The Petlyakov Pe-2 Peshka

U.S.S.R.
U.S.S.R.

side viewfront viewunder view

In order to understand something of the way aircraft were designed in the Soviet Union before the War a little explanation is needed here, since the design proces of the Pe-2 is the perfect role model.
Vladimir Petlyakov was one of the best assistants of Andrei Tupolev at the TsAGI (Tsentral'nyi Aerogidrodynamichesky Institut - Central Aerodynamics and Hydrodynamics Institute) from 1921, and played a major part in the creation of many Tupolev aircraft. Tupolev was a strong believer in the use of metal structures, and Petlyakov became an expert in light alloy structures after learning the basics of this science with Junkers, which was the world leader in light alloy structures for aircraft during the 1920s. Up to 1935 Petlyakov was largely responsible for the light alloy wings of aircraft such as the TB-1 and TB-3, and in Tupolevís absence on the USA learning about American design concepts was wholly responsible for the development of the TB-4 and ANT-20. In 1936 Petlyakov was appointed manager of the ZOK, which was the factory for special construction attached to the TsAGI, and as such more or less designed the ANT-42 that was later renamed as the Petlyakov Pe-8.
In 1937 Petlyakov was arrested, possibly in relation to Tupolevís similar arrest for allegedly selling the design of the VI-100 fighter to the Germans for transformation into the Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighter. Petlyakov was imprisoned at a special unit and given the assignment of designing a high-altitude fighter under the auspices of the KB-100 design brigade with A.M. Izakson as his assistant. Such was the success of the design, which finally appeared as the VI-100 and formed the basis of the Pe-2, that Petlyakov was released and installed as head of his own design bureau in July 1940. Sadly, Petlyakov was killed in January 1942 when the second Pe-2 off the production line, which he was using as the bureauís liaison aeroplane, caught fire in the air and crashed. Petlyakov was succeeded successively by Izakson, A.I. Putilov and, from 1943, V.M. Myasishchyev who were thus responsible for all later Pe-2 developments. The Petlyakov Design Bureau was closed in 1946.

