The first work on the creation of unmanned aerial vehicles in the USSR began in the early 30s of the last century. Radio-controlled drones initially loaded with explosives were considered to be “air torpedoes”. They were supposed to be used against important targets, well covered by anti-aircraft artillery, where manned bombers could suffer heavy losses. The initiator of the start of work on this topic was M.N. Tukhachevsky. The development of radio-controlled aircraft went to the Special Technical Bureau ("Ostechbureau") under the leadership of V.I. Bekauri.
The first aircraft on which the remote radio control was tested in the Soviet Union was the twin-engine bomber TB-1 designed by AN. Tupolev with autopilot WUA-2. Trials began in October 1933, in Monino. For the telecontrol of the aircraft in Ostebbyuro, the Daedal telemechanical system was designed. Since the take-off of a radio-controlled aircraft was too difficult for very imperfect equipment, the TB-1 took off under the control of the pilot.
In a real combat flight, after takeoff and the withdrawal of the aircraft on the course towards the target, the pilot should have been parachuted. Next, the aircraft was controlled by a VHF transmitter from the lead aircraft. When testing, the main problem was the unreliable work of automation, the teams did not work correctly, and often the equipment refused at all, and the pilot had to take control. In addition, the military was not at all satisfied with the fact that during the performance of the combat mission the expensive bomber was lost irretrievably. In this regard, they demanded to develop a system for remote discharge of bombs and provide for a radio-controlled landing of the aircraft on its airfield.
Since in the middle of 30-x TB-1 was already outdated, the tests continued on a four-motor TB-3. The problem of unstable operation of the control equipment was proposed to be solved at the expense of a manned flight of a radio slave aircraft on most of the route. When approaching the target, the pilot was not thrown out with a parachute, but was transferred to the I-3 or I-15 fighter suspended under TB-16 and on his way home. Next, targeting the TB-3 to the target took place according to commands from the control plane.
But, as in the case of the TB-1, the automation worked extremely unreliably and during the tests of the radio-controlled TB-3 a lot of electromechanical, pneumatic and hydraulic structures were tested. To correct the situation on the plane replaced several autopilot with various actuators. In July, the aircraft with the WUA-1934 autopilot was tested, and in October of the same year, with the WUA-3 autopilot. Upon completion of the tests, the control equipment was supposed to be used on a remotely operated RD plane (“Range Record” - ANT-7 - on such a machine Chkalov flew across the pole to America).
The telemechanical aircraft was to enter service in the 1937 year. Unlike TB-1 and TB-3, the control plane did not require a control plane. The RD, loaded with explosives, was to fly in remote control mode to 1500 km using beacon signals and strike at major enemy cities. However, until the end of 1937, it was not possible to bring the control equipment to a stable working condition. In connection with the arrest of Tukhachevsky and Bekauri, Ostehbyuro was disbanded in January 1938, and three bomber used for testing were returned to the Air Force. However, the topic was not closed definitively, the project documentation was transferred to Experimental Aviation Plant No. 379, and a part of specialists moved there. In November, 1938 of the year at the steppe airfield near Stalingrad, the unmanned TB-1 made 17 takeoffs and 22 landing, which confirmed the viability of the remote control equipment, but at the same time in the cockpit sat a pilot ready to take control at any time.
In January, 1940 of the year issued a decree of the Council of Labor and Defense, according to which it was planned to create a combat tandem consisting of radio-controlled torpedoes TB-3 and command planes with special equipment placed on the SB-2 and DB-3 bombers. The adjustment of the system went with great difficulty, but, apparently, there was some progress in this direction. At the beginning of 1942, the radio-controlled projectiles were ready for combat tests.
