Category Soviet x-plenes

Sukhoi P-42

Purpose: To modify a T-10 (Su-27) to set world records.

Design Bureau: P O Sukhoi, Moscow, General Constructor M P Simonov.

According to Simonov, The idea of entering a competition for world records for aircraft of this category was conceived during 1986. We realised that this aircraft was capable of doing many things. We were so confident that, for record setting, we decided not to build a ded­icated aircraft but took one of the pre-series ones which had already flown. This then had to be prepared in conformity with the strin­gent Federation Aeronautique Internationale rules. The aircraft was called the P-42 as a tribute to the turning point in the Stalingrad battle in November 1942, when Soviet avia­tion had played a large part in crushing the enemy’. The OKB organised a team of design engineers, test pilots and supporting ground staff under Chief Designer Rollan G Mar – tirosov (who later designed Ekranoplans). The modified aircraft was ready in October 1986. In two flights, on 27th October and 15th November 1986 Viktor Pugachev set eight climb-to-altitude records (four absolute and four for aircraft of up to 16 tonnes take-off weight): he reached 3km (9,843ft) in 15.573
seconds and 6km (19,685ft) in 37.05 seconds. On 10th March 1987 and 23rd March 1988 Nikolai Sadovnikov flew the P-42 to 9km (29,528ft) in 44.0 seconds, to 12km (39,370ft) in 55.20 seconds and to 15km (49,213ft) in 70.329 seconds. On 10th June 1987 Sadovni – kov set a world class record by sustaining an altitude of 19,335m (63,435ft) in level flight. Another record set by Pugachev was lifting a load of1 tonne (2,205 Ib) to 15km (49,213ft) in 81.71 seconds.

The aircraft selected was T10-15. It was simplified and its weight reduced until it was able to take off at a weight of 14,100kg (31,08515). With AL-31F engines uprated to 13,600kg (29,982 Ib) this gave a thrust/weight ratio of 1.93, believed to be the highest of any aircraft ever built. Modification to the equip­ment included removal of the radar and mili­tary equipment (including the GSh-301 gun and its ammunition container, wingtip mis­sile launchers and weapon hardpoints) and removal of avionics other than the flight, nav­igation and communications needed for safe flight. Modifications to the airframe included replacement of the nose radome by a metal fairing, simplification of the wings by in­stalling a fixed leading edge and a fixed struc­ture in place of the flaperons, removal of the
ventral fins and the tops of the fins, replace­ment of the airbrake by a fairing and simplifi­cation of the airbrake supporting structure, removal of the parabrake container, simplifi­cation of the variable engine inlets which were locked in their optimum positions, and removal of the mudguard from the nose – wheel. The aircraft was left unpainted.

The P-42 set a total of 27 world records.

Sukhoi P-42



Подпись: BICh-7 Подпись: BICH-7A

Purpose: To improve BICh-7, the next stage beyond BICh-3.

Design Bureau: B I Cheranovskii.

BICh followed his Type 3 with the impressive BICh-5 bomber, powered by two BMW VI en­gines, but never obtained funds to build it. In 1929 he flew the BICh-7, almost a 1.5-scale re­peat of BICh-3 with two seats in tandem. The problem was that he replaced the central tail by rudders (without fixed fins) on the wingtips, and the result was almost uncon­trollable. He modified the aircraft into the BICh-7A, but was so busy with the BICh-11 and other projects that the improved aircraft did not fly until 1932. Apart from returning to a central fin and rudder he replaced the cen­treline wheel and wingtip skids by a conven­tional landing gear. The BICh-7A gradually became an outstanding aircraft. Testing was done mainly by N P Blagin (later infamous for colliding with the monster Maksim Gorkii), and he kept modifying the elevators and ailerons until the aircraft was to his satisfac­tion.

This larger ‘parabola-wing’ aircraft was again made of wood, veneer and fabric, with various metal parts including the convention­al divided rubber-sprung main landing gears and tailskid. The tandem cockpits were en­
closed, which in 1932 was unusual. The en­gine was a l00hp Bristol Lucifer, and one of the unsolvable problems was that the Lucifer was notorious for the violence of the firing strokes from its three cylinders, which in some aircraft (so far as we know, not includ­ing the BICh-7A) caused structural failure of its mountings.

