UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


The further development of the A-55 was the draft of the strategic bomber and missile carrier A-57 with a crew of three, proposed by RL Bartini in 1958. "To effectively solve problems," wrote Robert Ludwigovich, "facing strategic aviation, its combat assets must provide:

  1. Achievement of any point on the territory of the enemy;
  2. The least vulnerability of weapons from enemy air defenses;
  3. The most hidden approach to the goal;
  4. The ability to approach the goal from any tactically advantageous areas;
  5. Independence from stationary costly runways and launching grounds. "

To meet these requirements, an aeronautical missile system was developed, consisting of a carrier aircraft and a projectile aircraft, or, in modern terminology, a cruise missile.

The aerodynamic configuration of the A-57, made according to the flying wings of variable sweep pattern in scale, differed from the predecessor A-55 by more technologically advanced forms. The leading edge of the wing, the sweep angle of which smoothly changed from the root part to the end one, became stepped, which, while maintaining the aerodynamic characteristics, simplified the assembly of the bearing surface. This aerodynamic arrangement served as the basis for a whole family of aircraft. It should be noted that the aerodynamic quality of the A-57 aircraft, confirmed by experimental research, at subsonic speeds was not less than 7, and at supersonic, corresponding to the number M = 2.5, it reached 6.75. For the mid-1950s, these were quite large values. For comparison: in the supersonic airliner Tu-144 this parameter reached values of 8.2. The "self-balancing" wing (the balancing was achieved by twisting in the span) with the minimum total wave and inductive resistance had a supercritical convex downward profile in the center, and a convex upward profile at the ends.

In those years it was assumed that at the first strike the enemy would disable a significant part of the concrete runways of the airfields, therefore, on the A-57, as well as on its predecessor, the landing gear providing takeoff and landing from water, ground and snow. A-57 at a weight of 250 tons could take off from any unpaved airfield with a runway not less than 3000 meters long, and if there was a smooth snow-covered strip with a length of 3600 meters, then at 400 tons, without using accelerators.

To take off from the water, a ski chassis was designed, consisting of hydro-skis and underwater wings. At the same time, the water area was 2100 meters long. Specialists of SibNIA and TsAGI carried out research in the hydro-channel of TsAGI, substantiating the possibility of not only prolonged stay of the A-57 afloat, but also the possibility of its operation in the open sea with considerable excitement.

Although the A-57 could strike with air bombs, its main strike force was the RCC projectile, located on the "back" of the carrier. This cruise missile was developed in OKB-256 under the guidance of PV Tsybin on the basis of a strategic reconnaissance vehicle, and in accordance with its geometric characteristics fully corresponded to the latter. However, this variant of the Bartini air-missile system was considered interim, as it was planned to replace the bulky and creating additional RCC aerodynamic drag on a "ballistic missile with a ballistic missile on the final section of the trajectory" of its flight to the target. "

To achieve the given parameters for an airplane of one aerodynamic perfection of the fuselage was not enough, highly economical and powerful turbojet engines were required. In this direction, the design bureaus of Vladimir Dobrynin, Nikolai Kuznetsov, Arkhip Lyulka and Alexander Mikulin worked in the Soviet Union. The greatest success was achieved by the OKB-276 team, headed by Kuznetsov, who proposed the design of the NK-10B (P10-B) engine with the afterburner thrust of 24,000 kilograms. According to the designer, the A-57, with five such engines, the aircraft could fly at a cruising speed of 2500 kilometers per hour and climb to a height of 24,000 meters. The take-off weight of the A-57 was to be 270-305 tons, a large stock of fuel allowed the aircraft to cover huge distances.

Realizing that the engine NK-10B in the promised terms may not appear, the designers considered it possible to replace the less powerful NK-6 at the first stage of the creation of the A-57 aircraft. On the basis of the A-57, the reconnaissance R-57 and its version of the R-57-AL with a nuclear power plant, developed under the leadership of A. Milyuka, were designed. Following this, in 1958, proposals were made for the nuclear naval bomber A-58.

The peculiarity of the R-57 was the possibility of using it independently (in this case it was equipped with the appropriate photo equipment), and in the system with a reconnaissance aircraft of the RSR, whose dimensions and weight were similar to the cruise missile RCC. The range of the aircraft in the manned version was 6000, and in the unmanned version - 8000 kilometers.

But soon the situation changed dramatically. The government of the country headed for a sharp reduction of the armed forces, including the Air Force. Many aviation enterprises were reoriented to manufacture rocket technology. This is often explained by the free will of NS Khrushchev, but this is not true. In the early 1960s, citizens of the Soviet Union, in spite of their achievements in the aircraft industry and rocket and space technology, dragged out an overwhelmingly miserable existence.

But the works of Bartini on the A-57 were not wasted. When the design and development of the Tupolev supersonic passenger aircraft began in the Tupolev Design Bureau, the documentation relating to the strategic missile-carrying bomber was sent from Novosibirsk to Moscow.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list