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Ilyushin DB-3 Russian Long Range Bomber

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Ilyushin DB-3 Outperformed other Aircraft

Ilyushin DB-3 - Soviet bomber, WWII.
Photo of a DB-3M taken at the Russian Federation Air Force Museum in Monino, Russia. Photo  in Public Domain.

The Ilyushin twin-engined DB-3 was designed to replace the Tupolev TB-3 long-range bomber, with hopes of a longer range, heavier bomb load, and an aircraft which would be easy to produce.

In 1937, the DB-3 considerably outperformed Germany's Junkers Ju86D and the new Heinkel He 111B,1 but its complex design, coupled with inexperienced workers and other problems, initially made production time consuming.2

Several nose window layouts consisting of 5 to 7 side windows were used in the various versions. The bomb bay of the DB-3 could carry ten 220 lb FAB-100 bombs, and up to 5,500 lbs. using external bomb racks.

Ilyushin DB-3T Torpedo Bomber

In 1937 a naval torpedo carrier version, the DB-3T, was produced which could carry a Model 45-36 torpedo, could be used as a bomber or for dropping anti-ship mines.

The DB-3T was able to use either low or high torpedo-bombing methods. The aircraft could also be adapted as a troop-carrier by attaching a cabin under the fuselage for 10 armed men. With other external provisions it could carry a 45mm anti-tank gun, a 120mm mortar, or a motorcycle with a sidecar. It was also used as a glider tug.3

The DB-3 in Action

The DB-3 first saw action in China in 1939 when the Soviet Union aided China against the Japanese invasion and saw expanded use when Germany invaded Russia. On August 8, 1941 DB-3s were the first Soviet aircraft to drop bombs on Berlin. Improvement to the DB-3 continued through various versions, but the DB-3F version had such extensive changes it was eventually renamed the IL-4 in 1942.

1Yefim Gordon and others, OKB Ilyushin, a history of the design Bureau and its Aircraft. Hinkley : Midland Publishing, 2004, p.83.

2Hans-Heiri Stapfer, Ilyushin II-4 in Action. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 2004, p.7.

3Gordon, op. cit., p.89.



* DB-3 facts

Category Long range bomber
Torpedo bomber
Manufacturer Ilyushin OKB - (Russian)
Used in WWII by
Soviet Air Force (VVS)
Produced 1936–1939
Number built 1,528
Wingspan 70 feet 4 inches
Length 46 feet 8 inches
Powerplant Two 950 hp Tumansky M-87, 14 cylinder, radial engines
Max. speed 214 mph
Altitude 31,496 feet service ceiling
Range 2374 miles
One 7.62mm ShKAS machine gun in the nose, one ShKAS in the dorsal turret, and one ShKAS in the ventral hatch.
Crew (3) Pilot
radio operator-rear gunner
* Numbers are approximate