Three-quarter view of the second Il-54 prototype
3 April 1955
The Il-54 was a transonic bomber developed in the USSR in the 1950s. Only two examples were built before the project was abandoned.
The Council of Ministers issued a directive to OKB-115, for a transonic bomber prototype to be submitted for State Acceptance Trials in July 1954. The design of this bomber went through several stages before settling on the final configuration.
The Il-54, as built, had a very thin 45 degree swept wing with anhedral, which was shoulder-mounted on the fuselage. The Lyulka AL-7 engines were housed in slim, pylon mounted, pods at approximately 1/3 span. Because the wings and engine nacelles were too small to house a conventional undercarriage, the Il-54 used a bicycle undercarriage arrangement, with nose and main gear units on the centreline of the aircraft, at each end of the bomb bay. This arrangement meant a conventional rotating takeoff would be impossible. To enable the Il-54 to take off, in a reasonable runway length, the main gear knelt and the nose gear extended to give the ideal angle of incidence for takeoff (10 degrees).
Flight trials of the Il-54 commenced in April 1955 with test pilot Vladimir Kokkinaki at the helm. Difficult handling during the landing run was rectified by modifying the undercarriage.
Production of the Il-54 was not proceeded with, due to competition from Yak-25 derivatives, and the belief that manned aircraft would soon be replaced by missiles.
Booked to fly in the flypast at Tushino in 1956, the Il-54 was dropped from the flying programme. The aircraft was then shown to a US Military Delegation at Kubinka. The delegation was told that the Il-54 was the Il-149, as part of a deception programme. As a result, the Il-54 was assigned far more importance than it actually warranted, and was assigned the NATO reporting name (“Blowlamp”) after it had ceased flying.
Il-54T – Torpedo Bomber (project)
Il-54U – Trainer (project)
Il-54R – Photo-Reconnaissance (project)
Data from Gordon, OKB Ilyushin: A History of the Design Bureau and its Aircraft
Length: 28.963 m (95 ft 1/4 in)
Wingspan: 17.65 m (57 ft 11 in)
Wing area: 84.6 m2 (910.7 ft2)
Empty weight: 26,505 kg (58.443 lb)
Gross weight: 41,600 kg (91,728 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × Lyulka AL-7 with water inje