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ANT-40 / SB
Finnish SB
Role Light bomber
Manufacturer Tupolev
Designed by Alexander Arkhangelsky
First flight 7 october 1934
Introduced 1936
Retired 1950 (Spanish Air Force)
Primary users Soviet Air Forces
Czechoslovakian Air Force
Chinese Nationalist Air Force
Produced 1936-1941
Number built 6,656

The Tupolev ANT-40, also known by its service name Tupolev SB (Russian: Скоростной бомбардировщик - Skorostnoi Bombardirovschik - "high speed bomber"), and development co-name TsAGI-40, was a high speed twin-engined three-seat monoplane bomber, first flown in 1934.

The design was very advanced, but lacked refinement, much to the dismay of crews and maintenance personnel - and of Stalin, who pointed out that "there are no trivialities in aviation".

Numerically the most important bomber in the world in the late 1930s, the SB was the first modern stressed-skin aircraft produced in quantity in the Soviet Union and probably the most formidable bomber of the mid-1930s. Many versions saw extensive action in Spain, the Republic of China, Mongolia, Finland and at the beginning of the War against Germany in 1941. It was also used in various duties in civil variants, as trainers and in many secondary roles.

Successful in the Spanish Civil War because it outpaced most fighters, the aircraft was obsolete by 1941. By June 1941, 94% of bombers in the Red Army air force (VVS RKKA) were SBs.



In 1933 the Soviet Air Force ministry (UVVS) issued an outline requirement for a high-speed bomber. Work on this proposal at TsAGI began in January 1934. The SB was designed and developed in the Tupolev KB ("Design Bureau") by a team led by A. A. Arkhangelski. Two versions were planned - with Wright Cyclone engines, and with the Hispano-Suiza 12Y. The skills gained in the design of the MI-3 and DI-8 aircraft were widely used. The first two prototypes were designed as ANT-40.1 and ANT-40.2. The Cyclone powered prototype flew first, on 7 October 1934, with the Hispano-Suiza powered prototype, which featured a larger wing, flew on 30 December 1935, demonstrating superior performance.[1]

ANT-40.2 was considered a production prototype, and its performance was impressive. The production aircraft designation was SB, and the first SB rolled off the production line before the end of 1935, and before ANT-40.2 had completed its flight test programme. The aircraft entered full production in 1936, and was produced in two plants until 1941.

Tupolev SBs of the Finnish Air Force lined up.

Despite the fact that the assembly lines were plagued with a constant string of modifications, some 400 SBs were delivered by the end of 1936 - a number of these being diverted to Spain - and 24 VVS squadrons were in the process of working up with the new bomber. Giving excellent performance in the Spanish Civil War, it acquired the popular name "Katyushka".

In 1937, negotiations were successfully concluded between the Soviet and Czechoslovak governments. The version of the SB to be supplied to, and subsequently license-built in, Czechoslovakia was fundamentally the SB 2M-100A and, as the Avia B-71, was to be fitted with the Avia-built Hispano-Suiza 12-Ydrs engine. A single 7.92 mm ZB-30 machine gun supplanted the twin ShKAS machine guns in the nose and similar weapons were provided for the dorsal and ventral stations.

Sixty aircraft were to be flown to Czechoslovakia by mid-1938. The planned licensed production program took a decidedly leisurely course, despite the increasingly dangerous political situation. By 15 March 1939, when the German Wehrmacht occupied Bohemia and Moravia, not one Czech-built aircraft had been delivered.


The SB was an all-metal monoplane powered by two Klimov M-100 12-cylinder water-cooled engines (license production version of Hispano-Suiza 12-Yrds engine) which drove fixed-pitch two-bladed metal propellers. The engines were provided with honeycomb-type frontal radiators enclosed by vertical thermostat-controlled cooling shutters. At an early production stage, the M-100 engine gave place to an improved M-100A engine, driving ground-adjustable three-pitch propellers, with speed being boosted to 423 km/h (263 mph) at 4,000 m (13,000 ft).


