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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.

Over 60 years old but he can still punch your lights out.

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.

Closeup of the Kuznetsov NK-12
The TU-95 prototype first flew in 1952 and it entered production in 1956. This very closely parallels the development of the B-52. Size wise it's a 4/5 scale B-52 weighing in at 414,000 lbs fully loaded with a wingspan of 164 feet.

Andrei's gamble paid off. The TU-95 was highly successful while its jet-powered competitor (the M-4) didn't have anywhere near the range required. The TU-95 became the mainstay of the Soviet (and Russian) bomber force with over 500 being produced. They were still building these as recently as the early 1990s!

This is one of the fastest propeller driven aircraft ever built, cruising at .73 mach. The absolute speed record for propeller-driven aircraft is still held by its airliner counterpart the TU-114.

To put that in perspective, most jet airliners cruise at .80 mach. The Bear's top speed, depending on which source you believe, is somewhere between .82 and .87 mach.

TU-114 airliner derived from the TU-95 bomber.
They're also loud. Incredibly loud. Metallica with the amps turned all the way up loud. More on that later.

This is the Russian all-purpose, do-anything airframe. Bomber, missile carrier, AWACS, maritime surveillance, anti-submarine, electronic warfare, reconnaissance, test platform, airliner - you name it. There's a Bear for almost any occasion.

For as long as these things have been in service it's amazing how little information is out there. A quick Google search will return hundreds of pictures of TU-95s being intercepted by everything from F-102s to F-22s. I can't, however, find a single description even on a Russian web site of what it's actually like to fly.

Obligatory Bear intercept photo. This one is by an RAF Lightning.
My guess would be very fatiguing based on the noise, vibration and cramped accommodations. I've talked to many people who've intercepted these over the years. They tell me that you can feel the vibrations from those monster props and hear the noise even over the sound of your own engines. Sitting through a typical (very long) mission must have been brutal. In SAC we used to say "You've got to be tough to fly the heavies".

The instruments are standard Russian "steam gauges". There is a flight engineer, so the pilots only have limited engine instruments. That's why the instrument panel looks fairly sparse.

Acceleration and rate of climb are reported to be exceptional. The turboprops would give instant response versus the spool-up time characteristic of jet engines.

Takeoff and landing speeds are in the 150 - 160 knot range, similar to jet airliners of the same time period.

Based on the large control tabs evident on the rudder and elevator, I'm going to say that the flight controls may be manual via standard cables and pulleys. I've found no documentation to suggest hydraulic flight controls although it could have hydraulic boost with manual backup. Either way it must handle well enough since they manage to do probe-and-drogue air refueling with it.

TU-95 Cockpit
Another cockpit photo
The curtain allows access to the nose compartment. This may be a holdover from earlier models that had a glass nose.
Note that each pilot has their own set of throttles.
The seats look comfy enough. There are no ejection seats. Escape is via a conveyer belt (yes really) that whisks you back to the escape hatch just behind the nose gear. Sounds like another Wile E. Coyote invention but I guess it's better than nothing. The tail gunner has his own escape hatch.
Aft looking forward. Note the conveyer belt between the seats.
Flight Engineer's station
Navigator's station
These are all stock internet photos. Sadly I didn't have my camera the day I crawled through one of these.

There is little information to be found concerning the Bear's combat record. They reportedly flew bombing missions during the Afghan war and may have seen action in Chechnya. Most web sites that reference the TU-95 tend to just repeat the same information. First-hand accounts by former crew members are almost nonexistent. This may be due to the secretive nature of the Soviet Union and the fact that this is still an operational aircraft.

TU-95 and B-52 side by side. The Bear is just a bit smaller. That's an AN-124 in the background. This would have been taken in the early 90s since the B-52 still has its tail gun.
Back in my SAC days I once inquired as to how the other side did things. I was told that they didn't train to anywhere near the level we did with the B-52. They were especially lacking in night and low-level training and they certainly didn't practice night terrain-following like we did.

In exercises where I simulated a TU-95 the instructions were "Fly straight and level at 20,000 feet" (and wait to get shot down by the F-15s).

So why do we even care about these planes? They're old, slow and have the radar cross-section of an apartment building. Those big props have to be huge radar reflectors. They're so freakin' loud that submarines can hear them. Even with modernized electronics these would still be very vulnerable to Western fighters.

