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Soviet Union's Tupolev ANT-6; Tupolev TB-3 bomber


Tupolev TB-3 bomber:
Soviet Union's Tupolev TB-3 bomber
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Tupolev TB-3 bomber:
Soviet Union's Tupolev TB-3 bomber
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Tupolev ANT-6 bomber:
Soviet Union's Tupolev ANT-6 bomber


Andrei Nikolaevich Tupolev / Vladimir Petliakov was asked in 1926 to design the first monoplane bomber with engines on the leading edge of the wings.

The Tupolev TB-3 was one of the most advanced four engine bombers in the early 1930s.


The early models of the Tupolev TB-3 had Mikulin M17 V-12 inline engines that had a tendency to overheat. These were replaced by the Mikulin M34 with Allison superchargers.


The TB-3's wing was one of the largest wings of the time period. It was constructed in five sections and was transportable by rail when taken apart.

Landing Gear

The TB-3 used the components of the TB-1's landing gear. They were strengthened and had tandem tires due to the extra weight of the TB-3. The undercarriage was fixed.


The elevators were very hard work for the pilot and could cause vibration in flight.


The skin of the Tu-2 was made from corrugated metal. The last version had smooth skin.


The prototype first flew on December 22, 1930. It was initially known as the ANT-6.


The first production version of the TB-3 was delivered in 1931. Production ended in 1937.

When the first TB-3 came off the production line it was 2,200 lb / 1,000 kg heavier than the prototype.

  • Total: 800, 818
    • Manufacturer: State Industries


  • Tupolev TB-3??: One used for Zveno (link) trials with I-16 fighters.
  • Tupolev G-2: Conversion to be a transport. Converted in late 1930s.


The TB-3 became operational in 1931.

Goodwill Flights

Nine TB-3s were used in goodwill flights in the summer of 1935.

Altitude Record

A Yumashev, in September 1936, set an altitude record of reaching 8,116 m with a load of five tons.

Polar Expedition

An ANT-6 (SSSR-N169) flew on the last Polar expedition before the war in 1941.

Soviet Air Force

The VVS (Soviet Air Force) first received the TB-3 in 1932.

Paratroop Drop

The TB-3 was the first Soviet plane to drop paratroopers.

Against Japan

The TB-3 saw combat against the Japanese during the Mongolian / Manchurian battles of 1938 - 1939.

Against Finland

During 1939 - 1949 the TB-3 was used against Finland.

Great Patriotic War

When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941 most of the TB-3s had been converted into G-2 transports. However in the early months some G-2s were used as night bombers. These later went back to being used as transports and glider tugs. Some were capable of carrying light tanks or trucks between the main undercarriage legs.


  Tupolev TB-3
Type Bomber, Heavy bomber, Paratroop Transport, Transport
Crew 6, 6 - 10, 8
Engine (Type) 4: M-17F 4: AM-34
4: M-34
4: AM-34R 4: AM-34RN/FRN 4: AM-34FRNV
Cylinders V 12 V 12 V 12 V 12 V 12
Cooling Liquid Liquid      
HP 730 each 830 each 900 each 970 each 1,200 each
Propeller blades          
Fuel capacity          
Span 128' 7", 132' 10.5", 138'
40.5 m
Length 80' 5", 82' 8", 87'
25.2 m
Height 27' 8"        
Wing area          
Empty 24,000 lb
10,886 kg
    24,154 lb
10,956 kg
Loaded 37,920 lb, 38,360 lb
17,200 kg
33,000 lb   42,990 lb
19,500 kg
Maximum overload       54,012 lb
24,500 kg
Speed 122 mph, 133 mph
196 kph
155 mph   179 mph
288 kph
Service Ceiling 12,470'
3,800 m
7,740 m
Range 839 miles, 1,367 miles
1,350 km
620 miles   1,939 miles
3,120 km
Range - operating          
Armament 4: MG
6: MG
Up to 10: 7.62 mm MG
Bombs 3,300 lb, 4,409 - 8,818 lb, 4,800 lb
2,000 - 4,000 kg
Bombs late models 12,786 lb
5,800 kg
  Tupolev TB-3/M34R
Type Bomber, Transport
Crew 5
Engine (Type) 4: Mikulin M-34 piston
Cylinders Inline V-12
Cooling Water
HP 825 each
Propeller blades  
Fuel capacity  
Span 137' 3"
41.85 m
Length 82' 4"
25.1 m
Height 18' 4"
5.6 m
Wing area 2,523 sq ft
234.5 sq m
Empty 27,687 lb
12,585 kg
Loaded 61,917 lb
18,877 kg
Maximum overload  
Speed 179 mph
288 kph
Climb 745'/minute
227 m/minute
Service Ceiling 25,400'
7,740 m
Range 868 miles
1,400 km
Range - operating 595 miles
960 km
Armament 6: DA MGs
Nose 2: DA MGs
Rear fuselage 2: DA MGs
Tail turret 2: DA MGs


  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  3. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  4. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site