60 years passed since the first flight of jet bomber IL-54

03 April 2015

03 April 1955 battlefield jet bomber IL-54 took off for the first time. The flight was made from Central airdrome named after M.V. Frunze at Khodynskoe field in Moscow by crew under command of Vladimir Kokkinaki.

29 December 1952 USSR Cabinet adopted a resolution No 5329-2088сс on engineering of battlefield jet bomber IL-54 by the term of state flight tests in 1954. The aircraft should have had maximum speed М=1,15 at altitude 4 750 meters and practical range 2 200 – 2 500 km with normal bomb loading of 3 000 kg. Building of a bomber with such high flight-technical characteristics was a challenge at that time.

23 March 1953 S.V. Ilyushin approved first version of design layout of IL-54 with two engines TRD-I-AL-7 with thrust 7 700 kgf, fixed in the wing root – mid-wing aircraft. Second design layout of IL-54 provided two engines AL-7 designed by A.M. Lyulka Design bureau, fixed on pylons under wing – high-wing aircraft with bicycle landing gear. It was approved on 16 November 1953. Aircraft crew consisted of three people – captain, navigator and radio-gunner. Minimum bomb load was 5 000 kg.

Armament and equipment of IL-54 provided its efficient operation in battlefield against combat equipment, manpower and transport of the enemy. The aircraft could be used for destruction of base points and engineering constructions, located in the battlefield and in tactical depth of enemy defense in groups as well as alone at all altitudes at countermeasures to combat aviation and ground defense of the enemy, at any weather conditions at daytime or at night.

02 March 1954 USSR Cabinet adopted an update to the Resolution dated on 29 December 1952 on engineering of IL-54 in the option of battlefield jet bomber, training, photo reconnaissance plane and torpedo plane with the term of delivering for state flight testings in May 1955.

In May 1954 S.V. Ilyushin approved concept design of IL-54 in the option of torpedo plane and on 10 June 1954 by Resolution of the USSR Cabinet the term of delivery of this modification for testings was set on the first quarter of 1956.

Testings of the first prototype IL-54 with two engines AL-7 began on 03 April 1955. Test pilot V.K. Kokkinaki marked good stability and controllability of the plane during the flight. However application of bicycle landing gear made take-off and landing harder. In the same 1955 the second prototype IL-54 with two modified engines AL-7F was produced.

According to the results of testings of the first prototype aircraft longitudinal stability of the second prototype plane was increased by means of fixing two wing fences at the lower surface of rear fuselage.

The aircraft successfully passed flight tests, but it wasn’t put into mass production due to overestimation of the role of guided weapon at that time. Il-54 was the last one in the family of bombers engineered by the team of Test Design bureau under command of General Designer S.V. Ilyushin.

Nearly 20 years – from 1936 to 1955 – S.V. Ilyushin and his Design bureau worked on bombers. About thirty new aircraft and their modifications were built for that time.