TB-3 bomber in flight
The goal of the first strike was chosen by a large railway junction in Vyazma, 210 km from Moscow. However, “the first pancake was lumpy”: during the approach to the target on the master DB-3F, the antenna of the radio transmitter of control commands failed, according to some sources, it was damaged by a fragment of an anti-aircraft missile. After that, uncontrolled TB-3, loaded with four tons of powerful explosives, fell to the ground. Airplanes of the second pair - the command SB-2 and the driven TB-3 burned at the airfield after a close explosion of a bomber prepared for departure.
However, the “Daedalus” system was not the only attempt to create an “air torpedo” in the USSR before the war. In 1933, at the Maritime Research Institute of Communications under the leadership of S.F. Valka began work on remote-controlled gliders, carrying a charge of explosive or torpedoes. The creators of planning remotely operated vehicles motivated their idea by the impossibility of their detection by acoustic detectors, as well as by the complexity of intercepting the “air torpedo” by enemy fighters, which is not very vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire due to its small dimension and low cost of gliders compared to bombers.
In 1934, reduced glider models were subjected to flight tests. The development and construction of full-scale samples was entrusted to P.I. Oskonbyuro. Grokhovsky.
It was planned to create several "flying torpedoes", intended for attacking enemy naval bases and large ships:
1.DT (long-range planning torpedo) without an engine with a range of 30 – 50 km;
2.LTDD (flying long-range torpedo) - with a jet or piston engine and a range of 100 – 200 km;
3.BMP (towed mine glider) - on a rigid coupling with an aircraft towing vehicle.
The production of an experimental batch of “planning torpedo bombs” intended for testing was carried out at the pilot production plant No. 23 in Leningrad, and the creation of a guidance system (codename “Kvant”) was assigned to the Research Institute No. 10 of the People's Commissariat of Defense Industry. The first prototype, designated PSN-1 (special purpose glider), took to the air in August 1935. According to the project, the glider had the following data: take-off weight - 1970 kg, wing span - 8,0 m, length - 8,9 m, height - 2,02 m, maximum speed - 350 km / h, speed at diving - 500 km / h, flight range - 30 – 35 km.
At the first stage, a manned version, made in the form of a glider, was tested. In the role of the main carrier PSN-1 provided four-engine bomber TB-3. Under each wing of the aircraft it was possible to suspend one remotely controlled vehicle.
PSN-1 with a suspended torpedo under the wing of the TB-3 bomber
Remote targeting of PSN-1 was to be carried out within the line of sight using an infrared command transmission system. On the carrier aircraft, control equipment was installed with three infrared searchlights, and on the glider a signal receiver and autopilot and executive equipment were installed. The emitters of the Kvant equipment were placed on a special rotating frame protruding beyond the fuselage. At the same time, due to the increased drag, the speed of the aircraft carrier was reduced by approximately 5%.
It was envisaged that even without telecontrol, the glider could be used to attack large ships or naval bases. After dropping the torpedo, or battle charge, the glider, under the control of the pilot, was supposed to move away from the target a distance of 10-12 km and land on the water. After that, the wings unfastened, and the aircraft turned into a boat. Having launched the outboard motor on board, the pilot returned to his base by sea.
Two PSN-1 under the wing of the TB-3 bomber
For experiments with combat gliders, an airfield in Krechevitsy near Novgorod was selected. On a nearby lake, a hydroplane was tested with a low altitude approach in tow for the P-6 float plane.
During the tests, the possibility of a dive with a bomb dropping was confirmed, after which the glider went into horizontal flight. 28 July 1936, the manned PSN-1 was tested with a simulator 250 kg bombs suspended. 1 August 1936, the flight of a glider with a cargo 550 kg. After takeoff and uncoupling from the carrier, the cargo was dropped from a dive at an altitude of 700 m. After that, the glider, which was accelerated in a dive to 320 km, again gained altitude, turned around and landed on the surface of Lake Ilmen. 2 August 1936, the flight took place with an inert version of the bomb FAB-1000. After uncoupling from the carrier, the glider carried out dive-bombing at a speed of 350 km / h. During the tests, it turned out that after uncoupling from the carrier PSN-1 at a speed of 190 km / h is able to sustainably plan with a weight of up to 1000 kg. Planning range with combat load was 23-27 km, depending on the speed and direction of the wind.
