Category An Illustrated History of the World’s Largest Airline

Jynkers-F 13

4 SEATS ■ 165km/h (105mph)

A Great Airliner

To the relief of the whole of Europe, the Armistice of 11 November 1918 brought an end to the Great War, Professor Junkers drew on the experience of building military aircraft almost entirely of metal, and designed one of the most suc­cessful transport aircraft of the 1920s, and one of the great air­liners of all time.

Designated the Junkers-F 13 — defying superstition — it first went into service in Germany in 1919, and the last F 13 in scheduled service retired in Brazil in 1948. Constructed of corrugated light-weight aluminum, it easily outlived the wood-and-fabric steel-framed aircraft of the time, few of which survived for more than two or three years — and would not have lasted long in northern Russia or Siberia.

Restrictive Practices

The F 13s were, like all German aircraft, handicapped by severe restrictions imposed by the victorious Allies. In May 1920, all German aircraft were confiscated by the occupying powers, and under the terms of the ‘London Ultimatum’ of 5 May 1921, these were enforced with even more severity. Not until 14 April 1922 was the ban on aircraft construction finally lift­ed, albeit with limitations on engine power and load carrying.

German companies evaded the letter — and the intent — of the law by setting up production in other countries. It also sponsored the formation of airlines in those countries which had no aircraft industries of their own (and even one or two that had) by setting up joint ventures. The host country sup­plied the infrastructure of installations, airfields, and adminis­trative staff; Junkers supplied the aircraft and technical support.

The little four-passenger F 13 carried its customers in a comfortable cabin, in comfortable seats; however, the two crew sat in a semi-open cockpit. Altogether, over 300 F 13s were built, an astonishing production performance for the period, and the F 13 formed the basis for later types such as the W 33, and ultimately the Ju 52/3m. The F 13s were to be seen all over Europe, in South America, and in other countries such as Persia and South Africa.

Aeroflot Turns to Douglas

Подпись: Type First Right Date Dimensions- m(ft) Seats No. Engines MTOW kg (lb) Speed km/h (mph) Range km (mi) No. Built Length Span Type h.p. DC-3 17 Dec 19.66 28.96 21-28 2 Wright Cyclone 860 11,430 290 2,000 11,413* 1935 (54,6) (95,0) P & W Double Wasp 1,200 (25,200) (180) (1,250) Li-2 1940 19.66 28.96 18-28 2 Shvetsov 900 11,280 225 1,600 6,157 (64,6) (95,0) M-62 (24,900) (140) (1,000) Notes: * This figure includes 10,493 military versions, mainly C-47s, built in the U.S.; 487 built in Japan: but only 433 commercial DC-3s built specifically for airlines. Li-2 figure also includes production for military. Aeroflot Turns to DouglasAeroflot Turns to Douglas

Technical Slowdown

Although the ANT-9 of the late 1920s had been on a par with the commercial aircraft of other countries; and the ANT-6 had been an adequate heavy lifter, Soviet designers lost momentum dur­ing the 1930s. Kalinin was executed. Tupolev himself spent much of his time under house arrest, and escaped being shot only by the intervention of, of all people, Beria, head of the secret police.

Buying the Best

In August 1935, AMTORG (American Trading Organization) in New York, took delivery of the first DC-2 (NC14949, msn 1413) and Boris Lisunov was sent to California to prepare for the licensed production of the Douglas twin. The Soviet-built Douglases were first designated PS – 845 (Pashazhyrski Samolyet, or passenger aircraft), and from 17 September 1942, Lisunov Li – 25. These were standard DC-3s, with a right-side – entry door. By the end of World War II, 2,258 had been built. The type remained in production until 1954, by which time a total of 6,157 had been built at Tashkent, Uzbekistan.


After the Nazi invasion of the summer of 1941, much of western Russia and the Ukraine had been devastated or pillaged. In a mighty display of determination and improvised organization, all the aircraft production lines in Europe were moved eastwards to cities beyond the Ural Mountains. This massive logistics task took many months, and meanwhile the Air Force had to be reinforced.

