How the Soviets One Upped The West: The TU-114 Story

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Until the mid 1950’s, small short-range airliners like the twin engined IL-14 were really the only type the Soviet Union produced. And that meant flying across the country’s vast territory required multiple stops for refueling. The exhausting flight could take could take over 24 hours and require multiple stops for refueling. The need for a new Soviet airliner was clearly pressing, especially since the country’s new leader Nikita Khrushchev had a much more open stance with the West and plans for visits around the world.

In 1955 the Tupolev Design Bureau was given a directive to convert the Tu-95 intercontinental strategic bomber into an airliner. It would be the quickest way to build the Soviet Union a new long-range airliner. Two parallel projects were launched. The first aimed to minimally modify the Tu-95 and convert it into a VIP transport for Soviet Heads of State (Tu-116). A second, more ambitious project aimed to turn the Tu-95 into a proper airliner (Tu-114).

The Tu-114 was significantly modified, but still retained the Tu-95’s powerful turboprop engines and swept wings, which were mounted lower to accommodate a wider fuselage. Other design changes include larger flaps, a taller nose gear and new stabilizers. The Tu-116 airliner is most notable for its incredible maximum speed of 880 km/h (550 mph), which is comparable to modern-day jet-powered airliners. It also boasted a very impressive (for it’s day) range of 10,900 km (6,800 mi). Early versions were configured in a three-class layout, which was rather unconventional for a Soviet Airliner. Features included, large tables, private sleeping cabins and a dining lounge served by a full-size kitchen in the lower deck . Entering service in 1961, only 32 Tu-116 were produced and they served with Aeroflot for 16 years, until they were finally retired from civilian service in 1977.

#Tu114 #Airliner #Turboprop

Select footage courtesy the AP Archive
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Special thanks to Classic Airliners & Vintage Pop Culture for providing incredible and rare Tu-114 footage and materials - see them in their full length at:

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