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Every once in a while a plane comes along that's not really an improvement over what it was supposed to replace. The TU-22 fits that bill perfectly. Designed to be a supersonic replacement for the dependable but uninspiring TU-16 "Badger"- it never lived up to its expectations.

NATO had a tough time picking a code-name for this thing. They originally wanted to call it "Bullshot" but decided against that for obvious reasons. Next they tried "Beauty" but decided that was too complimentary. They finally settled on "Blinder".

The Russians called it Shilo (Awl) in reference to its distinctive shape. After the accidents starting piling up they gave it a new name - "Man Eater".

It looks cool, I'll give it that much.

The TU-22 came from a 1954 Soviet requirement for a supersonic bomber. The first flight was in 1957. The first crash was a few months later. The Blinder entered operational service around 1961.

It's an interesting design with a long, slender fuselage, sharply swept wings and two large Dobrynin afterburning turbojets mounted in the tail. Mounting the engines on the tail allowed for a clean wing and made it easier to service the engines.

Tupolev always liked to retract the landing gear into fairings behind the wing.
The three crew members would actually be raised into the aircraft on their ejection seats. The navigator sat below and forward of the pilot. The defensive systems operator sat behind the pilot. The pilot's seat fired upwards with the other two firing downwards.
Good view of the three ejection seats which are raised and lowered on rails.
The initial version was a standard bomb-dropper. Only a handful of these were built because the Soviets around that time decided that ICBMs were the way to go.

The rest were built either as reconnaissance versions, cruise missile carriers, electronic warfare, trainers or even tankers. Roughly 300 were built with most being recce version or missile carriers. The recce version retained the ability to carry bombs.

The cruise missile version could carry a single Kh-22 missile (NATO AS-4) partially recessed under the belly.

Defensive armament consisted of a single radar-directed 23mm cannon in the tail.

Early on the Soviets realized that this aircraft was in no way a suitable replacement for the TU-16. The slower TU-16 had better range, payload and reliability.

The TU-16 that it never replaced. Still in Chinese service as the H-6.
We made a big deal about this aircraft, as we're prone to do. The probability of these ever attacking the US was rather slim. Yes, with air refueling you could theoretically get one here, but the Soviets would have used an ICBM for that job.
This view shows the distinctive shape that gave it the nickname "Awl".
These were intended to hit targets in Western Europe or Asia. We tend to forget that the Soviets had a falling out with China in the late 1960s.

The other primary mission for this aircraft was to defend against US carrier groups. The Soviet tactic against a carrier group would have been to saturate the defenses with massed cruise missiles launched from land, sea and air.

The Kh-22 was a very large missile with a range of 320 nm and a top speed of mach 3-4.5 depending on how it was used. It had different flight profiles that allowed it to attack from either high or low altitude. I have no idea how accurate this missile was but based on the time period I would guess not that great. It did have a rather huge 2000 lb warhead so a hit by one would be pretty devastating. There was also a nuclear version, in which case.........close counts.

Kh-22 missile
The TU-22 was rushed into production and it shows. Design flaws were numerous and often fatal. At high speeds friction heating would sometimes cause the control rods to warp. On the good/bad scale, that's pretty bad. Ergonomics were terrible. The seats were reportedly uncomfortable and many switches and levers were difficult to reach. Crews are reported to have attached strings and hooks to various controls to make them easier to reach. Visibility was poor from all crew positions. High rudder deflection could warp the vertical fin and cause rudder reversal.
Pilot's cockpit. Not much human factors engineering in those days.
High speed handling was reportedly good but the ride at low altitude was quite harsh,  not uncommon for this type of aircraft. The B-58 would also rattle your teeth on a low-level.

Landings were, ahem, "sporty". Approach speeds were quite high, typical of most high performance aircraft of that era. What was not typical was its tendency to pitch up and strike the tail. Also the landing gear was prone to collapse - bad news if you had a Kh-22 missile slung under the belly. The brakes were quite inadequate. If the drag chute failed you'd be taking a wild ride through a wheat field.

