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The SB-2 is a Soviet light bomber which served in the VVS and various other air forces during the conflict before and during World War II.


The SB-2 was a typical twin-engined monoplane when compared to other World War II era twin-engined bombers. Early SB-2s used two M-100 engines (which were licence built Hispano-Suiza engines), while later models used 2 improved M-103 engines.[1] The former delivered about 830 hp[1], and the latter delivered 950 hp.[2] These engines propelled the aircraft to a speed of 255 mph (410 kph) in the earlier aircraft[1] and 280 mph (451 kph) in later aircraft.[1] The aircraft was armed with four 7.62 (0.3 in) ShKAS machine guns. Two machine guns were in the nose position, one was in a dorsal position and one was in the ventral position.[1] The Tupolev plane's payload was limited to 2,200 lb (998 kg). The typical crew for a bombing mission in the SB-2 was composed of a pilot, a nose gunner, and a dorsal gunner.[1] The SB-2 was an advanced aircraft for the time, but it lacked refinement.[3] This came to the disappointment of pilots and ground crew, but to the satisfaction of Stalin who said, "there are no trivialities in aviation".[3]


  • ANT-40- Light Bomber Prototype.[1]
  • SB-2- Second prototype, after second prototype this became the product designation all future Light Bomber Types.[1]
  • SB-2M100-first production SB-2 equipped with M-100 engines. [3]
  • SB-2M100A-Production SB-2 with M-100A engines delivering (860 hp) each.
  • SB-2bis-Improved SB-2 with three bladed, variable pitch propellers as well as improved fuel capacity and range.[1]
  • PS-40- Transport Version.[1]
  • PS-41- Transport Version.[1]
  • B.71- SB-2 produced under license by Czechoslovakia.[1] Note, the Arkhangelsky Ar-2 (also known as the SB-RK) was a SB-2bis converted into the Dive Bombing role but will have its own separate article.[1]



Operational History

The SB-2 was first introduced into service in February 1936.[4] In October of that same year, the SB-2 was selected to be exported Spain to assist the embattled Republican forces fight off Nationalist rebels.[4] The SB-2 was the first Soviet warplane sent to Republicans, and the bombers were to be manned by Soviet crews.[5] For the majority of the Spanish Civil War, the SB-2 was untouchable to the Italian Fiat CR.32 and German Heinkel He 51 fighters being used by Franco's Nationalist Forces.[4] The SB-2 was able to outrun most of these biplanes with relative ease.[4] The only way these aircraft could intercept the Tupolev machine was dives from high-altitude.[3] The SB-2 success in Spain would continue until the SB-2 faced stern fighter opposition in 1938.[6] Much of the difficulty the SB-2 had when dealing with fighters later in the war is because of the new Messerschmitt Bf 109B.[7] When the Spanish Civil war ended, a total of 210 SB-2s were delivered to Spain.[4] Total claims of SB-2s shot down over Spain was 14 by the Nationalists, an unknown amount (but close to the Nationalists number) by Germans, and 48 by Italians.[5] 19 SB-2s were captured by the Nationalists at the end of the war.[5] These were used to create a bomber squadron.[3] The SB-2 would suffer from a lack of spare parts.[3] By April 1943, 3 SBs were airworthy in Spain.[3] These would be replaced by Junkers Ju 88s in December of that year, and the remaining aircraft were used in a limited number of training flights before being scrapped in 1948.[3]

On August 21st, 1937, the Soviet Union signed the Sino-Soviet Nonaggression pact.[7] As part of that agreement, the Soviets supplied large amounts of military equipment, and the pact also called for the deployment of Soviet aircraft units crewed by Russian volunteers.[7] The SB-2 was among the Soviet aircraft provided to the Chinese, with the first batch of 62 SB arriving in September-October, 1937.[7]The SB-2 served with other Russian bombers suchs as the Tupolev TB-3 and the Ilyushin DB-3.[8] The first combat action by SB-2s occured on December of the same year, with attacks being launched on Japanese Ships on the Yangtze River.[7] An additional 60 SBs were delivered to China in early 1938.[7] These additional planes were used in large numbers during the Battle of Wuhan to attack Japanese troops.[7]. Heavy losses forced the SB-2 to be temporarily withdrawn from combat.[7] Soviet units were re-equipped with the DB-3, and the SB-2 was transferred to Chinese units.[7] Before signing the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact in 1941, the Soviets provided another 100 SB-2s.[7]

Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union signed a agreement in 1937, which gave Czechoslovakia the license to produce the Tupolev SB as the Avia B.71.


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