Artifact of science and technology. Aircraft VM-T

The history of science and technology is unthinkable without artifacts: objects that you can look at or even touch. Therefore, we decided to open on the portal, together with the resources of Indicator.Ru, Inscience.News, and in the future, the official portal of the Decade of Science and Technology, the Artifact section, which, we hope, will enter the 2-3-4 publication mode in 2023 in Week . In it we will publish the history of photographs of exhibits of museums of medicine and the history of science, monuments of the history of technology, which is located in a museum or as a monument in a particular city in Russia and the world, as well as monuments to a particular scientist, engineer or designer.

And we will start with an artifact that was seen every two years at the Zhukovsky airfield at the MAKS air show. Unfortunately, in 2021 the “museum” exposition was presented by only two aircraft. The most unusual of them is the VM-T Atlant aircraft.

VM-T at MAKS-2013


VM-T at MAKS-2013

The history of this unique aircraft dates back to the mid-1950s. On March 27, 1956, the 3M strategic four-engine bomber, created at the Myasishchev Design Bureau, took off, which in itself represented a deep modernization of the M-4 “strategist”. We will tell a little more about him when we get to the surviving specimens and photograph them ourselves, and the story of the creation of our hero begins a quarter of a century later.

3M aircraft at the Monino Aviation Museum.  Pay attention to the central keel: the VM-T has two spaced keels


3M aircraft at the Monino Aviation Museum. Pay attention to the central keel: the VM-T has two spaced keels

The need for a heavy cargo aircraft for oversized cargo arose in the late 1970s, when work began on the Energia-Buran complex in the country. Then the idea arose to put parts of a rocket or a space shuttle on the back of the ZM in order to transport them for final assembly to Baikonur.


The aircraft has undergone some changes, the main of which is the replacement of one keel with two, since in the usual layout the keel would fall into the aerodynamic shadow of the load.

Already in January 1981, a converted aircraft began to be tested in Ramenskoye. He could lift up to 40 tons of cargo “on his back” – it was either a block of the Energia launch vehicle (hydrogen tank, oxygen tank with an engine compartment), or a Buran without a keel, or something else in a special airship-like container ( in this arrangement, it has been exhibited at MAKS for many years now).

The reusable spacecraft "Buran" transported by the transport aircraft VM-T as imagined by the artist.  Illustration from the Soviet Military Power Yearbook, 1985.


The reusable spacecraft “Buran” transported by the transport aircraft VM-T as imagined by the artist. Illustration from the Soviet Military Power Yearbook, 1985.

Wikimedia Commons

A total of three aircraft were built, but one of them “left” for testing at TsAGI. The other two made more than 150 flights to Baikonur. The operation of the aircraft ceased in 1990 – and the Energia-Buran program was closed, and the An-225 Mriya appeared. Nevertheless, the aircraft became a milestone in the history of the Soviet aviation industry.

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