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Tupolev Tu-95 Video - Documentary

Tupolev Tu-95 Aircraft Information

Tupolev Tu-95

Tu-95

Warbird Picture - Tu-95MS at Engels Air Force Base

Picture - Tu-95MS at Engels Air Force Base

Role: Strategic bomber, missile carrier, airborne surveillance
Manufacturer: Tupolev
First flight: 12 November 1952
Introduced: 1956 (MS-1981)
Status: Active in service
Primary users: Soviet Air Forces Soviet Navy Russian Air Force
Number built: 500+
Variants: Tupolev Tu-114 Tupolev Tu-119 Tupolev Tu-142

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 was put into service by the former Soviet Union in 1956 and is expected to serve the Russian Air Force until at least 2040..

Commonly referred to even in Russia by its NATO designation, "Bear", the aircraft has four Kuznetsov NK-12 engines, each driving contra-rotating propellers. It remains the fastest propeller-driven aircraft in history (a bigger, heavier, passenger version Tu-114 with de-rated engines, holds the FAI certified world speed record at 541.23 mph average speed on a 1000 km closed circuit carrying a load equivalent to only 200 kg short of the weight of three Douglas DC-3's. Some experimental aircraft were designed for theoretically higher speeds, but none attained or registered them.) It also remains the only turboprop-powered strategic bomber in operational use. Its distinctively swept-back wings are at 35 degrees, a very sharp angle by the standards of propeller-driven aircraft, and justified by its operating speeds and altitudes. Its blades, which rotate faster than the speed of sound, make it the noisiest military aircraft on earth.

A naval development of the bomber is designated Tu-142.

Design and development

Airplane Picture - A Tu-95MS in-flight over Russia in 2007.

Picture - A Tu-95MS in-flight over Russia in 2007.

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. The Tu-4 was deemed to be inadequate against the new generation of American all-weather interceptors.

A new requirement was issued to both Tupolev and Myasishchev design bureaus in 1950: the proposed bomber had to have an un-refueled range of 8000 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 (12 ton) 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 fulfill 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, with a top speed in between.

Airplane Picture - View of a Tu-95 showing its swept-wing planform

Picture - View of a Tu-95 showing its swept-wing planform

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 fitted with eight-bladed contra-rotating propellers, producing a nominal 8,948 kW (12,000 eshp) power rating. Unlike the advanced engine design, the fuselage was conventional: a mid-wing cantilever monoplane with 35 degrees of sweep, an angle which ensured 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 November 11, 1952 with test-pilot Alexey Perelet at the controls, but suffered a propeller gearbox failure and crashed. The second aircraft, Tu-95/II featured four of the 12,000 ehp 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.

Airplane Picture - A Tu-95MS simulating aerial refueling with an Ilyushin Il-78 during the Victory Day Parade in Moscow on 9 May 2008.

Picture - A Tu-95MS simulating aerial refueling with an Ilyushin Il-78 during the Victory Day Parade in Moscow on 9 May 2008.

For a long time, the Tu-95 was known to U.S./NATO intelligence as the Tu-20. While this was the original Soviet Air Force designation for the aircraft, by the time it was being supplied to operational units it was already better known under the Tu-95 designation used internally by Tupolev, and the Tu-20 designation quickly fell out of use in the USSR. Since the Tu-20 designation was used on many documents acquired by U.S. intelligence agents, the name continued to be used outside the Soviet Union.

Initially the United States Department of Defense did not take the Tu-95 seriously, as estimates showed it had a maximum speed of 644 km/h (400 mph) with a range of 12,500 km (7,800 mi). These numbers had to be revised upward numerous times.

Like its American counterpart, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, the Tu-95 has continued to operate in the Russian Air Force while several subsequent iterations of bomber design have come and gone. Part of the reason for this longevity was its suitability, like the B-52, for modification to different missions. Whereas the Tu-95 was originally intended to drop free-falling nuclear weapons, it was subsequently modified to perform a wide range of roles, such as the deployment of cruise missiles, maritime patrol (Tu-142), and even civilian airliner (Tu-114). An AWACS platform (Tu-126) was developed from the Tu-114. An icon of the Cold War, the Tu-95 has served not only as a weapons platform but as a symbol of Soviet and later Russian national prestige.

Tu-116

Airplane Picture - A Tu-116 preserved at Ulyanovsk Aircraft Museum

Picture - A Tu-116 preserved at Ulyanovsk Aircraft Museum

Designed as a stopgap in case the Tu-114A was not finished on time, two Tu-95 bombers were fitted with passenger compartments. Both aircraft had the same layout: a 3-seat VIP section with office space, and the rest of the 70 m cabin configured as a normal airliner. Both planes were eventually used as crew ferries by the various Tu-95 squadrons. One of these machines is preserved at Ulyanovsk Central Airport.