TU-95 cruise missile load
We care because it fly a long way, loiter a long time, and can carry a whole bunch of cruise missiles. He may be packing as many 16 Kh-55 missiles with a range of 1,600 miles. He doesn't have to get close, he just has to get close enough.
The Bear can't get you, but watch out for his skinny wing-men. There are 6 Kh-55 missiles in there.
The Bear may be old, but he still has claws.

My opportunity to see one of these up close and personal was in 1991. We never would have thought it possible a few years prior. Two Barksdale B-52s plus a KC-10 visited Russia and two TU-95s with an AN-124 for support came to Barksale AFB. I watched them circle the field and land. Who would have thought it? Our former adversaries coming to pay a friendly visit.

The sound of those big props was something else. Not the deep "thrum" of a big piston engine. More high pitched, like a giant buzz-saw.

Da Bear! That's a much younger me in front of a TU-95 at Barksdale AFB.

I got to sit in it, very cool. Thanks Ivan!

The Russians were nice enough to let me crawl through their airplane. It seemed like a newer production model. Everything was very clean and the paint was still factory-fresh. Just like a B-52 it looked like a mix of older and newer technology.

The cockpit layout is similar to a B-29, which is no surprise. The TU-4 was a close copy of a B-29 and the TU-95 was a follow-on to the TU-4.

I wouldn't have traded my BUFF for one, but it was an experience.

Like the B-52, the Russians plan to keep these around until the end of time or the Cubs win the World Series, whichever comes first. Actually 2040 is the date I've heard. Hey, if it ain't broke why replace it?

Originally posted to Kossack Air Force on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 11:53 AM PST.

Also republished by History for Kossacks, Aviation & Pilots, and Central Ohio Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Lack of accounts from flight crews could be due (32+ / 0-)

    to their being too deaf to hear questions.

    Rivers are horses and kayaks are their saddles

    by River Rover on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:06:45 PM PST

  •  Love the image of the Lightning (9+ / 0-)

    That's a classic Cold War image. The Bear and one of its opponents.

  •  counter rotating (6+ / 0-)

    I take it counter rotating props were used when the engine generated more power than could be transmitted to the air with a practical size single prop.

    •  I wonder if those props (5+ / 0-)

      contributed a lot to the noise.

      "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

      by Crider on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:34:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very much so (9+ / 0-)

        It's possible that the tips are going fast enough to be supersonic.

        If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

        by Major Kong on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 02:29:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Question re: Jet fuel efficiency (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          subtropolis, Hey338Too

          You argue that the M-4 didn't have the fuel efficiency that was needed.

          (i) Why would they need to build it to determine this?  

          (ii) How much has the fuel efficiency of jet engines improved since the 60s?  Is there much global competition in that market?  

          Great diary.  Always learn something from your contributions.

          Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

          by PatriciaVa on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:08:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Good question (6+ / 0-)

            I'm not sure why they had to build it to figure that out. It's possible the engines didn't perform as well as had been predicted on paper.

            Engines have improved by a huge factor since then.

            Modern engines are quieter, cleaner, more powerful, more efficient and much much more reliable than those of the the 1950s.

            When the KC-135s were re-engined with modern high-bypass turbofans they produced twice as much thrust for the same fuel burn, or half the fuel burn at the same thrust.

            Those were 1980s vintage engines, they're still improving.

            There are 3 or 4 main competitors in the commercial jet engine market:

            General Electric
            Pratt & Whitney
            Rolls Royce
            CFM - which is a partnership between GE and the French company Snecma S.A.

            The Russians have a couple manufacturers but they've had little commercial success. They can make an engine with big honking thrust but they've never been able to make one efficient.

            If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

            by Major Kong on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:27:37 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  scratching my brain (5+ / 0-)

      I'd love to see how counter-rotating propellers don't end up cavitating.

      TEA PARTIES: Something little girls do with their imaginary friends.
      (-6.75 -6.51)

      by flygrrl on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:59:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I looked it up (9+ / 0-)

      They're contra-rotating propellers, rather than counter-rotating. Wikipedia says,

      Contra-rotating propellers have been found to be between 6% and 16% more efficient than normal propellers.

