s, produced by plant No. 166, hit the Kalinin Front in September 1942. The vehicles ended up in the 3rd Air Army, commanded by Colonel General M.M. Gromov. Together with the planes, a group of specialists headed by D.S. arrived at the front. Markov, who was responsible for the introduction and operation of the Tu-2. The bombers began their combat career at the Migalovo airfield near Kalinin on September 14, 1942.
Both test pilots and front-line pilots participated in the flights. During military tests, the vehicles made 25 sorties, an average of one sortie per day. During sorties, Tu-2s were threatened by both anti-aircraft artillery and enemy fighter aircraft. However, the three bombers always flew with reliable cover, so the threat from the fighters was less.
One of the most successful operations was the destruction of a fuel depot and military equipment near the village of Trostino. The first raids on the warehouse were made by Pe-2 bombers, which dropped FAB-100 bombs on the target. However, these bombs were too weak. Then Tu-2s carrying FAB-1000 bombs were sent to the target. The bombers in this sortie covered ten LaGG-3s. Their pilots were ordered to cover the bombers at all costs. During the raid, the detachment was intercepted by nine Bf 109s. LaGGs managed to tie up most of the Messers in battle, but several German fighters broke through to the Tu-2. However, thanks to the skillful actions of the gunners and fighter pilots, the attack was repulsed without losses from the Tu-2. The bombers bombed and destroyed the warehouse, and then safely returned to base.
Front-line pilots highly appreciated the Tu-2. They emphasized the high efficiency of the aircraft, capable of dropping large mass bombs on the target, powerful defensive weapons, ease of piloting and high flight qualities.
Piloting the Tu-2 was much easier than the Pe-2. The plane could easily fly on only one engine. The impression of the aircraft was spoiled only by the low reliability of the M-82 engines.
While testing of the Tu-2 trio continued at the front, training of pilots for the new bomber began on the basis of plant No. 166 in Omsk.
The first Tu-2 aircraft received the 132nd OBAP (separate bomber regiment) and the 12th BAP. In the spring of 1942, a special training unit was formed, in which crews for the Tu-2 were trained.
The 132nd OBAP was sent to Omsk for reorganization and retraining in April 1942. Until that time, the regiment flew SB, Ar-2 and Pe-2. Since the regiment was the first unit to be equipped with new bombers, several employees of the Tupolev Design Bureau and NIIVVS were sent there. Among them were test pilots A.D. Flight and V.N. Tereshchenko, factory pilot Yu.G. Paul. They became instructors, training the regiment's personnel while flying around new vehicles.
The preparation of the 132nd OBAP was completed in September 1942. The regiment received 29 Tu-2s and, led by Lieutenant Colonel A. Khlebnikov, went to the Kalinin Front. The regiment participated in combat operations from November 5, 1942 to January 1, 1943. The pilots attacked targets in the front zone and behind enemy lines in the area of Smolensk, Vitebsk, Velikiye Luki, etc. Then the regiment was transferred to the South-Western Front, where it operated until April 13, 1943. The activity of the 132nd OBAP was a continuation of the military tests of the Tu-2 and had a great influence on the future fate of the bomber.
In April 1943, the experience of the regiment was summarized in a report that gave a comprehensive assessment of the new bomber. In total, the regiment made 93 sorties, including 46 on the Kalinin and 47 on the Southwestern Front. 75 sorties were made for bombing and 8 for reconnaissance. In 23 sorties, the combat mission was not completed, including eight times due to discovered technical problems of varying complexity, up to engine failure in flight. During the fighting, 9 Tu-2s were lost or damaged. Two vehicles did not return from a sortie, the rest were lost as a result of accidents or made an emergency landing on their territory. By the end of its combat tour, the 132nd OBAP had 14 Tu-2s, of which eight required the sighting of one or two engines. In total, during the time spent at the front, the regiment dropped 386 bombs on targets with a total weight of 6755 kg, including 25 FAB-1000s, nine FAB-500s, 28 FAB-250s and 297 FAB-100s.
