Aviation of World War II

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Heavy Attack Aircraft


Tu-2Sh heavy attack aircraft. In 1944, on the basis of the Tu-2S high-speed dive bomber, an unusual weapon system, the Fiery Hedgehog, was tested as an experiment. The system consisted of 88 units of Shpagin submachine guns (PPSh) installed on the platform. In the Tupolev Design Bureau, a bomber equipped with a new system was assigned the Tu-2Sh index.

In the Tupolev Design Bureau, the head of the weapons department A. Nadashkevich, as well as the chief engineer S. Savelyev, it was proposed to create a weapon battery and install it on a dive bomber to attack infantry columns, as well as other enemy personnel. They decided to make a new battery by combining a large number of PCA on a single platform that would be located in the bomb bay of the bomber. The decision to install automatic platforms on two experimental Tu-2S was approved at a meeting with Air Marshal Novikov. 180 units of Shpagin submachine guns of the 1941 model were allocated, with disk magazines for them, as well as a full ammunition.

Photo Description

Tu-2Sh with battery PPSh-41

The system, as already mentioned, was named "Fiery Hedgehog", and consisted of 88 PPSh units, which were placed in 11 rows of 8 pieces. One submachine gun had 71 rounds of ammunition, caliber 7.62 × 25 mm. The system passed range and combat tests, the density of fire on targets was very effective. To fire, the bomber pilot opened the bomb bay, and using a special sight, fired at ground targets. For 1 second of the "Fiery Hedgehog" operation, about 8 kg of lead were sent to the target. However, the main disadvantages - too short a period of firing and long-term reloading (for reloading the machine gun platform was lowered with cables down) - outweighed all the positive characteristics. In addition, the rather significant weight of the system: the weight of the PPSh with full ammunition is 5.3 kg, the total weight of all PPShs is 466 kg, the total weight of the battery with the platform is about 600 kilograms, also did not contribute to the adoption of the system for service. So, for example, small-caliber cluster bombs, already widely used at that time, with a comparable weight, showed much greater efficiency, including against armored targets.

Ultimately, the aircraft with the "Fiery Hedgehog" did not go into mass production, but the Tu-2Sh - went down in history as an aircraft with the largest amount of firearms on board!

Tu-2Sh Specifications
Crew 2
Wing span, m 13,80
Wing span, m 18,86
Wing area, m² 48,80
Weight, kg:
Empty weight 8,800
Loaded weight 11,780
Engine 2 × PE ASh-82FN
Power, hp 2 × 1850
Maximum speed, km/h 575
Cruising speed, km/h 504
Rate of climb, m/min 556
Service range, km 2500
Service ceiling, m 10065
12.7 mm machine gun UBT and various options for weapons, bombs, kg 1000


  • Tupolev Tu-2 bomber /Vladimir Rigmant./
  • Tu-2 is the best bomber of the Great Patriotic War. /Nikolay Yakubovich/
  • History of aircraft structures in the USSR, 1938-1950. /V.B. Shavrov/

The idea of ​​implementing a system of continuous ammunition supply is not new, the Americans created an experimental aircraft "JL 12" back in 1921.
The assault aircraft was armed with 30 Thompson missile launchers of .45 ACP * caliber. Submachine guns on it made up two batteries. One battery in 12 PP was installed for forward firing, another in 16 PP for backward firing, 2PP was installed on the turret in the cockpit. But during the tests, the same problem emerged as with the "Fiery Hedgehog" - a long ground recharge. And the effectiveness of pistol ammunition, even for a Colt .45 caliber, was extremely low.

* Note - ACP - Automatic Colt Pistol, .45 caliber

Junkers-Larsen JL 12

Junkers-Larsen JL 12 - troop support aircraft. On this version, designated JL 12, a battery of thirty 11.43 mm Thompson submachine guns was installed in the passenger cabin. Of these, 28 were two batteries for firing ground targets.
The first battery of twelve Thompsons was located directly behind the pilot's seat and was directed forward and downward, the second battery at the rear of the fuselage consisted of 16 assault rifles. She was divided into two groups. Eight of them were directed clearly downward, the second eight at an angle back-down. All machines were equipped with 100-cartridge disk magazines plus three spare magazines. Two more machine guns were at the disposal of the pilot and the observer. The fuselage batteries were remotely operated by three trigger levers, one for each group of weapons. Theoretically, the replacement of magazines on all machines was supposed to be done in 4 minutes, although this seems doubtful due to the decent mass of the magazine itself - about 4.5 kg and the narrowness of the fuselage.

Drawing JL 12