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M-4 Molot Myasishchev
M-4 Molot
ASCC codename: Bison
Intercontinental Strategic Bomber

Though one of the lesser known Soviet design bureaus, Myasishchev was responsible for producing the nation's first turbojet-powered strategic bomber, the M-4 Molot (hammer). The project began in the early 1950s when the Soviet government called for a long-range bomber capable of striking the United States. The aircraft was required to carry at least 11,000 lb (5,000 kg) over a range of 6,000 nm (11,120 km) at 560 mph (900 km/h).

The resulting M-4, known as the Bison in the West, featured a high-mounted swept wing and swept tail surfaces with four turbojet engines mounted in the wing leading edges. Like the American B-47 of the same time period, the landing gear consisted of two centerline main units balanced by small outrigger gear along the wing. The long fuselage followed traditional bomber design with pressurized crew compartments in the nose and a tail gun turret with a large internal bomb bay in between.

Although the M-4 was ready for service by the mid-1950s, the aircraft was never able to meet expectations because of the inadequacies of the engines available at the time. Fuel consumption was particularly poor resulting in the aircraft's inability to attain a truly intercontinental range. This limitation was partially rectified by the integration of in-flight refueling capability. A number of M-4 aircraft were redesignated as M-4-2 refueling tankers to service other M-4s as well as Tu-95 bombers.

Despite numerous improvements in engines and avionics continuing throughout the 1960s, the Bison failed to emerge as a superior bomber and was eventually relegated to second-hand combat duties. Production ceased in 1963 after a total of 93 had been built. The last of the bombers were withdrawn from service by the late 1980s in accordance with the START treaty. The tanker variants may also have been retired by 1994. The most unique variant, the VM-T Atlant outsize cargo carrier, has also been replaced by the An-225.

Data below for M-4/2M and 3M/M-6
Last modified 17 March 2012

First Flight (M-4/2M) 20 January 1953
(3M/M-6) 27 March 1956
Service Entry

(M-4/2M) 1956
(3M/M-6) 1958

CREW: (M-4/2M) eight: pilot, co-pilot, six others
(3M/M-6) seven: pilot, co-pilot, five others



Wing Root TsAGI S-12
Wing Tip


Length (M-4/2M) 156.40 ft (47.67 m)
(3M/M-6) 169.63 ft (51.70 m)
Wingspan (M-4/2M) 165.79 ft (50.53 m)
(3M/M-6) 174.35 ft (53.14 m)
Height 37.73 ft (11.50 m)
Wing Area (M-4/2M) 3,513 ft (326.35 m)
(3M/M-6) 3,786 ft (351.70 m)
Canard Area

not applicable

Empty (M-4/2M) 175,710 lb (79,700 kg)
(3M/M-6) 164,090 lb (74,430 kg)
Normal Takeoff 352,740 lb (160,000 kg)
Max Takeoff (M-4/2M) 365,745 lb (165,900 kg)
(3M/M-6) 400,800 lb (181,800 kg)
Fuel Capacity internal:
(M-4/2M) 29,500 gal (111,655 L)
(3M/M-6) 34,000 gal (128,690 L)
external: unknown
Max Payload

(M-4/2M) 39,685 lb (18,000 kg)
(3M/M-6) 52,910 lb (24,000 kg)

Powerplant (M-4/2M) four Mikulin AM-3D or PD-3M-500/500A turbojets
(3M/M-6) four VD-7 turbojets
Thrust (M-4/2M) 92,595 lb (412 kN) [PM-3D-500A]
(3M/M-6) 97,005 lb (432 kN)

Max Level Speed at altitude:
(M-4/2M) 575 mph (930 km/h)
(3M/M-6) 585 mph (940 km/h)
at sea level: unknown
cruise speed: 495 mph (800 km/h)
Initial Climb Rate unknown
Service Ceiling 41,010 ft (12,500 m)
Range typical:
(M-4/2M) 4,370 nm (8,100 km)
(3M/M-6) 6,395 nm (11,850 km)
ferry: unknown
g-Limits unknown

Gun up to ten GSh-23 23-mm cannons
Stations one internal weapons bay
Air-to-Surface Missile none
Bomb up to 19,840 lb (9,000 kg) of free-fall bombs or one to two nuclear bombs
Other none

M-4/2M 'Bison-A' First production bomber
3M/M-6 'Bison-B' Improved model with a larger wing, longer nose, increased fuel load, new engines, an improved navigation system, and in-flight refueling capability; primarily a bomber armed with free-fall bombs but could also be used as a tanker with the installation of a refueling package in the bomb bay or for maritime reconnaissance
3MS/M-6 'Bison-B' 3M/M-6 airframes retrofitted with a new engine of greater reliability
3MS-2/M-6 'Bison-B' Tanker variant of the 3MS/M-6 with a refueling drogue extended from the bomb bay
3MD/M-6 'Bison-C' New build model with an enlarged wing, new in-flight refueling gear, a larger more pointed nose containing a new radar, and a larger radome in the tail; primary mission was as a bomber with secondary tanker and maritime reconnaissance capabilities
3MN/M-6 'Bison-C' 3MD/M-6 airframes fitted with new more fuel-efficient engines
3MN-2/M-6 'Bison-C' 3M 'Bison-B' bombers converted into dedicated tankers but also including modifications of the 3MN 'Bison-C'
201-M Test aircraft equipped with high-thrust engines
Project 28 Proposed new model for a two-deck military cargo transport based on the 3M and able to carry vehicles and cargo pallets, also proposed as a civil version carrying up to 380 passengers; both concepts cancelled and not built
3M-T or VM-T Atlant

Heavily modified 'Bison-C' aircraft rebuilt to carry outsize cargo externally above the fuselage, used primarily to ferry rocket components between manufacturing and assembly facilities, able to transport cargos up to 110,320 lb (50,000 kg); 2 converted




Russia, Voyenno Vozdushniye Sili (Russian Air Force)
Russia, Aviatsiya Voyenno-Morskoyo Flota (Russian Naval Aviation)
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Voyenno Vozdushniye Sili (Soviet Air Force)
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Aviatsiya Voyenno-Morskoyo Flota (Soviet Naval Aviation)


M-4 Molot

  • Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1997, p. 671, Myasishchev M-4.
  • Donald, David and Lake, Jon, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 2000, p. 328-329, Myasishchev M-4 'Bison'.
  • Gunston, Bill, ed. The Osprey Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 1995, p. 257-260, Project 25, M, M-4, 3M.
  • Paul Nann's Military Aviation Photo Gallery
  • Rendall, David. Jane's Aircraft Recognition Guide, 2nd ed. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1999, p. 166, Myasishchev VM-T Atlant.
  • Winchester, Jim. Concept Aircraft: Prototypes, X-Planes and Experimental Aircraft. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press, 2005, p. 172-173, Myasishchev VM-T Atlant.
  • Winchester, Jim. Military Aircraft of the Cold War. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press, 2006, p. 178-179, Myasishchev M-4 'Bison'.

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