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TAKR - Cold War History - Khrushchev

No progress was made, and Stalin's death in 1953 put and end to things. Stalin's successor Khrushchev was more inclined to missiles and nuclear weapons that to the conventional forces (more forces to maintain), and buried the carrier project definitively. Khrushchev's negative evaluation of conventional forces, particularly naval forces, doomed aircraft carrier plans. In the Soviet Navy the highest priority was given to submarines and surface vessels armed with cruise missiles.

In August 1953, the Navy Commander-in-Chief Nikolai Kuznetsov presented a report to the USSR Defense Minister Nikolai Bulganin, in which he outlined his views on the tasks and the development of the fleet, and also formulated proposals for the construction of new warships. The report stressed that "in the post-war conditions without the presence of aircraft carriers in the Navy, the solution of the main tasks of the fleet can not be ensured."

Meanwhile, the era of jet aircraft came. The projected light aircraft carrier was to carry 40 jet fighters, two helicopters, a standard displacement of 24,000 tons and a range of 5,000 miles. But the creation of such a ship required the pooling of resources not only of the Ministry of the Interior and Mintyazhmash, but Minaviaprom, which sabotaged the project.

In parallel with the creation of aircraft carriers it was planned to develop carrier-based fighters, attack aircraft and bombers. In OKB of Tupolev was by this time small theoretical reserve according to the design of carrier-based heavy aircraft. Deck bomber and attack aircraft were designed by the OKB of A.N. Tupolev. Tupolev developed the Tu-91 [NATO "Boot"] naval attack bomber. As early as 1950 began work along the deck torpedo bomber- bomber. The aircraft obtained designation on OKB project "509" (ninth project of 1950). The experimental aircraft of "91" was constructed at the plant #156.

The Tu-91 had a powerful turboprop in the mid fuselage behind the cockpit, with split exhausts behind the wing roots, driving a big three-bladed contra-rotating propeller on the nose. The Tu-91 had straight wings, but slightly swept tail surfaces. The operational need for the Tu-91 disappeared after Stalin's death, when the ship-building program was cut back and the carriers cancelled.

On 1 June 1953, the command of Navy aviation gave the OKB the operational requirements for the diving torpedo bomber. The Tu-91 had to carry out takeoffs and landings in the daytime and at night, also, in the adverse weather conditions from the unpaved airfields and the airfields with the limited runways. The fulfillment of combat missions was putting of torpedo and bomb attacks.

During April 1954 the aircraft was finished. In the summer of 1955 the Tu-91 was presented to N.S.Khrushchev, who quickly was drawn to the conclusion that the aircraft would not go into production. This episode became prelude to closing of works on the Tu-91. Moreover, there were more pure political troubles. There was a competing Ilyushin's project [the Il-54 BLOWLAMP], and Ilyushin's team was considered to be more skilled in this class of aircraft.

In April 1955 Kuznetsov directly appealed to Khrushchev with a request to involve Yakovlev, Mikoyan and Sukhoi in the project. This was Kuznetsov's last attempt to save the aircraft carrier - a month later he was had a heart attack, and then was dismissed by Defense Minister Zhukov "for unsatisfactory fleet management" and demoted. Only 14 years after his death, the talented naval commander was given the rank of Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union.

The aircraft carriers were left without protection. The new commander-in-chief of the Navy, Admiral Gorshkov, was completely absorbed in the sole task - to keep his own chair (and he succeeded - he remained commander-in-chief exactly thirty years), so he preferred not to quarrel with anyone. And under Khrushchev, missile weapons were in vogue, which was intended to solve almost all tasks - from the destruction of enemy ships to air defense. The work on the aircraft carriers was interrupted, but instead, CDB-16 was assigned to develop an air defense missile ship (project 81), which, incidentally, was also not built. The program of military shipbuilding developed by Gorshkov for the years 1958-1965 provided for the protection of ships from enemy aviation in the ocean solely with missile weapons. Illiterate from a military point of view, the program was brilliant in terms of career - Khrushchev was crazy about missiles.

Gorshkov in his publications thundered against the aircraft carriers as "weapons of aggression", inflating, on the one hand, their exorbitant value, and on the other hand attributing them an alleged vulnerability from missile weapons. The main stake in his doctrine was made on the underwater strategic fleet and naval strategic aviation.

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Page last modified: 09-02-2018 18:48:17 ZULU