One of the things I’ve been doing as I research for Sky Pirates of the Mediterranean and while doing game prep for our weekly game is looking for the weird and forgotten airplanes of the ’20s and ’30s. One of the truly beastly looking craft I ran into was the Tupolev TB-3, a Russian heavy bomber that was first flown in the 1932. It was supposed to be retired by 1939, but they wound up serving the Russian Air Force through the Second World War, often as a paratrooper platform. It could carry up to 4000 lbs and still hit a service ceiling was considered 16,000′.

But it was the brutally ugly, utilitarian look of the ship that really got my attention. That and they would occasionally sling two I-16 fighters under the wings so they could carry them long distances into combat. It had an open cockpit on the top for the two pilots, an open air nose gun emplacement, and a air of domed turrets amidships. There was a door on each side, just above the rear edge of the wing to allow people to walk out onto the wing to parachute off the plane by sliding off the wing (see below.) But really….look at this monster:

Tupolev_TB-3.jpg

So, of course this thing had to find a way into my game…here’s the stats (RNG is range, CEIL is ceiling.)

tb-3.jpeg

The TB-3 turrets had a pair of belt-fed 7.62x54mm ShKAS machineguns, as did the forward emplacement. Undercarriage turrets were sometimes included, giving the aircraft 6-8 guns. It could carry up to 10,000 lbs of bombs if the plane was stripped down to carry them, but the usual load was 4,000 of bombs. The specs on the paired ShKAS machineguns: Dam: 4L  Str: 3  Rng: 100′  Cap: 64(b)  Rate: A  Spd: A  Wt: 20 lb.

They could be reconfigured as troop or passenger carriers (designated the Antonov-6) and held 36 people, not including the four man crew. The most ridiculous load was a variant that carried the Polikarpov I-16 “Rat” fighters under the wings. The fighters could be dropped by the pilots with a pull of a release lever for action. The Rats would then have to land normally; they could not reconnect, like the Curtis Sparrowhawk could with the American Macon-class airship.

 

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