Tag Archives: Hero of the Soviet Union

30 October 1961

Major Durnovtsev’s Tupolev Tu-95V “Bear A”, carrying the RDS-220 bomb to the target. A Tu-16 “Badger” instrumentation aircraft is just behind, on the bomber’s left quarter.
Tupolev Tu 95 carrying Tsar Bomba
Tupolev Tu-95V carrying the RDS-220 bomb.

30 October 1961: A specially modified Tupolev Tu-95V “Bear A” bomber, under the command of Major Andrei E. Durnovtsev, dropped the RDS-220 thermonuclear bomb from an altitude of 10,500 meters (34,449 feet) over the Mityushikha Bay test range on Novaya Zemlya. The bomb, a three-stage radiation implosion device weighing 27,000 kilograms (59,525 pounds), variously known as “Big Ivan” or “Tsar Bomba,” was retarded by parachute to allow the Bear to escape the blast effects. At 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) above the surface, the bomb detonated.

Major Durnovtsev's Tupolev Tu-95N Bear A, carrying the RDS-220 bomb to the target. A Tu-16 instrumentation aircraft is just behind, on the bomber's left quarter.
Major Durnovtsev’s Tupolev Tu-95V “Bear A,” carrying the RDS-220 bomb to the target. A Tu-16 instrumentation aircraft is just behind, on the bomber’s left quarter.
The RDS-220 bomb just after drop. The retarding parachute is beginning to deploy.
“Big Ivan” with first stage parachute deployed.

Major Durnovtsev’s Tu-95 was approximately 45 kilometers (28 miles) away at the time of the explosion.

At the same time, a secret United States Air Force JKC-135A instrumentation aircraft, Speed Light Bravo, 55-3127, had flown closer to gather data about the air burst. It was close enough that its special antiradiation paint was scorched. The airplane was later scrapped because of the damage it sustained.

After the data was analyzed by the Foreign Weapons Evaluation Panel (the “Bethe Panel”) the RDS-220 yield was estimated at 57 megatons. This was the largest nuclear weapon detonation in history. It was also the “cleanest,” with 97% of the energy yield produced by fusion. Relative to the size of the explosion, very little fallout was produced.

Tsar Bomba fireball over Novaya Zemlya, 11:32 a.m., 30 October 1961. The fireball has reached a diameter of 5 miles (8 kilometers). Shock waves reflecting off of the ground caused the slight flattening of the bottom of the fireball.

All buildings in the town of Severny, 55 kilometers (34.2 miles) from Ground Zero, were destroyed. Wooden buildings as far as 200 kilometers (124 miles) were destroyed or heavily damaged.

A visible shock wave in the air was seen at a distance of 700 kilometers (435 miles). The shock wave from the explosion traveled around the world three times.

Fully assembled RDS-220 three-stage radiation implosion thermonuclear bomb, with retarding parachute in place, at Arzamas-16 .

The RDS-220 was 8 meters (26.25 feet) long, with a diameter of 2.1 meters (6.89 feet). It weighed 27,000 kilograms (59,525 pounds).

The Tupolev Tu-95 is a long range strategic bomber. It is 151 feet, 6 inches (46.2 meters) long with a wingspan of 164 feet, 5 inches (50.10 meters). The wings are swept at a 35° angle. The bomber is powered by four Kuznetsov NK-12M turboprop engines, producing 14,800 shaft horsepower, each, and turning 8-bladed counter-rotating propellers. It weighs 90,000 kilograms (198,416 pounds) empty, with a maximum takeoff weight of 188,000 kilograms (414,469 pounds). The Bear has a maximum speed of 920 kilometers per hour (572 miles per hour) and an unrefueled range of 15,000 kilometers (9,321 miles). (The Bear A is capable of inflight refueling.) Service ceiling is 13,716 meters (45,000 feet).

A current production Tupolev Tu-95 Bear-H strategic bomber. (U.S. Air Force)
A current production Tupolev Tu-95MS Bear H strategic bomber. (Royal Air Force)

Following the test, Major Durnovtsev was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and named Hero of the Soviet Union. He died 24 October 1976.

