TU-144

Jet Plane, Supersonic, Aircraft
  1. Tupolev Tu-104:

While the three major US, European, and former-USSR forces all designed supersonic transports, that of the latter was really the first to fly. But its development was complex and it finally ended in failure.

Wanting to increase speeds and decrease travel times on scheduled routes, all of which were flown by Aeroflot, the nation stepped up to pure-jet technology with its original such airliner, the Tupolev Tu-104, when it first flew in prototype form on June 17, 1955.

The low-wing monoplane, incorporating a number of the elements of the army Tu-16 twin turbojet bomber to decrease development time, featured a glazed nose navigator’s station, a 35-degree swept wing mounted with significant anhedral, double wing origin buried, 14,881 thrust-pound Mikulin RD-3 or AM-3 eight-stage, axial-flow turbojets, and quad-wheel primary undercarriage units that retracted into wing bottom fairings.

Inaugurated into service on September 15, 1956 on the Moscow-Umsk-Irkutsk route, it seriously reduced flying times over the piston forms it replaced.

It wasn’t till the fall of 1958 that BOAC introduced Comet 4s and Pan American World Airways Boeing 707-120s.”

Like the states in the West, the former Soviet Union thought that a supersonic transport was the next logical evolution of commercial aviation.

  1. Myasishchev M-52:

The basis for a Russian supersonic transport was set from the Myasishchev Design Bureau’s M-52 intercontinental bomber. Powered by four Solovy’ev turbojets, two of which were pylon-mounted into the large, swept wings and 2 of which were attached to their tips, it was intended for Mach 2 cruise rates.

Even though the only example ever constructed publicly appeared in Tuscino in 1961, or a year after the design agency which had given birth to it had been abolished, commercial feasibility studies of it was commenced. While its high-wing configuration was considered improper for passenger-carrying services and its scope was inadequate for these operations, this logic, at least in the Soviet Union, was sounder than might initially be considered, because both the turboprop Tupolev Tu-114 and pure-jet Tu-104 was civilian versions of, respectively, the Tu-95 and Tu-16 bombers.

  1. Tupolev Tu-144:

An all-new supersonic design was obviously needed. Since Myasishchev’s proposal was improper and Ilyushin was obsessed with all of the issues with its Il-62 long-range, pure-jet passenger airplane, Tupolev, the nation’s long established military and industrial manufacturer, was chosen to produce it.

The outcome, the Tu-144, was among the few aircraft up to this time and exclusively created for commercial operations.

The fuselage, first of all, integrated 18 percent of titanium in its structure to cater to the anticipated expansion and contraction cycles that resulted from the frictional heat buildup and internal pressurization, and it was wider, with a flatter cottage floor, for five-abreast coach seats. Its single-droop nose, deflecting to the 12-degree place, sported top windows.

In planform, its double-delta wing comprised an ogival or s-shaped top edge and trailing edge elevons, but was devoid of camber or spin with a flat underside.

Its NK-144 turbojets, grouped in hardly separated pairs, were air entered through its six-foot rectangular inlets on the top edge and stretched across over 17 feet to its exhaust pipes in the trailing edge.

First flying from Moscow’s Zhukovsky Airfield after implementing a 25-second acceleration roll-which marked the world’s first commercial supersonic flight of any design-the prototype, amount 68001, stayed airborne for 28 minutes, using its landing gear extended the whole time. Unpressurized, it carried flight test gear.

Although no photos were released at the moment, it’s thought that another airframe, numbered 68002, was damaged during its flights and a third party, 68003, was used for static testing.

Fuel thirsty and range deficient, the kind, requiring consistent, 100-passenger load variables to even meet breakeven prices, suggested the need for an extensive redesign of a production version, which more closely represented Concorde.

Stretched, the fuselage, now using a 215.5-foot span and sporting 34 compared to the previous 25 dividers, eased accommodation of around 140, and its droop nose, of greater length, introduced side windows.

2 canards, installed on the upper fuselage immediately behind the cockpit, extended out- and – forwards to enhance the aircraft’s low-speed handling features.

The compound sailed, complete delta wing, 94.5 feet in length, offered variable camber and sculpting and a round underside.

