Tu-95 Bear Bomber
The Tu-95 is the world's only swept-wing turboprop ever to enter service. Its distinct engines, each with two counter-rotating propellers, also make the Bear the fastest propeller-driven airplane ever built.
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.
A specialized variant of the Bear is the Tu-142 dedicated to maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare. Over 300 Bears were built.
Tu-20 Original designation for the Tu-95/Tu-142 aircraft
Tu-95/1, Tu-95/2 Prototypes
Tu-95M 'Bear-A' First production model carrying two nuclear bombs
Tu-95U 'Bear-A' Trainer version based on the Tu-95M
Tu-95K Experimental model used to drop MiG-19 aircraft in flight in order to test systems for the Kh-20 missile
Tu-95K-20 'Bear-B' Updated version armed with the Kh-20/AS-3 'Kangaroo' missile and featuring a large, flat nose radar
Tu-95M-5 Model armed with the Kh-26/AS-6 'Kingfish' missile
Tu-95KD Armed with the Kh-20 missile and equipped with an in-flight refueling probe on the nose
Tu-95KM 'Bear-C' Similar to 'Bear-B'
Tu-95RT 'Bear-D' Maritime reconnaissance model with multi-sensor pallets; 45 built
Tu-95MR 'Bear-E' Maritime reconnaissance model with seven cameras located in the weapon bay
Tu-95K-22 'Bear-G' Re-built 'Bear-B' and 'Bear-C' airframes with new avionics and armed with the Kh-22/AS-4 'Kitchen' missile
Tu-95M-55 Missile carrier, details unknown
Tu-95MS 'Bear-H' Armed with the Kh-55/AS-15 'Kent' cruise missile
Tu-95MS-6 Armed with six Kh-55 missiles
Tu-95MS-16 Armed with 16 Kh-55 missiles
Tu-95MR 'Bear-J' Believed to be a communications relay aircraft
Tu-96 High-speed development aircraft, details unknown
Tu-119 Experimental design to test a nuclear-powered engine, converted from a Tu-95M
Tu-142 'Bear-F' Maritime version introduced in the late 1960s with a longer fuselage and improved engines; 50 built
Tu-142M 'Bear-F' Maritime version exported to India; 11 built
Tu-142 Mod 1 Tu-142 variant with a slightly different external shape
Tu-142M Mod 2 Model with a longer fuselage and a new infrared probe
Tu-142M Mod 3 Model with a new magnetic anomaly detector (MAD)
Tu-142M Mod 4 Model with multi-sensor antennae and electronic warfare equipment
Tu-142LL Test aircraft converted from a Tu-142M Mod 3 and used to test engines
Appearance of Tu-95 at July 1955 Aviation Display at Tushino put western observers at a loss. A combination of propellers and swept wing and tail surfaces seemed to be inappropriate and early analysis of Bear's performance resulted in unrealistically downplayed bomber's performance. Western experiments with supersonic propellers flown on XF-84H and XF-88B have shown considerable loss in performance of the high-rotating propeller when tips were reaching supersonic speeds.
In 1975 the figure for range changed to 7,800 miles and currently it is believed to be 9,200 miles with 25,000 lb load. Level speed was admitted to be 570 mph (Mach 0.82) at 25,000 ft and 520 mph (Mach 0.785) at 41,000 ft. Cruising speed of Tu-95 is 442 mph (Mach 0.67). Later versions with more powerful engines have higher performance.
Max. speed at 25,000 ft 575 mph, at S/L 404 mph, nominal cruising speed 442 mph, ceiling 39,370 ft, combat radius with 25,000 lb payload 3,975 miles, with one in-flight refueling 5,155 miles.
It is rumored that Bear is known to be able to out accelerate contemporary western interceptors. This hard to believe fact can be accounted by use of variable-pitch propellers of NK-12M turboprops. Modern jets need to use afterburners to keep up with accelerating Bear. In fact, one of the photo showing Panavia Toronado using reheat on one of the engines while pursuing this remarkable bomber.
Presumably, Bear holds an unofficial speed record for a prop-driven aircraft...
Continue reading: Tu-95 bomber / Tu-142