At an Allied conference in Moscow on 31 July 1941, Harry Hopkins, President Roosevelt’s special envoy, laid the foundations of what was to become the Lend-Lease Program. Slow to get under way at first — few aircraft arrived in time for the Battle of Moscow, and these were from Britain, via Murmansk — the unprecedented machinery of the historic airlift began on 29 September 1942, when the first Bell P-39 Airacobra left Fairbanks, Alaska, and arrived in time to go into action early in October.

Of the 18,700 aircraft supplied under the Allied Lend – Lease program, 14,750 were flown along this route, by U. S. pilots to Fairbanks, where Soviet flyers took over. Of these, over 4,900 were P-39 Airacobras, 2,400 P-63 Kingcobras,

2,900 Douglas DB-7/A-20 Havocs, and 860 North American B-25 Mitchells. About 640 were lost in transit. The Lend – Lease aircraft accounted for 12% of the 136,800 of all types used by the Soviet Air Force in the Great Patriotic War.

Of the several other types, other than those men­tioned above, 700 were Douglas C-47s, the most widely used of the military variants of the DC-3 workhorse trans­port airplane. They were used everywhere. The Soviet pilots liked them as much as did the U. S.A. A.F. ‘Gooney Bird’ and the R. A.F. Dakota flyers. And they were to make a solid contribution to Aeroflot’s recovery after the con­flict came to an end. On 1 March 1946, for instance, the 14th Cargo Aircraft Group of Aeroflot was formed at Yakutsk. Fifteen C-47s were transferred from the Soviet air fleet, together with, remarkably, three Junkers-Ju 52/3m’s that had been captured on the eastern front.


Aeroflot Turns to Douglas

The old Yakutsk terminal building, in traditional Russian wood construction, first erected for the Lend-Lease program, is still there, as this photo, taken in 1992, shows. Just down the street is the original building which housed the offices of the Lend-Lease program during the vital years, 1942-1945. (R. E.G. Davies)

Подпись: Post-War Struggle

Подпись:Подпись:Подпись: Helsinki G- - - © Leningrad RESUMPTION OF EUROPEAN AIR SERVICES 1944-47 ' oscow Dates shown are of first flight. Regular services introduced later East Bloc Подпись:Подпись: 1947 TiranaПодпись: REGDAeroflot Turns to DouglasПодпись: Pr«3 4- Aug. 1^45 Vienn< 194; Подпись:

Resumption of European Services

The Soviet Union emerged from World War II (The Great Patriotic War) weakened by its sustained and intensive efforts to beat the Nazi war machine into the ground. Aeroflot had to re-group as the national flag carrier, as Moscow began to isolate itself from its allies in the west, at the same time trying to dominate the countries on its borders, simultaneously spreading the creed of communism and fashioning a cordon sanitaire to guard against a repetition of the events of 1920.

In 1944, the U. S.S. R. had declined an invitation to attend the historic Chicago Conference, at which most of the world’s nations hammered out the basis for what was to become the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The Five Freedoms of the Air were not wholly accepted in Moscow, where, nevertheless, plans were quickly made to spread Aeroflot’s wings westwards. By the end of 1945, services had been reinstated, or started anew, to most of the capitals of eastern and central Europe, and also to Teheran. At home, the trans-Siberian and other main arterial routes were revived, and the social work in the Arctic, which had continued even during the war, was maintained.

Like the British, French, and nations other than the excep­tionally well-equipped United States, the U. S.S. R. had to make the best with what it had: the trusty Lisunov Li-2s and the ex-Lend-Lease Douglas C-47s.

Baidukov Has PrabBems

The Fourth Five-Year Plan had provided for ambitious Aeroflot expansion, with a target of 175,000km (110,000mi) of routes

Aeroflot Turns to Douglas

The Ilyushin 18, first flown on 30 July 1947, was a 60-seat four – engined airliner which never went into production. It was too large for the traffic of the day and demanded ground support which would not be available for years, (photo: Ilyushin Design Bureau)

throughout the Soviet Union. Yet to service this great plan, Aeroflot had little more than a large fleet of Li-2s for the main routes, and hundreds of little Polikarpov Po-2s.

