The first Soviet jet airliner
60 years ago, in June 1955, the Tu-104 jet airliner made its first flight. Its take-off and the subsequent launch in 1956 on regular air lines meant the beginning of a new era of civil air transport — reactive.
The first domestic jet passenger plane Tu-104 was built and designed according to the “proprietary” methodology of the OK Tupolev Design Bureau: the Tu-16 bomber, its wings, tail assembly, engines, landing gear, radar, pilot and navigation equipment were used as the basis cabins. By the beginning of the design, the Tu-104 was already in mass production and was reliably tested in operation. New was only sealed fuselage.
Without exception, the multi-passenger passenger planes of A.N. Tupolev were built in this way. It is enough to recall the widely known ANT-9 (PS-9) and ANT-14 (PS-14), created from the famous ANT-4 (TB-1) and ANT-6 (TB-3). ANT-20 "Maxim Gorky" was the development of the six-engine bomber ANT-16 (TB-4) who did not go into the series with the world's largest bomb bay, and the SB-40 high-speed bomber (ANT-35) turned into a passenger ANT-35 (PS-4) passenger bomber (PS-29) turned into a passenger ANT-70 (PS-72) PT-XNUMX (PN-XNUMX) passenger bomber turned into a passenger ANT-XNUMX (PS-XNUMX) high-speed bomber (ANT-XNUMX) turned into a passenger ANT-XNUMX (PS-XNUMX) passenger bomber (PS-XNUMX) became the passenger ANT-XNUMX (PS-XNUMX). Even on the basis of the Tu-XNUMX bomber, an analogue of the B-XNUMX, the Tu-XNUMX passenger car was created with a pressurized cabin on the human XNUMX.
True to his principle when creating each new machine, focus on solving the main problem, A.N. Tupolev, when developing the Tu-104, chose the safety and comfort of passengers as the main one. The main difficulty was to ensure comfortable conditions in the plane for flying at high speeds and in thin air at high altitude. For the new car designed the fuselage of increased diameter (3,5 m). His development and equipment in the passenger cabin, were one of the main tasks in the project of the Tu-104.
Some experience was gained during the construction of the Tu-70, which never went into series: at the end of the forties, the time of mass passenger traffic had not yet arrived. However, the transition from reciprocating to jet aircraft introduced its difficulties - the speeds, heights, loads, vibrations increased. All this required new approaches to design.
Providing safety, the Tu-104 developers sought, above all, to prevent cases of depressurization of the fuselage, the resource of which was originally defined in the 23000 watch. It was assumed that the most likely source of depressurization may be a large glass surface cockpit. In this regard, for the safety of passengers, the crew cabin was separated from the passenger emergency sealed partition, and the crew was provided with special oxygen equipment.
When designing the fuselage of the Tu-104, special attention was paid to the proper endurance of the skin joints, special strengthening of the edging of the cutouts for windows, doors and hatches. Glazing of passenger cabin windows was supplied with large reserves of static strength and endurance. A thin, five millimeter inner glass, supplied for thermal insulation, was able to take over the action of excess pressure when the main glass was destroyed. An additional guarantee on the first machines was an oxygen system with automatically dropping out masks, for each passenger, during depressurization for the necessary three to four minutes of emergency care to a safe height.
Reliable systems for supplying the cabin with air of the required temperature and purity have been developed. The shell of the fuselage for heat and sound insulation is covered from the inside with soft insulation of glass wool. The system of air supply to the cabin was such that the necessary comfortable conditions were provided during the flight and on one engine. The strength and performance of the components of the future airliner, and first of all the fuselage, were confirmed by numerous tests carried out in the hydrobasin.
The factory test phase was conducted by the crew consisting of: the first test pilot Yu.T. Alasheev, co-pilot B. M. Timoshok, navigator P. N. Rudnev, flight engineer I. D. Ivanov, lead test engineer V. N. Benderov, lead engineer from the Tupolev Design Bureau B. F. Petrov.
State tests were conducted by test pilot AK Starikov, and the head machine of the first series of the Tu-104 was lifted into the air by the test pilot of the production plant FF Dotsenko.
Already in March 1956, a sensational international debut of an experimental Tu-104 aircraft took place in London, and then in several other countries. The interest in the plane was huge, the newspapers were full of praise and superlatives of comparison. There were huge queues to the plane, in which there was a mass aviation specialists. The owners showed excessive interest in the airliner's navigation and radio equipment, which for the most part duplicated similar equipment of the Tu-16 medium bomber.
