The Be-10 was designed in response to Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union directive No.2622-1105ss which called for a turbojet powered flying boat for open-sea reconnaissance, bombing, torpedo attack and mine-laying. Stipulated performance was to include a maximum speed of 950 to 1,000 km/h (590 to 621 mph) and the ability to operate in wave heights of 1.5 m (5 ft) at wind speeds up to 20 m/s (45 mph) with submission for state acceptance trials in November 1955.
OKB-49, under the leadership of Gheorgiy M. Beriev took up the challenge of designing and building the Izdeliye M (Beriev OKB in-house designation), approval to proceed with prototype manufacture was received in mid-1954, but OKB-49 did not have facilities to build the prototype, so this was performed at the nearby GAZ no.89 (Gosudarstvenny Aviatsionnyy Zavod – state aviation plant/factory), also known as TMZD (Taganrogskiy Mashinostroitel'nyy Zavod imeeni Dimitrova - Taganrog Machinery Plant named after Gheorgi Dimitrov).
Beriev realised that the Be-10 would be ready for trials during the winter of 1955, but Taganrog, where the OKB was located, is ice-bound in winter, so an alternative site was chosen at Gelendzhik on the Black Sea coast, which is clear of ice all year round. The completed components of the first prototype were transported to Ghelendjik where they were assembled and trials begun on 20 December 1955. Initial ground running of the engines revealed potentially disastrous vibration of the rear fuselage, which caused cracking of skin and structural components as well as loosening nuts and fasteners, also fracture of pipeline and wiring loom support brackets. To reduce the vibration caused by the jet exhaust, the jet-pipes were splayed outboard by a further 3° to 6°. The prototype also underwent trial installation of raised extended air intakes to reduce water ingestion, but they were not adopted for in-service aircraft due to the degradation in performance.
After the first flight of the Be-10 on 20 June 1956, manufacturers flight testing lasted a total of 76 flights up to 20 October 1958, whence the prototype was submitted for state acceptance trials along with the first production aircraft. Anticipating that any deficiencies could be rectified during production or by modification, production of 27 examples for service with Soviet Naval Aviation (AV-MF) was authorised from 1958 to 1961.
The Be-10 is an all-metal high-wing monoplane with the engines located beneath the wing roots and with splayed-out tailpipes. To minimize the risk of water ingestion, the engine air intakes are located on the forward fuselage section with spray fences on either side of the bow protecting the engines from water ingestion. The streamlined hull was fitted with a shallow single-step, sea rudder under the rear fuselage, 50° swept wings with marked anhedral and balance floats attached by short pylons at the wing-tips.
Conventional swept-back stressed skin construction tail surfaces were a 35° sweptback fin and 40° swept tail-planes just above the rear fuselage. Control surfaces were Ailerons on each wing, a rudder on the fin and elevators on the tail-planes. The fuselage was a two step design with a high length to beam ratio to improve rough water handling, v-section planing bottom, two steps and was divided into nine water-tight compartments the forward and rear compartments being pressurised. Engine nacelles for the Lyul'ka AL-7F engines were attached to the fuselage sides under the wing centre-section.
The original design showed some weaknesses in the seaworthiness and had to be modified; after modification the Be-10 was seaworthy up to a wave height of 1.2 m and able to fly with wind speeds up to 16 m/s (36 mph) from water or land.