Tag Archives: Tupolev OKB

26 December 1975

An Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-144S supersonic transport, CCCP-77106, loading cargo at Demodovo before its third commercial flight, 1976. (© Valeriy A. Vladimirov)
An Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-144S supersonic transport, CCCP-77106, loading cargo at Demodovo before its third commercial flight, 1976. (© Valeriy A. Vladimirov)

26 December 1975: The Tupolev Tu-144S, 004-1, operated by Aeroflot (OAO Aeroflot-Rossiyskiye avialinii) under civil registration CCCP-77106, was the first supersonic transport to enter commercial service when it flew a regularly-scheduled 2,010 mile (3,240 kilometer) route from Moscow Domodedovo Airport to Almaty, Kazakhstan, carrying mail and freight.

004-1 was the first production Tu-144S delivered to Aeroflot. A prototype and a pre-production Tu-144S had been built first. There were a total of 16 Tu-144s completed, with nine production Tu-144S and five Tu-144D models.

Passengers board Aeroflot's Tu-144S CCCP-77106, 1976. (© Valeriy A. Vladimirov)
Passengers board Aeroflot’s Tu-144S CCCP-77106, 1976. (© Valeriy A. Vladimirov)

The Tu-144S was built by Tupolev OKB at the Voronezh Aviation Plant (VASO), Pridacha Airport, Voronezh. It is a large delta-winged aircraft with a “droop” nose for improved low speed cockpit visibility and retractable canards mounted high on the fuselage behind the cockpit. It was flown by a flight crew of three and was designed to carry up to 120 passengers.

77106 is 65.50 meters (215 feet, 6.6 inches) long, with a wingspan of 28.00 meters (91 feet, 10.4 inches). The tip of the vertical fin was 11.45 meters (37 feet, 6.8 inches) high. zThe 144S has a total wing are of 503 square meters (5,414 square feet). Its empty weight is 91,800 kilograms (202,384 pounds) and the maximum takeoff weight is 195,000 kilograms (429,901 pounds). (A number of Tu-144S airliners had extended wing tips, increasing the span to 28.80 meters (94 feet, 5.9 inches) and the wing area to 507 square meters (5,457 square feet).

The Tu-144S was powered by four Kuznetsov NK-144A engines. The NK-144 is a two-spool axial-flow turbofan engine with afterburner. It uses a 2-stage fan section, 14 stage compressor section (11 high- and 3 low-pressure stages), and a 3-stage turbine (1 high- and 2 low-pressure stages). It is rated at 147.0 kilonewtons (33,047 pounds of thrust) for supersonic cruise, and 178.0 kilonewtons (40,016 pounds of thrust) with afterburner for takeoff. The NK-144A is 5.200 meters (17 feet, 0.7 inches) long, 1.500 meters (4 feet, 11.1 inches) in diameter and weighs 2,827 kilograms (6,233 pounds).

The 144S has a cruise speed of Mach 2.07 (2,200 kilometers per hour/1,367 miles per hour) with a maximum speed of Mach 2.35 (2,500 kilometers per hour/1,553 miles per hour). The service ceiling is approximately 20,000 meters (65,617 feet). Its practical range is 3,080 kilometers (1,914 miles).

In actual commercial service, the Tu-144 was extremely unreliable. It was withdrawn from service after a total of just 102 commercial flights, including 55 passenger flights.

004-1 made its first flight 4 March 1975 at Voronezh. On 29 February 1980, it made its 320th and final flight when it was flown to the Central Air Force Museum of Russia at Monino, Russia. The airframe has a total flight time of 582 hours, 36 minutes.

Tupolev Tu-144S 004-1, CCCP-77106, at the Central Aviation Museum Monino. (© Danner Gyde Poulsen)
Tupolev Tu-144S 004-1, CCCP-77106, at the Central Aviation Museum Monino. (© Danner Gyde Poulsen)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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3 June 1973

Tupolev Tu-144S CCCP-77102 at the Paris Air Show. © Aris Pappas

3 June 1973: While maneuvering at low altitude at the Paris Air Show, the first production Tupolev Tu-144S, CCCP-77102, Aeroflot’s new Mach 2+ supersonic airliner, broke apart in midair and crashed into a residential area. All six crew members and eight people on the ground died. Another 25 were injured.

The Tu-144 was built by Tupolev OKB at the Voronezh Aviation Plant (VASO), Pridacha Airport, Voronezh. It was a large delta-winged aircraft with a “droop” nose for improved low speed cockpit visibility and retractable canards mounted high on the fuselage behind the cockpit. It was flown by a crew of 3 and was designed to carry up to 140 passengers.

The airliner was 65.50 meters (214.895 feet) long, with a wingspan of 28.80 meters (94.488 feet). The tip of the vertical fin was 10.50 meters (34.449 feet) high. Empty weight was 85,000 kilograms (187,393 pounds) and the maximum takeoff weight was 180,000 kilograms (396,832 pounds).

The Tu-144S was powered by four Kuznetsov NK-144F afterburning turbofan engines, producing 45,000 pounds of thrust, each.

The airliner’s cruise speed was Mach 1.88 (2,000 kilometers per hour/1,243 miles per hour) with a maximum speed of Mach 2.15 (2,285 kilometers per hour/1,420 miles per hour). The service ceiling was 20,000 meters (65,617 feet).

