SB High Speed Bomber

SB (ANT-40) is a high-speed front-line bomber. The most popular serial production aircraft, development of the Design Bureau named after A. N. Tupolev. The first flight took place on the 7th October, 1934 under the control of test pilot K. K. Popov.


The first SB serial production aircraft was released in spring 1936. During the years of serial production, the SB has been repeatedly modernized. A total of 6,656 aircraft of various modifications were produced before serial production ceased in 1941.

The SB was an outstanding aircraft for its time, which had a significant impact on the development of combat aviation. It became the ancestor of a whole class of bombers, which were characterized by high flight speed and operated in the front zone in close cooperation with terrestrial troops and the Navy. Aircraft of this class became the main striking force of the future front-line bomber aircraft.

During creation of the new aircraft, the main focus of designers was on the perfection of its aerodynamic layout as one of the main means for achieving the high speed. The requirements of aerodynamics were subject to many structural and technological solutions. In particular, for the first time on an aircraft of this class a smooth metal skin was used instead of a more rigid corrugated one, new at that moment high-strength materials were used, an even rivet was used, a retractable chassis was installed, and the crew cabins were made closed.


The selection of the SB aerodynamic scheme was preceded by numerous experimental studies in wind tunnels. Specifically for this aircraft, a new biconvex wing profile was developed in TsAGI. Thus, the SB embodied the most advanced experience and achievements in the field of aerodynamics, aviation materials and technology. The results were brilliant.

The designing of the SB began in 1933, when Design Bureau A.N. Tupolev was tasked with developing a bomber with a maximum flight speed of 330 km/h. A.N. Tupolev, based on the technical capabilities of the aircraft construction of the time and taking into account the prospects for the development of aviation, believed that the bomber could and should have a speed of at least 400 km/h.

If the first specimen of the ANT-40 during the flight tests started in October 1934 showed a speed of 325 km/h, the second aircraft, tested since December 1934, put on a maximum speed of 430 km/h. i.e. almost the same as I-16 the world 's fastest serial fighter!

Serial production of SB continued until 1941 inclusively. A total of 6,831 aircraft of this type were built. The SB took an active part in the fighting of the Great Patriotic War, at the first stage of which they were the main force of the domestic front-line bomber aviation.