|National origin||Soviet Union|
|First flight||August 6, 1925|
Tupolev acquired much experience in building his first two aircraft, which he employed for the next one, the ANT-3. By this time, Soviet Air Force leaders were convinced that metal was a highly usable substance in the building of airplanes. Tupolev therefore guided AGOS- TsAGI in creating the first Soviet all-metal aircraft. The ANT-3 was Tupolev’s first practical plane.
Construction and Development
On August 1, 1924, design work started for the ANT-3. The following July, the prototype was finished and came out of the AGOS factory. It was a sesquiplane, where the lower wing is somewhat shorter than the upper one. Its first flight was on August 6, conducted by V. N. Fillipov, who tested planes for TsAGI until the upcoming October.
The Air Force ordered several ANT-3s after they were pleased with the results of tests led by Mikhail Gromov. However, they could not have as many as they wanted due to a shortage of metal. Nonetheless, the Soviets used it for propaganda.
Because these ANT-3s were for military usage, they were designated R-3, the R standing for Razvedchik ("Reconnaissance").
The ANT-3 was produced between 1926 and 1929 at Gos Avia Zavod, or GAZ. The factory was later called Krasnyi Oktiabr, and after that, Factory No. 22. There were presumably 102 made in total.
The ANT-3 could hold two people: a pilot and a gunner. The latter was in a different cockpit aft of the pilot. The wings had a support bar and cross-bracing wires. As with the ANT-2, the outer covering was made from duralumin, and the fuselage had a triangular cross-section.
The ANT-3 was powered by one engine, and there were several engines it could use. The prototype used a 298 kW (400 hp) Liberty, and the second one was powered by a 336 kW (450 hp) Napier Lion. Production aircraft first used the 336 kW (450 hp) Lorraine-Dietrich (79 used); one used a 373 kW (500 hp) BMW V-1, and 21 aircraft used the 336 kW (450 hp) Mikulin M-5.
Tupolev proposed an upgraded version, which he called the R-4, to the Soviet Air Force. It would have had a range of about 966 km (600 mi), and would be powered by a 373 kW (500 hp) Mikulin engine. One was built, but it had a Lorraine-Dietrich engine. It was delivered to Aeroflot's Yakutsk division. The aircraft was designated the PS-3 and was used as a mail plane until about 1930.
Afterwards, TsAGI had Mikhail Gromov, assisted by mechanic Yevgeny Radzevich, visit important European capitals in an ANT-3. He started his expedition from Moscow at 3 a.m. on August 30, and headed west. After about 120 km (75 mi) were covered, an expansion tank with water for the Napier Lion engine experienced three fatigue cracks. Water sprayed around the cockpit. Fortunately for him, Gromov did the sensible thing and returned home. Newspapers stated that he and Radzevich turned back due to poor weather. The incident caused Tupolev to recommend that the tank have a convex base, which was adopted. Gromov resumed his expedition. Yet another problem arose. The ANT-3 landed at present day Kaliningrad, by which point the radiator was leaking. Gromov proceeded to Berlin. There, the mechanics were not able to fix the radiator. Moving on, he went to Paris, where a mechanic found that some putty sealant had separated. To solve the problem, he took another aircraft’s radiator, and adapted it to fit in the ANT-3. When the mechanic was finished with the problem, Gromov flew off to Rome.
While rolling out, a black cat walked in front of the plane. According to Russian superstition, a black cat is bad luck, but Gromov chose to believe the English version of the story, where the black cat is actually considered lucky. Weather was bad during takeoff, but it had cleared by the time he was over Lyons, which permitted Gromov to go over the Alps en route to Turin, on to Geneva and afterwards, Rome. The refueling took longer than expected, and twilight was nearing.
When the refueling was done, Gromov and Radzevich flew north to Vienna. The sun started to set by the time they were 119 km (74 mi) away from their destination. (It was dark just 19 km/12 mi.) Gromov decided to risk landing in Vienna, where campfires were lit around the airport.
The takeoff was scheduled for the following morning, where VIPs such as the Soviet Ambassador to Austria, were supposed to attend the departure. However, they did not arrive on time, and Gromov, anxious to make good time, flew on to Prague.
The weather was too poor for them to be able to land in Prague, causing the pilot to decide to continue to Warsaw. There, staff at the Soviet Embassy handed them flowers, which were requested to be dropped over Soviet territory. This act was duly noted, regardless of the superstition of ill fortune. He then flew back to where the journey started: Moscow. Mikhail Gromov and Yevgeny Radzevich flew 7,170 km (4,443 mi) for a duration of 34 hours and 15 minutes.
In 1927, the British minister at the foreign office, Austin Chamberlain, brother of British Prime Minister Neville, severed diplomatic ties with the USSR. In response, the next journey by an ANT-3 was a flight from Moscow to Tokyo and back to Moscow, which took place between August 20 and September 1, 1927, and the plane was titled “Our Reply.” The flight was titled “The Great Eastern Overflight,” and was piloted by Semion Shestakov. The ANT-3 used was powered by a Mikulin M-5. The expedition covered about 22,140 km (13,500 mi) in 153 flying hours (today, it would take 18 hours), by going from Moscow- Sarapul- Omsk- Novosibirsk- Krasnoyarsk- Irkutsk- Chita- Blagovenshensk- Nanian- Yokohama- Tokyo, and then return. Though not the most direct course possible, there were good propaganda opportunities.
- Prototype. 298 kW (400 hp) Liberty L-12 engine.
- Second prototype. Powered by 336 kW (450 hp) Napier Lion engine.
- Original production military reconnaissance aircraft. Powered by Liberty (12 aircraft) or M-5 (18 aircraft).
- 79 production aircraft fitted with the 336 kW (450 hp) Lorraine Dietrich engine.
- Improved derivative of the R-3, powered by a BMW VI engine. Also known as the ANT-10. Prototype only.
- Passenger version of R-3. One converted.
Data from The Osprey Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft 1875–1995 
- Crew: two, pilot and gunner/observer
- Length: 9.89 m (32 ft 5⅛ in)
- Wingspan: 13.02 m (42 ft 8⅔ in)
- Height: 3.1 m (10 ft 2 in)
- Wing area: 37 m2 (389 ft2)
- Empty weight: 1,340 kg (2,954 lb)
- Gross weight: 2,090 kg (4,608 lb)
- Powerplant: 1 × Lorraine-Dietrich, 336 kW (450 hp)
- Maximum speed: 204 km/h (127 mph)
- Range: 880 km (550 miles)
- Service ceiling: 4,920 m (16,140 ft)
- 1 × synchronised forward firing 7.62 mm PV-1 machine gun
- 2 × 7.62 mm DA machine guns on ring in rear cockpit
- 10 × 50 kg (110 lb) bombs on underwing racks
- Related lists
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tupolev ANT-3.|
- Gunston 1995, p.381.
- Duffy and Kandalov 1996, p.207.