Belyaev DB-LK

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Belyaev DB-LK




The Belyaev DB-LK, an ambitious endeavor to create a high-performance aircraft, ultimately fell short of success. Its name, translated to English as “long-range bomber-flying wing,” reflects the innovative design by Viktor Belyaev, who had previously worked on various Tupolev heavy bombers during the 1930s.

Originally intended for passenger transportation, the concept was later modified in 1938 to explore its potential as a high-speed and long-range bomber. The DB-LK featured two fuselages that resembled elongated engine nacelles. These fuselages were connected by a solid wing structure, which incorporated a tall single cruciform tail and housed the tail wheel. The airframe was constructed with stressed skin, while the wings were covered in aluminum alloy and the flaps were clothed. Each fuselage-nacelle accommodated a crew of two - a pilot and rear gunner on the left, and a navigator and radio operator on the right. The gunner and radio operator occupied the rear of the nacelles, which offered excellent visibility due to their extensive glazing. It was planned for each crew member to be equipped with two ShKAS 7.62mm machine guns, positioned in the rear and mid-sections of the aircraft, capable of firing at a rate of 1800 rounds per minute. This defensive firepower was expected to pose a significant threat to any fighter attempting to engage the DB-LK.

Additionally, two more machine guns were to be installed in the center of the wing, providing the pilot with offensive capabilities. The standard bombload was projected to be 1000kgs (2,200lbs), carried internally. However, it was believed that the aircraft could potentially carry 2000kgs externally if it had entered active service.

Initially, the DB-LK was intended to be powered by two Tumansky M-88 radial engines, which were still under development at the time. However, due to issues with these engines, the prototype delivered to the Soviet Air Force Research Institute in April 1940 for testing was equipped with two M-87B engines, each producing 720 kW.

The aircraft exhibited concerning flare characteristics, likely due to its large wing area. Flight tests revealed that the performance fell short of expectations. The projected maximum speed was 340mph with a range of nearly 2,500 miles carrying a 1000kg bombload. However, due to the underpowered engines, the DB-LK only achieved a maximum speed of 303mph when empty. This provided no significant advantage over the existing Soviet Air Force aircraft at that time.

In reality, the DB-LK was notably inferior and posed risks. Although experienced test pilots could manage the prototype, it was noted for its high landing speed, long takeoff distance, and erratic handling due to the rearward center of gravity. Despite some modifications, such as adding lead ballast, test pilots still reported significant issues.

As a result, permission to further develop the DB-LK was denied, a sensible decision given its lackluster performance compared to existing aircraft that operated without unusual flight characteristics or endangering the crew. Nonetheless, the Soviet Air Force leadership remained intrigued by the design and inquired about the possibility of transforming the DB-LK into a dive bomber.

A study was initiated to explore this idea, although it seemed peculiar since the Soviets already had the highly effective Pe-2 in that role. Ultimately, nothing came of the proposal, and the DB-LK disappeared, presumably lost during World War II.

Technical Data


Crew - 4

Length - 9.78 m

Height - 3.65 m

Wingspan - 21.6 m

Empty Weight - 6,004 kg

Gross Weight - 9,061 kg

Max Takeoff Weight - 10,672 kg

Powerplant - 2 x Tumansky M-87B Radial Engines (708 kW each)

Max Speed - 395 km/h (Sea Level) 488 km/h (5,100 m)

Takeoff Speed - 145 km/h

Landing Speed - 150 km/h

Rate of Climb - 6.15 m/s

Service Ceiling - 8,500 m

Range - 2,900 km


2 x 7.62mm shKAS Machine Guns (750 rpg)

2 x 7.62mm shKAS Machine Guns in Dorsal Turret (750 rpg)

1 x 7.62mm shKAS Machine Guns in Centerline Remotely controlled turrets +/-10 Arc (750 rpg)

2 x FAB-1000

2 x FAB-500

4 x FAB-250













(Book) The Osprey Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft 1875-1995. (Pg 43-44)

Belyayev DB-LK | Plane-Encyclopedia

The Belyaev DB-LK; How Many Ideas Can a Designer Sandwich into an Aircraft? - Forgotten Aircraft - Military Matters