Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


I ENJOY BUILDING SCREWBALL AIRCRAFT with GMax for importation into Microsoft Flight Simulator. These include the Stipa-Caproni, which Daughter Suz calls the flying toilet-paper roll; the Pemberton-Billing Nighthawk, which I called a steam punk Zeppelin Buster; and the Blériot Limousine, which Henri Deutsch de la Meurthe called home. 

From top to bottom, the Stipa-Caproni, the Nighthawk, and the Limousine, all GMax renderings for Microsoft Flight Simulator. 

The ДБ-ЛК. By contrast, Viktor Belyaev’s flying wing is, at first glance, almost normal.

My GMax rendering of the Belyaev DB-LK.

However, the more you examine this aircraft (and the more you learn its bizarre history), the more you’ll understand my attraction to the DB-LK,  Dahl’niy Bombardirovshchik-LK long-range bomber–flying wing, as a GMax project.

Viktor Nikolayevich Belyaev, 1896–1953, Soviet aircraft designer,  former head of the OKB-4, and the founder of the science of the strength of aircraft structures in the Soviet Union.

Belyayev (another transliteration of his surname) had this thing for batwings. His series of БП (BP) gliders convinced him of the efficacy of their unorthodox shapes. 

The БП-3 glider. 

In 1934, Belyaev incorporated his “flying wing” design into a proposed transport aircraft with twin tail-booms each accommodating ten passengers. (Think the Blériot 125, but weirdly winged.) By 1939, he transformed the concept into the DB-LK bomber. 

Each fuselage pod housed an air-cooled 14-cylinder twin radial. The pilot rode in the left pod; the navigator in the right. Glazed tail sections housed gunners, each operating two different machine guns; the guy on the right doubling as radio operator as well.

Thanks, Google Translate. In addition to a Wikipedia article and a most entertaining Ed Nash YouTube titled “The Belyaev DB-LK; How Many Ideas Can a Designer Sandwich into an Aircraft?” I had a Google Translate rendering of a Russian document, one that’s rich in tidbits and post-Soviet irony.

“The DB-3 bomber,” the report noted, “was already quite adequately fulfilling its duties. The design goal of the DB-LK is one: to surpass its performance…. This was a powerful incentive for OKB-16 [one of the Soviet Union’s experiment and design bureaus]…. And a very optimistic motto for the project—“Voroshilov task—raised the creative spirit of the creators.” 

Kliment Voroshilov was one of Stalin’s five marshals, a “Hero of the Soviet Union” (twice). 

Rotating Roofs for Rear Guns. The report describes “a special kind of glazed gunners’ cabins in the back, giving them an extensive view. Cabins… had the ability to rotate around the axes of the fuselage.”

It continued, “The shelling of the rear hemisphere, the most dangerous when attacking enemy fighters, was provided by four machine guns…. The system of defensive fire, in general, was extremely dense. Stepan Suprun, for example, having familiarized himself with it, assessed it as follows: ‘A fighter can attack this aircraft only at random.’ ” 

One of my GMax ShKAS machine guns. 

However…. Later in the report, it’s noted, “Suprun’s conclusions, made ‘offhand’ regarding the excellent fire protection of the DB-LK, also turned out to be unjustified…. It turned out the gunner’s cockpit was too cramped to serve two firing points.” 

Gee, I experienced this in modeling the rear gunners’ access around those machine guns. 

But wait, there’s more: “In addition,” the report continued, “the cabins are filled with engine exhaust gases, creating a concentration ten times higher than the permissible one. It would be possible to fly in such a cabin only in a gas mask.” 

Ha. Or another reason to leave the rotating roof in its open position. 

Rear glazing in open configuration (necessary for firing the mid-mounted machine gun, or for firing the aft one anywhere but directly rearward.)

Tomorrow in Part 2, we’ll continue our virtual experiencing of Belyaev’s DB-LK. Expect more unforeseen faulty firepower and even an interfering tree stump. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2023 


  1. brosgunter
    March 2, 2023

    Hello Dennis,
    That is really a nice model. You’ve done an excellent rendition of Belyayev’s unique design. I can only imagine what Mr. Belyaev might have accomplished if development had been allowed to continue his work.

    Best Regards,

    P.S. Nice Drawings.

    • simanaitissays
      March 2, 2023

      Hello, John, Thanks for your kind words about my GMax fun. The drawing are from Wikipedia, not mine.

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