This aircraft appears to have become an unqualified success, appearing at many air – shows over several years.

Dimensions Span Length Wing area

12.5m 4.95m 34.6 nf

41ft 16 ft 3 in 372 ft2

Weights (BICh-7)






205 Ib










205 Ib





Maximum speed


102.5 mph




Landing speed


43.5 mph

Kozlov El

Kozlov El

Purpose: To evaluate a fighter with a variable-incidence wing.

Design Bureau: Zhukovskii WA, Soviet air force academy; design team led by Professor S G Kozlov.

Kozlov was perpetually seeking after new targets, and one that he had considered for many years was the pivoted wing, able to change its angle of incidence. Thus, for ex­ample, the aircraft could take off or land with a large angle of attack yet with the fuse­lage level. Four Russian designers had made unsuccessful variable-incidence aircraft in 1916-17. Design of the El (Eksperimentalnyi Istrebitel, experimental fighter) began in 1939. Under Kozlov’s direction the wing was designed by V S Chulkovand the landing gear by M M Shishmarev. D O Gurayev was assis­tant chief designer, and S N Kan and IA Sverdlov handled the stressing. The single El was constructed at a factory in the Moscow district, but its completion was seriously de­
layed, mainly by technical difficulties and re­peated alteration of the drawings. At last the El was almost complete in autumn 1941, but on 16th October the factory was evacuated. The El and all drawings were destroyed.

The El was said to have been a good-look­ing single-seat fighter, powered by a 1,650hp M-107 (VK-107) liquid-cooled engine. The fuselage was a Duralumin stressed-skin semi- monocoque of oval section, with heavy ar­mament around the engine. The wings had spars with steel T-booms and Duralumin webs, with glued shpon (Birch veneer) skin. The wing was fitted with flaps and differential ailerons, and was mounted on ball-bearing trunnions on the front spar and driven by an irreversible Acme-thread jack acting on the

While no illustration has been found of the El, this 1940 drawing recently came to light showing a fighter project with a more powerful engine (M-106P) and greater span.

rear spar. To avoid problems it is believed the main landing gears were attached to the fuse­lage and retracted into fuselage compart­ments. No other details survive.

There is no reason to believe that the El would not have met its designer’s objectives, but equally it had little chance of being ac­cepted for production. The only successful variable-incidence aircraft was the Vought F8U (F-8) Crusader.


Span 9.2m 30 ft 2K in

No other data.

Nikitiii Shevcheiiko IS-2


Purpose: Improved version of IS-1 Design Bureau: OKB-30, chief designer V V Shevchenko

The initial funding allocated to Shevchenko’s project actually paid for two prototypes. Though construction of both began in parallel it was soon decided to incorporate improve­ments in the dubler (second aircraft). Desig­nated IS-2, and also known as the I-220t>/s, this emerged from GAZ No 156 in early 1941. Surviving documents differ. One account states that the IS-2 ‘was ready in January 1941…the War broke out and only four test flights were carried out.’ Three other ac­counts, in Russian, French and English, state that the aircraft was completed in April 1941 but had not flown when the Germans invad­ed. Shavrov is non-committal, but notes that all performance figures are estimates. The
walk-round outdoor photos were all taken with snow on the ground.

The IS-2 was a refined derivative of the IS-1. The engine was an M-88 14-cylinder radial rated at l,100hp, neatly installed in a long – chord cowl with a prominent oil-cooler duct underneath and driving a VISh-23 propeller with a large spinner, but retaining Hucks starter dogs. According to Podol’nyi, the fuse­lage cross-section was reduced (which is certainly correct) and, while wing spans re­mained the same, chord was reduced in order to increase aspect ratio and reduce area. Shavrov and a French author state that the wings of the IS-1 and IS-2 were geometri­cally identical. What certainly was altered was that the landing-gear retraction system was replaced by simply connecting the main legs to the wing linkage, so that a single cock­pit lever and a single pneumatic jack folded
the lower wings and the main landing gears in a single movement. It is widely believed that the IS-2 was not intended to fly in combat as a biplane, the benefits being restricted to take-off and landing. In the IS-1 documenta­tion the idea that the aircraft might be operat­ed as a biplane is never mentioned. Ifit were, then what was the point of the folding lower wing? Further modifications in the IS-2 were that the tail was redesigned, the tailwheel could retract and the two inboard ShKAS were replaced by heavy 12.7mm Beresin BS guns.