This was the situation confronting Georgy Baidukov, veteran crew member of the Chkalov trans-Polar flight of 1937, and Stalin’s personal envoy to the United States during the war years, when he was put in charge of Aeroflot in 1947. The equipment upgrading prospects were gloomy. Sergei Ilyushin had made preliminary drawings for what was to become the Ilyushin 11-12 as early as 1943, and this unpres­surized tricycle-geared twin made its first public appearance on 18 August 1946. But this was no ‘DC-3 Replacement’.

On the ground, airports were totally inadequate, with poor runways, bad passenger buildings, and maintenance, as often as not, in the open. Baidukov effectively made his point by taking a party of officials, including Mikoyan, on a proving flight from Moscow to Khabarovsk. The shortcomings were only too obvious, and this inspection trip no doubt had some effect on subsequent actions taken with the next Five Year Plan.

The First Ilyushins

Making the best of a sub-standard inventory, Baidukov intro­duced the 11-12, on a few selected routes, on 22 August 1947, and more widely in the following year when the summer schedules started on 23 May. Some relief was expected from the 60-seat four-engined Ilyushin 11-18 (the piston-engined one, not the later turboprop) but although it made its first flight on 30 July 1947, and went into service — again on selected trunk routes — at the end of 1948; it was too big and complicated for the traffic and ground infrastructure of the day, and very few were built. They were withdrawn from ser­vice by 1950.

Baidukov fought off official skepticism and introduced flight attendants on the more important routes; and he wit­nessed the introduction of the amazing 12-seat Antonov An-2 biplane, which made its first flight in March 1948.

Widening Responsibilities

After two and a half years, during which the Politburo often accused him of poor management, Baidukov resigned — with­out incidentally apologizing for anything, a procedure that was the expected protocol in those times. He had been sorely tried. For apart from the problems of inadequate aircraft, airfields, ground services and engineering staff, pilots who were apt to take on too much vodka and not enough fuel, and a meager budget, he had been given additional responsibilities.

Back in 1932, Aeroflot had taken on the task of agricul­tural support in crop-dusting and crop-spraying, an activity in which the U. S.S. R. had been a pioneer. In 1937, it had added ambulance and medical supply flights to supple­ment its other work, with a ‘flying doctor’ service. Now, on 23 September 1948, it added forestry patrol, ice reconnais­sance and water-bombing; and on 30 November 1949, it was given the additional task of supporting fishing fleets by sur­veying the seas to locate shoals of fish.

Yet in spite of all the difficulties, Aeroflot must have been doing something right. In 1950, it carried 3.8 million passen­gers, and flew over a network of 75,600km (47,000mi).

18 SEATS □ 225km/h (140mph)

Подпись: Lisunov Li-2Подпись:Aeroflot Turns to DouglasShvetsov M-62 (2 x 900hp) Ш MTOW 11,280kg (24,9001b) Ш Normal Range 1,в00кт (l,000mi) Ш Length 20m (65ft) И Span 29m (95ft)

