We have already told you about the museum of civil aviation in Ulyanovsk. Let us discuss some of its exhibits in detail.
The Tupolev Tu-104 (NATO reporting name: Camel) was a twin-engined medium-range turbojet-powered Soviet airliner and the world’s first successful jet airliner. Although it was the fourth jet airliner to fly, the Tu-104 was the second to enter regular service with Aeroflot and the first to provide a sustained and successful service. The Tu-104 was the sole jetliner operating in the world between 1956 and 1958.
In 1962 a Tu-104 was brought down by an area defence missile.
Rules of safety were hardly followed that time. Nobody thought how cervical areas of passengers should be protected. However, sitting here is rather comfortable.
The first Tu-104 built at the aviation plant in Ukraine got off the ground in 1955. In 1956 the USSR produced a great impression on the western world when the plane arrived to London during the visit of First Secretary at the Central Committee plenum Nikita Khrushchev.
Release of Tu-104 was stopped in 5 years after the launch of the serial production. The aircraft was used in passenger flights up to 1979. Military men exploited the machine till 1981 following an accident when the overloaded plane hit the ground. 52 admirals and generals were killed that time.
The Tu-104 was too heavy and instable in flight. It was difficult to handle it. Air pickup was especially dangerous as then the aircraft flew high immediately and changed for the vertical diving soon. The recommended speed of landing (225-250 km/an hour) was never followed and the aircraft was landed at 270-330 km an hour instead. There were no problems with landing of loaded planes unlike the empty ones.
The Tu-104 was powered by two Mikulin AM-3 turbojets placed at the wing/fuselage junction. The crew consisted of 5 people: two pilots, a navigator, 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.
The Tupolev Tu-114 (NATO reporting name Cleat) is a turboprop-powered long-range airliner designed by the Tupolev design bureau and built in the USSR from May 1955. The aircraft was the largest and fastest passenger plane at that time and also had the longest range (10,900 km (6,800 mi)). It continues to hold the official title of fastest propeller-driven aircraft since 1960. 32 world aviation records were set while using the plane. The achievements included the following moments: the greatest and fastest turbo propelled aircraft in the world, the only turbo propelled aircraft with an arrow-type wing, a turbo propelled passenger plane with most powerful propeller turbines. The only accident with this plane took place in 1966 when it was decided to launch the flight in bad weather conditions.
The Aero L-29 Delfín is a military jet trainer aircraft that became the standard jet trainer for the air forces of Warsaw Pact nations in the 1960s. It was Czechoslovakia’s first locally designed and built jet aircraft.
The Ilyushin Il-28 is a jet bomber aircraft of the immediate postwar period that was originally manufactured for the Soviet Air Force. It was the USSR’s first such aircraft to enter large-scale production. It was also licence-built in China as the Harbin H-5. Total production in the USSR was 6,316 aircraft, and over 319 H-5s were built. Only 187 examples of the HJ-5 training variant were manufactured. In the 1990s hundreds remained in service with various air forces over 40 years after the Il-28 first appeared.
The Tupolev Tu-144 (NATO name: “Charger’”) was a Soviet supersonic transport aircraft (SST) and remains one of only two SSTs to enter commercial service, the other being the Concorde. The design, publicly unveiled in January 1962, was constructed under the direction of the Soviet Tupolev design bureau, headed by Alexei Tupolev.
The prototype first flew on 31 December 1968 near Moscow, two months before the first flight of the Concorde. The Tu-144 first broke the sound barrier on 5 June 1969, and on 15 July 1969 and became the first commercial transport to exceed Mach 2. The Tu-144 suffered a crash in 1973 at the Paris Air Show, delaying its development. The aircraft was introduced into passenger service on 1 November 1977. In May 1978, another Tu-144 (an improved version, named Tu-144D) crashed in a test flight while being delivered, and the passenger fleet was permanently grounded after only 55 scheduled flights. The aircraft remained in use as a cargo plane until 1983, by which point a total of 102 commercial flights had been completed. The Tu-144 was later used by the Soviet space programme to train pilots of the Buran spacecraft, and by NASA for supersonic research.
The Yakovlev Yak-40 (NATO reporting name: Codling) is a small, three-engined airliner that is often called the first regional jet transport aircraft. It was introduced in September 1968 with Aeroflot. By January 1 2008 about 92 planes were lost and 841 people were dead.
The Ilyushin Il-14 (NATO reporting name “Crate”) was a Soviet twin-engine commercial and military personnel and cargo transport aircraft that first flew in 1950, and entered service in 1954. Il-14 was also manufactured in East Germany by VVB Flugzeugbau, in Czechoslovakia as the Avia 14, and in China under the Chinese designation Y-6. It had a perfect radionavigational equipment.
The Ilyushin Il-86 (NATO reporting name: Camber) is a medium-range wide-body jet airliner. It was the USSR’s first wide-body and the world’s second four-engined wide-body. Designed and tested by the Ilyushin design bureau in the 1970s, it was certified by the Soviet aircraft industry, manufactured and marketed by the USSR. It is not used today due to fuel inefficiency and too noisy engines. 36 planes are stored in the museums.
The Antonov An-2 is a single-engine biplane utility/agricultural aircraft designed in the USSR in 1946. By 2011 388 planes were lost.
The Yakovlev Yak-42 is a 100/120-seat three-engined mid-range passenger jet. It was designed as a replacement for several obsolete Aeroflot jets as a mid-range passenger jet. It was also the first airliner produced in the Soviet Union to be powered by modern high-bypass turbofan engines. Production of the model was stopped in 1982 after an accident. Serial production of the new and improved modification was launched in 1988. The aircraft is still widely used today.
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 (NATO reporting name: Foxbat) is a supersonic interceptor and reconnaissance aircraft that was among the fastest military aircraft to enter service. Designed by the Soviet Union’s Mikoyan-Gurevich bureau the first prototype flew in 1964 with entry into service in 1970. It has a top speed of Mach 2.83+ (as high as Mach 3.2, but at risk of significant damage to the engines), and features a powerful radar and four air-to-air missiles.
Let us get the last glimpse of the beautiful machine. The first flight of the Tu-144 was made in 1975 when it participated in transfer of mail and parcels. The passenger traffic was launched in 1977. Pilots of Aeroflot were always subordinate to Tupolev pilots.