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.