Tag Archives: Mikulin AM-34FRN

19 May 1934–18 May 1935

Tupolev ANT-20 eight-engine civil transport. (Tupolev)
M.M. Gromov

19 May 1934: Soviet test pilot Mikhail Mikhaylovich Gromov made the first flight of the Tupolev ANT-20 Maxim Gorky. This was the largest airplane of its time. Designed by Andrei Tupolev to carry 72 passengers, the giant airplane was operated by eight crew members.

Used primarily as a Soviet propaganda tool, it also carried a powerful broadcast radio station, a printing shop, and loudspeakers.

Constructed of corrugated sheet metal for rigidity and strength, the ANT-20 was 107 feet, 11¼ inches (32.899 meters) long, with a wingspan of 206 feet, 8¼ feet inches (62.998 meters) and height of 34 feet, 9¼ inches (10.598 meters). Its empty weight was 62,700 pounds (28,440.2 kilograms) and the maximum takeoff weight was 116,600 pounds (52,888.9 kilograms)

Tupolev ANT-20 six-engine civil transport. Two additional engines would be added later. (Tupolev)

The ANT-20 was powered by eight liquid-cooled, supercharged, 2,896.1-cubic-inch-displacement (46.928 liter) Mikulin AM-34FRN single overhead cam (SOHC) 60° V-12 engines, rated at 1,200 horsepower at 2,000 r.p.m., each. They drove two-bladed propellers. Two of the engines were mounted above the fuselage, in a push-pull configuration.

This photograph shows the corrugated sheet metal used for the skin of the ANT-20's wings and fuselage.
Corrugated sheet metal was used for the skin of the ANT-20’s wings and fuselage.

Maxim Gorky had a maximum speed of 137 miles per hour (220.5 kilometers per hour), a service ceiling of 4,500 meters (14,764 feet) and a range of 750 miles (1,207 kilometers).

Just 364 days after its first flight, 18 May 1935, Maxim Gorky crashed following a mid-air collision during a formation flight over Moscow. 45 people were killed.

The ANT-20 flies over Red Square with an airplane off each wing.
M.M. Gromov, 1917

Mikhail Mikhaylovich Gromov was born 24 February 1899, at Tver, about 110 miles (180 kilometers) northwest of Moscow. He was the son of Mikhail Konstantinovich Gromov, an “intellectual” who had studied medicine at Moscow University, and Lyubov Ignayevna Gromov, a midwife. The family were of the nobility, but poor.

The younger Gromov attended the Resurrection Real School, and then the Moscow Higher Technical School for Aviation. He graduated in 1917. Gromov was taught to fly by Boris Konstantinovich Welling, a pioneer in Russian long-distance flights. After working as a flight instructor, Gromov began test flying. He became the chief test pilot for the Tupolev Design Bureau. By the outbreak of World War II, he had test flown twenty-five different airplanes.

In 1926, Gromov made a non-stop long-distance flight in a Tupolev ANT-3, from Moscow via Berlin, Paris, Rome, Vienna, Prague, Warsaw and back to Moscow. The flight took 34 hours. In 1934, he flew a Tupolev ANT-25 12,411 kilometers (7,712 miles) in a closed circuit over 75 hours. For this accomplishment, he was named a Hero of the Soviet Union.

From 12–14 July 1937, Gromov set a world record for distance in a straight line, flying an ANT-25 from Moscow to San Jacinto, California, a distance of 10,148 kilometers (6,306 miles).¹ The duration of this flight was 62 hours, 17 minutes.

n March 1941, Gromov became the first director of the Flight Research Institute at Zhukovsky, southeast of Moscow. The Institute was later named the M.M. Gromov Flight Research Institute, in his honor.

In 1942, during The Great Patriotic War, Gromov commanded the Soviet long range air forces on the Kalinin Front. He next commanded the 3rd Air Army, 1942–1943, and the 1st Air Army, 1943–1944. In 1945, he returned to test flying.

Colonel General Mikhail Mikhaylovich Gromov, 1946

Following the War, Gromov continued to work in the aviation industry, but following a disagreement with the Minister of Aviation, Pyotr Vasilyevich Dementiev, over the issue of quality vs. quantity and the safety of the test pilots, he retired. Later, he entered politics and was twice elected to the Supreme Soviet.

During his military career, in addition to the Gold Star Medal of Hero of the Soviet Union, Colonel General Mikhail Mikhaylovich Gromov was awarded the Order of Lenin four times, the Order of the Red Banner (four), and the Order of the Red Star (three). He died 22 January 1985.

