Beriev Be-2 / MBR-2 Reconnaissance Flying Boat
Though hardly a heady performer, the Beriev Be-2 served a just cause in the maritime reconnaissance role for the Soviet Union in World War 2.
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The Beriev Be-2 was one of the few flying boats of note fighting for the Soviet Union throughout World War 2 as very little in the way of attention to the class was given. The flying boat design was utilitarian by nature with pedestrian performance but served the VVS-VMF well in the search and rescue (SAR) of downed airmen. Along with a passenger/transport derivative, the Be-2 also managed to set a few world records, particularly in the field of women's aviation - before its inevitable retirement from service.
The Be-2 originally started with the designation of MBR-2. In earlier forms, the system was of a wooden hull design and customized for the short range work required of Soviet operations in the Baltic Sea and Black Sea. This type was fielded throughout most of the 1930's until the advent of World War 2, to which the type was slightly redesigned with a more powerful engine which improved performance and range. This new type was known as the MBR-2bis. The whole MBR series would eventually be redesignated to the more common Beriev designation of Be-2.
From a design standpoint, the Be-2 followed traditions of the time. A design by G.M. Beriev and flown as far back as 1931, the Be-2 made little noise throughout the thirties until Russia was brought into World War 2. A single engine powered the unit and sat in a raised position above the high monoplane wings. Pontoons adorned either wing underside. Armament was defensive in nature as the Be-2 was hardly in a position to do anything beyond short range reconnaissance, transport and rescue work. Armament consisted of just two 7.7mm machine guns - one in an open air bow position and the other in an enclosed glass position midship aft. A crew of four or five were called upon to work the various systems and weapons. Bombload was limited to just 661 pounds.
The Be-2 would see extensive action in numbers for the early and middle parts of the war. In combat, the Be-2 was hardly anything but a flying boat and the systems could do very little but defend with their two small caliber machine guns. At any case, the Be-2 was forced to perform under extreme conditions as a design from an earlier time - in that respect, the Be-2 fulfilled its duty the best it could and deserves at least some mention in the annals of Soviet contribution to the World War 2 air effort.