Petlyakov Pe-2 Peshka Part II

Top: Proudly wearing the Guards Aviation badge on its nose, this Pe-2FT was assigned to the 12th Guards Dive-bomber Air Regiment operating with the AVMF Baltic Fleet in the summer of 1944. There were at least five variations on the national insignia, this being the most complicated, and front line units often applied their own variations.

Middle: Emblazoned with the battle-cry ‘Leningrad-Konigsberg’, this Pe-2FT was flown by N. D. Panasov in a regiment believed to be part of the 1st Air Army during the final weeks of the war and in the subsequent period of occupation. During the final stages of fighting it operated from bases in Poland against retreating forces in East Prussia.

Bottom: This Petlyakov Pe-2FT is shown in standard winter camouflage for the Russian front. The aircraft is fitted with cut-down rear glazing and the weather-cock associated with the UBT machine-gun, but does not have the gun fitted.

First production aircraft.

The first aircraft, possibly by this time known as a Pe-2, came off the line in November 1940, and Hew on 18 November. The VI-100 had been flown on skis, and the Pe-2 was also cleared to use skis which, like the normal wheeled gear, retracted backwards. Skis were not always fitted in winter, despite the obvious difficulty of operating such a heavy and fast-landing (200 km/h; 124 mph) aircraft in a Russian winter on wheels.

Very early in production the oil coolers were installed in improved low-drag ducts smoothly faired into the underside of the cowlings. For the remainder of the war the Pe-2 was constantly given small modifications to reduce drag, while the internal fuel capacity was also slightly increased. Production at GAZ-22 built up rapidly, and when Hitler struck on 22 June 1941 about 458 had been completed, of which at least 290 were with operational regiments, including the 24th BAP (bomber regiment) and 5th SBAP (fast bomber regiment). Though the Pe-2 was quite a demanding aircraft, it was immediately very popular and was commonly called ‘Peshka’, which means ‘little Pe’ as well as a pawn in chess.

The initial production engine was the VK-105RA, rated at 820 kW (1,100 hp) and driving VISh-61 propellers (which were not electrically driven, as sometimes reported, but were derived from the Hamilton Hydromatic, with hydraulic actuation). By 1943 the 940-kW (1,260-hp) VK-105PF or PF-2 became available, having previously been reserved for Yak fighters, and this powered virtually all the regular Pe-2 production aircraft to the end of the war.

All variants are listed separately. The standard versions, the Pe-2 and Pe-2FT bombers, the Pe-2R reconnaissance aircraft, the Pe-2UT trainer and the Pe-3bis fighter, accounted for a grand total of 11,427 aircraft when manufacture was stopped in early 1945, just before the end of the war in Europe (though later variants continued as prototypes and development aircraft). This production total was achieved despite the fact that GAZ-22 had to be evacuated to Povolozhye (Kazan) in October 1941, to a factory building which then did not exist. In 1942 GAZ-125, also at Kazan, was completed and doubled the rate of output to 13 aircraft per day.

Significant others

Probably the only variants needing mention in the text are the Pe-2FT and Pe-2UT. The former, with initials meaning ‘front-line request’, replaced the navigator/bomb-aimer’s hand-held ShKAS by a hard-hitting 12.7-mm (0.5-in) UBT in an MV-3 turret, one of the lightweight turrets by the Mozharovsky-Venyevidov team with manual operation facilitated by the use of weathercock fins to balance the drag of the gun when firing abeam. There were naturally many local variations in armament, and despite the increase in weight it was common by 1943 to find that at least one of the front guns as well as the lower rear gun were also UB versions. A further change, possibly dating from mid-1942, was to make the windows in the rear fuselage hinge open so that one or more extra ShKAS could be tired through them by the radio operator.