The origins of the Pe-2 can be found in the VI-100 (Vysotnyi Istrebitel-100, or high-altitude fighter type '100') prototype that first flew in 1939 or 1940 as a cantilever low-wing monoplane of basically all-metal construction with with the exception of its fabric-covered control surfaces. It must be noted here that '100' is in no way a sequence number, but merely a reference to the bureau were it was developed: STO. STO is also the word for the numeral '100' in the Russian language. The office was placed inside a complex, and staffed with imprisonned designers like Petlyakov. The VI-100 was of conventional layout but an extremely advanced design with turbocharged engines, radiators installed in wing ducts with four upper-surface exits rather than in exterior baths, no hydraulics but a powerful 28-volt electrical system with some 50 actuators controlling most of the moving parts, a pressurized cockpit with tandem two-seat accommodation for the pilot and radio operator/gunner, a dihedraled tailplane carrying endplate vertical surfaces and fully retractable tailwheel landing gear including main units that retracted rearward into the underside of the nacelles for the two wing-mounted Klimov M-105 (later VK-105) Vee engines, rated at 1,050 hp (783 kW) for take-off each.
The VI-100 had a gun armament of four 0.3 inch (7,62 mm) ShKAS machine guns with 600 rounds per gun in the nose, and one 0.3 inch (7,62 mm) ShKAS trainable rearward-firing machine guns in the rear cockpit, which was located over the trailing edge of the wing roots at some distance from the pilotís cockpit over the leading edge of the wing roots in an installation that was finally unpressurised because of delays in finalisation of the pressurised cockpit by M.N. Petrovís brigade. The VI-100 revealed good performance and handling, but was difficult and expensive to produce.
In May 1940 its was therefore decided that further development would be concentrated on the PB-100 (Pikiruyushchii Bombardirovshchik-100, or dive-bomber type '100') with no provision for a pressurized cabin, provision for a prone navigator/bombardier below and ahead of the pilot in the nose below floor level, and the powerplant revised from the use of two TK-3 turbochargers to two TK-2 turbochargers. Two armament fits were proposed: one was based on the use of eight 0.3 inch (7,62 mm) ShKAS machine guns as a quartet of fixed forward-firing weapons in the nose and two pairs of trainable rearward-firing weapons installed in the dorsal and ventral positions; and the other was based on the use of two 20 mm ShVAK cannon and two 0.3 inch (7,62 mm) ShKAS machine guns trainably mounted in an underfuselage box so that the weapons (located in mixed pairs at the front and rear of the box with the cannon on the right and the machine gun on the left) could be fired obliquely forward/rearward and at any angle of depression to a maximum of -40°. The disposable armament was a maximum of 2,205 lb (1.000 kg) including 1,323 lb (600 kg) carried internally in a lower-fuselage weapons bay.
The PB-100 prototype was produced as a conversion of the second VI-100 prototype, and made its maiden flight in June 1940. Later in the same month the decision was taken for the PB-100 to be placed in immediate production with a number of minor changes as the Petlyakov Pe-2, and in the following month Petlyakov and the other members of his design team were released from detention.
The Pe-2 used basically the same airframe as the PB-100 but had revised accommodation, M-105R Vee engines without turbochargers and installed in different nacelles, a hydraulic actuation system for the main landing gear units, enlarged vertical tail surfaces, and improvements to the protection for the crew and fuel tanks. The opportunity was also taken to revise the airframe structure as a means of facilitating mass production.
The Pe-2 was of basically all-metal construction, and its core was a fuselage of nearly circular cross section. This carried the flying surfaces, which comprised a dihedraled tailplane with endplate vertical surfaces, and a low-set wing that was based on a flat center section that was tapered in thickness and slightly in chord (the leading edges were straight and the tailing edges marginally tapered), and carried dihedraled outer panels that were tapered in thickness and chord. The moving surfaces on the wing comprised the standard trailing-edge combination of outboard ailerons and inboard flaps (the latter of the Shrenk type) and underwing dive brakes of the Venetian blind type. These last were controlled by the AP-1 automatic dive-control system that was later removed to allow direct control of these surfaces by the pilot. This automatic dive-control system is likely derived from purchased Junkers Ju 88A dive bombers. The airframe was completed by the tailwheel landing gear, which was fully retractable with main units that folded rearward into the underside of the nacelles for the two wing-mounted engines.
The accommodation was centered on a large and comfortable cockpit under a framed, glazed canopy. The cockpit was set farther forward along the upper part of the fuselage than had been the case in the VI-100 and PB-100, and provided accommodation for the pilot on the left with the navigator/bombardier behind him and to the right. The navigator/bombardier was seated facing the rear, and operated the 0.3 inch (7,62 mm) ShKAS trainable machine gun that was the Pe-2ís main defensive weapon against attacks from above and the rear, and for the attack phase of the mission moved to a prone bombardier position in the glazed lower part of the extreme nose. The other member of the crew was the radio operator/gunner in a separate compartment to the rear of the fuselage fuel tank under a glazed roof panel and with an oval window on each side: the defensive weapon controlled by this man was a 0.3 inch (7,62 mm) ShKAS trainable rearward-firing weapon in a retractable installation. The rest of the gun armament comprised two 0.3 inch (7,62 mm) ShKAS fixed forward-firing weapons on the sides of the forward fuselage in an installation controlled by the pilot.
The disposable armament was normally four 220 lb (100 kg) FAB-100 bombs in the lower-fuselage weapons bay and/or four 551 lb (250 kg) FAB-250 bombs carried on four hardpoints under the inner wing panels, but there was also provision for two 220 lb (100 kg) FAB-100 bombs in the rear of each engine nacelle.
The powerplant initially comprised two Klimov M-105RA Vee engines, rated at 1,100 hp (820 kW) for take-off each, and driving a three-blade VISh-61 metal propeller of the constant-speed type. These engines were supplied with fuel from five rubberized fabric tanks (one in the fuselage, two in the inner wing panels and two in the outer wing panels) that were inerted by cooled engine exhaust gases (against fire or explosions). The fuel capacity originally totaled 239 Imp gal (287 US gal, 1.086 liters) but was later increased to a total of 326 Imp gal (392 US gal, 1.484 liters) by enlarging the fuselage tank and adding three new tanks (one in the center section and two in the outer wing panels outboard of the original tanks).
The nickname 'Peshka' ('Little Pe' or 'Pawn') was applied to the aircraft both by the industry and the air force. I can only guess for the real reason of the name, except that the other major design of Vladimir Petlyakov was the Pe-8 (TB-7). This four-engined bomber was huge, dwarfing the Pe-2 (and Pe-3 which had the same ancestor as the Pe-2).

