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Tupolev Tu-95 Bear
Long Range Russian Bomber

Tupolev Tu-95 above the clouds
Click on the picture for the wav sound.


    Primary Function:
    Weight Empty:
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    Landing Speed:
    Cruise Speed:
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    Year Deployed:
4- 14,795 hp ea.
198,000 lbs.
414,500 lbs.
33,000 lbs.
162 ft. 5 in.
167 ft. 8 in.
185 mph
168 mph
440 mph
575 mph
1,970 fpm
39,400 feet
9,400 miles

Tupolev Tu-95 Bear aircraft are among the fastest propeller aircraft in the world. They serve as Russia's primary long range cruise missile carrier.  Arguably they are the most successful Soviet bombers design since World War II.  While all other nations are flying jet powered heavy bombers, the Tu-95 still uses propellers. However, the aircraft can fly at jet-like speeds.

The Tupolev Tu-95 was conceived in late 1940's as the then Soviet Union looked to increase the range and power of its bombers. Tupolev Tu-95 proposed specifications called for a range over 8,000 miles, with 500 mph speeds at an altitude of 32,800 feet.  It was originally to be powered by piston engines rather than turboprops. However, as turboprop technology improved, they proved far superior and were found to be the best choice of engines overall  The aircraft's fuselage resembles its predecessor which, in turn was a copy of a U.S. heavy World War II bomber.  Its swept back wings, unusual for a propeller driven aircraft, were based on early Soviet jet bombers.  Recent photographs of the large aircraft flying off the coast of Scotland while escorted by RAF fighters bring back memories of the Cold War.

Tuplov Tu-95 intercepted by RAF fighter
Tuplov Tu-95 Bear with RAF fighter.

The success of the Tupolev Tu-95 Bear was contingent on the effectiveness of its turboprop engines. To obtain the performance specified, the engines were required to produce about 10,000 h.p each. However, the most powerful Soviet turboprop engines of the time produced less than half that. Kuznetsov eventually designed 12,000 hp engines used on the prototype aircraft by combining two engines turning counter rotating propellers.

The first prototype Tupolev Tu-95 Bear took to the sky on November 12th, 1952. It suffered a catastrophic engine gearbox failure in April of 1953 resulting in the loss of the aircraft and its crew. A second prototype flew on February 16, 1955 with engines which proved more reliable.

Production of aircraft began in January of 1956. They were capable of long range, fast, high altitude flight, while carrying up to 19,800 lbs. of atomic or conventional bombs. The aircraft were equipped with six radar controlled 23 mm cannons to defend against fighter aircraft attacks.

Later models of the Tupolev Tu-95 were armed with a pair of long range anti-shipping missiles, carried one beneath each wing and up to six cruise missiles carried internally with up to five more carried under each wing.

An anti-submarine version of the Tupolev Tu-95 was developed with a ventral search radar dome and an elongated fuselage. It carries torpedoes, mines, and sonar buoys.

The Tupolev Tu-95 continues to operate in the Russian Air Force. It is expected to remain in service until at least 2020. Part of the reason for its longevity is an ability to be modified for different missions. These include the deployment of cruise missiles, reconnaissance, and anti-submarine warfare.

The Tupolev Tu-95 utilizes both leading edge geometrical wing warping and aerodynamic wing warping to provide higher aerodynamic efficiency.

Advanced navigation equipment consists of long range radio navigation and instrument landing system, radio compass, astro compass, magnetic compass, and flight gyroscope, coupled with a bomb-sight autopilot and RPB- 4 bomb radio sight.

The first Tupolev Tu-95 was converted to a maritime surveillance aircraft and re-designated the model M in 1962. The airplane had three sets of cameras located in the bomb bay which incorporated SAB (Luminous bomb) and FqtAB (photographic bomb) photography in addition to day and night cameras. It was equipped with an air refueling probe and a centralized ground refueling system.

The K-20 complex modernization order provided for the installation of upgraded equipment to the Tupolev Tu-95 consisting of a RSB-70 command radio station, a RSIU-5 communication radio station, a R-832 ARK-11 radio compass, a RV-UM radio altimeter, a PV- 17 high altitude radio altimeter, a KS-6D directional system and navigation equipment. These improvements to the aircraft increased target detection range up to 410 miles (660 km).

Model K and KD Tupolev Tu-95 aircraft were equipped with a meteorological radio station with a range of up to 260 miles (420 km). Their defensive equipment was modernized with PRS-4 "Krypton" radar replacing the tail gun turret radio sight.

