by: Adie Roberts [ ]
Originally published on:
The Tupolev Tu-95 (Russian: Туполев Ту-95; NATO reporting name: "Bear") is a large, four-engine turboprop-powered strategic bomber and missile platform. First flown in 1952, the Tu-95 entered service with the Soviet Union in 1956 and is expected to serve the Russian Air Force until at least 2040. A development of the bomber for maritime patrol is designated Tu-142, while a passenger airliner derivative was called Tu-114.
The aircraft has four Kuznetsov NK-12 engines with contra-rotating propellers. It is the only propeller-powered strategic bomber still in operational use today. The Tu-95 is one of the loudest military aircraft, particularly because the tips of the propeller blades move faster than the speed of sound. Its distinctive swept-back wings are at a 35° angle. The Tu-95 is one of very few mass-produced propeller-driven aircraft with swept wings
The design bureau, led by Andrei Tupolev, designed the Soviet Union's first intercontinental bomber, the 1949 Tu-85, a scaled-up version of the Tu-4, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress copy.
A new requirement was issued to both Tupolev and Myasishchev design bureaus in 1950: the proposed bomber had to have an un-refuelled range of 8,000 km (4,970 mi)—far enough to threaten key targets in the United States. Other goals included the ability to carry an 11,000 kg (24,200 pounds) load over the target.
The big problem for Tupolev was the engine choice: the Tu-4 showed that piston engines were not powerful enough to fulfil that role, while the fuel-hungry AM-3 jet engines of the proposed T-4 intercontinental jet bomber did not provide adequate range. Turboprops offered more power than piston engines and better range than jets available for the new bomber's development at the time while offering a top speed between these two alternative choices.
Tupolev's proposal was selected and Tu-95 development was officially approved by the government on 11 July 1951. It featured four Kuznetsov coupled turboprops, each fitted with two contra-rotating propellers with four blades each, producing a nominal 8,948 kW (12,000 effective shaft horsepower [eshp]) power rating. The then-advanced engine was designed by a German team of ex-Junkers prisoner-engineers under Ferdinand Brandner. In contrast, the fuselage was conventional: a mid-wing cantilever monoplane with 35 degrees of sweep, an angle which ensured that the main wing spar passed through the fuselage in front of the bomb bay. Retractable tricycle landing gear was fitted, with all three gear strut units retracting rearwards, with the main gear units retracting rearwards into extensions of the inner engine nacelles.
The Tu-95/I, with 2TV-2F engines, first flew in November 1952 with test pilot Alexey Perelet at the controls. After six months of test flights, this aircraft suffered a propeller gearbox failure and crashed, killing Perelet. The second aircraft, Tu-95/II featured four of the 12,000 eshp Kuznetsov NK-12 turboprops which proved more reliable than the coupled 2TV-2F. After a successful flight testing phase, series production of the Tu-95 started in January 1956.
I was lucky enough to be able to review this book from Crecy Publishing while I was at Telford for the IPMS internationals, and the one week that I have had this huge book I have not been able to put it down.
The book itself is some 560 pages and as I am sure you can imagine goes into depth about the whole program from its conception to its design and its service history.
Towards the end of the Second World War, it became clear that the Russians were starting to worry about the nuclear threat from the West and the need for a long distant bomber.
Before the end of World War 2 with the United States already fielding an intercontinental bomber and with Stalin’s distrust of his western allies, the fact that the bulk of the Russians heavy bomber fleet consisted mainly of IL4’s. It was decided that a plan for an intercontinental bomber should be of immediate priority, at the end of the World War 2 the Russians had some USAF B-17’s, B-24’s both part of the lend-lease program, a few B-29’s that had landed in Russia due to navigation error, power plant failures or enemy action which the Soviets troops had then gone out and secured the airworthy ones.
