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Ilyushin Il-54 "Blowlamp"

Ilyushin Il-54

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 tail position.

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!

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Ilyushin Il-54
Ilyushin Il-54

Ilyushin Il-54
Ilyushin Il-54
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