In the history of the Soviet aircraft industry, there are many unrealized projects that, although they remained on paper, deserve attention. A striking example of such a development is the T-4 strike and reconnaissance bomber, which was supposed to become a super-high-speed heavy "hunter for aircraft carriers." Here are just a promising project never managed to rise into the sky.
In the early 1960s, aircraft designers of both superpowers, both the USSR and the United States, asked themselves the question of producing an ultra-high-speed heavy bomber. But the practical application of these machines in the states looked differently: if the Americans planned to use them as a means of breaking through enemy air defenses, then the Soviet command decided to create a bomber armed with anti-ship missiles that could not get naval anti-aircraft weapons.
As a result, a competition was announced in the USSR - since 1961, projects to create an aircraft with satisfying characteristics have been presented by three best domestic design bureaus: Tupolev, Yakovlev and Sukhoi. It is amazing that it was the brainchild of the first design bureau, which had the most experience in designing bombers, that was the first to leave the race. Soon, Yakovlev's project was rejected. The choice was stopped at the T-4 Sukhoi, which has already received the nickname "weaving".
The chief designer of the future bomber Naum Chernyakov already had experience in creating this type of aircraft, so the work was quite active. The preliminary version of the "weaving" was completed by 1963, and the entire appearance and layout of the project was finalized in 1965. At the same time, the issuance of technical specifications for the design and construction of individual T-4 units was started. In 1966, a full-size mock-up of the future aircraft was completed, as well as the release of working drawings of the bomber.
The first prototype T-4, which already had the side number "101", began to build in 1968. The assembly was carried out on the basis of the Sukhoi Design Bureau, with the involvement of the Tushino plant; completed in 1971. And already in April 1972, the first flight tests of the bomber prototype were carried out.
A full-fledged flight on the T-4 was completed on August 22, the car was piloted by test pilot, Hero of the Soviet Union Vladimir Ilyushin. But the second flight of the T-4 bomber was carried out only at the beginning of 1973. In total, 9 take-offs were carried out. All of them showed that the technical characteristics in practice fully corresponded to the calculated data.
After a successful series of tests in the same 1973, the second prototype was assembled under the hull number "102". In addition, the components for the third "weave" were already being prepared - they were going to lift it into the air next year, 1974. Moreover, each T-4 prototype was assigned its own future combat mission: for example, "101" was planned as a prototype to clarify flight characteristics, "102" was intended for running in navigation systems, but on "103" weapons were supposed to be used for the first time.
However, the ambitious plans were not destined to come true: the plane was recognized as too highly specialized, but at the same time expensive. Therefore, in 1974 the project was suspended, and a year later it was finally closed. Today, the history of the creation of the "hunter for aircraft carriers" T-4 has overgrown with a considerable number of legends and conjectures, and with your own eyes one can see the once promising aircraft only in Monino, where the only surviving prototype under the hull number "101" is located.
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