Aviation & Aerospace Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Small Arms Warships & Submarines Military Ranks U.S. Military Pay Special Forces DoD Dictionary (Alpha-to-Zulu) Military Alphabet Code

Myasishchev M-4 / 3M (Bison)

Strategic Heavy Bomber

Soviet Union | 1955

"The Myasishchev M-4 / 3M served the Soviet well enough as a maritime patrol bomber, missile carrier and aerial tanker but was never exported to allies or satellite states."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/20/2016 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Myasishchev M-4 (NATO codename of "Bison") was developed to a Soviet Navy requirement for a jet-powered, long-range maritime reconnaissance platform with a secondary strategic bombing role -capable of reaching targets within North American territories. By the end of its service life, the metal-skinned aircraft would see extended service as a dedicated inflight refueler and missile carrier platform. Two prototypes were eventually realized before some 91 production aircraft followed. Since retired by the mid-1990s, the M-4 certainly gave Western observers great pause during the tumultuous years of the Cold War with overstated capabilities being reported as in so many other secretive Soviet-originated systems. However, unlike other Soviet products of the period, the M-4 series was never exported beyond its home borders to allies or satellite states and none were ever utilized in combat actions.

The short-lived Myasishchev concern was established in 1951 by Vladimir Myasishchev for the purposed of the M-4 strategic bomber program. The firm went on to add several other designs and concepts throughout its active years, most notably producing the supersonic, four-engined M-50 "Bounder" series of 1959 of which only two ever existed. The M-55 high-altitude reconnaissance and research aircraft was another interesting addition that mimicked the scope of the American U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance platform, essentially becoming the definitive Myasishchev product and legacy. The concern operated only until 1960 before it was formally dissolved.

The M-4 was crewed by eight personnel made up of pilots, mission specialists and gunners. Dimensionally, it sported a running length of nearly 155 feet with a wingspan of 165 feet, 7 inches. When at rest, the M-4 stood at 46 feet, 3 inches atop its centerline retractable undercarriage, the drooping wingtip supported by smaller wheeled legs. The design encompassed a sharply-pointed nosecone assembly to which the flight deck was fitted just ahead of the shoulder-mounted wings. The wingroots contained the 4 x Mikulin AM-3A turbojet engines, aspirated along the wing leading edge and exhausting through the trailing edge. The wings themselves were well-swept in accordance to the growing aerodynamic direction encountered throughout the 1950s. The fuselage then trailed into a tapered, raised empennage to which a single, high-reaching vertical tail fin was affixed. This mounted a pair of horizontal tail planes designed to clear the exhaust of the four-engine wing setup. The four-engined configuration allowed for a top speed of 588 miles per hour to be reached. Range was 5,000 miles with a near 3,500 combat radius. The M-4 exhibited a service ceiling of 36,000 feet.

While a bomber by trade, the M-4 was defensed through a network of 9 x 23mm NR-23 cannons (this arrangement could be replaced by 6 x 23mm AM-23 cannons). The cannons were dispersed through dorsal, ventral and tail fuselage barbettes for optimal reaches about the aircraft. The cannon armament was standard and intended solely for defense of the crew and airframe. However, as a strategic bombing platform, the M-4 could field up to 53,000lbs of internal stores - both conventional and nuclear in nature though a typical load of 19,800 was generally utilized. Later M-4 models could make use of Soviet-designed cruise missiles along externally-mounted, underwing hardpoints to broaden the tactical reach of the bomber, particularly in the armed patrol role.

The M-4 was originally born as the Izdeliye ("Product M") / SDB ("Strategicheskiy Dahl'niy Bombardirovschik") program designation. Initial production aircraft were designated simply as "M-4" and included two prototypes followed by 35 production-quality airframes. These received the NATO reporting designation of "Bison-A". M-4 aircraft were then modified for the air refueling role as the M-4-2 (retaining their NATO designation of Bison-A). The 3M designation was reserved for "improved" M4 models fitted with uprated Dobrynin VD-7 powerplants (becoming the NATO "Bison-B"). The 3M-5 were similarly improved through new Dobrynin VD-7 engines and support for KSR-5 air-to-surface missiles (also Bison-B). The 3MD was a refined cruise missile carrier of 1960 with new search radar functionality and received the NATO reporting name of "Bison-C". The 3ME was a one-off 3M production model with updated avionics and radar (Bison-B). The 3MS-1 was a new generation Bison with a specified bomber role and Mikulin RD-3M or AM-3A series engines (NATO Bison-B). The 3MS-2 was an in-flight refueler platform with Mikulin engines. New engines greeted the 3MN-1 long-range bomber designation as did the 3MN-2. The 3MSR-1 featured base engines with upgraded avionics. Cargo variants were recognized as the VM-T - primarily used to shuttle the Buran space module. The M-6 designation recognized re-engined 3M aircraft (also NATO Bison-A).