  • ANT-38 - prototype with radial engines (Possibly the ANT-40.1)
  • ANT-39 - (related?)
  • ANT-40.1 or ANT-40 2RTs - the first variant with 545 kW (730 hp) Wright-Cyclone engines built in October 1934. Smaller than most of the later SBs. Test flights by I.S. Zhurov and K.K. Popov from 7-31 October 1934 ended in a crash landing. The aircraft was repaired by February 1935 and a second set of test flights were made 5 February-31 July 1935. Used as experimental (ski gears, etc.) model.
  • ANT-40.2 or ANT-40 2IS - built in late 1934. Preliminary test flights in January 1935 gave a speed of 430 km/h (270 mph). More test flights from February 1935-April 1936. Then given to the production plant as a standard.
  • Avia B71. - Licence built SB 2M-100A in Czechoslovakia.
  • DI-8/ANT-46 - two-seat heavy fighter modification equipped with the 597 kW (800 hp) Gnome-Rhône 14K engines and armed with two recoilless 100 mm cannon. 1935.
  • SB — First iteration of SB, not proceeded with as ANT-40 was superior.
  • SB 2M-100 - first production model. Wing area increased to 56.7 m2 (610 ft2). Equipped with Klimov M-100 engines (the Hispano-Suiza 12Y built under licence). Sometimes unofficially referred to simply as the SB.
  • SB 2M-100A - new engines of 642 kW (860 hp). Modified engine covers. Produced from late 1936. Sometimes unofficially referred to as the SBbis
  • SB 2M-100A modernizoravannyi - new rear gun installation "Tur" MV-3. Tested in 1937. Accepted, but no production.
  • SB 2M-103 — 10th series.More powereful M-103 engines , provision for retractable skis, strengthened structure and provision for two 368 litre external fuel tanks'
  • SB 2M-103/SBbis - new engines, bigger navigator cockpit, new controllable rear wheel. First tested in September 1937. Further tests from 27 June 1938-19 September 1938. Starting with this version the SB-2 had retractable ski gears. On 2 September 1937 M.Yu. Alexeev set an official altitude record of 12,244 m (40,170 ft) with load of 1,000 kg (2,200 lb). On 1 November 1936 he had set an unofficial record of 12,692 m (41,640 ft). Sometimes referred to as the SB-3.
  • SB 2M-104 — A few aircraft completed with M-104 engines, but engine not in production.
  • SB 2M-106 — A few aircraft completed with M-106 engines, but engine not in production.
  • SBbis2 2M-103 - with polished wings. No production.
  • SBbis3 2M-103 - new propeller and engine. Tested from 1 November 1937-17 January 1938. Significant increase in speed. Few were built.
  • SB 2M103-1939 - production model development of the SBbis3. New radiators and partially polished wings. Propeller: VISh-2, then VISh-22. Tested in September-October 1939. New gunner's cockpit and guns from 1940.
  • SB-RK - Dive bomber, also known as the RK, KR or Ar-2. Two Klimov M-105R engines with VISh-22E props. Wing area reduced as for MMN. The cooling radiators were buried within the wings, with an air intake on the leading and the exhaust on the wing's upper surface. Equipped with four ShKAS machine guns, and it could carry a bomb payload of 6 × 100 kg (220 lb), 2 × 250 kg (550 lb), 1 × 500 kg (1,100 lb), VAP-500, ZAP-500 and others internally, plus up to 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) externally. This was the final model of the SB-2. Few were built before it was superseded by the Pe-2 and Tu-2.
  • Arkhangelskii Ar-2 — Follow on improvements to MMN produced the Ar-2 while Tupolev was imprisoned.
  • B — Alternative designation of SBB-1.
  • SBB-1 — Archangelskii's last iteration of the SB, with longer span wings and other changes.
  • 3-wheel SB - experimental TsAGI model. Tested by M.L. Gallay. 1940-1941.
  • T-1/ANT-41 - torpedo bomber modification.
  • PS-40 2M-100A - cargo version for Aeroflot in 1938.
  • USB - trainer, tested in 1938. The navigator was replaced by the instructor. Only produced in small numbers.
  • PS-41 2M103U - an old SBbis3 "written off" to Aeroflot for civil use.
  • PS-41bis 2M-103U - mail carrier. PS-41 with additional external fuel tanks. 180 kg (400 lb) cargo load.
  • MMN— With Tupolev imprisoned Arkhangelskii continued development of the SB, and in 1938 he produced the MMN, variant of the SB, with NACA 22 high lift aerofoils, slotte flaps, more strewamlined nose, improved glazing and enlarged nacelles amongst other improvements


