The road to air superiority for both sides of the Cold War (1947-1991) was a never-ending battle of advancing technologies - weapons, jet engines, radar, etc... When one side generated a new faster, high-flying bomber, the other would release an all-new interceptor as its counter. The progress of jet-powered aircraft during the period was of considerable note and advanced with each passing year resulting in a plethora of forms - some successful, some not.
In March of 1947, Soviet authorities pushed through a new requirement calling for an all-weather, jet-powered single-seat interceptor. Sukhoi was given the charge of design, developing, and - ultimately -producing the new Air Force product which became the "Samolet P" - or "Su-15" (the Su-15 would late be resurrected in another Cold War aircraft development - the "Flagon" series detailed elsewhere on this site).
For the required speeds, the aircraft was to carry swept-back wing mainplanes and a pair of turbojet engines. Swept-back wings ensured the proper stability at higher speeds and a two-engine arrangement gave the desired performance - at the expense of fuel consumption. The mainplanes were mid-mounted along the sides of the fuselage. The engines became 2 x Klimov RD-45F turbojets developing 5,005lb thrust each (the RD-45 became the first mass-produced Soviet turbojet)
Within the Su-15 design, the engines would be arranged in tandem owing to their rather large dimensions. Both aspirated through the same split-air intake found at the nose while the forward engine unit exhausted under the belly of the aircraft at midships. The rear unit exhausted at the tail in the usual way. The ductwork required to feed the aft engine forced the cockpit to be set to portside. The radome intended to house the "Izumrud" ("Emerald") interception radar was fitted to the nose above the air intake which further added to the aircraft's rather deep fuselage appearance. The undercarriage was of a typical tricycle arrangement and fully retractable - the nose leg held under the cockpit floor and the main legs under each wing. Boundary layer fences - found on many of the Soviet jet-powered fighter designs of the period - were also present on the wing mainplanes.
Armament became 2 x 37mm Nudelman N-37 series autocannons with 110 projectiles afforded each system and this provided the interceptor with considerable killing capabilities against Western bombers.
The Su-15, in prototype form, achieved its first flight on January 11th, 1949 and a second example underwent construction. It was on the prototype's 39th flight that severe flutter was encountered which led to a loss of control, forcing the test pilot to eject. This aircraft crashed and proved a complete loss which led to insurmountable delays and questioning the project's fruitfulness moving forward. As such, the second prototype was not completed and the entire program ultimately terminated.
Production 1 Units
Sukhoi OKB - Soviet Union
Soviet Union (cancelled)
- X-Plane / Developmental
50.66 ft (15.44 m)
42.22 ft (12.87 m)
9.84 ft (3 m)
16,336 lb (7,410 kg)
23,016 lb (10,440 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Sukhoi Su-15 (Samolet P) production model)
2 x Klimov RD-45F turbojet engines developing 5,000lb of thrust each.
612 mph (985 kph; 532 kts)
49,213 feet (15,000 m; 9.32 miles)
652 miles (1,050 km; 567 nm)
6,562 ft/min (2,000 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Sukhoi Su-15 (Samolet P) production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
2 x 37mm Nudelman N-37 cannons
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Sukhoi Su-15 (Samolet P) production model)
Su-15 - Base Project Designation; single example completed with second prototype partially constructed before project's end.
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
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