      However they can be very noisy, with increases in noise in the axial (forward and aft) direction of up to 30 dB, and tangentially 10 dB. Most of this extra noise can be found in the higher frequencies. These substantial noise problems will limit commercial applications unless solutions can be found. One possibility is to enclose the contra-rotating propellers in a shroud. It is also helpful if the two propellers have a different number of blades (e.g. four blades on the forward propeller and five on the aft). [citation needed]

      "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

      by Crider on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:06:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I looked it up too (5+ / 0-)

        With limited time I found this somewhat enlightening, but the engineering jargon is a little over my head.
        http://www.eng-tips.com/...

        The respondents confirmed the props are counter- rather than contra-.

        I get it when the subject is aircraft control, especially if #4 quits.  V2 would be ridiculously high.  I just don't get why it works.

        TEA PARTIES: Something little girls do with their imaginary friends.
        (-6.75 -6.51)

        by flygrrl on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:35:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Contra-rotating, Not Counter-Rotating (5+ / 0-)

          You might want to reread that site.  Counter-rotating refers to when the designer places engines rotating in the opposite direction on the same wing or opposite wings to offset the torque being produced by the rotating prop.  Otherwise, the airframe designe needs to offset the torque and vortex flows with trim tabs and mechanical stablizers, thereby increasing drag and reducing performance.  Most of the experience with contra-rotating props has been with turbo-props in order to absorb the power availabe without having overly long props.  Much of that experience was with early turbo-props as well (particularly in the US), such as the infamous Republic XF-84H "Thunderscreech" research aircraft.  It did not use a contra-rotating prop and experienced considerable flight stability issues as a result.  The same engine used in the XF-84H was used in the Douglas A2D Skyshark, which sported a contra-rotating prop but a failure-prone gearbox as well.  Other aircraft of note using this engine and geartrain included the vertical take-off/vertical-landing designs, the Lockheed XFV and the Convair XFY Pogo.  Interestingly, both the French Navy and the Roayl Navy in the 1950s used turbo-prop powered aircraft with contra-rotating props in the ASW role, the Breguet_Aliz%C3%A9 and the Fairey Gannet respectively.  The 1950s was an exciting period in aircraft design.

          "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

          by PrahaPartizan on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 02:11:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Bingo on the equal number of prop blades (8+ / 0-)

        causing much of the noise: the four blades of the forward prop trail wakes behind, and all four blades of the aft prop hit those wakes at the same time. The noise energy from that disruption is therefore in phase and adds together.

        In modern jet engines with a couple dozen rows of rotor and stator blades, every row has a different number of blades to avoid this problem. The rows have an odd number of blades as well, so that not even two blades have wakes that simultaneously strike downstream.

        Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

        by Simplify on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:34:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  YYY (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          43north, PrahaPartizan, Crider

          Yes, exactly. If you look at the research/development done on 'unducted turbofans', they all had differing numbers of blades, so as to minimize noise. (They also had scimitar shaped blades to minimize shocks coming off the blades, and were still unreasonably loud.)

          The synchronized 'eclipsing' of the blades makes a lot of extra noise, and putting different numbers of blades on each bank distributes the wake/eclipse noise throughout the propeller/blade rotation cycle.

          Spinning the blades in opposite directions allows some of the energy spent spinning the air by the first set of blades to be recaptured as thrust by the second. That's not generally practicable in turbines (which also have stator blades), but with the Bear it helped.

    •  Also, swirl (4+ / 0-)

      When one propeller spins through the air, it leaves a twist in its wake, called "swirl." That's wasted aerodynamic power because not all of the air's motion is directly backward relative to the plane. When you put a contra-rotating prop in that wake, it un-twists the flow and gets that power back.

      You can also un-twist the flow using properly angled stationary blades ("stators"), as is done in the cowling of the turbofan engine on a modern jetliner. (The fan on the front of those engines is pretty much the same thing as a prop, only with a cowling around the outside.)

      Here's a visualization of swirl in a turbofan engine (flow is from right to left).

      At least one jet engine company is working on a contra-rotating turbofan: the fan and the first few compressor blade rows turn one way, and the rest of the compressor blade rows turn the other way.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:04:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I remember seeing one of those "interception" (4+ / 0-)

    photos. It was a clear picture of the tail gunner I think, holding a Pepsi bottle(Cyrillic lettering) of course.

    •  A friend of mine was an F-4 driver.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simplify, eyesoars

      ....he intercepted these birds several times, and I asked him if any gunners waved a soda bottle at him, he said one of them waved a copy of Playboy Magazine at him....

