Sukhoi P-1 (Perekhvatchuk-1)
Interceptor Prototype Aircraft
The Sukhoi P-1 was intended as an interceptor solution for the Soviet Union during the early-Cold War years - it failed in this regard as a single prototype was all that was completed.
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Because of the rise in capabilities of American and British bombers in the West during the Cold War years (1947-1991), the Soviet Union pushed a myriad of developments centered on air defense. This included both ground-based missile systems and dedicated, high-speed interceptors to which - one of the latter - became the Sukhoi "P-1". This example ended its days as a single prototype due mainly to delays in the intended radar and engine.
By 1954, the high-flying, jet-powered American bomber threat was a real one so Soviet engineers were charged with evolving design studies centered on new interception solutions. Alongside this was development of a new interception radar, the Uragan-1 ("Hurricane-1") X-band radar, which promised to aid in the role. However, this system's sophisticated nature came at a price - it was technologically complex and physically large - and would require an equally-technologically-complex and large aircraft to carry it. Sukhoi OKB was commissioned with development of the airframe and, along with what would become the P-1, engaged in development of a similar-minded interception form at the same time - the "T-3".
For power it was decided to focus on the in-development Lyulka AL-9 turbojet (proposed 23,370lb of thrust with afterburning) of which one would be installed in the new aircraft. As the radar fit would be housed in the nose, a nose-mounted intake was out of the question - leading Sukhoi engineers to devise a split, side-intake (lateral) arrangement in which two intakes aspirated the single engine with.
The fuselage took on a typical tubular form. Due to the added mission responsibilities concerning the new radar, a second crewman was added - the two seated inline in separate cockpits under heavy framing with restricted vision. The cockpit positions were set aft of the nosecone assembly and ahead of the intakes. The wing planform became a tailed-delta-wing configuration (following the arrangement seen in the parallel T-3 design), the mainplanes essentially triangular shapes given 57-degree sweep along their leading edges and straddling the fuselage. The tail unit was traditional, sporting a single vertical fin with low-set horizontal planes. A tricycle undercarriage completed the modern features of what was becoming a sleek-looking aircraft.
As the AL-9 engine was still in the works, the prototype was outfitted with the lower-powered Lyulka AL-7F turbojet for the interim. The Sukhoi prototype took on the designation of "P-1" (Perekhvatchuk-1 = "Interceptor-1").
It was proposed that the finalized version of the interceptor would carry 50 x 57mm spin-stabilized, unguided air-to-air rockets to contend with enemy bombers. This was in addition to a fixed, forward-firing 37mm Nudelman N-37 autocannon and eventual support for underwing Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) (the "K-7" radar-guided series).
First-flight of this test machine was recorded on July 12th, 1957 though the Soviet Air Force was not wholly sold on the design and mounting delays with the intended radar and engine ultimately restricted the flight test phase considerably. Only one prototype was completed and little could be done to salvage the now-dying program - including championing a twin-engined version under the "P-2"designation (this version reached the mock-up stage). With its end official, the P-1 airframe served in other low-key tests before being abandoned and scrapped.
Sukhoi engineers estimated their P-1 interceptor to showcase a maximum speed of Mach 1.93, a range of 1,240 miles, and a service ceiling of 64,000 feet. Dimensions included an overall length of 70 feet and wingspan of 32 feet.