SB-2 file photo [4140]


ManufacturerTupolev Design Bureau
Primary RoleLight Bomber
Maiden Flight1 October 1934


ww2dbaseThe SB (Skorostnoy Bombardirovschik, or High Speed Bomber) light bombers came out of a 1933 specification by the Soviet air force administration for a fast bomber. Alexander Arkhangelsky of Tupolev headed up the design effort, and the prototype took flight in 1934. After several prototypes, the all-metal aircraft entered production in 1935 and entered service in Feb 1936. Starting in Oct 1936, the exporting of SB bombers began, starting with Spain. The first examples of what eventually amounted to 210 SB bombers fought on the side of the Republican air force went to Spain, causing considerable frustration for the Nationalist fighters because the SB bombers could out-run many of their He-51 and Cr.32 biplane interceptors. SB bombers were also sold to the air forces of China, Czechoslovakia (both actual units and the license to build more), and others. During the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland in 1939-1940, SB bombers began to show obsolescence as fighter technology rapidly advanced. Efforts were made to improve the design with more powerful engines, variable-pitch propellers, and additional fuel capacity, but none of the upgrades made a significant difference. Production finally came to a stop in 1941; between 1936 and 1941, 6,656 aircraft were built, making the design the most built bomber in the world in the late 1930s. When the war with Germany began in Jun 1941, they still made up 94% of bombers in the Soviet air force. They were used extensively as a day bomber at the start of the campaign, but German Bf 109 fighters were clearly too great a threat for these aging bombers. Very soon, they were relegated to second line duties.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Jul 2007

SB Timeline

30 Jun 1943 While covering the landings on Rendova, Solomon Islands, destroyer USS Ralph Talbot engaged attacking Japanese Mitsubishi G3M 'Nell' bombers armed with torpedoes. Firing 5-inch shells fitted with VT proximity fuzes from her 5-inch/38 caliber guns, Ralph Talbot accounted for three bombers shot down on her own and one more shared with other ships. During the attack, one torpedo struck attack transport USS McCawley causing her to go dead in the water. Ralph Talbot came alongside and took aboard 300 McCawley officers and men. Three hours later, McCawley was sunk by torpedoes from US PT Boats.


SB 2M-103
MachineryTwo Klimov M-103 liquid-cooled V12 engines (license-built Hispano-Suiza 12Ybr engines) rated at 960hp each
Armament2x7.62mm nose ShKAS machine guns, 1x7.62mm dorsal ShKAS machine gun, 1x7.62mm ventral ShKAS machine gun, 6x100kg or 6x50kg internal bombs, 2x250kg wing rack bombs
Span20.33 m
Length12.57 m
Height3.60 m
Wing Area56.70 m²
Weight, Empty4,768 kg
Weight, Maximum7,880 kg
Speed, Maximum450 km/h
Speed, Cruising360 km/h
Service Ceiling9,300 m
Range, Normal1,600 km
Range, Maximum2,300 km


Chinese SB-2 bomber, Kunming, China, date unknownSoviet SB-2 bombers over Helsinki, Finland, 30 Nov 1939Crashed Soviet Tupolev ANT-40/SB aircraft in Finland, Dec 1939Finnish SB-2 bomber resting at an airfield, date unknown
See all 6 photographs of SB Light Bomber

Did you enjoy this article or find this article helpful? If so, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds

Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed ALAN CHANTER says:
22 Oct 2020 12:27:22 AM

The Tupolev SB is often incorrectly referred to as the SB-2, which is a Western corruption of the designation SB-2-M100A meaning a SB with two Klimov M100A V-12 engines. 

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments
Security Code



1. We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

2. For inquiries about military records for members of the World War II armed forces, please see our FAQ.

Search WW2DB & Partner Sites
More on SB
Notable Figure:
» Tupolev, Andrei

SB Light Bomber Photo Gallery
Chinese SB-2 bomber, Kunming, China, date unknown
See all 6 photographs of SB Light Bomber

Famous WW2 Quote
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Winston Churchill, on the RAF

Support Us

Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 a month will go a long way. Thank you!

Or, please support us by purchasing some WW2DB merchandise at TeeSpring, Thank you!