Version list:

Further pictures:

Petlyakov Pe-2 in full flight
Petlyakov Pe-2 in full flight

Petlyakov Pe-2 ready to take off (front view)
Petlyakov Pe-2 ready to take off (front view)

Several Petlyakov Pe-2's ready to take off (side view).
Several Petlyakov Pe-2's ready to take off (side view).

 

Technical data on the Petlyakov Pe-2FT
Powerplant 2 × Klimov VK-105PF Vee, rated at 1260 hp (939.32 kW) each Role during war
  • (Ground) Attack Fighter
  • Fighter-bomber
  • Long range (attack) Fighter
  • Light Bomber
  • Dive Bomber
  • Reconnaissance Aircraft
Length 41 ft 11 inch Height 11 ft 2.67 inch
Empty weight 13119 lb Operational weight 17130 lb typical,
18783 lb max
Wing Span 56 ft 1.67 inch Wing Aspect ratio 7.23
Wing Area 435.95 sq ft Service ceiling 28870 ft
Maximum speed 360 mph at 13125 ft Cruising speed 298 mph at 16405 ft
Initial climb rate Climb to 16,405 ft in 9 min 18 sec Range 817 miles typical,
1100 miles max
Fuel capacity internal 326 Imp gal (392 US gal) Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 1 or 2 × 0.3 inch ShKAS fixed forward-firing in the nose
  • 1 × 0.5 inch Beresin UBS fixed forward-firing in the nose
  • 1 × 0.3 inch ShKAS trainable rearward-firing in the MBV-3 dorsal turret
  • 1 × 0.3 inch ShKAS or 1 × 0.5 inch Beresin UBT trainable rearward-firing in the ventral position
  • 1 × 0.3 inch ShKAS or 1 × 0.5 inch Beresin UBT trainable lateral-firing in either of the two window positions
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 3,527 lb of disposable stores carried in a lower-fuselage weapons bay rated at 882 lb, in two engine nacelle weapons bays rated at 220 lb each, and on four underwing hardpoints rated at 551 lb each. General disposables load consisted of:
  • 4 × 551 lb FAB-250 bombs in weapons bay
  • 6 × 220 lb FAB-100 bombs at the other positions
Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 4: pilot, navigator/bombardier, radio operator/gunner, gunner Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) end 1939 Operational Service 1941 - early 1950's
Manufacturer Petlyakov Design Bureau Number produced 11.427 total including all Pe-2 variants, unknown number this version
Metric system
Length 12.78 m Height 3.42 m
Empty weight 5951 kg Operational weight 7770 kg typical,
8520 kg max
Wing Span 17.11 m Wing Aspect ratio 7.23
Wing Area 40.5 m² Service ceiling 8800 m
Maximum speed 579 km/h at 4000 m Cruising speed 480 km/h at 5000 m
Initial climb rate Climb to 5.000 m in 9 min 18 sec Range 1315 km typical,
1770 km max
Fuel capacity internal 1.484 liters Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 1 or 2 × 7,62 mm ShKAS fixed forward-firing in the nose
  • 1 × 12,7 mm Beresin UBS fixed forward-firing in the nose
  • 1 × 7,62 mm ShKAS trainable rearward-firing in the MBV-3 dorsal turret
  • 1 × 7,62 mm ShKAS or 1 × 12,7 mm Beresin UBT trainable rearward-firing in the ventral position
  • 1 × 7,62 mm ShKAS or 1 × 12,7 mm Beresin UBT trainable lateral-firing in either of the two window positions
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 1.600 kg of disposable stores carried in a lower-fuselage weapons bay rated at 400 kg, in two engine nacelle weapons bays rated at 100 kg each, and on four underwing hardpoints rated at 250 kg each. General disposables load consisted of:
  • 4 × 250 kg FAB-250 bombs under the wings
  • 6 × 100 kg FAB-100 bombs at the other positions
Torpedoes/rockets -