Although the flight data of the PSN-1 was confirmed, the development of the guidance and autopilot equipment was delayed. By the end of the 30s, the characteristics of the PSN-1 did not look as good as in 1933, and the customer began to lose interest in the project. The arrest in 1937 of the management of Plant No. 23 also played a role in slowing down the pace of work. As a result, in the second half of 1937, the test bases in Krechevitsy and on Lake Ilmen were liquidated and the entire backlog was transferred to Leningrad to Experimental Plant No. 379. By the first half of 1938 The specialists of Plant No. 379 managed to carry out 138 test launches of "air torpedoes" at speeds up to 360 km / h. They also practiced anti-aircraft maneuvers, turns, leveling and dumping the combat load, and automatic landing on water. At the same time, the suspension system and equipment for launching from the carrier aircraft functioned flawlessly. In August 1938, successful test flights with automatic landing on water were carried out. But since the carrier, the TB-3 heavy bomber, by that time did not meet modern requirements, and the completion date was uncertain, the military demanded the creation of an improved, faster remote-controlled version, the carrier of which was supposed to be a promising TB-7 heavy bomber (Pe -8) or long-range bomber DB-3. For this, a new, more reliable suspension system was designed and manufactured, allowing the attachment of vehicles with a greater mass. At the same time, a wide range of tests were carried out aviation means of destruction: aircraft torpedoes, various incendiary bombs filled with liquid and solid fire mixtures, and a model of the FAB-1000 aerial bomb weighing 1000 kg.
In the summer of 1939, the design of a new remote-controlled glider, designated PSN-2, began. As a combat load, a FAB-1000 bomb weighing 1000 kg or a torpedo of the same mass was provided. The chief designer of the project was appointed V.V. Nikitin. Structurally, the PSN-2 glider was a two-float monoplane with a low wing and a suspended torpedo. Compared to PSN-1, the aerodynamic forms of PSN-2 were significantly improved, and flight data increased. With a take-off weight of 1800 kg, a glider launched from a height of 4000 m could cover the distance to 50 km and reach a speed in a dive to 600 km / h. The wingspan was 7,0 m and its area - 9,47 m², length - 7,98 m, height on the floats - 2,8 m.
For testing the first prototypes were performed in a manned version. Glider automatic control devices were located in the fuselage compartment and in the center section. Access to the devices was provided through special hatches. Preparations for PSN-2 testing began in June of the 1940 year, at the same time it was decided to organize a training center for training specialists in maintenance and the use of remote-controlled gliders in the military.
When using a jet engine, the estimated maximum flight speed of the PSN-2 was to reach 700 km / h, and the flight range was 100 km. However, it is not clear how at such a range it was supposed to direct the device at the target, because the infrared control system was unstable even within the line of sight.
In July, 1940, the first copy of PSN-2 was tested on the water and in the air. The IBR-2 hydroplane was used as a tugboat. However, due to the fact that satisfactory results with the remote guidance system were not achieved, and the combat value of combat gliders in a future war seemed dubious, on July 19 1940, by order of the Navy Commissar Kuznetsov, all work on the planning torpedoes was stopped.
In 1944, the inventor of the “aircrafts” - a bomber carrying fighter jets, BC Vakhmistrov, proposed a draft unmanned combat glider with a gyroscopic autopilot. The glider was made according to the two-beam scheme and could carry two 1000-kg bombs. Having delivered the glider to a given area, the plane aimed, unhooked the glider, and then returned to the base. After the aircraft was uncoupled, the glider controlled by the autopilot was supposed to fly towards the target and, after the predetermined time had elapsed, perform bombing, it was not envisaged to return. However, the project did not find support from the management and was not implemented.