Better hope that drag chute works. You're not stopping without it.
At one point crews actually considered the aircraft to be unflyable and refused to fly them. The Soviet Union being what it was, I'm sure that went over well. Still, by the 1970s enough of the bugs had been worked out of the design to keep them operational. They were always dangerous and unreliable, however. It took a lot of man-hours to keep one flying.

Out of 311 built, over 70 were lost in accidents. Yikes!

These did actually see a bit of combat use. The electronic warfare version saw very limited use during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

A small number were exported to Libya and saw limited use in Tanzania in 1979 and Chad in the early 1980s. Two, possibly three, were shot down by French air defenses while attempting to bomb airfields in Chad. Libya actually still has a few of these but they haven't flown in over a decade due to lack of parts.

Libyan TU-22B
The most extensive combat use was by the Iraqi Air Force. The Iraqis received about a dozen of these and used them extensively in the Iran-Iraq war. The Iranians made the TU-22s a priority target for their interceptors. Four were shot down by Iranian F-14s using AIM-54 Phoenix missiles. Not surprising, since this is exactly what the F-14/AIM-54 combo was designed to go after.

For the most part the TU-22 crews tried to avoid Iranian fighters. The bombers were too precious to waste so they would turn back as soon as they received warning of a fighter nearby. Several others were shot down by SAMs and AAA.

The Iraqi bomber crews reportedly became quite skilled at "toss bombing" the huge FAB-9000 20,000 pound bomb. Toss bombing involved pulling up into a steep climb and lobbing the bomb at the target. Think of it as a poor-man's standoff weapon. Beats flying directly over a heavily defended target.

Navigator's station. The bomb-nav system was very unreliable.
Later in the war the Iraqis obtained a pair of the TU-22K electronic warfare variants. They attempted to use these to suppress the Iranian I-HAWK SAM sites that were taking a heavy toll on their MiG-23 sorties. The results were rather unimpressive. The anti-radiation version of the Kh-22 missile proved highly unreliable. After countless sorties and missile launches only two I-HAWK sites were ever knocked out.

Ultimately the TU-22s proved too difficult and expensive for the Iraqis to keep in service. An entire squadron of fighter-bombers could be operated for what it took to keep a single Blinder flying. The remaining handful of Iraqi Blinders were destroyed in the 1991 Gulf War.

To the relief of Russian pilots, none of these are still in service. The Russians parked all of them after the fall of the Soviet Union and the Ukraine followed soon after. The remaining Libyan Blinders are sitting unused you can see them here. You might talk them into selling you one, but I wouldn't be brave enough to fly it.

Video showing one of the last TU-22 flights. I can't tell if this is Russian or Ukranian. You'll see one of the trainer versions with a second cockpit added for the instructor.

Part 1

Part 2

Originally posted to Kossack Air Force on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 05:52 PM PDT.

Also republished by Central Ohio Kossacks and Aviation & Pilots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Clang associations... Mild schizophrenia... (10+ / 0-)

    ...but every time I hear the name of this plane... I think of Elvis... From Tupelo, MS...; )

    Dudehisattva...

    "Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"

    by Dood Abides on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 06:18:01 PM PDT

  •  Quite interesting (8+ / 0-)

    I especially loved the two guys "blessing" the nose gear with vodka.  Hell, I wouldn't fly it either.

    TEA PARTIES: Something little girls do with their imaginary friends.
    (-6.75 -6.51)

    by flygrrl on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 06:43:51 PM PDT

  •  Further proof that the Cold War was (4+ / 0-)

    Insane.

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    by Bisbonian on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 06:50:04 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for this. (9+ / 0-)

    I really love your diaries, Kong. You even make a total waste of metal interesting. Thank you for your dedication and continued service to our community.

    Nurse Kelley says my writing is brilliant and my soul is shiny - who am I to argue?
    Economic
    Left/Right: -7.75
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.51

    by Bud Fields on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 06:53:45 PM PDT

  •  Downward firing ejection seats . .. (7+ / 0-)

    seem to be popular in some planes of this  era.

    I know the F-104 had them, and of course two in the B-52.

    •  I never understood Boeing's design. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lazybum

      Why did they put the navs downstairs?

