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Planes at the atomic engine
Material posted : Administrator Publication date: 15-11-2015
The rivalry of the Soviet and American nuclear bombers ended in a draw.

On November, 12th, 1952 has made the first flight a turboprop strategic bomber of Tu-95. This terrible car carrying onboard the nuclear weapon, is till now on arms. OKB Tupolev was let out by 18 updatings of this plane. In 1956 works on plane creation in which as a power-plant the nuclear reactor would be used have begun. In this connection on light there was flying laboratory Tu-95LaL on which the technology was fulfilled pionernaja. In parallel with the Soviet experiments by similar work were engaged and in the USA.


Flights on nuclear fuel were very attractive. Use of almost not decreased fuel would allow planes to move in air space on any distances as much as long. It was most actual for distant bombers which long time should be on battle watch, patrolling near to territory of the probable opponent.

The given idea has inspired the CPSU Central Committee. In this connection on August, 12th, 1955 there was a Decision of Ministerial council of the USSR on which some enterprises of the aviation industry were connected to nuclear aviation subjects. OKB Tupolev, Lavochkina and Mjasishcheva should be engaged in designing and construction of flying machines with nuclear power-plants, and OKB Kuznetsova and Cradles working out of these installations.

Later 7 months after the analysis of the presented concepts of "the nuclear plane» work on it has been charged OKB Tupolev. Tupolev's offer assumed construction a turn two decades - in 70−80 years - high-grade battle subsonic and supersonic planes of different function. At the first stage it was planned to create the land stand for working off of a plane nuclear power-plant. Then similar installation should be tested onboard flying laboratory for the purpose of working off of system of radiating protection of crew.

The land stand was ready in 1958. It represented an average unit of a fuselage of Tu-95 in which the nuclear reactor took place. It was preceded by great volume of work on creation of new materials, before in the aviation industry not applied. Materials have been developed in common with experts of the chemical industry. And after check jadershchikami have been recognised by suitable for use in the land stand and flying laboratory.

The stand has been established on Semipalatinsk range. In first half of 1959 the nuclear reactor has been launched, and tests of a control system by the reactor, devices of control of radiation, reliability of filters have begun.

After on land installation all necessary experimental data have been collected and processed, the reactor has been established on flying laboratory - Tu-95LAL received for the account of re-equipment of the serial plane.

The water-water reactor, which capacity it is unknown, placed in an average unit of a fuselage. Together with a protective cover it supported plane dimensions in this connection in this place it was necessary to cut and cover a fuselage with metal fairs on each side, from above and from below a little. Under the reactor there was an air inlet serving for cooling of a water contour of the reactor.

On engines the reactor did not participate in transmission of energy. Its purpose of a finding onboard consisted in research of reliability of work in flight and efficiency of the filters protecting crew from an irradiation.

From May till August, 1961 Tu-95LAL has made 34 flights. Besides pilots the head of experiments, the operator of the reactor and physics participated in them.

The conducted air tests have shown high system effectiveness of radiating protection.

It was necessary to make use of the stored experience at creation of anti-submarine plane Tu-119 in which energy of the reactor already would move on shaft of rotation of screws of the plane. The principle of this transfer consists that nagretyj in a nuclear reactor working gas is thrown out on the turbine blade, and it rotates a shaft. However, in Tu-119 teamwork of mid-flight engines and a nuclear power-plant was assumed.

However soon the project has been closed. There was it of that Khruschev rested enormous hopes of ballistic missiles and considered distant aircraft ineffective. There was also one more reason: in case of failure "reaktoronostsa" the big territory would be exposed to a radioactive contamination.


Americans have started to solve a problem of the "nonstop" plane earlier. In the beginning of 1946 between command of the Air Forces and the Commission on atomic energy of the USA the agreement on the beginning of program NEPA (Nuclear Energy Propulsion for Aircraft) research of the problems connected with working out of the plane c by a nuclear power-plant became which purpose has been entered into.

To a solution of a problem they moved short steps. Have to begin with placed in bombing compartment В-29 a capsule with radiem and have sent it in flight, having larded a bomber radiation gauges. These measurements have allowed to define necessary level of protection of pilots. The bulky system which very big plane could lift in air only appeared.

Bomber В-36 on which 6 piston engines and 4 turbojet were established was that at that time. Actually, and appeared later В-52 lost to the earlier colleague both on dimensions, and on bombing loading - 32 tons against 39 tons.

The American designers moved approximately by same means, as Soviet. They have placed in the plane which has received name NB-36H, radiating protection and gauges. Have established in bomboljuk the reactor with air cooling on 3МВт. Also have made with idle, and then with the included reactor of 47 flights - with 1955 for 1957.

Flights passed over deserted regions of Texas and New Mexico. Thus "reaktorovoz" accompanied the plane with a platoon of marines. In case of failure they should desantirovatsja and to take a falling place under guards.

The American program nevertheless had an essential difference from Soviet. There are two ways of transmission of energy of the reactor on the engine. The closed way assumes heating of air arriving on the turbine, from the heat exchanger.

Americans have chosen an open way when air heats up in an active zone of the reactor. Such way allowed to reduce essentially weight of installation and to simplify its design. But thus the radioactive dust gets to encircling space. Including in a fuselage. Therefore a crew cabin have made not only with massive radiating protection, but also completely tight.

Have thus saved and on protection of the reactor which blocked distribution of neutrons only in several directions - on a way to a cabin, to electronic systems and a bombing ammunition load.

It has led to necessity of protection of the land personnel after a landing of the nuclear plane. The plane with the stopped reactor was towed on a special platform. Here the power-plant acted in film from the plane and fell to deep mine where some time it was maintained for recession of levels of radiation, and then was served with application of remote manipulators.

In 1958 nuclear energy installation HTRE-3 by capacity 35 MVt was ready. It provided with energy two engines. Installation was tested on the earth to 1960 inclusive. To provide its normal operation in static position, the powerful fans simulating arriving in flight from an air inlet a stream of cooling air were used. Data on how much HTRE-3 corresponded to requirements TZ, is not available. But anyway the American designers on a creation way atomoleta have promoted further the Soviet colleagues.

However before reception of a real fighting vehicle remains very far. And on March, 28th, 1961 president John Kennedy has closed program NEPA. With 1945 for 1961 on it was istracheno 7 billion dollars. Money for those times very serious. How many was istracheno on the Soviet project atomoleta - about that it is conducted to nobody. As in an operating time over strategic projects in Soviet Union anybody did not consider money.

Vladimir Tuchkov



Tags: Russia , innovation , USA , AME

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