      He said the Commies usually waved, never gave him the Russky equivalent of "the finger"....

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:30:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  so noisy submariners could hear them /nt (7+ / 0-)

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:01:11 PM PST

  •  Very cool, thanks! I always love your diaries... (5+ / 0-)

    The counterrotating props just reminded me of something, and you might be able to answer a question that's bugged me for a long time. I used to live not far from 29 Palms MCB in SoCal and one day I was outside and a BIG, 4 engine prop plane, in marine green, came over the ridge behind the ranch. Skimming the ridge, couldn't have been more than a couple of hundred feet over the deck. And damned near silent. It was the eeriest thing, I caught the movement of the aircraft out of the corner of my eye before I heard the damned thing. Raised the hair on my arms, something that big should not be that quiet, it was just spooky. Any idea what it might have been?

    Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
    ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

    by FarWestGirl on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:02:07 PM PST

    •  You may have seen an USMC Orprey. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FarWestGirl, ColoTim, xaxnar

      They fly over my house and on to West Virginia for nap of the earth training.

      .

      What, sir, would the people of the earth be without woman? They would be scarce, sir, almighty scarce. Mark Twain

      by Gordon20024 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 02:04:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Osprey has 2 engines, this had 4. It was BIG. n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gordon20024, BlackSheep1

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
        ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

        by FarWestGirl on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 02:18:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I didn't see the four engine part until I'd hit (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Stude Dude, xaxnar, NYFM

          the post button.

          The only four engine prop driven military plane I can find is the C-130 Hercules.

           photo 300px-Lockheed_C-130_Hercules_zps7cf637bb.jpg

          I've had beaucoup rides in the Hercs. I have 200 more take off than landings, in fact. Mostly from Pope AFB to the LZs of Ft Bragg, NC.

          I wouldn't say they are quite, tho. It may have been down wind from you. That'd help a little.

          What, sir, would the people of the earth be without woman? They would be scarce, sir, almighty scarce. Mark Twain

          by Gordon20024 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 02:49:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Navy P-3 Orion? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PrahaPartizan, Farugia

            They're pretty distinctive, with a bulbous pod for a tail. Common in CA in the bay area when I was a child; based out of Moffet field (closed now, I think), IIRC.

            Subhunters, so likely there were some down in southern CA as well. They often run on two engines, and they can loiter a long time.

            Google images has lots of pictures if you use 'p-3 orion'.

          •  There have been a LOT of four-engined military.. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FarWestGirl

            'prop' aircraft in the past (some piston-engines, of course),

            and there will be some in the future, too! Note the scimitar-like prop blades (rather like those on the UDF jet engines) on this Airbus A400M.

            'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

            by shortfinals on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 03:49:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  lol Ok, not quite THAT big. I'd have recognised (0+ / 0-)

            a C-130.

            I had a 5 ac parcel and it wasn't quite within the boundaries, but it wasn't far outside it, and not more than 200 feet up, so it would have been scary close had it seemed uncontrolled, but they were obviously training for something and doing what they intended to.

            It was eerie quiet, I thought maybe they were testing some sort of hush kit or new prop design for stealth mode. Whatever they were doing, it was very effective.

            Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
            ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

            by FarWestGirl on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:28:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Remember, Close only counts (8+ / 0-)

    in Horseshoes, Hand grenades and Hydrogen bombs.

    What a big honking beastie.  Helps to understand why most of the 50's-60' interceptors were terrible for dog fighting. No real need for engaging in turn and burn tactics with a target that big and slow...

    Thanks for sharing and I love the green cockpits..

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:11:47 PM PST

    •  Close also counts.... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      markdd, Stude Dude, 43north, BlackSheep1

      ... when yer playing "Carriers n Cruise Missiles"....

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:33:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  considering their armament included (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      markdd

      AIR-2 Genie with 1.5Kt warhead accuracy in aiming wasn't a priority.

      Had the Tu-95 been flying over the Arctic circle in 50s and 60s that is how they would have been intercepted.

