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Tupolev 1:144 TU-104 'Camel'

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Tupolev 1:144 TU-104 'Camel'

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Tupolev 1:144 TU-104 'Camel'

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Design and development

 

At the beginning of the 1950s, the Soviet Union's Aeroflot airline needed a modern airliner with better capacity and performance than the piston-engined aircraft then in operation. The design request was filled by the Tupolev OKB, which based their new airliner on its Tu-16 'Badger' strategic bomber. The wings, engines, and tail surfaces of the Tu-16 were retained in the airliner, but the new design adopted a wider, pressurised fuselage designed to accommodate 50 passengers. The prototype (SSSR-L5400) first flew on June 17, 1955 with Yu.L. Alasheyev at the controls at Kharkov plant in Ukraine. It was fitted with drag chutes to shorten the landing distance by up to 400 metres (1,300 ft.), since at the time, not many aerodromes had sufficiently long runways.

The arrival of the Tu-104 in London during a 1956 state visit by Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev totally surprised Western observers who, at the time, thought the Soviets lacked the advanced technology required to build a commercial airliner with such performance.[1] By the time production ceased in 1960, about 200 had been built.

The Tu-104 was powered by two Mikulin AM-3 turbojets placed at the wing/fuselage junction (remotely resembling the solution used on the de Havilland Comet). The crew consisted of 5 people: two pilots, a navigator (placed in the glazed "bomber" nose), a flight engineer and a radio operator (the radio operator was later eliminated). The airplane raised great curiosity by its lavish "Victorian" interior – called so by some Western-hemisphere observers – due to the materials used: mahogany, copper and lace.

Tu-104 pilots were trained on the Il-28 bomber, followed by mail flights on an unarmed Tu-16 bomber painted in Aeroflot colours, between Moscow and Sverdlovsk. Pilots with previous Tu-16 experience transitioned into the Tu-104 with relative ease. The Tu-104 was considered tricky to fly, as it was heavy on controls and quite fast on finals, at low speeds it would display a tendency to stall, a feature common with highly-swept wings. Experience with the Tu-104 led the Tupolev Design Bureau to develop the world's first turbofan series-built airliner Tupolev Tu-124, designed for local markets, and subsequently the more commercially successful Tu-134

 

Operational history

 

On September 15, 1956, the Tu-104 began revenue service on Aeroflot's Moscow-Omsk-Irkutsk route, replacing the piston-engined Ilyushin Il-14. The flight time was reduced from 13 hours and 50 minutes to 7 hours and 40 minutes, and the new jet dramatically increased the level of passenger comfort.[1] By 1957, Aeroflot had placed the Tu-104 in service on routes from Vnukovo Airport in Moscow to London, Budapest, Copenhagen, Beijing, Brussels, Ottawa, Delhi, and Prague.

In 1957, ČSA Czechoslovak Airlines became the only export customer for the Tu-104, placing the aircraft on routes to Moscow, Paris and Brussels. ČSA bought six Tu-104As (four new and two used examples) configured for 81 passengers. Three of these aircraft were subsequently written off (one due to a refuelling incident in India and another to a pilot error without fatalities).

In 1959, the plane was leased to Sir Henry Lunn Ltd. (Lunn Poly) of London which used the plane for 12 holidays to Russia and boasted of a 4.5 hours flight.

The Tu-104 continued to be used by Aeroflot throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Some 16 aircraft were lost in crashes (some due to hijackings/bombings). The safety record is comparable to other early jet airliners of its day, but was poor compared to more modern airliners. Aeroflot retired the Tu-104 from civil service in March 1979 following a fatal accident at Moscow. Following this, several aircraft were transferred to the Soviet military, which used them as staff transports and to train cosmonauts in zero gravity. However, after a Tu-104 crash in February 1981 killed 52 people (17 of whom were senior army and naval staff), the type was permanently removed from service. The last flight of the Tu-104 was a ferry flight to Ulyanovsk Aircraft Museum in 1986.

Additional Information

Show on Homepage Diecast
Diecast Toy Manufacturer Dragon Wings
Manufacturer No
Country Soviet Union
Scale 1:144
Type Jet Aircraft
Series No
Color Multi-Colored