ANT-38 (VSB-1) high-speed high-altitude bomber (project)

A.N. Tupolev and G.K. Ordzhonikidze
during a visit to an aircraft factory. 1936
As early as 1931 the VVS requested the Tupolev OKB to provide a high-altitude heavy bomber. It was to have a speed of 250 km/h at 7,000 m with a 10,000-kg bomb load - a performance that could only have been met by the projected ANT-26 with six M-44 engines (TB-6 6M-44) which had not been proceeded with. The advances in aviation technology, particularly fighter aviation, compelled the VVS to radically revise its views on heavy bombers. In 1934 it directed the Soviet aircraft industry to produce a high-altitude high-speed bomber (VSB - vysotnyy skorosnoy bombardirovshchik) capable of 600 km/h at 13,000-14,000 m (the VVS plan for experimental aircraft for 1934 stated the service ceiling for this aircraft as 15,000 m) and carrying 5,000 kg of bombs. In the light of the previous decades such requirements were well ahead of the contemporary level of development and at least ten years ahead of their time. Such a performance was only attainable with the Boeing B-29 Stratofortress in 1942.
The performance figures for the VSB-1 requested by the VVS were analysed in the OKB, and the project given the designation ANT-38. After mutual agreement and definition, new tactical and technical requirements on a more modest scale were arrived at. These became the basis for later project work on the ANT-42 (TB-7).