The Pe-2UT was the standard dual-control pilot trainer, with the instructor seated in an additional cockpit replacing the mid-fuselage fuel tank, and with a poor forward view. The first flew in July 1943, an unusual case of the trainer lagging far behind initial deliveries of the basic combat aircraft. The Pe-3bis was the only model built in quantity from a sub-family of fighter versions. Some retained the internal bomb bay, and a few even had underwing rails for the RS-82 or RS-132 rockets used in the low-level attack and anti-armour role, but most merely had the bombing equipment and third crew station re moved, and instead added heavy gun armament such as one ShVAK, one UB and three ShKAS guns, or two ShVAK plus two UB weapons. There are persistent reports that the Pe-3 had wing slats, though confirmation is elusive. The designation Pe-3 stemmed from the fact that fighter aircraft are designated by odd numbers.

Petlyakov’s OKB retained several Pe-2s as development aircraft, and also the second production machine which was used as a hack to shuttle between Kazan and Moscow. On 12 January 1942 this aircraft caught fire in the air, and all on board, including Petlyakov, were killed. Stalin personally ordered a wave of arrests and interrogations to see who was responsible for killing ‘this great patriot’, whom he had only lately released from prison. A. M. Izakson was the unfortunate person picked as successor, closely followed by A. I, Putilov and, finally, V. M. Myasishchev. The OKB was closed in 1946, Myasishchev himself carrying on with his own bureau. By this time, Pe-2s had been passed on to most East European air forces, and three captured aircraft also had useful lives with PLeLv 48 of the Finnish air force. The Pe-2 was even given the NATO name ‘Buck’.

Petiyakov Pe-2 variants

VI-100: original high-altitude fighter prototypes

PB-100: prototyped! of new three-seat bomber

Pe-2: initial production bomber, with three seats, dive brakes and VK-105RA engines

Pe-2M: first of two quite different aircraft with this designation, flown October 1941 with turbocharged engines, slats and larger bomb bay for up to four FAB-500s (no other bombs carried!

Pe-2Sh: Shturmovik (armoured attack) version, flown October 1941; prolonged trials with various heavy gun installations including twin-ShVAK, twm-UBT ventral pack with guns pivoted down to -40°

Pe-3: initial fighter prototype, early 1941 (believed February), various guns but standardised on two ShVAK plus two UB firing ahead (plus two optional ShKAS as in standard bomber) together with MV-3 dorsal turret, production discontinued after 23rd aircraft

Pe-3bit: hasty modification in summer 1941 to produce night-fighter, identical to Pe-2 but with one ShVAK, one UB and three ShKAS firing ahead (with or without provision for bombs and/or underwing rockets), about 300 delivered, usually as alternate aircraft on GAZ-22 assembly line

Pe-3R: continuing alternate aircraft being different, these were naval reconnaissance aircraft for Northern Fleet with Pe-3 guns and various camera installations, at least one with TK-2 turbochargers

Pe-2L: possibly designated Po-3L. this was a testbed for various retractable ski installations in January 1942

Pe-2MV: possibly a trials aircraft used by MV weapon bureau, fitted with MV-3 turret and photographed with belly tray for two ShVAK plus two UB

Pe-2FT: standard bomber from May 1942 with reduced nose glazing (on underside only). MV-3 turret, extra lower rear guns and. usually, no dive brakes, from early 1943 powered by PF or PF-2 engines

Pe-2FZ: FZ (front-line task) aircraft, a small batch with unglazed nose, no access past pilot in modified cockpit and navigator with twin UBT guns, manually aimed

Pe 2/M-28: at least one aircraft powered by M-82 (ASh-82) radial engines and according to historian V B Shavrov fitted with wing of modified profile giving slower landing, heavier but faster than standard aircraft

Pe-2VI: mid-1943 high-altitude fighter with completely revised airframe by Myasishchev (now head of bureau) with VK-107 engines, oil coolers alongside wing radiators and single pilot seat in pressurised cockpit later developed by Myasishchev into VM-16 and DB-108. and later types

Pe-3M: night-fighter of mid-1943 with 700-kg l, 540-lb) bombload plus two ShVAK, two UB and two DAG-10

Po-2UT: also known as Pe-2S, Pe-2T and UPe-2, and used by post-war Czech air force as CB-32 dual trainer with instructor cockpit amidships and often with full bombload, large numbers built from July 1943

Pe-2 Paravan: test aircraft with long nose probe and wires leading back to balloon-cable cutters on wingtips