Range, using a 33,000-pound payload, was projected as 2,000 miles.

Numbered 77101, the first prototype of the extensively redesigned variant first flew in August of 1972, while the next, 77102, was the first exhibited in the West in the 1973 Paris Air Show. Its pride was short lived, however.

Looking to experience a stall in 3,000 ft, however, it started a dip, suddenly leveling off just a few feet above the floor, at which point the perfect wing tore off in the root.

Spitting flames out of its engines, it rolled and another wing dislodged itself from the arrangement. Exploding and plummeting to the ground, it impacted, killing both crew members on board, eight to the floor, and damaging over a hundred buildings in Goussainville, France.

Though no official cause was ever found, it was thought that the Tu-144 tried to land on the incorrect runway, starting a go-around once the mistake was discovered, which put it on a collision course with a Mirage fighter. Diving to prevent it, it had been exposed to g-forces past the airframe’s capability and too little altitude remained in which to recuperate. Its structural failure was not attributed to any design defect or lack.

After operating cargo and mail root demonstrating flights between December of 1975 and 1976, the Tupolev Tu-144 entered scheduled service on the 2,400-mile section between Moscow and Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, on November 1 of the next year, operating 102 such services with a mean of 70 passengers, before they were stopped on June 6, 1978.

Still excessively gas thirsty, it was only able to pay the 2,400-mile route with half of its payload capacity, attained by intentionally leaving half its eats unoccupied, and the cabin noise level, due to the engines and the air conditioning necessary to counteract the outside, skin friction generated heat, was excruciating.

A fire at the abandoned engines, propagating into the fuselage, left inadequate capability to reach another airport, causing the aircraft to careen into a field and explode.

Even though the type started route proving flights on the 3,480-mile sector from Moscow to Khabarovsk on June 23 of the next year and it covered the distance in 3 hours, 21 minutes, it never proceeded to scheduled status. The noise, fuel consumption, and range parameters of supersonic flight couldn’t be transcended for industrial operations, leaving the 1 prototype, both pre-production, the nine generation Tu-144s, as well as the five generation Tu-144Ds as the sole testaments to this truth.

  1. Tupolev Tu-144LL:

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) teamed with US and Russian aerospace industries within a five-year period to perform a joint international research program to develop appropriate technology for an early-21st century supersonic transport that would solve the obstacles plagued by both Boeing 2707, Aerospatiale-British Aerospace Concorde, and Tupolev Tu-144 real and still-borne designs.

Cornerstone of it had been the previous Tu-144D, constructed in 1981 and sporting tail amount 77114, which never entered commercial service, but logged 82 hours, 40 minutes during test and research flights.

Modified for the joint application to Tu-144LL Flying Laboratory standard, it had been retrofitted with four 55,000 thrust-pound Kuznetsov, afterburner-equipped NK-321 turbofans initially produced for the Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack bomber, leading to a Mach 2.3 rate and 3,500 nautical mile range with 224,000 pounds of gas in a 410,000-pound max take off weight.

Other modifications included the addition of thermocouples, pressure sensors, microphones, and skin friction gauges to assess the aerodynamic boundary layer, an emergency crew escape system, along with a Damian digital data collection system which replaced the earlier analog one.

The first of this two-phase program, running from June of 1996 to February of 1998, entailed two floor engine and six flight experiments, which necessitated 19 airborne sorties to finish, from the Zhukovsky Air Development Center near Moscow, also involved research concerning the aircraft outside surface, the inner structure and powerplant, temperatures, border airflows, interior and exterior noise, airfoil floor effect characteristics, and varying flight profile handling features.

The next stage, occurring between September of 1998 and April of 1999, involved six conflicts, which not only facilitated greater comprehension of the first six airborne experiments, but also provided analysis of fuselage and end deflections, angles-of-attack, sideslip angles, and nose boom pressures.

Though no bonafide US supersonic airliner designs are established, with those suitable for the company jet segment more likely to precede them, these Tu-144LL aerodynamic, structural, acoustic, and operating environment experiments may pave the way for long-range, higher-capacity, economic struggle which minimizes ozone layer corrosion, and the ground-experienced sonic boom.

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