The British press characterized the Tu-104 as an excellent aircraft, marking its excellent flight characteristics and level of comfort for passengers. French Air Marshal Joubert de la Firth said in an interview with a British television reporter: “The Russians are far ahead of us in the construction of such aircraft, and we don’t have jet engines of this size at all.”
It should be noted that success and a long and brilliant career for the Tu-16 and Tu-104 aircraft were provided by the OKB A. A. Mikulin AM-3 (later RD-ZM) engines in 8750 (9500) kg. Considering the car, the British reacted somewhat ironically to only one thing - the pomp of the interior. According to them, she was behind the modern style. However, for the mass exploitation of stoomechny Tu-104B trim simplified, and the internal appearance of the machine was no different from international standards.
A significant event was marked by the 1957 year, when twenty years after the famous flights of the crews of V.P. Chkalov and M. M. Gromov Tu-104 arrived in the USA. A nine-thousand-kilometer transatlantic flight took place in 13 hours 29 minutes. The aircraft was piloted by B. P. Bugaev (later becoming Minister of Civil Aviation of the USSR), I.V. Orlovets and PI Nine.
In a number of countries, an escort of fighters was sent to meet the Tu-104, and later the Tu-114. Once this gave a reason A.N. Instead of greeting, Tupolev asked the American general: “Well, did they check it?” The translator did not understand, and the general responded instantly: “Yes, yes, of course ... everything is ok!” The speed of the plane was as previously stated. By the way, Tu-104 It was the first jet aircraft to fly across the Atlantic with one landing and only the fifth type of Soviet aircraft on the American continent. All of them, except for the TsKB-30 Moscow, were created in the Tupolev Design Bureau.
Editor of the well-known aviation edition R.V. Hotz recalled: “Sir George, the creator of the“ Vaikaunt ”turboprop aircraft project, reproached Tupolev for making the landing gear too heavy for the Tu-104, this has a bad effect on the income payable. “Have you ever had to spend the winter in Siberia? - asked Tupolev. - In that case, do not ask me why I installed such a heavy landing gear on a Tu-104 plane. I did it not because of stupidity, but because this chassis would have to withstand ice, snow and slush on the runways without a hard surface for six winter months in Siberia. If you were not in Siberia in the winter, then you do not need to teach me to design a landing gear for Soviet aircraft. "
Hotz was convinced that Tupolev was right when he saw that even in Kiev, in 1959, there was no paved runway yet. Tu-104 daily made ups and landings from unpaved strips. In Yakutsk, "one hundred and fourth" for the first time in the practice of heavy jet aircraft sat on a dirt strip covered with snow.
15 September 1956, the Tupolev airliner made its first regular flight with 50 passengers en route Moscow - Irkutsk. After seven hours and ten minutes of flight time, having broken 4570 kilometers in Omsk, the plane landed in Irkutsk. Travel time has decreased almost threefold compared to flying on piston aircraft.
And on October 12, 1956 of the year from the Vnukovo airport started the Tu-104, which departed on the first passenger flight abroad on the route Moscow - Prague. The honorable duty to make this flight was assigned to the crew headed by B.P. Bugaev. Two hours later, with a small Tu-104 landed at Ruzyne Prague Airport. This flight was the beginning of the regular operation of jet airliners on the international lines of Aeroflot.
In the same year, the Tu-104 took the line Moscow-Tbilisi, Moscow-Tashkent, Moscow-Khabarovsk.
The introduction of new jet technology into operation was successful. This was facilitated by the high quality and reliability of the machine, and the high skill of the flight and engineering personnel. But there were problems. During mass exploitation at high altitudes, Tu-104 aircraft more often than warplanes encountered thunderstorm clouds and jet currents in the atmosphere, which are associated with large vertical gusts of air masses. Signals began to be received about cases of stall flow and unstable behavior of the aircraft in such conditions. At the same time, the car was delayed at high angles of attack, approaching critical ones, causing a loss of stability. To solve this problem, on a pilot aircraft equipped with a special antistop parachute and means of crew rescue, special flight studies were conducted of the aircraft's behavior when reaching the critical angles of attack. Test pilot A.D. took part in this work. Grischenko, who later became famous for his heroic flights over the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. According to the results of tests on all Tu-104 airplanes, the permissible limits of rear centering were urgently reduced, the angle of installation of the stabilizer and the maximum angles of deflection of the elevator were lowered. After carrying out these improvements Tu-104 aircraft successfully served all subsequent years of operation.
It was believed that jet passenger aircraft are unprofitable because of the increased specific fuel consumption. However, the “voracity” of AM-3 (four times more than that of the piston of the same capacity) did not prevent the Tu-104 from proving its economic efficiency. This became especially obvious when, instead of the first series aircraft on the 50-56, passenger seats from the 1958 year began to mass-produce the Tu-104A on the 70 seats, and later released the Tu-104B aircraft with an extended fuselage on the 100, and then on the 115 passengers. Tu-104 intervened passenger 122.
