Technical data
Type Ty-144
Function Airliner prototype
Year 1968
Crew 3 to 4
Type 4*NK-144
Boosted thrust 4*17,500kg
Fuel Consumption 1.81kg/kg/h
Cruise thrust 4*13,000kg
Fuel Consumption (cruise) 1.27kg/kg/h
Fuel Consumption (boosted) 1.81kg/kg/h
Length 49.4m
Height 10.5m
Wingspan 27.65m
Wing area 438m2
Weight and loads
Empty 85,000kg
Max. Loaded 180,000kg
Wing Load (kg/m2) 411
Maximum at 18km 2500km/h M=2.35
Cruise 2300km/h
Landing 270km/h
Landing 1,500m
Takeoff ?m
Estimated 6440km
Practical 3500km
Practical 20,000m
1000m ?min
Fuel 70,000kg
Cabin size LxWxH m3 ?x3.2x(1.86 to 1.95)
Seats (tourist) 120
Seats (tourist + first class) 80+18
Cargo ?kg
Airframe resource 30,000h

Tu-144 by A.N.Tupolev and A.A.Tupolev (NATO 'Charger')

'To the uninformed, the Tu-144 seemed to be a 'carbon copy' of the Concorde... [14]
7k photo of Tu-144 prototype, from Tu-144 prototype page

In 1964 A.N.Tupolev team started program aimed on creation of supersonic passenger airliner. Reasons were not that much a necessity of such a plane for the Aeroflot routes, but rather point of prestige. Press reports and intelligence data suggested that both European and American companies work on such project. Experience gained during development of the '125' and '135' bombers was very handy, despite those planes remained on paper. Major challenges faced by designers:

'Speed limit' set at 2500km/h allowed to minimize use of expensive materials, bulk of the aircraft was made of aluminum alloys. Airdynamic studies performed by TsAGI resulted in choice of tailless delta scheme. Ogival wing was made with some variation in the wing section and profile, minimizing the center of pressure movement with speed variations. At high speed leading edge lift increased sharply, compensating negative impact of well known at the time 'supersonic drift' of the center of pressure. Calculations of such wing were performed by R.L.Bartini for his 1957 project of supersonic flying boat A-57. Scaled down wing of this type was tested on two radically modified MiG-21 airframes, designated MiG-21I or A-144. Advances airdynamic solution was not sufficient (or just not sufficiently trusted?), and aircraft had balancing fuel tanks in the rear fuselage and wing root extensions. Ogival wing of the Tu-144 was more angular than one of 'Concorde' and did not have a drooped leading edge.

Lack of tailplane was compensated by large elevones - four sections on each wing, operating as one unit. Tu-144 was the first Soviet civil aircraft design to have hydraulic servo controls (Tu-154 is of later design, despite flown earlier). On Tu-144 boosters system was quadrupled. Rudder (consisting of two segments) had similar control system.

Nose cone could be drooped by 12° providing fine forward view on taxi, takeoff and landing, while sloping glass panels allowed sufficient forward view during the flight.

Main baggage compartment (for pre-packed containers) was in the rear and braking parachute was contained in an extreme tail. Main landing gear of prototype consisted of 3x4 bogies with tire pressure of 13kg/cm2, retracting forwards into the the wings long narrow blisters. All wheels were equipped with brakes. Twin nosewheel was retracted backwards in a fairing between the the inner engines. Unlike the early models, the prototype had engines intakes split in two narrowly placed groups, while engines still formed a single 'module' under the tail. Outer two were fitted with thrust reversers. Engines occupied only 5.2m of about 21m long nacelles.

First model was publicized at 1965 airshow, differing from future plane by all four engines installed in a single group at the centerline (like on the P.O.Sukhoj '100'). By the 1967 British aviation delegation which visited Zhukovsky experimental factory saw one prototype under construction, but were informed that total three were built and will be flown next year.

Indeed, on December 31 1968 prototype aircraft (SSSR-68001) was flown by test-pilots Elyan and Kozlov, two months ahead of its competitor the 'Concorde'. In this 38min flight it was accompanied by one of the A-144 testbed. On June 5, 1969 Tu-144 prototype broke the sound barrier at altitude 11,000m. Year later (May 26, 1970) Tu-144 achieved speed M=2 (2150km/h) at 16,300m and on June 15 - 2443km/h at 16,900m. At the Fall 1970 the prototype acquired 100 flight hours.

First public presentation of the Tu-144 took place at Sheremetievo airport on May 21, 1970, and next year appeared at the Paris International Airshow. International trial flight from Moscow to Sofia (Bulgaria) took only one hour with cruising speed 2300km/h. Cruise altitude 16km was reached in 18min on the 350km distance.

Novelty of design and new flight envelope of heavy aircraft resulted in the ejection seats installation on the first aircraft.

Drawing from Tu-144 prototype page, used as a background for this page;
Tu-135 A-144
  • 'Tu - person and aircraft' by L.L.Kerber
  • 'Supersonic aircraft' by E.Tsihom
  • 'Development of the World aircraft' by P.I.Vinogradov and A.N.Ponomarev /1991/
  • 'Aircraft of the Soviet State' by B.L.Simakov and V.B.Shavrov /1974/
  • 'Arms Encyclopedia' CD-ROM by 'Kirill and Mefodij'
  • 'Russian aircraft since 1940' by Jean Alexander, pp401...410
  • "Russian Aviation and Air Power in the Twentieth Century", edited by Robin Higham et al, pp11...12, 174...175, 261
  • "Russian Civil and Military aircraft 1884~1969" by Heinz J.Nowarra and G.R.Duval, pp200...201
  • Links
  • Tu-144 prototype page
  • Tu-144 site in English (excellent!)
  • Tu-144
  • Tu-144 page
  • Encore for an SST
  • Some Tupolev aircraft pictures
  • Here and here the SimPilots can find Tu-144 to fly;
  • Tu-144 at Monino
  • some photos
  • Type of Aircraft: Tupolev Tu-144
  • Tupolev TU-144 the first supersonic civil aircraft

  • Created January 12, 2000 Back to
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