Petlyakov VI-100 Heavy Twin-Engine Interceptor Prototype Aircraft
The Petlyakov VI-100 heavy interceptor was a well-armed and aerodynamically-refined aircraft for its time but changing requirements for the Soviet Air Force led to its rebirth as the Pe-2 dive bomber.
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There were only a handful of truly exceptional twin-engine heavy fighters fielded during World War 2 (1939-1945) - the British de Havilland "Mosquito" and American Lockheed "Lightning" quickly come to mind and these were joined by others such as the German Messerschmitt Bf 110, which found its success early in the war, and the Japanese went on to manufacture a plethora of twin-engined types for their part in the grand conflict. The Petlyakov concern of the Soviet Union eventually contributed its Pe-2 dive bomber of 1941 but this platform had origins in a potent design intended as a high-altitude interceptor in the pre-war years.
Born as the "VI-100", the aircraft was expected to fulfill a growing need within the Soviet Air Force to counter high-flying enemy threats of the period - primarily bombers. Design work began in 1938 and the resulting design became a well-streamlined, twin-seat, all-metal, twin-engine offering. The crew of two were seated in line in separate cockpits (back-to-back). The wings were of monoplane arrangement and each held an engine nacelle at their leading edge. The tail was of a split-rudder configuration and the undercarriage of a "tail-dragger" form consistent with the period. The pilot's position was aft of a short nosecone containing a bulk of the offensive armament with defensive armament handled by the rear crewman. The pilot's cockpit was to be pressurized for high-altitude service. The powerplant of choice became 2 x Klimov M-105 inline piston engines of 1,050 horsepower. For the required high-altitude performance, these were fitted with turbo-superchargers.