1/72 ESCI Iraqi Tu-22

by Ian Buick

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This kit was the old Esci kit, a sadly departed company that often covered subjects off the mainstream. Re-boxed first by Italeri, then Revell, the impressive beast just reeks of ColdWar as soon as you lift the box lid.

I was aware that the kit had many issues, but I just had to put it together Out-Of-Box so that I could have one of these stunning and fearsome-looking creatures in my collection. The parts fit was pretty chronic in places, and every modelroom disaster that occurred over six months seemed to result in further damage to my Italeri-boxed Blinder.

 The actual machines had a similarly difficult time, accidents being frequent, and downward-firing ejection seats not exactly helping at low altitude. However, The Blinder saw active service with The Soviet Union in Afghanistan, with Libya against Chad, Tanzania, and Sudan, and with The Iraqi Air Force against Iran. The Blinder's relatively short range (for a strategic bomber) was less of a disadvantage for Libya and Iraq who were to fight wars very close to home rather than planning intercontinental missions.

The Iraqi Air Force used The Blinder to attack high value economic targets such as the vital oil conduit on Khark Island, and they scored some noteable successes, but paid a heavy price in return losing several machines to SAMs and Iranian fighters. By the time of Operation 'Desert Storm' in 1991, less than ten Tu-22 were left and these were soon dispatched by F-117 'Stealth' in precision raids on Al-Taqaddum Airbase.

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The Blinder had it's moments, and, however it is remembered in aviation history, it was a fantastic looking machine that took very brave and skillful men to fly.

I finished my Blinder in as close to Iraqi colours as I can figure from available sources. Some still debate the camo scheme and only B/W pics seem to exist of in-service Iraqi machines, the only colour shots being of wrecked fire-damaged Blinders that had being lying in the desert for twelve years. Even so, I think this scheme is pretty close.

I loved building this kit, warts and all. Just make sure you pre-plan where you will display it post-build, unlike I did!

It's a biggie for 72nd.

Hope you enjoy

Cheers, 

Ian

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Photos and text by Ian Buick