Monday 13 May 2024

Sabre Kits Tupolev Tu-2 Post-War Service


Of some relevance to this blog Sabre Kits have just released the 1/72  ICM Tupolev Tu-2 in a limited edition of 100 kits featuring post-war decals for China's PLAAF in 1952, an Indonesian example from the early 1960s and a North Korean aircraft from the 1950s. The kit retails at £22.50 from Hannant's in the UK and contains a 3D printed four bladed propeller for the Chinese and Indonesian subjects.


In 1949 the Soviet Union had supplied China with 40 Tu-2 bombers, sending 120 personnel to each bomber school. In 1958 the PLAAF requested an additional 198 Tu-2 bombers. The Tu-2 saw service during China's intervention in the Korean War equipping two bomber division. The PLAAF 10th Division were trained in night flying by a RoCAF B-24 pilot Liu Shanben who had defected to the communists in 1946. But it was the 8th Division which embarked on the first daylight bombing raid on Taehwa-do Island on 6 November 1951 when six Tu-2's sortied from Yuhongtun led by Han Ming-yang and escorted by 16 La-11 fighters with 24  MiG-15s conducting covering sorties to prevent UN interceptions from the south. The raid was successful, destroying command posts and stores, including ammunition and the only opposition was anti-aircraft fire. There were no losses which encouraged the PLAAF to continue the attacks. However the second daylight raid on the island by the 8th Division, led by Gao Yue-ming on 30 November with nine Tu-2's, proved disastrous. Reaching the rendezvous location too early and missing the planned MiG-15 cover, they ran into 24 F-86's of the 4th FW, prepped for a repeat performance by the PLAAF. After losing two aircraft in the rearmost vee of his formation Gao continued towards the target, pulling it in a tighter formation and relying on his gunners and the close escort of 16 La-11s. They were harried by the F-86's all the way, with the La-11s engaged in attempted defence too. La-11 pilot Wang Tian-bao claimed the destruction of an F-86 in the slashing dogfights between jet and piston and although no Sabres were reported lost a 335th aircraft did return with severe damage to its left wing and rear fuselage from Wang's La-11, with a cannon shell striking the pilot's headrest rendering him temporarily unconscious and putting the Sabre into a spin which Wang believed to be fatal. Despite five of the remaining Tu-2 bombers being damaged during the F-86 attacks Gao pressed on and his formation dropped their bombs on Taehwa-do, albeit prematurely and without results. Four Tu-2's were lost on the mission with only a single navigator surviving from those, but the F-86 pilots claimed eight bombers destroyed from a reported formation of 12. Gao survived but the PLAAF mounted no more daylight bombing raids. 

Details of the PLAAF Tu-2 raids in November 1951 are from  'Red Wings Over The Yalu - China, the Soviet Union, and the Air War in Korea' by Xiaoming Zhang, published by Texas A & M University Press in 2002, a fascinating, detailed account and highly recommended.

Image credit: © 2024 Sabre Kits via Hannant's.   

8 comments:

WK said...

A very interesting blog entry Nick. I can't imagine how hard it would be to track a high speed fighter with a hand aimed weapon on the Tu-2, let alone trying to defend against F-86 attacks. I remember seeing a Tu-2 at the Warsaw Army museum back in 1992. Of course at the time I was mainly interested in WW2 aircraft so I didn't really admire its Soviet design (read ugly).

Straggler 脱走兵 said...

Thanks for your comment Woody. I'm glad that you found the blog interesting. The Chinese Tu-2 crews had only had a year of training and the youngest was only 19 years old. This posting was intended as historical and apolitical, only to provide some context for the Sabre Kits release.

Regards
Nick

Baronvonrob said...

Another fascinating posting highlights a little-known history of the end of the piston-driven era of combat aircraft.

Now we need a 1/72 version of the La 11 !!

Thanks, Nick

Straggler 脱走兵 said...

Thanks Rob. Indeed we do! There have been a few short run (?) 1/72 kits over the years - MPM, Gran, Interavia, Siga and a nice resin kit from Steelworks, but a lot of issues over the differences between La-9 and La-11. There are 1/48 kits and a brilliant 1/72 decal sheet from Begemot but no new. mainstream kit in 1/72.

Regards
Nick

Alex said...

Great thanks for the article! PLAAF is a "black hole" of the Korean War.

R. Vieira said...

Thanks, Nick, for the info on the Sabre Kits release of the ICM Tu-2 kit, and also for the fascinating details on some of the last combat use of the type by the PLAAF.

The Tupolev Tu-2 was one of ICM's first models. The original boxing was released in 1997 or 1998, if memory serves. At the time, it was a good kit, with spot-on shape and delicate surface detail (and somewhat finicky to put together), but nowadays it's starting to show its age. Frankly, I would happily welcome a new model of the Tu-2, produced to the best of today's standards.
Regarding the La-9 and La-11 in 1/72, we still lack a good, mainstream kit as you said. When Begemot released their excellent 1/72 decal sheet, it was rumored that a new model in this scale was imminent, but unfortunately nothing has come of it so far.

Regards,
R. Aballe

Straggler 脱走兵 said...

Thanks for leaving a comment Alex. I'm glad that you found the post of interest.
Regards
Nick

Straggler 脱走兵 said...

Thank you for those details of the ICM kit. I 'think' that I have an ICM kit 'somewhere' in the stash but have never attempted a build. I did wonder about that 1/72 Begemot decal sheet - so many interesting options but no accessible kit! Pity!

Regards
Nick