By the time this aircraft appeared, even though it looked more modern than its pre­decessor, the WS was fast re-equipping with simple monoplane fighters. These unques­tionably stood more chance against the Luft­waffe than the IS-2 would have done.

Span (upper)

8.6 m

28ft rnn

(lower, extended)

6.72 m

22 ft tf in


7.36 m

24 ft P/i in

Wing area (as biplane)

20.83 m2


(upper only)


140 ft2


Loaded, Shavrov’s ‘estimated

2,180 kg’

is probably a misprint for


6,195 Ib

Performance (estimated)

Shavrov’s speed of588 km/h and ceiling of 1,100 m are suspect, and Podol’nyi’s ‘600 km/h’ is even less credible; the only plausible figure appears to be the 507 km/h (315 mph) of the French account.

Nikitiii Shevcheiiko IS-2

Nikitiii Shevcheiiko IS-2

Nikitiii Shevcheiiko IS-2

Views of IS-2.


Vakhmistrov Zveno

Purpose: To enable a large aircraft to carry one or more small ones long distances, for example to attack targets that would otherwise be out of reach.

Design Bureau: Not an OKB but engineer Vladimir Sergeyevich Vakhmistrov working at the LII (flight research institute).

In 1930 Vakhmistrov suggested that a cheap glider might be used as an aerial gunnery tar­get, and he quickly perfected a way of carry­ing such a glider above the upper wing of an R-l reconnaissance aircraft and releasing it in flight. This gave Vakhmistrov the idea ofusing a large aircraft to carry a small one on long – range flights over hostile territory. The small aircraft could either be fighters to protect a large bomber, or bomb-carrying attack air­craft or camera-carrying fast reconnaissance aircraft which could make a pass over a target while the parent aircraft stood off at a safe dis­tance. In each case the difficult part was hook­ing on again for the long flight home. After presenting the WS and LII management with calculations Vakhmistrov received permis­sion to try out his idea. This led to a succes­sion of Zveno (link) combinations:


This featured a twin-engined Tupolev TB-1 bomber carrying a Tupolev I-4 fighter above each wing. The fighters were of the I-4Z ver­sion, three of which were converted for these experiments with short stub lower wings and attachment locks on the landing gear and under the rear fuselage. The bomber was pro­vided with attachments for the Zveno aircraft above each wing: two small pyramids for the landing gear and a large tripod for the rear – fuselage attachment.

The first flight took place from Monino on 3rd December 1931. The TB-1 was flown by AI Zalevskii and A R Sharapov, with Vakhmistrov as observer. The fighters, with ski landing gears, were flown by V P Chkalov and A S Anisimov. The take-off was made with the fighter engines at full power. The TB-1 copilot forgot the release sequence and released Chkalov’s axle before releasing the aft attachment, but Chkalov reacted instantly and released the rear lock as the fighter reared nose-up. The second fighter was re­leased correctly. For a few seconds the TB-1 flew with no tendency to roll with an I-4Z on one wing.


First flown in September 1933, this comprised the TB-1 carrying two Polikarpov I-5 fighters. The latter were fitted with a reinforcing plate under the rear fuselage carrying the rear hold­down, but had no special designation. The pi­lots were P M Stefanovskii (TB-1) and I F Grodz’ and V K Kokkinaki (I-5).


This was the first of the more ambitious hook­ups using a TB-3 as parent aircraft. The bomber was an early TB-3/4 M-l 7, and it was given attachments for an I-5 above each wing and a third above the fuselage with its wheels on a special flat platform. On the first test in August 1934 the TB-3 was flown by Zalevskii and the fighters by T P Suzi, S P Suprun and T T Al’tnov.


