|A North Korean Tu-2 bomber at the China Aviation Museum, Beijing|
|First flight||29 January 1941|
|Retired||late 1970s (PLAAF)|
|Primary users|| VVS, Soviet Naval Aviation |
People's Liberation Army Air Force
Polish Air Forces
|Variants|| Tupolev Tu-1 |
The Tupolev Tu-2 (development names ANT-58 and 103; NATO reporting name Bat) was a twin-engine Soviet high-speed daylight and frontline (SDB and FB) bomber aircraft of World War II vintage. The Tu-2 was tailored to meet a requirement for a high-speed bomber or dive-bomber, with a large internal bombload, and speed similar to that of a single-seat fighter. Designed to challenge the German Junkers Ju 88, the Tu-2 proved comparable, and was produced in torpedo, interceptor, and reconnaissance versions. The Tu-2 was one of the outstanding combat aircraft of World War II and it played a key role in the Red Army's final offensives.
In 1937, Andrei Tupolev, along with many Soviet designers at the time, was arrested on trumped-up charges of activities against the State. Despite the actions of the Soviet government, he was considered important to the war effort and following his imprisonment, he was placed in charge of a team that was to design military aircraft. Designed as Samolyot (Russian: "aircraft") 103, the Tu-2 was based on earlier ANT-58, ANT-59 and ANT-60 light bomber prototypes.Essentially an upscaled and more powerful ANT-60 powered by AM-37 engines, the first prototype was completed at Factory N156, and made its first test flight on 29 January 1941, piloted by Mikhail Nukhtinov. Mass production began in September 1941, at Omsk Aircraft Factory Number 166, with the first aircraft reaching combat units in March 1942. Modifications were made based on combat experience, and Plant Number 166 built a total of 80 aircraft. The AM-37 engine was abandoned to concentrate efforts on the AM-38F for the Il-2, which required Tupolev to redesign the aircraft for an available engine. Modifications of this bomber took ANT-58 through ANT-69 variants. A further 2527 aircraft were built at Kazan, with these modifications. Production ceased in 1951 after a total of some 3,000 aircraft were delivered to various Soviet Bloc air forces.
Built from 1941 to 1948, the Tu-2 was the USSR's second most important twin-engine bomber (the first being the Pe-2). The design brought Andrei Tupolev back into favour after a period of detention. Crews were universally happy with their Tupolevs. Pilots could maneuver the aircraft like a fighter, it could survive heavy damage, and it was fast.The first Soviet unit to be equipped with the Tu-2 was 132 BAP of 3 VA (Vozdushnaya Armiya, Air Army). The aircraft had its baptism of fire over Velikiye Luki. There, in November–December 1942, this Tupolev bomber flew 46 sorties. On February 11, 1943, 132 BAP was transferred to 17 VA to support the drive toward River Dnepr and it flew another 47 sorties - attacking airfields and rail junctions - until April 13, when the unit was removed from frontline. By that time only three Tu-2s were lost in action, while seven were damaged. The Tu-2 remained in service in the USSR until 1950.
Some surplus Tu-2s were provided to the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force for use in the Chinese Civil War. Some Chinese Tu-2s were shot down by United Nations airmen during the Korean War. In the 1958–1962 'counter-riot actions' in the 1959 Tibetan uprising in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau covering Qinghai, Tibet, southern Gansu, and western Sichuan, Chinese PLAAF Tu-2s took on the roles of ground-attack, reconnaissance and liaison. The Chinese Tu-2s were retired at the end of the 1970s.
After World War II, the Tu-2 proved to be an ideal test aircraft for various powerplants, including the first generation of Soviet jet engines.
Data fromGordon, Yefim; Rigmant, Vladimir (2005). OKB Tupolev (1st ed.). Hinkley: Midland Publishing. pp. 83-97. ISBN 1-85780-214-4.
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