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  • Tupolev TB-3 Four-Engine Heavy Bomber Aircraft

    An interwar design, the Soviet Tupolev TB-3 served from 1932 into the fighting years of World War 2.

     Updated: 5/26/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    Success in completing the 216-strong fleet of Tupolev TB-1 heavy bombers for the burgeoning Soviet Air Force led Tupolev OKB to head another large aircraft project of the period - the "TB-3" (development designation of "ANT-6"). Development of this system also occurred in the mid-1920s but involved a dimensionally larger, heavier four-engined approach (as opposed to the TB-1's twin-engine arrangement). Tangible work began in 1926 and the Soviet Air Force finalized its requirements before the end of the decade.

    Four American Curtiss V-1570 "Conqueror" engines were initially selected to power the aircraft until the locally-produced Mikulin M-17 engine (720 horsepower) could be gotten (these were license-produced German BMW VIz engines at their core). Outwardly the design adopted much of the form of the earlier TB-1 including its deep, slab-sided fuselage, low-set monoplane wings and single-rudder tail unit. The "tail-dragger" undercarriage (wheeled) was also retained though eventually modified with additional wheels during development. Unlike the TB-1's crew of six, the TB-3's human commitment numbered just four though, like the TB-1, the TB-3 relied on corrugated metal for skinning - a technique developed by German Hugo Junkers during World War 1 (1914-1918).

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    Tupolev TB-3 (ANT-6) Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1932
    Type: Four-Engine Heavy Bomber Aircraft
    National Origin: Soviet Union
    Manufacturer(s): Tupolev / Voronezh Aircraft Production Association - Soviet Union
    Production Total: 818

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 4
    Length: 80.38 feet (24.5 meters)
    Width: 137.14 feet (41.80 meters)
    Height: 27.89 feet (8.50 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 24,692 lb (11,200 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 42,549 lb (19,300 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 4 x Mikulin M-17F (BMW VIz) V12 liquid-cooled inline piston engines developing 705 to 720 horsepower each.

    Maximum Speed: 132 mph (212 kph; 114 knots)
    Maximum Range: 1,243 miles (2,000 km)
    Service Ceiling: 15,748 feet (4,800 meters; 2.98 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 245 feet-per-minute (75 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    5 to 8 x 7.62mm DA defensive machine guns

    Up to 4,400 pounds of conventional drop ordnance.

    Global Operators / Customers

    China (Taiwan); Soviet Union

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    TB-3 - Base Series Designation

    ANT-6 - Developmental designation

    TB-3-4M-17F - Definitive / initial production models

    TB-3-4M-34 - Fitted with Mikulin AM-34 series engines; refinements; about 34 produced.

    TB-3-4M-34R - AM-34R engines fitted; improved performance model; improved defensive features.

    TB-3-4AM-34RD - Long-range variant utilizing streamlining and metal propeller blades.

    TB-3-4AM-34RN - Proposed high-altitude model with Am-34RN engines and four-bladed propeller units; not adopted.

    TB-3-4AM-34FRN/FRNV - AM-34FRN/FRNV engines with four-bladed propellers; revised turret locations; improved performance.

    TB-3D - Proposed model with Charomsky AN-1 series diesel engines of 740 horsepower; not adopted.

    G-2 - Conversion transport models with M-17 and M-34 engines being used (by Aeroflot).

    ANT-6-4M-34R "Aviaarktika" - Specialized model for North Pole expedition work.