      There was clearly enough room to the wing root to move everybody upstairs, on a single level even if it meant moving the water injection tank below the flight deck and relocating the bunk and some of the electrical equipments downstairs.

      What prevented that? It would have moved the CG too much forward on takeoff? Or was there a specific hatred of navs at Boeing?

      I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

      by Farugia on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 11:12:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My guess would be (6+ / 0-)

        and this is only a guess -

        The B-52 was originally designed to be a high altitude bomber. On a high altitude flight profile the navs would only have been out of the ejection envelope (below 500 feet) for a very short time on takeoff and landing.

        If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

        by Major Kong on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 12:30:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ok then. Boeing really had it in for navs :-) (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NeverThere
          On a high altitude flight profile, the navs would only have been out of the ejection envelope (below 500 feet) for a very short time on takeoff and landing.
          Well, fine. But the probability of accidents or of problems turning into disaster is not exactly constant with altitude...
           

          I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

          by Farugia on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 03:11:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I always told my navs (4+ / 0-)

            that if something happened on a low level that I would try to zoom the aircraft and stay with it as long as I could to give them a chance to get out.

            At the point where I'd just be adding my body to the pile I was going to eject.

            It took a special breed to be a B-52 Nav.

            If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

            by Major Kong on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 04:46:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Better than the Brits (5+ / 0-)

            At least we gave our navs ejection seats.

            On the Vulcan, Victor and Valiant bombers only the pilots had ejection seats. Everyone else was on their own.

            If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

            by Major Kong on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 05:01:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Same with the Avro Vulcan... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, NeverThere

        ...only the REALLY bad news there was the three g.i.b. had NO ejection seats!

        'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

        by shortfinals on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 07:06:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Never underestimate the antipathy (7+ / 0-)

    of aircraft engineers toward flight crew .... downward-firing ejection seats, IIRC, were the stars of the show in the B-47 and B-58 as well, weren't they?

    LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 08:38:54 PM PDT

  •  Let's be honest. Tu-22 was a turd. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc

    It was a somewhat supersonic turd.

    But it was a turd.

    I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

    by Farugia on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 10:54:53 PM PDT

    •  Tupolev built some fine aircraft (4+ / 0-)

      This certainly wasn't one of them.

      Andrei must have pulled an all nighter when he designed this thing.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 05:35:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't blame the Tupolev bureau. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, xaxnar, lazybum

        There are designs by committees. They tend to result into really lousy planes. Then, there are designs by Politburos, like the Tu-22. Designs by Politburos tend to make designs by committees look really good...

        My understanding regarding the genesis of the Tu-22 was that there was a great freak out at the top of the chain after Stalin's death, regarding the capabilities of the Soviet Air Forces. And the cure for all ills was to be supersonic. Whatever "It" was, "It" had to be supersonic to get the go-ahead. Actual capabilities did not matter, as long the flying thingy was supersonic.

        The same was true in the west at the time (Avro Arrow, for instance). But that state of exalted panic took a particular flavor in the USSR, given the their lag in jet engine technology, and it brought us things like the Myasishchev M-50.

        As for Tupolev, they amply proved their competence as engineers 15 years later when they designed the Tu-22M while hiding the project from committees and Politburos alike.

        I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

        by Farugia on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 03:02:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  cruise missiles (7+ / 0-)

    We tend to forget that when they first appeared, cruise missiles were so expensive and so technologically cutting-edge that they were almost exclusively used as nuclear-weapons deliverers--and they changed the whole "triad" profoundly. Both the US and USSR were scared shitless of nuclear-armed cruise missiles (the USSR more so, since ours were much better than theirs).

    It wasn't until after the Cold War was over that cruise missiles became so cheap that we could afford to use waves of them with conventional warheads in low-level conflicts.

  •  Great diary. (3+ / 0-)

    What a horrendous waste of the Soviet Union's meager resources.

    In the U.S. we're still at it 25 years after I graduated into Reagan's America and did a short stint at SDIO before finally settling into a slot as a supply officer at an F-111 base.

    In the case of the U.S., it's the entire world's resources that are going down the military toilet. F-22 anyone?

