Military Review

Hypersonic "Tu"

The fifties of the last century remained in stories not only a period of rapid development of rocket technology, smoothly flowing into real rocket launcher. At this time, progress promised so excellent prospects in all areas of science and technology that a huge number of ideas began to appear, which only a couple of years ago seemed only science fiction. Among them were aircraft projects that were supposed to fly both in the air and outside the earth's atmosphere. In the early years of the rapid development of rocket technology, it was a hybrid of an aircraft and a rocket that looked like one of the most promising ways of developing nuclear delivery systems weapons. It was from this idea that a number of interesting projects of hypersonic and orbital aircraft "grew".


In 1958, the OKB A.N. Tupolev was assigned to carry out research work on the subject of “DP” - Dalny Planner. According to the original idea of ​​the customer, the “DP” aircraft was to be used as the last stage of the airborne missile strike system. The launch vehicle (almost all the medium-range and long-range missiles of that time were proposed for this role) took the plane into the above-atmospheric space, where it was undocked and sent to the target independently in unmanned mode. According to the research results, the Tupolev designers concluded that the optimal uncoupling height is 80-100 kilometers, depending on the distance to the target. Curious was the design of the designed "DP". Due to the high speed of the apparatus, after it was separated from the rocket, it was decided to finally abandon any main engine (hence the “planning” index), and to ensure the system’s operation, the aircraft was supposed to be equipped with a set of electric batteries and compressed gas cylinders.

Hypersonic "Tu"

Combat load "DP" initially worked out in two versions. According to the first, at the right moment a nuclear charge was dumped at a high altitude and the plane, leaving a dive, went "home." However, to ensure acceptable accuracy of hitting the target in such a case was, to put it mildly, difficult. In addition, the aircraft would hardly withstand the overload that occurs at the exit of the dive. Therefore, they refused the first option and began to work on the second one. According to him, the warhead was part of the design of the aircraft. Undermining the warhead, of course, will destroy the aircraft, but it is possible to create a much more accurate delivery system.

The project "DP" for its time looked more than promising. First, the military was captivated by the accuracy of the hit. It was significantly higher than that of the then ballistic missiles. Secondly, it was already clear then that soon all the leading countries would begin to create anti-missile defenses, and the assumed flight profile of the “DP” looked like a bomber’s anti-aircraft maneuver. Accordingly, using the "DP" plane for the delivery of nuclear charges, it would have been possible for several years or even decades not to worry about the enemy's missile defense system.

Research and preliminary design work on the topic "DP" took more than three years. In addition to the Tupolev Design Bureau, TsAGI, VIAM, LII and many other organizations were engaged in them. It is understandable, in addition to directly design issues, it was necessary to solve a number of related issues. Thus, high flight speeds in the final trajectory section required heat-resistant plating materials and power kit, while the fuselage and wing lines should provide acceptable aerodynamics, but not increase the heating of the structure. Finally, it was necessary to conduct an analysis of all possible flight paths and select from them the most suitable for a variety of parameters. In the course of these works, among other things, several experimental devices were built, on which certain technologies and ideas were tested.


All experimental aircraft were made in the framework of the project "130" (Tu-130). For several reasons, it was decided to withdraw the hypersonic ballistic experiments into a separate project. Already during the work on the project “130”, first of all, once again checked the aerodynamic layout of the future experimental apparatus. The classical scheme with a wing and tail, “duck”, tailless, flying wing, etc. were considered. An interesting fact is that at that time, TsAGI did not yet have hypersonic wind tunnels. Therefore, the tests had to be carried out in a specially created installation, in which the acceleration of the model took place with the help of a special gun. As a result of the purging, the tailless scheme was recognized as the optimal one, with a certain likeness of what is now called the carrier fuselage. Stabilizers were placed in the tail section. Having chosen the main direction of work, the Tupolev designers created several models of the 130 aircraft in different configurations. They were equipped with solid-propellant rocket engines and instrumentation. The launches of these models were made from the Tu-16LL flying laboratory. In several flights, we managed to accelerate the experimental layout to a speed almost six times the speed of sound.

