The Beriev Be-10 line of Soviet flying boats proved a record-setting platform and were produced in some 28 examples for the Soviet Navy.
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The Beriev Be-10 flying boat was developed for use by Soviet Naval Aviation as a patrol bomber during the Cold War years. It followed basic flying boat criteria by implementing a high-wing mainplane and boat-like hull mated to an aircraft fuselage. This allowed the aircraft to take-off and land from water sources and conduct the required over-water missions for the naval service. A wheeled undercarriage could be deployed for traditional runway landings and take-off. The design departed from classic flying boats of decades prior in its use of turbojet propulsion.
As completed, the Be-10 featured a standard operating crew of four. Its airframe length measured 103.1 feet with a wingspan of 93.9 feet and a height of 35 feet. The nose was glazed over for observation of the oncoming terrain and pontoon floats were fitted at the wingtips to prevent tipping during water running or rough seas. Empty weight was listed at 60,300lbs with a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) nearing 107,000lbs. A single vertical tail fin made up the tail along with a pair of upward-canted horizontal tailplanes. Power was from 2 x Lyulka AL-7PD turbojet engines, each delivering 16,000lbs of thrust and mounted at the wingroots, their nacelles found under each wings. Maximum speed was 565 miles per hour with a range out to 1,800 miles and a service ceiling of 41,000 feet. Rate-of-climb measured at about 2,000 feet per minute. Local defense was through a twin-gunned tail turret fitting 2 x 23mm AM-23 series cannons and 2 x 23mm cannons fitted to the nose. Up to 4,400lbs of stores in the form of torpedoes, mines, and conventional drop bombs could be carried.
Be-10s were first deployed with 2nd Squadron (977th OMDRAP) of Soviet Naval Aviation and they were later joined by 1st Squadron - becoming the two only operators of the entire series. Production also limited this reach as only 28 were manufactured in all from 1958 to 1961. Upon their adoption, Be-10s replaced the aged stock of 1950s-era, propeller-driven Beriev Be-6 "Madge" high-wing flying boats then in service. The new aircraft series was not formally identified by NATO observers until the 1961Tushino Aviation Day flyover.
In operational service, they were competent performers with great tactical flexibility. However, their controlling required a great deal of attention and veteran hands at the stick due to tricky flight characteristics. Indeed, several crashes were the result of the aircraft's handling scheme which stained an otherwise solid performance record. The line's demise was further aided early-onset metal fatigue primarily due to the violent landings required of the aircraft. The Be-10 was out of service as soon as 1968, succeeded by the new and improved Beriev Be-12 "Mail" line detailed elsewhere on this site.
Only one major standard variant was produced - designated simply as "Be-10". There did appear several proposed forms which all fell to naught: the Be-10N was to be a cruise missile carrier with the Be-10S an anti-submarine platform. Be-10U was intended as a target designator and outfitted with radar while the Be-10T was to fulfill a trainer role. A high-performance version, M-10 ("40 Yellow"), was specially-modified for record attempts and was completed in a sole example. It went on to set some twelve payload, speed, and altitude world records for an aircraft of this classification.
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