Friday, September 3, 2010


As a consequence of observations made during the fly-past of Myasischev M-4 aircraft during the 1954 May  Day parade in Moscow, the  United States overestimated the  Soviet bomber strength and predicted 800 of the strategic bombers with the NATO designation Bison would be operational by 1960. Similarly, the production level of Tupolev Tu-16 Badgers was miscalculated at 25 a month. In fact, only 150 of the Bison’s bomber variant were built, as U-2 reconnaissance eventually demonstrated. However, the miscalculation led to the “bomber gap” theory that suggested the United States was at a serious disadvantage.
Air attaché reports that the Bisons counted at a subsequent 1955 Red Air Force Day display at Tushino  amounted to four times the U.S. strength in B-52s led to concern that was presented during congressional hearings in April 1956. Evidently the Soviets had flown the same aircraft back and forth before the Western  observers in a deliberate effort to exaggerate Soviet aircraft numbers, and the ruse succeeded.