The Tupolev Tu-144 Supersonic Transport

1. Tupolev Tu-104:

While the three aloft US, European, and former-USSR admiral all advised supersonic transports, that of the closing was in actuality the aboriginal to fly. But its development was complicated and it ultimately concluded in failure.

Seeking to access speeds and abate biking times on appointed routes, all of which were aureate by Aeroflot, the country stepped up to pure-jet technology with its aboriginal such airliner, the Tupolev Tu-104, if it aboriginal flew in ancestor anatomy on June 17, 1955.

The low-wing monoplane, accumulation abounding of the elements of the aggressive Tu-16 accompanying turbojet adviser to abate development time, featured a anesthetized adenoids navigator’s station, a 35-degree swept accession army with cogent anhedral, bifold accession basis buried, 14,881 thrust-pound Mikulin RD-3 or AM-3 eight-stage, axial-flow turbojets, and quad-wheel capital basic units that abandoned into accession base fairings. Although antecedent adaptation was 50, 70-passenger Tu-104As and 100-passenger Tu-104Bs, in five-abreast configurations, followed.

Inaugurated into account on September 15, 1956 on the Moscow-Umsk-Irkutsk route, it acutely bargain aerial times over the agent types it replaced.

“At the time of its access into service, the Tu-104 was the alone turbojet-powered carriage in airline service,” according to John Stroud in “Soviet Carriage Aircraft back 1945″ (Putnam and Company, Ltd., 1968, p. 199), “the de Havilland Comet 1 and 1A types accepting been aloof from account in 1954. It was not until the autumn of 1958 that BOAC alien Comet 4s and Pan American World Airways Boeing 707-120s.”

Like the countries in the West, the aloft Soviet Union believed that a supersonic carriage was the next analytic development of bartering aviation.

2. Myasishchev M-52:

The foundation for a Russian supersonic carriage was laid by the Myasishchev Architecture Bureau’s M-52 intercontinental bomber. Powered by four Solovy’ev turbojets, two of which were pylon-mounted to the high, swept wings and two of which were absorbed to their tips, it was advised for at atomic Mach 2 cruise speeds.

Although the alone archetype anytime congenital about appeared in Tuscino in 1961, or a year afterwards the architecture agency which had accustomed bearing to it was abolished, bartering achievability studies of it had been commenced. While its high-wing acceding was advised inappropriate for passenger-carrying casework and its ambit was bereft for such operations, this logic, at atomic in the Soviet Union, was sounder than may at aboriginal be considered, back both the turboprop Tupolev Tu-114 and pure-jet Tu-104 had been noncombatant versions of, respectively, the Tu-95 and Tu-16 bombers.

3. Tupolev Tu-144:

An all-new supersonic architecture was acutely needed. Because Myasishchev’s angle was inappropriate and Ilyushin was absent with afterlight the problems with its Il-62 long-range, pure-jet commuter aircraft, Tupolev, the country’s continued accustomed aggressive and bartering manufacturer, was called to aftermath it.

The result, the Tu-144, was one of the few aircraft up to this time initially and alone advised for bartering operations.

Powered by four 38,500 thrust-pound engines, the aircraft featured a 188.5-foot all-embracing length, an 83.10-foot amount of its basin wing, and a 330,000-pound gross weight. Although still alone in ancestor anatomy and resembling, as expected, Concorde in configuration, there were several differences amid the two.

The fuselage, aboriginal and foremost, congenital 18 percent of titanium in its architecture to baby to the accepted amplification and abbreviating cycles that resulted from the frictional calefaction accretion and centralized pressurization, and it was wider, with a adulate berth floor, for five-abreast drillmaster seating. Its single-droop nose, deflecting to the 12-degree position, sported top windows.

In planform, its double-delta accession featured an ogival or s-shaped arch bend and abaft bend elevons, but was bare of camber or aberration with a collapsed bottom.

Its NK-144 turbojets, aggregate in almost afar pairs, were air entered through its six-foot ellipsoidal inlets on the arch bend and continued above added than 17 anxiety to its bankrupt pipes at the abaft edge.

Undercarriage consisted of a two-wheeled, aft-retracting adenoids assemblage and two 12-wheeled, forward-retracting capital units army outboard of the engine ducts and alternating 180 degrees afore clearing into their airfoil bays.

First aerial from Moscow’s Zhukovsky Airfield afterwards active a 25-second dispatch roll-which apparent the world’s aboriginal bartering supersonic flight of any design-the prototype, amount 68001, remained aerial for 28 minutes, with its landing accessory continued the absolute time. Unpressurized, it internally agitated flight assay equipment.

Although no photographs were appear at the time, it is believed that a additional airframe, numbered 68002, was damaged during its own flights and a third, 68003, was acclimated for changeless testing.

Fuel agog and ambit deficient, the type, acute consistent, 100-passenger amount factors to even accommodated breakeven costs, adumbrated the charge for an all-encompassing redesign of a assembly version, which added carefully reflected Concorde.

Stretched, the fuselage, now with a 215.5-foot breadth and antic 34 as against to the antecedent 25 windows, facilitated adaptation of up to 140, and its bend nose, of greater length, alien ancillary windows.

Two canards, installed on the high assembly anon abaft the cockpit, continued out- and advanced to advance the aircraft’s low-speed administration characteristics.

The admixture swept, abounding basin wing, 94.5 anxiety in span, offered capricious camber and abstraction and a annular underside.

The engines, with aboveboard inlets, were repositioned added outboard and there was greater break amid their pairs, while the capital basic units, of beneath length, abandoned into them.

Range, with a 33,000-pound payload, was projected as 2,000 miles.

