The Tupolev Tu-95 (NATO reporting name: Bear) was the most successful bomber produced by the Soviet aviation. It was the only bomber deployed by any country to use turbo-prop engines, which provided extraordinarily long endurance at speeds only slightly less than comparable turbojet-powered heavy bombers. First flown in 1952, the Tu-95 was placed into service by the former Soviet Union in 1956 and is expected to serve the Russian Air Force until at least 2040.
The design of the wings drew heavily on the experience gathered by Tupolev and the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TSAGI) during the development of the swept wing TU-16. The wings of the "95" were swept back at an angle of 35 degrees, allowing the placement of a large bomb bay behind of the torsion box of the wings' central unit at the aircraft's center of gravity. The aircraft has four Kuznetsov NK-12 engines, each driving contra-rotating propellers. An airliner variant Tu-114 holds the record as the world's fastest propeller-driven aircraft.
The original Tu-95 was designed to carry two nuclear bombs to targets in the continental US. Later versions carried cruise missiles for long-ange stand-off missions. The Bear has also been used for reconnaissance, especially by the Soviet/Russian Navy which used the aircraft to locate US aircraft carrier task forces.
Variants and Derivatives
- Tu-95/1: The first prototype powered by Kuznetsov 2TV-2F coupled turboprop engines, crashed on its 17th flight on 11 May 1953.
- Tu-95/2: The second prototype powered by Kuznetsov NK-12 turboprops.
- Tu-95/Tu-95M: Basic variant of the long-range strategic bomber and the only model of the aircraft never fitted with a nose refuelling probe. Known to NATO as the Bear-A.
- Tu-95K: Experimental version for air-dropping a MiG-19 SM-20 jet aircraft.
- Tu-95K22: Conversions of the older Bear bombers, reconfigured to carry the Raduga Kh-22 missile and incorporating modern avionics. Known to NATO as the Bear-G.
- Tu-95K/Tu-95KD: Designed to carry the Raduga Kh-20 air-to-surface missile. The Tu-95KD aircraft were the first to be outfitted with nose probes. Known to NATO as the Bear-B.
- Tu-95KM:Modified and upgraded versions of the Tu-95K, most notable for their enhanced reconnaissance systems. These were in turn converted into the Bear G configuration. Known to NATO as the Bear-C.
- Tu-95M-55: Missile carrier.
- Tu-95MR: Bear A modified for photo-reconnaissance and produced for Naval Aviation. Known to NATO as the Bear-E.
- Tu-95MS/Tu-95MS6/Tu-95MS16:– Completely new cruise missile carrier platform based on the Tu-142 airframe. This variant became the launch platform of the Raduga Kh-55 cruise missile. Known to NATO as the Bear-H and was referred to by the U.S. military as a Tu-142 for some time in the 1980s before its true designation became known.
- Tu-95N: Experimental version for air-dropping an RS ramjet powered aircraft.
- Tu-95RTs: Razvedchik Tseleukazatel: Variant of the basic Bear A configuration, redesigned for maritime reconnaissance and targeting as well as electronic intelligence for service in the Soviet Naval Aviation. Known to NATO as the Bear-D.
- Tu-95U Uchebnyy: Trainer: Training variant, modified from surviving Bear A's but now all have been retired. Known to NATO as the Bear-T.
- Tu-96: long-range intercontinental high-altitude strategic bomber prototype, a high-altitude version of the Tupolev Tu-95 aircraft with high-altitude augmented turboprop TV-16 engines and with a new,enlarged area wing. Plant tests of the aircraft were performed with non-high altitude TV-12 engines in 1955–1956.
- Tu-114: Airliner derivative of Tu-95.
- Tu-116: Tu-95 fitted with passenger cabins as a stop-gap while the Tu-114 was being developed. Only two converted.
- Tu-95LaL (Tu-119): Experimental nuclear-powered aircraft project.
- Tu-126: AEW&C derivative of Tu-114, itself derived from the Tu-95.
- Tu-142: Maritime reconnaissance/anti-submarine warfare derivative of Tu-95. Known to NATO as the Bear-F.
- Crew: 6-7
- Length: 46.2 m (151 ft 6 in)
- Wingspan: 50.10 m (164 ft 5 in)
- Height: 12.12 m (39 ft 9 in)
- Wing area: 310 m² (3,330 ft²)
- Empty weight: 90,000 kg (198,000 lb)
- Loaded weight: 171,000 kg (376,200 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 188,000 kg (414,500 lb)
- Powerplant: 4× Kuznetsov NK-12M turboprops, 11,000 kW (14,800 shp) each
- Maximum speed: 920 km/h (510 knots, 575 mph)
- Range: 15,000 km (8,100 nmi, 9,400 mi) unrefueled
- Service ceiling: 13,716 m (45,000 ft)
- Rate of climb: 10 m/s (2,000 ft/min)
- Wing loading: 606 kg/m² (124 lb/ft²)
- Power/mass: 235 W/kg (0.143 hp/lb)
- Radar-controlled Guns: 1 or 2 × 23 mm AM-23 autocannon in tail turret.
- Missiles: Up to 15,000 kg (33,000 lb), including the Raduga Kh-20, Kh-22, Kh-26, and Kh-55 air-to-surface missiles.