Myasishchev 3M-2-3 ("Project 52")


ACCESS: Top Secret
16 January 2008
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I kinda like it.


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Does anyone know what the above spaceplane is? The nose doesn't appear to be turned up like Spiral or BOR-4.
More pics of the 3M2-2 (jets integrated in wing) and 3M2-3 (jets in underwing nacelles) projects:

all drawings (c) AVICO PRESS


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Other related projects were designated 3M2-1, 3M2-3A, 3M2-4 and 3M2-5:

all drawings (c) AVICO PRESS


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I must add that none of these designations carried the "M-" prefix despite the name of the files.

They were part of an official *M designation system for Myasishchev aircraft, which also had an "M-for Myasishchev" equivalent:
  • "M" or "SDB" — the 1951 Model VM-25 pre-project for the M-2 bomber
  • "1M" or "M-2" — a heavy strategic bomber project
  • "2M" or "M-4" — the 1951 Model M-25 Молот (Hammer) heavy strategic bomber [NATO Bison-A]
    (other sources give the "2M" designation for the Model M-28 or ДВЕ high-altitude strategic bomber project)
  • "3M" or "M-6" — the unnamed Model M-36 [NATO Bison-B and Bison-C]; many sub-variants; the "3M2" series depicted above was part of this (the number "2" indicating a twin fuselage)
  • "4M" Молот (Hammer), an experimental re-engined version without the nose gun

Now if you ask me why these planes were given a double system of official designations, I must say this is beyond me. At any rate, none of these two systems were inhouse designations (only M-25, M-28 or M-36 were).


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Thanks for the explanation and all the great pics; these designations are confusing!

3M2-5 also cropped up here as a variant of MAKS OS. But as well as the carrier plane variations there seem to be a number of variant spaceplanes. Do you have any designations for them?
I'm afraid not. The "Buran" space shuttle started life as the BTC/BOR-5 program (a shorter version) and that was still under Myasishchev, but I believe that most later shuttle projects were from other design bureaus, with Myasishchev only designing the carrier aircraft.

Much earlier, in 1957-58, Myasishchev worked on their very first space program, a little star-shaped single hypersonic research orbiter, tentatively fitted with R-7 rockets (Model M-46 in the first M-series). Estimated altitude was not over 120-130 km. This was also studied as a rocket variant space bomber. Then in 1958-60, Myasishchev followed with the VKA-23 "Мини-Шаттл" (Mini-Shuttle) project (Model M-48), a winged reusable spacecraft to be launched by a R-7 booster and developed with Korolev and Keldysh. Like most Myasishchev programs, however, it never left the drawing board.

In the late 1990s, the company was involved in a space tourism shuttle program designated M-91 (in the second M-series) and supposed to be carried on the back of a 3M aircraft (last known number in the "EMZ" series before the Molniya era).

A more recent project was the Molniya-1000 "Herakles", a large transport which I have not seen associated with shuttle type craft, but I believe it could have served that purpose too.

Enclosed: M-91 (2 pictures), Molniya-1000, M-46 (two pictures), M-48 (3 pictures, two different projects)


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Almost forgot the AKC-1 and AKC-2, which were specifically designed to carry the "Buran" space shuttle...

Color profiles in this page from


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Thanks for the link to the Buran thread. Great pics in there!

Yeah, the Explorer... although I'm not sure the project still has anything to do with Myasishchev. I've read different things about this.
Stargazer2006 said:
Yeah, the Explorer... although I'm not sure the project still has anything to do with Myasishchev. I've read different things about this.

As I understand it the Explorer was to be based on the Cosmopolis XXI, which from what I've read was Myasishchev. So I guess you're saying it's not clear who was actually going to do the Explorer itself? Of course a pretty moot point now either way!
For a more complete / whole idea of Myasishchev 3M-2 under (Project 52)
"The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft EMZ named Myasishchev" 3.vol.
A. Brook, K. Udalov (also known in our forum, as the Uсon), S. Smirnov


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