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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

M-50 / M-52, Myasishchev 'Bounder'

M-50, which received the designation "Bounder" in NATO, was developed in the USSR as the equivalent of the American Convair B-58 Hustler. However, unlike the American aircraft, the M-50 did not reach its operational state. An interesting project of the Myasishchev Design Bureau is the result of an attempt to create a long-range bomber with high subsonic characteristics. It was developed after the flaws of the M-4 aircraft were revealed - especially the insufficient flight range. However, a number of reasons led to the abandonment of this project. Only one prototype M-50A aircraft was built, flown in 1957 and equipped with four engines of the VD-7 family: two turbofan engines VD-7M on pylons under the wing and two turbofan engines VD-7B on the wingtips.

OKB Myasishchyev began working on the supersonic intercontinental bomber M-50 in 1956. The aircraft was intended to be equipped with and the supersonic long-range M-61 cruise missile, also developed by OKB Myasishchyev. The bomber was intended to have a strategic strike capability, due to its range of 10,000 km, plus the 1000 km range of the missile. The M-50 had forward trailing triangular wings, a wing span of 35.1 meters and a length of 57.5 meters. Powered by four "16-17" engines developed by P.F. Zubets, two engine pods were mounted outboard on the wings and two less powerful engines at the tip of the wings.

The development of the M-50 was the M-52 with four M16-17 turbofan engines, on which the underwing engine nacelles were installed at a significant angle to the wing plane, and the outer ones had other pylons, plus the aircraft received additional horizontal plumage at the top of the keel, various onboard systems were finalized. Missile weapons were assumed. The plane was built, but not flown, and soon disposed of.

The engines that had originally been planned for use on the M-50 were not initially available. It was planned to use fuel-efficient turbojet engines with afterburners developed under the direction of Prokofiy Zubts as a power plant. This, by the way, was one of the main reasons due to which the M-50 project was closed. Vladimir Myasischev repeated the mistake of many Soviet-era aircraft designers who designed their aircraft for engines that were still at the creation stage. As a rule, the output was neither engine nor plane. And this time it turned out exactly the same. The engines of Prokofiy Zuba failed to bring to the desired condition.

Instead, temporarily (as it seemed then) the engines of the design of Vladimir Dobrynin were installed. As a result, initial versions of the m-50 were outfitted with a prototype version two VD-7 engines and two VD-7g were used with a demonstrated speed of Mach 0.99. The second M-50, designated the M-52, carried the Zubets engines around which the aircraft had been designed. The engine installation was modified, and a second tailplane was added to the top of the fin. The prototype was constructed in 1959 and made the first flight on 27 October 1959.

The history of M-50 began in the 1950s, when the concept of a supersonic aircraft did not fit into the consciousness of the layman, and the pilots of these machines were categorized as heroes. Journalists and writers "painted" in their, inflamed imaginations fantastic visions and only engineers, sensing perspective, aware of the complexity of supersonic flight. The task of creating long-supersonic aircraft was certainly difficult, but someone had to solve it. No wonder that in just a few years after the organization of the OKB-23, perhaps the young organization, not only in terms of its existence, but also the age of its employees, had the idea of such a fighting machine.

But the time of such aircraft, similar to the modern Tu-144 or Tu-160, had not yet come, and it is no wonder that designers first went to a more complex path - creating a two-stage aircraft. Remember in the movie "The barrier of ignorance," which was inspired by the motive events and views the early 1950s, a small hypothetical plane, suspended from the seemingly giant Tu-16, was launched at high altitude and overcome invisible barriers. This idea was put into the first draft of the "50", in common with the plans of other OKB at the time. The proposal for the establishment of such a machine, was initially approved by the State Committee for Aviation Technology and the customer, not the stale and government. In July 1954, the Council of Ministers issued a decree that allowed large-scale work on a "split-range bomber," consisting of an attack aircraft carrier and four turbojets. In fairness, this idea of Soviet aviation specialists was so popular that other bureaux also engaged in such development.

A distinctive feature of the M-50 was that it literally has everything - from engines to tires tires - was "done again" using new designs. Tupolev would change one thing in a new design, and Myasishchev would change everything. The development and implementation of new designs, technologies and materials required the coordinated work of almost 20 design bureaus and research institutes, as well as more than 10 large factories of various ministries and departments.

Soviet bomber development in the decade of the 1950s showed they had embraced the concept of strategic bombing, and had designed a force to execute such a strategy. Often called “missile carriers” the Soviet medium and heavy bomber program of the mid- and late 50’s culminated with the production of the M-50/52 BOUNDER. However, Soviet leadership also struggled with determining the best means to deliver nuclear weapons, and in what proportion should those delivery means be. Though intended to be a supersonic strategic bomber, the big beast would more accurately have been code-named “Blunder” as one aviation wag put it. The big bomber was devoid of high-speed flight understanding.

In December 1960, N. S. Khruschev, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) made a speech at the Supreme Soviet session in which he proclaimed the inexpedience of the further development of military aircraft. The Soviet leader, fascinated by the triumph of Russian space technology and exploration, directed that all the tasks formerly executed by the combat aircraft be performed by guided missiles of various types. The Council of Ministers and the CPSU Central Committee issued a joint decree terminating work on new aircraft. The first victims of the decree were the Lavochkin and Myasischev aircraft design bureaus. They had to fully reorganize their work. V. Myasischev was very disappointed at the fact that only a few of his M-50 and M-52 long-range supersonic bombers were produced.

The surviving example of the impressive M-50 is now on display at the Monino Aviation Museum in Moscow.

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Page last modified: 02-12-2019 17:24:57 ZULU