First flown in 1952, the Tu-95 – known to the western world as the Bear – had its share of teething troubles with a change of engine type being necessary before the aircraft could go into production. Eventually, however, it became the backbone of the Soviet strategic aviation, in spite of having a competitor in the shape of the four-turbojet Myasishchev M-4 and its 3M series of derivatives. The Bear filled such roles as nuclear bomb delivery, cruise missile strike and long-range maritime reconnaissance and evolved into an anti-submarine warfare aircraft that was different enough to have a separate designation, Tu-142. Moreover, the Tu-95 also served as the basis for the first Soviet intercontinental airliner, the majestic Tu-114 – which, in turn, evolved into the first Soviet AWACS, the Tu-126. More than 500 Tu-95s and Tu-142s were built for the Soviet Air Force and the Soviet Navy in over 50 versions. The final Tu-95MS missile carrier rolled off the assembly line in 1992 following the intervention of high-level politics. This book charts the Tu-95’s development and service history from the 1950s to the present day. All known versions are described with detailed line drawings, colour side views and many hitherto unpublished photos, to provide a comprehensive insight for modellers and historians alike.
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