Pe-2 variants, by V.M.Petlyakov, V.M.Myasichev, A.M.Izakson and A.I.Putilov

28k B/W, Pe-2's flying over the Baltic, photo TASS from 'Ground attack' by Christopher Chant;

One of the most important Soviet aircraft of the Great Patriotic War. Twice Hero of The USSR I.S.Polbin flew 180 sorties during the War on the Pe-2, and rated the plane very high.Pe-2 was designed by an imprisoned team as a very advanced high-altitude fighter, the '100'. There was no need for such aircraft, and the aircraft went on to become a very good fast light bomber.

Fuselage (designed by A.I.Putilov) was close to monocoque of circular cross-section. Sparsely placed ribs (each 0.5m) supported thick (1.5 to 2.0mm) aluminum alloy skin without stringers, only windows, cockpit and turret openings had enforcing frame. Unlike simple and rational fuselage, wing was technologically sophisticated with thin (0.6 to 0.8 mm) skin supported by large number of stringers. Most (including all series) variants had low placed wing, while some were mid-wing to increase internal bomb bay capacity.

Necessary modifications included reducing of nose armament to pair of ShKAS and adding of glazing necessary for performing bombing missions. Navigator was moved close to pilot's cockpit, his seat was shifted to the right, providing better front-down sight for navigator. Remotely controlled turret was replaced by single ShKAS in Navigator's cockpit. This (quite primitive) installation (Toropov's setup) provided rear hemisphere protection 200° horizontally and 56° vertically.

Pilot had 9mm armored seat, pair of 6mm armor plates protected him and navigator from the sides. Radio-operator had single ShKAS in ventral position. Radio operator could use hatch on top of fuselage to observe rear hemisphere (in case if navigator is killed or wounded).

30k drawing of original Pe-2 ventral turret, courtesy of Sergey Andreev
28k drawing of the 'FZ' turret, courtesy of Sergey Andreev
28k b/w drawing of Pe-2 (factory id#7/87), carrying RUB-2L and RUB-4 launchers
28k drawing and 30k photo of Pe-2 with defensive RO-82 launcher
Courtesy of Sergey Andreev

During production and service armament was gradually increased by replacing rifle-caliber ShKAS machineguns by more effective UB and adding another ShKAS (which could be moved to right or left side position) to the gunner's inventory.

In 1941 Pe-2 started to arrive in service units, and joined combat as German armies invaded the USSR. Complications arose with ammo feeding to the ventral gun - chain was running along a tray on fuselage wall (see picture). Chain was jammed easily, sometimes after the first shot fired.

Luftwaffe fighter pilots quickly figured out this weakness, and Pe-2 losses went up sharply.

This problem was quickly fixed, and 'remote' ammo box was replaced by standard under the gun. Navigator's turret also was improved few times: original primitive installation was replaced in 1941 by enclosed MV-3 enclosed turret by Mozharovsky and Venevidov. Since 1943 even more advanced FZ (Frontovoe Zadanie, Order of the Front) turret was installed on some of series aircraft, those designated Pe-2FZ

Pe-2 got even more defence starting from '179' series. DAG-10 dispenser for 10 aircraft grenades AG-2 was added at tail section. Despite those grenades could not be aimed on the attacking aircraft, they could literally blast it of the sky. Some modifications included ventral and/or dorsal installations for reward firing RS-82 'Katusha' rockets.

Three internal bomb bays could accommodate six FAB-100 bombs: four in the fuselage and one in each engine nacells, behind the wheel niches. This bombload was obviously insufficient, and four external hardpoints allowed to carry up to 1000kg (four FAB-250) bombs.

At the Monino AF Museum near Moscow; Photo (30k) by John Sloan at Alexej Gretchihine R.A.P.;
40k B/W, Leningrad Front, photo TASS from 'Ground attack' by Christopher Chant;

Radiators located in wing tunnels. Soft protected fuel tanks (number varied from 5 to 9) are in the fuselage and wings, all equipped with external and internal neutral gas filling. Wing equipped with flaps (assisting on both takeoff and landing), ailerons and airbrakes. Airbrakes (grid of steel tubes) were activated by AP-1 (dive automatics unit) to limit dive speed. Another AP-1 automatically started dive sequence (by signal from bomb sight) and pulled aircraft out of dive on preset altitude. Tailwheel was retractable.

Pe-2 was the first Soviet aircraft with wide use of electric motors. About 50 (2 to 30Watt) were used for various control goals.

With advance of German troops, production of Pe-2 was moved to Siberia. Mass production restarted in early 1942. No less than 11427 built.

26k B/W, Pe-2's loose formation,photo TASS from 'Ground attack' by Christopher Chant;

Pe-2s were commonly used in loose formations to take maximum advantage from its speed and agility, deserving the nickname 'Russian Mosquito'. To be fair - beautiful Mosquito should be dubbed "British Peshka" (Peshka=Pawn was front-line nickname of Pe-2), because Pe-2 was of earlier design.

On January 12, 1942 V.M.Petlyakov and A.M.Izakson were ordered to arrive to Moscow on emergency meeting. They joined group of Pe-2 flying from factory to front service units. Aircraft carrying V.M.Petlyakov caught a fire, killing crew and designer general. For some time production and development of Pe-2 were supervised by A.M.Izakson, since April 1942 - by A.I.Putilov. Many modifications were introduced by V.M.Myasichev (since June 22, 1943 - chief designer), some of those may be considered rather new planes.

Variants and modifications include several bombers, trainer, fighters, reconnaissaters, ground strifing and even 'paravan' cable cutter to penetrate balloon defence. Most of those aircraft remained experimental. Of course they promised certain advantages over mass built aircraft, but production interrupts during wartime were not easily tolerated.

44k, Preparing for bomb mission at an extemporized air strip in central Russia. 19k, Pe-2 takes off in a flurry of dust, Summer 1943. It was solidly built and could operate from crude air strips and during adverse weather.
Photos TASS from 'Ground attack' by Christopher Chant;
PredecessorModifications and variants


Pe-2 1940 series

Pe-2 1941 series

Pe-2FZ series

Modifications and variants

Pe-2 paravan




Pe-2M (first with this designation) Pe-2 fighter Pe-2 on skis Pe-2UT, UPe-2 Pe-2B
Pe-2RU Pe-2R Pe-2K Pe-2I Pe-2M
Pe-3M Pe-2D Pe-2 long range Pe-2VB (1941) Pe-2VI (1941)
Pe-2VI (1943)
DIS-2VK-107 VB-109

  • "History of aircraft construction in the USSR", Vol.2 p.154-165;
  • 'Ground attack' by Christopher Chant, pp32-55;
  • Pe-2 at Watson's Military
  • Pe-2 at Virtual Aircraft Museum
  • Pe-2 at Michael Fletcher's Site;
  • PB-100, Petlyakov
  • Pe-2, Petlyakov
  • DOO Flightsimulator page by Oleg Devjatkin;
  • Soviet female pilots on WWII by Rolando Silva
  • Soviet Warbirds
  • Normandie Niemen Site
  • Created January 14, 1999
    by Alexandre Savine;
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