The aircraft we present today was one of the important bombers that served the Soviet Union during the World War II era. The name of this aircraft is Tupolev Tu-2 which was developed under the name 103 and ANT-58 while its NATO designation is Bat. The Tupolev Tu-2 was a Soviet-built twin-engine and front line high-speed bomber aircraft that served extensively for Soviet Air Force back in the global conflict.
The Tupolev Tu-2 was designed for meeting the requirement set by Soviet Air Force for a high-speed bomber aircraft or a dive bomber that could house bombing payload internally and could muster up speed equal to that of a single set fighter aircraft. The Tupolev Tu-2 was initially designed to oppose the German-built Junker Ju 88 and the Tupolev Tu-2 proved to be a worthy adversary for the Ju 88. It even went on to be formed in various variants to serve the roles of interceptor, reconnaissance and torpedo aircraft. During the final offense of the Red Army against the Axis powers, the Tupolev Tu-2 was a crucial weapon.
Back in 1937, a designer named Andrei Tupolev was arrested by the Soviet army along with many other designers in doing damaging activities against the Soviet state. Despite being a criminal at that time, he was considered to be an important person and Soviets put him to charge a team for designing a military aircraft they designated as Samolyot 103 of which the alter design of Tupolev Tu-2 was based off.
The first prototype for the Tupolev Tu-2 was ready for its first flight on January 29th, 1941 and the aircraft was piloted by the test pilot named Mikhail Nukhinov. The aircraft was soon cleared for mass production with deliveries for war being made in March of 1942.
One of the important Soviet Bombers during World War II:-
During the war, the Tupolev Tu-2 proved to be of exceptional service and was considered as their 2nd best bomber right after the Pe-2. Crews flying the Tupolev Tu-2 were happy with the aircraft’s performance as it could survive through heavy damage as well as being a fast attack platform. The very first mission for the Tupolev Tu-2 was over the Velikiye Luki.
Between November and December of 1942, the Tupolev Tu-2 had flown for 46 sorties. By 1943, the aircraft was already sued for attacking rail junctions as well as airfields of enemy forces and only 3 of these aircraft were ever lost in action with only 7 getting damaged.
The aircraft’s fuselage was long and held the large internal bombing bay. The aircraft had also been equipped with external hardpoints that could hold munitions. The internal munition payload carrying capacity of the Tupolev Tu-2 was about 3300 lbs while the external capacity was 5000 lbs.
The base armament arrangement for the Tupolev Tu-2 was comprised of 2 ShVAK cannons of 20 mm fitted on the edge of both wings that were advantageous for attacking the ground and aerial targets.
As for the defense of the aircraft, it was fitted with 3 ShKAS machine guns of 7.62 mm that were fitted on three defensive positions; dossal, ventral and cockpit side. After some time, these machine guns were replaced with Berezin UB 12.7mm machine guns.
The Tupolev Tu-2 was powered by 2 of the Shvetsov Ash-82 radial position engines each of which created a power of 1850 HP to drive its two propellers that had the three-blade design.
This much power allowed for the aircraft to sore at a top speed of about 324 mph for a range of 1243 miles at a service ceiling of almost 30000 feet. The aircraft achieved the maximum service ceiling with a climbing rate of about 1610 ft/min.
Total number of units produced and other operators:-
The production for the Tupolev Tu-2 started in September of 1941 and ended in 1951. During that immense period of production, nearly 2257 of these bombers were created in all its variant forms. Apart from the Soviet Union, the aircraft was also used by many other following operators at the time.
- North Korea
The aircraft was so exceptional in its service that it even served for the PLAAF (People’s Liberation Army Air Force); the armed forces of the People’s Republic of China until the late 1970s. The Tupolev Tu-2 saw considerable action for China during the Chinese Civil War until it subsided in 1950. Chinese airmen also flew these bombers for a mission during the Korean War to attack the United Nations. China also made use of the Tupolev Tu-2 in taking control of the upheaval in Tibet that started from 1958 to 1962.
There were many variants of the Tupolev Tu-2 also created during its production years. The model designated as Tu-2DB was used as a reconnaissance aircraft for high altitude missions that also had bomber capabilities. As for the model Tu-2F, it was the aircraft reserved for photographic reconnaissance that was equipped with powerful camera equipment.
The model Tu-2G was used as a fast cargo transport aircraft while the Tu-2R was reserved for fast reconnaissance missions.
A single Tu-1 prototype:-
A single prototype aircraft with designation Tu-1 was created back in 1947 but it was canceled in the very same year. This aircraft was a twin-engine aircraft that had three-seat design and was to be used as a night fighter. This aircraft was designed in the same line as the British made de Havilland Mosquito.
Following the end of World War II, the Tupolev Tu-2 in the inventory of the Soviet Air Force ad limited usage. These aircraft were only used as the test aircraft for various other powerplants which also included many of the Soviet-built jet engines. The aircraft served the Soviet Air Force well until 1950 and afterward, the aircraft was retired.
As for its other operators, the aircraft went on to serve until the late 10970s and the last one to retire the aircraft was PLAAF.