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the Petlyakov Pe-2  Peshka
Petlyakov VI-100 The Petlyakov Pe-2 started as a high-altitude fighter, designed by Petlyakov while being in prison. Thanks to the bombing-equipment fitted to this fighter, it could be used as a attack aircraft and bomber as well. Beginning March 1940 it was decided to build ten VI-100 (Visotnyi Istrebitel-100 - High Altitude Fighter type '100') aircraft at Factory Plant No. 18. However, another design, the Polikarpov SPB dive domber, turned out to be disappointing, and the VVS (Voenno-vozdushniye Sily - Russian Air Force) turned out to be in need of a tactical bomber and attack aircraft. In the meantime some aircraft purchased in Germany were received, amongst which some Junkers Ju 88 that had already proven to be very succesfull in France. The leaders of the VVS decided that they needed an aircraft as such and Petlyakov was asked to redesign the VI-100 into the PB-100 (see below).
The VI-100 was powered by 2 × Klimov M-105, rated at 1,050 hp (783 kW) each, Length was 41 ft 7.5 inch (12,69 m), wingspan was 56 ft 3 inch (17,15 m), wing area was 439.1 sq ft (40,8 m²). Weights of the aircraft were 12,978 lb (5.887 kg) empty, 15,837 lb (7.200 kg) typical. It had a max level speed of 283 Mph (455 km/h) at sea level, and 334 Mph (538 km/h) at 21,650 ft (6.600 m) altitude. The VI-100 was armed with in total 2 × 20 mm cannon and 3 × 0.3 inch (7,62 mm) guns.
Number built: unknown
Petlyakov PB-100 The redesign of the VI-100 to an attack aircraft and dive bomber resulted in the PB-100 (Pikiruyushchii Bombardirovshcik-100 - Dive Bomber type '100'). The decision to reprofile the VI-100 as a PB-100 was taken on June 4, 1940, on the same day as the decision to build the Bsh-2 (later Ilyushin Il-2) and the Tairov OKO-6 armoured fighter.
45 days were alloted to Petlyakov and his team to carry out the necessary redesign, which was almost a new aircraft type. A huge amount of overhours were clocked to get the design and drawings ready in time, only to find out that none of the appointed factories that were to build the PB-100 was ready to do so. There was no test aircraft, only a wooden mock-up. Nevertheless it had to go into production right away.
There were more problems, since the PB-100 was really advanced for it's time, with a two-spar wing with very thin duralumin skinning, automatic dive-brakes and 56 electrical actuators to power the various moving parts in stead of the standardly used hydraulical installations on other aircraft. All these problems resulted in a significant delay, and the first real Pe-2 was flown December 15, 1940. The designation was then changed to Pe-2 according to new nomenclature ruling.
Number built: none (see Pe-2)
Petlyakov Pe-2 As the first PB-100 was rolled out it was renamed in Pe-2. The first five aircraft were produced in such a hurry that they were built with the armament in mock-up form, and were used to test and improve the concept of the Pe-2.
The first trials didn't go well at all, every other flight ended in an emergency landing because of problems with the propellers. On top of that the shock absorbers were constructed wrong, making the aircraft bounce on landing. Aircraft from Plant No.39 revealed 187 defects, and aircraft from Plant No.22 did a little better with more than 100. A lot were solved quickly, others took some longer, and the last group became specific for the Pe-2 and were never solved. One of the major topics on this last list were the wing's aerofoil sections. These were originally in accordance with TsAGI (Tsentral'nyi Aerogidrodynamichesky Institus - Central Aerodynamic and Hydrodynamic Institute) specialist built for the VI-100. However, the Pe-2 was no high altitude fighter, yet the wing remained the same. Although the wing possessed a very good lift-to-drag ratio and a constant aerodynamic center over a wide speed range, the problem lay in it's stalling angle at low speeds. It was a mere 11°, and was asymetrically, resulting in a disaster when the aircraft wasn't handled with care during slow speeds and turns.
On the positive side, the aircraft posessed an excellent speed enabling the aircraft to make a quick escape when attacked. This improved the survivability greatly, especially at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War as the Russians called their combat period of World War 2.