Pe-2B: standard 1944 bomber, tested autumn 1943 with many airframe and system improvements, one ShKAS plus three UBT Pe-2R: limited-production reconnaissance aircraft with PF-2 engines, increased internal fuel, three defensive UB or BS guns, three or four cameras, speed 580 km/h (360 mph) at 7603 kg (16,761 lb)

Pe-2R: same designation applied in 1944 to high-speed reconnaissance prototype with 1230-kW (1,650-hp) VK-107A engines, tankage for 2000 km (1,242 miles) and armed with three ShVAK. speed 630 km/h (391.5 mph)

Pe-21: new standard bomber produced under Myasishchev. new mid-mounting wing with NACA 23012 profile, longer and better streamlined body and nacelles for VK-107A engines, one UB gun at each tip of fuselage, bombload 1000 kg (2,250 lb) internal plus same external, speed on test in May 1944 was 656 km/h (408 mph) despite weight of 8983 kg (19804 lb), but no production was undertaken

Pe-2K: compromise with regular VK-107PF engines in Pe-2I airframe

Pe-2D: three-seat bomber of September 1944 with VK-107A engines, three BT 20-mm cannon and DAG-10, speed 600 km/h (373 mphl with 4000 kg (8.818 Ibl bombload Pe-2M: second aircraft with this designation,

Pe-2I airframe. VK-107 engines. 2000-kg (4,410- Ib) internal bombload and three ShVAK, 630 km/h (391 .5 mph) at 9400 kg (20.723 lb)

Pe-2RD: achieved 785 km/h (488 mph) with Korolyev/Glushko RD-1 rocket installed in tail, intended to lead to Pe-3RD fighter

Pe-2K: second use of this designation for eiection-seat test aircraft in 1946. standard Pe-2 with various test seats installed above trailing edge in radio operator’s cockpit

B-32: post-war designation of Pe-2 in Czech air force

Specification PetlyakovPe-2

Type: three-seat light/medium bomber and dive-bomber

Powerplant: two 1,100-hp (820-kW) KlimovM-105RV-12pistonengines

Performance: maximum speed 540 km/h (336 mph) at 5000 m (16,405ft);cruisingspeed428km/h (266 mph); climb to 5000 m (16,405 ft) in 7 minutes 0 seconds; service ceiling 8800 m(28,870 ft); normal range 1500 km(932 miles) Weights: empty 5876 kg (12,943 lb); maximum take-off 8496 kg (18,730 lb)

Dimensions: span 17.16 m (56 ft 3l/2 in); length12.66m(41ftGVzin);height 4,0 m (13 ft P/a in); wing area 40.50 m2 (436 sq ft)

Armament: two fixed 7.62-mm (0.3-in) ShKAS machine-guns or one 7.62-mm ShKAS and one 12.7-mm (0.5-in) Beresin ÜBT machine-gun in nose, and single 7,62-mm (0.3-in) ShKASor 12.7- mm (0.5-in) ÜBT machine-guns in dorsal and in ventral stations, plus a maximum bombload of 1200 kg (2,646 lb)


. . . fully loaded with bombs, the Pe-2 needed someone with a lot of strength to pull back on the stick at the appropriate moment to get the nose off the ground. Most of us had to get our navigators to stand beside us on take-off to help yank the stick back on a given command. It was a delicate business, though, because if the stick was pulled back too far the aeroplane would lose flying speed, it would stall, and you’d make a big fire on the runway.

Most of us were small girls – quite a bit shorter than the men. We needed cushions to pad our seats so that we could see out of the windscreen. And some of the girls with particularly short legs had to have special blocks put on the rudder pedals so that they could reach them with their feet.

The Pe-2 was not an easy aircraft to take off. Some twin-engined aircraft have the propellers contra-rotating …which cancels out the tendency of the aircraft to turn in the direction of the propellers; but the Pe-2’s props both turned to the left. With both powerful engines on full power for take-off, the bomber had an alarming tendency to swing left. If not controlled quickly and firmly the aircraft would swing off the runway.

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