2 Rare Transport Aircraft VM-T Atlant

Rare Transport Aircraft VM-T Atlant

Posted on July 13, 2016 by marina

With the advent of a space-rocket transport system Energy – Buran it became necessary to transport certain large components to the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The Ministry of Mechanical Engineering held a meeting on this issue.

VM-T “Atlant” (3M-T) is a heavy transport aircraft

Options such as building factories directly in Baikonur, or a special train (or car) track, or building a navigable channel leading to Baikonur, or the creation of an airship, were not appropriate. It was assumed, for example, to carry components with two helicopters, however, the Aviation Agency said that the cargo could easily be dropped. It was decided to carry the load on the back of VM-T “Atlant” (3M-T).

Developed technical solutions chased one goal – to deliver the goods to the destination and to not do any harm to the transported goods.

The largest of these (in size) was the hydrogen tank, which was to be equipped with a removable transportation frame with fixing points to mount it on the plane, a front fairing and rear streamlining, giving the object a reasonably aerodynamic shape. Rocket tanks are a very delicate cargo.

During transportation, the hydrogen tank was inflated with nitrogen and sealed.

The pressure was continuously monitored by measurement systems during the flight. In case of depressurization, it would become impossible to land and or to even decrease the altitude of the aircraft because the gas could not counteract the fast growing external pressure. Losing its shape, the tank, would inevitably lead to the loss of not only goods, but also of the aircraft VM-T “Atlant” (3M-T).

Specifications of VM-T “Atlant” (3M-T)

Crew: 6 persons
Engine type x number: TRD x 4, WA-7D
Thrust: 10 750 kgF
Wing span: 53.6 m
Aircraft length / height: 51.2 m / 10.6 m
Weight, normal takeoff / empty: 136 400 kg / 74 500 kg
Payload: 50 000 kg
Cruising speed: 540 km/h
Service ceiling: 9 500 m
Maximum range: 3 000 km

VM-T “Atlant” (3M-T) with the cargo 1GT layout

Flying aircraft VM-t Atlant (3 m-t) with an overall weight layout

VM-T “Atlant” with 3GT cargo at the airport

Only three aircraft were built, one of them was given to the Central Aero-Hydrodynamic Institute for tests

Currently, one of the copies of the VM-T is at the airport 360 Aircraft Repair Plant in the village of Diaghilev in Ryazan Oblast.
“Currently, the aircraft, which was in a very poor condition, is being cleaned and touched up,” said the representative of the aviation sports club, who took patronage over the unique machine. According to him, the aircraft has remained within the compact cabin. But there are no visitors allowed. “Firstly, there is little space inside it, secondly, there are still mounted squibs, that is unsafe for people.”


Transportation of “Buran”. The picture from the “Soviet Military Power”, 1985 

Transportation of “Buran”. The picture from the “Soviet Military Power”, 1985
This idea was met with skepticism by many aviation experts.There was a lot of doubt. How was it possible to place loads on the finished glider that exceed some of its dimensions? How to overcome the sharp increase in drag without compromising the basic flight data of the aircraft?

Transportation of the shuttle Endeavor “on the back” of a Boeing 747, US


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2 Responses to “Rare Transport Aircraft VM-T Atlant”

  1. phuzz says:

    On the US Shuttle carrier aircraft, just by one of the mounting points is the text: “Attach orbiter here. Note: Black side down”.

    (see here https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f7/Shuttle_mounting_point.JPG)

  2. john dudley says:

    Great and very interesting posting,i’m glad they are restoring the aircraft.

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