¹ FAI Record File Number 9300

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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28 October 1936

“Portrait of a Hero of the Soviet Union, Pilot A.B. Yumashev,” by Pyotr Konchalovsky, 1941. 140 x 111 cm., Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
“Portrait of a Hero of the Soviet Union, Pilot A.B. Yumashev,” by Pyotr Konchalovsky, 1941. Oil on canvas, 140 x 111 cm. Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
A.B. Yumashev, 1939. (Central Archive of Cinema, Photographic and Phonographic Documents in St, Petersburg)
A.B. Yumashev, 1939. (Central Archive of Cinema, Photographic and Phonographic Documents in St, Petersburg)

28 October 1936: Flying a four-engine Tupolev TB-3 bomber near Tchelcovo, U.S.S.R., Юмашев Андрей Борисович (Andrey Borisovich Yumashev, A.B. Yumashev, A. Youmachev, André Youmacheff), with a crewman named Kalachnikov, set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Altitude With a 5,000 Kilogram (11,023 pounds) Payload, reaching 8,980 meters (29,462 feet).¹ This was the fourth world altitude record set by Yumashev with the TB-3.

The transport variant of the Tupolev TB-3 is identified as the ANT-6.

For the 28 October flight, Yumashev’s airplane was powered by four air-cooled, supercharged, 30.104 liter (1,837 cubic inches) Shvetsov ASh-62 nine-cylinder radial engines, rated at 1,000 horsepower at 2,200 r.p.m., each. This engine was developed from the  earlier Shvetsov M-25, which was a license-built version of the Wright Aeronautical Corporation R-1820 Cyclone.

The previous month, Andrey Yumashev had set three similar world records. At that time the TB-3 had been powered by four liquid-cooled, supercharged, 46.928 liter (2,863.7 cubic inches) displacement, Mikulin AM-34FRN 60° V-12 engines with gear reduction, rated at 1,200 horsepower at 2,000 r.p.m. Interestingly, this engine had a different piston stroke length for the left and right cylinder banks, resulting in different displacement for each bank. On 11 September, Yumashev had flown the TB-3 to an altitude of 8,116 meters (26,627 feet) with a 5,000 kilogram payload.² On 16 September, he reached 6,605 meters (21,670 feet) while carrying 10,000 kilograms (22,046.23 pounds).³ Finally, on 20 September the Andrey Yumashev and the TB-3, this time with crewman Cheverdinsky, reached 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) with a 12,000 kilogram (26,455.47 pounds) payload.⁴

Soviet Air Force Tupolev TB-3 heavy bombers.
Soviet Air Force Tupolev TB-3 heavy bombers.

The Tupolev TB-3 was a four-engine heavy bomber built of a steel framework with corrugated steel skin panels. It had fixed landing gear. Initially, each main gear supported two wheels in a bicycle configuration. This was later changed to a single wheel and tire. While most were powered by liquid-cooled V-12 engines, various combinations of propellers were used. Some airplanes used wooden two-bladed propellers, while some used four-bladed propellers on the inner two engines. Later bombers used four-bladed propellers on all engines, while some ANT-6 transports used metal three-bladed variable-pitch propellers.

The first prototype had flown in 1930 and the TB-3 was in service until 1939, by which time it was obsolete. There were still more than 500 when the Great Patriotic War began in 1941. In addition to service as a heavy bomber, it also flew cargo and was a paratroop transport.

ANT-6-4M34 "Aviaarktika" modified for a 1937 polar expedition.
Tupolev ANT-6-4AM-34RVN, No. 209, “Aviaarktika,” modified for an August 1937 polar expedition. The airplane and its six-man crew disappeared.

Major General Andrey Borisovich Yumashev was born at St. Petersburg, Russian Empire, in March 1902. He entered the army in 1918, serving with artillery units. In 1924 he trained as a pilot, serving as a combat pilot until 1927 when he became a test pilot at the Research and Testing Institute of the Air Force. Over the next ten years he tested fighters, bombers, and transports, and was appointed Test Pilot First Class.

In addition to the four payload-to-altitude world records above, from 12–14 July 1937 he was copilot of a Tupolev ANT-25 which flew from Moscow to San Jacinto, California, across the North Pole.⁵

Yumashev flew the Ilyushin DB-3 long-range bomber during the Soviet Finnish War of 1940 (“The Winter War.”) During the Great Patriotic War, he commanded the 2nd Independent Fighter Aviation Squadron in defense of Moscow, then the 237th Fighter Regiment at the Kalinin Front. He served as deputy commander of the 3rd Air Force at the Kalinin Front and then the 1st Air Army on the Western Front. By the spring of 1943, he was in command of the 6th Fighter Air Corps at the Central front. By 1944, General Yumashev commanded the Eastern Front Air Defense and the Southern Front Air Defense. He participated in the attacks against Königsberg and Berlin at the end of World War II.

A. B. Yumashev retired from the Soviet military in 1946. He then went on to become an accomplished artist.

During his military service, General Yumashev was named Hero of the Soviet Union, twice was awarded the Order of Lenin, and five times the Order of the Red Banner. He was also awarded the Order of the Red Star.

Major General Andrey Borisovich Yumashev died at Moscow, Russia, U.S.S.R., 20 May 1988.

General Andrey Borisovich Yumashev, Soviet Air Force (1902–1988)
Major General Andrey Borisovich Yumashev, Soviet Air Force (1902–1988)

¹ FAI Record File Number 8291

² FAI Record File Number 8209

³ FAI Record File Number 10412

⁴ FAI Record File Number 8730

⁵ FAI Record File Number 9300

© 2017, Brryan R. Swopes

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