Beriev MBR-2

Aircraft Profile

Key Facts

Main Role:
Short-range maritime reconnaissance flying boat
High-winged pusher amphibian
Soviet Union
Current Status:
Out of Service, Out of Production

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MBR-2bis – note the uncowled engine.
(photo, via author)


Russian seaplane development made reasonable advances during the final decade of the Tsarist government, with such types as the Grigorovitch biplanes – which were virtually copies of the Austrian Lohner flying-boat. But after the Bolshevik revolution it languished owing to the poor state of the Soviet economy. Little interest was shown until the 1920s when a requirement was issued for a reconnaissance type for use with coastal units on the Baltic and Black Seas.

The requirement was met by Georgii Mikhailovich Beriev, who at the age of 22 joined a new design bureau which was established in 1928 by a French designer, Paul-Aime Richard. The bureau was involved in developing an all-metal twin-engined twin-float seaplane, the TOM.1, sea-going torpedo aircraft of which Beriev designed most of the structural components. In 1930 Beriev left Richard to join the TsKB in Moscow where he was appointed chief designer.

By 1932 when licenced production of the Italian SIAI-Marchetti SM.62bis (MBR-4) had begun at Taganrog, Beriev had finished the design of a flying-boat which was designated MBR-2 (Morskoy Blizhnii Razvedchik) or Naval Short-Range Reconnaissance. The prototype of which had begun its flight test programme.

A shoulder wing monoplane of all wood construction (except for the metal fin & rudder) powered by a BMW VI.Z 12-cylinder water-cooled engine mounted above the centre section of the wing on ‘N’ struts and driving a four-bladed wooden airscrew in the pusher mode. The engine being rated at 730 hp at take-off and 500 hp for cruise, the aircraft attained a maximum speed of 129 mph with a ceiling of 14,436 ft. The MBR-2 possessed good hydrodynamic qualities and in 1934 entered production at Taganrog where Beriev transferred his bureau from Moscow. The type became the successor to the Italian designed S.62 which was known by the Soviets as the MBR.4.

The production version of the MBR-2 was powered by the licence built BMW known as the M-17b. Some minor modifications added extra weight to the aircraft bringing the maximum speed down to 124 mph. Maximum range was 715 miles. Armament comprised a 7.62 mm machine gun in the bows and also in a dorsal position aft of the wing and 661 lbs of bombs or mines could carried on racks under the wings.

In 1936 the MBR-2 became the standard reconnaissance flying boat of the Soviet Navy, often being fitted with alternative wheel or ski undercarriage for land operations. A commercial version was designed in 1934 as the MP-1 (Morskoy Passazhersky), which accommodated 6 passengers and a crew of 2, one of which operated on passenger routes between Odessa and Batumy. The prototype MP-1bis established various international records in May 1937 being flown by female pilot P.D. Osipenko.

The original military version was later modified by incorporating an enclosed cockpit replacing the original open version and a re-designed vertical tail surface plus the new Mikulin AM-34n engine which was rated at 830 hp and drove a 3-bladed metal airscrew.

The favourable characteristics of the MBR-2 was extremely liked by its crew and left little to be desired. It remained in service during the Second World War even though the production terminated in 1941 when more than 1,300 MBR-2s and MP-1 had been manufactured at Taganrog. The Beriev design bureau continued to develop water-borne aircraft up until today.

(served in Northern and Black Sea Fleets for recce/ASR duties trougout WW2 – and long after in fishery prostection and allied roles.

MBR-2 ‘9’ again with an uncowled engine.
(photo, via author)


