Tupolev Tu-142 'Bear'
This huge and ancient looking aircraft has been in Russian service since 1955 when four flew over Moscow on Aviation Day. Although swept winged the Bear's turboprop engines seemed old fashioned even for the 1950s and this has caused the aircraft to be often underestimated. The Bear has seen many duties from anti-submarine and Maritime recon to a nuclear cruise missile launch platform. Most Bears are rebuilds of the 300 built between 1955-61 although the Bear-F ASW version is the exception first appearing in 1973 although the Bear-D is the most common variant, first seen in 1967. The Bear is a very old fashioned aircraft not only with turboprop engines whose good fuel economy make them suitable for long range maritime aircraft but with a manned tail gun turret reminiscent of World War II bombers. Despite this they have served the Russians well and the thought of these giants carrying the huge AS-3 Kangaroo nuclear missile, itself the size of a fighter aircraft, which although inaccurate carries a 800 kiloton payload caused many NATO planners nightmares during the Cold War. The Russians had planned to use this weapon against carrier groups where even a near miss by the weapon would have been devastating. The Bear has operated from many countries including Cuba, Angola and Vietnam (unlike the B-52 which normally operates from U.S. territories such as Guam, as well as one recent deployment from RAF Fairfield).
Maximum Speed; 925Km (575mph).
Weapon load; 20412 kg.
Maximum Range with 11340kg (25,000lb bomb load) 12550km (7,800 miles)
How to cite this article:
Dugdale-Pointon, TDP. (15 February 2001), Tupolev Tu-142 'Bear', http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_tu142.html