The Pe-2 originally was able to carry other disposables than only bombs, being the K-76 cassette and K-100 cassette. The K-76 cassette contained 76,2 mm tailless fused projectiles, but these turned out to be too dangerous to be used. On release they would frequently flip over and fly back at the aircraft. The K-76 was dropped from the possible inventory almost immediately. The K-100 was loaded with fragmentation bombs of AO-2.5 to AO-10 type. This performed unsatisfactory as well. Later new bombing cassettes were fitted to carry a large number of small bombs, being the KMB-Pe-2. Thiis cassette's load was able to destroy unprotected area targets like camps, unarmoured colonnes aand others.
Also the early 0.3 incch (7,62 mm mm) guns were inadequate to deliver a big punch, or defend the aircraft. Therefor some guns were replaced by 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) guns, doubling the firepower.
Some Plants (Nos.16 and 32) had fitted rocket projectiles under the wings. A salvo was 10 × RS-132 air-to-ground rockets, and had a destructive power not slightly to be overlooked. However, this installation reduced maximum level speed significantly, by 15 to 19 Mph (25 to 30 km/h) with the rockets, and 22 to 28 Mph (35 to 45 km/h) with the rockets installed.
Other survivability issues addressed with increased armour protection for the crew and redesigned fuel tanks. The armor protection especially for the rear gunners needed upgrading, since operational experience showed that ten gunners were wounded for every pilot, and two to three gunners were killed for every pilot. The protective screens were enlarged but only protected against rifle calibre guns, not cannon shells. The fuel tanks were redesigned by filling the voids with inert gas. At first nitrogen was used, but this was not readily available at the front often. Later the tanks were filled with cooled exhaust emissions, and the system could be turned on and off by the crew.
Since the Pe-2 was born out of a fighter design, it was initially fitted with a fighter-type joystick. The forces on the control surfaces were too high however, and it was replaced by a bomber-type control collumn. Some Duralumin components were additionally replaced by steel examples fr the same reason.
One of the biggest problems that the Pe-2 had to cope with was the steady decrease of speed of newly produced aircraft. This was caused by the increase in weight, the fall in production standards (unskilled men, women and young children were drafted to work in the factories), and the change in the shape of the navigator's gun mounting.
Number built: unknown.
Petlyakov Pe-2F To counter the drop in speed as experienced with the Pe-2, Petlyakov proposed changes to be made on it. Simultaneously other changes were proposed as well to improve other characteristics of the aircraft. The new powerplant consisted of 2 × Klimov M-105F, and although this engine was more powerfull tests showed that the aircraft was only marginally faster than the Pe-2. Max level speed was 347 Mph (560 km/h) at 23,000 ft (7.000 m) instead of the anticipated 372 Mph (600 km/h). Also the superchargers fitted with this engines were not automatically controlled, and proved to be a sinecure for the pilots.
Another powerplant version was 2 × Klimov M-107. This engine was even trickier to operate than the M-105F, since it was still being developped. Every other test flight ended with an emergency landing, and it was decided not to proceed any further with this engine.
Besides all these engine tests the structure of the aircraft was changed. The Pe-2 as a dive bomber had a low wing structure, and the center section spars prevented the weapons bay to be loaded with bombs of 551 lb (250 kg). To overcome this the fuselage was lowered, effectively making the bomber a mid-wing aircraft able to carry 2 × 551 lb (250 kg) FAB-250 bombs or 1 × 1,102 lb (500 kg) FAB-500 bomb internally.
The Pe-2 also produced a reconnaissance version. This version had the air brake grids removed, the fuel tank was suspended inside the weapons bay, and additional tanks were suspended under the center section. With improved skinning, M-105RA engines and polished wing surfaces this version possessed a range of 1,550 miles (2.500 km) It was fitted with the standard AFA-B camera, as well as two AFA-1 cameras and one AFA-27T in the radio operator's cockpit. For night operations an NAFA-19 replaced the AFA-B and to provide lighting six to eight FOTAB-50-35 photoflash bombs were carried.
