|“||Russian bombers incoming, sir!
- Kowalski, The Grande Finale!
ANT-42/TB-7, later known as the Petlyakov Pe-8 (named after Petlyakov himself was killed in a crash in 1942) was a bomber aircraft produced by the Soviet Union in World War II.
When built in 1936, it was fairly on par with the early B17s, but it saw limited production over the years, along with little improvement, so it quickly became outdated by Western standards. The Soviets seemed dissatisfied with their Pe-8s, since they later built B-29 Superfortresses under the name Tu-4. Luckily it carries a payload sufficient to level most structures in a single run and as a result the PE-8 can occasionally surprise its opponents by turning their buildings to ashes in a daring raid.
PE-8 is a relic of Interbellum shiftiness of Soviet doctrines. When it was designed, the Soviets expected they would be fighting Great Britain. By the time it was built, Germany was the designated enemy. Similarly to Germans, the Soviets decided they could neglect heavy bombers in favor of Stukas and Sturmoviks. As a result, a total of 93 were produced.
The Soviets, however, found the craft more than sufficient for its role. It could achieve an altitude of 9300 meters and cruised at 400 kph, making it almost invulnerable to both fighters and flak - or so it was thought. It could carry 4000 kg of bombs, but a 5-ton FAB-5000 didn't slow it down much. Its armament of two 20-mm autocannons, two 12,7 guns and two rapid-fire 7,62 mm MGs were also believed to render it near-invincible. It is openly declared that it was only bested by the Superfortress.
The small number of Petlyakovs defined their purpose - small-scale strategic bombings throughout the entire war, including a raid on Berlin on August 10th 1941. By 1943 27 craft had been destroyed. Yet it proved capable of bringing the Soviet people's commissar of foreign affairs Molotov from Russia to Northern Scotland on May 19th 1942, at the height of German power. And it even brought him back the same way.
Also the Pe-8, along with the He 111, were the world's first cruise missle carriers. There was little difference in time (1944-1945) and the device (Chelomei's 10X was a reverse-engineered V-1).
The Pe-8 can destroy an industrial building with a single run as it can destroy a HQ with only 3 runs, where light bombers take 10 runs to destroy a HQ. It is extremely slow, being the slowest bomber in the game.
During the DLC operation 'Operation Zapad', the player is given a unique PE-8 that drops nuclear bombs. The player gains control after the AI sends in it's first wave of nuclear B17s. It will automatically destroy any buildings or troop concentrations, but with it's retained faults and the American's P51s present, it is very difficult to use them.