Testing the construction of the airframe "130"

By the end of 59, the research came to an end and the Tupolev Design Bureau began the creation of the 130 aircraft itself. For it they took the tailless model with a carrying body and tail. In general, the aerodynamic layout of the full-size Tu-130 hardly differed from the model that "won the competition." The only noticeable change was the vertical keel: a small stabilizer was installed on its upper part. As a result, the 130 aircraft began to look like this: a semi-elliptic fuselage with a length of 8,8 meters in section, a wingspan of a stabilizer wing - 2,8 m and a height of 2,2 meters. Only two stabilizer wings and two keels are attached to the outer surface of the fuselage. Around the wing span with 75 ° sweep elevons were placed. There were no rudders on the keels, but on their side surfaces there were four brake plates. Removal of shields in the flow occurred on the principle of scissors. It was proposed to manufacture most of the power set and skin of the aircraft from heat-resistant steel alloys. The socks of the wing, the carinae, and the front fairing of the aircraft were faced with a special graphite material.

At this stage, they again returned to the idea of ​​the returned apparatus. As of the project at the beginning of 1960, the flight should have been as follows. The launch vehicle lifts the 130 aircraft to a height of the order of 90-100 kilometers and drops it. At this moment there is a correction of the trajectory of the aircraft and then it plans towards the target. With an initial flight speed of about M = 10, the flight range could reach four thousand kilometers. The on-board equipment made it possible to adjust the flight parameters several times during the flight, but for the test period they decided to confine themselves to only one adjustment after separation from the rocket. At the end of the flight, the “130” was supposed to slow down by going into the climb and opening the brake flaps. As soon as the speed dropped to an acceptable value, a parachute was ejected from the tail end of the apparatus, which initially served as a brake and then a landing one.

Originally planned to build five prototypes of hypersonic gliders, which were laid at the end of 59-th. A few months later, the first airframe was ready and at the pilot plant began the installation of control, cooling and measurement equipment. At the same time, in OKB-586 under the leadership of M.K. Yangel made revision of the rocket P-12. To install the 130 aircraft, it was necessary to place a new docking station on it, as well as to strengthen the structure due to the increased mass of the output load.

The Tupolev and Yangel design bureaus have already begun to prepare for the first launch of the P-12 rocket with the Tu-130 "on board", but already in February 1960, the project of the hypersonic airframe was given to the design team under the guidance of V.N. Chelomey.

To space!

However, the closure of the Tupolev project "130" did not bury all the developments of the design office on the subject of hypersonic aircraft. Just a few years after the transfer of “130” to Chelomey, the work on the ideological continuation of “DP” and “130” was continued. In the second half of the sixties, a new direction appeared in the aerospace industry, as it then seemed, universal and very promising. These were aerospace planes (VKS). The new direction promised to provide both military and civilian vehicles with a new level, which has a significant number of advantages over the existing one. So, outside the atmosphere, one can reach much higher speeds than in the air, and taking off and landing “in an airplane” should significantly reduce the cost of the flight. In addition, an aerospace plane can also be used to bring spacecraft to low orbits.

Since 1968, the Tupolev Design Bureau has been working on several VKS projects with different configurations, take-off weight and power plant. Thus, the take-off mass of promising vehicles ranged from 250 to 400 tons, and not only traditional liquid-propellant rocket engines were offered as a power plant, but also nuclear with hydrogen as a working medium. Of course, from today's point of view, such projects look like sheer fiction, but at the end of 60's they were considered really promising and quite realistic. But, unfortunately, only engineers saw them as real. A potential customer in the person of the Ministry of Defense preferred to missiles already mastered by aerospace aircraft. Therefore, the Tupolev design bureau has not started a normal design work on any of the VKS options.

However, it is unlikely that only the inertia of the military adversely affected the fate of the Tupolev aerospace system. For example, a nuclear rocket engine, even by today's standards, is the technology of the future, not to mention the end of 60. In addition to technological complexity, they had a number of other problems. The most tangible of them is the radioactivity of the jet stream. Because of this, the take-off of an aerospace plane with a nuclear engine must occur either in a specially designated area (it is unlikely that anyone will allow it), or with the help of additional engines. The Tupolev Design Bureau proposed for this purpose the use of a specially created turbojet engine operating on liquid hydrogen. On the one hand, such fuel eliminated the need to refuel the aircraft with two fuels at once, but on the other hand, such an engine needed to be created almost from scratch. For reference: the first flight of an aircraft with a liquid hydrogen engine - Tu-155 - took place only in the year 1988.

