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Tupolev Tu-28 / Tu-128 (Fiddler)

Long-Range Interceptor Aircraft

Tupolev Tu-28 / Tu-128 (Fiddler)

Long-Range Interceptor Aircraft


The Tupolev Tu-28 became the largest and heaviest dedicated interceptor ever adopted by any national air arm.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: Soviet Union
YEAR: 1964
MANUFACTURER(S): Tupolev - Soviet Union
OPERATORS: Soviet Union

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Tupolev Tu-28P (Fiddler-A) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 89.24 feet (27.2 meters)
WIDTH: 59.38 feet (18.1 meters)
HEIGHT: 22.97 feet (7 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 55,116 pounds (25,000 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 88,185 pounds (40,000 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x Lyulka AL-21F turbojet engines with afterburn developing 24,690 lb thrust.
SPEED (MAX): 1,150 miles-per-hour (1,850 kilometers-per-hour; 999 knots)
RANGE: 3,107 miles (5,000 kilometers; 2,700 nautical miles)
CEILING: 65,617 feet (20,000 meters; 12.43 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 25,000 feet-per-minute (7,620 meters-per-minute)

4 x AA-5 "Ash" air-to-air missiles
Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile

Series Model Variants
• Tu-102 - Developmental Aircraft; single example produced.
• Tu-28P "Fiddler-A" - Initial Limited Production Model.
• Tu-128 "Fiddler-B" - Definitive Production Model
• Tu-128UT - Trainer Variant; 4 conversions and 10 production examples.
• Tu-138 - Proposed; never produced
• Tu-148 - Proposed; never produced


Detailing the development and operational history of the Tupolev Tu-28 / Tu-128 (Fiddler) Long-Range Interceptor Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 6/5/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
With the vast territory encompassing the Soviet Union at its peak during the Cold War, its military required large, fast and powerful missile-laden interceptors when managing its airspace from the prying eyes of the West. As such, aircraft of various makes were adopted including the Tupolev Tu-28 (officially the Tu-128), codenamed "Fiddler" in NATO nomenclature and produced by the Soviet-era Tupolev concern largely associated with bomber aircraft since the days of World War 2.

The Tu-28 was developed as a high-speed, jet-powered interceptor featuring a crew of two in tandem and incorporating a swept-wing design profile as well as twin afterburning turbojet engines. The design exhibited a wingspan of 60 feet with a fuselage length of 89 feet and height of 23 feet. The long, streamlined fuselage was centrally-located in the traditional way, housing avionics, fuel and the two-seat cockpit. The main wing assemblies were low-mounted along the sides of the fuselage, emanating from the twin, half-moon intake ducts set to either fuselage side. There proved only a single vertical tail fin, swept rearwards for maximum aerodynamic efficiency while maintaining control at high speeds. A pair of low-mounted tailplanes were also featured on the empennage. Consistent with other Soviet aircraft designs of the period, the Tu-28 sported noticeable boundary layer "fencing" along each main wing unit for high speed flight. The cockpit was set well-forward in the design, though aft of a pointed nosecone assembly shrouding its onboard radar assembly. The undercarriage was wholly retractable and consisted of a pair of four-wheeled main legs under the wings and a two-wheeled nose leg under the cockpit.

Power for the Tu-28 was served through 2 x Lyulka AL-series afterburning turbojet engines of 16,370lbs thrust seated in a side-by-side arrangement within the aft section of the fuselage. This provided the airframe with a maximum speed of 1,150 miles per hour, a service ceiling nearing 51,200 feet and a range out to 1,600 miles. Rate-of-climb - an important quality for any interceptor - was an impressive 25,000 feet-per-minute. Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) was 96,340lbs from the empty listed weight of 54,000lbs.

Tupolev Tu-28 / Tu-128 (Fiddler) (Cont'd)

Long-Range Interceptor Aircraft

Tupolev Tu-28 / Tu-128 (Fiddler) (Cont'd)

Long-Range Interceptor Aircraft

As a aerial deterrent, the Tu-28 was appropriately armed with 4 x AA-5 "Ash" air-to-air missiles slung under the wings by way of four hardpoints. There was no internal cannon for close-in fighting as it was expected the aircraft would engage its target(s) from long-to-medium ranges. Later versions added a mix of radar-guided and infrared-homing missiles. Interestingly, the Tu-28 did not utilized external drop tanks for added endurance.

First flight of the Tu-28 occurred on March 18th, 1961 with manufacture beginning shortly thereafter. Official service introduction was in 1964 which allowed it to serve throughout the rest of the 1960s and into the 1970 in its given deterrence role. It was not officially recognized by Western observers until its debut at the 1961 Tushino display and several misconceptions of its onboard systems and capabilities soon followed. Production spanned into 1970 with 198 units delivered.

Its primary purpose was in intercepting the larger, slower, high-flying, nuclear-capable heavy bombers of the West in the event of an all-out war against the Soviet Union. The Tu-28 was expected to take-off and meet these aircraft within minutes and were appropriately designs for speed and good climb-to-altitude qualities. The 1960s-era aircraft managed an active service life until 1990 to which a new breed of Soviet aircraft were available offering better capabilities and weapons support. The line was largely given up for the Mikoyan MiG-31 "Foxhound" interceptor as well as the excellent Sukhoi Su-27 "Flanker" air defense/multi-role fighter.

Early versions of the aircraft were codenamed by NATO as "Fiddler-A" to which primary operational models earned the "Fiddler-B" name. Fiddler-B aircraft were recognized in the West as Tu-28P/Tu-128P while the Tu-128UT was the dedicated trainer variant which added a third crewmember in the nose assembly, replacing the radar installation. Four existing airframes were reportedly converted to serve in the training role while ten became new-build aircraft. The Tu-128M designation marked a 1979 modernization of existing stocks, given enhanced low-altitude capabilities with a new air-search radar system and new missiles. The T-28A, Tu-28-80, Tu-28-100, Tu-138 and Tu-148 were all related developments of the T-28/T-128 which came to naught.

The Tu-28/T-128 represented the largest and heaviest interceptor ever adopted by any air arm. The Tu-28 was only ever in service with the Soviet Union, never exported to supporting client nations or satellite states. It served with the Soviet Anti-Air Defense branch. All have since been retired.


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 1200mph
Lo: 600mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (1,150mph).

    Graph average of 900 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Tupolev Tu-28P (Fiddler-A)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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