Petlyakov Pe-2 & UPe-2 Tupolev USB...

...Polish Wings 26, from MMP Books

Title:  Petlyakov Pe-2 & UPe-2 Tupolev USB

Author: Lechoslaw Musialkowski

Publisher:  MMP

ISBN:  978-83-65958-42-6

This continues the story of the various aircraft types that have served with the post-war Polish Air Force. In this case we see the Russian built Pe-2 dive bomber. A design from the late 1930s, over 11,000 were built during WW2, the most numerous bomber type produced in the Soviet Union. Some served with Polish markings even before the end of the war, but once the war with Germany was over, many were passed on to the new Polish Air Force. Initially they had Russian pilots, but gradually more Poles were trained and took over. The first section of the book tells us the development story of the Pe-2, how they were built in a number of factories, their pros and their cons. Apparently the navigator had no seatbelt, and when dive-bombing need to just hold on to the pilot's seat! Certainly not a situation I would have wanted to fly in. It goes on to tell us the service history of the aircraft in Polish hands as the years went on, and with some veterans memories weaved into it all. Throughout the books there are a lot of good quality archive photos, with informative captions plus first class colour profiles which aircraft modellers will really appreciate. One of the details that caught my eye was the need to fit drip trays above the tyres on the main wheels, to stop fuel/oil dripping onto the tyres when parked where it could have caused the tyres to degrade, which would have been operationally unsafe and costly.

One of the problems with aircrew flying the Pe-2 was training. Unforgiving to new pilots apparently. They needed a dedicated training aircraft.  Hence the second and third elements of the book, with the UPe-2 with a second position for the instructor, but again not without some problems, though an interesting looking aircraft. The final section is the alternative trainer solution, the Tupolev USB.  Again, both these trainer variants include colour profile artwork and archive photos which illustrate the subjects very well.

Another interesting addition to this Polish Wings series for both the aviation historian and the modeller who is looking for a different topic to try to add to their collection.

Thanks to MMP Books, who kindly provided my review copy.