Airplane with a nuclear engine

Airplane with a nuclear engine

Let's start with the fact that in 1950-s. in the USSR, unlike the USA, the creation of an atomic bomber was perceived not only as a desirable, even if very, but as a vital task. This attitude was formed among the top leadership of the army and the military-industrial complex as a result of the awareness of two circumstances. Firstly, the huge, overwhelming advantages of the States in terms of the very possibility of atomic bombing of the territory of a potential enemy. Acting from dozens of air bases in Europe, in the Middle and Far East, US planes, even with the entire 5-10 km range, could reach any point of the USSR and return. The Soviet bombers were forced to work from airfields on their own territory and for a similar raid on the USA they had to overcome 15-20 thousand km. There were no aircraft with such a range in the USSR at all. The first Soviet strategic bombers M-4 and Tu-95 could only cover the very north of the United States and relatively small sections of both coasts. But even these machines in 1957, there were only 22. And the number of American aircraft capable of striking the USSR reached 1800 by that time! And they were first-class atomic bomb carriers. weapons B-52, B-36, B-47, and a couple of years later supersonic B-58 joined them.

Secondly, the task of creating a jet bomber of the required range with a conventional power plant in the 1950-s. seemed irresistibly difficult. Moreover, supersonic, the need for which was dictated by the rapid development of air defense systems. The flights of the first in the USSR supersonic strategic carrier M-50 showed that with a load of 3-5, even with two refueling in the air, its range can barely reach 15000 km. But how to refuel at supersonic speed, and besides over the territory of the enemy, no one could answer. The need for refueling significantly reduced the likelihood of a combat mission, and in addition, such a flight required a huge amount of fuel - in sum more than 500 tons for refueling and refueling aircraft. That is, only for one flight the regiment of bombers could spend more than 10 thousand tons of kerosene! Even the simple accumulation of such fuel reserves grew into a huge problem, not to mention the safe storage and protection from possible air strikes.

At the same time, there was a powerful research and production base in the country for solving various problems of using nuclear energy. It took its beginning from Laboratory No. 2 of the USSR Academy of Sciences, organized under the direction of I. Kurchatov at the height of the Great Patriotic War - in April 1943. Initially, the main task of nuclear scientists was to create a uranium bomb, but then began an active search for other possibilities. use a new type of energy. In March, 1947 was only a year later than in the United States - in the USSR for the first time at the state level (at a meeting of the Scientific and Technical Council of the First Main Directorate under the Council of Ministers) raised the problem of using the heat of nuclear reactions in power plants. The Council decided to initiate systematic research in this direction with the aim of developing the scientific basis for producing nuclear energy with the help of nuclear fission, as well as setting in motion ships, submarines and airplanes.

However, it took three more years for the idea to make its way. During this time, the first M-4 and Tu-95 managed to rise into the sky, the world's first nuclear power plant began operating in the Moscow region, and the construction of the first Soviet nuclear submarine began. Our agents in the United States began to transmit information about the large-scale work on creating an atomic bomber there. These data were perceived as confirmation of the promise of a new type of energy for aviation. Finally, on August 12 1955, the Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the USSR No. 1561-868 was issued, ordering a number of aviation industry enterprises to start atomic work. In particular, OKB-156 A.N.Tupolev, OKB-23 V.M.Myasischeva and OKB-301 S.А.Lavochkin were to be engaged in the design and construction of aircraft with nuclear power plants, and OKB-276 N.D. Kuznetsova and OKB-165 A.M. Lyulka - the development of such SU.

The most technically simple task was assigned to the OKB-301, headed by S.A. Lavochkin - to develop an experimental cruise missile "375" with a nuclear ramjet engine designed by the OKB-670 design engineer MMBondaryuk. The place of a conventional combustion chamber in this engine was occupied by a reactor operating in an open cycle - air flowed directly through the core. The basis for the construction of the airframe of the rocket was the development of an intercontinental cruise missile “350” with a conventional ramjet engine. Despite the comparative simplicity, the theme “375” did not receive any significant development, and the death of S.A.Lavochkin in June 1960 did put an end to these works.

Myasishchev's team, then engaged in the creation of the M-50, was instructed to carry out a preliminary draft of the supersonic bomber “with special engines of the chief designer A.M. Lyulka.” In the OKB, the topic received the 60 index, Yu.N. Trufanova was appointed lead designer for it. Since, in the most general terms, the solution of the problem was seen in the simple equipment of M-50 engines on nuclear energy, and working on an open cycle (for simplicity reasons), it was considered that M-60 would be the first atomic plane in the USSR. However, by the middle of 1956, it turned out that the simple task could not be solved. It turned out that the car with the new SU has a number of specific features that aircraft designers have never encountered before. The novelty of the problems that had arisen was so great that no one in the bureau, and indeed in the entire powerful Soviet aviation industry, even had no idea from which side to approach their solution.

The first problem was the protection of people from radioactive radiation. What should it be? How much should weigh? How to ensure the normal functioning of the crew, enclosed in an impermeable thick-walled capsule, including review from workplaces and emergency escape? The second problem is a sharp deterioration in the properties of the usual structural materials, caused by powerful fluxes of radiation and heat emanating from the reactor. Hence the need to create new materials. The third is the need to develop a completely new technology for the operation of atomic airplanes and the construction of corresponding air bases with numerous underground facilities. After all, it turned out that after the open cycle engine is stopped, not a single person will be able to approach it even 2-3 of the month! So, there is a need for remote ground maintenance of the aircraft and the engine. And, of course, security problems - in the broadest sense, especially in the event of an accident of such an aircraft.

