Updated: June 12, 2009
Petlyakov Pe-2 was a classic, medium-size Soviet dive bomber that is rarely mentioned in the history annals, usually losing to the venerable Il-2 Shturmovik. Still, it was a very capable and durable airplane that was very popular with its crews.
Pe-2 was fast and could withstand a lot of punishment, making it a good choice for a bomber. It was also larger than most platforms, allowing for a longer range and bigger payload. However, this made it a little tricky to fly by female pilots, who often did not have enough strength to get it airborne. Throughout the war, Pe-2 was mainly used as a dive bomber.
The aircraft served well, often being able to evade German interceptors, which meant its crew stayed alive longer and developed better bombing skills than most. More than 10,000 Pe-2s were built, some remaining in service with a number of air forces after the war.
Petlyakov Pe-2 is one of the few WWII models that I build, having developed a late liking for their archaic looks, rounded wings and lots of propellers. The model I build was a 1/72 scale Italeri, which meant solid precision, however with little cockpit details and few movable parts. But in this case, it suited me well, as I did not want to go wild.
Pe-2 is a good-looking plane. It has clean lines of a sturdy engineering design made to be robust, easy to maintain, and most importantly, easy to manufacture. Like most Soviet weapons in WWII, Pe-2 was build in quantities, with the sole purpose of overwhelming the Germans.
Nevertheless, it did have a few Rolls-Royce style commodities that were unusual in first-line bombers, including a pressurized cabin, an all-metal constructions, superchargers for the engines, and a number of electrically powered systems. This made it popular with its crews, who enjoyed a more cultivated battle environment than most of their peers.
Later on, during the service, the pressurization and superchargers were added and remove as different versions were built. Some models also had the dive brakes removed becoming medium level bombers.
As you can see, Pe-2 has large, fat wings built to withstand the pressure of dives and the incoming flak. Likewise, the plane has a twin tail, which adds to the stability during tricky maneuvers.
I must admit I liked the slightly depressing hospital-green forest-green camouflage scheme, although painting large, flat, plain surfaces was a bit boring. Although there were a few cozy details here and there, like the spotter's windows behind the wings.
If there's one drawback that Pe-2 had, it was not exactly the most heavily armed aircraft around. The defensive armament consisted of a single 7.62mm machine gun in a rotary cupola behind the pilot, which was glazed so that the cockpit pressure could be maintained. In some models, it was improved, including a remotely controlled turret, but they were made too late and in small quantities to make any big difference.
I invested quite some time trying to get the cockpit details right, as it was one of the few bits of the airplane that were. You probably cannot see, but I painted the machine gun very carefully, including the grip.
Other than that, it could carry a handful of bombs on fuselage racks or, in some versions, internal bomb bays.
Pe-2 engines and main landing gear were fun to assemble. They were well made and snapped together perfectly. The landing gear was particularly sturdy, needing little or almost no glue to hold in place. The engines has narrow, covered cowls, so I had no chance to display the gritty bits of metalwork like I did with AC-47.
Overall, I liked Pe-2. It cooperated well with my efforts. The parts were well made and precise with little or no gaps. The testimony to the quality is the landing gear, which just snapped in like a piece of Lego. Naturally, I did file off the tire bottoms to make them sag under the airplane weight, of course.
I'd give myself an 8 on this one. Well, that's all. I hope you liked it. Stay tuned for more.