|Function||Special cargo carrier|
|Wing Load (kg/m2)||?|
|Cruise Ceiling||8000 to 9000m|
|Load size LxD||45mx8m|
A unique modification of the 3M bomber to carry huge loads on its back. Since the bomber was already out of production, three operational aerial tankers were selected and rebuilt. Whole airframe was strengthened, fuselage and wing were stretched. The tail unit has been replaced by one with twin, very big, rectangular fins. Cargo holding elements added on top of the fuselage. Aircraft handling is enhanced by specially designed automatic system. One VM-T is equipped with aerial refueling probe.
One airframe was used for static studies, two other entered flight trial stage on April 21 1981. The first flight of a VM-T and a Energia hydrogen tank on January 6, 1982, produced some surprises including a structural problem in the tail of the carrier. The crew was prepared to abandon the plane but the flight was successful. The first tank was delivered to Baykonur in April 1982. Test flights carrying tanks continued until April of 1990.
While the 'Energia-Buran' program was under development, they performed more than 150 successful flights. VM-T mission was a complete success: all payloads were delivered successfully.
Original role of the VM-T was delivering of the 'Energia' booster and 'Buran' spacecraft from production facilities to the Baykonur launch site. With scrapping of the 'Energia-Buran' program both VM-T lost their job, but still perform on different airshows.
Legend says that original designation (3M-T) was changed to VM-T when aircraft was already built. To commemorate Vladimir Myasischev (who died in 1978), his co-workers painted a single line changing '3' to 'B' (Russian graphics for V).Officials accepted the change.
|Created January 25, 1996
Modified September 20, 1999