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Tu-22M2 Kit

Trumpeter 1/72 Tu-22M2 Backfire B Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2009 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject Tu-22M2 Backfire B Scale 1/72
Kit Number 1655 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nicest Backfire kit in any scale Cons
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $139.95

First Look

Tu-22M2 Kit
Tu-22M2 Kit
Tu-22M2 Kit
Tu-22M2 Kit
Tu-22M2 Kit
Tu-22M2 Kit
Tu-22M2 Kit
Tu-22M2 Kit
Tu-22M2 Kit
Tu-22M2 Kit
Tu-22M2 Kit
Tu-22M2 Kit
Tu-22M2 Kit
Tu-22M2 Kit
Tu-22M2 Kit
Tu-22M2 Kit

The Tu-22 (NATO Codename: Blinder) was designed as the Soviet Air Force's first supersonic bomber which was intended to replace the subsonic Tu-16 (NATO Codename: Badger), and was Tupolev's first operational supersonic aircraft. To gain the most efficiency out of the engines of the time, Tupolev's designers mounted the engines on either side of the vertical stabilizer to eliminate power loss from long air ducts. Unfortunately, the Tu-22 was not a successful design, could only remain supersonic for short periods of time, and suffered from a number of reliability problems. The Tu-22 was eventually exported to 'allies' while the Tu-16 continued in mainline service.

Another Tupolev design, the Tu-28 (NATO Codename: Fiddler) was a long-range interceptor developed in parallel (and slightly behind) the Tu-22. Unlike the Tu-22 however, the Tu-28 was a successful supersonic platform and while smaller than the Tu-22, it still remains the largest fighter (interceptor) ever produced. Experience from the Tu-28, plus further advances in propulsion and aerodynamic technologies led to a redesign of the Tu-22 10 years after its first flight. This aircraft was so different in appearance than its predecessor, it was given the NATO Codename: Backfire and became the center of a dispute during ongoing strategic arms limitations that prohibited the development of new strategic bombers, and the appearance of the 'Tu-26' (as western analysts had identified the new aircraft) was in clear violation.

The Soviets maintained that this new aircraft was not a revolutionary new design, it was an evolutionary improvement to the Tu-22 and was designated Tu-22M. That was their story and they're sticking to it. Indeed the Tu-22M was a vast improvement over the earlier Tu-22, not only was it supersonic, it could fly over Mach 2 and carry twice the payload of its predecessor. The Tu-22M2 featured intakes similar to the F-4 Phantom II while the later Tu-22M3 had redesigned intakes similar to the MiG-25 to accommodate the greater airflow requirements of its newer engines.

I remember Trumpeter announcing their Tu-22M3 Backfire C kit late last year, but more recently the Tu-22M2 Backfire B was announced and leads off as the first release in this series. So how does the kit look?

The kit is molded in Trumpeter standard light gray styrene and is presented on fourteen parts trees, plus separately packaged upper and lower main fuselage sections and radome, and a single tree of clear parts. Detailing of this kit is quite nice with finely scribed details throughout.

With over 400 parts in this kit, this model should be build with a little patience and with close attention to the instructions. The kit does offer a number of nice features and options that you've never seen in the ESCI/ERTL/Italeri boxings of this subject. These include:

  • Eleven-piece ejection seats (x4)
  • Nicely detailed front and rear cockpits
  • Positionable crew entry doors
  • Movable wings
  • Flaps and slats are separately molded in the extended position
  • Spoilers are separately molded and in the deployed position
  • Separately molded rudder
  • Detailed nose and main gear wells
  • Positionable stabilators
  • Detailed weapons bay with rotary launcher
  • Positionable weapons bay doors
  • Multiple ejector racks mounted under intake trunks
  • Cruise missile cradles mounted under inboard wing sections

The details on the wings is quite nice, but the instructions don't show how to assemble the wings with the flaps and slats up. It shouldn't be hard to do, but the real question will be how the slats, flaps, and spoilers fit in their stowed positions. If you are building the wings full-forward and want everything hanging out, then there is no issue, but do glue the wing hinges to keep the wings from accidentally sweeping aft and mushing your inboard flaps. If you do want the wings movable or depicted fully swept, then you will need to install the flaps, slats, and spoilers without help from the instructions.

The cockpit has lots of nice detail potential in there and kudos to Trumpeter for providing the crew entry doors (hatches) separately so you can peek inside. With the small windscreen and tiny side windows, all of that detail would go to waste with the cockpit closed-up. Likewise on the weapons bay. In fact, the external stores options in this kit include:

  • 6 x Kh-15 (NATO Codename: AS-16 Kickback) cruise missiles for the rotary launcher
  • 2 x Kh-22 (NATO Codename: AS-4 Kitchen) anti-ship missiles under the wings
  • 18 x FAB-250 bombs for the two MERs under the intake trunks

The kit does have the cut-out separately molded for the nose of the Kh-22 ahead of the weapons bay, so there may be another version of this kit coming with a centerline Kh-22 installation. Speaking of the Kh-22, you can pose the Kh-22s without their radomes as they have radar dishes provided for inside their radomes.

Markings are included for two examples:

  • Tu-22M2, Red 56
  • Tu-22M2, Red 81

There is lots of detail in this box and such a kit would not have been possible back when the ESCI/ERTL kit was first designed given the very limited information available back then. Today, there is a vast quantity of photos and references available for this and other former Soviet Air Force subjects and now you have a kit that can be built straight out of the box into an impressive model, and still give the AMS modeler some room to 'tweak' the model further. This is a great time to be a Soviet Air Force modeler!

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!