The first Soviet jet bomber Tu-22 - one of the hallmarks of the Cold War (Topic)

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The first Soviet jet bomber Tu-22 - one of the hallmarks of the Cold War


In the late 50s, the Tu-22 made its first test flight. The machine created as part of Project 105 turned out to be an unspoken emblem of a cold confrontation and became a significant threat in the confrontation between two political alliances that existed at that time. Serial production of the aircraft lasted 11 years, during which 311 units of various modifications were created. Officially put into service, the Tu-22 was used for combat missions until 1994.

The plane of high hopes of the USSR pinned high hopes on the new combat vehicle to the point that the decree on the start of the serial production of the Tu-22 was adopted even before the first flight of the prototype of the aircraft. Subsequently, the stage of flight tests is difficult, the samples crashed, the pilots were injured. As a result, a paradoxical situation developed: the Tupolev-22 was already mass-produced, but it was still not in service.

During the test period, the aircraft underwent many modifications, most of which were related to the control system. After all the work, only in 1968 a number of improved models, created on the basis of the Tu-22, nevertheless entered service with the Soviet army.


How Tu-22 was different

Compliance with clear requirements for dimensions was the reason that the car's crew consisted of only three people. One pressurized cabin was provided for them on the plane. In the future, the design decision on such a small crew for the subsequent control of the bomber turned out to be very controversial. First of all, the control process itself was a challenge, not all Tu-22 pilots were tough. And besides, the plane became practically the only example of aviation, where such a heavy machine was controlled without a co-pilot and navigator.

Externally, the all-metal supersonic Tu-22 aircraft had a classic layout and low wings. On both sides of the keel, the designers placed the engines. In the center there was an ammunition compartment, where it was possible to hold bombs with a total weight of up to 12 tons, including nuclear weapons and missiles.


The presence of an optical sight provided guidance accuracy, and the radar and navigation systems made it possible to carry out missions under any external conditions. Starting from 1965, Tu-22s began to be equipped with RD-7M2 turbojet engines. In addition, the Tu-22 bomber received the status of the first Soviet aircraft with a centralized pressurized fuel filling system.

Complex machine

Although a lot of engineering efforts were spent on the creation and subsequent improvements, the Tu-22 still had flaws that needed to be corrected. The pilot of the car had a hard time. He had to cope with difficult controls, poor visibility from the cockpit and a fairly high landing speed - all this required the highest qualifications. Controversy was caused by the ejection process, in which the seats went down, so at low altitudes the question of saving the crew remained open.

Fulfilling its task as a long-range bomber, the Tu-22 missile carrier was not so good. Its device provided for the deployment of only one Tempest missile, which was clearly not enough with the constant development of air defense systems. Tu-22 required a special approach. Its operation, repairs, preparation for departure seemed to be quite complicated processes.


During three decades of active use, out of 311 units, more than 70 vehicles left ahead of schedule. The reasons were different: the planes crashed, burned, and could not be repaired. At one time, the Tu-22 even received a number of atypical names: "awl" - because it had an original design, and "cannibal" - for a large number of accidents. It is no secret that there were situations when combat crews flatly refused to fly the Tu-22, since the car was considered the most emergency in the entire Air Force. The greatest difficulty was the control of the modification of the Tu-22K missile carrier - the plane required very high pilot skill.

And, nevertheless, having flaws, the Tu-22 became the first long-range supersonic vehicle for the Union. All the experience and developments in the design of the aircraft formed the basis for the development of an improved model - Tu-22M. The new sample, although it had a similar name, in the case showed itself in a completely different way. This missile carrier of the Tu-22M3 modification is still in service with the USA troops.

The Topic of Article: The first Soviet jet bomber Tu-22 - one of the hallmarks of the Cold War.
Author: Jake Pinkman