Подпись: COMBTltry AlrBame Pate Date of Initial Bate Remarks FfflMradled First Aircraft Terraimatesi Service Fleet Poland LOT* 6 Mar Dec Li-2 (still Rejuvenated pre-war airline. Most of post- 1945 1945 Po-2 operating) war fleet was Soviet-built. Czechoslovakia CSA* 14 Sep 4 Mar DC-3 (still) Rejuvenated pre-war airline. Used Soviet 1945 1945 Ju 52/3m operating) equipment exclusively after coup of 1968. Hungary Maszovlet* 29 Mar 15 Oct Li-2 Late 1954 50% Soviet shareholding in new airline to 1946 1946 Po-2 succeed MALERT. Succeeded in turn by MALEV, which used only Soviet aircraft. Romania TARS* 1945 1947 Li-2 Late 1954 50% Soviet shareholding in new airline to Ju 52/3m succeed LARES. Succeeded in turn by TAROM which used mainly Soviet aircraft. Yugoslavia JUSTA Late Apr Li-2 1948 50% Soviet shareholding in new airline to 1946 1947 succeed Aeroput. Terminated when Tito severed relations with Soviet Union. Bulgaria B.V.S. Early 29 Jun Li-2 1954 50% Soviet shareholding in new airline. 1947 1947 Ju 52/3m Succeeded by TABS0* which used Soviet-, built aircraft North Korea SOKAO 1950 1950 11-14 1954 50% Soviet shareholding in new airline. Succeeded by CAAK, which operated only Soviet aircraft. East Germany Deutsche 1 Jul 4 Feb 11-14 1991 Name changed to Interflug* 13 Sep 1958. Luft Hansa 1955 1956 Liquidated with German reunification. Mongolia Air Mongol 1956 7 Jul Li-2 (still Currently operates as Mongolian Airlines 1956 Po-2,11-12 operating) (MIAT-Mongolyn Irgeniy Agaaryn Teever). * Members of Six-Pool, formed 15 February 1956

Joint Ventures

The term joint venture’ has become part of the language of international commerce during the past few years,. But such a device was common in airline associations back in the early 1940s when, for example, Pan American Airways set up such partnerships in Latin America. In exchange for certain privileges, such as exclusive mail contracts, Pan Am would provide the technical and administrative expertise, and supply aircraft at bargain rates, to set up local air­lines, ostensibly as national carriers, but in reality Pan Am subsidiaries.

During the latter 1940s, as Europe rearranged itself into two halves of political persuasion, the U. S.S. R. took a leaf out of Pan Am’s book, and set up similar airlines in eastern Europe, with Aeroflot as Big Brother. Ironically, the ubiquitous Douglas DC-3, in its Lisunov Li-2 disguise, was invariably the basis of the small post-war communist-directed airline fleets, just as with Pan American on the other side of the world.

Tie First Exports

Interestingly, therefore, a California-designed aircraft, license-built in the U. S.S. R., was the key factor in this particular channel of political influence. The Lisunovs were the only aircraft in adequate supply in 1945 and 1946; but they were to be the basis for a secure Soviet foothold in what was later to become known as the Six-Pool group of eastern European airlines. This foothold was to prevail for the next half-century.

Aeroflot Turns to Douglas


This Lisunov Li-2 is pictured atMirnyy, the center of the diamond industry in the Yakut autonomous republic of eastern Siberia in 1961. The ‘Russian DC-3’ performed sterling work for over a quarter of a century, and the Yakuts held it in such high esteem that they have preserved one on a pedestal at Chersky, near the delta of the Kolyma River, on the East Siberian Sea of the Arctic Ocean, 240km (150mi) north of the Arctic Circle. (Y. Ryumkin, courtesy John Stroud)

Standard Trijet

Подпись: (Right) Flight deck of the Tupolev Tu-154. (Boris Vdovienko) Подпись:Подпись:

Tortoise and Hare

The Tupolev Tu-154 and the supersonic Tupolev Tu-144 both got out of the starting gate at about the same time. The trijet made its first flight on 3 October 1968, and the Soviet SST followed only three months later, on the last day of the year (see pages 64-65). The slower aircraft went into service with Aeroflot on 9 February 1972, on the route from Moscow to the health resort Mineralnye Vody. But the event was almost unnoticed while the world of aviation underwent the hypnosis of supersonic aspirations.


Like all new civil airliners, the Tu-154 had its problems in the early years. But Tupolev and Aeroflot pressed on with what was designed to be — to quote John Stroud — "an aircraft with the range of the 11-18, the speed of the Tu-104, and the take-off and landing performance of the An-10." Of these, only the Tu-104 was emulated in this specification, but the tar­gets were substantially met. And, as the map on this page illus­trates, the sometimes overworked equine metaphor can be for­
given in its application to the aircraft that produced, by the 1990s, about half of the passenger-kilometers of the entire Aeroflot fleet, or perhaps alone as much as the total output of any one of the three leading airlines of the United States.

