I really shouldn't call the TU-95 a "relic" because it's still in service and likely will be for years to come. Like its B-52 counterpart, it's such an adaptable aircraft that it's managed to change with the times while many would-be replacements have come and gone.

Whenever you read some breathless news story about "Eek! Russian bombers fly near__ !!!" it's almost always a pair of TU-95s. Just flying a couple of them near Guam a while back was enough to send defense hawks into conniptions.

As one Russian general quipped "That's why they call it International Airspace."

I'll say one thing for the Russians, when they find something that works they stick with it.

In 1950 a request was sent to both the Tupolev and Myasishchev design bureaus for a new strategic bomber. The new aircraft was to have the ability to deliver an 11,000 kg bomb load to a target 8000 km (4,970 mi) away.

Myasishchev came up with the jet powered M-4, which was a monumental disappointment.

Andrei Tupolev knew that the jet engines he had to work with would be just too fuel thirsty to give him the range and payload required. He cleverly decided to go with turboprops. This was directly in contradiction to Stalin's orders, by the way. Stalin wanted a jet bomber dammit. Gutsy move Andrei.

There weren't just any turboprops either. He used 4 massive Kuznetsov NK-12s. To this day the most powerful turboprops ever built. These monsters produce 14,800 horsepower each and swing an 18-foot, 8-bladed contra-rotating propeller.

These engines were based on late-war German research with some help from a team of German engineers. Now before you scoff and say "Well sure, they had German scientists build it" there was plenty of Russian know-how that went into this as well, especially the metal alloys that allowed it to be built.



03/28/2016 4:36am

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