Fortunately, the developments on the subject of videoconferencing were not in vain. The same Tu-155 could not even appear, if at one time at the firms of Tupolev and Kuznetsov had not conducted some studies on the prospects for cryogenic fuel. Yes, and at present liquid hydrogen is considered one of the most profitable promising types of fuel, including for aerospace planes.

The orbital plane

The interest of the Soviet military in aerospace systems appeared only in the late seventies - early eighties. Then it became known that the creation of the Space Shuttles was in full swing in the USA and the Soviet Department of Defense needed a similar apparatus. By the end of the first half of the 80-x, the Tupolev Design Bureau, in collaboration with a number of organizations, prepared a package of documents regarding the appearance of a promising aircraft. In the course of research on the topic, three basic concepts of video conferencing were developed, differing from each other in both structural and operational features. In particular, even with regard to take-off, as many as three options were proposed:
- independent horizontal take-off from the airfield with the help of its own chassis or special booster;
- takeoff with the help of the carrier, bringing the orbital plane to the required height and speed;
- take-off with the help of a super-heavy carrier aircraft (take-off weight of the order of 1,3-1,5 th. tons) and the subsequent independent acceleration.

Similarly, the situation was with other moments of operation of a single-stage orbital plane (EP). However, according to the results of mathematical modeling of all three options, the most beneficial for the possible payload and the maximum height of the orbit was the take-off with the help of an aircraft carrier. As a power plant for environmental protection, a combination of liquid and direct-flow jet engines was initially considered. Liquid had to carry out the initial overclocking of environmental protection, after which the more economical direct flow was switched on. However, at the preliminary design stage, the ramjet engine had to be abandoned. The fact is that at that time it was not possible to make a suitable input device for such an engine. It was planned that direct-flow engines would be switched on at speeds of at least M = 5 ... 7, and there was no operating time for air intakes intended for such speeds. I had to leave only liquid engines. Liquid hydrogen was recognized as the most efficient fuel, and liquid oxygen was suggested as an oxidizing agent. It is noteworthy that precisely these types of fuel and oxidizer were chosen, first of all, for economic reasons - the production of liquid oxygen was established a long time ago, and large-scale production of liquid hydrogen was not required.

The design of the environment of the company Tupolev to some extent resembled the project «103». The same tailless with a low wing. However, the lively OOS wing had a developed root influx, and instead of two keels there was only one. In general, the environment was more like a ship "Buran" than its direct ancestor. Interesting aerodynamics of the project. Thus, the s-shaped wing profile was most effective at subsonic speeds. As planned by the designers, when flying at a subsonic speed, the lift was created by the wing. When passing through the sound barrier, the wing's efficiency sharply decreased, and the aircraft was maintained in the air due to the fuselage with a characteristic flat bottom and wing shape in plan. To control the OOS had elevons in the rear of the wing and two-piece rudder on the keel. These rudders were to be used for maneuvering at subsonic and supersonic speeds. During the transition to hypersound, as well as in orbit, low-power fluid engines were intended to control the maneuvers. In the rear part of the fuselage there were three liquid propellant rocket engines with a calculated load of 200 tons, and in the central part there was a separate compartment for the fuel and oxidizer tanks.

To protect the design of the apparatus and the cargo from high temperatures arising from movement at hypersonic speeds, it was proposed to make the external parts of the aircraft from different materials with different resistance to thermal loads. So, as a material for the nose of the fuselage, wing socks and keel (temperature up to 2000 °), a carbon-fiber composite reinforced with carborundum and silicon dioxide was proposed. The remaining surfaces were to be protected by a borosilicate-coated ceramic tile, the thickness of the tiles and the coating depending on the location of the concrete tile.

