Tupolev Tu-91 Boot

Following the end of World War II, Stalin ordered an aggressive naval expansion to counter the US naval superiority. It called for building extra warships and a fleet of aircraft carriers. In order to equip the proposed carriers, Soviet Naval Aviation required a long-range carrier-based strike aircraft, capable of attacking with bombs or torpedoes. The Tupolev Design bureau decided on a single-engined turboprop aircraft, designated Tu-91 to meet this requirement.

The Tu-91 was a low-winged monoplane with dihedral wings. It was powered by an Kuznetsov TV-2 engine mounted mid-fuselage, driving a six-bladed contra-rotating propeller in the nose via a long shaft. The crew of two sat side by side in a cockpit in the aircraft's nose, protected by armour plating. It could carry a heavy load of torpedoes or bombs on pylons under the fuselage and under the wings, and had a gun armament of two cannon in the wing roots and two more in a remotely-controlled tail turret. After the death of Stalin in 1953, the planned fleet of carriers was cancelled, but development of the Tu-91 continued as a land-based aircraft, the design being revised to eliminate wing-folding and arresting gear. It first flew on 17 May 1955, demonstrating excellent performance, resulting in production being authorized. However, after the aircraft was ridiculed by Nikita Khrushchev when inspecting the prototype, the Tu-91 was cancelled. Tupolev however had already completed a pre-production run of 48 aircraft. As nobody dared tell Khrushchev that the aircraft were already produced, they were stored in a hangar at the back of the factory.

When the communists came into power in Cuba in 1958 they turned to the Soviet Union for arms to defend the island. As they lacked everything deliveries needed to be done very quickly. At that moment someone thought of the 48 Tu-91s languishing at the factory. The aircraft were quickly refurbished and flown to Cuba where they served with the Cuban Air Force until 1969.

Model: ModelSvit 1/72

Last updated: 04/01/2023