Ilyushin Il-54 'Blowlamp'
In 1951-52, the design bureau of S.V.Ilyushin was engaged in the development of prospetive IL-46 and IL-46S bombers. The first of them was successfully tested, but still did not enter service. The second was not even completed: after the project was closed, it was dismantled on a slipway. However, work on new attack aircraft did not stop. Soon after the order to stop work on the IL-46, new instructions appeared. Now the designers had to create a new aircraft with higher performance. Subsequently, it received the name IL-54.
The decision to abandon the Il-46 and Il-46S bombers in favor of the Tu-16 was made at the very end of 1952. This choice of the military was due to the noticeable advantages of the Tupolev machine, both technically and militarily. Nevertheless, from the work of OKB S.V.Ilyushin did not end completely. Now this organization had to use the accumulated experience in creating the next bomber, which differed from its predecessors in increased characteristics.
On 29 December 1952, the Council of Ministers of the USSR issued a resolution in accordance with which S.V. Ilyushin and his colleagues were to create a new medium-range bomber. The customer wanted to get an aircraft that can reach speeds of up to Mach 1.15 at height, carry a normal load of 3 tons and show a flight range of at least 2400 km. For their time, such requirements were quite bold. Their implementation was associated not only with the use of existing ideas, but also with the proposal of new solutions.
The new project received the designation IL-54. It should be noted that in the future this name remained with the bomber, so there is no risk of any confusion. Later, on the basis of the bomber, it was proposed to develop several new aircraft for other purposes. So, the torpedo bomber was designated as Il-54T, the training vehicle was called Il-54U, and the tactical reconnaissance was proposed to be marked with the additional letter “R”.
In the spring of 1955, the first experimental tests of the IL-54 were carried out by the famous test pilot V.K. Kokkinaki. According to him, the aircraft showed good stability and controllability in flight. But take-off and landing were to some extent complicated by the use of a bicycle-type chassis. Therefore, in the same year, the second prototype IL-54 with two modified AL-7F engines was released and tested in flight. Taking into account the test results of the first prototype machine, two aerodynamic ridges were installed on the second on the lower surface of the rear of the fuselage, resulting in increased ground stability of the bomber.
The Il-54 was estimated as innovative compared to somewhat archaic for the mid-1950s, IL-28. The speed M = 0.93 for the mid-1950s was very impressive. P.T.Astashenkov ["Constructor of the legendary ILs" - M., Politizdat, 1970] noted "... Ilyushin, indeed, never showed a tendency to chase after the effect, but the use of classical schemes for his most successful aircraft cannot be considered an indicator of Ilyushin’s unwillingness to innovate. On the contrary, many planes created at the Ilyushin Design Bureau, but remaining almost unknown, were undoubtedly bold in design, and some were a combination of the ordinary and the unusual..."
The IL-54 bomber was able to pass factory tests and proved to be good, but, for a number of reasons, still could not reach the adoption, serial production and operation. At that time, work was carried out in parallel on at least three projects for the supersonic bombers of this class:
- Tupolev Design Bureau was engaged in the project "98" (Tu-98) - a Tu-16 dimension aircraft with the possibility of flying to the NW,
- Design Bureau Ilyushin with Il- 54
- Yakovlev Design Bureau based on the experimental Yak-125B developed the Yak-26 (produced in a small series of 10 machines) and 3 aircraft were converted as experimental using the Yak-129 code (in the Yak-28 series). The plane looked very similar to the Yak-26-1 modified in 1957, but it was a completely new type of bomber.
Yak-26 was not accepted into the series. In 1958, all work on its testing and implementation was discontinued. On its basis, the Yak-28L light front-line bomber was developed and put into production.
The IL-54 project used all the experience of OKB S.V.Ilyushin in the creation of bombers, as well as a number of new ideas. In the future, those or other developments on the IL-54 were used in new projects, but they were all created by other organizations. The IL-54 project was the latest development of a design bureau in the field of bomber aviation. In the future, bombers did not appearamong the new aircraft of the IL brand. Aircraft designers focused on passenger and military transport aircraft.
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