- Yes, as a tech tree vehicle
- Yes, as a premium vehicle
- Yes, as an event vehicle
- Yes, as a squadron vehicle
- No, I would not like to see the Tu-14 (1947) in game.
The Tupolev Tu-14 (official designation: Tu-14 2 x Nene I + 1 x Derwent V; I will call it the Tu-14 (1947) to avoid confusion), internal designation ‘73’, was a three-engined jet bomber designed in the immediate postwar period. Soviet engineers had managed to apply jet technology to fighter aircraft such as the Yak-15 and MiG-9, and it logically followed that jet propulsion for bombers would be next. The main issue facing Tupolev and his team was the low power of contemporary jet engines. While one or two early jets were good enough to power lightweight fighter aircraft, a medium or heavy bomber brought concerns that the thrust provided by imported Rolls-Royce Nene engines wouldn’t be enough for OKB Tupolev’s latest project design, internal code ‘72’ (an early concept of the production Tu-14T torpedo bomber). After some thinking, Tupolev decided that a third jet engine could theoretically be mounted in the rear fuselage as a takeoff/combat booster while the wing-mounted engines would be used for normal cruising operations.
Work on the new design required adjustment to the fuel systems and of course the rear fuselage where the auxiliary engine was mounted. Design studies indicated that installing a Rolls-Royce Derwent V engine would be enough to give the new design the performance Tupolev was looking for. The first prototype aircraft was completed in 1947 and first flew in December that year in flight testing. The bureau decided the results were good enough to install the armament and submit the aircraft to state acceptance trials in 1948. Trials indicated that while the aircraft was satisfactory in most of its design goals, it did have some glaring issues, namely:
- The Tu-2 style defensive armament layout did not adapt well to the new design, and the defensive angle coverage was severely lacking.
- Having different types of engines in the same plane made logistics difficult.
- The aircraft’s range was short of the requirement.
- It lacked de-icing systems for the wing/tail surfaces which posed a serious problem at high altitudes.
- Lack of radio equipment and bombing radar made poor-visibility operations impossible.
The Tu-14 was still promising enough that the VVS was considering adopting it, but unfortunately for Tupolev, its direct competitor happened to be the Ilyushin Il-28 “Beagle”, which offered acceptable performance and better defenses with the same bombload - and it didn’t even need a third engine! The overall simplicity of the “Beagle” made it the more attractive option and it was chosen for production over the Tu-14 by a commission including Josef Stalin himself in 1949. It wasn’t all bad news for Tupolev, though. Valuable experience was gained with developing jet bomber aircraft, and upon being redesigned with more powerful VK-1 engines in the wing nacelles, the Tu-14 was able to ditch the third engine and equip a defensive armament layout similar to the Il-28. This redesign would be accepted for production as the Tu-14T for the Soviet Naval Aviation branch (AVMF).
Looking back at the ‘73’, it’s easy to see how it morphed into the jet-powered torpedo bomber we have in game today. The Tu-14 is also notable for its pioneering in the field of trijet design. Tupolev’s later Tu-154 civil airliner, as well as the Boeing 727 and Lockheed Tristar, to name a few examples, utilized similar design principles. Even though the Tu-14 did not directly influence these Western designs, it is notable for predating them by almost two decades.
Tupolev Tu-14 (1947)
- Span: 21.7 m (71 ft 2 in)
- Length: 20.3 m (66 ft 8 in)
- Height: 5.9 m (19 ft 5 in)
- Wing area: 69.4 m2 (725 ft2)
Gross Weight: 21,100 kg (46,500 lb)
- 2 x Rolls-Royce Nene I axial-flow jet engine
- 2,000 kgf (4,400 lbf) thrust each (4,000 kgf [8,800 lbf] thrust total)
- 1 x Rolls-Royce Derwent V axial-flow jet engine
- 1,560 kgf (3,500 lbf) thrust
Maximum speed: 872 km/h (542 mph) at 5,000 m (16,400 ft)
Service ceiling: 11,500 m (37,700 ft)
Crew: 4 (pilot, navigator/bombardier, dorsal gunner, ventral gunner)
- 2 x Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 23mm autocannon (fixed in forward fuselage)
- 2 x Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 23mm autocannon (in dorsal turret)
- 2 x Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 23mm autocannon (in ventral turret)
Internal stores: up to 1,000 kg of bombs normal load (3,000 kg max)
- OKB Tupolev: A History of the Design Bureau and its Aircraft by Yefim Gordon and Vladimir Rigamant (2005)
- OKB Ilyushin : A History of the Design Bureau and its Aircraft by Gordon, Komissarov and Komissarov (2004)
- Tupolev: The Man and his Aircraft by Paul Duffy and Andrei Kandalov (1996)