On the world stage, the post-war USSR certainly did not act as an innocent lamb with exceptionally good intentions. However, the fact is indisputable and obvious that in the middle of the 20th century the threat of a nuclear catastrophe came from the United States. President Truman, not hiding antipathy towards the Soviets, intended to consolidate his country's status as the only superpower on the planet and bring the Russians to their knees by nuclear strikes.
This striving determined the military policy of Washington in the first post-war decade. It was based on the idea of an air offensive, formulated by Italian General Giulio Douet in 1921: through massive total bombardments of the enemy's cities to cause irreparable damage to the economy and armed forces, suppress the will to resist and ultimately force surrender.
Duay's ideas were very impressed both by Truman and his military environment. Nuclear air strikes could have caused tremendous damage to the USSR and at the same time allowed the Americans to avoid fighting in the land theater of military operations. Here the Soviet army possessed substantial superiority over the former allies primarily in terms of combat experience and the training of both command and personnel.
It is not surprising that the creation of the most powerful, unparalleled strategic aviation became the Pentagon's priority goal. It must be admitted that on this path the Americans achieved considerable success. In 1948, the United States Strategic Air Command received the Convair B-36 intercontinental bomber. True, he had piston engines and was a good target for Soviet jet fighters, in particular for the MiG-15.
How Moscow helped Washington
Since B-36 represented aviation yesterday, two years later he was replaced by a medium-range B-47 jet bomber, which could not fly from the territory of the United States to the largest Soviet cities.
And then the Kremlin "helped" Washington. After the Berlin crisis of 1948, the White House got the opportunity to create military bases in Western Europe and place bombers on them weapons. The first of these were B-47. Such bases have arisen in England, Spain and then still French Morocco.
At the beginning of the 50-x, the British Royal Air Forces received the Vickers Valiant strategic bomber - a plane that was unmatched then neither in the USSR nor in the USA. Vickers Valiant was the swan song of the past military power of the British Empire, which had once conquered half the world. For the first time in Foggy Albion, they created not just a combat aircraft, but a weapon system: in parallel with the bombers, it was supposed to begin the development of navigation aids and sighting equipment connected into a single complex.
At about the same time, in 1949, the deck aircraft of the US Navy also received an aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. It was the deck bomber AJ-1 Savage, tests of which were accompanied by constant disasters - the Americans were in a hurry on the way to world domination. However, like the Soviet Union in an effort to achieve military parity with the overseas adversary. Nevertheless, Savage equipped with piston engines practically did not yield in speed to the best then jet American B-45 Tornado bomber.
What can be said about the contradictions regarding the prospect of nuclear strikes on the territory of the USSR and the development of American strategic aviation? A couple of years after the end of the Second World War, American Rear Admiral Daniel Galerie made a report in which he severely criticized the strategy of nuclear strikes proposed by his colleagues from the Air Force, calling it, among other things, amoral.
Not that the admiral had very warm feelings for the Russians and did not want their mass destruction, just being a direct participant in the Second World War, he saw its horrors live and not in newsreels and apparently did not want unnecessary casualties among the civilian population of yesterday’s ally.
In addition, Gallery considered the strategy of nuclear strikes to be ineffective and expensive. What did the admiral suggest in return? The application of pinpoint nuclear strikes on military and key industrial facilities of the Soviet Union by carrier-based aviation.
At the beginning of 50-s, Savage was quite suitable for these tasks, provided there was a strong destructive cover, of course. Deck fighters, in particular the Grumman F-9J Cougar, who had been in service with the US Air Force since the early 50-s, should have taken on this task. Later, they were replaced by more reliable machines McDonnell F-3 Demon.
Thus, the Americans were seriously preparing for a nuclear war against their former ally. In these difficult for the Kremlin conditions, the only way to stop the US aggression was not just the creation of a weapon of retribution, but also the possession of the means of its delivery. We needed a plane capable of striking not only ground, but also sea targets of the enemy — carrier groupings above all. It was not easy to do.
The post-war USSR did not have strategic aviation at all. In part, her tasks at the end of the 40's were designed to solve the Tu-4 - a piston-engine bomber, copied from the American B-29 Superfortress ("flying fortress"). But already the Korean war clearly demonstrated the inefficiency of piston-powered aircraft, which are very vulnerable to jet fighters. For example, "flying fortresses" suffered significant losses from the actions of the MiG-15. Therefore, attempts to modernize the Tu-4 by creating Tu-80 and Tu-85 bombers were soon stopped. Moreover, in the legendary design bureau Andrei Nikolaevich Tupolev, the development of the 88 project, the first long-range jet bomber in the USSR, was in full swing. Like the Vickers Valiant, it was supposed to be a weapon system - an aviation complex equipped with modern flight-navigation and aiming equipment, and to carry on board not only a nuclear bomb, but also projectiles.
