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Tupolev Tu-22M3
(NATO "Backfire C")

by "Bondo" Phil Brandt, IPMS 14091


Tupolev Tu-22M3 (NATO "Backfire C")


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Andrei Tupolev's Backfire series of strike aircraft resulted from a clever ploy against the design bureau of his brilliant former student, Pavel Sukhoi.

The exotic, XB-70 look-alike Sukhoi T-4 "Sotka" had greatly impressed Soviet planners, but Tupolev convinced them of the great monetary savings that could be realized by modifying the problem-plagued Tu-22 Blinder. What Tupolev had really done, however, was to design a wholly new aircraft which decisively elbowed the T-4 program out of the picture with only two airframes completed.



The Backfire--the M3, or "C", is the definitive variant--has soldiered on to be one of the most feared and respected Soviet air assets, and its capabilities have been the subject of many SALT negotiations.



  1. Blinder/Backfire color feature, “World Airpower Journal”, Vol. 33 (Summer 1998).

  2. "Tupolev Tu-22 'Blinder'; Tu-22M 'Backfire' " by Yefim Gordon and Vladimir Rigmant, Aerofax (Midland Publishing Ltd.)




The hard-to-find ESCI Backfire B and C kits are the only ones that have been released in 1/72, and, typically for this brand, they both present many areas that need to be corrected. The overall molding is decent, albeit with too-aggressive engraving--I really couldn't face up to redoing the close-to-Matchbox "trenches"-- and rather soft detail.


A serious omission--one that fat, dumb and happy Bondo didn't discover until almost ready for final paint--is that the fuselage length forward of the intakes is one inch short. That's right, four scale feet! Sooo, it was manufacture-a-plug time at Bondo Industries.

And, while we're talking fuselage, the downsweep on the tops of the C intakes should be increased, although I passed on that one.


The cockpit configuration as presented by ESCI is pure fantasy, not even close to the real thing. The actual aircraft is a four place, side-by-side configured bird with individual clamshell crew hatches on the top of the fuselage, not the single entrance hatch behind the nosegear as modeled by ESCI. And, there is no "pass through" access between the forward and aft cockpits.



I elected to scratchbuild the whole shooting match, using the suprisingly similar KC-135 PE pilot's instrument panel from True Details and, for the rear navigation/ECM cockpit, miscellaneous PE panels and consoles from the spares box. Buklheads and side panel details were also scratched.

Seats used (unique seats are used in the real thing) are represented by modified (stabilizer tubes removed) True Details K-36s. Hatches were cut out of the fuselage top per drawings in WAPJ, and, in the case of the front ones, the thick, one-piece clear canopy was carefully sectioned and integrated into the assembly.

Hatch interior detail was scratchbuilt from the same article.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Radome profiles vary significantly between the B and C versions, but ESCI chose to try the quick and dirty by skipping the work of re-doing a new radome for the C. I used lots of A&B epoxy putty to create the severe radome upsweep and transition from ogival curve to wedge in the most forward portion.



Distinctive radome panels were scribed per the WAPJ pix.

Aft Gun Turret

Again, ESCI has simply skipped accurizing the "stinger" of the C version, so I deep sixed the hokey side-by-side 'cannons' and scratchbuilt proper over-and-under twin GSH-23 cannons. Per WAPJ pix I also added a small platform under the tail radar warning radome.

Landing Gear

The gear struts are rather simple, but because of the large surface of the airframe, they're largely hidden. I left 'em alone, but did purchase a set of Equipage prepainted resin wheels w/rubber tires (Lindenhill Imports). Unfortunately, these proper wheel/tire assemblies are larger in diameter than those in the kit, necessitating a redo of all three axles.



Because a show was right around the corner, timewise, I went with the kit wheels, and have still not installed the correct ones; another "to do" item!

Weapons Pylons

Large external pylons are provided, but the big cruise missiles that should be mounted there interfere seriously with the maingear doors, so I portrayed a missile mounted in the under fuselage recess. In the real world, the C version carries the missiles almost exclusively under the wings, and two of these big suckers is a significant load, kinda like Senior Bowl B-52Hs lugging two Lockheed GRB-21D drones! The Backfire wing trailing edges were notched to clear the aft portion of the pylons per the WAPJ pix and drawings.



Painting and Finishing


I custom mixed the basic bluish gray upper color from Polly Scale acrylic, creating two slightly varying additional shades for 'scale effect' panel differentiation; lotsa masking, naturlich! Operational Soviet birds suffer the rigors of weather and budgetary constraints, and can get very dirty.



Once I saw the degree of airframe 'groadiness' in the WAPJ pix, I didn't spare the burnt sienna wash and pastels. National markings were from an Aeromaster Soviet fighter (La-7, IIRC) sheet.




Funny how Bondo, a retired TAC-trained 'killer', keeps reverting to Evil Empire aircraft. I dunno; I guess it's a fascination with the relatively unknown. One of these days, I've gotta get with the program on my personal A-model Vark!



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Review and Images Copyright © 2002 by Phil Brandt
Page Created 17 December, 2002
Last updated 04 June, 2007

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