As Ilyushin had already found (page 55), the Kuznetsov NK-8 turbofan was a thirsty one and fuel burn could be greatly improved by replacing it with the Soloviev D-30KU as had been done in the 11-62. The Tupolev design bureau was slow to accept this possibility, and it was not until 1982, ten years after the Tu-154 entered service, that a prototype Tu-154M with derated Soloviev D-30KU engines was pro­duced by converting a standard production Tu-154B-2. New engine nacelles were developed from those fitted to the II – 62M, with the same type of clamshell thrust reversers, and several aerodynamic improvements were made. The first two production aircraft from the Kuybyshev factory were deliv­ered to Aeroflot on 27 December 1984, and the type remains in production.

World Airline Status

Подпись: PROGRESS TOWARDS A GLOBAL NETWORK Continent or First Destination First Service Aircraft Major Country Date Type Western Europe Stockholm 11 Nov 1940 Li-2 China Peking (Beijing) 1 Jan 1965 11-14 Southern Asia Delhi-Bombay 14 Aug 1958 Tu-104 North Africa Cairo 5 Dec 1958 Tu-104 South Polar Region* Mirnyy 15 Dec 1961 11-18 An-12 Southeast Asia Jakarta 31 Jan 1962 Tu-104 West Africa Conakry 11 Sep 1962 11-18 Caribbean Havana 7Jan1963 Tu-114 Middle East Damascus 23 May 1963 11-18 Canada Montreal 4 Nov 1966 Tu-114 Japan Tokyo 19 Apr 1967 Tu-114 East Africa Mogadishu- Dares Salaam 1 Jan 1968 11-62 U.S.A. (East Coast) New York 15 Jul 1968 11-62 Central Africa Bangui 1 Nov 1969 11-62 South America Santiago 4 Nov 1972 11-62 North Polar Region Longyearbyen 11 Sep 1975 11-18 U.S.A. (West Coast) San Francisco 19 May 1991 II-62M * Occasional flights only

Slow But Steady

For several decades, Aeroflot was not its own master; indeed, under the Soviet system, it probably never was; but in later years, as the Cold War thawed, it acquired more autonomy and could influence the course of its own route expansion and aircraft development. In the international arena, almost a decade was to pass after the end of the Second World War before an Aeroflot aircraft was seen in western Europe, when an Ilyushin 11-12 resumed service to Stockholm in 1954. Subsequently, progress to other continents was slow.

Back in the 1920s, Dobrolet had made connections to Mongolia and Afghanistan, and experimental flights had been made to China. Now, in 1955, as the Soviet Union formed a close alliance with Mao’s People’s Republic, Aeroflot opened a link with Peking (Beijing); and the next year resumed flights to Kabul. More far-reaching tentacles reached out, with Tupolev Tu-104 service to India in 1958, to Jakarta in 1962, and Tupolev Tu-114 service to Japan in 1967. Vietnam

World Airline Status

came on stream in 1970.

Next continent was Africa, with an Ilyushin 11-18 service to Cairo in 1958; then to West Africa, to Guinea, in 1962. During the period of the rise of African nationalism and the collapse of colonialism, the Soviet Union was anxious to capi­talize (if that is the right word) on the situation; and Aeroflot was often the emissary, opening up links with Moscow throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

To The New World

These routes in the Eastern Hemisphere had been undertaken mainly with the Tupolev Tu-104 and the Ilyushin 11-18. Not until the introduction of the big turboprop Tu-114 in 1961 did Aeroflot feel confident enough, and the Soviet Union feel proud enough, to span the Atlantic. Service to Havana started in 1963 and to Canada in 1966. When the Ilyushin 11-62 was ready, Aeroflot was able to claim some slots at New York’s Kennedy International Airport.