The estimated take-off weight of the environmental protection was determined within 700 tons, ten of which were in the payload. Independent landing of environmental protection was supposed to occur at a speed of 240-250 km / h. As already mentioned, at the beginning of the work there was no consensus on how to take off. However, it was later decided that taking to the air with the help of a carrier aircraft would be the most profitable option. Together with other enterprises, the Tupolev Design Bureau conducted research on the prospects of the aircraft carrier. The take-off weight of the environmental protection in 700 tons required an appropriate giant carrier. In various carrier variants, its total weight was equal to, or even exceeded, the take-off weight of the orbital plane. Thus, the entire system assembled before take-off weighed 1600-1650 tons. You can imagine the size of such a monster.

Project "2000"

As of the middle of 80-x, further work on the project, after which it will be possible to begin the tests, took at least 7-8 years. The term in 10 years looked more real. At the same time, in July 1986 of the year, a Government Decree was issued, requiring the creation of a practically applicable aerospace plane. Due to the impossibility of immediately building an EP of the full size and mass, the Tupolev residents decided to make another plane of smaller dimensions. He received the name Tu-XNUMHA and should have a maximum take-off weight of less than one hundred tons.

This plane should not go into orbit - it simply would not have enough fuel and engine thrust - but that was not its purpose. The Tu-2000 was intended to become a flying laboratory for testing manned flight at altitudes above 25-30 kilometers and speeds of the order of M = 6. For acceleration to hypersonic speeds once again were proposed direct-flow engines on liquid hydrogen in combination with turbojet.

The second version of the new project with the Tu-2000B index had a two and a half times greater take-off weight and large dimensions. It was on the basis of this project that in the future it was planned to make combat and passenger vehicles. For example, six direct-flow engines at a speed of M = 6 and an altitude of 30 km provided an estimated range of at least 10 thousand kilometers. The payload of the Tu-2000B in both variants reached 10-12 tons.

For the future Tu-2000А, the wing box, some elements of the fuselage and a number of fuel system components were manufactured. However, in the 1992 year, due to lack of funding, the project had to be frozen. Unfortunately, even in the nineties, the economic situation in the country led to the closure of both versions of the Tu-2000 and the EP project. As mentioned above, the construction of the latter was possible by the middle of 90's. For the Tu-2000, the approximate first flight time was determined in 13-15 years after the start of work. In other words, the Tu-XNUMHA was supposed to go on flight tests in the first half of the two thousandth. But so far this has not happened. Moreover, there is every reason to doubt that the EP and Tu-2000A projects will ever be resumed at all.

No prospects ...

Due to a number of not very pleasant events, almost half a century of experience and developments of the design bureau named. A.N. Tupolev in the field of hypersonic aircraft for various purposes was unclaimed. And, what does not add optimism, the closure of the DP, 130, OOS and Tu-2000 projects had a bad impact not only on the future of the Russian aerospace industry. Currently, due to the decommissioning of the American shuttle, the issue of a reusable space “truck” has become particularly acute. Around the world, various design offices are struggling with this problem, but so far there has been little success. Decent constructions are offered, however, unfortunately, they still do not have the characteristics that the working shuttle or the Soviet Tu-2000B didn’t fly.