The Myasishchev OKB prepared two project studies designated DVB-202 and DVB-302 (dahl’niy Vysotnyy Bombardirovshchik - Long- range – high - altitude – bomber) One fact that I found very interesting was the reverse engineering of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress that had force-landed at a Russian airbase near Vladivostok on the 20th of July 1944. It is clear to see that one of the first Russian long-range bombers the Tu-4 was in every way a copy of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress.
The Tu-4 was envisaged to be used as a standoff weapons platform with unmanned aerial vehicles launched by the Tu-4 would deliver nuclear warheads to there intended target. Several other designs came about including the Tu-80 which had very similar lines and characteristics to a certain Boeing B-17.
In 1946 the Myasishchev original design bureau OKB-482 was disbanded as they had failed to get any tangible results. However, in 1950 Myasishchev approached the Soviet government with an offer to create a strategic bomber having a maximum speed of 950 km/h and a range of 13,000 km.
In 1951 a new design bureau, OKB-23 was established in a borough of Moscow, for this purpose, with Vladamir M. Myasishchev as Chief Designer. “The Bear is born”
On the 12th of November 1952 Aleksey D. Perelyot and his crew took the ‘95/1’prototype up on its first flight, this lasted for 50 minutes and reached an altitude of just over 1,150m.
Two more flights were made that year, the fourth flight took place on 13th of January 1953, and by mid-April‘ 95/1’ had performed 16 flights logging some 21 hours of flight hours, with repairs and modifications being made as appropriate after each flight.
On the 16th flight took place on the 17th of April, nearly ended in disaster with the potential loss of the ‘95/1’ prototype and crew, if it had not been for Perelyot’s superb piloting saved the day. The automatic blade pitch control failed on all four engines and forced Perelyot to land at Zhukovskiy where it was promptly grounded for a month, while Tupolev OKB and TsAGI put the collective heads together to find the cause of the issue. It was found to be a material flaw which was rectified to allow further flight tests to be done.
On the 11th of May 1953 disaster struck; the ‘95/1’crashed on its 17th flight. Andrey N. Tupolev happened to be at Zhukovskiy on the day of the accident and had monitored the flight from the control tower at Zhukovskiy. Initially, the flight had proceeded normally. Suddenly speaking in a remarkably calm voice – almost to calm Aleksey Perelyot, ‘I am in the vicinity of Noginsk (a town in the Moscow region) we have a fire in the number 3 engine. Vacate the runway I will becoming straight in from approach. Two or three minutes later he radioed, ‘we are unable to put out the fire it is spreading the engine nacelle and landing gear fairing are burning too’ we are approximately 24 miles from the airfield. Another message was heard several minutes later saying the number 3 engine had fallen off. The wing and main gear fairing are on fire I have just ordered the crew to bail out watch for us. That was the last transmission from the crew.
This is just a very small insight into this fabulous book on the iconic Russian Bomber that is still today flying and is constantly testing Nato’s response times
This book from Crecy Publishing is a fascinating and comprehensive coverage of the Tu series ‘Nato’ code name Bear and covers just about everything you would want to know and find out about the Bear.
Other chapters covered in this book include
1. The Forerunners
2. The Bear is born: Design and testing
3. First generation Air Force versions
4. The Naval Versions
5. Second-generation cruise missile carriers
6. The bear in detail
7. The Tu-95 in service: Air Force operations
8. Bears over the oceans: Navy Versions in action
9. Tu-95 and Tu-142 operators
Further reading via the large appendix sections continues with a full production list, accident attrition and lastly world records held by the Tu-95/Tu-142
Crecy publishing has published a comprehensive guide on the Tu-95 and Tu-142 giving much more insight and detail into this huge Russian bomber, it is written in a fashion that it gives you a history lesson of facts and figures. So much I thought I knew about the Tu-95 could be placed on a postage stamp, to what I know now!
I do have a love of Russian planes and armour particularly the Cold War but I would still recommend this book to anyone for the modeller's reference contained in the book with the number of high-quality photos is invaluable. The aviation enthusiast especially Russian aircraft then this may not be the sort of book you carry with you to an air show but it will certainly be useful before and after.