The Ilyushin Il-54 was a transonic bomber developed by the Soviet
Union in the 1950s. It underwent several design revisions before being
accepted for production. It went by the NATO reporting name "Blowlamp".
The Il-54 featured very thin, high-mount, 45 degree swept wings, each
carrying one of the engine nacelles. The narrow fuselage managed to
accomodate space for the crew of three, as well as the central bomb
bay which was capable of holding up to 13,200 lbs (6,000 kgs) of ordinance.
The undercarriage configuration of the Il-54 was slightly unusual
in that it consisted of of a main gear at the rear of the bomb bay,
a nose wheel, and a small stabilizer wheel at the end of each wingtip.
In order to reduce takeoff distance, the main gear towards the rear
of the aircraft retracted slighly within the aircraft, while the nose
wheel extended to provide a 10 degree nose-up position for takeoff.
The Ilyushin Il-54 first flew in April 1954 with test pilot Vladimir
Kokkinaki at the controls. Problematic handling during landing was
soon fixed by modifying the undercarriage.
Powering the Il-54 were two Lyulka AL-7 turbojet engines, each producing
18,960 lbs of thrust. This gave the aircraft a top speed of 715 mph
(Mach 1.15 / 1,150 km/h).
The crew consisted of a pilot, navigator and a radio operator/gunner.
The pilot and navigator sat in the front of the aircraft, while the
radio operator/gunner sat in a pressurized compartment at the rear.
All crew were armored and equipped with ejection seats.
Defensive weapons for the bomber consisted of a forward facing 23mm
cannon within the port fuselage, and a pair of 23mm cannons in the
Several roles were considered for the Il-54, including as a conventional
bomber, torpedo bomber, trainer, and photo reconnaissance.
In the end however only two examples of the Ilyushin Il-54 were ever
completed as a competing designs proved more capable, and the Soviet
military was contemplating a shift from manned aircraft towards more
missile development. Interestingly though, the Soviet military intentionally
gave the project more importance than normal in order to try and confuse
U.S. military intelligence!