Number built: unknown.
Petlyakov Pe-2FT The Pe-2 was inadequately defended in the rear quarter of the aircraft. Pilots from the front regularly complained that the 0.3 inch (7,62 mm) ShKAS gun didn't have enough firepower. When mass production of the new Pe-2 was underway the engineers of Plant No.22 finally had time to work out a solution.
L. Selyakov, together with three other engineers designed a new mounting for a 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) UBT gun, using components of the MV-2 hatch mounting. This product replaced the TSS-1 mounting and was called FT, after Frontovoye Trebovaniye - Front Requires/Front Task. The downside was that the navigator's cockpit with the new mounting was permanently open, forcing the navigator to endure extreme cold in the winter. Great care had been taken to ensure relative simple installation of the new gun-mount, requiring only four to six hours by two specialists in the field.
It was realised from the beginning that the FT mounting would only be temporary, and further development on the upper mounting continued. The UBT was first fitted with a constant belt feed as opposed to 2 ammunition boxes. This was called the 'Torov-mounting', or VUB-1 or B-270. The production VUB-1 received the UBK gun in stead of the UBT, fitted with pneumatic recharging and an electrical belt feed. The original belt-feb UBT often suffered a broken belt because of the strong forces in play.
Some aircraft were fitted, as far as availability permitted, with 2 × Klimov M-105PF Vee, rated at 1,260 hp (940 kW) for take-off each. Besides this som eaerodynamic refinements were introduced as well.
Number built: unknown.
Petlyakov Pe-2 with M-82 Plant No.22 was working on an M-82 radial powered Pe-2 since this engine had a higher power output. Problems with the cooling of the engines frequently led to dangerous situations, and at a certain time it was decided that test flights would end in a landing with the engine switched off. Part of the problem was the poor quality of the oil cooler radiators, which were poorly soldered. The radiator honey-combs were blocked because of the soldering, and the oil went round the cooling system via the bypass valve. Despite these problems 32 of the 100 ordered were finished, and accepted for operational duties.
Number built: 32
Petlyakov Pe-2A This version was the first step in a major improvement program for the Pe-2. During the development of the Pe-2F Vladimir Petlyakov was killed in a flying accident (probably due to a snow storm) in Februari 1941. Since then work was continued with other engineers. In the summer of 1943 Vladimir Myasishchev took over the design bureau at Plant No.22 and first continued with the M-82 powered Pe-2. After that the improvement program was set into motion. The improvements would include:
  • Changing the empennage. The rudders became cut through, the teeth of the tail plane were enlarged, which reduced the drag in level flight.
  • A new cockpit canopy
  • The water radiators were enlarged and the shape of the intake tunnels improved.
  • The exhaust collectors were positioned closer to the cowlings, and the intakes of emission were retracted inside of the wing and cowl of the engine
  • The RDK-10 frame was installed in the wood forward of the Fuselage F1, and the antenna became a sinle wire (only to starboard fin)
  • The external bomb racks were relocated inside the wing
Some of the innovations tested were introduced into the production line, and as a result the max level speed becan to rise steadily.
Number built: 32
Petlyakov Pe-2B With the Pe-2B the improvements program entered the second phase. the main difference was the powerplant: 2 × Klimov VK-105PF Vee, rated at 1,180 hp (880 kW) at altitude each. Further aerodynamic changes were applied, and a new combined pilot's and navigator's cockpit was installed. Also, the wooden wing ordered for the VI-100 was used. This wing had a NACA 230 section and the area was increased by 26.9 ft² (2,5 m²). This reduced wing loading, improved take-off and landing characteristics, and reduced the tendency of the Pe-2 to fall in a corkscrew at low speeds.
Max level speed obtained by the Pe-2B was 331 Mph (534 km/h) at 12,800 ft (3.900 m).