This combination would have hung a Grig – orovich I-Z monoplane fighter under each wing of the TB-3. It was not flown.


No information.

The complete sequence of Zveno developments (not all were tried).

Vakhmistrov Zveno


Vakhmistrov ZvenoПодпись: Zveno-2Vakhmistrov ZvenoПодпись:Подпись:Vakhmistrov ZvenoZ-5

This was the first attempt to hook back on. The parent aircraft was again the TB-3/4 M-l 7, and the fighter was an I-Z fitted with a large suspension superstructure of steel tubes, plus a curved upper guide rail terminating in a sprung hook releasable by the pilot (almost identical to the arrangement used on the air­ship-borne US Navy F9C Sparrowhawks). This was designed to hook on a large steel-tube trapeze under the bomber, which was folded up for take-off and landing. V A Stepanchy- onok flew the I-Z on several tests with the bomber flown as straight and level as possible by Stefanovskii. The first hook-on took place on 23rd March 1935; this was a world first.


The final combination of the original series was the mating oftwo I-16 monoplane fighters hung under the wings ofthe TB-3. The fighters were provided with local reinforcement above the wings to enable them to be hung from sliding horizontal spigots on large tripod links of streamlined light-alloy tube pin-joint­ed to the bomber’s wing structure. Bracing struts linked the bomber to a latch above the fighter’s rear fuselage, and one ofthe fighters (M-25A-engined No 0440) was photographed with a lightweight pylon above the forward fuselage to pick up under the bomber’s wing. The first test took place in August 1935; Ste – fanovskii flew the TB-3 and the fighter pilots were K K Budakov and AI Nikashin.


Named ‘mother aircraft’, this amazing test, not part of the original plan, took place in No­vember 1935. The TB-3/4M-17 took off from Monino with an I-5 above each wing and an I-16 below each wing. At altitude it folded down the under-fuselage trapeze and Stepan – chenok hooked on the I-Z, making a combi­nation of six aircraft of four types all locked together. After several passes all the fighters released simultaneously. By this time Vakhmistrov had schemes for up to eight fighters of later types all to be carried by large aircraft such as the full-scale VS-2 tailless bomber projected by Kalinin. Instead Stalin’s ‘terror’ caused the whole effort to wither, but there were still to be further developments.

SPB (Russian initials for fast dive bomber) This was a special version of the Polikarpov I-16 equipped with a rack to carry an FAB-250 (bomb of 250kg, 551 Ib) under each wing. Such an aircraft could not have safely taken off from the ground. In 1937 a later TB-3/4AM – 34RN was made available, and two SPB air­craft were hung under its wings. The first test took place on 12th July 1937, the TB-3 being flown by Stefanovskii and the dive bombers by A S Nikolayev and IA Taborovskii.


In November 1939 one final combination was flown: the TB-3/4AM-34RN took off with an I – 16 under each wing and a third hooked under the fuselage in flight (with severe difficulty). The I-16 pilots were Stefanovskii, Nyukhtikov and Suprun.

Vakhmistrov Zveno

Подпись: Zveno-6 Vakhmistrov Zveno

In early 1940 the WS decided to form a Zveno combat unit. Based at Yevpatoriya, this was equipped with six modified TB-3/4AM – 34RN and 12 SPB dive bombers. During the Great Patriotic War a famous mission was flown on 25 th August 1941 which destroyed the Danube bridge at Chernovody in Roma­nia, on the main rail link to Constanta. Surviv­ing SPBs flew missions in the Crimea.

Vakhmistrov Zveno

Vakhmistrov Zveno

Vakhmistrov Zveno

BOK-7, K-17

Purpose: To continue stratospheric-flight research with an aircraft superior to BOK-1. Design Bureau: Bureau of Special Design, Smolensk. Chief designer Chizhevskii.

