A U.S. Navy McDonnell F-4N Phantom II from Fighter Squadron VF-51 Screaming Eagles intercepts a Soviet-built Libyan Tupolev Tu-22 "Blinder" over the Mediterranean Sea, circa in April 1977. The Tu-22 bomber was being delivered to Libya. VF-51 was assigned to Carrier Air Wing 19 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42) for a deployment to the Mediterranean Sea from 4 October 1976 to 21 April 1977. (U.S. Navy photo)
The Tupolev Tu-22 Blinder might just have been one of the least pilot-friendly aircraft ever built by the Soviet Union in the 1960s, and that's saying something, considering that MiG fighters were notorious for their cramped quarters and poor pilot visibility. The very first supersonic bomber to enter service with the Soviet Air Force, around 311 models were produced with a number going to Iraq and Libya as part of large export deals brokered by the USSR in the 1970s. Not only did the Blinder look like something out of a space-age comic book, it seemingly functioned like one as well. I mean, at least with how its aircrew entered the aircraft. Its performance characteristics were anything but next-generation, far from what the Soviets had hoped to accomplish with such an aircraft.
The Tu-22 flew with a pilot, a navigator and a weapons officer as its full complement. Each crewmember sat in front of the other, and had to be "lifted" into the aircraft using a motorized chair. Unluckily for them, they were also firmly strapped to downward-firing K-22 ejection seats, which could not be used at altitudes below 820 feet. The runway handling dynamics of the aircraft were atrocious, leading to numerous mishaps without the Blinder even leaving the ground. But, at least it looked cool, right?