    Who the hell builds a new manned fighter in the age of UCAVs? I'll tell you. Humans who are so drunk on technology that they think they can be Iron Man and always wind up being the good guy. No matter what.

    Reaganomics noun pl: blind faith that unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods and services, that government is bad and it can increase revenue by decreasng revenue. Synonyms: Friedmanomics. Antonyms: common sense. Related Words: Laffer curve

    by FrY10cK on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 06:09:54 AM PDT

    •  F-35 (4+ / 0-)

      A total waste of time, effort and resources.

      Military establishments, alas, tend to want to re-fight the last war.  But the US takes that to a ridiculous extreme. We never got to have our big glorious gotterdammerung with the Commies, and we still yearn to. So we are still busily equipping ourselves to re-fight the Cold War, despite the fact that our opponent ceased existing two decades ago. (We've even attempted to turn twenty guys with box cutters into the "new" Commies so we can still have our big glorious global gotterdammerung.)

      May I respectfully suggest that we accept the surrender of the USSR, and stop wasting our resources on fighting them?

      •  Before kicking the F-35 to the curb.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        There's a number of reasons why that might not be a good idea. I'll start with the most basic: the Air Force fleet we have is wearing out. Replacement levels are way down from where they used to be. (If you'd told someone in 1970 that we'd still be planning to fly B-52s well into the 21st century, they would have figured you were crazy.)

        And it's not about fighting the Cold War; the kinds of capabilities needed in aircraft these days are about a lot more than air superiority or the ability to deliver nukes.

        I've been putting a lot of material together on this. One of these days I'll write it all up.

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 04:58:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Manned fighters are an exercise in vanity. (0+ / 0-)
          I'm Iron Man! Look at me! I can carry half the payload and pull half the the G's of a UCAV!
          That's a dead end. Unless you have a Lockheed/Boeing/BAE/Raytheon/sub-contractor in your state.

          Reaganomics noun pl: blind faith that unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods and services, that government is bad and it can increase revenue by decreasng revenue. Synonyms: Friedmanomics. Antonyms: common sense. Related Words: Laffer curve

          by FrY10cK on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 05:27:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You have an alternative in mind? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest, lazybum

            What do you propose to replace manned fighter planes? I would be interested to know. Or are you suggesting we don't need anything like that at all?

            I'm not trying to be snarky here - just trying to get a better idea of where you're coming from.

            "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

            by xaxnar on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 05:39:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  For you guys (0+ / 0-)

              who don't think software will ever replace human pilots, watch multi-rotors play ping pong.

              That's ping pong. Computers are much more suited to computing trajectories for objects at trans-sonic speeds. Humans are okay for ping pong though.

              Reaganomics noun pl: blind faith that unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods and services, that government is bad and it can increase revenue by decreasng revenue. Synonyms: Friedmanomics. Antonyms: common sense. Related Words: Laffer curve

              by FrY10cK on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 02:45:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Just call me old fashioned (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            xaxnar, RiveroftheWest, lazybum

            but I don't think a UCAV can match the situational awareness of having somebody in the cockpit.

            Maybe some day but I don't think they're there yet.

            If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

            by Major Kong on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 06:23:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  What the hell? (0+ / 0-)

              F-22 pilots get their "situational awareness" from a sensor suite that projects data onto the inside of their visors. That data could just as easily go to a pilot in a bunker on the ground eliminating all the human life support systems.

              Free of its human payload, the UCAV could carry twice the ordnance and pull twice the G's.

              Damn. What are you guys thinking? Oh. Same thing the people behind the F-22 were thinking:

              I'm Iron Man! Look at me!

              Reaganomics noun pl: blind faith that unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods and services, that government is bad and it can increase revenue by decreasng revenue. Synonyms: Friedmanomics. Antonyms: common sense. Related Words: Laffer curve

              by FrY10cK on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:46:20 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  There's a name for what you've proposed (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RiveroftheWest

                I believe it's called a "missile".