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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28 October 1936

“Portrait of a Hero of the Soviet Union, Pilot A.B. Yumashev,” by Pyotr Konchalovsky, 1941. 140 x 111 cm., Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
“Portrait of a Hero of the Soviet Union, Pilot A.B. Yumashev,” by Pyotr Konchalovsky, 1941. Oil on canvas, 140 x 111 cm. Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
A.B. Yumashev, 1939. (Central Archive of Cinema, Photographic and Phonographic Documents in St, Petersburg)
A.B. Yumashev, 1939. (Central Archive of Cinema, Photographic and Phonographic Documents in St, Petersburg)

28 October 1936: Flying a four-engine Tupolev TB-3 bomber near Tchelcovo, U.S.S.R., Юмашев Андрей Борисович (Andrey Borisovich Yumashev, A.B. Yumashev, A. Youmachev, André Youmacheff), with a crewman named Kalachnikov, set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Altitude With a 5,000 Kilogram (11,023 pounds) Payload, reaching 8,980 meters (29,462 feet).¹

The transport variant of the Tupolev TB-3 is identified as the ANT-6.

For the 28 October flight, Yumashev’s airplane was powered by four air-cooled, supercharged, 30.104 liter (1,837 cubic inches) Shvetsov ASh-62 nine-cylinder radial engines, rated at 1,000 horsepower at 2,200 r.p.m., each. This engine was developed from the  earlier Shvetsov M-25, which was a license-built version of the Wright Aeronautical Corporation R-1820 Cyclone.

The previous month, Andrey Yumashev had set three similar world records. At that time the TB-3 had been powered by four liquid-cooled, supercharged, 46.928 liter (2,863.7 cubic inches) displacement, Mikulin AM-34FRN 60° V-12 engines with gear reduction, rated at 1,200 horsepower at 2,000 r.p.m. Interestingly, this engine had a different piston stroke length for the left and right cylinder banks, resulting in different displacement for each bank. On 11 September, Yumashev had flown the TB-3 to an altitude of 8,116 meters (26,627 feet) with a 5,000 kilogram payload.² On 16 September, he reached 6,605 meters (21,670 feet) while carrying 10,000 kilograms (22,046.23 pounds).³ Finally, on 20 September the Andrey Yumashev and the TB-3, this time with crewman Cheverdinsky, reached 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) with a 12,000 kilogram (26,455.47 pounds) payload.⁴

Soviet Air Force Tupolev TB-3 heavy bombers.
Soviet Air Force Tupolev TB-3 heavy bombers.

The Tupolev TB-3 was a four-engine heavy bomber built of a steel framework with corrugated steel skin panels. It had fixed landing gear. Initially, each main gear supported two wheels in a bicycle configuration. This was later changed to a single wheel and tire. While most were powered by liquid-cooled V-12 engines, various combinations of propellers were used. Some airplanes used wooden two-bladed propellers, while some used four-bladed propellers on the inner two engines. Later bombers used four-bladed propellers on all engines, while some ANT-6 transports used metal three-bladed variable-pitch propellers.

The first prototype had flown in 1930 and the TB-3 was in service until 1939, by which time it was obsolete. There were still more than 500 when the Great Patriotic War began in 1941. In addition to service as a heavy bomber, it also flew cargo and was a paratroop transport.

ANT-6-4M34 "Aviaarktika" modified for a 1937 polar expedition.
Tupolev ANT-6-4AM-34RVN, No. 209, “Aviaarktika,” modified for an August 1937 polar expedition. The airplane and its six-man crew disappeared.

Major General Andrey Borisovich Yumashev was born at St. Petersburg, Russian Empire, in March 1902. He entered the army in 1918, serving with artillery units. In 1924 he trained as a pilot, serving as a combat pilot until 1927 when he became a test pilot at the Research and Testing Institute of the Air Force. Over the next ten years he tested fighters, bombers, and transports, and was appointed Test Pilot First Class.

In addition to the four payload-to-altitude world records above, from 12–14 July 1937 he was copilot of a Tupolev ANT-25 which flew from Moscow to San Jacinto, California, across the North Pole.⁵

Yumashev flew the Ilyushin DB-3 long-range bomber during the Soviet Finnish War of 1940 (“The Winter War.”) During the Great Patriotic War, he commanded the 2nd Independent Fighter Aviation Squadron in defense of Moscow, then the 237th Fighter Regiment at the Kalinin Front. He served as deputy commander of the 3rd Air Force at the Kalinin Front and then the 1st Air Army on the Western Front. By the spring of 1943, he was in command of the 6th Fighter Air Corps at the Central front. By 1944, General Yumashev commanded the Eastern Front Air Defense and the Southern Front Air Defense. He participated in the attacks against Königsberg and Berlin at the end of World War II.