Analyzing the pre-war Soviet projects of air torpedoes, which have reached the stage of full-scale tests, it can be stated that conceptual errors were made at the design stage. The aircraft designers greatly overestimated the level of development of Soviet radio electronics and telemechanics. In addition, in the case of PSN-1 / PSN-2, a completely unjustified design of the returnable reusable glider was chosen. A one-time planning "air torpedo" would have much better weight perfection, smaller dimensions and higher flight data. And in the case of a “flying bomb” with a warhead weighing 1000 kg in the port facilities or the enemy’s battleship, all the costs of manufacturing the “projectile” would be many times compensated.
The “projectiles” include postwar 10X and 16X, created under the direction of V.N. Chelomey. To speed up the work in the design of these devices used captured German developments implemented in the "flying bombs" Fi-103 (V-1).
Projectile with a pulsating jet engine 10X
The projectile, or according to modern terminology, the 10X cruise missile was to be launched from the Pe-8 and Tu-2 aircraft or ground installation. According to the design data, the maximum flight speed was 600 km / h, the range was up to 240 km, the starting weight was 2130 kg, the weight of the warhead was 800 kg. PuVRD D-3– 320 kgf.
Launch 10X with Tu-2 bomber
The 10X projectiles with inertial control systems could be used for large area objects — that is, like the German V-1, were weapons effective in mass use only against large cities. On control shots, hitting a square with sides of 5 kilometers was considered a good result. Their advantages were considered very simple, in some ways even primitive construction and the use of affordable and inexpensive construction materials.
Also for strikes in the cities of the enemy intended a larger device 16X - equipped with two PUVRD. The four-engine strategic bomber Tu-2557 - created on the basis of the American Superfortress Boeing B-4 - was to be the carrier of a 29 cruise missile. With a weight of 2557 kg, an apparatus with two FPGD D-14-4 kgNHTX each was accelerated to 251 km / h. The combat range of the launch is up to 800 km. The mass of the warhead - 190 kg.
The 16X aircraft under the wing of a Tu-4 bomber
The development of airborne cruise missiles with pulsating air-jet engines continued until the beginning of the 50-s. At that time, fighters with a near-sonic maximum flight speed were already in service, and supersonic interceptors armed with guided missiles were expected to arrive. In addition, in the United Kingdom and the United States in large quantities there were medium-caliber anti-aircraft guns in radar-guided, which had ammunition shells with radio-fuses. There were reports that the active development of long-range and medium-range anti-aircraft missile systems is under way abroad. Under these conditions, cruise missiles flying straight at the speed of 600-800 km / h and at an altitude of 3000-4000 m were very easy targets. In addition, the military was not satisfied with the very low accuracy of hitting the target and unsatisfactory reliability. Although a total of about a hundred cruise missiles were built with a WWTP, they were not accepted for service, they were used in various experiments and as air targets. In 1953, due to the commencement of work on more advanced cruise missiles, the development of the 10X and 16X was discontinued.
In the postwar period, jet warplanes began to arrive in the Soviet air forces, quickly displacing machines with piston engines designed during the war years. In this regard, some of the outdated aircraft were converted into radio-controlled targets, which were used in testing new weapons and for research purposes. So, in the 50 year, five Yak-9V of the later series were converted into a radio-controlled modification of the Yak-9BB. These cars were converted from double training aircraft and were intended for sampling in the cloud of a nuclear explosion. Commands aboard the Yak-9BB were transmitted from the Tu-2 control plane. The collection of fission products took place in special filter gondolas installed on the engine hood and on the planes. But due to the flaws in the control system, all five radio-controlled aircraft were defeated during the preliminary tests and did not take part in the nuclear tests.
In the memoirs of Air Force Marshal E.Ya. Savitsky mentioned that Pe-2 radio-controlled bombers at the beginning of 50 were used in tests of the first Soviet air-to-air missile RS-1 (K-5) with a radio command guidance system. These missiles in the middle of the 50-x armed interceptors MiG-17PFU and Yak-25.