All bombing was carried out from level flight. The bombardment of the German garrison in Velikiye Luki at the end of December 1942, as well as raids on the railway junctions of Sinelnikovo, Pavlograd, Zaporozhye, Dnepropetrovsk and airfields in Smolensk and Zaporozhye, were especially successful.
The message of the Soviet Information Bureau dated February 27, 1943 stated: "... 18 German bombers were destroyed and burned. "This raid was carried out from a height of 400 m with FAB-100 bombs.
Despite the fact that the regiment flew during the day and without cover, the German fighters failed to shoot down a single Tu-2. In general, the unreliable M-82 engines posed a more serious threat. Their accidents caused 11 forced landings and the termination of ten sorties. For various reasons, 17 engines had to be replaced, eight more were finalizing the last hours of their engine life.
All aircraft produced by factory number 166 were used to equip units of the 3rd Air Army operating on the Kalinin Front. The pilots noted the superiority of the Tu-2 over the Pe-2 and Pe-3 aircraft. At low and medium altitudes, the Tu-2 exceeded the available bombers in speed by 100 km / h or more, carried more bombs (up to 3000 kg). An important plus was the fact that the Tu-2 could fly freely with one engine running.
However, the Tu-2 was never used as a dive bomber. Later, aerodynamic brakes were removed from the aircraft and the idea of using it as a dive bomber was completely abandoned. During the war, the Pe-2 was a dive bomber, and the Tu-2 became a pure medium bomber.
Commander of the Air Force, General A.A. Novikov wrote a letter to Stalin emphasizing the need to start mass production of Tu-2 bombers. However, the general's request came too late. By that time, an order had already appeared ordering plant No. 166 to switch to the production of fighters. They returned to the production of the Tu-2 a year later, when the Red Army launched a strategic offensive on all fronts, and there was a need for bombers capable of delivering a large mass of bombs over long distances.
In the meantime, the following regiments were formed in Omsk and sent to the front.
The 2nd DRAP (Long-Range Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment) received four Tu-2s, including three in the reconnaissance version. The regiment flew Pe-3s, which acted as high-speed scouts. For merits in the performance of particularly important tasks of the High Command, the regiment received the rank of Guards and became known as the 47th GDRAP.
During the battles that went down in history as the liquidation of the Demyansk Cauldron, the pilots of the 47th GDRAP daily photographed the enemy's fortifications. To intercept Soviet intelligence officers, the Germans brought in a group of Fw 190s, and the regiment suffered heavy losses. In this situation, a Tu-2 piloted by V.F. Stolyarov. On the way back, the plane was intercepted by six Fw 190s and shot down. Of the entire crew, only the navigator managed to survive. The three Tu-2s remaining in the regiment made reconnaissance missions to the area of the airfield in Adrianople. By May 1943, the Tu-2 troika made more sorties than all 29 Tu-2s of the 132nd OBAP combined.
In May 1943, the 132nd OBAP was taken to the rear. Ten Tu-2s from the regiment were transferred to the 47th GDRAP. Eight other Tu-2s were sent to the plant for repair, and the remaining seven were distributed to front-line airfields.
Reconnaissance Tu-2s caused many problems for the German command, which sought to destroy dangerous vehicles at any cost. In turn, the Soviet pilots had a clear order to destroy the aircraft in the event of landing on enemy territory.
In addition to reconnaissance missions, Tu-2 crews from the 47th GDRAP flew out to bombard areas of enemy railway rolling stock in Vitebsk, Borisov and Minsk. Good defensive armament allowed the Tu-2 to repel the attacks of German fighters. In May 1943, the crew of V.N. Tereshchenko repelled an attack by four Bf 109 fighters during a raid on Minsk.
The 47th GDRAP flew the Tu-2 throughout 1943, and then received the Tu-2S.
In December 1942, the 12th BAP equipped with Tu-2 flew out of Omsk, which then also operated on the Kalinin Front until the end of 1943, when the battered regiment was taken to the rear for replenishment.
18 Tu-2s were part of the 285th BAD, which played a prominent role in the Battle of Kursk.
In 1942/43. Tu-2 aircraft accounted for only a fraction of a percent of the total number of Soviet bombers. Only 63 aircraft from the number produced by plant No. 166 operated at the front. These bombers remained in units until the beginning of 1944, when new Tu-2Ss began to arrive.