The Air Force Command has set a task for the designers to make the plane with a normal bomb load of three tons, the maximum - 20 tons. It was necessary to create a bomber with a swept wing and, most importantly, a turbojet engine (TRD) with a total thrust of the order of 15 – 16 thousand kgf. Such machines at the disposal of Soviet long-range aviation has not yet been.
The first Soviet serial bomber with a turbojet engine was the IL-28. His task was to perform only front-line tasks - he was in no way suitable for striking the United States. In addition, the TR-VK VK-28 installed on the Il-1, which was an unlicensed copy of the British Rolls-Royce Nene, had a centrifugal compressor outdated by that time and its total thrust (total 2700 kgf) was insufficient for the new aircraft. The military insisted that the projected long-range bomber had a turbojet engine with a more modern axial compressor.
OKB-300 coped with the task under the guidance of the legendary designer of aircraft engines Alexander Alexandrovich Mikulin. Especially for the Tu-16, scientists from this design bureau developed and created an AM-3 TRD with an eight-stage axial compressor and an 8750 kgf bore.
More difficult was the case with the swept wing. TsAGI began to work on it, without having at the initial stage of the relevant German trophy documents. But soon the materials of the Hitler aviation research center DVL were at the disposal of the Soviet specialists. This center was located not far from Berlin - in Adlershgof and accordingly entered the Soviet zone of occupation.
By the way, another similar German center was located in Göttingen and its documents were made available to Anglo-American scientists. Work on swept wings was carried out in these German centers. German developments helped both Soviet and overseas aircraft designers to create MiG-15 and F-86 Saber fighters, whose high combat qualities were rigorously tested in the skies of Korea.
Some borrowing from the Germans was not a blind copy. Actually, research on high-speed swept wings at TsAGI was already under way during World War II. Academician Vladimir Vasilievich Struminsky headed the Tupolev Design Bureau when creating the Tu-16. At the very beginning of the Great Patriotic War, he found exact solutions for three-dimensional boundary layer equations for sliding wings of infinitely large span and for swept wings of high elongation, streamlined by a stream of liquid and gas.
The degree of importance for the country of these scientific achievements of Struminsky is evidenced by the State Prize, received by him in 1948 year just for the development of high-speed swept wings and their introduction into mass production. It was this eminent scientist who became the Deputy Chief of the TsAGI for Aerodynamics at the beginning of 50's and headed Laboratory No. 2, the TsAGI main aerodynamic laboratory.
The wing was the pride of the creators of the aircraft. Light enough and durable, the wing of the Tu-16 in flight was a little deformed. This was significantly different from the more flexible wing of the American B-47 and B-52 bombers, which were rife with fatigue cracks, which made overseas engineers constantly modify its design. Last but not least, if not primarily early enough - at the end of the 60-ies, the decommissioning of the B-47 was caused by the weak wing.
All layout decisions for the Tu-16 were worked out in a general-type team led by the founder of the Tupolev design school, Sergei Mikhailovich Eger, who worked with Tupolev 34 of the year. The older generation remembers his most interesting lectures read in the MAI, where Eger taught from 1975. According to one of his colleagues, Sergei Mikhailovich had the rare ability to “look beyond the horizon without standing on tiptoe.”
When the plane was almost ready, another problem emerged: the Tu-16 was too heavy, although its speed exceeded the initially set parameters. The deadlines were down - the creation of a long-range jet bomber, including its design, was not given more than a year and a half.
Weight loss work was carried out directly under the leadership of Tupolev, as well as his colleague and deputy Dmitry Sergeyevich Markov - at that time the chief designer of the Tupolev design bureau. Dmitry Sergeevich, like practically all of Tupolev's colleagues, was an outstanding person — however modest, so talented. It is enough to give a list of bomber and passenger aircraft, which he worked on in addition to the Tu 16: Tu-2, Tu-14, Tu-16, Tu-22, Tu-22М, Tu-104 and Tu-124. In short, not just a man, but a man-era.
Amazingly, Markov received ... a reprimand for creating the Tu-16. This is how Dmitry Sergeyevich’s colleague, aircraft designer Leonid Selyakov, recalled this in his notes: “The character and business qualities (Markov. - Auth.) Were manifested when the Tu-16 was created and a completely unsuccessful aircraft was launched into the series. Markov took full responsibility for himself and insisted on a complete reworking of the aircraft, which was done. For this work, he was declared a CONCUSSION (in capital letters in the original text. - Auth.), Oddly enough, but reprimanded! ”.
