Thursday, May 30, 2024

Recognize this plane?


If you said it was a Boeing B-29 Superfortress, you'd be wrong.  It's actually a Tupolev TU-4, an early Soviet-era carbon copy of a B-29, right down to a few combat scars that were slavishly copied from the three B-29's the Soviet Union had available when Josef Stalin ordered its development.

The story of how the Soviet Union copied the B-29 is a long and fascinating one.  You'll find all the details at the "WWIIafterWWII" blog.  Here's an excerpt.

The Soviet Union developed any number of highly effective fighters, ground attack planes, trainers, and twin-engined tactical bombers during WWII. One effort where the Soviets were far behind by the end of the war was strategic bombers. During WWII the USSR had only one (relatively) modern four-engined strategic bomber, the Pe-8.

Less than 100 were completed during WWII. They achieved little while suffering horrendous losses. By the time of Japan’s surrender in September 1945 there were only three dozen Pe-8s remaining. When NATO formed in 1949, they were considered so insignificant that they never even received a reporting name.

Throughout WWII, Josef Stalin sought to obtain American strategic bombers via Lend-Lease; with no success. As soon as Soviet intelligence became aware of the B-29 Superfortress, that type was requested as well. In 1944 the USA rejected the request, along with another attempt later that year and a third request in 1945. The USA considered the Superfortress such an advanced weapon that the requests were barely even given consideration.

. . .

The Soviet Union interned three B-29 Superfortresses during WWII. Until August 1945, the USSR had a non-aggression pact with Japan. Under international law, warplanes of warring parties landing in a neutral third country are required to be interned for the rest of the conflict.

“Ramp Tramp II” landed near Vladivostok on 29 July 1944, after taking an AA hit during a mission over Manchukuo. The damage was not severe but bad enough to make a return home impossible.

“General H.H. Arnold Special” landed at Tsentral’naya naval airbase on the USSR’s Pacific coast on 11 November 1944, after a storm blew it off course during a raid on the Omura aircraft factory in Japan.

“Ding Hao” landed at the same place ten days later after a Japanese AA round hit one of it’s engines. Of the three, it was the most significantly damaged.

All three of these B-29s were airworthy.

. . .

The idea for reverse-engineering the B-29 came not from Andrei Tupolev’s bureau, but rather from Vladimir Myasischchev, who ran his own aircraft design bureau. After the third B-29 was secured during WWII, Myasischchev suggested to Stalin that it would be both feasible and advantageous to reverse-engineer it. Stalin agreed, but for whatever reason, assigned the effort to his rival Tupolev in June 1945.

There's much more at the link, including many photographs.

I'd known about the TU-4 copy of the B-29 for a long time, but this article went into far greater depth than anything I'd read before.  It makes fascinating reading for aviation and military history buffs.  Recommended reading.



turnkey said...

The History Channel did a documentary on this called "Stealing the Superfortress." I have it saved on History Vault but I have yet to watch it.

Aesop said...

A B-Twentynineski is still a B-Twentynineski.
Just as the Tu-144 was Concordeski, and the vaunted AK-47 was always a Stg-44.
Russia and China's most pre-eminent adherence to communism is practiced when freely appropriating other people's patents to themselves, and if intellectual piracy were an Olympic sport, the two countries would have the gold and silver medals in a walkaway.

At least they're consistent thieves.

Michael said...

Your correct as always Aesop.

The Russians and Chinese steal things THAT WORK and save some of their "pitiful military budget" (who's words were those, hummm) unlike the F35 thunderpig.

Maybe that's why a country best described as a nuclear armed gas station manages to keep the game going.

Old NFO said...

Good in depth article, and correct based on what I've read from other sources.

Aesop said...

Of course they work, Michael.

Other people invented and built them.
Which is why they steal them: because they have to.
They're one step above cargo cults, because they can - eventually - replicate, sort of, what washes up on their shores.

Which tells you everything you need to know about Russian and Chinese creativity and industrialization in one go.

Michael said...

History check Aesop. Remember Operation Paperclip?

Where the USA grabbed, and sheep dipped Nazi Engineers for their skillsets?

Stealing technology isn't just a Russian-Chinese thing.

Maybe you remember that American had to PAY Royalties to the Germans for the Springfield rifle?

Meanwhile Hothi goat herders are dropping Predator Drones almost as fast as they fly in to their territory. For safe, CHEEP a mostly intact Predator..

Anonymous said...

Commies. Commies everywhere.

John T. Block said...

Better look a little harder at the AK-47, my friend. While the theory may have been taken from the Stg-44, as far as the actual operating system goes, turn a Garand upside down....Kalasnikov studied the best, and used it. The AK was actually meant to replace the PPSH burp guns, while the Mosin rifle would give way to the SKS, sharing ammunition. Then the High Command came to its senses, realized the AK could fill both rolls.