Operational history

Cold War icon

The Tu-95RT variant in particular was a veritable icon of the Cold War as it performed a vital maritime surveillance and targeting mission for other aircraft, surface ships and submarines. It was identifiable by a large bulge under the fuselage, which housed a radar antenna that was used to search for and target surface ships. The US Navy placed high priority in intercepting the Tu-95RT aircraft at least two hundred miles from aircraft carriers with its interceptors, which would then escort the Tu-95 away from NATO airspace.

During interceptions, Tu-95 tail gunners typically kept their twin cannon pointed upwards so as not to antagonize the intercepting fighters. Similarly, NATO rules of engagement for interceptions restricted aircrews from locking onto the Tu-95 with fire control radar lest this be misinterpreted as a hostile act.

During the height of the Cold War, the long range of the Tu-95 was demonstrated weekly as a pair of Tu-95s would fly from the Kola Peninsula to Cuba along the East Coast of the United States, escorted continuously along the way.

The Tu-95 carried and dropped the AN602 Tsar Bomba, the largest and most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated (deliberately de-rated from 100 to 50 megatons), in 1961.

Present and future status

Airplane Picture - Tu-95MS escorted by a Canadian Air Force CF-18.

Picture - Tu-95MS escorted by a Canadian Air Force CF-18.

All Tu-95s now in Russian service are the Tu-95MS variant, built in the 1980s and 1990s. On August 18, 2007, then-President Vladimir Putin announced that Tu-95 patrols would resume, 15 years after they had been terminated.

NATO fighters were (and still are) often sent to intercept Tu-95s as they performed their missions along the periphery of NATO airspace, often in very close formation.

Airplane Picture - An F-15C Eagle intercepting a Russian Tu-95MS off the west coast of Alaska on 28 September 2006.

Picture - An F-15C Eagle intercepting a Russian Tu-95MS off the west coast of Alaska on 28 September 2006.

Russian Tu-95s reportedly took part in a naval exercise off the coasts of France and Spain in January 2008, alongside Tu-22M3 Backfire strategic bombers and airborne early warning aircraft.

In October 2008, during a Russian military exercise code-named Stability 2008, Tu-95MS aircraft fired live air launched cruise missiles (ALCM) for the first time since 1984. The long range of the Raduga Kh-55 ALCM means the Tu-95MS Bears have been transformed once again into a strategic weapons system.

Variants and Derivatives

Airplane Picture - A Tu-95 performs a fly-over with an Il-78 and two MiG 29s simulating aerial refueling at the Victory Day Parade in Moscow on 9 May 2008.

Picture - A Tu-95 performs a fly-over with an Il-78 and two MiG 29s simulating aerial refueling at the Victory Day Parade in Moscow on 9 May 2008.

Tu-95/1: The first prototype powered by Kuznetsov 2TV-2F coupled turboprop engines, crashed on its first flight.
Tu-95/2: The second prototype powered by Kuznetsov NK-12 turboprops.
Tu-95/Tu-95M: Basic variant of the long-range strategic bomber and the only model of the aircraft never fitted with a nose refuelling probe. Known to NATO as the Bear-A.
Tu-95K: Experimental version for air-dropping a MiG-19 SM-20 jet aircraft.
Tu-95K22: Conversions of the older Bear bombers, reconfigured to carry the Raduga Kh-22 missile and incorporating modern avionics. Known to NATO as the Bear-G.
Airplane Picture - Tu-95RTs