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  1. vadimus
    vadimus April 26 2012 09: 17
    And all that went well and argued in the Big Country!
    1. YARY
      YARY April 26 2012 18: 04
      If Russian science were at least 10% as good as Soviet, and the introduction was like during the time of Stalin, there would be no equal on the planet !!!!! fool
  2. AK-74-1
    AK-74-1 April 26 2012 09: 17
    An interesting, very informative article. Thanks to the author.
  3. Isr
    Isr April 26 2012 10: 31
    The Americans have it all. It seems to me that these photos were ripped off the Internet and on them American planes. The USSR never had such a thing, except for "Buran", but something is not clean with it, its strange flight, but was there this flight? development, production and the only launch of such a unit into space looks very strange. most likely, no one flew anywhere, it was all a movie shot in Soyuzmultfilm. wanted to show that the USSR is no worse than the Americans. there was also an unsuccessful Tu-144, which was removed after several accidents, i.e. there is no need to talk about any achievement.
    1. ikrut
      ikrut April 26 2012 10: 59
      If it seems - you need to be baptized. Although you, most likely - not accepted.
      All this was in the USSR. I was related to Yangel Design Bureau and I have heard something about projects.
      Is there any doubt about Buran? So it is solely from your own non-awareness. The USSR’s automatic return vehicles to the moon were launched before the Americans. And before they got lunar soil. And the first would fly to the moon - everything was ready. But a little let down the main carrier. They didn’t have time (like the Americans often did not have time before). And then they simply did not start wasting money. At that moment, the meaning was gone. A lunar expedition with a man, after automatic returning vehicles - this has become more an image task. The Americans also quickly curtailed the lunar program.
      It may seem "strange" to you - but today the Americans have recognized the priority for automatic systems of space exploration. And they are implemented not only on drones
      But Buran’s flight was. Rest assured. And also automatic. And under it was implemented quite a few latest technical solutions and ideas. Take at least the same Mriya not surpassed so far. Yes, and it was built and ready for flight was a few returned apparatus.
      And as for the Tu-144. It was a new plane. Ess, but there were problems. But he flew. And the equipment would be brought. Don `t doubt. Another thing is that for the USSR it was simply not economically needed and was not in demand.
    2. Igor Vladimirovich
      Igor Vladimirovich April 26 2012 11: 03
      If they had this, then now they would not be puffed up and their hyperplanes would not fall in packs.
    3. El13
      El13 April 26 2012 14: 35
      How much hatred do you have for Russia, but in Russian you seem to write pretty well, the jester paid.
      For those who slightly doubted after the words of this, I confirm that "Buran" was ... unfortunately in the past tense.
      1. Isr
        Isr 3 July 2012 23: 59
        As soon as there is nothing to answer, a weak, unbalanced, insecure patriot begins to beat in hysterics and shout "paid fool." In fact, I am right, and there is a lot of evidence for that. "Unmanned" flight could not even be theoretical. They could not and still do not know how to do it. All Soviet RVs returned by parachute, in the form of a capsule, and only the Americans managed to create a shuttle. If people were flying in Buran, then it would be necessary to show them and reward them. But since Buran did not fly anywhere, they said that the flight was "automatic", there was no one to reward, the blizzard went to rest. Why fly? and where? how much was this senseless undertaking? All "the latest technical solutions and ideas implemented for it" (which ones?) Remained unclaimed. In short, you didn’t convince me, but even hanged me as a "paid fool".
        1. Barmal
          Barmal 9 March 2018 14: 36
          You Israelis will not see the point until you find the gesheft. And if the gesheft is not visible, then there is no faith.
    4. Vadivak
      Vadivak April 26 2012 14: 54
      Quote: Isr
      but with him something is not all pure, his strange flight,

      In unmanned mode, which the Americans can not repeat until now. By the way, Izzy vi do you know who was the first to go into space?
      1. axmed05
        axmed05 April 26 2012 15: 44
        Quote: Isr

        Isr DE Today, 10:31
        - -13 +
        The Americans have it all. It seems to me that these photos were ripped off the Internet and on them American planes. The USSR never had such a thing, except for "Buran", but something is not clean with it, its strange flight, but was there this flight? development, production and the only launch of such a unit into space looks very strange. most likely, no one flew anywhere, it was all a movie shot in Soyuzmultfilm. wanted to show that the USSR is no worse than the Americans. there was also an unsuccessful Tu-144, which was removed after several accidents, i.e. there is no need to talk about any achievement.
        And I wasn’t even offended, why be offended by a moron.
        1. Vadivak
          Vadivak April 26 2012 17: 27
          Quote: axmed05
          why offended moron offended.