Awareness of these and many other problems of stone on stone did not leave the initial idea to use the glider M-50. The designers focused on finding a new layout, in which the problems mentioned seemed to be solvable. In this case, the main criterion for choosing the location of an atomic power plant on an aircraft was its maximum distance from the crew. In accordance with this, the draft design of the M-60 was developed, on which four atomic TRDs were located in pairs in the tail section of the fuselage in two floors, forming a single nuclear compartment. The aircraft had a medium plan with a thin cantilever trapezoidal wing and the same horizontal tail, located at the top of the keel. Rocket and bomb weapons planned to be placed on the inner suspension. The length of the aircraft was to be about 66 m, take-off weight - exceed 250 t, and cruising flight speed - 3000 km / h at an altitude of 18000-20000 m.

The crew was supposed to be placed in a deaf capsule with a powerful multi-layer protection of special materials. The radioactivity of atmospheric air eliminated the possibility of using it for cockpit pressurization and breathing. For these purposes, we had to use the oxygen-nitrogen mixture obtained in special gasifiers by evaporating the liquid gases on board. The lack of a visual overview was to be compensated by periscopes, television and radar screens, as well as the installation of a fully automatic aircraft control system. The latter was supposed to provide all stages of the flight, including takeoff and landing, reaching the target, etc. This logically led to the idea of ​​an unmanned strategic bomber. However, the Air Force insisted on a manned version as a more reliable and flexible to use.

Nuclear turbojets for the M-60 should have developed take-off thrust of the order of 22500 kgf. The design bureau A.M. Lyulka developed them in two versions: a “coaxial” scheme in which the ring reactor was located behind the ordinary combustion chamber, and the shaft of the turbocharger passed through it; and schemes "rocker" - with a curved flow part and the removal of the reactor beyond the shaft. Myasishchevtsy tried to use one and the other type of engine, finding in each of them both advantages and disadvantages. But the main conclusion, which was contained in the Conclusion to the preliminary draft of M-60, was: “... along with the great difficulties of creating an engine, equipment and an airframe, completely new problems arise in ensuring ground operation and protecting the crew, population and terrain in the event of a forced landing. These tasks ... are not yet solved. At the same time, it is the ability to solve these problems that determines the feasibility of creating a manned aircraft with a nuclear engine. " Truly prophetic words!

In order to translate the solution of these problems into a practical plane, VMMyasishchev began developing a design of a flying laboratory based on M-50, on which one atomic engine would be located in the forward fuselage. And in order to radically increase the survivability of the bases of atomic planes in the event of a war, it was proposed to completely abandon the use of concrete runways, and turn the atomic bomber into a supersonic (!) Flying boat M-60М. This project was developed parallel to the land variant and retained with it considerable continuity. Of course, with this, the wing and air intakes of the engines were maximally raised above the water. Take-off and landing devices included nasal hydrolic, ventral retractable underwater wings and swiveling floats of lateral stability at the ends of the wing.

The problems faced by the designers were the hardest, but the work was going on, and it seemed that all the difficulties could be overcome in a time substantially less than increasing the range of conventional aircraft. In 1958, Mr. V.Myasishchev, on the instructions of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU, prepared the report “The State and Possible Perspectives of Strategic Aviation”, in which he unequivocally stated: “... In connection with the considerable criticism of the projects M-52К and M-56К [bombers on conventional fuel, auth.] by the Ministry of Defense on the line of insufficiency of the radius of action of such systems, it seems to us useful to concentrate all work on strategic bombers on the creation of a supersonic bomber system with atomic engines, providing the necessary long-range flight awards for reconnaissance and for point bombing by suspended projectiles and missiles at mobile and stationary targets ”.

Myasishchev had in mind, first of all, a new project of a strategic bomber-missile carrier with a nuclear power plant of a closed cycle, which was designed by the design bureau ND Kuznetsov. He hoped to create this car in 7 years. In 1959, the aerodynamic “duck” scheme with a triangular wing and front plumage of a significant sweep was chosen for it. Six nuclear turbojet engines were supposed to be located in the tail section of the aircraft and combined into one or two packages. The reactor was located in the fuselage. As the coolant was supposed to use a liquid metal: lithium or sodium. The engines had the opportunity to work on kerosene. The closed cycle of operation of the SS allowed to make the crew cabin ventilated with atmospheric air and to significantly reduce the weight of protection. With a take-off weight of approximately 170 t, the mass of engines with heat exchangers was assumed to be 30 t, protection of the reactor and crew cabin 38 t, payload 25 t. The length of the aircraft was about 46 m with a wingspan of approximately 27 m.

The project of a nuclear anti-submarine aircraft Tu-114

The first flight of the M-30 was planned for 1966, however, Myasishchev OKB-23 did not even have time to start working design. Government decree OKB-23 Myasishchev attracted to the development of a multi-stage ballistic missile design OKB-52 V.N.Chelomey, and in the autumn 1960 was eliminated as an independent organization, making branch OKNXX of the OKB and completely reorienting to the rocket and space theme. Thus, the OKB-1 touched nuclear aircraft was not embodied in real designs.
Aircraft that never flew - Atomic bomber

A story about one forgotten project - how America and Russia invested billions in order to gain an advantage in another technical project. It was the construction of an atom lane - a giant aircraft with a nuclear engine.

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