Just after World War II the United States developed plans for delivery of nuclear warheads on the cities of the Soviet Union. These evolved through plans Boiler, Frolic, and Half Moon, culminating in Plan Trojan in December 1948. Trojan foresaw attack of 70 Soviet cities with 133 atomic bombs. The number of nuclear-capable bombers rose from 60 in December 1948 to 250 in June 1950, and development of an intercontinental jet bomber, the B-52, was authorized in 1949.
Stalin's response to this threat was authorization to begin development of means of nuclear attack of the United States. Veteran aircraft designer Tupolev was tasked with development of an intercontinental bomber, while young rocket designer Korolev was to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile. After initial study Tupolev reported that it would not be possible to develop an intercontinental bomber using jet engines; his Tu-95 would use German-designed turboprops. However another designer, Myasishchev, claimed to be able to design an intercontinental jet bomber. Accordingly the Central Committee decree on 24 March 1951 created the OKB-23 Myasishchev design bureau.
Myasishchev managed to complete the first prototype 103M (M-4 Bear) bomber ten months after go-ahead (compared with four years for the B-52). The 103M represented a tremendous increase in Soviet technology: altitude was increased by 50%, range doubled, and takeoff mass was four times greater than any previous Soviet aircraft.
The United States pursued development of the B-52 intercontinental jet bomber and the Navaho cruise missile while declining to develop ballistic missiles. This difference with the Soviet bomber/ballistic missile approach led Academician Keldysh of the Academy of Sciences to from a group that raised the question of Soviet development of a similar long-range unpiloted aircraft. A government decree on 20 May 1954 authorized the Myasishchev aircraft design bureau to proceed with full-scale development of the Buran trisonic intercontinental cruise missile. The development of unstoppable ICBM's made intercontinental cruise missiles obsolete. Korolev's R-7 ICBM completed its first successful test flight in August. Buran was being prepared for its first flight when Myasishchev's project was cancelled on November 1957.
After the cancellation, Myasishchev continued to pursue use of the M-42 cruise stage in aviation research and space exploration. In 1958 he appealed to both Khrushchev and Minister of Defence of Malinovskiy to support continued development. At this time Myasishchev was developing the first Soviet supersonic bomber, the M-50. On the basis of this immense delta-winged vehicle Myasishchev proposed the RSS-52 aerospace vehicle - launch of the M-42 from an M-50 bomber. In the United States, the X-15 was being developed to answer analogous questions. However due to the expense and technical problems, Myasishchev was unable to convince the leadership to approve the RSS-52.
In December 1959 a government resolution was issued for design of manned spaceplanes. Myasishchev collaborated with Korolev in designing the M-48/VKA spacecraft. OKB-23 also designed a launch vehicle for the second phase of the program - a three-stage vehicle with a total lift-off thrust of 980 metric tons.
In October 1960 Kremlin intrigues led to Myasishchev's design bureau being dissolved. OKB-23 became Filial 1 of Chelomei's OKB-52 and all work on the VKA-23 was stopped. Myasishchev left to become head of TsAGI (Central Hydrodynamics Institute). The experience of the OKB-23 team would be crucial to the expert and sophisticated design of Chelomei's Proton launch vehicle, and Almaz space station.
In 1976 Myasishchev was allowed to form a new unrelated design bureau as a kind of 'skunk works' for advanced projects (EMZ Myasishchev - V M Myasishchev Experimental Machine-Building Plant). This group was responsible for the M-17 high-altitude aircraft, designed to intercept and shoot down high-altitude intelligence balloons being floated by the CIA across the Soviet Union. Myasishchev also oversaw development of the VM-T Atlant aircraft, a modification of his original M-4 bomber used to transport the Buran orbiter and Energia core propellant tanks from the factory to Baikonur. Myasishchev also conducted the approach and landing tests of the Buran Analog test vehicle.