Tu-128 FIDDLER - Operations
The characteristics of the Tu-128, capable of loitering in the air for almost three hours, with the full composition of weapons, allowed to push the lines of interception of air targets more than 1000 km from the borders of the Soviet Union. The most intense duty was in the North. There the crews of the Tu-128 had to constantly fly to intercept NATO reconnaissance and patrol aircraft, although the cases of their defeat by the "Violinist" are unknown. It should be said that in general, practical rocket launches were rarely carried out even for training purposes, and few of the crews for the entire service were able to carry out more than ten firings.
Of particular concern to the Soviet interceptors were high-speed reconnaissance aircraft SR-71, regularly appearing at our borders, particularly annoying in the event of the deployment of Soviet air defense fighters to advanced airfields. These scouts at speeds close to 1000 km / h flew strictly along the line of the border of Soviet territorial waters, not deviating more than 5 km from it, and the only counteraction was the parallel flight of an interceptor from our side of the border.
The widespread type of combat work was for Tu-128 destruction of automatic drifting balloons (ADA), stuffed with reconnaissance equipment. The capture of a similar purpose for the interceptor's radar and the subsequent use of missiles was carried out along the ADA container. So, in the second half of the seventies, the crew of the 518th air regiment in the commander of the ship V. Sirotkin and navigator E. Shchetkin managed to destroy two balloons. The first was shot down near the island of Kolguev, and the second - near Naryan-Mar, and to destroy the second had to spend all four missiles.
There were Tu-128 in combat service and shooting targets that had come down from the planned course. For example, in the summer of 1974 six Soviet balloons changed direction and began to move toward the Chinese border near the city of Kustanai. The crew of the 356th air regiment with the commander of the ship Lieutenant-Colonel N. Gaidukov flew first to intercept, he shot down one of the balloons. It is very difficult to attack a ball slowly drifting in the air on a supersonic heavy interceptor: six less experienced crews could not repeat the success of the lieutenant colonel. Colonel EI had to sit down at the helm of the regiment commander himself. Kostenko, interrupted from the first call of a chain of unsuccessful attempts of his subordinates. The next four interceptors followed suit, and destroyed the remaining ADA.
In 1970, "Violinists" participated in the global exercise "Ocean". During one of the flights, the Tu-128 crossed the Norwegian border for a while. The flight passed at supersonic, and the air defense of NATO did not have time to react to this violation.
In the seventies the crews of heavy interceptors worked off the advanced airfields that were located along the northern borders of the Soviet Union, such as Tiksi, Yakutsk, Alykel (Norilsk), Khatanga, Naryan-Mar. It was tested on Tu-128 and basing at ice airfields. For example, in 1979 three combat Tu-128s and one training Tu-128UT from the 72nd Guards Air Regiment were transferred to the airfield Grem-Bel. In the winter of 1980, a similar group of 356th air regiment was based at the ice airport of the island of Sredny.
In case of redeployment, interceptors carried out flights that exceeded several thousand kilometers. In the mid-seventies a curious case occurred. From Vladimirovka, it was necessary to drive a pair of Tu-128s to Semipalatinsk. In the filed application, the site to Omsk had a length of more than 2000 km. The permission for the flight was delayed for a long time. And when the crew went to sort it out, they were told: "What sort of aircraft do you have ... fighters? Well, there are no fighters in the USSR capable of flying over 2,000 kilometers."
"I must say that the Tu-128 deserved the flight crew a high reputation and respect". So, Colonel Evglevsky recalled: "If I talk about my impression of this machine, I want to say that with this beautiful plane I passed a significant segment of my life that can not be crossed out or forgotten." From the very first minutes of mastering this interceptor, admired the power of his movement, the sense of strength, the mass, obedient to the movement of your hands and thoughts. "A powerful acceleration during take-off and a rapid climb." To the supersonic, "The Violinist" crossed at an altitude of 10-11 km without any inclusion of afterburner."
A deputy commander of the Corps of Air Defense Colonel VI. Anokhin believed that the Tu-128 was the most reliable at that time of all interceptors in our country. The flight on the subsonic and supersonic regimes on this plane did not have any special differences, he did not demand from the pilot in flight on a supersonic such a voltage as the Su-15 and MiG-31.
