With the advent of
jet aircraft, the leadership of the Soviet Union began to express concerns about
keeping up with the decadent Westerners. One area urgently looked into was the
Jet Bomber. With this type of aircraft, planes could hit capitalists fast and
hard, without fear of interception
One of the first
attempts was basically a jet engined version of the Tu-4 "Bull", which
itself was a reverse engineered B-29. It seemed simple enough, add some jets to
an existingly fast aircraft, and quick like borscht, you'd have a new, faster
plane. Well, almost...
It turns out the
airfoil design used on the B-29 had a limiting Mach factor, so the addition of
jet engines only added 50 knots airspeed. The thirsty nature of early jet
engines also meant that a massively large part of the payload had to be given
over to fuel, and range suffered drastically as well. It turned out, the Tu-4T
was capable of a slightly faster attack, at only 25% of the range of a
conventional Tu-4, with only 31% of it's payload. A fully fuelled Tu-4T, taking
off from Moscow, could only reach Kiev before requiring refuelling. Needless to
say, the plane wasn't put into production, with only three prototypes being
However, the ever
busy CIA and MI-6 were able to photograph the Tu-4T at a Soviet airfield, and it
was assumed to be an operational aircraft. It was designated "Bolshoi"
under the NATO naming protocols, and remained in the west's Cold War planning
directives as late as 1967.
images below to see larger images
I came across this funky
old "Mechanix Illustrated" at a local used book store, and had
to have it, just on the basis of the cover art. The artist was likely
thinking a Russian jet bomber would look pretty much like one of their
regular ones, and the result inspired me to build my version of the Tu-4T.
I used the Minicraft B-29 and an old Revell DC-8 for engines. This poor
model was dropped many many times before it became completed. It was
cursed, but I persevered!.