One of the loudest military aircraft globally, this vehicle has served the Soviet Union since the 1950s. With that, here are the Top 10 facts about the Tupolev Tu-95, Russia’s big strategic bomber, and missile platform aircraft.
The name Tupolev came from the company that manufactured this aircraft. According to their website, the Joint Stock Company Tupolev, or Tupolev in short, is the leading Russian company for design, manufacture, and post-sale support of missile carrier bomber planes. In 1922, Andrey N. Tupolev established this company, and since then, they have been manufacturing aircraft for the Russian Air Force. Furthermore, Tupolev created the very first prototype of the Tu-95 in 1952.
2. FIRST FLIGHT
The Tupolev Tu-95 Bomber aircraft first flew the skies on November 12, 1952. According to fas.org, the creation of this aircraft up to its first flight only took two years. The development for this plane came in 1950. There was a need for a bomber aircraft with an unrefueled range of at least 8,000 km (5,000 mi), far enough to threaten critical targets in the United States at that time. And four years after its first flight, the Soviet Air Force introduced the Tu-95 for service in 1956. NATO then gave it its famous codename, “BEAR.”
3. Tsar Bomba
There was a time where a Tu-95 dropped the world’s largest nuclear device ever tested. According to militaryhistorynow.com, the bomb detonated was the 50 megaton, 60,000 pounds, Tsar Bomba. It’s not only the world’s largest nuclear device, but it is also the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. The Tsar Bomba was so strong that the bomb’s mushroom cloud is visible from a distance of 100 miles, and its shockwave from the blast caused the Tu-95 to drop 1,000 meters instantly. The detonation occurred in October of 1961 over the Russian Arctic.
4. FIRST COMBAT
It took the Tu-95 fifty-nine years after entering service to finally experience combat. According to aviation.stackexchange.com, on 17 November 2015, Tu-95s had their combat debut, being employed for the first time in long-range airstrikes as part of the Russian military intervention Syrian Civil War. Furthermore, footages from the Russian Ministry of Defense in the fall of 2015 show them launching cruise missiles that went on to pound the positions of Syrian rebels.
A total of three incidents were associated with this aircraft. The first one happened in 1968 when two Tu-95 planes fell into the Black Sea during a training flight. Only one crew out of 18 survived. The second and third incidents happened in the same year only a month apart. According to an article from USNI News, a Tu-95 suffered a burning engine on June 8, 2015. One crew member dies in this incident. Almost a month later, a Tu-95 aircraft crashed while performing a scheduled training flight killing two crew members.
This bomber plane measures 46.2 meters long and 12.12 meters tall. It also has a wingspan measurement of 50.05 meters. According to Airplanes Daily blogs, the wing is swept back at 35 degrees for better aerodynamics. Furthermore, four engines are responsible for the speed and power of the Tu-95. Along with these engines comes an eight-bladed, counter-rotating propeller. The Tu-95 can also carry up to 15,000 kilograms worth of missiles, as well as an automatic gun.
7. PROPELLER SPEED
Another interesting fact you should know about the Tu-95 is that its engines and propellers are deafening. According to crewdaily.com, the reason for this is because the Tu-95’s propellers rotate faster than the speed of sound. The Tu-95’s four engines, along with its propellers, make it the only bomber aircraft to be propeller-powered and the loudest of any military bomber worldwide.
8. OVER 60 YEARS IN SERVICE
The Tu-95 has been in service for over 60 years. And one that would solidify its legacy in Russian aircraft history is its role in the Cold War. In a blog post from The National Interest, the Tu-95 performed maritime surveillance and targeting missions for other aircraft, surface ships, and submarines. And if the Cold War became hot, a plan will be enforced by Russia where dozens of individual Tu-95 bombers would fly across the Arctic Circle and drop nuclear bombs on targets over the United States.
There are at least 17 variants of the Tu-95 ever created. According to fas.org, the difference these variants had is either a change in the engine or the cockpit. The only thing similar to these variants, except for the first one, is that they all have a nose probe for aerial refueling. Furthermore, only two countries have operated this aircraft, Russia and Ukraine.
10. FUTURE PLANS
Our last fact for this list is the Tu-95’s longevity. This plane’s modernization project has extended the Tu-95’s life up to the 2040s, making it fly for over 80 years. According to their website, the current operational variant is the Tu-95MC, which costs around 26.28 million USD. Tupolev will be modifying this variant for higher flight speeds and aerodynamic efficiency.
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