What was the first Russian jet designed with the use of area rule? Also, how did the Russians acquire the knowledge of this design method? Was Whitcomb's discovery public?


1 Answer 1


Hard to say with any certainty, but Tu-16 and Tu-95 carry obvious signs of application of the area rule. Both had first flight in 1952, which makes it earlier than the Whitcomb's publication.

Whitcomb may have discovered the rule independently, but Germans knew it since 1940s, so my guess is that the Russians either found it from them (lots of very valuable aerodynamic research data was captured after the war), or developed independently (Russians had/have their own NACA, after all).

  • $\begingroup$ I think you're mistaking the pinched in look created by the curve of the wing meeting the curve of the fuselage as an actual coke bottle shaped fuselage. The TU95's fuselage, being based on the B-29, is just a straight tube. The earliest Soviet fighter that looks like it's applying area rule that I can find is the Mig 21 where it looks like the turtle deck cross section was adjusted in accordance with AR. The coke bottle fuselage shape was a band aid solution for airplanes not designed for it (like the F 102 before it became the F 106). The F4, designed for AR, u can't tell looking at it. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Nov 19, 2018 at 4:54
  • $\begingroup$ A propeller based aircraft wouldn't benefit from the Area Rule, anyway. $\endgroup$
    – Davidw
    Nov 19, 2018 at 5:43
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnK, for Tu-95, it's not the fuselage, it's the inner engine pods. And its fuselage is certainly not derived from B-29 (unless you count gaining the knowledge replicating it into Tu-4). On the contrary, MiG-21 is somewhat famous for disregarding the area rule; in its case it's definitely just an illusion from the wing/fuselage joint. $\endgroup$
    – Zeus
    Nov 19, 2018 at 5:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Davidw, a typical propeller-based aircraft wouldn't benefit from a highly swept wing either. Tu-95 is unique. Its maximum speed is faster than that of many jets. $\endgroup$
    – Zeus
    Nov 19, 2018 at 5:57
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    $\begingroup$ Actually, Whitcomb formulated "his" area rule after hearing a talk by Alfred Busemann on transsonic aerodynamics. Busemann knew of the work done by the Junkers aerodynamicists and explained the concept without using the name. All Whitcomb did was to give it a catchy name that stuck. $\endgroup$ Nov 19, 2018 at 18:57

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