Requirement Specification: Not known
Manufacturers Designation: Not known

Development History:
TsKB-25 First prototype, intended for M-27 engine but fitted with 500 hp BMW VI.F engine. Wing area 52.7 m2.
MBR-2 Initial production version. Wing area increased to 55 m2. Square topped fin & rudder. Open cockpit and gun positions, provision for wheel/ski undercarriage. 7.62 mm PV-1 machine guns. 3 small portholes added in fuselage. One 680 hp M-17B engine.
MBR-2bis Late production version. Enclosed cockpit, dorsal turret, larger pointed fin and rudder, beefed-up structure. One 860 hp AM-34NB engine in new oval nacelle shape. Later production with increased fuel capacity.
MBR-2/M-17b Alternative designation for early production MBR-2.
MBR-2/AM-34 Alternative designation for MBR-2bis.
MBR-2/M-34FN Projected version of MBR-2bis with M-34FN engine. Not built.
MBR-2/M-103 Designation for modernised version of MBR-2bis with M-103 engine. One conversion in 1937. No production due to lack of engines.
MBR-2 VU Several dozen MBR-2 converted for co-operation with torpedo boats. 5-seater with extra cabin for radio operators.
MBR-2bis VU Several MBR-2bis converted for co-operation with torpedo boats. 5-seater with extra cabin for radio operators.
MBR-2 One-off staff transport conversion. 1936. Eight seats.
MBR-2 Several dozen M-17B engined versions upgraded with MBR-2bis-style tail.
MP-1 6-passenger civil transport version of MBR-2. Enlarged porthole windows, sound-proofed cabin, bow gun position faired over, boarding hatch in place of rear gun position. One 500 hp M-17B engine.
MP-1 Photo survey version – at least 2 converted.
MP-1T Civil freighter (Tranportny) version of ex-military MBR-2. Strengthened cabin floor and freight loading hatch added. Armament deleted. One 500 hp M-17B engine.
MP-1bis Civil transport version of MBR-2bis. Armament deleted. One 750 hp AM-34B engine.
MP-1bis Photo survey version – at least 7 converted.
MP-1Tbis Civil freighter (Tranportny) version of ex-military MBR-2bis. Strengthened cabin floor and freight loading hatch added. Armament deleted.
MBR-7 Alternative designation for MBR-2/M-103.
Be-2 Designation erroneously attributed to MBR-2bis – actually it was the KOR-1.
Mote ASCC reporting name assigned for use by NATO in 1954.
Passenger transport MP-1bis with fuselage
windows. (photo, via author)


Key Dates:
1930?    Soviet Government issues official requirement for an aircraft to replace the S.62bis
May 1931    Design for TsKB-25 initiated.
Autumn 1931    Design work halted while replacement for M-27 engine sought.
December 1931    First prototype TsKB-25 completed.
3 May 1932    Maiden flight of TsKB-25 prototype at Sevastopol.
10 January 1933    State acceptance trials commenced.
August 1933    TskB-25 accepted for service as MBR-2.
late 1933    Start of MBR-2 series production.
9 February 1934    State acceptance trials completed.
1934    MP-1 first flight.
spring 1934    MBR-2 enters AV-MF service.
1934    Initial MP-1 deliveries to Aeroflot.
1935    Redesign produces MBR-2bis.
May 1936    MP-1 enters passenger service with Aeroflot.
1936    MP-1T enters service with Aeroflot.
22-25 May 1937    International altitude records set by P.D. Osipenko in MP-1bis prototype.
1937    MP-1bis enters passenger service with Aeroflot.
1937    Testing of MBR-7 improved version.
2 July 1938    Distance record of 2,416 km in 10 hrs 33 mins set by P.D Osipenko in MP-1bis.
August 1938    First combat use of MBR-2bis in battle of Lake Khasan against Japanese.
1940    Series production ends with last new-build MBR-2bis.
1946    MBR-2bis finally withdrawn from AV-MF service.
1954?    MP-1bis withdrawn from fishery patrol service.
Finnish MBR-2bis VV-181 seen at Hirviranta,
near Joensuu on Lake Höytiainen in Autumn 1941
(photo, via author)


Military Operators

Finland – Air Force 2 MBR-2 & 3 MBR-2bis (captured)
North Korea – Air Force some MBR-2bis
USSR – AV-MF (navy) MBR-2 & MBR-2bis aircraft

Government Agencies

USSR – People’s Commissariat for Fishery MP-1T & MP-1bis
USSR – Administration of the Topographic-Geodesic Service MP-1 & MP-1bis

Civilian Operators

USSR – Aeroflot MP-1 & MP-1bis
USSR – Polyarnaya Aviatsiya (Polar Aviation) MP-1T