      The Genie's main target was the bomber formation rather than a specific aircraft within the formation.  It was considered a rocket rather than a missile. Hence the AIR desigation(Air Interception Rocket) vs AIM(Air Interception Missile) - i.e AIM-9 Sidewinder

      •  True, but the Genie was a later addition (0+ / 0-)

        And few if any of the interceptors had guns, so rockets and missiles were the only weapons they carried.  Planes like the F-86, F-89 and F-94 were armed with small rockets intended to scatter the formation and maybe destroy a few bombers in the process.  Later planes like the F-102 and F-104 had missiles that could be targeted on individual bombers (the F-104 had a 20 mm cannon also).  The F-101 and F-106 and F-89 were capable of carrying the Genie, but that wasn't until 1957.

        “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

        by markdd on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 07:50:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  "Bear Foxtrot" (9+ / 0-)

    The Russians are basically using TU-95s as a cheap way to get around our missile defense systems (if we should ever get that system to work right).

    Their bomber patrols can park off the coasts, and loiter outside of our airspace away from fighter patrols. The range of the KH-55 means that if they launch the damn things you have cruise missiles that could target giant swaths of the United States, coming in at Mach 2.8 that would be next to impossible to intercept.

    Cruise missiles are vastly more difficult to intercept than a conventional intercontinental ballistic missile ... cruise missiles do not fly in straightforward and easily predictable ballistic flight paths. Nor do they have limited in-flight maneuvering and evasion capabilities that the most modern Russian ICBMs such as the Topol-M have.

    Instead, cruise missiles are programmed to fly along the contours of the earth, flying around, or up and over, mountains and hills, or even following the course of rivers. Therefore they are far more difficult to intercept, especially because they are also programmed to fly very low, confounding the most sensitive and effective U.S. radar systems that are designed to enable Ground-based Mid-course Interceptors -- GBIs -- to home in on and destroy ICBMs in mid-flight. (Source)

    They also love using the TU-95 as a way to probe air defense response times. About six years ago, the Russians sent four TU-95s into Japanese airspace (with Japan filing an official protest in Moscow), with one of the bombers buzzing the USS Nimitz.

  •  This is a great diary (6+ / 0-)

    I know a lot of people who would get a kick out of reading it.  Thanks for posting!

    When the United States becomes a low wage country, only bobbleheads shall go forth from American soil.

    by amyzex on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:45:49 PM PST

  •  OT but my old boss Herman who was from Holland (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueyedace2, deben, leftykook, BlackSheep1

    said you could feel the air vibrating before you could hear the B17 formations.

    •  Easy to imagine.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mookins, BlackSheep1, PrahaPartizan

      FIVE HUNDRED BOMBERS in formation...TWO THOUSAND R-1820s beating the air into (temporary) submission with six thousand blades!

      The Dutch could probably hear the formations from across the Channel as they marshalled together from their many airfields...

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:59:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Black, White, Red (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paulitics, deben

    and Aquamarine?

  •  Back during the mid-70s I was in the Navy... (6+ / 0-)

    ...stationed onboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65, not NCC-1701). Several times during one WestPac cruise we had Bear flyby's. It was cool seeing these old-time bombers coming by, trailed by F-14s - which looked almost as big!

    •  In 1979? (7+ / 0-)

      I think it was that year.  My first WestPac cruise, we were in the Philippine Sea when we got word that 2 Bears were headed our way to take pictures of us.

      The Skipper launched the alert 5 (2 F-4's) to 'escort' the Soviets (this was a standard thing back then), and as soon as the flight deck was clear and safe, he came on the 1MC (shipwide speaker) and said he wanted all hands on the flight deck ASAP.

      When the bears were on an incoming tangent, he told us that a couple of soviet planes were going to be doing a flyover to take pictures of us, and he wanted to give them something special to remember us by.

      When they got to the right position, we (about 2500 of us) in unison, mooned the passing bears.

      I hope the pictures came out clear.

      I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

      by trumpeter on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:38:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm thinking I flew on Aeroflot versions of these (5+ / 0-)

    when i had a tour of a few cities in the USSR in the 70's (I was a kid, so I can only vaguely remember huge propellers compared to the jets of the west).  The comments about noise also try and bring back some memories.  Night flights across the USSR to limit what we could see or take pictures of, lots of armed guards, some cold war memories.  I'd like to go back and see how things have (and haven't) changed, though things might be more dangerous now than they were under the tight control back then.  Sadly, my wife has no interest in my retracing past trips.  

  •  Impressive. Most impressive. Thanks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1

    I will share it with a relative who's a real fanboy about WWII and post WWII era planes.