Design of this aircraft began in 1936. The Tupolev RD was again used as the starting point, but with features intended to enable greater heights to be reached. The test pilots were Petrov and Stefanovskii. According to Shavrov the BOK-7 was first flown in 1938, and ‘showed the same characteristics as the BOK-1’. Several two-man crews, including such important long-distance pilots as Gro­mov, Yumashev, Danilin, Spirin, Baidukov, Belyakov and others, spent periods of several days sealed in the GK checking all aspects of human life in preparation for proposed high- altitude long-distance flights in the BOK-15. According to some historians the ultimate ob­jective was a high-altitude circumnavigation, and that the by-function designation of this aircraft was K-17, from Krugosvetnyi (round the world). Photographs originally thought to be of the BOK-7 are now known to show the BOK-11.

The BOK-7 had the full-span wing of the RD, and aft-retracting landing gears, but com­pared with the RD the legs were redesigned for much lighter gross weight, and fitted with single wheels. Attention was concentrated on the fuselage, which unlike the BOK-1 had the GK (pressure cabin) integral with the air­frame, the centre fuselage being a slim cylin­der sealed by gaskets and adhesives, and with grommets fitting round the control wires and other services passing through apertures in the wall. The normal oxygen supply to the pilot and pilot/observer ‘compensated for the insignificant amount of air escaping’. The sealed drum was fitted with two hemispheri­cal domes, the front with eight and the rear with six transparent portholes so that the oc­cupants could see out, with a better view than from the BOK-1. The GK was kept at pressure by a tapping from a centrifugal PTsN (super­charger) blower driven by step-up gears from the engine. The engine was an 890hp M-34FRN fitted with two TK (turbosuper­chargers). It is probable that these delivered compressed air to the PTsN which then fed the engine, the cabin supply being taken off a small bleed pipe. Shavrov states that ‘all sys­tems worked well’, and that the experiments were ‘very interesting’.

According to Shavrov this aircraft had ‘the first GK of the combined type’ with both a sealed compartment kept under pressure and an oxygen supply. Some accounts state that AI Filin at the NIl-WS worked out details of the proposed circumnavigation, in 100- hour stages, but that the project was aban­doned after he was arrested in 1939 and executed in Stalin’s Terror of 1940. This air­craft led to the BOK-8, BOK-11 and BOK-15, but it appears that no illustrations of it have been discovered.




111 ft W in



42 ft 4 in

Wing area


936.5 ft2




8,598 Ib

No other data.



Purpose: To test the guidance system of a cruise missile.

Design Bureau: OKB-155 ofAI Mikoyan.

In late 1947 the Kremlin ordered the develop­ment of a large cruise missile which could be launched (primarily against ships) from the Tu-4. Because of the importance of this pro­ject it was assigned to a joint team formed by OKB No 155 (MiG) and a new semi-political group called SB-1 (Special Bureau Nol). The OKB assigned one of the founders, M I Gure­
vich, as titular head, but the Chief Designer was A Ya Bereznyak who has figured previ­ously on page 29 of this book. Head of SB-1 was S L Beria, son ofthe formidable Politburo member who in 1953 succeeded Stalin. In fact, SB-1 faded from the scene, as it had little to contribute, though it did have P N Kusenko as Chief Designer. Under intense pressure a swept-wing turbojet-engined missile was created, which later went into production as the KS-1 Komet. In early 1949 its guidance sys­tem was tested in an Li-2 (Soviet derivative of
the DC-3), and later in that year a more repre­sentative system was tested in the FK (also called MiG-9L, Laboratoriya). This was too large to be carried aloft by a Tu-4, so it for­mated with the Tu-4 parent aircraft and thence simulated the missile on its flight to the target. Subsequently this aircraft was used to test different cruise-missile guidance systems, assisted by the K-l, a manned ver­sion of the KS-1 missile.