Leonid Selyakov came to the Tupolev Design Bureau in the 1962 year, before that he worked in the Vladimir Mikhaylovich Myasishchev Design Bureau, where he was among the creators of the intercontinental supersonic strategic bomber M-50 - the first Soviet aircraft with a fully automated control system.
The attitude of all these people to the business to which they served was beautifully formulated by the son of an outstanding aircraft designer and one of the founders of the Tu-16, Vladimir Eger: “Think earlier about the Homeland, and then about yourself.”
Finally, on April 27, the crew of test pilot Nikolai Stepanovich Rybko raised the Tu-1952 into the air, and six months later they launched a new bomber into mass production. The identity of Nikolai Stepanovich also cannot be ignored, because the first test pilot of the new bomber is also legendary.
According to colleagues and friends, he was one of the most educated and intelligent test pilots, and he began to test airplanes even before the war. It was Rybko who sat at the helm of many combat vehicles glorified in the future, often with considerable risk to his life: he was forced to eject twice. During his service as a test pilot, Nikolay Stepanovich mastered about 110 types of airplanes and gliders, and participated in the most difficult tests of aircraft on a tailspin.
After a car accident, Rybko suffered a serious leg injury and was forbidden to fly. However, he achieved recovery in flight operations - after all, the new aircraft were very necessary for the Motherland, about which Nikolay Stepanovich thought much more than about himself. The first flight of the Tu-16 cost without incident.
In 1954, Rybko again got into a car accident and was no longer able to return to the test test profession. Having received the deserved star of the Hero of the Soviet Union, Nikolay Stepanovich continued to work for a long time in the Tupolev Design Bureau.
Questions related to the strength of the aircraft, dealt with Alexei Mikhailovich Cheremukhin - the creator of the first Soviet helicopter. He also became his first tester. Tupolev wrote about him: “In any field for which he undertook, he could equally freely give both a theoretical substantiation, and implement a construction, and comprehensively analyze the results. The originality of Cheremukhina’s creative abilities helps me a great deal in the work on the pre-layout of machines, and in the process of the work of the whole design bureau on a particular structure. ”
Finally, all the flaws were eliminated. The first Tu-16 began to arrive at the disposal of the Air Force in the 1953 year, but with a new, more powerful engine XHUMX RD-3M kgf, also created by the efforts of the Mikulinsky Design Bureau.
Still in service
The first Soviet long-range bomber was able to solve a very wide range of various combat missions, for example, to bomb at any time of the day, regardless of weather conditions. At the beginning of the 50s, it was practically inaccessible to American air defense systems, had the most advanced means of navigation and radio communications for the mid-20th century.
The maximum speed of the Tu-16 was 988 kilometers per hour, and the range was 6000 kilometers. The aircraft’s armament was more than impressive: it could carry bombs of various calibers up to the huge FAB-9000. It was intended for action on large targets: the sea, that is, aircraft carrier groupings of the enemy, and land - industrial facilities first and foremost. The bomber’s armament could include aircraft mines and torpedoes.
The aircraft had reliable protection, its defensive armament consisted of seven 23-mm HP-23 cannons, the rate of fire of which was up to 800 – 950 shots per minute. Of these, one - fixed shot ahead, and three twin installations were located above, below and in the stern. Ammunition - 1700 cartridges.
The crew served as armor, the total weight of which was approximately 545 kilograms. Until the end of the 50-ies, the Tu-16 exceeded the B-47 Stratojet in a number of parameters and testified with its combat power: from now on, America is vulnerable and there will be no winners in the third world war.
Over the years, its acquisition by Iraq and Egypt, one of the countries that most frequently fought in the second half of the 20th century, proved the combat effectiveness of the aircraft. Deliveries of Tu-16 also carried out in Indonesia.
Tu-16 honestly served time allotted to him. Its creators died, but this bomber is still in service: under the name Xian H-6K, it serves another country - the People's Republic of China, where supplies of Tu-16 began as early as 1958 year.
Let us pay tribute to the engineers and scientists of the Middle Kingdom: copying masters, they significantly upgraded the aircraft and now it is even slightly inferior to the Tu-95 and B-52 Stratofortress, but still very effective - it is able to strike at American bases on Okinawa and Guam, equipped with modernized D-30KP 2 engines manufactured in Russia.
None of this would have happened if it had not been for the feat of the Soviet aircraft designers, who in the shortest possible time had created a combat vehicle and thereby saved the world from a nuclear catastrophe.