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Myasishchev M-12 - Protivo Vozdushnaya Oborona Strany, 1971

During early 1959 Soviet intelligence reported back to the Kremlin disturbing news on the rapid progress of two of the United States top aerospace programmes, the B-70 and the A-12 (forerunner of the SR-71) followed by news that proposals were being made for a follow-on interceptor based on the A-12. Faced with two Mach 3 aircraft penetrating Soviet air defences (and a Mach 3 interceptor defending the USA) the Soviet Air Force secretly announced two urgent counter programmes. One was for a new interceptor allocated to the Mikoyan Design Bureau (which would eventually see service as the MiG-25 'Foxbat') whilst the other was for a clandestine copy of the proposed A-12 allocated to the Myasishchev Design Bureau and to be made in both interceptor and reconnaissance versions.

The Myasishchev M-12 project started in late 1960 and is believed to have been helped by a Soviet sleeper cell working within 'Project Archangel' and although this was refuted by both the CIA and Lockheed the heavily reported 'cyanide suicides' of two separate Burbank couples on the night of April 25th, 1963 is believed to have linked to the uncovering of a Soviet sleeper cell. What is undeniable, however, was the fast progress of this urgent Soviet programme which saw the prototype M-12 first fly in February 1964 barely a year after the first flight of the A-12 and apart from the flying start given by clandestine means Myasishchev were also assisted by Tumansky's work on the R-15-300 engine originally designed for the Tupolev Tu-123 Yastreb drone and later modified for the use in the Ye-155 (MiG-25). Tumansky quickly scaled-up the R-15-300 to produce the R-25-500 'Saturn' engine two of which powered the M-12. It is alleged that the scarcity of titanium alloy in the Soviet Union at that time meant that there was only enough titanium for the M-12 and that Mikoyan were forced to use stainless steel in their contemporary MiG-25.

The aircraft was officially revealed during the 1967 Domodedovo air show but unlike the Ye-155 the aircraft did not appear in the static park but made a medium altitude pass with the aircraft being announced as a reconnaisance aircraft. Entering service in 1971 the aircraft acquired the NATO codename 'Fastfox' but the M-12 was kept heavily under wraps and is believed to have passed out of service by 1976.



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Edited by Spinners

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