M-4 airframes were eventually given up through the various arms limitation treaties emerging throughout the 1980s and advancing missile technologies, leaving very few as existing museum pieces. Both the Soviet Navy and Air Force became operators of the type throughout its service life.

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Myasishchev M-4 (Bison) Strategic Heavy Bomber.
4 x Mikulin AM-3A turbojet engines delivering 19,280lbf of thrust each.
588 mph
947 kph | 511 kts
Max Speed
36,089 ft
11,000 m | 7 miles
Service Ceiling
5,033 miles
8,100 km | 4,374 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Myasishchev M-4 (Bison) Strategic Heavy Bomber.
159.8 ft
48.70 m
O/A Length
165.8 ft
(50.53 m)
O/A Width
46.3 ft
(14.10 m)
O/A Height
175,708 lb
(79,700 kg)
Empty Weight
400,139 lb
(181,500 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Myasishchev M-4 / 3M (Bison) Strategic Heavy Bomber .
9 x 23mm NR-23 cannons OR 6 x 23mm AM-23 cannons across dorsal, ventral and tail emplacements.

Up to 4 x cruise missiles carried across four external hardpoints.

Up to 52,910lbs of conventional and nuclear-tipped munitions as needed.
Notable series variants as part of the Myasishchev M-4 / 3M (Bison) family line.
Izdeliye M (Product M) - Internal Myasishchev designation.
SBD ("Strategic Long-Range Bomber") - Soviet government designation for M-4 project.
Subject 25 - Strategic Bomber Program Designation
Myasishchev M-4 (Bison-A) - Base Production Series Aircraft Designation; 35 examples produced included two prototypes.
Myasishchev M-4-2 (Bison-A) - M-4 production models converted to in-flight tanker aircraft.
Myasishchev M-6 (Bison-A) - 3M models with new engines
Myasishchev 3M (Bison-B) - Improved M-4 models; fitted with Dobrynin VD-7 engines; improved performance.
Myasishchev 3M-5 (Bison-B) - Improved M-4 models; fitted with Dobrynin VD-7 engines; improved performance; launch platform for KSR-5 missiles.
Myasishchev 3MD (Bison-C) - Cruise Missile Platform; 9 examples constructed.
Myasishchev 3ME (Bison-B) - Avionics upgrade; single prototype completed
Myasishchev 3MS-1 - New-build long-range bomber platform fitted with Mikulin RD-3M-500a / RD-3M / AM-3A series engines.
Myasishchev 3MS-2 - New-build in-flight refueling platforms fitted with Mikulin RD-3M-500a series engines.
Myasishchev 3MN-1 - Long-range bomber; de-rated VD-7 engines with improved reliability.
Myasishchev 3MN-2 - In-flight refueler platform; de-rated VD-7 engines with improved reliability.
Myasishchev 3MSR-1 - Long-range bomber; upgraded avionics; provision for VD-7 engines but fitted with Mikulin RD-3M-500a, RD-3M or AM-3A series engines.
Myasishchev VM-T - Heavy-lift cargo transport modifications; three examples converted as such; cargo pod affixed atop the fuselage; fins added to wingtips of tailplane; transport for Buran space shuttle and Energiya launch vehicle.
Myasishchev 3M-A - Proposed nuclear-powered reconnaissance variant
Myasishchev 3M-M - Proposed flying boat
Myasishchev 3M-R - Proposed high-speed reconnaissance variant
Myasishchev 3M-K - Proposed strategic missile strike platform
Myasishchev 3MP - Proposed "quick-change" tanker-bomber airframe
Myasishchev 3M-T - Proposed "quick-change" tanker-missile carrier airframe.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Myasishchev M-4 / 3M (Bison). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 93 Units

Contractor(s): Myasishchev OKB - Soviet Union
National flag of Russia National flag of the Soviet Union

[ Russia; Soviet Union ]
1 / 3
Image of the Myasishchev M-4 / 3M (Bison)
2 / 3
Image of the Myasishchev M-4 / 3M (Bison)
3 / 3
Image of the Myasishchev M-4 / 3M (Bison)

Going Further...
The Myasishchev M-4 / 3M (Bison) Strategic Heavy Bomber appears in the following collections:
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Scale Military Ranks U.S. DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols US 5-Star Generals WW2 Weapons by Country

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

Part of a network of sites that includes Global Firepower, WDMMA.org, WDMMW.org, and World War Next.

©2024 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2024 (21yrs)