Tu-128 caused respect and the fact that the pilots of these interceptors had a higher salary than the pilots of other fighters. Actually, the Tu-128 fighter was not particularly considered. He was proudly referred to in documents as a "ship," and the commander of the crew, of course, "commander of the ship."
But with a general positive opinion about the Tu-128, of course, there were comments to it. The machine was quite strict on landing. At the stage of preplanning planning at a speed of 450 km / h the aircraft reacted sluggishly to the aileron deflection. Sometimes this led to accidents and even catastrophes, which often happened in young pilots.
Fighter pilots did not just have to learn a new machine. It took a training aircraft on the basis of the Tu-128, although at first time they were getting by the machine for training navigators - Tu-124Sh. In 1966 they decided to build a "spark", although this term was not entirely suitable for the three-seat Tu-128UT. On this machine, the nose of the fuselage, where the radar was previously located, was equipped with an instructor's cabin that resembles the externally beak of a pelican.
The big drawback of the "spark" was an extremely poor overview for the instructor because of the small glazing of the cockpit and the wedge-shaped structure of the visor. (Subsequently, this drawback was taken into account when developing a similar training and training version of the interceptor MiG-25). The first Tu-128UT was converted from serial combat vehicles, and at the very end of the serial production, a small number of such "doubles" were produced.
Even during the tests it was supposed to modernize the carrier and the armament system. The engines of the AL-7F-2 planned to be replaced by VD-19 Dobrynin's designs or even RD36-41, which were designed for the Sukhoi T-4 (100) aircraft. The advanced radar locator RP-SA ("Smerch-A") and K-80 missiles were finalized, which in the series were named ?-4? and ?-4? depending on the method of guidance. The new machine was to be called Tu-128A.
In the mid-sixties VD-19 engines were installed on one of the serial aircraft, for which they expanded the tail section of the aircraft. In order to increase the stability, additional ventral crests were made. In addition, this flying laboratory changed the shape of the nose fairing under the radar "Smerch-A". During the tests it was possible to reach a much higher speed than the serial Tu-128, but for a number of reasons this option did not go into the series. The new station found a place on the more modern interceptor MiG-25P.
In the late sixties in the OKB A.N. Tupolev began developing a new interceptor of the same designation - Tu-148. It was assumed that the aircraft, equipped with two RD36-41 engines and a "Zaslon" radar with a passive phased array antenna, would have variable wing geometry and armament inside a special closed compartment. The weight in comparison with the Tu-128 increased by 25%, the range - almost 2 times. The project was offered to the customer and was supported by the air defense commander A.L. Kadomtsev, who repeatedly flew the Tu-128.
New interception systems could cover the northern border of the USSR with a much smaller number of carriers, especially since by that time air defense aviation was mastering the group method of using Tu-128 aircraft. However, after the tragic death of Kadomtsev, the new command made a bid for the development of the MiG-25P-based complex with the Zaslon radar. As a result, in 1975 an experienced two-seater interceptor MiG-25MP was manufactured, and in the late seventies - a serial MiG-31.
Still, the Tu-128 underwent modernization. The works, begun in 1966, resulted in the creation of a new interception complex Tu-128S-4M, which allowed intercepting low-altitude targets. The Tu-128M was equipped with the RS-SM ("Smerch-M") radar and four advanced missiles (two R-4RMs and two R-4TMs). The first flight of the new carrier took place on October 15, 1970, and the test complex ended in the summer of 1974. By that time, the mass production of the Tu-128 had already been completed, so the modernization was carried out in line with the modifications of the aircraft and radar. The new complex was adopted in 1979.
In addition to the interceptors, a supersonic front-line bomber Tu-128B with a normal bomb load of 4.5 tons and an Initiative-2 radar was developed on the basis of this machine, but this variant was not realized, because at that time the OKB P.O. Dry work on a more promising project T-6 (Su-24) of this purpose.
Tu-128 aircraft were actively used by the air defense of the Soviet Union until the end of the eighties, until it was completely replaced by the MiG-31.
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