A. B. Yumashev retired from the Soviet military in 1946. He then went on to become an accomplished artist.

During his military service, General Yumashev was named Hero of the Soviet Union, twice was awarded the Order of Lenin, and five times the Order of the Red Banner. He was also awarded the Order of the Red Star.

Major General Andrey Borisovich Yumashev died at Moscow, Russia, U.S.S.R., 20 May 1988.

General Andrey Borisovich Yumashev, Soviet Air Force (1902–1988)
Major General Andrey Borisovich Yumashev, Soviet Air Force (1902–1988)

¹ FAI Record File Number 8291

² FAI Record File Number 8209

³ FAI Record File Number 10412

⁴ FAI Record File Number 8730

⁵ FAI Record File Number 9300

© 2017, Brryan R. Swopes

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24–25 September 1938

World Record Aviators with Antonov ANT 37 Rodina
From left to right, Polina Osipenko, Valentine Grizodubova and Marina Raskova, with the record-setting Tupolev ANT-37, Rodina
Valentina Stepanova Grizodubova, Hero of the Soviet Union.
Valentina Stepanovna Grizodubova, Hero of the Soviet Union.

24–25 September 1938: Valentina Stepanovna Grizodubova (Валентина Степановна Гризодубова), Polina Denisovna Osipenko (Полина Денисовна Осипенко) and Marina Mikailovna Raskova (Марина Mихайловна Раскова) set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Distance in a Straight Line Without Landing when they flew a twin-engine Tupolev ANT-37 named Rodina from Tchelcovo, an airport near Moscow, Russia, to the River Amgun, Khabarovsk Krai, in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The distance was 5,908.61 kilometers (3,671.44 miles).¹ The duration of the flight was 26 hours, 29 minutes.

The planned flight was from Moscow to Komsomolsk-on-Amur. In adverse weather conditions, they missed the airfield at Komsomolsk, and out of fuel, crash landed in a forest near the Sea of Okhotsk. Raskova was ordered to bail out of the airplane to avoid being injured, and she wandered for ten days before she located the crashed ANT-37. The other two remained with the ANT-37 and survived the landing. They waited by the wreck for Raskova to arrive. All three were made Heroes of the Soviet Union.

Polina Denisovna Osipenko, hero of the Soviet Union.

The three women were all highly experienced aviators and each held multiple world records. (Grizodubova held one FAI altitude record, two distance and three speed; Osipenko held three distance and three altitude records; and Raskova was a navigator on two distance record flights.)

Polina Osipenko was killed in an airplane accident in 1939. Marina Raskova died when her bomber crashed in 1943. She received the first state funeral of the war. Valentina Grizodubova survived World War II and then served on a commission investigating Nazi war crimes.  She died at Moscow in 1993.

The Antonov ANT-37, given the military designation DB-2, was a prototype long range medium bomber designed and built at Tupolev OKB. The design team was led by Pavel Sukhoi.

Marina Mikailovna Raskova, Hero of the Soviet Union

Rodina, the airplane flown by Grizodubova, Osipenko and Raskova, was the first prototype ANT-37. It had crashed during testing 20 July 1935, but was rebuilt as the ANT-37 bis, or DB-2B. The nose section was modified and the engines and propellers upgraded, all military armament was removed and larger fuel tanks installed. It was powered by two air-cooled, supercharged, 2,359.97-cubic-inch-displacement (38.67 liter) Tumansky M-86 two-row, 14-cylinder radial engines. They were rated 950 horsepower at 2,250 r.p.m. for takeoff and drove three-bladed, variable pitch propellers. (These engines were license-built versions of the Gnome et Rhône 14K Mistral Major.) The main landing gear was retracted by electric motors.

The airplane was operated by a crew of three. It was 15.00 meters (49 feet, 2.6 inches) long with a wingspan of 31.00 meters (101 feet, 8.5 inches). Its empty weight was 5,855 kilograms (12,908 pounds) and gross weight was 12,500 kilograms (27,558 pounds). The maximum speed was 300 kilometers per hour at 0 meters (186 miles per hour at Sea Level) and 342 kilometers per hour (212.5 miles per hour) at high altitude. The service ceiling was 8,000 meters (26, 247 feet).

Tupolev ANT-37 Rodina.
Tupolev ANT-37 Rodina.

Rodina was repaired and operated by Aeroflot, then, until 1943, by the People’s Commissariat of Aircraft Industry.