          Izya is not a stupid person, he has a homeland where it’s good. Remember the Yankel from Taras Bulba?
      2. Isr
        Isr 4 July 2012 00: 01
        I know, Vasya, it was a Jew, but Gagarin was awarded. ( I'm kidding)
    5. biglow
      biglow April 27 2012 15: 34
      dear izya israelevich, you’ll behave badly, give Putin the idea of ​​overpowering all Jews from Germany to Israel. He seems to have approved the idea of ​​discussing any ideas that will collect 100 thousand signatures. And this idea will certainly collect. There is a valve on the pipe. You can cover it with a little bit of winter and the Germans will become accommodating ... and we are pleased smile
    6. Artmark
      Artmark April 28 2012 00: 23
      Russia is and will be the first !!!!! and all the resources are !!!
  4. Gamdlislyam
    Gamdlislyam April 26 2012 11: 11
    Dear colleague Isr, you very much blinked at the exceptional ability of only Americans to engage in such developments, and like our homegrown hamsters, you do not know the history of the USSR. In the USSR, many things were developed, something was tested, but not only Buran flew into space. There were also its predecessors, which were launched under the general name "Cosmos" with a four-digit number.
    In this case, in the article, the author describes some conceptual studies in the design bureau of Tupolev A.N. The same studies were carried out in the design bureaus of Myasishchev V.M., Mikoyan A.I., and others. Many research institutes have worked on this topic. With the advent of Gorbachev M.S. and Yeltsin B.N. to power, it all collapsed. Many of our designers, engineers, and scientists were forced to move in June, since in Russia they were not needed by the liberal-democratic privatizers.
    And now these Soviet developments are even perceived by some as fiction. It’s sad.
  5. 755962
    755962 April 26 2012 11: 54
    The Design Bureau WORKED! And the projects were wonderful. And the people who were devoted to their work .... The experience was huge, but now nobody needs it ... It is very unfortunate.
  6. dred
    dred April 26 2012 13: 25
    In vain they refused the program.
  7. USNik
    USNik April 26 2012 14: 46
    In vain they abandoned the Spiral, a small manned spaceplane, it would be very useful now. Over there, the US privateers from SpaceX are trying to storm the suborbit on their falcon, and it seems to come out. Moreover, one of those invested in the program was Bill Windows Gates, and ouryours all sorts of oligarchs hundreds of millions in a foot swell ...
  8. datur
    datur April 26 2012 20: 00
    USNik, and pseudo warriors Serdyukovites in the Mistral - which n ...... no one needs except them sawmills !!
  9. Chicot 1
    Chicot 1 April 27 2012 22: 13
    Read and breathtaking. What scale !!!
    Thanks to the author and "+". good
  10. radikdan79
    radikdan79 8 May 2012 23: 14
    I will not argue with you. As I understand it, our views on world history are different ... just look in the net for material concerning the "Spiral (aerospace system)" project and pay attention to the years of development of this project. you (judging by the flag under which you write) do not have this to this day ((
  11. Van
    Van 13 May 2012 17: 33
    755962 The Design Bureau WORKED! And the projects were wonderful. And people who were devoted to their work .... The experience was huge, but now nobody needs it ... It is very unfortunate.,

    It’s a pity that the union is no more, otherwise we would have shown the dermocratic world what the Russian savages are capable of ... crying
  12. chukapabra
    chukapabra 13 May 2012 17: 48
    Quote: Wang
    It’s a pity that the union is no more, otherwise we would have shown the dermocratic world what the Russian savages are capable of ...

    already shown., no union, but democratic savages live tongue
  13. cucun
    cucun 29 May 2012 16: 14
    I'm not a patriot of socialism. but it must be admitted that such projects, without regard to "efficiency", "payback", etc. could only afford the USSR. Now probably China.
    And there was a "Buran", my father-in-law received a VAZ 2106 in the form of a prize for its flight .... Although I was developing only a launch pad ... In those days it was not weak to receive a bowl as a gift.
  14. tarnishes
    tarnishes 18 June 2012 00: 13
    They knew how to do everything before, there were no imposed bourgeois ideologies and free exit! Yes, and conscience did not allow the majority! Now our geniuses have spread all over the world, and work for our potential enemies!

    It remains to work with what remains!
  15. Honory
    Honory 28 February 2015 14: 52
    It’s just marveling what developments the USSR had, but all this is already in the past.
  16. guzik007
    guzik007 22 November 2016 09: 21
    Decent designs are offered, however, unfortunately, they do not yet have the characteristics that the hard-working shuttles had or the Soviet Tu-2000B that did not fly.
    Ha! There was an Empire, and there were "imperial eagles". And now ... all the remnants of those backlogs are being sucked up to the stop, but we are launching some incomprehensible "sheds" or "hangars".