The first prototype flew on 27 December 1936. Production Pe-8 were well armed, carrying two 7.62mm machine-guns in a spherical nose turret, two machine-guns or a 20mm cannon in a dorsal turret, one hand-operated 12.7mm machine-gun in the rear of each inboard engine nacelle under the wing trailing edge and a 20mm cannon in a tail turret, plus up to 4,000kg of bombs stowed internally.
Initially the Pe-8 was powered by four 820kW M-105 engines and entered service in this form in 1940. The 1941 model had 1,080.5kW Mikulin AM-35A fitted. During the production run (which lasted until
1944) several other engines were installed either experimentally or as a standard type, including the 967kW AM-38, 1,304kW M-82 and a diesel engine.
On the night of 21 July 1941 German bombers attacked Moscow for the first time. As a reprisal Soviet IL-4 bombers made their first attack on Berlin on the night of 7 August. The resulting damage was minimal but it cleared the way for further attacks. In the spring of 1942 the Soviet ADD or Long-Range Aviation was formed, using the Pe-8 as its main component. Pe-8 raids on Germany began in July 1942 with small numbers of aircraft attacking Konigsberg and then Berlin and elsewhere. However these were not very successful and extremely heavy losses were endured. Although Pe-8 remained operational as bombers until the end of the war, a number were converted into transports.
| ENGINE||4 x AM-35A, 880kW|
| Take-off weight||32000 kg||70548 lb|
| Empty weight||18000 kg||39683 lb|
| Wingspan||39.1 m||128 ft 3 in|
| Length||23.6 m||77 ft 5 in|
| Wing area||188.7 m2||2031.15 sq ft|
| Max. speed||440 km/h||273 mph|
| Cruise speed||340 km/h||211 mph|
| Ceiling||11000 m||36100 ft|
| Range w/max.fuel||6000 km||3728 miles|
| Range w/max.payload||3000 km||1864 miles|
| ARMAMENT||2 x 20mm machine-guns, 4 machine-guns, 2000-4000kg of bombs|
The TB-7/PE-8 suffered from one fatal flaw and it wasn't the aircraft's. She was a heavy, strategic, high-altitude bomber when properly engined with the fifth engine in the fuselage acting as a supercharger for itself and the four propulsive engines.
Technically, she was the best and first of her type in the world, more powerful and with a larger deliverable payload, faster and able to fly above the flak and fighter ceilings of Germany's defenses. And all this in 1936! But, as I said one fatal flaw - she wasn't what Stalin wanted.
Strategic heavy bombers are basically defensive terror weapons. You attack us - we burn your cities to the ground from untouchable altitudes. Had Stalin approved the pending order for 1000 PE-8s, he could have staged a demonstration for the world that would have discouraged anyone from attacking the Soviet Union. Say a flight of 400 dropping their loads on some deserted area of the steppe with bleachers for foreign observers. The early production versions could carry eight bombs internally and four on external hardpoints inboard of the first engine. Carpet bombing unlike anything ever seen before.
Yes, there were some issues as there are in all new production aircraft, but as she proved by flying unmolested from Moscow to Scotland and thence to Washington, DC and back in 1942, she was capable.
Stalin killed TB-7/PE-8 in favor of the producing the PE-2 which was fast nimble, and capable of tactical missions, precision aerial bombardment and close air support unlike the PE-8, fulfilling the same roles as the JU-87 and ME-110. Specifically, the PE-2 was an aircraft designed to strike fast, hard and deep in support of fast moving armor and mobile infantry columns and capable of shifting missions 'on the fly' as the tactical ground situation changed... in other words, the PE-2 was designed for Blitzkrieg, not defense, which was completely in line with Soviet military doctrine (do not destroy your enemy's resources, strike deep, seize resources and material and use them against your foe) and intent while defensive bombers were not.
With the final models powered by radial engines the Pe8 was capable of carrying a maximum bomb load of in excess of 11,000lb and was capable of flying as high as 36,000 ft.
Agreed at height it was faster than some German fighters like the Bf109B, but let's face it how many 'B' models were used in the defence of the "Fatherland", and I do not think it was such a contender to later Me109s and more importantly the Fw190. The range was good and it's bomb load was better than the B17 but short of a Lancaster. However, as already noted Uncle Joe did not have much of a view on strategic bombing!
This aircraft was one of the best 4 engine bombers of the War
|Pintér András, 26.01.2011|
Diesel was Csaromkij Acs-30(in hungarian orthograph), Charomky Ach-30 (english)
Always been one of my favorite (and relatively unknown) heavies.
|Leo Rudnicki, 22.06.2009|
The engines originally proposed were AM34's with the blower engine in the fuselage. Trouble with the engines resulted in Petlyakov's stay in "desiner's prison". Losses were heavy when bombing German targets so it's hard to belive Molotov would go. Papa Joe himself never flew. Ever. Too scared. Too easy to rig a crash and too many Nazi and capitalist swine pig-dogs willing to do it.
|Gary Van Horn, 26.04.2009|
The original design of the TB-7 (it was ne-named Pe-8 after the designer's death)included a fifth engine that was used to feed on-board air to itself and the other four engines to allow the bomber to fly at altitudes greater than could be reache by any fighter of that time.
Were the outer engines cooled by the combined radiators in the inner nacelles?
I've just seen a documentary with an ex Soviet spy named Suworov (an author of several "new line" books on the Soviet strategy during and before the ww2). He stated that Molotov flew over the Third Reich two times with a TB-7 without any sign of fear beeing shot during the flight (well, he could get used to death so close to Stalin). According to Suworov the TB-7 was an unparallel wonder - it flew higher than the Flaks could shoot and was faster than the German fighters. Do you know anything about these flights?
|Nick goth, 08.01.2009|
Gud rear defence wif tail,top+rear engine guns.any figther attaks reppeld wif such armament?any fighters shot down?no gun undaneath the belly?when,where was 5,000kg bomb droppd?a gud plane reminds me of b17 or italian piaggio p108.
are any Petlyakow Pe-8 left?
From which material the Pe 8 was made of?
The gunners get in over a little door at overside of the wing direcly over the gun post.
How did the gunners get into the gun post at the engine? Did they have to stay there the whole flight?
What was ceiling with max payload (4000 kg of bombs)?
Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?