  • Chinese Nationalist Air Force received 62 SB-2M-100 bombers in the autumn 1937. The Soviet Union delivered more SB-2M-100 and SB-2M-105 bombers from August 1938-June 1941.
  • Czechoslovakian Air Force received 60 Russian-built SB with Hispano Suiza 12Ybrs engines in April and May 1938. Another 101 bombers and 60 reconnaissance aircraft were license-built Avia B-71 but only 101 were built.
  • Finnish Air Force operated 24 SB bombers. The first eight aircraft (seven powered by M-103 engines, one by M-100 engines) were captured during the Winter War, another 16 aircraft were converted from German-captured materiel from 5 November 1941-27 August 1942. All aircraft were refitted with M-103 engines and were used as anti-submarine aircraft in the LeLv 6 squadron. Two aircraft were rebuilt and were used as trainers. The Finnish Air Force withdrew all SB aircraft in 1945, and all were scrapped in 1950.[2]
  • Luftwaffe operated captured aircraft, Czech-built Avia B-71 and Soviet SB.
  • Polish Air Force operated few USB-2M-103 aircraft for training after World War II.
Slovakia Slovakia
  • Slovak Air Force operated one Avia B-71 aircraft until April 18 1943, when čtk Anton Vanko and four other airmen defected with it to Turkey.[3]
 Soviet Union
  • Soviet Air Force
  • Aeroflot received an unknown number of retired military SB-2M-100 aircraft in 1938 and after rebuild, used them under the designation PS-40. Another batch of retired SBbis 3 bombers was rebuilt in 1940 and used under the designation PS-41.
Spain Spanish Republic
  • Republican Spanish Air Force received its first 31 SB-2M-100A bombers on 14 October 1936. The second batch of 31 aircraft was delivered in June-July 1937 and a final batch of 31 following in 1938. The Soviet Union delivered a total of 93 SBs to Spain.[4]
Spain Spanish State
  • Nationalist Spanish Air Force captured 19 SB-2M-100A bombers. All were overhauled and Soviet M-100 engines were replaced with French Hispano Suiza 12Ybrs. These aircraft were used operationally and later for training duties, and were retired in 1950. Spanish pilots called captured SB bombers Katiuska.

Specifications (SB)

Data from

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Length: 12.57 m (41 ft 3 in)
  • Wingspan: 20.33 m (66 ft 8 in)
  • Height: 3.48 m (11 ft 5 in)
  • Wing area: 56.0 m2 (602 ft2)
  • Empty weight: 4,768 kg (10,512 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 7,880 kg (17,370 lb)
  • Powerplant:Klimov M-103, 716 kW (960 hp) each



See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft


  1. ^ Maslov 2007, p.64.
  2. ^ Maslov 2007, p.79.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Martinez 1987, p.55.
  • Kulikov, Victor and Michulec, Robert.Tupolew SB, Monografie Lotnicze 83. Gdańsk, AJ-Press, 2002. ISBN 83-7237-113-X (Polish publication).
  • Martinez, Luis Garcia. "Los Katiuskas". Air Enthusiast, Thirty-two, December 1986-April 1987. Bromley, UK: Pilot Press, 1987. ISSN 0143-5450. pp.45–55.
  • Maslov, Mikhail. "Database: The Tupolev SB Bombers". Aeroplane, January 2007, Vol 35 no. 1. pp62–87.
  • MPM (Modely Plastikvym Modelarum) manual to SB-2M-100 model kit


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