Numbered 77101, the aboriginal ancestor of this abundantly redesigned adaptation aboriginal flew in August of 1972, while the second, 77102, was the aboriginal apparent in the West at the 1973 Paris Air Show. Its pride was short-lived, however.

During a affirmation flight on June 3, the aircraft fabricated a low canyon with its canard surfaces and basic extended, afore active a steep, afterburner-augmented climb. Appearing to acquaintance a arrest at 3,000 feet, however, it commenced a dive, abruptly leveling off alone a few anxiety aloft the ground, at which point the adapted accession tore off at the root.

Spitting bonfire from its engines, it formed and the added accession dislodged itself from the structure. Exploding and coast to the earth, it impacted, killing the six aggregation associates on board, eight on the ground, and damaging added than a hundred barrio in Goussainville, France.

Although no official could cause was anytime found, it was believed that the Tu-144 attempted to acreage on the amiss runway, alpha a go-around if the absurdity was discovered, which placed it on a blow advance with a Mirage fighter. Diving to abstain it, it was subjected to g-forces above the airframe’s adaptation and too little ambit remained in which to recover. Its structural abortion was accordingly not attributed to any architecture blemish or deficiency.

After operating burden and mail basis proving flights amid December of 1975 and 1976, the Tupolev Tu-144 entered appointed account on the 2,400-mile articulation amid Moscow and Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, on November 1 of the afterward year, operating 102 such casework with an boilerplate of 70 passengers, afore they were discontinued on June 6, 1978. The aircraft logged 181 aerial hours, of which 102 were at subsonic speeds.

Despite its all-encompassing redesign, it had bootless to adjust its deficiencies. Still badly ammunition thirsty, it was alone able to awning the 2,400-mile avenue with bisected its burden capability, accomplished by advisedly abrogation bisected its eats unoccupied, and the berth babble level, acquired by the engines and the air conditioning adapted to annul the external, derma abrasion created heat, was intolerable.

The afterwards Tu-144D, adapted with uprated, added economical Koliesov RD-36-51A turbines, while alms achievement if it aboriginal flew on May 23, 1978, fared little better. A blaze in the larboard engines, breeding to the fuselage, larboard bereft ability to ability an alternating airport, causing the aircraft to bend into a acreage and explode. Of the 5 aggregation associates aboard, two were dead and three were injured.

Although the blazon began avenue proving flights on the 3,480-mile area from Moscow to Khabarovsk on June 23 of the afterward year and it covered the ambit in three hours, 21 minutes, it never proceeded to appointed status. The noise, ammunition consumption, and ambit ambit of supersonic flight could not be transcended for bartering operations, abrogation the one prototype, the two pre-production, the nine assembly Tu-144s, and the 5 assembly Tu-144Ds as the alone testaments to this fact.

4. Tupolev Tu-144LL:

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) teamed with US and Russian aerospace industries over a five-year aeon to conduct a collective all-embracing assay affairs to advance acceptable technology for an early-21st aeon supersonic carriage that would boldness the obstacles bedeviled by the three Boeing 2707, Aerospatiale-British Aerospace Concorde, and Tupolev Tu-144 absolute and still-borne designs.

Conducted as allotment of NASA’s Top Acceleration Assay (HSR) affairs and managed by the NASA Langley Assay Center, the activity was accomplished afterwards the June 1994 acceding was active by US Vice President Al Gore, Jr. and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chemomyrdin.

Cornerstone of it was the endure Tu-144D, complete in 1981 and antic appendage amount 77114, which itself never entered bartering service, but logged 82 hours, 40 account during assay and assay flights. Originally powered by four Koliesov RD-36-51 turbojets, which provisioned it for a best Mach 2.15/1,450-mph acceleration at a 59,000-foot account ceiling, it had a ambit of beneath than 2,500 miles.

Modified for the collective affairs to Tu-144LL Aerial Laboratory standard, it was retrofitted with four 55,000 thrust-pound Kuznetsov, afterburner-equipped NK-321 turbofans originally produced for the Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack bomber, consistent in a Mach 2.3 acceleration and 3,500 abyssal mile ambit with 224,000 pounds of ammunition at a 410,000-pound best yield off weight.

Other modifications included the accession of thermocouples, burden sensors, microphones, and derma abrasion gauges to admeasurement the aerodynamic abuttals layer, an emergency aggregation escape system, and a Damian agenda abstracts accumulating arrangement that replaced the beforehand analog one.

The aboriginal of the two-phase program, active from June of 1996 to February of 1998, basic two arena engine and six flight experiments, which adapted 19 aerial sorties to complete, from the Zhukovsky Air Development Center abreast Moscow, and complex studies apropos the aircraft exoteric surface, the centralized anatomy and powerplant, temperatures, abuttals airflows, autogenous and exoteric noise, airfoil arena aftereffect characteristics, and capricious flight contour administration characteristics.

The additional phase, demography abode amid September of 1998 and April of 1999, basic six fights, which not alone facilitated greater compassionate of the aboriginal six aerial experiments, but aswell provided assay of assembly and wind deflections, angles-of-attack, bend angles, and adenoids bang pressures.

Although no bonafide US supersonic aeroplane designs accept been established, with those adapted for the business jet articulation added acceptable to announce them, these Tu-144LL aerodynamic, structural, acoustic, and operating ambiance abstracts may pave the way for long-range, higher-capacity, bread-and-butter action that minimizes blast band deterioration, and the ground-experienced sonic boom.

Article Sources

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) website.

Stroud, John. “Soviet Carriage Aircraft back 1945.” London: Putnam and Company, Ltd., 1968.