The history of military aviation knows multiple examples of aircraft that appeared to be complete failures. But nothing can beat the story of the first Soviet supersonic bomber – the Tupolev Tu-22.
The troubles and the controversy of this bomber, which Tupolev himself referred to as “his most unfortunate creation”, could be seen through the variety of nicknames that the plane received during its career.
Among the Russian pilots, the Tu-22 was called the “Pricker”, the “Man-eater”, as well as “Error-plane” and “Defectocraft”, but the most famous among all others was the name – “Supersonic Booze Carrier”.
The Tupolev Tu-22 was the first supersonic bomber to enter production in the Soviet Union. Manufactured by Tupolev, the Tu-22 entered service with the Soviet military in the 1960s. The last examples were retired during the early 2000s.
Produced in comparatively small numbers, the aircraft was a disappointment, lacking the intercontinental range that had been expected.
Later in their service life, Tu-22s were used as launch platforms for the Soviet Kh-22 standoff missile, and as reconnaissance aircraft.
Tu-22s were sold to other nations, including Libya and Iraq. The Tu-22 was one of the few Soviet bombers to see combat; Libyan Tu-22s were used against Tanzania and Chad, and Iraqi Tu-22s were used during the Iran–Iraq War.