                If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

                by Major Kong on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 02:10:28 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Self-fulfilling prophecy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Major Kong
          Replacement levels are way down from where they used to be.
          That's is a great classic of DoD bureaucratic warfare:
          • Step 1 - You have some newfangled cure-all thingy under development in which you are emotionally (and monetarily) invested and you also have a constrained budget.
          • Step 2 - Newfangled cure-all thingy under development is blowing up its budget. Something needs to get cut.
          • Step 3 - Above all, don't cut loose the newfangled cure-all thingy. It's the future, you see. Instead (of course), cut maintenance and refurbishment capabilities of the stuff the newfangled cure-all thingy is supposed to replace. Start with disbanding the teams supporting the old stuff and cutting up the manufacturing tooling so you can write it off.
          • Step 4 - Newfangled cure-all thingy under development is blowing up its budget even more and is going to be incredibly late. Something needs to get cut, but this time it's not a budget that needs to get cut.
          • Step 5 - No, no, no! You can't cut anything! We don't have a choice! The newfangled cure-all thingy MUST be brought to completion. The old stuff it's meant to replace is getting old and we can't build more of them because ... step 3. Double down on budgets go and all necks are saved (because we need all hands on deck in such a crisis ...)
          • Step 6 - Things go according to plan. Newfangled cure-all thingy finally arrives, ten times over budget, ten years late, doesn't solve any problem the old stuff had. But the contractors are really happy. They just got themselves 30 years of guaranteed revenue in development and maintenance contracts.
          • Step 7 - Guys who pushed step 3 through within the Pentagon are somewhere in Florida or SoCal, playing golf while enjoying their retirement from the USAF and their new 10-hours-a-week career as vice-president of So-and-So Aerospace Inc, a far-flung, partially owned (but fully controlled) subsidiary of the contractors that shat the now in-service newfangled doesn't-cure-anything thingy.
          • Mission accomplished!


          If you'd told someone in 1970 that we'd still be planning to fly B-52s well into the 21st century, they would have figured you were crazy.
          No. They would have figured out (probably to their own amazement) that there would still be a few brave souls within the DoD with their head screwed on down the right thread, people capable of remembering that there is still a job that needs to get done while the big boys in DC piss the taxpayer money away on useless junk.

          When you get a fully debugged and proven platform like the B-52 (or the A-10, another example, or the F-15), you stick to it. Period.

          For 95% of war-making, "dependable" beats the crap out of "new" anytime with its hands tied behind its back. For the remaining 5%, use purpose-built, narrow-use solutions (good example : F-117, nowhere near the hype but really good at what it was designed to do) drawing on a healthy and sustained commitment to long term R&D investments ("Have Blue" in this case).

          I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

          by Farugia on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 07:47:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest

            Steps 1 through 7 are certainly true enough, but they're not the whole story. Because sometimes the "tried and true" is no longer good enough. And the new stuff isn't always crap.

            And sometimes it takes time to get things right. The P-51 was one of the best fighters to come out of World War II - but it took several models and giving it the Rolls Royce Merlin engine before it realized its full potential. The B-17 was nearly killed at the prototype stage because of a crash and charges it was just too complex for mere humans to operate.

            Don't forget a couple of other factors - the end of the Cold War Peace Dividend, which Republicans were eager to cash in for tax cuts. And the sequester, which is across the board bad for just about every program, including a lot of basic R&D.

            And, after Gulf War One, we kept busy enforcing a no fly zone. For all those years, the Air Force was operating aircraft at a war tempo without the budget to support it. That's one reason we have so many tired aircraft in the fleet.

            As for building more F-15s, F-16s, and A-10s, that really would be fighting the Cold War all over again - because those aircraft were all designed and built for the Cold War. Both the technologies and the likely scenarios for use have moved on since then.

            "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

            by xaxnar on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 08:07:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  "Striking" appearance (5+ / 0-)

    Looks like something you'd see in some of those Japanese war technology-centered animated series.

    The placement of the engines is certainly different. I can plausibly picture some design team sitting around congratulating themselves on the clean configuration they'd come up with when someone said "Bozhe moi! We forgot to put engines on this thing"

    Putting them at the base of the rudder like that must have made weight and balance calculations interesting. It's not surprising that they tended to suffer from tail strikes.

