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ANT-7 (R-6)

The Native First Multipurpose Strategic Aircraft ANT-7 (R-6).


“Aerial-Cruiser” class of airplanes takes their origin at the end of the 1-st World War when heavy bombers appeared that needed to be protected

from attacks of enemy fighter on the entire routes of the bombers flights. For this purpose intermediate class airplanes were required which were called “Aerial Cruisers” with speeds close to that of single-seat fighters, large operation range and powerful cannon armament. Besides the function of bombers protection these airplanes were entrusted with tasks of reconnaissance, fighting with enemy bombers, bomb strikes.

In the USSR the direct impact for creation of “Aerial Cruisers” became appearance of heavy bombers TB-1 in mid 20-s. In October , 1026 according A.N.Tupolev proposal the DB started designing of all-metal two-engine ANT-7 a/c intended to be “Aerial Cruiser”. The new aircraft was designed for two engines of 500-600 hp and represented substantially diminished version of ANT-4 (TB-1).



The works done were recognized to be prospective and soon following preliminary characteristics were issued:

Activities on ANT-7 of the DB were distributed as follows:

By August, 1927 the aircraft was designed and entered into pilot-line production. Plant No.22 received serial order. The issue on the engines was settled finally. They were of the same type as TB-1 (BMW UI-M-17). By 26 August, 1929 the first ANT-7 (AF nomenclature is R-6) was built. At the beginning of September the ANT-7 was delivered to airfield and in the same month factory test was started which were performed by M.M.Gromov – test pilot. The tests and development were made up to March, 1930. !! March the aircraft was transferred to governmental testing which lasted up to mid of October, 1930. According to the test results the aircraft was recommended to serial production and for adoption as “far reconnaissance aircraft” and “escort aircraft” (R-6 and KR-6).

The developed aircraft prototype was used as a standard a/c at the Plant No.22.

On the 5-th of October , 1931 the first serial aircraft R-6 with two M-17 engines was transferred to AF Scientific and Research Institute for governmental test. Upon elimination of major faults revealed in the course of the test of base a/c a full-scale production of the aircraft started. From the year 1932 the plant No.31 in Taganrog mastered the serial production of floatplane MP-6 - a R-6 a/c version. From the 1936 R-6 a/c was manufactured at the new Plant No. 126 in Komsomolsk-on Amour. Total output was 407 machines of ANT-7 type of all modifications (R-6 2M-17, MR-6 2M-17, KR-6 2M-17, KR-6A 2M-17).

There were several versions of ANT-7 basing on major serial production modifications - some of them realized and others -left as a project only:

- PS-7 2M-17 and MP-6 2M-17 – land-based and float-based versions were transferred from Air Forces to Civil Air Fleet and were used for cargo and passenger transportation;

- R-6 with cannon – in late 1930 possibility of installation of 37 mm gun was considered

- R-6 2M-34 – in 1931 the DB modification was designed for two M-34 engines; the project was not embodied;

- R-6 provided with extra fuel tanks – in 1932 activities were taken on installation of fuel-tanks in the wing; it was not introduced into serial production;

- R-6 provided with wing radiator – in 1935 the production R-6 with wing radiators were factory tested; was not introduced into serial production;

- MR-6T – a prototype torpedo carrier was tested in 1934; it was used to try out torpedo bombing;

- Passenger ANT-7 – the first prototype converted to 7 seat passenger a/c with improved comfort level;

- R-6 penetrator, a serial production R-6 was additionally provided with system of balloon barrage penetration; tested in 1937-1939.

During the Great Patriotic r R-6 was widely used for reconnaissance, communication between headquarters, to provide partizan bases and regular army units with ammunition, spare parts and fuel. The aircraft could tow gliders, could land on partizan “airfields” taking wounded people and glider-pilots (the gliders were destroyed).

The aircraft of ANT type were effectively used substantially in all expeditions took place in the 30-s in northern and arctic regions:

- ANT-7 (N-166) a/c participation in the expedition on creation of the first drift-ice research unit SP-1;

- rescue from the ships drifting in Laptevs Sea in early 1938;

- in 1939 PS-7 a/c performed super long-range flight from Moscow to Nagaev Bay; 9222 km were covered during 9 days only.