27 July 2015

Tu-95 Bear, Soviet/Rusian Strategic Bomber

The Tu-95 is the world's only swept-wing turboprop ever to enter service. Its distinct engines, each with two counter-rotating propellers, also make the Bear the fastest propeller-driven airplane ever built.

The original Tu-95 was designed to carry two nuclear bombs to targets in the continental US. Later versions carried cruise missiles for long-ange stand-off missions. The Bear has also been used for reconnaissance, especially by the Soviet/Russian Navy which used the aircraft to locate US aircraft carrier task forces.

A specialized variant of the Bear is the Tu-142 dedicated to maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare. Over 300 Bears were built.

General characteristics
  • Crew: 6–7; pilot, co pilot, flight engineer, communications system operator, navigator, tail gunner plus sometimes another navigator.
  • 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 m² (3,330 ft²)
  • 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: 4 × Kuznetsov NK-12M turboprops, 11,000 kW (14,800 shp) each
  • 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/m² (124 lb/ft²)
  • Power/mass: 235 W/kg (0.143 hp/lb)
  • Radar-controlled guns: 1 or 2 × 23 mm AM-23 autocannon in tail turret.
  • Missiles: Up to 15,000 kg (33,000 lb), including the Raduga Kh-20, Kh-22, and Kh-55/101/102 Air-to-surface missiles.
Appearance of Tu-95 at July 1955 Aviation Display at Tushino put western observers at a loss. A combination of propellers and swept wing and tail surfaces seemed to be inappropriate and early analysis of Bear's performance resulted in unrealistically downplayed bomber's performance. Western experiments with supersonic propellers flown on XF-84H and XF-88B have shown considerable loss in performance of the high-rotating propeller when tips were reaching supersonic speeds.

First DoD estimates shown that Bear was not capable of exceeding 400 mph with range of 7,800 miles. Appearance of Tu-114 (demilitarized version of bomber with slightly greater fuselage diameter) force DoD to review its numbers on Bear: 460 mph and max. range of 6,000 miles. In April of 1960 Tu-114D set a speed-with-load record at average of over 545 mph round 5,000 miles.

In 1975 the figure for range changed to 7,800 miles and currently it is believed to be 9,200 miles with 25,000 lb load. Level speed was admitted to be 570 mph (Mach 0.82) at 25,000 ft and 520 mph (Mach 0.785) at 41,000 ft. Cruising speed of Tu-95 is 442 mph (Mach 0.67). Later versions with more powerful engines have higher performance.

Max. speed at 25,000 ft 575 mph, at S/L 404 mph, nominal cruising speed 442 mph, ceiling 39,370 ft, combat radius with 25,000 lb payload 3,975 miles, with one in-flight refueling 5,155 miles.

It is rumored that Bear is known to be able to out accelerate contemporary western interceptors. This hard to believe fact can be accounted by use of variable-pitch propellers of NK-12M turboprops. Modern jets need to use afterburners to keep up with accelerating Bear. In fact, one of the photo showing Panavia Toronado using reheat on one of the engines while pursuing this remarkable bomber.

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