And just as it had made its first landfall in North America in Fidel Castro’s Cuba, so it repeated the pattern by opening the first service to South America when Chile voted in a Marxist government, and Aeroflot promptly began to fly to Santiago, via Gander and Havana, in 1972. Eleven years later it started service to Buenos Aires; and later on to Nicaragua, where the left-wing Sandanistas had ousted the Somosas.

Political Ups and Downs

While in most parts of the world, politics did not interfere with, although they sometimes helped, sometimes hindered, Aeroflot’s ambitions to forge a global network. The relation­ship with the United States was so precariously balanced that the smooth continuance of scheduled air service between New York (and Washington, from 5 April 1974) and Moscow was never assured. In December 1981, all pretense of tolerance was thrown aside when martial law was declared in Poland, and one of the knee-jerk reactions of the Reagan administration was to terminate Aeroflot’s service to the U. S.A. Less than two years later, on 15 September, even the Aeroflot offices in the U. S. were closed down after a Korean airliner had been shot down by Soviet jets off the coast of Kamchatka.

Other countries had also imposed a ban after the ‘Flight 007’ incident, but in time the political climate eased and Aeroflot continued to build its route system. Not until 29 April 1986, however, was Aeroflot able to resume service to the States, after Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev had met in Geneva in the fall of the previous year. By 7 December 1987,
when Mikhail made a state visit to Washington, the Ilyushin I1-62M was not even remarked upon by the press. Aeroflot was part of the scene.

Polar Specialist

Not all of Aeroflot’s routes and services were politically moti­vated or necessarily linked with political strategy. The same could be said for the airlines of other nations, although it is arguable that Aeroflot was, as a branch of the Soviet Civil Air Administration, more directly the instrument of policy than were some other flag carriers or ‘chosen instruments’. The pioneering of some routes, however, while having certain political undertones, were just as much examples of the true spirit of airline enterprise and development.

On 10 September 1975, for example, Aeroflot opened a twice-monthly service to Longyearbyen, in Spitzbergen (Svalbard), a Norwegian territory of the Arctic on which there were two Soviet-operated coal mines. Questions were occa­sionally raised as to why the U. S.S. R., with all its extensive wealth of coal within its own borders, should need a couple of mines in Spitzbergen. Such suspicions aside, it did give Aeroflot, along with S. A.S., the privilege of operating to the most northerly airport in the world open to the public.

At the other end of the globe, on the opposite polar axis, Aeroflot was also active, having made its first flight to Antarctica as early as 1961 (see pages 70-71). The Soviet national air carrier thus carried the flag to every continent except Australia, and operated both to the Arctic and the Antarctic — though service to Mirnyy and Molodezhnaya was not exactly frequent, roughly once or twice a year.


Aeroflot was eventually to join the ranks of those airlines that offered service completely around the world — or nearly enough to qualify for that claim. On 19 May 1991, from its well-established far eastern terminal of Khabarovsk, an Ilyushin I1-62M started service to San Francisco, via Anchorage. On 29 March 1992, this route was augmented by a direct flight, also via Anchorage, from Moscow.

Pan American Airways used to be proud of its round-the – world flights but Juan Trippe and his successors never did fill the domestic gap across the U. S.A. until it purchased National Airlines in 1978. The supreme irony was that, at the end of the same year when Aeroflot achieved round-the-world status, Pan American Airways, one of the world’s great airlines, closed its offices and terminated all its services.

Father of Russian Aviation — The Constructor

No book on Russian aviation is complete without refer­ence to the inventor Aleksander Fedorovich Mozhaisky (1825-1890). He began to study bird flight when aged 31, and during the next 20 years, experiment­ed with models. He flew kites and designed propellers. In 1876 he himself flew in a large kite, towed by a team of three horses.

In 1877, the War Ministry granted 3,000 rubles for further tests, and on 23 March 1878 Mozhaisky outlined an ambi­tious ‘large apparatus’ able to lift a man. Granted a further 2,000 rubles, he traveled to England in 1880 to obtain, from R. Baker, Son, and Hemkiens, two small steam engines, one of 20hp, the other of ten. On 3 November 1981, he received a ‘Privilege’ to build his flying machine.

