It was a fast jet bomber with four engines: two Dobrynin VD-7 and two VD-7F turbojets. Two engines were located under the wing and two on the tips of its shoulder-mounted, truncated delta wings.
The second M-50 was designated M-52 and carried Zubets 16-17 turbojets, around which the aircraft had been designed. The engine installation was modified, and a second tailplane added to the top of the fin. M-50 participated in a Soviet Aviation Day flyby in 1961. M-52 was completed but was not flight tested.
The 1 December 1958 issue of Aviation Week included an article Soviets Flight Testing Nuclear Bomber claiming that the Soviets had made great progress in their own nuclear aircraft program. This was accompanied by an editorial on the topic as well. The magazine claimed that the aircraft was real beyond a doubt, stating that "A nuclear-powered bomber is being flight tested in the Soviet Union.
It has been observed both in flight and on the ground by a wide variety of foreign observers from Communist and non-Communist countries." In reality, however, the article was a hoax. The aircraft in the photographs was later revealed to be a M-50 and not a nuclear-powered plane at all.
In reality, in the early Sixties Soviet Union did test a technology demonstrator for a nuclear-powered strategic bomber, Tupolev Tu-95LAL, similar to the somewhat earlier American Convair NB-36H project, but, being based on the turboprop Tu-95, it was never supersonic, it never flew under nuclear power (its main goal was to test the nuclear reactor shielding efficiency), and, moreover, it was developed by the Tupolev Design Bureau, as Myasischev company had lost the competition to develop the prototype. It was deemed successful, but further development has dragged because of environmental concerns. When the functional ICBMs appeared, the majority of funding and development effort was shifted into that field, and in the late Sixties the project was scrapped for good.
Length: 57.48 m
Wingspan: 35.10 m
Height: 8.25 m
Wing area: 290.6 m2
Empty weight: 85,000 kg
Gross weight: 175,000 kg
Max takeoff weight: 200,000 kg
Powerplant: 2 × Dobrynin VD-7F afterburning turbojet, 137.29 kN thrust each wet
Powerplant: 2 × Dobrynin VD-7 non-afterburning turbojet, 110 kN thrust each
Maximum speed: 1,950 km/h
Cruising speed: 1,500 km/h
Range: 7,400 km
Service ceiling: 16,500 m
Wing loading: 602 kg/m2
Armament: 30,000 kg (66,000 lb) of bombs or missiles carried in internal bays