STRATEGIC BOMBERS OF THE COLD WAR: 1945-1990.  The introduction of nuclear weapons, the development of effective electronic penetration aids, the transition to jet propulsion, and the development of standoff weapons fundamentally changed what strategic bombers looked like and how they were to be employed in a modern nuclear war.  At the same time single aircraft became capable of destroying modern cities, vastly complicating the civil defense problem.

General Notes To All Tables:  Dates for these aircraft reflect their service as bombers in squadron service in all variants (not necessarily the variant for which data is provided), although they may have continued in service past these dates in other roles (for example, as transports, maritime patrol, weather reconnaissance, tanker,  etc.).  Speed unless otherwise listed is cruise speed.  Ceiling unless otherwise listed is service ceiling.  Range data is subject to great variation based on load, altitude, and speed and should be taken only as an approximate measure of maximum flight distance, not as an operational radius within which aircraft could execute attacks.

Table 79-1. France

MODEL DATES RANGE SPEED CEILING BOMB LOAD CREW DEFENSIVE
Dassault Mirage IVP 1964 771 miles radius mach 2.2 maximum 65,615 feet 300 kiloton ASMP missile 2 none

Table 79-2. Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

MODEL DATES RANGE SPEED CEILING BOMB LOAD CREW DEFENSIVE
Tupolev Tu-4 (Bull)              
Tupolev Tu-16 (Badger A) 1955-1990 3,680 miles 616 miles per hour maximum 40,350 feet 19,800 pounds   6 - 23mm cannon
Myasishchev M-4 (Bison A)   5,030 miles     19,840 pounds    
Tupolev Tu-95MS6 (Bear H) 1956 to date 3,970 miles radius 575 miles per hour maximum 39,380 feet 6 air to surface missiles   2 - 23mm cannon
Tupolev Tu-22 (Blinder) 1960 1,360 miles radius mach 1.42 maximum 43,630 feet 26,455 pounds   1 - 23mm cannon
Tupolev Tu-22M (Backfire) 1978 1,150 miles radius 1,240 miles per hour maximum   52,910 pounds   1 -23mm cannon
Tupolev Tu-160 (Blackjack) 1987 to date 7,640 miles mach 1.9 maximum 49,200 feet 12 air launched cruise missiles   none

Table 79-3. United Kingdom

MODEL DATES RANGE SPEED CEILING BOMB LOAD CREW DEFENSIVE
English Electric Canberra B(I).Mk 8 1953-2000 3,630 miles 541 miles per hour maximum 48,000 feet 8,000 pounds 2 none
Vickers Valiant B.Mk 1 1955-1965 4,500 miles 587 miles per hour maximum 54,000 feet 21,000 pounds   none
Handley Page Victor B.Mk 2 1956 2.300 miles radius 640 miles per hour 52,500 feet Blue Steel nuclear missile 5 none
Avro Vulcan B. Mk 2 1956-1984 4,600 miles 625 miles per hour 55,000 feet 21,000 pounds 5 none

Table 79-1. United States

MODEL DATES RANGE SPEED CEILING BOMB LOAD CREW DEFENSIVE
Boeing B-50A 1947-1960 4,650 miles 235 miles per hour 37,000 feet 20,000 pounds 10 12 - 0.5 machine guns, 1 - 20mm cannon
Convair B-36J Peacemaker 1947-1959 6,800 miles 391 miles per hour 39,900 feet 86,000 pounds 10 16 - 20mm cannon
Boeing B-47E-I Stratojet 1951-1966 4,000 miles 557 miles per hour 40,500 feet 20,000 pounds 3 2 - 20mm cannon
Boeing B-52H Stratofortress to date 10,000 miles 509 miles per hour 55,000 feet 38,250 pounds 6 1 - 20mm cannon
Convair B-58 Hustler 1958-1970 1,750 miles radius mach 2.1 maximum 63,400 feet 19,450 pounds 3 1 - 20mm cannon
General Dynamics FB-111A              
Rockwell B-1B Lancer 1985 to date 7,455 miles mach 1.25 maximum 50,000 feet 75,000 pounds internal 59,000 pounds external 4 none

Sources: Eden, Paul and Soph Moeng, The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, New York, New York, United States of America, Barnes and Noble Books, 2002.

Entry 0379 - posted 3 August 2003