  •  Fascinating (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stude Dude, BlackSheep1
    They're so freakin' loud that submarines can hear them.
    lol

    Sunday mornings are more beautiful without Meet the Press.

    by deben on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:17:19 PM PST

  •  By strange coincidence.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NYFM, BusyinCA

    I was watching this a couple of days ago.

    I was wondering why the engine was shut down and restarted halfway through?

    Got to love how cell phone cameras bend those blades....

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:35:58 PM PST

    •  Not sure (8+ / 0-)

      It's possible they were just doing training. In the Air Force, we never shut down engines for practice but I've seen it done in General Aviation. The Russians may not have the same rules.

      Another possible reason could be to save fuel. P-3 sub hunters would frequently shut down one engine to save fuel.

      The plane is probably so over-powered at lighter weights that it wouldn't be an issue.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:31:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Coast Guard HC130's do it all the time. (5+ / 0-)

        Normal practice on non-SAR patrols is to shut down the two inner engines and feather the props. Saves mucho fuel, and they do restart them from time to time (especially if icing is likely).

        A particular story from when I was in: a KC-135 was on the Honolulu - SFO route when they lost an engine. They radioed an emergency message to NORAD, who called up the Coast Guard in Sacramento for a guardian flight.

        The HC130 lifted quickly, and got out to the KC-135's position, and took up a position alongside. The kicker was the CG pilots promptly feathered two engines and the AF pilots started yelling on the radio, asking if they were in trouble too. "No," came the reply, "we do this all the time."

        Silence from the KC-135...

        And yeah, I know tarantulas don't really act like that at all, so no snarking, this is the internet damnit!

        by itzadryheat on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 06:40:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Agree (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        43north, BlackSheep1, Simplify, Stude Dude

        Probably training, though another reason to shut down and restart an engine would be a post-maintenance check flight following an engine change or prop change.

        As you correctly point out regarding the P-3, we used to routinely shut down #1 (outboard engine, left side) when we were loitering on-station to save fuel.  Depending on the altitude we were working, we might also shut down #4, once we had burned enough fuel to get down to a lower weight.  #1 had no engine-driven electrical generator so that was the preferred engine to shut down.  Flying on only two of the four engines was not a problem, unless you suddenly had to shut one of them down for a malfunction.  Being single-engine in a P-3 is something a crew never wants to experience.  

        "The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now." - Chinese proverb

        by VALuddite on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 07:34:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  strobe effect (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stude Dude

      Often seen in propeller craft video.

      The curved blades are the clue.

  •  Peter MacKay, Canada's former Defense Minister, (5+ / 0-)

    and overall idiot, tried to argue a few years ago that we desperately needed F-35 fighters because the Russians (le gasp!) had bombers that were frequently entering our airspace. Of course, he was referring to the TU-95s.

    As if state of the art tech was needed to keep the Bears at bay. Cripes, we could take our old Voodoos out of mothballs and they could do the job. Twit.

    Great diary, amazing aircraft. Thanks.

    -8.38, -7.74 My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. - Jack Layton

    by Wreck Smurfy on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:39:07 PM PST

    •  I recall someone suggesting (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, NYFM, BlackSheep1, PrahaPartizan

      that they resume work on the Avro Arrow for that very reason.

      I suspect that they want the F-35 other reasons. If the primary mission is to defend Canadian airspace an F-35 would not be the first choice.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:34:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rec"d (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1

    for "'till the Cubs win the World Series".

  •  Flight Controls... (5+ / 0-)

    ...since the aircraft is related to the TU-4 which is a close copy of a B-29, the flight control systems likely have some similarity....

    HOWEVER, the Commies use pneumatics in places that we use hydraulics because of their harsh winters. It would not surprise me at all to find that the plane has some sort of pneumatic actuator in a spot we'd have a hydraulic motor and a torque tube or a hydraulic piston coupled to a cable-operated system...

    (One day our transport was parked next to an Egyptian Air Force Antonov four-turboprop transport, roughly an analogue of a C-130, and we had time to kill, so we looked it over...
    One of the flight engineers remarked that it was just like those stupid Russians to use NEOPRENE brake hoses...Years later, relating this story to my dad, he scoffed and said we were showing our ignorance, the neoprene brake hoses were AIR hoses, and it's the silly Americans who insist on using highly flammable hydraulic fluid right next to the potentially incandescently hot brakes on a big jet...)