BAP - Bombardirovochnyy aviatsionnyy polk - Bomber Aviation Regiment
OBAP - Otdel'nyy bombardirovochnyy aviapolk - separate bomber regiment
BAD - Bombardirovochnaya aviatsionnaya diviziya - Bomber Aviation Division
BAK - Bombardirovochnyy aviakorpus - Bomber Air Corps
GDRAP - Gvardeyskiy dal'niy razvedyvatel'nyy aviapolk - Guards Long-Range Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment
FAB - Fugasnaya aviatsionnaya bomba - High explosive aerial bomb
Second Stage: Mass Use of Tu-2 at the Final Stage of WWII
The first serial Tu-2 2M-82FN in the spring of 1944 entered the 47th GDRAP, which already had extensive experience in operating Tupolev bombers. The main command of the Red Army was preparing the next offensive, and the regiment was tasked to photograph Berlin. The crews flew to Berlin from an airfield located in the Smolensk region. The required range was provided with the help of external fuel tanks. The task was completed by April 24, 1944. The regiment resumed flights over Berlin in the spring of 1945. These days, Tu-2s collided with German Me 262 jet fighters, but the Schwalbe could not shoot down a single Tu-2.
The first massive use of the Tu-2 took place in the summer of 1944. By this time, bombers of this type were in service with three regiments from the 334th BAP: the 12th BAP, the 132nd BAP and the 454th BAP.
The 12th BAP received the first Tu-2s at the end of 1943, and the development of machines was carried out at the Kubinka airfield near Moscow. At the end of April 1944, the regiment was fully equipped and included in the 334th BAD.
In April 1944, the 132nd BAP, operating on the Southwestern Front, was taken to the rear for reorganization and rearmament. In June 1944, the regiment also became part of the 334th BAD.
At the beginning of June 1944, there were three regiments in the 334th BAD, numbering 87 Tu-2s. The division was transferred to the Leningrad Front. Stalin initially opposed this plan. He did not want the enemy to know before the start of the Byelorussian that the Red Army had a whole division of new bombers. However, the Air Force command managed to convince the Supreme Commander, and he gave the green light to the use of the 334th BAD on the Karelian Peninsula. At the same time, Stalin ordered the commander of the Air Force A.A. Novikov, so that he "guarded the division like the apple of his eye", and was constantly interested in the successes of the 334th BAD.
On the eve of the beginning of the Vyborg operation, on June 8, 1944, Soviet aviation made three massive raids on enemy positions. A.A. Novikov reported: “The 334th BAP suffered no losses, flew during the day, performed its tasks perfectly.” For example, the 12th BAP made up to 700 sorties in the area of the Mannerheim Line. On July 17, 1944, 59 Tu-2 bombers raided the railway junction in Vyborg. The pilots of the 132nd BAP, in addition to bombing, also flew out for reconnaissance in the area of Lodeynoye Pole. German aviation showed little activity, so the bombers did not suffer losses in air battles. The commander of the Leningrad Front even ordered the bombers to operate during the day without fighter cover. The fighters simply blocked the area of activity of the bombers. Finnish aviation generally did not represent a noticeable combat force. Stalin's falcons successfully neutralized the already small Finnish fighters. The Ilmavoymat pilots never approached the Tu-2 within firing range. Those small losses that the regiments suffered were caused solely by anti-aircraft artillery fire. Among the few losses was the crew of the commander of the 2nd squadron of the 12th BAP A.A. Shumeiko, who was shot down near the Mannerheim Line.
For successful actions, the 334th BAD received the honorary title "Leningradskaya", and many pilots were nominated for government awards.
With the beginning of the operation "Bagration" in the spring of 1944, the 334th BAD was transferred to the 3rd Belorussian Front, in which it operated until mid-July. The crews flew very actively, taking on board up to 3000 kg of bombs, as soon as the tactical situation allowed it.
In July, the 334th BAD was redeployed to the 1st Baltic Front, where it fought until January 1945. The crews bombed targets in the area of Tilsit, Siauliai, Mitava, Liepaja and Klaipeda.
