Tu 104 That Started The Era Of Jet Airliners In the USSR

Tu 104 That Started The Era Of Jet Airliners In the USSR

The world first jet airliner was de Havilland DH.106 Comet. It’s first regular flight was on May 2nd 1952. However after a number of crashes flights of this airliner were prohibited by Churchill until all the circumstances are clarified. So the USSR got a chance to become the only one country with its own airliner, which development started in that 1954.

Tu 104 That Started The Era Of Jet Airliners In the USSR

The first serial TU-104 took off on November 5th 1955. The airliner was developed within record period. It had some troubles – sometimes during the flight it was being thrown up following which it got out of control. Pilots called this effect “the Grab”. They were trying to find out the reason of “the Grab” but haven’t done it soon. So it was decided to go on with airliner operation and resume testing.

Tu 104 That Started The Era Of Jet Airliners In the USSR

Tu 104 That Started The Era Of Jet Airliners In the USSR

Khrushchev liked TU-104 so much, that he decided to make a visit to The Great Britain in 1956 by exactly this airliner. But because of the problems mentioned above it was very hard to dissuade him from doing this. Soviet delegation went to Great Britain by cruiser. But to prove Soviet technological advantage (British Comet didn’t fly still), Khrushchev ordered to bring TU-104 to London.

Tu 104 That Started The Era Of Jet Airliners In the USSR

Tu 104 That Started The Era Of Jet Airliners In the USSR

According to British press reviews, Soviet airliner’s arrival made such an effect, as if UFO landed in GB. Next day another one example of TU-104 (but with different number) arrived in London. In British newspapers appeared articles saying that it was the same airliner, but “Russian priests” “repainted the numbers on the experimental model”. “Russian priests” – are Russian pilots dressed in black clothes. Chief constructor A.N. Tupolev was offended and at first he ordered to give pilots money so they could buy something more fashioned, but not black and second – he ordered to send next day (March 25th 1956) three examples of TU-104 simultaneously. That was done so!

It was triumph, because not a single country had operating jet airliners for that moment.

Tu 104 That Started The Era Of Jet Airliners In the USSR

Tu 104 That Started The Era Of Jet Airliners In the USSR

But “the Grab” problem wasn’t solved. TU-104 got out of control and crashed near Chita on August 15th 1958. 64 people died. Tupolev was denying the presence of construction defects. He supposed that pilots were aviating wrong. On 17th October 1958 TU-104 aviated by Garold Kuznetsov went off the echelon upside, ascended additional 2 km, lost the speed, fell on wing and got into a spin.

Tu 104 That Started The Era Of Jet Airliners In the USSR

The fall lasted for 2 minutes and during all that time Garold Kuznetsov keeping self-control was broadcasting flight information. The Airliner crashed in Chuvashiya, 73 people died. Thanks to information given by Kuznetsov (black boxes didn’t exist at that time) the reason of  “the Grab”, which couldn’t be found for three years, was found.

Tu 104 That Started The Era Of Jet Airliners In the USSR

Tu 104 That Started The Era Of Jet Airliners In the USSR

Tupolev was wrong. The reasons of the crash were identified as construction defects, which were eliminated. Crashes of TU-104 used to happen later, but due to other reasons.

13 thoughts on “Tu 104 That Started The Era Of Jet Airliners In the USSR”

  1. That is very option for the Jet Air ways Operation in the USSR.
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20111126005527AAB7qRy

  2. So, the thing would go into an uncommanded climb (the grab), then stall and spin. Something says it was heavy on the controls and unresponsive at slower air speeds. Bad airflow over the tail more than likely and due to jet exhaust turbulence

    • Exactly, it may have been the first jetliner to usher in the era of jet travel in the USSR but it’s nothing to be proud of. It’s rather alarming that they pressed ahead with it in passenger revenue service despite it’s unusual flight characteristics.

      Side fact: One of the hull losses was actually due to being shot down with an anti aircraft missile in a Soviet training exercise gone awry. (June 30, 1962) All 84 aboard where killed. The Soviets initially covered the incident up.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeroflot_Flight_SSSR-42370

  3. America entered the age of the jet transport on July 15, 1954, when the Boeing 707 prototype, the model 367-80, made its maiden flight from Renton Field, south of Seattle.~~~”The first serial TU-104 took off on November 5th 1955.” The 707 was inspired by the Boeing B-47 all- jet bomber.

    • Yes but the first regular commercial flight wasn’t until 26OCT58. The prototype became a military aircraft, the KC135. The 707 first flight was 20DEC57.

  4. I flew on one of these from Moscow to Leningrad in July, 1969. It was the practice to tow the plane from the terminal to the head of the runway to save fuel.

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