¹ FAI Record File Number 10444

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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16 September 1975

Mikoyan Design Bureau E155MP 83/1 (Mikoyan)
Mikoyan Design Bureau E-155MP 83/1 (OKB Mikoyan)
Alexander Vasilyevich Fedotov (1932–1982)
Alexander Vasilyevich Fedotov

16 September 1975: Alexander Vasilyevich Fedotov, Mikoyan Experimental Design Bureau’s chief test pilot, took the Product 83 prototype, E-155MP 83/1, for its first flight.

Project 83 was a two-seat, twin-engine, Mach 2.8+ interceptor, designed as a successor to the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 25 “Foxbat” and would be designated the MiG 31. The Soviet Ministry of Defense assigned odd numbered designators to fighter-type aircraft, while NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, gave them identifying names beginning with the letter F. NATO calls the MiG 31 “Foxhound.”

The E-155MP is 22.69 meters (77 feet, 5 inches) long with a wingspan of 13.46 meters (44 feet, 2 inches) and overall height of 5.15 meters (16 feet, 11 inches). Its empty weight is 20,800 kilograms (45,856 pounds), normal takeoff weight 40,600 kilograms (89,508 pounds) and maximum takeoff weight of 46,000 kilograms (101,413 pounds).

Mikoyan Design Bureau Ye-155MP, 83/1, first prototype of the MiG-31 Fox Hound. (Mikoyan)
Mikoyan Design Bureau E-155MP, 83/1, first prototype of the MiG-31 Foxhound. (Mikoyan Experimental Design Bureau)

The aircraft is powered by two low-bypass-ratio Soloviev Design Bureau D-30 F6 turbofan engines, producing 91.00 kN (20,458 pounds of thrust), each, and 152.00 kN (34,171 pounds thrust), each, with afterburners.

The E-155MP had a maximum speed of Mach 2.82 (2,995 kilometers per hour/1,861 miles per hour) at 17,500 meters (57,415 feet) and 1500 (932 miles per hour) at low altitude. The prototype’s service ceiling was 20,000 meters (65,617 feet), and it had a range of 2,150 kilometers (1,336 miles).

The aircraft is unsuitable for air combat manuevering. The airframe is limited to a load factor of 5 Gs.

Mikoyan Design Bureau E155MP 83/1 (Mikoyan)
Mikoyan Design Bureau E155MP 83/1 (OKB Mikoyan)

The production MiG 31 is armed with one Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-6 23 23mm six-barrel rotary cannon with 260 rounds of ammunition. Four Vympel R-33 long-range air-to-air missiles are carried in fuselage recesses, and various combinations of short and medium range missiles can be carried on pylons under the wings.

The MiG 31 was in production from 1979 until 1994. Beginning in 2010, a modernization program to bring the up to the MiG 31BM configuration. It is believed that approximately 400 MiG 31 interceptors are in service.

A Russian Air Force MiG-31. (Dmitriy Pichugin)
A Russian Air Force MiG 31. (Dmitriy Pichugin via Wikipedia)

Alexander Vasilievich Fedotov born 23 June 1932 at Stalingrad, Russia (renamed Volgograd in 1961). He graduated from the Air Force Special School at Stalingrad,  and in 1950, entered the Soviet Army. Fedotov attended the Armavir Military Aviation School of Pilots at Amravir, Krasnodar Krai, Russia, graduating in 1952, and then became a flight instructor. In 1958 he attended the Ministry of Indutrial Aviation Test Pilot School at Zhukovsky. He was a test pilot for the Mikoyan Experimental Design Bureau from 1958 to 1984. In 1983, Alexander Fedotov was promoted to the rank of Major General in the Soviet Air Force.

On 22 July 1966, Fedotov was honored as a Hero of the Soviet Union. He was named an Honored Test Pilot of the Soviet Union, 21 February 1969. He was qualified as a Military Pilot 1st Class. Fedotov was twice awarded the Order of Lenin, and also held the Order of the Red Banner and the Order of the Red Banner of Labor.

During his career as a test pilot, Major General Fedotov had been forced to eject from an airplane three times. He had also set 15 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale world records for speed, altitude and time to altitude. One of these, FAI Record File Number 2825, in which he flew a Mikoyan E-266M to 37,650 meters (123,534 feet), 31 August 1977, remains the current record. The FAI has also honored him three times with The De la Vaulx Medal (1961, 1973 and 1977), and in 1976 awarded him the FAI’s Gold Air Medal.

