A-57 strategic bomber by R.L.Bartini

20k picture of A-57 project from A-57 page at Настоящие сверхзвуковые! (True supersonics!) (in Russian)

n 1953 P.V.Tsibin started development of heavy jet-propelled missile (later term 'cruise' or 'winged' missile will emerge) RSS, intended for long-range strategic bombers. As a result, several project of supersonic heavy bombers emerged in mid-50s. Of course, revolutionary-thinking R.L.Bartini could not stay away of the contest, and in 1955 he presented his concept of... supersonic tailless high-swept wing flying boat, on which he was working since 1952.
Typical aircraft projects at the time were based only on basic calculation, while final choice of aircraft configuration was determined after wind tunnel experiments. A brilliant mathematician, Bartini performed enormous amount of calculations. Among the results was compound-sweep (S-shaped) 'self-balancing' wing of variable airfoil section, providing minimal inductive and wave-induced drag. Later S.P.Korolev helped to check those calculations in a wind tunnel.
Integration of the aircraft is very high even for 90's - it was practically impossible to draw a line marking border of the wing and fuselage. Five afterburning turbojet engines were installed between twin inward-tilted fins, providing up to 130,000kg of trust. Wheel gear was missing completely. For landing on the water (or ice) retractable ski was planned. For takeoff from land bases special dropable 'cart' was designed.
All services of the aircraft were routed to the upper surface, allowing service and refueling at open sea. The flying boat concept allowed to omit huge, expensive (and vulnerable in wartime) concrete-paved airfield. Operating in conjunction with tanker submarines (like A.N.Tupolev '504'), A-57 could be dispatched anywhere in the world. Complete set of naval equipment was planned.
Planned navigation and avionics equipment was state-of-the art for mid-50's: SVR-1 radar system, 'Roza' and 'Venik' ('Rose' and 'Broom') active jammers, TRS-45 foil dispenser, navigation system 'Veter' ('Wind'), communication system 'Planet' and hydro gyro for communication with 'Okhotsk'-class submarines.
In addition to the RSS missile, A-57 had internal bomb bay capable to accommodate 3,000kg thermo-nuclear (fusion) bomb. Amusingly, to control this wealth of equipment in long-lasting missions crew of 3 was found sufficient.
In April 1957 Bartini was delegated from SibNIA (Novosibirsk) to OKBS MAL (Moscow). TsIAM and TsAGI teams joined the project. Takeoff and landing on water surface were studied in details, as well as continuous operation in the 'ship' regime. Expert group, including V.M.Myasichev (one of competitors!) produced a positive conclusion on A-57 and submitted it to government, but no decision followed 'from the top'.
During 1952...1961 period R.L.Bartini presented several projects based on A-57 (supersonic flying boat of integrated design), different in size and function. Designs were (and are now!) too futuristic, and none of them were built.
None R-57-AL
long range reconnaissater
front-line supersonic bomber
medium-range bomber

  • "Bombardirovshiki" (The Bombers) by V.Il'in and M.Levin, Moscow, 1997
  • "Krasnye Samolioty" (The Red Aircraft) by I.Chutko, 1982
  • Первые стратегические сверхзвуковые (Forgotten projects) at Russian Air Force by Alexandre Vishniakov. (in Russian)
  • A-57 page at Настоящие сверхзвуковые! (True supersonics!) (in Russian)
  • Technical data
    Type A-57
    Function Supersonic strategic bomber
    Year (1957)
    Crew 3
    Engines 5*26,000kg NK-10B
    5*22,500kg NK-6
    Loaded weight 250,000kg
    Trust-to-Weight 0.45 to 0.52
    Maximum Speed 2500km/h
    Range 15,000km
    Ceiling 18,000m to 23,000m
    Bombs 1*3000kg fusion bomb
    Rockets 1*RSS cruise missile
    Created March 3, 1999
    by Alexandre Savine
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