Aircraft FK was a modified MiG-9 twin-jet fighter, the first type of turbojet aircraft to fly in

the Soviet Union. Features included a straight-tapered wing oflaminar profile of9% thickness with large slotted flaps and Frise ailerons, a pressurized cockpit ahead of the wing, a ground-adjustable tailplane mounted part-way up the fin, a nosewheel retracting forwards and main landing gears retracting outwards, and a nose inlet feeding air to two RD-20 turbojets (Soviet copies of the German BMW 003A, each rated at 800kg, l,7641b, thrust) mounted under the wing with jet noz­zles under the trailing edge. The final produc­tion series had an ejection-seat, and the FK was from this batch. The heavy nose arma­ment of three NS-23K guns and all armour
were removed, and the fuselage was extend­ed by splicing in an extra section accommo­dating an unpressurized rear cockpit with a side-hinged canopy for the guidance-system operator. As in the Komet, the missile’s radar dish antenna was mounted above the nose, and a receiver antenna was mounted on the leading edge of each wing. Above the fin was a streamlined container housing the aft-fac­ing transmitter and receiver antennas for the radio-command guidance from the parent aircraft after launch. Once the autopilot had set the correct course the nose radar homed on the parent’s radar signals reflected back from the target. Nearer the target the missile’s
own radar became active, steering by signals received by the leading-edge antennas.

So far as is known, the FK played a valuable role in the development of one of the world’s first turbojet cruise missiles. So did the KSK, a piloted version ofthe missile itself.

Dimensions (FK)

Span 10.0m 32ft9Kin

Length 10.12m 33 ft 2 in

Wing area 18.2m2 195.9ft2

No other data.

K-l, or KSK, manned version of Komet



K-l, KSK



Sukhoi Su-17, R

Purpose: To exceed Mach 1 and possibly serve as the basis for a fighter.

Design Bureau: P O Sukhoi, Moscow.

Note: this aircraft was not related to later aircraft with the same designation.

In late 1947 the Council of Ministers issued a plan for 1948-49 calling for the construction of new experimental aircraft. One type was to research high-subsonic, transonic and low supersonic speeds, and also if possible pro­vide the basis for the design of a supersonic tactical fighter. Contracts were issued to Yakovlev (Type 1000) and Sukhoi (Aircraft R). In each case funds were provided for one flight article and one static test specimen, and Sukhoi’s design proceeded rapidly. From the outset provision was made for two heavy can­non, and in 1949 the WS designation Su-17 was issued. As early as July 1949 the flight ar­ticle was taken to LIl-MAP at Zhukovskii, where the assigned pilot, Sergei Anokhin, car­ried out increasingly fast taxi tests. Just as he was about to make the first flight the Su-15 radar-equipped interceptor suffered violent flutter and crashed, Anokhin ejecting. Rather precipitately, CAHI (TsAGI) blamed Sukhoi, and moreover claimed that the wing of Air­craft R was also torsionally weak and would flutter at high airspeeds. CAHI therefore re­fused to issue flight clearance for this aircraft. In turn this led Stalin to order that Sukhoi’s OKB should be liquidated on 1st November 1949. It was reopened in 1953 after Stalin’s death.