However, in the West, for obvious reasons related to competition, they began to spread information that the allegedly twin-engine, multi-seater passenger aircraft was not reliable enough. Most Western cars at that time were four-engine, primarily due to the lack of suitable high-power engines abroad. Some shadow of doubt appeared in our country. Tupolev was offered to install four engines of somewhat lower power on the Tu-104. After undoing the wing and inserting a new engine section between him and the fuselage, but already for two engines, P. A. Solovyov, Andrei Nikolayevich promptly put the Tu-110 car to the test. According to its flight data, it practically did not differ from the Tu-104. The car did not go into the series, as the AM-3 engines worked reliably, and the Solovyovskie ones needed to be refined. The subsequent operating experience of the Tu-104 confirmed the reliability of a twin-engine multi-seater passenger aircraft. And in 1960, with two D20P engines, a smaller copy of the Tu-104 - the Tu-124 aircraft on the 44-56 passenger seats took off. But about him in the next article.
A military transport version of the Tu-104, the Tu-107, was also created, but it also did not go into the series, primarily because of the success in creating specialized transport airplanes in the Antonov Design Bureau.
In the process of long-term operation, the Tu-104 aircraft were constantly modified while maintaining the comfort of passengers, which was possible due to the presence of the originally built strength reserves of the structure. The concept of turning a bomber into a Tupolev passenger aircraft at this stage fully justified itself. Although this led to a certain increase in the cost of operating the machine in a civilian version, it guaranteed the safety and the possibility of quick training of flight personnel and ground personnel.
Tests on the strength of the aircraft and its individual units were carried out continuously during the entire period of operation. Three gliders of the aircraft were tested completely and an additional five sets of detachable wing parts. One experienced and one serial fuselages were tested in the hydro pool separately. The results of these works and the tests of the Tu-16 design carried out in parallel allowed us to solve the problem of ensuring the service life of the Tu-104 aircraft.
In addition, in 1957, on one of the decommissioned aircraft, the impact on the design of sudden depressurization of the fuselage in the event of glass breakage was specifically investigated, and the survivability of the structure in case of mechanical damage and destruction of individual power sections of the fuselage was checked. After successful tests, extra safety equipment was removed, including an emergency bulkhead, which allowed the passenger compartment of the Tu-104A modification to be converted to one hundred passenger seats.
In the future, there was not a single case of the destruction of the windows of the pilot's cabin and other damage causing depressurization of the fuselage. As a result of all the experimental, maintenance and operational work carried out by the Tupolev Design Bureau in conjunction with TsAGI and the State Research Institute of Civil Aviation, the aircraft's life was brought to 15000 flights and 35000 flight hours. The leader, aircraft # 42400, has completed 18000 flights without fatigue cracks in the main power structure.
In the course of its twenty-five-year career, the Tu-104 had a chance to visit the “role” of the spacecraft and orbital station. Already after the first space flight S.P. Korolev came to the unequivocal conclusion that future astronauts must be taught to be weightless beforehand on earth. After brief meetings of Korolev and Tupolev with the participation of Gagarin and the doctor of the cosmonaut Yazdovskiy detachment, it was decided to re-equip the Tu-104 into a flying laboratory. After discussion at the Academic Council, Tupolev ordered that the work be carried out in the design bureau and in the production of a “green street”. All the excess was removed from the cabin, windows were sealed, the cabin was pasted over with a thick layer of soft foam rubber, the doctors and experimenters were equipped with workplaces. The conditions of weightlessness were created by the appropriate maneuver of the aircraft and were maintained for twenty-five seconds with the aid of an automatic overload. In 1965, film shots appeared, like future astronauts, breaking the gravitational laws, were floating in the air of the Tu-104 cabin.
In the cabin of the Tu-104, besides cosmonaut training, studies and testing of the device for going into outer space were conducted, the efficiency of the fuel and hydraulic systems was tested, and electric welding units were tested.
Tu-104 aircraft flew on Aeroflot routes until 1979. On passenger lines they were replaced by more economical Tu-154. However, they continued to fly in the Air Force. Only after the disaster of February 17, 1981, which led to the death of the Pacific Command fleet, the fate of the aircraft was finally decided. But this in no way can belittle the fact that over one hundred million passengers were transported on the Tu-104 - almost half the country. On this aircraft in the late fifties, 26 world records of speed and carrying capacity were set.
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