The Top 10 Worst Soviet Aircraft

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The Soviet Union managed to produce some of the largest, fastest, toughest, and most agile aircraft. Many of these planes were outstanding, but some for reasons like politics, incompetence, or plain bad luck- didn’t quite turn out the way it was supposed to. 

Here is a list of the worst Soviet aircraft:

10. Tupolev Tu-22

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First flown in 1962, the Tu-22 was a dangerous hot rod with several design flaws. For instance, its VD 7M engines were unreliable causing a series of lethal accidents. 

It had probably the worst landing speed of any operational aircraft- it was forbidden for pilots to go under 180 miles an hour. Pre-flight preparations took at least three hours, and other common procedures required 24 hours of maintenance. 

9. Sukhoi Su-7

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The Su-7 was the USSR’s first purpose-designed jet-powered ground attacker to reach service. Unfortunately, the Soviets never took it to battle. 

The Su-7 was a very unstable aircraft at such slow speeds, and therefore very difficult to control. It was vulnerable to foreign object damage and without air-to-air missile capability, unable to protect itself other than its cannons.

8. Lavochkin LaGG-3

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This plane had a poor climb rate, sluggish top speed, poor built quality, and was even unable to pull itself from a dive or do a sharp turn.

7. Silvanski IS

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At first, the concept for this fighter is a low-wing monoplane with a 1,000 hp radial engine. However, during the initial tests of the prototype, there were already several issues that cropped up. For instance, initial tests of the undercarriage showed that the undercarriage didn’t fit the wing in the retractable position. 

Despite the modifications, upon landing, the test pilot damned the aircraft as unflyable and the Sylvanski Bureau ended up bankrupt. 

6. Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-23 MS

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Early MiG-23s turned out to be a huge disappointment. Its very basic weapons system was mismatched to the aircraft’s performance since it was designed for fast, long-range engagements. It also lacked vital equipment like radar warning receivers.

5. Antonov An-10

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Initial test flights of this plane showed stability issues leading to ungainly ventral fins. It also had an insufficient amount of windows causing nausea and those prone to air sickness. 

It also had a faulty anti-icing system- two planes were lost in its first winter leading to the deaths of 72 people. 

4. Tupolev Tu-144

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In late 1977, politicians decided that the Tu-144 begin passenger flights despite being so unreliable. Passengers were shocked by the cabin noise.

A CIA report later revealed that the cacophony of rushing engine noise and air conditioners meant conversations at the rear of the plane had to be shouted. 

3. Yakovlev Yak-38

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The first of this plane’s reputation problems was the lack of any more capable follow-on. It also had issues with combat capability. It had poor range and its air-to-air capability was virtually non-existent.  

2. Sukhoi Su-2 

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The Su-2 was thrown into an unfortunate meat grinder of Operation Barbarossa where it racked up tremendous losses. While faster than its predecessor, it had lower survivability, armament, and payload.

1. Kalinin K-7

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The K-7 was more or less a 7-engine flying wing with a fuselage pod and a couple of tail booms and no one seemed to be entirely sure whether it was an enormous bomber or a massive airliner. Its first flight revealed terrible instability and appalling vibration. 

On its 8th flight, the K-7 shook its right tail boom off at 350 feet killing 14 onboard and one on the ground.