SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Soviet Aviamatka (airborne mothership) with its parasite aircraft in flight. The large aircraft is a Tupolev TB-3 four-engined heavy bomber. This configuration carried two Polikarpov I-5 biplane fighters above the wings, two Polikarpov I-16 fighters beneath the wings and a Grigorovich I-Z fighter on a special trapeze system beneath the fuselage. This combination was intended to allow fighters to accompany bombers on long-range missions for protection. First flown in 1935, the Aviamatka never saw active service. However, a version with just the two I-16 aircraft used as dive-bombers was deployed during World War Two to good effect.
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