Long-range Tu-4 bomber
In turn, radio-controlled heavy bombers Tu-4 were involved in the tests of the first Soviet anti-aircraft missile system C-25 "Berkut". The 25 of May 1953 of the B-300 guided missile at the Kapustin Yar test site was first shot down by a Tu-4 target aircraft that had flight data and EPR, very close to the American B-29 and B-50 long-range bombers. Since the creation of a fully autonomous, reliably operating control equipment in the 50s of the Soviet electronics industry turned out to be too tough to work out and converted into targets the Tu-4 took off with the pilots in the cockpit. After the planes took the required echelon and lay down on the combat course, the pilots turned on the radio command switch and left the car on parachutes.
The time of the defeat of the Tu-4 anti-aircraft missile
Later, when testing new ground-to-air and air-to-air missiles, it became common practice to use outdated or outdated combat aircraft converted into radio-controlled targets.
The first Soviet post-war specially designed drone, brought to the stage of mass production, was the Tu-123 "Hawk". An autonomous programmed pilotless vehicle, launched into serial production in May 1964, had much in common with the Tu-121 cruise missile that was not adopted for service. Serial production of a long-range unmanned reconnaissance aircraft was mastered at the Voronezh Aviation Plant.
Layout of the Tu-123 with solid fuel boosters
The unmanned reconnaissance Tu-123 was a full metal monoplane with a delta wing and trapezoidal tail. The wing, adapted for supersonic flight speed, had a sweep along the leading edge of the 67 °, along the trailing edge there was a slight reverse sweep of the 2 °. The wing was not equipped with means of mechanization and control, and the entire control of the UAV in flight took place with an all-turning keel and stabilizer, and the stabilizer was deflected synchronously - for pitch control and differentially - for roll control.
The low-resource engine KR-15-300 was originally created in the S. Tumansky Design Bureau for the Tu-121 cruise missile and was designed to perform high-altitude supersonic flights. The engine had thrust on the afterburner 15000 kgf, in flight maximum thrust was 10000 kgf. Engine life - 50 hours. The launch of the Tu-123 took place from the ST-30 launcher on the basis of the MAZ-537В heavy wheeled rocket tractor, designed to carry loads of up to 50 tons on semi-trailers.
Intelligence UAV Tu-123 on a mobile launcher
To start the KP-15-300 aircraft engine on the Tu-123, there were two starter-generators, which were powered by an aviation generator at 537 volts on the MAZ-28В tractor. Before the start, the launch and acceleration of the turbojet engine to the nominal speed occurred. The launch itself was carried out using two solid fuel accelerators PRD-52, each with a 75000-80000 kgf, at an angle of + 12 ° to the horizon. After the fuel was developed, the accelerators were separated from the fuselage of the UAV at the fifth second after the start, and at the ninth second the subsonic air intake manifold was fired, and the reconnaissance aircraft proceeded to climb height.
Model unmanned reconnaissance Tu-123 "Hawk", prepared for launch on the launcher CT-30
The unmanned vehicle with a maximum take-off weight of 35610 kg had on-board 16600 kg of aviation kerosene, which ensured the practical range of the flight of 3560-3680 km. The flight altitude on the route as fuel production increased from 19 000 to 22 400 m, which was more than that of the widely known American reconnaissance aircraft Lockheed U-2. Flight speed on the route - 2300-2700 km / h.
The high altitude and speed of flight made the Tu-123 invulnerable to most air defense weapons of a potential enemy. In 60-70-ies, a reconnaissance supersonic drone flying at such a height could attack the American supersonic interceptors F-4 Phantom II, equipped with medium-range AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, as well as the British Lightning F. 3 and F.6 with Red Top missiles. Of the air defense systems available in Europe, only the heavy American MIM-14 Nike-Hercules, which were practically stationary, represented a threat to the “Hawk”.
