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Weapons of World War Two

Petlyakov Pe 2

Petlyakov Pe 2

When the first model of the new combat aircraft Petlyakov 2 was presented publicly in 1939, the specialized observers did not spare praises. The aircraft presented a very modern line, polished and fast, absolutely unused for an altitude bomber (this was the classification of the aircraft), which clearly revealed the intention of using the Pe 2 as high-altitude fighter. But the main source of so much marvel consisted in the high degree of sofistication of the aircraft, which presented the most modern findings of aeronautical science and a truly unusual finish in Soviet aircraft, which ensured a high degree of comfort for the crew.

The Russian projectors had always cared about the functionality of their constructions to achieve good operative characteristics. In this way, they had often achieved exceptional results, as with the twin-engine bomber Tupolev SB 2 in 1936, or the fighter Polikarpov I 16 (the famous "Rat" of the Spanish Civil War) in 1933. But they put little attention into the habitability of their aircraft, adapting the finish and the non essential complements to an austere conception, which if in the one hand wanted to be a "label" of the products of the new regime, on the other hand revealed the lack of specialized manpower and raw materials.

The altitude bomber Pe 2, as aforementioned, caused admiration to the experts due to its advanced technology, but shortly after its presentation it was modified to be used as dive bomber. This happened due to two reasons: the first one was the lack of aiming devices that could be effectively used for altitude bombing, and the second one was the impression caused by the German Stuka, which determined, in Russia like in other countries, a strong impulse in the construction of airplanes destined to play this new role in warlike activities.

The debut of the "Petya" (as it was called by the crews) against the Germans was excellent, both because of the quality of the aircraft and the surprise that it constituted for the enemy. But over time, the fighters of the Luftwaffe were made increasingly powerful, and it was necessary to modify as well the Pe 2 to prevent it to succumb to the German aircraft. Hence were increased the armament, the armor and the engine power, until in 1944 it was decided to abandon the fighter-bomber formula to return to the initial one of high-altitude fighter.

Structurally, the Pe 2 was a twin-engined low-winged aircraft (until 1944, when the structure was revised and the wing was made middle), with a tail boom fitted with two side vertical planes for the rudders. The construction was entirely metallic, even in the ailerons, made of light alloy. The engines were Klimov ones, initially of 1100 horsepower each, which were later of 1650 horsepower. The armament, which initially provided three weapons, was later increased to six (two in the nose, one in dorsal position, one in ventral position and two in side position), apart from the bombs. The cockpit, in the high-altitude version, was pressurized, and the aircraft, on its whole, was fitted with up to sixteen servo control electrical devices.

Projected in 1938 by Engineer Vladimir Petlyakov (who would die in 1942, crashing during a flight effectuated precisely onboard a Pe 2), this excellent aircraft would survive the war to be used later as experimental aircraft in Russia, while in the satellite countries of the Eastern Bloc it was destined to reinforce the ranks of the operative units.

Petlyakov Pe 2
Designer: Engineer V. Petlyakov

First flight: 1939 (Model 1939); 1944 (Model 1944)

Wingspan: 17.16 meters (Model 1939); 18 meters (Model 1944)

Wing area: 40.50 square meters (Model 1939); 41.90 square meters (Model 1944)

Length: 12.66 meters (Model 1939); 12.90 meters (Model 1944)

Height: 4 meters (Model 1939)

Full load/Empty weight: 7860/5870 kilograms (Model 1939); 9000/6500 kilograms (Model 1944)

Payload/Crew: 1810 kilograms/3 (Model 1939); 2500 kilograms/2 (Model 1944)

Engines: Two Klimov M 105R of 1100 horsepower (Model 1939); two Klimov VK 107A of 1650 horsepower (Model 1944)

Time to reach 5000 meters of altitude: 7 minutes (Model 1939)

Cruising speed: 428 kilometers/hour (Model 1939)

Maximum speed: 540 kilometers/hour (Model 1939); 657 kilometers/hour (Model 1944)

Service ceiling: 8800 meters (Model 1939); 10500 meters (Model 1944)

Defensive armament: Three ShKAS 7.62-millimeter machine guns (Model 1939); four ShVAK 20-millimeter cannons (Model 1944)

Drop armament: 600 kilograms of bombs (upgradeable to 1000 kilograms) (Model 1939); 1000 kilograms of bombs (Model 1944)

Operational range: 1500 kilometers (Model 1939); 2000 kilometers (Model 1944)

Also in Weapons of World War Two

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