This outstanding design was made possi­ble by the rapid development of the powerful TR-3 (later called AL-5) afterburning axial tur­bojet by A M Lyul’ka, qualified in January 1950 at4,600kg (10,141 Ib), with a dry rating of 4 tonnes (8,8181b). Had the Su-17 continued it would certainly have later flown with more powerful Lyul’ka engines. The propulsion system was ‘straight through’ from the plain nose inlet, which immediately divided to pass each side of the cockpit, to the tail. Amid­
ships, at Frames 15/15A and 20/20A, the main wing spars passed through at mid-level. The wing had CAHI (TsAGI)-9030 profile at the root, changing to symmetric SR-3-12s at the tip, the!4-chord sweep being 50°. Above each wing were two full-chord fences plus another from the leading edge to the aileron. Three tracks carried each of the Fowler-type flaps. High on the large vertical tail was mounted the fixed tailplane, again with 50° A-chord sweep and ground adjustable over the range ± 1.5°. The port aileron and starboard elevator had tabs, and the rudder had a section of ‘knife’ (thin strip behind the trailing edge). This aircraft pioneered Soviet use of hydrauli­cally boosted flight controls, on all axes. All units of the landing gear had levered suspen­sion, using high-pressure shock absorbers pi­oneered on the Su-15, and retracted into the fuselage. The nose unit had a 530 x 230mm tyre and retracted to the rear, while each main unit had an 800 x 225mm tyre and pneu­matic plate brake and retracted forwards about a skewed axis under the wing root, to be covered by a large door. The ventral bulge under the tail had a steel underside and made provision for housing a cruciform braking parachute. On each side of the rear fuselage was a door-type airbrake, opened to 60°, which like the flaps, landing gear and flight controls, was operated by a hydraulic system at what was then a new high pressure of 211kg/cm2 (207-MPa, 3,000lb/in2). The cock­pit was pressurized, maintaining 0.65kg/cm2 (9.2 lb/in2) up to 7km (22,966ft) and holding a constant dp of 0.3kg/cm2 (4.3 lb/in2) above that level. Like several previous Soviet air­craft, the pilot’s ejection-seat was mounted in a nose section designed to separate from the fuselage in an emergency. The planar joint, sealed by an inflatable ring, sloped forward to avoid the nose-gear, and it could be broken by firing a cordite charge at the bottom joint, allowing the nose to pivot and separate from the two upper connections. Separation was triggered automatically if vertical accelera­
tion reached ± 18 g, or under pilot commcind. The separated nose streamed a drogue which after a delay extracted the main ribbon parachute. The pilot could then eject, experi­encing a maximum of 5 g. The pilot could also eject normally, from the intact aircraft, but only after jettisoning the sideways-hinged canopy. A total of 1,219 litres (268 Imperial gallons) of fuel was housed in the fuselage, there being one metal and two bladder tanks behind the cockpit and three metal tanks (one a toroidal hollow ring) around the jet- pipe. Provision was made for a jettisonable 300 litre (66 Imperial gallon) tank to be scabbed under each wing, and for two N-37 guns, each with 40 rounds, to be mounted in the fuselage. The avionics were comprehen­sive, including vhf, radio compass, an IFF transponder and precision radio altimeter.

There is no reason to doubt that this aircraft would have been most valuable, and prevent­ing it from flying appears in retrospect to have been a serious error. The Soviet Union suf­fered from its thoughtless precipitate actions.

Dimensions Span Length Wing area

9.6m 15.253m 27.5 rrf

31 ft 6 in 50 ft ‘A in 296 ft2




13,757 Ib



16,292 Ib

Performance (estimated)

Max speed, at sea level


778 mph (Mach 1.022)

at 10 km (32,808 ft)

1,152 km/h

716 mph (Mach 1.08)

Time to climb to 10km

3.5 min


Service ceiling


50,853 ft

Range (internal fuel at 10 km cruising at 830

km/h, 516 mph)

550 km

342 miles

Take-off run



Landing speed/

194 km/h

120.5 mph




Su-17, R


Sukhoi Su-17, R

Left: Two views of Su-17, R.


Above: Looking back at the Su-17 with jettisonable cockpit removed.


Sukhoi Su-17, R

Antonov LEM-2

Purpose: To investigate the maximum load that could be carried by an aeroplane powered by a single M-l 1 engine.

Rivals included the Grokhovskii G-31 and KhAI-3, both described later.

Design Bureau: Oleg K Antonov, Kiev.

The idea was that of L E Malinovskii, Director of the Civil Aviation Scientific-Technical Insti­tute (hence the designation). AviAvnito and Osoaviakhim (the Society of Friends of Avia­tion and the Chemical Industry) provided funds in 1936, enabling the Kiev (Ukraine) constructor to create his first powered air­craft. The single example built was given the OKB designation of OKA-33, because it was their 33rd design. The flight-test programme was opened by test pilot N I Ferosyev on 20th April 1937. Results were satisfactory.