Already in the first months of the massive use of the Tu-2, the high efficiency of the bomber became apparent. But shortcomings also made themselves felt: constructive and operational. Bulk bombs were often out of stock, and the runways were short. In addition, often had to fly far enough. All this reduced the efficiency of the aircraft. The average bomb load was 1200 kg, and only later it was possible to raise it to 1350 kg.
During all sorties, the Tu-2 was accompanied by fighters: the Yak-9 and the Airacobra. Despite the cover, the German fighters managed to break through. In just three months of fighting, German fighters managed to shoot down 10 and damage 14 Tu-2s. The aim of the Germans were primarily fallen out of action aircraft. In addition, the Germans groped for dead zones in the rear hemisphere. The question arose about the improvement of machine gun installations.
German anti-aircraft artillery shot down 7 Tu-2s in the same three months. On average, losses were minimal: 1 aircraft per 465 sorties. In 1944, the Soviet Air Force was missing 77 Tu-2s, including 45 vehicles were combat losses, 18 were lost due to accidents and disasters, and 14 were written off as exhausted.
At the beginning of 1945, Tu-2 bombers were in service with the 334th BAD operating as part of the 3rd Air Army on the 1st Baltic Front (111 aircraft), as well as the 326th BAD from the 4th Air Army 2nd Belorussian Front (94 vehicles). In addition, Tu-2s were part of the 47th GDRAP.
279 Tu-2 aircraft accounted for 9% of the total bomber fleet at the beginning of 1945. This percentage remained until the end of the war. As follows from the above figures, the Tu-2 did not become the main Soviet medium bomber, which remained the Pe-2. At the same time, although the Tu-2 was designed as a dive bomber, unlike the Pe-2, it was never used in this role, remaining a medium bomber designed for bombing from level flight.
At the end of the war, the 334th and 326th BADs were part of the 6th BAK (bomber air corps) of General I.P. Dap. The corps bombed targets in the Warsaw, Olsztyn, Gdansk, Koenigsberg and other areas. The pilots of the 334th IAD especially distinguished themselves during the bombing of Koenigsberg. Together with crews from the 18th Air Army, they attacked German positions, anti-aircraft artillery batteries, airfields and fortifications.
Having completed the raids on Koenigsberg, the 334th BAD as part of the 6th BAK became part of the 1st Belorussian Front and took part in the Berlin operation. Tu-2s bombed enemy resistance points in the city center, and also participated in direct support of assault groups.
Tu-2 in the War with Japan
After the defeat of Germany, in August 1945, the 6th BAK was transferred to the Far East, where he happened to participate in the war with Japan. From August 8 to September 3, the corps operated as part of the Trans-Baikal Front, destroying units of the Kwantung Army. The pilots carried out reconnaissance and bombed the enemy in Manchuria (Harbin, Mukden, Qiqihara). After the end of hostilities, the 6th BAK was relocated to Sakhalin.
The Tu-2 was also flown by the 113th Red Banner Leningrad OBAD of the reserve of the Supreme High Command. The division flew the Il-4 until December 1944, and by March 1945 switched to the Tu-2. In March 1945, the 113th OBAD, which included three regiments (5th, 815th and 836th BAP), was transferred from Moscow to Poznan to participate in the Berlin operation. After the surrender of Germany, the division made a giant leap to the Far East in just three days, making a flight with eight intermediate landings 10,000 km long.
The regiments of the division occupied bases in Mongolia and from there actively acted against the Japanese troops. The division became part of the 7th BAK of the 12th Air Army. During the period from August 9 to September 3, the division made about 1,600 combat sorties. Bombers destroyed the Hailar fortified area, enemy reserves, bridges, railway junctions and stations were destroyed.
The Air Force command summed up: "in combat conditions, the Tu-2 aircraft performed well as a front-line bomber."
For the creation and organization of serial production of the Tu-2 bomber A.N. Tupolev was awarded the Stalin Prize of the 1st degree in 1943, in 1944 - the Order of the Patriotic War of the 1st degree and the Order of Suvorov of the 2nd degree, and was also promoted to major general of the engineering and technical service. In 1945, Tupolev became a Hero of Socialist Labor.