The Tupolev Tu-95 model KM was introduced equipped with upgraded radar, anti-radiation missiles, electronic counter measure systems, new missile launchers and two pylons with Tu-22M BD-45K launchers installed under each wing.

Tupolev Tu-95 Bear model MC/MS aircraft received updated avionics. These incorporate modern Doppler drift and speed indicators, short and long range celestial and radio navigation systems, a satellite communication system and very powerful ECM equipment. When originally introduced it was said that the ECM equipment was so powerful that the most advanced Soviet interceptor aircraft of the time could not get a missile lock on it. They had a navigation system for formation flights, which was designed for "KD" versions.

Tupolev Tu-95 cruise missile carriers featured double slotted flaps and spar box fuel tanks instead of bladder tanks. They are equipped with more powerful Kuznetsov NK-12MV turboprops of 14,795 shp each with reinforced generator drives. The engines have increased reliability and a longer operational life. Following additional upgrades, these are expected to comprise the majority of Russian bombers in operation over the next decade.

To date, Tupolev Tu-95 aircraft fly on attack and reconnaissance exercises throughout the world, often testing Western defenses. The encounters are generally friendly, with crews waiving at one another.

Much has been written about the noise produced by the Tupolev Tu-95 aircraft. Although the propeller tips come close to supersonic speeds at its highest speed, cruising speeds keep the tips of the propellers well below speeds which will produce high noise levels.

If you look closely at photographs of the Tupolev Tu-95, you can easily see that the propellers are turning at relatively low rpm's.

It is doubtful that a Tupolev Tu-95 would fly at speeds high enough to produce supersonic propeller tip noises for any extended period of time. Such an aircraft has no sound deadening, so its crew would not be able to stand the noise.

Over 500 Tupolev Tu-95 aircraft have been manufactured

Tupolev Tu-95 built by B. B. Webber
Tupolev Tu-95 Bear

Pictured above and immediately below is the Tupolev Tu-95 Bear built by B. B. Webber. It is 18 ft 7 in. long, with a 21 ft. 6 in. wingspan and weighs 90 lbs. Engines are 4 x 1.82s with on-board starters. Plans are by Don Smith Plans.

B.B. Webber standing near his Tupolev Tu-95
Tupolev Tu-95 Bear

Not pictured is the Tupolev Tu-95 Bear from Flying Scale Models plans. It has a wingspan of 84 inches. Recommended power are 4 x .40 engines.

The final three pictures on this page are of the Tupolev Tu-95 Bear scratch built by George Maiorana. Wingspan is 108 in. and length is 111 in. Covering is in Flite-Metal and it weighs 32 lbs. The Tupolev Tu-95 uses contra-rotating gear boxes, custom 4 blade props, 12 x10 front- 12 x 12 rear. Powering it are 1P5S 4800ma 1S5P lipo packs from FMA Direct, and MaxCim motors geared 3.5:1. The aircraft is guided with a Futaba 2.4 14MZ radio system.

George writes: "We finally got the electric Tupolev Tu-95 on 8-8-08. It flies great! Four flights of the Tupolev Tu-95 were flown. See the video of the second flight of the rc airplane at:
www.rcuvideos.com/video/Tu-95SecondFlight- wmv.
Pictures here:

Tupolev Tu-95 by George Maiorana on static exhibit
Tupolev Tu-95 Bear

Maiorana's Tupolev Tu-95 showing nose and propeller detailsTupolev Tu-95 Bear detail.

Maiorana's Tupolev Tu-95 with gear up after takeoff
Tupolev Tu-95 Bear in flight.

We received this email from Bruno Alba (bruno_alba@hotmail.com):

I acquired used plans for a 1/10 scale Tupolev Tu-95, but they seem to be missing the stabilizer page. I think that it is sheet #3. Does anyone know how many plan sheets there are supposed to be? Also I would appreciate any information about building the Tupolev Tu-95 including suggestions for engines, incidences, etc.

If anyone out there can help Bruno, please respond directly to him.

Joao Goes wrote to us and is asking for any information you can provide about building a Tupolev Tu-95, whether plan, kit or an ARF. You can email him information on the Tupolev Tu-95 at jvgoes@hotmail.com.

If you have built a Tupolev Tu-95, or know of one that should be shown here, please let us know about it.