The T-4 experimental supersonic aircraft, also known as the “Su-100” or “Project 100”, first flew in August of 1972. The test pilot was Vladimir Ilyushin, son of the famed aircraft designer, S.V. Ilyushin.
The T-4 is similar to the North American XB-70, which first flew in September, 1964.
The T-4 was made largely from titanium and stainless steel. It featured fly-by-wire control systems but also employed a mechanical system as a backup. The aircraft’s nose lowered to provide visibility during takeoff and landing. A periscope was used for forward viewing when the nose was retracted. Braking parachutes were used in addition to conventional wheel brakes.
The T-4 is believed to have reached at least Mach 1.3 using four Kolesov RD36-41 engines. These engines each produced 16,000kg (35,274 lb) thrust with afterburners. The aircraft was designed to achieve speeds of up to Mach 3.0, but the program was cancelled before the full performance of the aircraft could be determined.
The museum’s aircraft was designated “101” (“100S” was a static test aircraft). It has flown only ten times for a total of less than eleven hours. At least two additional prototypes (“102” and “103”) were under construction, but only the single aircraft shown above was completed and flown before the project was cancelled in 1974 or 1975. The other two prototypes were scrapped.
Below are photos of the museum’s aircraft when it was operational.
Photo after the T-4’s first flight. Note that the engines of the M-50 Bounder are visible in the left background.
Do you think this kind of planes still fly around?