The Tupolev SB-2 was designed in response to a 1933 requirement for a high speed bomber for the VVS (Soviet Air Force). Two prototype ANT-40s were produced with different engine equipment, with the Hispano-Suiza equipped version proving to be the superior model. This version was ordered into production as the SB-2 – SB meaning ‘High Speed’.
The Hispano-Suiza engine was produced under license as the Klimov M-100 which could propel the bomber along at over 250mph, making it one of the fastest bombers in the world when it was introduced. The aircraft also had a broad, high aspect wing which blessed the SB-2 with excellent performance at altitude, which was to prove useful during combat in China.
The SB-2 was first blooded during the Spanish Civil War where it performed well until the arrival of the first Messerschmitt Bf109s. Later, as part of Operation Zet, over 200 SB-2s were supplied to China along with some volunteer crews from the Soviet Union. In China the bombers initially performed well but suffered heavy losses during the defense of Hankow, the remaining aircraft staying in service until the American entry into the war saw supplies of A-29 and B-25 bombers take over the role of the SB-2. The type also saw action with the VVS during the Battle of Khalkhin Gol.
|3: pilot, bombardier, gunner
|2x Klimov M-103, 960hp
|4x 7.62mm machine guns
|41ft 3in / 66ft 8in / 11ft 10in
|10,512lb / 14,065lb