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Tupolev Tu-95 and Tu-142

Tupolev Tu-95 and Tu-142 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review June 2018 Title Tupolev Tu-95 and Tu-142
Author Yefim Gordon, Dmitriy Komissarov Publisher Crecy
Published 2018 ISBN 9781857803785
Format 560 pages, hardbound MSRP (USD) $74.95


No one who's seen Tupolev's breathtaking "Bear" forgets it.

Its substantial size. Its singular shape. And its startling speed. For six decades, nothing like it has prowled global skies. Even today, it remains an almost archetypal emblem of Soviet and Russian power projection.

Now the team of Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov tell the total tale in Tupolev Tu-95 & Tu-142: Famous Russian Aircraft – revised, updated and expanded from the authors' 2009 study of the same topic.

Available in North America from Specialty Press, Crécy's hefty hardback totals 560 pages – over 140 more than the earlier effort's. And it sports hundreds more color and B&W photos, color profiles, drawings, detail shots, and rare, archival images.

How about that amazing nose art on Kh-555M cruise missiles? And how about those beautiful side views of Tu-95MSs named after Russian cities? Want to weather the bottom of your Bear? That shot on page 469 will help.

Designed to attack "targets of strategic importance" and, secondarily, to execute "naval missions", more than 500 Tu-95s and Tu-142s in over 50 versions eventually saw service. Nine truly chunky chapters span the whole spellbinding saga:

  • The Forerunners
  • The Bear is Born: Designing and Testing
  • "First Generation" Air Force Versions
  • The Naval Versions
  • "Second Generation" Cruise Missile Carriers
  • The Bear In Detail
  • The Tu-95 in Service: Air Force Operations
  • Bears Over the Oceans: Navy Versions In Action
  • Tu-95 and Tu-142 Operators

A section of scale line drawings, an index, and three appendices complete coverage:

  • Appendix 1: Tu-95/Tu-142 Production List
  • Appendix 2: Accident Attrition
  • Appendix 3: World Records held by the Tu-95/Tu-142

Amazing amounts of almost mind-numbing minutiae dominate details. Is that kit really a Tu-95? A Tu-142? Or a hybrid? Crécy's colossal compendium will help sex your model.

To wit: authors identify every known Bear production, project and "paper" permutation – as well as associated munitions, armament, avionics, accommodations, construction, and much, much more.

Fascinating facts also abound. Can you imagine an ASW "Hunter-Killer" team consisting, respectively, of an An-22 heavy transport and a Tu-95 derivative? Or a Tu-142MK-E with shrouded prop fans? Or how military personnel used radioactive filter paper from air sampling pods after nuclear tests? They're all part of this amazing account.

Colors and markings notes, too. Gordon and Komissarov even decipher the meaning of those incredibly long serials on sides of early Bears.

But don't expect details of the spin-off Tu-114 intercontinental airliner. That, Gordon and Komissarov note, "lies outside the scope of this book". Only its Tu-126 AWACS derivative merits a few pages of quick coverage.

Nitpicks? Beefs?

The beautiful multi-view line drawings feature no scale references. Slang like "gazillions", "distinctly uncool", and "Royal pain in the butt" remain positively improper in competent histories. What's the source of that curious conceptional drawing depicting – of all things! – Ta 183s, not SAAB J-29s? And informed folks would dispute claims of Georgian "aggression against South Ossetia" in the 2008 Russo-Georgian clash.

But lions and tigers and bears – oh, my! If current plans see success, Tupolev's Bear will remain in service until the 2040s. Astounding.

This massive monograph is the only Tupolev Bear book you need. Better yet, Crécy's stunning survey deserves pride of place in every library of modern warplane references.

Roundly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Specialty Press for this review sample!