20k b/w picture from Russian Power
Continuing development of front line bombers, team of
S.V.Ilyushin started development of supersonic jet bomber, capable to achieve speed
M=1.15 at altitude 4750m and deliver 3000kg bombs at range 2400-2750km.
Two preliminary layouts were approved by S.V.Ilyushin.
March 1953: Mid-wing with traditional landing gear, engines (TRD-I) in the wing roots, T-tail. This option was
rejected due to large high speed interference between engine nacells and fuselage. Main landing gear, retracting into the
wing, made it structure overweight and overcomplicated.
November 1953: High-wing aircraft with conventional tail, engine in underwing nacells and bicycle landing gear. High
wing allowed to keep engines high enough from the ground. Moving bulky wheels inside the fuselage allowed to enjoy advantages of
simple thin wing and small engine nacells. Of course on expense of more complicated fuselage - it had to be strengthened to
handle increased load during the landing and accommodate two more large cavities (in addition to bomb bay and radar opening).
The rear wheels (carrying less load than front ones) was equipped with kneeling mechanism, allowing to double incidence
angle on takeoff. Traditional for bicycle scheme retractable wing tip supports assisted on taxi and Takeoff Roll.
Three men crew included pilot, navigator and radio operator-gunner in the extreme tail. All 'work places' were heavily
armored and equipped with ejection seats (pilot - upwards, navigator and gunner - downwards). In case of emergency landing
each crew member could use an escape hatch on the top of his cockpit. Inflatable raft was ejected automatically if Il-54 was
Following versions were considered for the Il-54:
Tactical bomber for strikes against front line targets and behind enemy lines;
Torpedo-bomber Il-54T (both high and low altitude torpedoes) with 2m longer bomb bay and navigator cockpit with better
forward view for low altitude attacks;
Trainer Il-54U with instructor cockpit instead of navigator's one.
Trials of the first Il-54 (AL-7 engines) started on April 3, 1955. Aircraft was flown by
V.K.Kokkinaki and pilot noticed good in-flight handling, while landing and takeoff were somewhat more complicated than with
traditional landing gear. Later same year second Il-54 was flown with upgraded AL-7F engines.
As a result of those tests pair of ventral fins were added under the tail.
Despite Il-54 passed all tests and satisfied all requirements, it did not see mass production. Country leadership was
fascinated with guided missile progress and underestimated role of combat aircraft.
Western mass media questioned existence of such a bomber in Soviet arsenals, until on June 25,
1956 Il-54 was demonstrated
on airshow near Moscow (Tushino? Domodedovo?) under fake designation Il-149.
Early Il-54 layout, from Russian Power
Special Thanks: Il-54/Il-149, Ilyushin 'Blowlamp'
- in Russian;
Il-54, Ilyushin 'Blowlamp'
Virtual Aircraft Museum