The main purpose of the Tu-123 was to be photo and radio intelligence in the depth of the enemy’s defense at a distance of up to 3000 km. When launched from positions in the border regions of the Soviet Union or deployed in the Warsaw Pact countries, the Hawks could carry out reconnaissance raids over virtually the entire territory of central and western Europe. The work of the unmanned complex was repeatedly tested on numerous launches in polygonal conditions at the exercises of the Air Force units, armed with Tu-123.
The composition of the on-board equipment "Yastreb" introduced a real "photo shop", which allows you to take a large number of pictures on the flight route. The camera compartments were equipped with windows with heat-resistant glass and air-conditioning and blowing systems, which was necessary to prevent the formation of a “haze” in the space between the panes and the camera lenses. The nasal container housed perspective aerial camera AFA-41 / 20M three planned aerial camera AFA-54 / 100M photoelectric SU3 light meter and SE-station electronic intelligence CDS-6RD "Diamond-4A" to the device data records. The photographic equipment of the Tu-123 made it possible to shoot a strip of terrain with a width of 60 km and a length of up to 2 700 km, on a scale of 1 km: 1 cm, and also a width of 40 km and a length of 1 km: 400 cm using the 200 scale of m: 1 cm In-flight on-camera cameras were turned on and off according to a pre-programmed program. Radiotechnical reconnaissance was carried out by direction finding the location of sources of radar radiation and magnetic recording of the characteristics of the enemy’s radar, which allowed determining the location and type of the enemy’s deployed radio equipment.
Layout of the intelligence compartment
For ease of maintenance and preparation for combat use, the bow container was technologically undocked into three compartments, without breaking electrical cables. A container with reconnaissance equipment was attached to the fuselage with four pneumatic locks. Transportation and storage of the nose compartment was carried out in a special closed automobile semi-trailer. In preparation for the launch, tankers, a CTA-30 prelaunch preparation machine with a generator, a voltage converter and a compressed air compressor, and a KCM-123 control and starting machine were used. A heavy wheeled tractor MAZ-537В could be transported by an unmanned reconnaissance vehicle with a dry weight of 11450 kg to a distance of 500 km at a speed on the highway to 45 km / h.
The long-range unmanned reconnaissance system made it possible to collect information on objects located deep in the enemy’s defenses and to identify the positions of operational-tactical and ballistic and cruise missiles of medium range. Perform reconnaissance of airfields, naval bases and ports, industrial facilities, ship connections, enemy air defense systems, as well as evaluate the results of the use of weapons of mass destruction.
After completing the mission, when returning to his territory, the unmanned reconnaissance aircraft was guided by the signals of the driving beacon. When entering the landing area, the device passed under the control of ground-based controls. On command from the ground, the climbed up, the kerosene residues were drained from the tanks and the turbojet turned off.
After the release of the braking parachute, the compartment with reconnaissance equipment was separated from the vehicle and descended to the ground on a rescue parachute. To mitigate the impact on the earth's surface, four shock absorbers were produced. To facilitate the search for the instrument compartment on it, after landing, the radio beacon automatically began to work. The central and tail parts and during descent on the drag parachute collapsed due to hitting the ground and were not suitable for further use. The instrument compartment with reconnaissance equipment after maintenance could be installed on another UAV.
Despite the good flight characteristics of the Tu-123 was virtually one-time, that with a sufficiently large take-off weight and significant cost limited its mass use. In total, the 52 reconnaissance complex was manufactured, and they were delivered to the troops until the 1972 year. The scouts Tu-123 were in service until the 1979 year, after which some of them were used in the process of combat training of the air defense forces. The refusal of the Tu-123 was largely due to the adoption of supersonic MiG-25Р / РБ reconnaissance aircraft, which at the beginning of 70-s proved to be effective during reconnaissance flights over the Sinai Peninsula.
To be continued ...