The Tu-12 was the last derivative of the Tu-2, but this was not just another variant of a well-tried theme. It was also, better perhaps, known as the Tu-77, really as a follow-on of the ANT numbering sequence. The VVS gave it the designation Tu-12.
The Tu-12 was the Soviet Union’s first jet bomber. Tupolev intended it as an interim measure to develop later aircraft and to train crews in the handling of larger jet aircraft. Sergei Yeger, working under Tupolev’s supervision, led the programme. He took the basic Tu-2 fuselage, wings and tailplane, and adapted them only for the higher speeds of a jet. It was one of very few jets of the 1940s to feature a twin tail. The undercarriage was changed from a tailwheeler to a tricycle, and under the wings were fitted Rolls-Royce Derwent engines; for several years after the war, the British government allowed engines, and some other aviation components, to be sold to the USSR. Although Soviet designers were hurriedly developing jet engines, by the time of the Tu-12 in 1947 even MiG-15s were using either Rolls-Royce engines or licence-built copies of them. Only Lyulka’s jet engines were of Soviet design and manufacture, and these at that time had hardly half the power of the Nenes fitted on the Tu-12, which gave a static thrust of 2,270kp/5,0041b. The first Tu-12 was built at factory N156, the new title for the former KOSOS TsAGI works attached to the design offices. It was completed in May 1947, and after transfer to Zhukovski and reassembly, Aleksei Pereliot flew it on its first flight on 27 June. There were no major difficulties found in the test programme. For an interim aircraft its performance was reasonable: maximum speed was 783kph/487mph, range was 2,200km/1,367 miles, and its service ceiling was 11,300m/37,075feet. The VVS accepted the prototype Tu-12, and production began at factory N23 in Moscow with an order for five. However, only three were completed.
These were completed by 1950, and were used by the Air Force in a training role for a short while. One was used as a flight test aircraft by the LII for experimental work with rocket engines, which were mounted on a pylon above the centre fuselage.
The work done on the Tu-72, -73, -74, -78 and -79 projects were all stages in the development of Soviet jet bombers. Next step was the Tu-81, which would later enter service with the VMS (Voenno Morskie Sili = Navy) as the Tu-14.
Sergei Yeger was again programme leader, but the Tu-81 went back to the twin-engined Tu-72 rather than stay with the three-engined designs of the Tu-73, -74, -78 and -79. This came about because of Klimov’s improved Nene/RD-45, the VK-1, which offered an increase in power from the 2,270kp/5,004lb static thrust of the Rolls-Royce Nene and the RD-45 to 2,740kp/6,040lb, which, combined with a lower empty weight, allowed the third engine to be omitted.
Work on the design and construction began in July 1944. Tupolev and Yeger aimed to keep the aircraft as light as possible, so an uncomplicated result was achieved. Still showing some considerable resemblances to the Tu-72, the Tu-81 was a mid-winged twin-jet bomber still without wing sweep. It was completed in factory N156 in 1948, and its first flight was made on 13 October 1949. State tests were completed by autumn 1950, and the aircraft was approved for production under the military designation Tu-14T for a VMS role as a torpedo carrier.
Test results showed the Tu-14T as having a performance of 860kph/534mph, a range of 3,000km/1,864 miles, and a service ceiling of 11,200m/36,747 feet. Some eighty-seven aircraft were built in Irkutsk between 1950 and 1952, and the first examples entered service in 1951. They were armed with two fixed-fire NK23 cannons and two machine-guns mounted on a tail turret. It served in a patrol role, with the ability to bomb naval targets.