The Russian Tu-95 ‘Bear’ isn’t just a relic of the Cold War, with the potential for a nuclear payload capable of untold devastation. It’s eight contra-rotating propellers also enable to it hold the reputation of the current Loudest Plane In The World. This is what it’s like inside.
You may want to turn your headphones down.
So, while it’s obvious that no Youtube video will ever be able to capture the skull-crushing noise of a Tu-95 (unless you’ve hooked your computer or phone up to a humongous sound system, in which case, more power to you), we can do our best to explain why it’s so loud. Loud enough, in fact, that if you ever missed a Tu-95 on radar, you’d probably just hear it coming anyways, according to the BBC:
The Tu-95 is considered to be the noisiest aircraft in current service; it’s even claimed that US submarines can hear the aircraft flying high overhead through their sonar domes while still underwater. Western fighter pilots who shepherded Bears over international airspace have reported being able to hear its turboprops above the sound of their own jet engines.
It’s all due to those eight huge propellers, attached to four turboprop engines. One of the most popular theories floating around as to why it’s so loud is that the tips of the propellers actually break the sound barrier, but to be honest, I haven’t been able to find any verification of the notion. The record holder for the all-time loudest plane ever built, the Republic XF-84H Thunderscreech, which is said to have been so loud with its supersonic propellers that Air & Space Magazine noted that it was rumored to have caused miscarriages, and at one point, even appears to have made a dude have a full-on seizure:
Well, they cranked that -84H up, made about a 30-minute run, and shut it down. As they were getting ready to tow it back to the ramp, they heard this banging in the back of the C-47.” It was the crew chief, Beaird relates, knocked silly by the high-intensity noise and on his back on the floor of the –47, flailing his limbs. “He eventually came out of it,” Beaird recalls.
But the Thunderscreech never made it more than a few test flights in the 1950s, and while the Russian Tu-95 was originally built in the 1950s, it’s still in service today, stalking Western borders.
And while the Tu-95 is clearly loud as hell, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence out there of large-scale feticide or epilepsy. Here’s one starting up and taking off on a runway, and while it is undoubtedly deafening, there’s not even a hint of someone merely profusely vomiting at all:
I believe the real culprit is the contra-rotating nature of those propellers, which both government and academic studies have pointed out are extremely loud due to a variety of aerodynamic phenomena. Long story short, it’s theorized that the sheer volume is produced as a side effect of each propeller blade rapidly passing by another one.
Either way, the Tu-95 ‘Bear’ is loud.