Beriev MBR-2
Accomodation: three or four: front gunner/navigator, one or two pilots, rear gunner/radio operator
Dimensions: Length 44 ft 3.75 in (13.5 m); Height 17 ft 9 in (5.42 m); Wing Span 62 ft 4 in (19.0 m); Wing Area 592 sq ft (55.00 sq m)
Engines: One 680 hp M-17b (BMW VI) 12-cylinder Vee water cooled engine.
Weights: Empty operating 5456 lb (2475 kg), Max Take-off 9039 lb (4100 kg).
Performance: Max. Level Speed 126 mph (203 km/h) at 6,560 ft (2,000 m); Cruising speed 99 mph (160 km/h); Climb to 1,000 m (3280 ft) in 5.5 minutes; Service ceiling 14,400 ft (4,400 m); Normal Range 405 miles (650 km).
Armament: One 7.62 mm DA machine-gun each in open bow and dorsal positions. Maximum weapons load 661 lb (300 kg) of bombs, mines or depth-charges under inner wings.
Beriev MBR-2bis
Accomodation: three or four: front gunner/navigator, one or two pilots, rear gunner/radio operator
Dimensions: Length 44 ft 3.75 in (13.5 m); Height 16 ft 5.5 in (5.02 m); Wing Span 62 ft 4 in (19.0 m); Wing Area 592 sq ft (55.00 sq m)
Engines: One 860 hp Mikulin AM-34NB 12-cylinder Vee water cooled engine.
Weights: Empty operating 7024 lb (3186 kg), Max Take-off 9359 lb (4245 kg).
Performance: Max. Level Speed 171 mph (275 km/h) at 6,560 ft (2,000 m); Climb to 1,000 m (3280 ft) in 5.0 minutes; Service ceiling 23,450 ft (7,150 m); Normal Range 498 miles (800 km).
Armament: One 7.62 mm ShKAS machine-gun each in open bow position and manually operated dorsal turret. Maximum weapons load 661 lb (300 kg) of bombs, mines or depth-charges under inner wings.
MBR-2bis ’11’ taking off. (photo, via author)


Design Centre

Head of Design Team: G.M. Beriev
Design Offices: Prototype: Central Design Office of Marine Shipbuilding (CCB), Moscow. Production (1932+): OKB Beriev, 1 Aviatorov Square, 347923, Taganrog, Russia


GAZ-10/Zavod 31
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
TsKB-25 prototype 1 Zavod 39* 1931-1932
MBR-2 450+? Taganrog late 1933-1935
MP-1 prototype 1 Taganrog 1934
MP-1 75+ Taganrog 1934-1937
MBR-2bis 750+? Taganrog 1935-1940
MP-1T (? conv.) Taganrog? 1935-1940
MP-1bis 50+ Taganrog 1936-1939
Total: 1365    

Total Produced: 1365 a/c (all variants)
* Zavod 39 = Menshinskii, Moscow.

Production List

To be added.

More Information


‘MBR-2: Pervyi Gidrosamolet G.M. Berieva’ (AviaPress Bookshop)
by A.N. Zablotskii i A.I. Sal’nikov
Restart, Russia, Jan 2003   ISBN: 5 94141 006 9
* Very well illustrated history of the MBR-2. Russian text.

‘Illiustrirovannaia Entsiklopediia Samoletov TANTK Im. G.M. Berieva 1932-1945’ (AviaPress Bookshop)
by G.S. Panatov i K.G. Udalov
Aviko Press, Russia, 1998    ISBN: 5 86309 000 4
* Detailed history of all early Beriev aircraft, including unbuilt projects. Many illustrations.

‘Aircraft of the Fighting Powers Vol.III’
by H.J. Cooper & O.G. Thetford
Harborough Publishing, 1942    ISBN: n/a
* Includes short profile and fold-out 3-view line drawing.

‘Flying-Boats & Seaplanes since 1910’
by Kenneth Munson
Blandford Press, 1971    ISBN: 0 7137 0537 X
* Includes short profile and 2-view colour drawing.

‘Soviet Aircraft & Aviation 1917-1941’
by Lennart Andersson
Putnam, 1994    ISBN: 0 85177 859 3
* Includes 3 pages on the MBR-2.

‘The Osprey Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft 1875-1995’
by Bill Gunston
Osprey Publishing, 1995    ISBN: 1 85532 405 9
* Includes a detailed entry for the MBR-2.


Aeroplane Monthly May 1967
IPMS Mallari No.48 (Finnish text, includes drawings)
Mir Aviatsii No.2 2000
Aviatsija i Vremya No.1 2004 (includes scale drawings)
Aviatsija Aviation Magazine No.12bis
Avions Nos.66 & 67

* The official Beriev website

Wikipedia: Beriev MBR-2
* Very brief history and spec

Wings Palette
* 21 col profiles of MBR-2/MP-1 aircraft, including the prototype

Russian Warrior
* Spec plus brief operational history

Beriev MBR-2
* Brief info on aircraft captured by Finland

Warbird Photo Album
* 4 photos of MBR-2 aircraft

Beriev MBR-2
* Short history and spec

* Outline history and spec

MP-1, MP-1bis
* Outline history and spec


Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
Roy Tassell has a nice 1/36 scale drawing of the MBR-2.


To be added.

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