Other sources claim that the Pe-2B was the standard bomber version from 1944 with a number of structural and system improvements as well as a gun armament of 3 × 0.5 inch (12,7 mm) Beresin machine guns and 1 × 0.3 inch (7,62 mm) ShKAS machine gun. It might even be so that the same designation was applied to different aircrafttypes, depending on what engineers bureau had changed a Pe-2 version and given it a desination. This goes for the Pe-2I as well (see below). I must say that the Russian way of designating aircraft isn't fully clear to me .
Number built: unknown.
Petlyakov Pe-2RD Like some other Russian aircraft, the Pe-2 was at some stage of the war also tested with a rocket engine. The Pe-2 No.15/185 had a RU-1 rocket installed in the rear fuselage in the summer of 1943. This rocket (RU-1 or RD-1, I'm not sure) delivered a thrust of 661 lb (300 kg) at sea level, and was ignited elctrically (later chemically). Fuel of the rocket consisted of kerosene and nitric acid.
The aircraft was 37 to 40 Mph (60 to 65 km/h) faster at medium altitudes, but since the rocket engine had only a brief endurance and was unreliable the aircraft was never produced in series.
Number built: unknown.
Petlyakov Pe-2MV This version was the attack fighter variant, and was armed with 2 × 20 mm ShVAK fixed forward-firing cannon and 2 × 0.5 inch (12,7 mm) Beresin fixed forward-firing machine guns in the front of a ventral gondola replacing the weapons bay, and a single 0.3 inch (7,62 mm) ShKAS trainable rearward-firing machine gun in an MV-3 dorsal turret.
Number built: unknown.
Petlyakov Pe-2FZ This version was delivered in small numbers during 1943. The Frontovoye Zadaniye (front-line task) variant was a revised version of the Pe-2FT with no nose accommodation and an FZ dorsal turret armed with two 0.5 inch (12,7 mm) Beresin trainable rearward-firing machine guns.
Number built: unknown.
Petlyakov Pe-2R This was the Razvyedchik (reconnaissance) day reconnaissance version of the Pe-2 with three or four vertical and oblique cameras installed in the lower fuselage and an AK-1 automatic course-control system for maximum accuracy. The type was powered by 2 × Klimov M-105PF Vee engines, had an armament of three 0.5 inch (12,7 mm) UBS machine guns, and could also carry two 32 Imp gal (38 US gal, 145 liter) drop tanks on the inboard underwing hardpoints for a maximum range of 1,056 miles (1.700 km).
It might be that the reconnaissance version of the Pe-2F was the same aircraft as this version, but simply with another designation
Number built: unknown.
Petlyakov Pe-2UT The Uchyebno Trenirovochnyi (advanced trainer) variant was the conversion and operational trainer model, otherwise known as the Pe-2S or UPe-2, that retained full weapons load capability but introduced a second cockpit, complete with duplicated instruments and controls, to the rear of the standard cockpit.
Number built: unknown.
Petlyakov Pe-2S Another designation for the Petlyakov Pe-2UT. I don't know where the 'S' stands for, although in most cases it would denote Skorostnoy (high speed).
Redesignated aircraft.
Petlyakov UPe-2 Another designation for the Petlyakov Pe-2UT. The prefix 'U' is probably short for Uchyebno Trenirovochnyi (advanced trainer)
Redesignated aircraft.
Petlyakov Pe-2D This was a version that built further on the Pe-2F with lowered fuselage. It was powered by 2 × Klimov M-107A, and was fitted with the F3 cockpit and canopy
Number built: unknown.
Petlyakov Pe-2M-1 This was also a version that built further on the Pe-2F with lowered fuselage. It was powered by 2 × M-1 Vee rated at ,1350 hp (1.007 kW) at ground level and 1,300 hp (969 kW) at 20,400 ft (6.200 m) each. The M-1 engine was developed by specialists at Plant No.16, and was based on the M-105. It had the same dimensions like the M-105 but cylinders with a wider diameter.
Aircraft powered with this engine could reach 357 mph (575 km/h) at altitude, but unfortunately the M-1 was not put into production.
Number built: unknown.
Petlyakov Pe-2I There are two versions of the Pe-2 designated as Pe-2I. One was the Istrebitel (fighter, or litterally destroyer) and is described on the separate Petlyakov Pe-3 page.
This version however was not a pure fighter, but very versatile indeed. It was based on the Pe-2F, and powered by 2 × VK-107A engines. It could carry a bigger bomb load because of the mid-wing configuration. Also it was configured as a two-seater, with a remote-controlled mounting for a UBK gun (identical to the VI) in the tail. The wing structure was changed to that of the Pe-2B, with a significantly higher angle of attack.
The Pe-2I had a very good performance: a max level speed of 407 mph (656 km/h) at altitude and 343 mph (552 km/h) at sea level. It could cliimb to 16,400 ft (5.000 m) in 7 min 6 sec, and had a range of 1,317 miles (2.120 km).
Because of it's versatility and speed it was also often described as the Soviet Mosquito, or the Pe-2I Mosquito after the British fighter/bomber/reconnaissance aircraft. The only failings of the Pe-2I was the poor take-off and landing characteristics and the often not completed remote-control gun mount whose production turned out to be very cumbersome.
Number built: unknown.
Petlyakov Pe-2M This version would have been the next production version, but it was not to be. The pe-2M was a simplified version of the Pe-2, but with heavier defensive armament. Thsi would consist of 1 × UB-20 fixed rearward-firing cannon and 2 × UB-20 trainable rearward-firing cannon in the navigaotr's and gunner/radio operator's position.
Number built: 4
Petlyakov Pe-2K This version was again based on the Pe-2, but was fitted with rocket-assisted take-off gear. It was built in only small numbers
Number built: unknown.
Petlyakov Pe-3 versions These versions are described on a different page, although the Pe-2 and Pe-3 share the same forefather.

