Italeri 1/72 Tu-22 Blinder Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|The best Tu-22 in any scale
|The only styrene Tu-22 kit larger than 1/100 scale
From the early 1950s, the Tupolev Experimental Design Bureau (OKB) had been developing several concept designs for a supersonic strike bomber. The design that was pushed forward was the Tu-22, a concept based on making the subsonic Tu-16 into a supersonic capable aircraft. Through most of the 1950s, the Tupolev OKB refined the design into the initial Tu-22A, twenty of which were produced in 1960.
The aircraft experienced a variety of problems from elevator flutter to engine surges that required rather extensive modifications to the airframe to resolve. Nevertheless, production of the Tu-22 continued through 1969 with 311 examples built. Nevertheless, the first Tu-22s entered squadron service in 1962 with the Soviet Air Force's Long Range Aviation.
The later variants to enter squadron service were the Tu-22R reconnaissance variant, Tu-22K cruise missile launch platform (carrying the Kh-22 'Kitchen' missile), Tu-22P electronic warfare aircraft, and Tu-22U trainer. Add a D suffix to the designator (e.g. Tu-22RD) and the aircraft has been updated for air refueling. Add an M suffix to that (e.g. Tu-22RDM) and you've got the same aircraft after a mid-life upgrade. There were a few other variants, but these were the principal service aircraft.
NATO-codenamed 'Blinder', the Tu-22 entered service with air forces of other nations in the 1970s including Iraq and Libya.
Italeri re-released the venerable ESCI Tu-22 Blinder kit in 1/72 scale. This kit had been released a few times by ESCI before they ceased operations, then issued by AMT and Revell/Germany sometime later. The kit was more recently released by Italeri, but supplies of this kit are starting to dwindle. I decided to take a look.
Molded in light gray styrene, the kit is presented on four parts trees, plus an additional tree of clear parts. Despite the age of the molds, the kit is in excellent condition with no visible flash on the sprues. Straight out of the box, the kit represents the Tu-22 or Tu-22A bomber variants. With a little work and some good references, it wouldn't be hard to render one of the other Blinder variants. If you elect to alter the kit, you'll also want to remove the raised panel lines molded into the kit surface and scribe the details into the styrene surfaces. There are sufficient plans and details online (try airwar.ru) to get the panel and rivet lines needed to "busy up" the surfaces.
The cockpit is typically simple, but since you won't see much through those cockpit windows, there isn't much point in superdetailing the 'office'.
Assembly is straightforward and with a little care and dry-fitting/trimming of the parts before glueing, there should be minimal need for any filler.
Given the size of the aircraft, I'd suggest adding some main spars from brass rod or other material of choice to the wing-fuselage joints and through the horizontal stabs. If you pose the bomb bay open, you'll need to route the main spars ahead of the bomb bay, through the fuselage, and into the wings. This should reinforce the airframe and make it more tolerant to handling. There are no obstructions to running a spar through the rear fuselage and into each of the horizontal stabs.
The kit provides you with the option of displaying the bomb bay open and serious load of bombs on the internal racks.
Markings are included to replicate any one of four aircraft:
- Tu-22, Red 41, Soviet Air Force
- Tu-22, Red 80, Soviet Air Force
- Tu-22, Libyan Air Force
- Tu-22, Iraqi Air Force
With the release of the Tu-16, Tu-95/Tu-142, and Tu-160 in 1/72 from Trumpeter, your Long Range Aviation flightline will look strange without the Tu-22 and Tu-22M kits from Italeri (or the previous ESCI or Revell/Germany boxings).
- OKB Tupolev, Yefim Gordon and Vladimir Rigmant, Midland Publishing, 2005, ISBN 1-85780-214-4
- Soviet/Russian Aircraft Weapons, Yefim Gordon, Midland Publishing, 2004, ISBN 1-85780-188-1