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ANT-58 (Tu-2)

Front-line bomber ANT-58 (Tu-2).


Aircraft 60 (103В)

ANT-58 is a twin-engine cantilever monoplane with a smooth stressed skin, H-tail with elliptical fins and retractable landing gear. The creation of this aircraft took place in unusual conditions, to some extent. In October, 1937 Tupolev was arrested by the NKVD and after it many leading experts of the Design Bureau were also repressed, among whom were V.M. Petlyakov, V.M. Myasishev, B.M. Kondorskiy, N.S. Nekrasov, M.N. Petrov, E.I. Pogosskiy, T.P. Saprykin, B.A. Saukke, N.A. Sokolov, A.E. Sterlin, and E.K. Stoman. In 1938, on the threshold of the World War II, the government took a decision on the formation of special design units consisted of imprisoned specialists under the auspices of the NKVD, in order to create modern machines for retrofitting the Red Army, including its aviation, as soon as possible. Many aviation experts were transferred from prisons and camps to the Special Technical Departments (later known as CDB-29) of the OTB NKVD.

M.P.Vasyakin – test pilot of aircraft 103В
(the first flight on December 15, 1941)

V.M. Petlyakov became the leader of the "100" department, given the task of designing a high-altitude fighter VI (Vysotniy Istrebitel) ("100"), the prototype of Pe-2 - the mass produced front-line dive bomber; the "102" department was headed by V.M. Myasishev with a mission of designing DVB ("102") – long range high-altitude bomber; Andrey Tupolev headed the "103" department, given the task of designing PB ("57") long range high-altitude dive bomber. During the development of the PB project and due to the new reality that has arisen in the world after World War II, the task was changed and the team of Tupolev began creating FB ("103", "58") front-line dive-bomber. In the course of the "103" project the team of like-minded colleagues, among whom were former employees of his design bureau, TsAGI, VIAM, institutes of the Red Army, production plants, was gradually gathering around Tupolev, having passed through prisons and camps, to create the backbone of that very team, that soon became full-blooded and capable, to which our country owes postwar successes in the field of modern heavy military and passenger airplanes. First of all, these people are: S.M. Eger, A.M. Cheriomukhin, G.A. Ozerov, A.I. Putilov, A.V. Nadashkevich, K.V. Minkner, L.L. Kerber, B.M. Kondorskiy, D.S. Markov, N.I. Bazenkov and many other creators of Tu-2.


Aircraft 60 (103В)

In January, 1941 "103" ("58") prototype performed its first flight, followed by a second "103U" ("59") prototype. The airplanes had successfully passed factory tests, showing perfect flight performance, and the positive decision about batch production was taken. After beginning of the war, most of the imprisoned specialists were released and evacuated to Omsk, where development of "103" and "103U" projects according to the wartime needs was carried out along with the building of serial plant for manufacturing Tupolev’s bomber. The aircraft was adapted to the new power plant with air-cooled M-82 engines (aircraft "103B", "60"). In the autumn of 1941, A.A. Arkhangelskiy with a part of his experimental design bureau joined Tupolev’s team. In December, 1941 "103B" prototype performed its first flight, then tests and development of the new aircraft began.

