Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tupolev Tu-22M (Russian Aircraft in Action)


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Tupolev Tu-22M (Russian Aircraft in Action)
Polygon Press | ISBN 1932525033 | 2003 | PDF | 82 pages | 40 MB

In 1964, the Tupolev Design Bureau began development of a twin-engined medium bomber intended as a replacement for the Tu-22 supersonic bomber which had entered service in the early 1960s.

For political reasons, Andrey Nikolayevich Tupolev presented the project as the Tu-22M; this was a trick intended to fool the Soviet government into thinking a considerable increase in capabilities could be obtained by a simple modification of the existing Tu-22 'Blinder'. This, according to Tupolev, was easier and cheaper than the "clean sheet of paper" designs proposed by the rival Sukhoi and Myasischev bureaus.

Known in-house as "aircraft 145", initially the projected bomber indeed looked like a rehash of the production Tu-22 with new variable-geometry wings. Soon, however, it became obvious that this approach was no good, and the aircraft which eventually entered flight testing on 30 August 1969 as the Tu-22M0 had virtually nothing in common with the Blinder. Suffice it to say that the engines were now buried in the fuselage, not mounted at the base of the fin.

Achieving initial operating capability in 1972, the bomber was initially misidentified by the West as the Tu-26 and code-named Backfire. The initial Tu-22M2 production version evolved into the improved Tu-22M3 and the Tu-22MR reconnaissance version. In addition to conventional bombing, the aircraft was suitable for naval missile strike missions. From 1987 on, the type saw action during the closing stage of the Afghan War, dropping heavy bombs which, in the words of the crew, "flattened the mountains completely". After the demise of the Soviet Union, the type was operated by two of the new CIS republics, Russia and the Ukraine.

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