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:53:31 PM PST

  •  Wasn't there also a "Bison" bomber? (0+ / 0-)

    Would that be the TU-4?

    •  Yes and no (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1

      There was indeed a "Bison" but its designation was M-4.

      The TU-4 was the "Bull".

      B = Bomber
      F = Fighter
      C = Cargo

      1 syllable = Prop
      2 syllables = Jet

      So an IL-76 jet cargo plane is a "Candid" and a MiG-21 jet fighter is a "Fishbed".

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:38:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You gotta love... (0+ / 0-)

    ...that crazy turquoise color the Russians paint some of their cockpits. Phew!

  •  Apparently Russia/USSR sold some (0+ / 0-)

    to India around 25 years ago. Surprised they'd let a strategic bomber like that out of their direct control.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:18:01 PM PST

  •  Thank you again, Major (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NYFM, BlackSheep1

    What amazing machines.  They look about as impractical as a Trojan horse, but I guess looks are deceiving.

    Picture what the gear drives must be like inside those big prop spinners, with pitch controls for eight blades plus the contra-rotation gears to handle 18K horsepower.  

    I remember hearing that the blades were operated at supersonic speed, but the comments seem to indicate that they actually turned quite slowly (750 rpm), and the pics show a tremendously high pitch.  It's no wonder they are loud though.  

    How many wrongs does it take to make a right?

    by pdknz on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 05:39:39 PM PST

  •  Found some interesting pictures here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NYFM

    A couple include the TU-95, including the comment about submariners being able to hear them. Here and here.

    All of the pictures with the captions, including some exotic stuff, are here.

    I like the comment about this one.

    Two Ka-50 flying in formation. These helicopters are extremely unique in their construction (no rear rotor) and have ejection seat capability. During an ejection sequence the rotor blades shoot off with explosive charges, and the cockpit is jettisoned allowing a safe exit for the pilot.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 05:41:30 PM PST

  •  As long as we're talking about 4 engines & props.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify

    A look at the Avro Shackleton is interesting. 4 engines with contra-rotating propellors. Based on the Lincoln and Tudor derivatives of the Lancaster, first flight 1949, in service till 1990. Some similar missions - designed for ASW, long range patrols, and finishing up with SAR work.

    And from the wikipedia article,

    The Merlin engines were replaced with the larger, more powerful and slower-revving Rolls-Royce Griffons with 13 ft (4 m)-diameter contra-rotating propellers, which created a distinctive engine noise and added high-tone deafness to the hazards of the pilots due to their positioning in relation to the cockpit.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 05:57:59 PM PST

    •  RAF crews used to say (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, BlackSheep1, Simplify

      There was nothing like hearing the sound of a Shackleton taking off - because that meant you weren't on the damn thing.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 06:41:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Griffon Engine Initially Destined for FAA (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar

      My reading of engine development during the waning days of WW2 is that the Griffon was originally designed for low-to-medium altitude missions for the Fleet Air Arm compared to the medium-to-high altitude environment the Merlin was designed for.  While the Shackleton airframe was based on the Lancaster/Tudor/Lincoln, as a maritime patrol aircraft, most of its missions would be in the low-to-medium altitude envelope.  Hence the Griffon would be the engine of choice.  Of course, once the war stopped most of the development effort switched to turbo-jets and/or turbo-props and water-cooled piston aeroengines started to become a memory outside museum pieces.

      "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

      by PrahaPartizan on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 09:01:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another great diary, Major (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, Simplify

    I've heard about these from a few AF/Marine friends, whose comments were "unbelievably loud", and "watch out for the wake -- the prop wakes will shake you up".

  •  Thanks for this MK...now, about that RAF Lighning! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Kong

    I know that you know a great deal about towed targets....well, in this case, one of them WON! (See sad story, below, from 1987)

    During a live firing run on a towed banner one round struck and broke off a wheel on the banner. The pilot was unable to avoid it and it entered the air intake. This seized the No 1 engine and damaged the No 2. The pilot - Flt. Lt. D. K. M.Chan - ejected during the approach to Akrotiri, Cyprus after the No 2 engine lost power, and the aircraft crashed into a vine yard
    Fortunately, no-one was injured......

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