Major General Alexander Vasilyevich Fedotov and his navigator, Valerie Sergeyvich Zaytevym, were killed when the second MiG 31 prototype, number 83/2, crashed during a test flight. Neither airman was able to eject.

Major General Alexander Vasilyevich Federov, Hero of the Soviet Union.
Major General Alexander Vasilyevich Federov, Hero of the Soviet Union

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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11 September 1962

Pyotr Maksimovic Ostapenko (Encyclopedia of Safety)
Pyotr Maksimovich Ostapenko (Encyclopedia of Safety)

11 September 1962: Flying the E-152\1, a record-setting prototype Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-21 interceptor, test pilot Pyotr Maksimovich Ostapenko set a new Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Altitude in Horizontal Flight of 22,670 meters (74,377 feet).¹

Profile of Mikoyan-Gurevich E-166
Profile of Mikoyan-Gurevich E-152\1 (testpilot.ru)

In documents submitted to FAI, the E-152\1 was identified as E-166. Colonel Georgy Konstantinovich Mosolov made the first flight of the E-152\1 on 21 April 1961. The aircraft displayed at The Central Museum of the Air Forces at Monino, Russia as E-166 is actually the E-152\2, sister ship of the record-setting prototype.

This individual airplane set two other FAI world records. Test Pilot Alexander Vasilievich Fedotov flew it to 2,401 kilometers per hour (1,492 miles per hour) over a 100 kilometer course, 10 October 1961,² and on 7 July 1962, Colonel Mosolov set a world record for speed over a straight 15/25 kilometer course of 2,681 kilometers per hour (1,666 miles per hour).³

The Mikoyan-Gurevich E-152\1 shown with air-to-air missiles and a centerline fuel tank.
The Mikoyan-Gurevich E-152\1 shown with air-to-air missiles and a centerline fuel tank.

The Mikoyan Gurevich E-152\1 is a single-place, single-engine delta-winged prototype all-weather interceptor. It is 19.656 meters (64 feet, 5.4 inches) long  with a wingspan of 8.793 meters (28 feet, 10.2 inches). The leading edge of the wings are swept back to 53° 47′. The E-152\1 had an empty weight of 10,900 kilograms (24,030 pounds) and gross weight of 14,350 kilograms (31,636 pounds).

The prototype was powered by a Tumansky R-15B-300 axial-flow turbojet engine with a five-stage compressor and single-stage turbine. It produced 22,500 pounds of thrust (100.1 kN) with afterburner. This was the first Soviet jet engine to use electronic engine control.

The E-152\1 had a maximum speed Mach 2.82 (2,995 kilometers per hour, 1,861 miles per hour) at 15,400 meters (50,525 feet).

The interceptor prototype had an internal fuel capacity of 4,960 liters (1,310 gallons), and the E-152\1 could carry a 1,500 liter (396 gallon) external fuel tank, giving a maximum range of 1,470 kilometers (913 miles). The service ceiling was 22,680 meters (74,409 feet).

After a two-year test program, E-152\1 and its sistership, E-152\2 were converted to E-152M\1 and E-152M\2.

Mikoyan Gurevich E-152\1
Mikoyan Gurevich E-152\1
Pyotr Maksimovich Ostapenko
Pyotr Maksimovich Ostapenko

Pyotr Maksimovich Ostapenko was born at Cool (or Cold), Kabardino-Balkaria, U.S.S.R, 17 September 1928. His interest in aviation began when, at age 14, he watched an aerial battle between Soviet and German fighters. Ostapenko attended the Armavir Military Aviation School of Pilots at Amravir, Krasnodar Krai, Russia, from 1948 to 1951, and then became an instructor. In 1958 he attended the Ministry of Indutrial Aviation Test Pilot School at Zhukovsky. He was a test pilot for the Mikoyan Design Bureau from 1958 to 1983.

On 26 April 1971, Ostapenko was named Hero of the Soviet Union for his heroism in testing new aviation technology. He was also awarded the Order of Lenin and the FAI’s Henry De La Vaux Medal.

Pyotr Maksimovich Ostapenko flew more than 5,000 hours as a test pilot in more than 60 aircraft types. He held seven FAI speed, altitude and time to altitude world records. He died 8 April 2012 at the age of 83 years.

¹ FAI Record File Number 8652

² FAI Record File Number 8511

³ FAI Record File Number 8514

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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