Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Role||Strategic bomber, maritime reconnaissance|
|First Flight||January 20, 1953|
|Length||53.4 m||' "|
|Wingspan||52.5 m||' "|
|Height||11.5 m||' "|
|Maximum takeoff||210,000 kg|
|Engines||4x Soloviev D-15s|
|Maximum speed||Mach .95||mph|
|Combat range||18,000 km||miles|
|Service ceiling||17,000 m||ft|
|Rate of climb||13,730 m/min||ft/min|
|Guns||6x 23 mm NR-23 cannon in ventral, dorsal and tail barbettes|
|Bombs||15,000 kg of internal stores|
The Myasishchev M-4 Molot (Russian: Hammer, NATO reporting name Bison) is a four-engined strategic bomber, designed by Vladimir Myasishchev and developed by the Soviet Union in the 1950s to provide a bomber capable of attacking targets in North America. The Myasishchev design bureau was formed to build such a bomber.
First flying soon after the first flight of the Boeing B-52, the M-4 initially impressed Soviet officials, however, it soon became clear that the bomber had an insufficient range to attack the United States, and only several of the original production M-4s were actually put into service.
To remedy this problem, the Myasishchev design bureau introduced the 3M, the Bison-B, which was considerably more powerful than the previous version. This new model first flew in 1955. Among other things, two of the five original gun barbettes were removed to lighten the aircraft.
This time, it was not the Air Force that wanted the 3M, but rather the Soviet Navy. Though it could still not bomb Washington DC, the 3M had a sufficient range to fulfill the need for a long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft. In 1959, the 3M broke numerous world records, however, it was thought by the West (and would continue to be thought so until 1961) that the 3M was the original M-4, meaning that the capability of the M-4 was vastly overestimated by Western intelligence agencies.
In the early 1960s, the Bison-C, with a specialised search radar, was introduced. By this time, many of the original M-4s had been converted to M-4-2 fuel tankers for aerial refueling. Later, 3Ms were converted to 3MS-2 and 3MN-2 tankers as well.
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