After some early troubles, the Tupolev Tu-16 proved an extremely successful design in a wide variety of combat and support roles. Alexander Mladenov and Krasimir Grozev trace its career
By 1949, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had expanded his arsenal to include an atomic bomb and a heavy bomber type that could deliver it deep into enemy territory. However, both were copies of US-made originals: the RDS- 1 atomic bomb was a derivative of the Fat Man device dropped on Nagasaki, while the Tupolev Tu-4 bomber was a non-licensed Boeing B-29. It was clear to Stalin that nuclear parity with the United States had to be established as soon as possible and this would necessitate developing a much more capable heavy bomber for the country’s nuclear delivery role.