TsAGI centenary in the history of aviation: the Tupolev Tu-95 missile bomber
12 November 2018
The Tu-95, NATO reporting name “Bear” is the only propeller-powered strategic bomber still in operational use today. Its main advantages are the speed, range and the ability to be hidden from the target acquisition systems, able to find strategic bombers by jet-engine exhaust.
The need to develop a high-speed long-range bomber occurred in the early 1950’s when the Soviet leadership feared a nuclear threat from the United States. In addition, the war in Korea showed the importance of heavy aircraft in fight. Stalin summoned his aircraft designer Andrey Tupolev to discuss the creation of an around-the-world jet nuclear delivery vehicle. Tupolev made an objection that it was impossible, because intercontinental jet engines used too much fuel for the required range. As a result, it was decided to design a bomber with turboprop engines of sufficient power. Such engine units did not exist in the world at that time. In the search of options scientists were interested by the turbo-propeller engine TV-2, developed by Nikolai Kuznetsov, General Designer of the Pilot Plant No. 276 in Kuybyshev. Based on captured German JUMO-022 technology, it had take-off power of 6250 horsepower, cost-effectiveness and durability of 200 h. As a result, these two engines were combined into one — the 2TV-2F.
However, this engine did not give sufficient cruising speed. TsAGI aerodynamicists helped to solve this problem. In cooperation with the Zhdanov Design Bureau they created unique contra-rotating propellers with high values of efficiency, a feat unequaled in the world until the present time. Flight tests fully confirmed the vast experimental research results and the design procedure development.
TheTu-95 with four engines, contra-rotating propellers and swept-back wings took its first flight in November 11, 1952. The “Bear” entered service in 1956. There are several serial aircraft modifications, including the Tu-95M with an increased fuel load, the Tu-95V to test-drop the largest thermonuclear weapon ever designed, the Tu-95 MSM with advanced radio-radar equipment as well as a target-acquiring/navigation system and four underwing pylons for up to 8 Kh-101/102 stealth cruise missiles. The Tu-95MR first made reconnaissance in the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. Tu-95RTs regularly patrolled the remote ocean areas. The Tu-95MS performed a nonstop flight around the USSR’s boundaries.