The PE-2 (nicknamed "Peshka" in the Soviet Air Force; NATO classification: Buck) was a Soviet dive bomber of World War II. The main front-line bomber of the Red Army Air Force. The most mass production Soviet bomber, in total 11,500 units were manufactured. In the Finnish Air Force it received an unofficial nickname Pekka-Eemeli (equivalent to "Peter-Emil"). In combatant units the Pe-2 completely replaced the SB bombers.
The plane went through the whole war, it was adopted by more than ten countries. Subsequently it was displaced by jet aircraft and withdrawn from service.
Its development began in 1938. Initially, a high-altitude fighter escort for heavy bombers was created from an experimental airplane under the designation VI-100.
In May 1940, a decision was made to convert the "100" into a dive bomber. Only a month and a half was allocated for conversion. Initially, the designers were keen to leave in the new aircraft, called the PB-100, the main highlights of the high-altitude fighter – an airtight cabin and turbo-blowers, but they had to be abandoned as the Air Force
Command required to simplify the aircraft as much as possible, as in the run-up to the impending war the pilots began to prepare according to the reduced program. In addition, it was clear from the experience of hostilities in Poland and France that more altitude would not be needed for aircraft.
In 1940, after the introduction of a new aircraft designation system by the names of Design Bureau Heads, the PB-100 bomber was renamed as Pe-2.
The Pe-2, the main aircraft of Soviet bomber fleet, played an outstanding role in achieving victory in the Great Patriotic War. This aircraft was used as a bomber, reconnaissance, fighter aircraft (it was not used only as a torpedo bomber). The Pe-2 fought at all fronts and in marine aviation of all fleets. In the hands of Soviet pilots the Pe-2 fully revealed its opportunities.
Speed, maneuverability, powerful armament plus strength, reliability and ruggedness were its hallmarks. The Pe-2 was popular with pilots, who often preferred this aircraft to foreign ones. From the first to last day of the Great Patriotic War the "Peshka" served as faithfully.