Operational remarks:

The Pe-2 first entered service in April 1941, just in time before 'Operation Barbarossa', the German attack on the Soviet Union - or not? Unfortunately, there was only a small number of Pe-2 available at the moment of the German surprise attack. 306 Aircraft were built by the end of May 1941, and hardly any pilot was converted to it yet. Such was the urgency for a tactical bomber that some units were thrown into battle while they wer still unfamiliar with the Pe-2, having flown a mere circuit or two.
This, combined with the bad take-off and landing characteristics caused quite a few accidents in the beginning (and later still). Also a lot of production and design errors were still in the aircraft, decreasing their ready status. Some units lost 20 crews in a month, a very high casualty rate. This was due to inexperience with the aircraft, insufficient defensive armament, a great risk of fire, and insufficient crew protection.
Not all was bad, though. Once in flight the aircraft handled good, and was able to perform dive bombings (only shortly because of problems with the dive brakes) and act as a bomber and/or attack aircraft. When the Germans launched their offensive at Moscow the crews were becoming experienced, and could perform their tasks much better. Also, aircraft started to be fitted with rocket launchers and other disposables enabling them to attack armored and non-armored vehicles and colonnes, slowly grinding the German Moloch to a halt. The rocket launchers were especially popular in the Moscow region. Sometimes the rockets were even pointed backward, and were fired when enemy fighters had settled on the tail of the aircraft. When confronted with a salvo of 4 or 8 rockets every pilot would break off, and would at least need some extra time again to settle in once more. This was not standard practice, however, and it was not widely used.
And although the defensive armament was insufficient, it still could be used effectively once in a while. Some units reported that small groups of Pe-2's had succesfully parried the attacks of enemy Messerschmitt Bf-109's, and shot down 2 of them while suffering no losses.
The Pe-2 performed a number of effective raids, one of such was an attack on the oil fields of Ploesti, Romania. After only a few days of training on their new Pe-2's, 6 Aircraft of the 40th Air regiment of the southern wing of the Black Sea fleet embarked on their mission. At least a quarter of a million tons of oil products were destroyed during the raid, and the sea was on fire for three days. The Romanian information agency claimed that at least 100 Soviet aircraft had bombed Ploesti. Funny enough, the Romanians had misidentified the Pe-2's and thought they were friendly aircraft. Escorting aircraft were correctly identified as enemy aircraft, as was their own Flak (!).
Other ways in which the Pe-2 was used was during German night raids. a Pe-2 armed with a big searchlight would sometimes be able to catch an enemy bomber in the beam. Fighters would then be able to see it and close in on it, and ultimately destroy it. Althoug this in itself was not so succesfull, the psychological consequences were. Once caught in a beam most enemy bombers would drop their bombs and high-tail it for friendly air space.
All in all, the Pe-2 was, after it's hard introduction, a popular aircraft because of it's speed and versatility, used effectively, and was produced in impressive numbers.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

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© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 9/23/01