ANT-42 prototypes
Updated on September 14, 2013
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In June 1934, the charge to project a new long range bomber to replace the TB-3 was given to the Experimental Aircraft Design Section of TsAGI, headed by Andrey Tupolev. The requirements were for a flight speed at least twice of that of TB-3, a ceiling of 10.000 m, a strong defensive armament, and at least te same range and payload of the older giant bomber.

The design team was led by Vladimir Petlyakov, that had already designed the DB-3.

The project was designated ANT-42 (from the first characters of Andrei Tupolev), and was based on the large AM-34 engine of Mikulin. This was not rated for high altitude operations, so they thought to install a further M-100 engine of 860 hp (derived fron the Hispano-Suiza 12Y) to drive a compressor to supply compressed air to the four Mikulin engines. This unit, known as ATsN (Agregat tsentral'novo nadduva—Central Supercharging Unit), was mounted on the upper part of the fuselage, behind the pilot's cockpit and above the bombs bay, and was linked to the engines by wide ducts.

To gain speed, the plane abandoned the corrugate sheet skinning, the angular shapes and the fixed main landing gear of the TB-3.

drawing at

The first prototype made its maiden flight on December 27, 1936, flown by the famous test pilot Mikhail Gromov; the ATsN compression system was utilized only during the acceptance trials in August 1937. It revealed good performances, but a lot of shortcomings too, that had to be eliminated within that year.

The state tests restarted on March 1938, exceeding many contemporary fighters for speed and ceiling. During the state tests, the plane was often referred as TB-7 (Tyazhyoly Bombardirovshchik, heavy bomber).

The first prototype was publicly presented in the spring of 1939, when it flew over the Red Square at the parade of May 1.

During the war, this plane was at the airport of Kazan, and was used for training flights.

It was destroyed there for an accident due to an human error during a takeoff.

Drawing from Pe-8 Der sowjetische Fernbomber of Ulrich Unger

The second prototype ANT-42 "doubler", which was to become the benchmark for the series, began be designed in April 1936. The first flight of the machinewas on July 26, 1938.

From July 28 to August 1 the plane made factory tests. On August 11, after the removal of minor defects, it was transferred to the Air Force Institute to conduct state tests that were completed on December 28, 1938.

The plane differed from the first prototype because:

  • fuselage wider by 100 mm
  • it had a new smooth-skinned empennage
  • 20 mm gun installed in the rear turret
  • wing center section widened
  • tailplane's bracing struts deleted
  • engines changed to the more powerful AM-34FRNVs
  • redesigned undercarriage
  • removal of coolers under the external engines, moved to the inner gondolas;
  • new shape of the gunner's positions on the rear of the inner gondolas
  • 'beard' widened
  • the bomber's weaponry expanded to twin ShKAS guns in the nose, nacelle and tail turrets and a dorsal turret with a ShVAK; this design eliminated the ventral gun
  • The bomb bay was modified to allow for a single 5,000-kilogram (11,000 lb) FAB-5000 bomb to be carried and provisions were added to carry VAP-500 or VAP-1000 poisonous gas dispensers under the wings.

The arrests of both Tupolev and Petlyakov in October 1937, during the Great Purge, disrupted the program and the second prototype did not make its first flight until 26 July 1938.

The second prototype of the ANT-42 "doubler" was nicknamed as"beard";

After tests, made mainly in 1938-39, the plane was utilized as a trainer after the war's outbreak on the airports of Kovrov and Kratovo, preparing pilots and navigators for operative TB-7s of ADD based on the same airport.

The plane received the standard green-black camouflage with black undersurfaces.

In 1942, the plane was modified removing the engine in fuselage and the turbocompressor, utilizing the space for fuel tanks and weapons, and replacing the engines with the AM-35A as on other TB-7s.

On 1943-44 the plane was utilized by the 890th DBAP.

Due to the high losses of the unit, the plane was utilized in combat making over 120 sorties, dropping about 500 tons of bombs and propaganda bills over German troops.

The 'beard' survived the war, and was repainted with an attractive livery (white and blue?) to take part to the victory parade in 1945.

Note the pentagonal mark painted on both sides of the nose, depicting something (a monkey?) sat on a falling bomb.

The plane had red stars with white -red outlines under the wings and on the fuselage sides. It seems that there are small red star on the rudder too.