The cause of the accident is not known, other than the obvious structural failure, but there is speculation that the Tu-144 was trying to avoid another airplane. You Tube has several video clips of the accident. This one, beginning at 1:10, has the best visuals of the inflight break up:

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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24 March 1960

The prototype Tupolev Tu-114, CCCP-L5611, a long-range turboprop airliner, on display at the Monino Central Air Force Museum, Moscow. (Aldo Bidini)
Colonel Ivan Moiseevich Sukhomlin, Honored Test Pilot of the Soviet Union

24 March 1960: Over a 1,000-kilometer course at Sternberg Point Observatory,¹ a Tupolev Tu-114 Rossiya four-engine turboprop airliner, serial number 88402, registered CCCP-76459, set eight Fédération Aéronautique Internationale flight records, including a world speed record of 871.38 kilometers per hour (541.45 miles per hour), while carrying a load of 25,000 kilograms (55,115.6 pounds).²

The flight crew for these records were Tupolev Design Bureau senior test pilot Ivan Moiseevich Sukhomlin, Pilot, and Boris Mikhailovich Timoshok, Co-Pilot, and four others.

This is the fastest speed record ever established for any propeller-driven airplane, a record that has stood for 58 years.

Tupolev Tu-114 CCCP-76459, set eight world records, 24 March 1960. (Unattributed)

The record-setting Tu-114 was the second production airliner.

Colonel Alexei Petrovich Yakimov, Honored Test Pilot of the Soviet Union.

The Tupolev Tu-114 Rossiya was a four-engine, turboprop-powered airliner developed from the Tu-95 Bear nuclear-capable long-range heavy bomber. It had a flight crew of five and could be configured to carry from 120 to 220 passengers. The airliner made its first flight 15 November 1957 under the command of Colonel Alexei Petrovich Yakimov,  and began regular service with Aeroflot 24 April 1961.

The Tu-114 is 54.10 meters (177 feet, 6 inches) long, with a wingspan of 51.10 meters (167 feet, 8 inches) and overall height of 15.50 meters (50 feet, 10 inches). The wings are swept to a 35° angle and have significant anhedral. The airliner’s empty weight is 91,000 kilograms (200,621 pounds) and maximum takeoff weight is 171,000 kilograms (376,990 pounds).

The Tu-114 was powered by four Kuznetsov NK-12MV turboprop engines, each driving two counter-rotating four-bladed propellers. The NK-12 was rated at 14,795 shaft horsepower (10.89 megawwatts). The NK-12 is a single-shaft axial-flow turbpprop engine with a 14-stage compressor section and 5-stage turbine. The engine is 19 feet, 8.2 inches (6.000 meters) long, 3 feet, 11.3 inches (1.151 meters) in diameter, and weighs 5,181 pounds (2,350 kilograms).

The Tu-114 had a cruise speed of 770 kilometers per hour (478 miles per hour) at 9,000 meters (29,528 feet) (0.70 Mach), and a maximum speed of 870 kilometers per hour (541 miles per hour) at 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) (0.78 Mach).

A Tupolev Tu-114 at Paris-Le Bourget after a flight from Budapest, Hungary, 5 June 1959. (Magyar Hírek folyóirat/Wikipedia)

The Tupolev Tu-114 was produced from 1958 to 1963, with 32 built. They were in service until 1976.

CCCP-76459, the world-record-setting airliner, was displayed at Novogorod Airport, Veliky Novogorod, Russia, in 1977. It was destroyed by fire in 1990.

The world-record-setting Tupolev Tu-114, CCCP-76459 (s/n 88401), was destroyed by fire at Novogorod in 1990. (Detlev Grass via Авиация, понятная всем )

An interesting 10-minute 1959 color film about the prototype Tu-114 Rossiya can be viewed on YouTube:

¹ The Sternberg Point Observatory, also known as the Sternberg Astronomical Institute (Государственный астрономический институт имени Штернберга), is located in Moscow, Russia.

Sternberg Astronomical Institute

² FAI Record File Number 8125, World Record for Speed Over a Closed Circuit of 1000 Kilometers Without Payload: 871.38 kilometers per hour (541.45 miles per hour)

FAI Record File Number 8126, World Record for Speed Over a Closed Circuit of 1000 Kilometers With a 1000 Kilogram Payload: 871.38 kilometers per hour (541.45 miles per hour)

FAI Record File Number 8127, World Record for Speed Over a Closed Circuit of 1000 Kilometers With a 2000 Kilogram Payload: 871.38 kilometers per hour (541.45 miles per hour)

FAI Record File Number 8128, World Record for Speed Over a Closed Circuit of 1000 Kilometers With a 5000 Kilogram Payload: 871.38 kilometers per hour (541.45 miles per hour)

FAI Record File Number 8129, World Record for Speed Over a Closed Circuit of 1000 Kilometers With a 10000 Kilogram Payload: 871.38 kilometers per hour (541.45 miles per hour)

FAI Record File Number 8130, World Record for Speed Over a Closed Circuit of 1000 Kilometers With a 15000 Kilogram Payload: 871.38 kilometers per hour (541.45 miles per hour)

FAI Record File Number 8131, World Record for Speed Over a Closed Circuit of 1000 Kilometers With a 20000 Kilogram Payload: 871.38 kilometers per hour (541.45 miles per hour)

FAI Record File Number 8880, World Record for Speed Over a Closed Circuit of 1000 Kilometers With a 25000 Kilogram Payload: 871.38 kilometers per hour (541.45 miles per hour)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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