Pe-3 – the only twin-engine fighter of the Red Army

The history of the creation of the Petlyakov Pe-3 aircraft is quite twisty and represents the successive transformation of a fighter into a bomber, and then again into a fighter. Since 1938, the design team of V.M. Petlyakova was developing a twin-engine high-altitude fighter under the designation “100”. The triple monoplane with a two-winged tail was designed for M-105 engines with turbochargers. The machine was equipped with a pressurized cabin. The prototype “100” was launched for testing in December 1939, but according to the results of state tests held in the spring of 1940, it was deemed advisable to create a dive bomber on the basis of the “hundred”. So the famous Pe-2 appeared

In the spring of 1941, when the main problems associated with the introduction of the Pe-2 into the series were resolved, Petlyakov again came to grips with the fighter variant, which was designated the VI 2M-105TK. The machine was designed taking into account maximum unification with a dive pilot, but the use of a pressurized cabin and engines with turbochargers was provided. The creation of this aircraft was interrupted after the German attack on the USSR. But on August 2, 1941, the State Defense Committee ordered the Moscow aircraft plant No. 39, which was building the Pe-2, to create its fighter variant. Only 4 days were allotted for work, and the task was completed – on August 7, 1941, the first instance of the Pe-3 fighter was put to the test.

From the bomber, he was distinguished by an increased fuel supply and enhanced weapons. Additional fuel tanks were placed in the fuselage bomb bay and in place of the shooter-radio operator, because of which the crew was reduced to 2 people. In the bow of the aircraft, there were two 12.7 mm BK machine guns (150 rounds of ammunition) and 1 7.62 mm ShKAS (750 rounds). Defensive armament – 1 ShKAS on the top mount and 1 in a fixed amount in the tail of the fuselage. The aircraft could carry up to 700 kg of bombs (two 250-kg bombs on the external suspension and two 100-kg in compartments in nacelles). The test results were found to be satisfactory, and in the same month, the production of serial Pe-3s began.


Pe-3 – M-105P engines (1050 hp). Armament -2 12.7 mm machine gun BK (ammunition for 250 rounds); 1 ShKAS on the top unit and 1 in the tail cook; bombs weighing up to 400 kg (overload – up to 700 kg). Part of the aircraft was finalized in parts by installing an additional 20 mm ShVAK gun and replacing the ShKAS machine gun on the top installation with a 12.7 mm UBT machine gun. Some cars received guides for NAR RS-82 or RS-132. In August-October 1941, plant No. 39 produced 196 cars, another 11 were assembled by the enterprise in April 1942 after evacuation to Irkutsk.

Pe — 3bis — BC machine guns were transferred from the bow to the bomb bay (ammunition of 230 rounds for the right and 265 for the left), a 20-mm ShVAK gun was installed in the bow, and a 12.7-mm UBC machine gun on the upper turret VUB-1 ; ShKAS machine gun in tail coca saved. Part of the aircraft was equipped with 4 guides for the NAR RS-82 for firing back (to repel fighter attacks). Enhanced armor protection. It was produced by plant No. 39 since April 1942, 134 aircraft were produced (121 in 1942 and 13 in 1943).

Combat use of Pe-3 aircraft

The first units to receive the Pe-3 in August-September 1941 were the 95th, 40th and 208th high-speed bomber regiments (SBAP). The first of them, reorganized into the IAP, at the end of September 1941 became part of the 6th IAK Air Defense. In October, the 208th SBAP acted on the Pe-3 in the same building, but due to losses and the termination of supplies from the industry, in December 1941, he transferred the surviving Pe-3s to the 95th IAP and departed for re-equipment on another type of aircraft. Also in the fall of 1941, the 9th and 511th Near Bomber Regiments (BBAP) and the 54th SBAP flew on Pe-3. In all these parts, during the Moscow Battle, Pe-3 aircraft were used as strikes – to launch bombing and assault strikes on ground targets.

Since the spring of 1942, the Pe-3 aircraft was used mainly in the Red Army Air Force as a reconnaissance aircraft – the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th long-range reconnaissance regiments flew on such aircraft. Pe-3bis entered the 2nd and 4th regiments, as well as the 40th, which also became reconnaissance. They used other types of aircraft along with the Pe-3bis. The 9th BBAP was the only regiment to be completely re-equipped at Pe-3bis. By mid-1944, no more than 20 Pe-3bis remained in service – in the 47th, 48th, and 98th guards. separate reconnaissance regiments of the Supreme High Command.

In the spring of 1942, the 95th IAP was transferred to the Northern Fleet Air Force. Since April 1942, his planes launched bombing assaults on ports and airfields in Northern Finland and Norway, ships and vessels of the enemy, and also accompanied their own torpedo bombers and bombers, covered naval convoys.

For a short time, the Pe-3bis in the North also operated the 13th and 121st regiments, several of these machines were in the 118th separate naval reconnaissance air regiment. The 95th IAP was the only unit that fought on the Pe-3bis until the end of the war. The operation of such aircraft in the Northern Fleet Air Force continued for several years after the war.

One Pe-3bis became a Finnish trophy and served in the Air Force of this country.

The Pe-3 was the only twin-engine fighter (not counting the A-20G aircraft equipped with radar) that served in the Red Army Air Force during World War II. In terms of its combat capabilities, it was, rather, a multi-purpose machine, an analog of the German “Tsershterers”. But in terms of flight characteristics and small arms and cannons, the plane was inferior to Messerschmitt Bf-110E / F, which determined the scope of its application. Created as a fighter, the Pe-3 was in service with only one nominally fighter regiment and was much more widely used in bombing and reconnaissance units.

Graduated from Embry-Riddle Aviation University with a master's degree in aviation science. He began his career as an aviation researcher in local periodicals. Has a pilot license. Now are the author and developer of the Plane Worlds.