Tu-22, the first supersonic bomber


Pravda Report


Published on Apr 7, 2013

The Tupolev Tu-22 (NATO reporting name: Blinder) was the first supersonic bomber to enter production in the Soviet Union. Manufactured by Tupolev, the Tu-22 entered service with the Soviet military in the 1960s, and the last examples were retired during the 1990s. Produced in comparatively small numbers, the aircraft was a disappointment, lacking the intercontinental range that had been expected. Later in their service life, Tu-22s were used as launch platforms for the Soviet AS-4 stand-off missile, and as reconnaissance aircraft. Tu-22s were sold to other nations, including Libya and Iraq. The Tu-22 was one of the few Soviet bombers to see combat, with Libyan Tu-22s being used against Tanzania and Chad, and Iraq using its Tu-22s during the Iran-Iraq War.

TU-22 Backfire vs Aircraft Carrier

The Tu-22 was intended originally as a supersonic replacement for the Tupolev Tu-16 bomber. Preliminary design of an aircraft to meet this requirement, designated Samolët 105 by Tupolev, was started in 1954, with the first prototype completed in December 1957, and making its maiden flight from Zhukovsky on 21 June 1958, flown by test pilot Yuri Alasheev. The availability of more powerful engines, and the TsAGI discovery of the Area rule for minimizing transonic drag, resulted in the construction of a revised prototype, the 105A. This first flew on 7 September 1959.

The first serial-production Tu-22B bomber, built by Factory No. 22 at Kazan, flew on 22 September 1960, and the type was presented to the public in the Tushino Aviation Day parade on 9 July 1961, with a flypast of 10 aircraft. It initially received the NATO reporting name 'Bullshot', which was deemed to be inappropriate, then 'Beauty', which was deemed to be too complimentary, and finally the 'Blinder'. Soviet crews called it "shilo" (awl) because of its shape

The Tu-22 entered service in 1962, but it experienced considerable problems, resulting in widespread unserviceability and several crashes. Amongst its many faults was a tendency for skin heating at supersonic speed, distorting the control rods and causing poor handling. The landing speed was 100 km/h (62 mph) greater than previous bombers and the Tu-22 had a tendency to pitch up and strike its tail on landing, though this problem was eventually resolved with the addition of electronic stabilization aids. Even after some of its problems had been resolved, the 'Blinder' was never easy to fly, and it was maintenance-intensive. Among its unpleasant characteristics was a wing design that allowed rudder reversal at high deflections. When the stick had been neutralized following such an event the deformation of the wing did not necessarily disappear but could persist and result in an almost uncontrollable aircraft.

Pilots for the first Tu-22 squadrons were selected from the ranks of "First Class" Tu-16 pilots, which made transition into the new aircraft difficult, as the Tu-16 had a co-pilot, and many of the "elite" Tu-16 pilots selected had become accustomed to allowing their co-pilots to handle all the flight operations of the Tu-16 except for take-off and landings. As a consequence, Tu-16 pilots transitioning to the single-pilot Tu-22 suddenly found themselves having to perform all the piloting tasks, and in a much more complicated cockpit. Many, if not most of these pilots were unable to complete their training for this reason. Eventually pilots were selected from the ranks of the Su-17 "Fitter" crews, and these pilots made the transition with less difficulty.

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