Tempest Books' Russian Bombers

Author/Artists: David Baker


Tempest Books


$50.00 from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 210 pages, hardcover, over 250 illustrations.
ISBN: 978-1-911704133


This latest book from Tempest covers the development of Soviet/Russian bombers basically from the end of WWII until the present day. The Soviets never really had much in the way of strategic bombers, choosing to concentrate on tactical bombers that would support the army, much like the Germans. They did have some four engine bombers, but built in tiny numbers that made no impact on the war. It wasn't until after the war that they saw how effective British and US heavy bombers were.

This left them in a real quandary as they had made no effort to develop a strategic bomber. It was thanks as much to the acquisition of three intact US B-29s in Soviet territory during the last stages of the war in the Pacific that provided the shot that Soviet aerospace needed. These planes were reverse engineered (not a small task as they had to convert from Imperial to Metric dimensions on everything) and provided the USSR with their first truly strategic bombers. These planes were capable of carrying the first Soviet atomic bomb and were produced in fairly large numbers. Meanwhile, German scientists, engineers and equipment, much of which was from Junkers, were taken from Germany to Russia to provide the input and equipment needed to develop jet bombers. Despite several useful prototypes, none entered mass production as Stalin didn't want to have to use 'enemy' designs.

Eventually, the Soviets went through the usual stages of development and improvement with its aircraft. Some never made it past the mock-up stage while others were produced as prototypes only. A very few saw mass production. Not surprising, it's those which saw widespread production that are provided the greatest coverage in the book. In fact, it is the three that are currently in use, the Tu-95, Tu-22M, and Tu-160, that have the lion's share of coverage and photos. Their fairly current use is also covered that includes the Syrian campaigns and use in Ukraine. Not that the others are ignored, just not heavily covered.

The author has done his research and delves into the rather extensive political machinations that seem to be so prevalent in Soviet/Russian weapons development. Add to it the development history of these planes and the well done photos and you have a nice book on the subject. Well worth picking up.

November 2023

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