Myasishchev 3M-T / BM-T "Atlant"
In the late 1970s, during the development of the reusable space-rocket complex (MRKK) Energia-Buran, the question arose of transporting an orbiting spacecraft (product 11F35) and the central unit Ts of the Energia launch vehicle (product 11K25) to the cosmodrome. The dimensions and the weight of the units of the new rocket and space complex, as well as the distances to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, were so great that not a single mode of transport could solve the problem. Thus, the diameter of the central tank of the launch vehicle was 8 m and the length was 40 m. A number of transportation methods were considered - water, rail and road, but to implement them was difficult and expensive, and most importantly - it took a lot of time. There was only a way through the air. Several types of aircraft were considered, from aerostatic to An-22 and Il-76 aircraft.
In 1978, the proposal was accepted by V. Myasishchev, General Designer of the Design Bureau newly created in 1967, to transport these goods on the fuselage of a 3M aircraft. After the death of Vladimir Mikhailovich (October 14, 1978), work was continued under the leadership of V. Fedotov.
By this time, 3M had already been discontinued. To accelerate the pace of development, construction and testing of the carrier aircraft, three tankers were selected and sent for life tests at SibNIA. A practically new aircraft was made from the refueling aircraft. Updated and strengthened the design of the airframe, changing and extending the tail of the fuselage by seven meters. A new two-keel plumage was installed with an area of ??26 percent of the wing area, otherwise powerful whirlwinds coming down from bulky cargo would lead to buffering - the most dangerous plumage vibrations that can destroy the carrier glider. The stabilizer with a straight leading edge (the maximum flight speed of the aircraft with the load should not exceed 450 km / h) was installed with a large transverse angle "V", which allowed to reduce the torque from the vertical tail. At the same time, such a significant relative horizontal tail area contributed to an increase in the dive moment compared to the 3M aircraft and compensated for the cabriole moment from the cargo placed on the “back”.
The cutout under the cargo hatch of the fuselage was closed with a power panel, leaving a small hole for servicing the equipment in the cargo compartment. Having retained the main landing gear, it was necessary to strengthen the wing struts due to the increased loads on them during landing with a roll and demolition in case of cross-wind. The crew was reduced to six people. It had to strengthen the wing struts due to increased loads on them during landing with a roll and demolition in the case of cross-wind. The crew was reduced to six people. I had to strengthen the wing struts due to increased loads on them during landing with a roll and demolition in the case of cross-wind. The crew was reduced to six people. They installed more powerful engines with a thrust of 11000 kGs - a modification of the turbofan engine VD-7M with the afterburner removed. VD-7M with afterburner were installed on Tu-22 type aircraft and by that time were also not produced.
Five flight configurations of a carrier aircraft with different weights were developed, each of which changed weight, dynamic and flight characteristics. Of the three aircraft built, called 3M-T, one was handed over to the TsAGI for statistical tests. Of the two flight specimens, one was equipped with a refueling rod in the air.
In 1980, the first flight of the 3M-T transport aircraft took place, and on January 6, 1982 the same crew, led by test pilot A. Kucherenko, made a flight with cargo on the fuselage. Subsequently, the carrier was renamed to VM-T Atlant. On both Atlantes, more than 150 flights were carried out to deliver all large-sized elements of the Energia and Buran space complexes to Baikonur. The first flight with a Buran glider weighing 45.3 tons took place on March 1, 1983, but it was preceded by one flight accident. During taxiing, the VM-T moved down the front landing gear of the chassis to the ground and buried itself in it. When trying to "pull" the car with a tractor, the nose support of the chassis broke, crushing the nose of the VM-T. Only having removed the rocket glider from the "back", was it possible to tow the car to the parking lot.
Despite the high aerodynamic quality of the airframe, the external load, due to its high aerodynamic drag, sharply reduced the flight range. In addition, due to the significant mass of the cargo, less fuel had to be poured. As a result, the Atlant range with a cargo weight of 31.5 tons did not exceed 1700 km, and flights to Baikonur were carried out with an intermediate landing in Kuibyshev. In total, two VM-T flying machines were manufactured. It was possible to increase the non-stop flight range only by installing a fuel receiver for refueling in flight. This refinement was performed on the second flying machine, which received the identification mark of the Russian Federation - 01502. The identification mark RA - 01502 is located on the V.M. Myasishchev was repeatedly exhibited at the Moscow Aviation and Space Salons, and another RF 01402, subsequently equipped with equipment for refueling in flight, flew to the aircraft repair plant in Ryazan.
After the termination of work on MRCK Buran (now this product is called MTKS Energia-Buran), an active search began for further use of VM-T. In particular, the OKB together with TsAGI proposed a variant of the Demonstrator multi-purpose carrier, which is an experimental platform for studying the separation of the stages of a promising reusable system for launching an orbiting ship into the orbit of an artificial Earth satellite. According to the OKB, the Demonstrator can also be used to launch commercial cargo weighing up to 1300 kg into space.
Customers, including those abroad, who want to transport bulky cargo on VM-T, are enough. However, due to the fact that the required runway width must be at least 60 m (recall that the wing supports of the chassis are located at the tips of the consoles), it is difficult to operate the aircraft from many foreign airfields.
The VM-T was regularly shown during the flight with cargo at aviation holidays, and in August 1992 it was exhibited at the Mosaeroshow-92.