    And I wonder how many crews kept their fingers crossed if/when one of those planes ran into trouble, hoping the pilot would remember they had to worry about being ejected right into the ground while he was going up and over...

    The F-104 had the same problem - downward ejecting pilot seat. Useless once you got too close to the ground. I wonder if anyone ever tried ejecting while rolling the plane onto its back?

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 07:24:37 AM PDT

    •  You're correct (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, ER Doc, xaxnar, lazybum

      One reason the nose is so long was to correct the CG from the tail-mounted engines.

      The early F-104's had downward ejection seats because the early ballistic seats couldn't clear the tall tail. Once improved seats were developed it was switched to an upward seat.

      I think rolling inverted was attempted on occasion, but if you were that low already you probably didn't have sufficient altitude to complete the maneuver.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 09:55:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The F-111 took a different approach (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        As I recall, the whole cockpit ejected from the plane as a unit. The crew stayed in their seats while the whole thing floated down under chutes. It had airbags too, which served to cushion the landing, and for floatation if landing on water. Supposedly, the sticks became a bilge pump handles.

        http://youtu.be/...

        It must have been fun coming up with a system that somehow cut all the connections to the rest of the plane to free the cockpit. The link below mentions guillotines - blades driven by explosives to cut through cables. I image you had to be VERY carful maintaining those.

        The full details are here.

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 04:19:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I knew some F-111 guys (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          xaxnar, RiveroftheWest, Farugia

          In fact, I knew someone that actually ejected from one.

          The capsule worked well for getting you away from the airplane. Unfortunately the landing could very rough.

          If everything worked as advertised you'd probably still have some back injuries.

          If that airbag didn't inflate (it happened) you would be badly injured.

          Most of the '111 drivers I knew weren't real confident about using the capsule for that reason.

          If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

          by Major Kong on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 04:43:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Great Stuff!! The "overreaction" tendency .. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Kong, RiveroftheWest, lazybum

    First, thanks for these diaries - the writing and content are so enjoyable. And, yes, the look of the TU-22 fits the "Russian fiend delivering evil to your doorstep" image perfectly.

    The "making a big deal" out of every equipment type manufactured by the UUSR observation - reminds me of one of my favorite possessions: a copy of the DoD's ..just-prior-to-the-collapse.. "Assessment of the Threat - Soviet Union - 1989", which reads like a cold-war docudrama.

    I was working for a French defense contractor at the time, and this was on the bookshelf. When the office closed, I took it as a souvenir, and then had a chance to really pore over it.

    With input from the intelligence (sic) community, this foreboding analysis put the U.S.S.R. on the brink of conquering the world with the most brilliantly devised weaponry in the history of warfare. Between the troop, submarine, tank and plane tally, and a rocket/missile inventory that would make Wernher v.B. blush, the U.S. and our allies stood no chance ..unless.. we rapidly dug our heads out of the sand and started spending some serious coin on updating our aging weapons systems. Cold-war fear marketing/mongering at its best.

    I need to review this dusty volume and select/share a few of the nuttier tidbits.

    ..now, where did I leave my torches and villagers?

    by FrankSpoke on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 05:34:59 AM PDT

    •  yes, I remember it well (3+ / 0-)
      With input from the intelligence (sic) community, this foreboding analysis put the U.S.S.R. on the brink of conquering the world with the most brilliantly devised weaponry in the history of warfare. Between the troop, submarine, tank and plane tally, and a rocket/missile inventory that would make Wernher v.B. blush, the U.S. and our allies stood no chance ..unless.. we rapidly dug our heads out of the sand and started spending some serious coin on updating our aging weapons systems. Cold-war fear marketing/mongering at its best.
      The Russians were ten feet tall and had the very best of everything, while we were valiantly opposing them with rocks and sticks.

      Meanwhile, the Russians couldn't even make a clone of the Apple II computer.  (sigh)

  •  Another great diary, thanks. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest

    Rivers are horses and kayaks are their saddles

    by River Rover on Mon Sep 02, 2013 at 08:18:42 PM PDT

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