The LEM-2 was predictably almost a flying wing, based on the aerodynamics of Prof V N Belyayev, with a PZ-2 aerofoil modified from the common CAHI (TsAGI) R-ll. The M-l 1 five-cylinder radial, rated at l00hp, was mounted on the front in a long-chord cowl­
ing, driving a two-blade carved-wood pro­peller of the type mass-produced for the U-2 (later called Po-2). Construction was almost entirely wood, with ply skins of varying thick­ness. The wing comprised a centre section and two outer panels with long-span but nar­row ailerons. The inboard part of the wing had a chord of 6.7m (22ft) and so was deep enough (1.47m, 4ft 1 0in) to house the payload of 1,280kg (2,822 Ib). The payload compart­ment between the spars measured 2.4 x 1.5 x 1.2m (7’101 /2"x4’ll"x3’ll"). In the LEM-2 built the pilot was the only occupant, though it was the intention that a production aircraft should have provision for 11 passenger seats. Access to the main payload space was to be via large doors in the leading edge ahead of the front spar, but these were absent from the LEM-2 built. There was also a door in the upper surface behind the cockpit. The twin – finned tail was carried on two upswept booms attached at the extremities of the wing centre section. Landing gears comprised two main wheels (the intended spats were never fitted) attached to the centre-section end ribs,

and a skid under the trailing edge.

Development of aircraft in this class was soon discontinued, it being decided they were of limited practical use. In fact, espe­cially with slightly more power, they could have been used in the USSR in large numbers in huge regions devoid of roads and railways.

Dimensions Span Length Wing area




90 ft &/> in 34 ft 9M in 876ft2


Weight empty


3,616 Ib

Maximum loaded

2,920 kg

6,437 Ib


Maximum speed


72.7 mph

Cruising speed


62 mph

Service ceiling



Intended range


559 miles

Antonov LEM-2

Antonov LEM-2

Two views of the LEM-2, OKA-33.

Antonov LEM-2

Gudkov Gu-1

Подпись: OKB drawing of Gu-1

Purpose: To create a more manoeuvrable fighter.

Design Bureau: Brigade led by Mikhail Ivanovich Gudkov, Moscow.

Gudkov was one of the three partners who created the LaGG design bureau, later led by Lavochkin only. In early 1940 Gudkov be­came convinced that the Bell P-39 Airacobra, with the engine behind the cockpit, had a su­perior configuration. It gave the pilot a better view, and by placing the heavy engine in the centre of the aircraft greatly reduced the long­
itudinal moment of inertia, and thus should improve manoeuvrability. As well as working on supposed improved derivatives of the LaGG, Gudkov managed to obtain funding for a mid-engined fighter in early 1942, as well as a contract with the A A Mikulin bureau for the supply of an engine. The resulting Gu-1, also called the Gu-37, was completed in the early summer of 1943. After prolonged taxi trials test pilot A I Nikashin said ‘It seems glued to the ground’. On 12th June 1943 Nikashin at­tempted the first flight. The Gu-1 reached about 200m (650ft) but then appeared to sideslip into the ground, Nikashin being killed. Gudkov’s brigade was disbanded.

The configuration followed the Airacobra exactly, with the major difference that the Gu-1 was constructed largely of wood, with bakelite-ply skin. Metal parts included the fuselage back to the firewall between the cockpit and engine (aligned with the front spar), which was based on a steel-tube truss with skin of removable Dl panels, Dl wing spars and Dl control surfaces. The wing was of 1V-10 Type V-2 aerofoil profile, and was fit­ted with automatic leading-edge slats and hy­draulically driven split flaps. The engine was an AM-37 rated at l,380hp (the designer’s notes on the preliminary drawing show that he wanted an AM-41). Carburettor inlets were in the wing roots, and long inlets further out­board served the radiators inside the wing ahead of the inwards-retracting main landing gears. The drive was taken through a steel tube of 120mm (4%in) diameter to the reduc­tion gear in the nose. The long nose gear re­tracted back into a bay in the lower part of the nose. Armament comprised a massive Taubin 37mm cannon firing through the pro­peller hub, fed by an 81 – round magazine (sur­prisingly large for this calibre) and six ShKAS machine guns in the fuselage and wing roots.

Few documents on the Gu-1 have been found. One is led to conclude that either the wing or vertical tail was too small, or possibly both.

Dimensions Span Length Wing area

10.0m 10.68m 20.0 nf

32 ft 9% in 35 ft 4% in 215ft2




8,250 Ib



10,163 Ib


Landing speed (estimate)

195 km/h

121 mph

No other data.