Rare inflight footage from inside a Russian Tu-95 shows the Bear’s coaxial contra-rotating propellers

Feb 15 2015 - 15 Comments

Fine piece of machinery.

Here’s an interesting footage filmed form inside a Russian Tu-95 Bear bomber like the ones that skirt northern Europe’s airspaces every now and then.

Although it does not show anything special about the plane, the rare video lets you have a close look at the eight-bladed coaxial contra-rotating propellers Kuznetsov NK-12 engines of the Tu-95.

Indeed, the only propeller-powered strategic bomber still in operational use today, features the typical two propellers, arranged one behind the other, which increase efficiency and performance.

An in-flight, engine shutdown and restart cycle can be seen in the clip.

H/T to @Missilito for the heads-up


  • InklingBooks

    I’m no expert at interpreting how movie cameras make props appear to almost stop when they are actually spinning quickly. But the fact that when these appear to be slowed down in this video, the two coaxial props actually turning at slightly different speeds seems to suggest that they’re not synched to the same speed. One might be going 1100 RPM CW and the other might be going 1050 RPM CCW.

    Does anyone know if that’s true?

    • FoilHatWearer

      Here’s my elementary understanding of it: video is not constant, it is a series of pictures that are moved to fool your eye into thinking the motion is completely fluid like you’re looking at it for real (essentially, a really fast slide show). A spinning prop appears stopped when your frame rate matches the RPM of the propeller (or is a whole-number multiple of it) so that at each frame, the prop is in the same position for the snapshot. Since it’s happening so fast, the video looks fluid and it appears that everything is happening normally EXCEPT that the props appear stopped. There’s a popular YouTube video of a helicopter flying around with stopped props, it is really weird.

      Have you ever noticed the car commercials where the car wheels appear to spin BACKWARDS? In that case, the wheel position is always slightly behind the last frame so that the wheels appear to spin backwards. It’s funny, they do that in 99% of the car commercials that you see.

    • thud

      From what I saw it appeared that the props could be at different speeds. I suspect they use separate turbine wheels for power and synch speeds by adjusting blade pitch and thus turbine loads. But I could be wrong .I’m an aircraft mech and thats what it looks like to me.he separate rotational speed was evident during shutdown.

  • Matt

    Am I crazy or is this an old headline? I know I’ve seen the video before.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I almost ran to my shop to go put my hearing protection on. What a beautiful noise, if a tad loud. C-130’s are pretty lout too, you can feel the acoustic energy in your body. The Bear must be bone jarring. I wonder how that kind of noise and vibration affect the crews on long flights. I’d have to take drugs to sleep in that kind of racket.

    • big john ok

      I flew on c-130s and p-3s in the navy and I loved the drone of those turbo props. It made sleeping easy for me during long transits when I wasnt required to be on “duty”.

  • R.Lopaka

    Fine piece of machinery……..Can’t wait for the NEW A380 or A400M Atlas with Counter-Rotating fine piece of machineries. LOL.

    • R.Lopaka

      Plz list the successful post 1952 “fine piece of machinery” contra turbo prop AC and then ALL the successful non contra turbo prop turbojets. Perfect fit would be the A400 Atlas. So why not?

  • John Schaeffer

    I wonder what sort of condition the brain is in after a long flight with that racket. I know the crew wear ear protection but you have to wonder what it’s like being around that for 8+ hours straight. Still, a modern marvel…very cool.

  • FoilHatWearer

    I do not understand the design rationale behind counter-rotating propellers but it must work for them, they’ve been using it for a seriously long time.

    • tjohn6041

      There are some pros and cons. The Cons are the added noise, weight and mechanical complexity. But, buy adding the extra propellers, they can take advantage of more of the engines power. This article hits on it some http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contra-rotating_propellers

  • R.Lopaka

    And it’s FIRST flt was 6 months AFTER the B-52.

  • R.Lopaka

    That’s NOT noise……The Republic F-84H Thunderstreak – Propeller variant. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFhSzReWTgs

  • R.Lopaka

    That’s NOT noise…..Six turnin and four burnin…..B-36. From the movie Strategic Air Command staring General Jimmy Stewart. If ya haven’t seen it it’s a MUST see. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGjyH2ulsCk

  • Uniform223

    Cool. I heard the Bear was so loud that even they were tracked by underwater sonar from US submarines and that intercepting US, NATO, and recently Japanese; fighter pilots said they could hear the Tu-95 over the sound of their own aircraft. CRAZY!!!