Picture - Tu-95RTs

Tu-95K/Tu-95KD: Designed to carry the Raduga Kh-20 air-to-surface missile. The Tu-95KD aircraft were the first to be outfitted with nose probes. Known to NATO as the Bear-B.
Tu-95KM:Modified and upgraded versions of the Tu-95K, most notable for their enhanced reconnaissance systems. These were in turn converted into the Bear G configuration. Known to NATO as the Bear-C.
Tu-95M-55: Missile carrier.
Tu-95MR: Bear A modified for photo-reconnaissance and produced for Naval Aviation. Known to NATO as the Bear-E.
Tu-95MS/Tu-95MS6/Tu-95MS16:- Completely new cruise missile carrier platform based on the Tu-142 airframe. This variant became the launch platform of the Raduga Kh-55 cruise missile. Known to NATO as the Bear-H and was referred to by the U.S. military as a Tu-142 for some time in the 1980s before its true designation became known.
Tu-95N: Experimental version for air-dropping an RS ramjet powered aircraft.
Tu-95RTs: Razvedchik Tseleukazatel: Variant of the basic Bear A configuration, redesigned for maritime reconnaissance and targeting as well as electronic intelligence for service in the Soviet Naval Aviation. Known to NATO as the Bear-D.
Tu-95U Uchebnyy: Trainer: Training variant, modified from surviving Bear A's but now all have been retired. Known to NATO as the Bear-T.
Tu-96: long-range intercontinental high-altitude strategic bomber prototype, a high-altitude version of the Tupolev Tu-95 aircraft with high-altitude augmented turboprop TV-16 engines and with a new,enlarged area wing. Plant tests of the aircraft were performed with non-high altitude TV-12 engines in 1955-1956.
Tu-114: Airliner derivative of Tu-95.
Tu-116: Tu-95 fitted with passenger cabins as a stop-gap while the Tu-114 was being developed. Only two converted.
Tu-95LaL (Tu-119): Experimental nuclear-powered aircraft project.
Tu-126: AEW&C derivative of Tu-114, itself derived from the Tu-95.
Tu-142: Maritime reconnaissance/anti-submarine warfare derivative of Tu-95. Known to NATO as the Bear-F.

Several other modification of the basic Tu-95/Tu-142 airframe have existed, but these were largely unrecognized by Western intelligence or else never reached operational status within the Soviet military. One of these modified Bears, known as the Tu-95V, was used to drop the Tsar Bomba.

Operators

Airplane Picture - A lineup at sunset of Tu-95MS at Engels Air Force Base in December 2005.

Picture - A lineup at sunset of Tu-95MS at Engels Air Force Base in December 2005.

Current

Russia

Russian Air Force: 50 Tu-95MS Strategic bombers.

Former

Ukraine

Ukrainian Air Force: Retired from Military service. Operates two Tu-95s for testing.

Soviet Union

Soviet Air Forces, Long Range Aviation: Passed on to Russia and Ukraine.
The first Tu-95 division, 106th TBAD (Heavy Bomber Air Division), was formed in 1956. The division commander was twice-Hero of the Soviet Union A.G. Molodchi. The 106th TBAD incorporated the 409th TBAP (Heavy Bomber Air Regiment ) (commander - Colonel M.M. Charitonov) which was raised late in 1956 and the 1006th TBAP (commander - Colonel V.P. Pavlov) raised in 1956. The 106th TBAD's base was Uzin near Kiev.
The 1223rd TBAP in Semipalatinsk, under the command of Hero of the Soviet Union Colonel V.M. Bezbokov, was raised in 1957, within the 79th Air Division (commander - twice-Hero of the Soviet Union General Major M.P. Taran). The 1223rd's targets were the north of the US and Canada.
Soviet Naval Aviation

Specifications (Tu-95MS)

Airplane Picture - Right view of the Tupolev Tu-95

Picture - Right view of the Tupolev Tu-95

General characteristics

Crew: 6-7
Length: 46.2 m (151 ft 6 in )
Wingspan: 50.10 m (164 ft 5 in)
Height: 12.12 m (39 ft 9 in)
Wing area: 310 m (3,330 ft)
Empty weight: 90,000 kg (198,000 lb)
Loaded weight: 171,000 kg (376,200 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 188,000 kg (414,500 lb)
Powerplant: 4x Kuznetsov NK-12M turboprops, 11,000 kW (14,800 shp) each

Performance

Maximum speed: 920 km/h (510 knots, 575 mph)
Range: 15,000 km (8,100 nmi, 9,400 mi) unrefueled
Service ceiling: 13,716 m (45,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 10 m/s (2,000 ft/min)
Wing loading: 606 kg/m (124 lb/ft)
Power/mass: 235 W/kg (0.143 hp/lb)

Armament

Radar-controlled Guns: 1 or 2 x 23 mm AM-23 autocannon in tail turret.
Missiles: Up to 15,000 kg (33,000 lb), including the Raduga Kh-20, Kh-22, Kh-26, and Kh-55 air-to-surface missiles.

Related

Tupolev Tu-114
Tupolev Tu-116
Tupolev Tu-119
Tupolev Tu-126
Tupolev Tu-142
Tupolev Tu-160

Similar aircraft

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress
Myasishchev M-4 Molot
Xian H-6K

Bibliography

Duffy, Paul and Andrei Kandalov. Tupolev: The Man and His Aircraft. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife, 1996. ISBN 1-85310-728-X.
Grant, R.G. and John R. Dailey. Flight: 100 Years of Aviation. Harlow, Essex: DK Adult, 2007. ISBN 978-0756619022.

Living Warbirds: The best warbirds DVD series.

Source: WikiPedia

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