Simultaneously, the plant started batch production - the first production plane that received Tu-2 designation, left the assembly hall in February, 1942 and before the end of the year 80 Tu-2s were produced, then batch production was stopped and the plant was switched to the production of fighters of A.S. Yakovlev. In 1943, after the Battle of Kursk, the government took a decision on the restoration of Tu-2 batch production, but already in Moscow. In the same year Tupolev Experimental Design Bureau (EDB) had returned to Moscow to its original place and was working hard to improve Tu-2. At the time of restart of batch production at the end of 1943 Tu-2C modification appeared, with a number of characteristics, significantly improved. This airplane since 1944 was mass produced, and after the war, it continued to be mass produced for nearly seven years more. During the war from 1942 to the end of 1945, 1,216 aircraft were produced, and in total before the end of batch production, 2,527 aircraft were produced, in several variants and modifications.
In addition to the bomber and reconnaissance modifications, which were supplied to the army, the EDB  had prepared several prototype and limited production versions, which included high-speed and long-range bombers, fighter-interceptors and torpedo bombers. Tu-2 with ASh-82FN engines, which was batch produced in 1944-1945, had a top speed of 547 km/h at an altitude of 5,400 m, service ceiling of 9,500 m, maximum flight range of 2,100-2,200 km, normal takeoff weight of 10,360 kg, and maximum – 11,360 kg, normal bomb capacity of 1,000 kg, and maximum – 3,000 kg, defense armament - 3 x UBT 12.7 mm machine-guns and 2 x ShVAK 20 mm machine-guns.



Tu-2 aircraft family   Aircraft Tu-2

According to various estimates, 700-800 Tu-2s took part in combat operations at the front lines of the Great Patriotic War, including combat operations against Japan. The first airplanes were at the Kalinin Front in September, 1942 where they were actually battle tested. Front-line pilots spoke enthusiastically about the airplane, comparing it to SB and Pe-2, and not in favor of the latter. Large bomb capacity, powerful defensive weapons, reliable armour protection of the crew, ease of piloting, common reliability of the structure - here is an incomplete list of what made this airplane outstanding in the eyes of combat crews. Flight performance and defensive weapons were so good for the period, that in the beginning, Tu-2s could fly combat missions in group and alone without fighter cover. Soon, the Germans began to aim their best aces at the airplanes, and these freedoms were over, however, even in this case, Tu-2 remained difficult and dangerous target for messerschmitts and focke-wulfs. The first time, those rare Tu-2s were cherished as "apple of the eye" and were mainly used as a reconnaissance aircraft, that was an easy job for them. In 1943, 18 Tu-2s as a part of BAD № 285 (Bombardment Aviation Division) took part in the Battle of Kursk.



Tu-2, 1942, plant №166, Omsk   Tu-2, Air Force State Red Banner
Scientific Research Institute, 1943

In 1944, with the start of mass production of the aircraft, rearming of large air units with the aircraft began. The airplanes were received by BAD № 334, which took part in the Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive, bombing Finnish fortifications, railway stations, bridges, headquarters and attacking the enemy reserves with 1 hundred kilos bombs. During the operation, participating in three massive bombings in the daytime, BAD № 334 has not lost a single Tu-2. Later on, Tu-2 took part in the Belorussian Strategic Offensive Operation, and fights in the Baltics. On April 7, 1945 Tu-2 units together with Pe-2s were bombing the embattled city of Koenigsberg for two hours, and then an air raid of 516 bombers of the 18th Air Army (of the Long Range Aviation) began. For four days, the city was hit by 4,440 tons of bombs of various calibers. Koenigsberg fell on April 10. During the battle of Berlin, Tu-2s of BAC № 6 (Bombardment Aviation Corps) effectively supported ground troops. On the first day of the battle, 54 Tu-2s dropped 97 tons of bombs on the enemy, and in the following days, the intensity of Tu-2 attacks on Berlin was increasing until the city fell. After the end of the war in Europe, units of BAC № 6 flying Tu-2s took part in the combat operations against Japan. After the war, Tu-2 for a long time was in service for the Air Force of the USSR and the countries of people's democracy.  The airplane also had to take part in the Korean War, a war which involved piston airplanes designed during World War II along with the first generation of jets.
For the creation of Tu-2, many workers of Tupolev Design Bureau and production plants received government awards in 1944.
During the war and works on Tu-2 in 1943 A.N. Tupolev was awarded Stalin Prize, in 1944 - the Order of the Patriotic War and the Order of Suvorov, he was also awarded the rank of major general of aviation engineering service, and in 1945 - the title of Hero of Socialist Labour.