Parts were constructed at the Baltiisky factory at St Petersburg and assembled at the Krasny Selo military field. On 31 January 1883, he approached the Russian Technical Society with a request to demonstrate his appa­ratus. By the end of the year, it was moving under its own power, at least on the ground.

The fuselage and the tail, as well as the 353т^ (3,800sq ft) square planform wing, were built of wood, with steel angle brackets, and covered with varnished silk fabric, as were the three four-bladed propellers, the center one of which was 8.75m (28ft 7in) in diameter.

Some time in 1884, an unknown pilot attempted to fly Mozhaisky’s apparatus. He was launched down a sloping ramp, but failed to take to the air because of inadequate power. Mozhaisky ordered more powerful engines from the Obukhovsky steelworks, but died before the work was completed.

Other Russian scientists and inventors, such as S. I. Chernov, K. Ye. Isiolkovsky, and S. A. Chaplygin, all made considerable contributions to aeronautical knowl­edge during the 1890s.

The F 13 in Russia

Junkers leaped at the chance of taking advantage of the Treaty of Rapallo, signed on 16 April 1922, and in which Germany became the first country to recognize the Soviet Union. A production line was set up at Fili, a suburb of

Moscow, where a factory had been built in 1916 to produce the Il’ya Muromets. The Fili-built F 13s were designated Ju 13s.

During 1923, under the title of Junkers Luftverkehr Russians!, Ju 13s operated a trunk route from Moscow to Baku, on the Caspian Sea, and center of the new oil industry. It thus provided a westbound airlink, via Moscow, with Berlin, via Deruluft; and a potential eastbound connection to Persia — an intriguing aerial variant of the Drag Nacht Oosten move­ment that had, in 1889, seen the Sponsorship of the Baghdad Railway, in an effort to extend German influence in Asia.

German infiltration into Russian aviation dwindled by the mid-1920s. The Moscow — Baku route was taken over by Ukrvozdukhput (see next page). But Junkers aircraft were put to good use all over the Soviet Union (see also pages 20 and 24).

Подпись: Regn. Ktl Remarks R-RDAH 2528 Dobrolet R-RDAJ 2529 Dobrolet R-RDA0 Dobrolet R-RDAU Dobrolet SSSR-144 SSSR-145 based at Verkne Udinsk SSSR-146 (Ulan Ude) forUrga SSSR-147 (Ulan Bator) route, 1929- SSSR-175 SSSR-176 based at Irkusk for SSSR-177 Yakutsk route, 1929- SSSR-182 SSSR-441 deld 2/30 SSSR-442 deld 2/30 SSSR-443 deld 3/30 SSSR-444 deld 4/30 SSSR-445 deld 3/30 JUNKERS-W 33 IN SOVIET SERVICE

Tupolev Tu-154

164 SEATS ■ 900km/h (580mph)

Kuznetzov NK-8-2 (3 x 9,500kg,20,9501b) ■ MTOW 90,000kg (198,4151b) ■ Normal Range 2,850km (l,770mi)

Unlikely Champion

For those interested in records, in terms of the greatest, the fastest, or the ‘mostest’, the Tupolev Tu-154 offers a fascinating exercise in statistics. The work output of the Aeroflot fleet of this type is arguably the most productive of any individual aircraft type by any individual air­line in the world, measured by the standard method of calculation, based on the annual aggre­gate output of passenger miles.

This is not to suggest that the Tu-154 is therefore the most economical aircraft of any of its contemporary rivals. But in producing the aircraft and in operating it under the Soviet condi­tions of financial and operating criteria, the Tupolev Design Bureau and Aeroflot have served their country well. For offsetting the higher seat-mile costs is the excellent performance which includes the ability to take off and land at almost any reasonable airport, even those without paved runways.


















Normal Range km (mi)







9 Jan

11 Mar








B. E.A.










9 Feb

1 Feb












727-1 GO






27 Jul

14 Dec


















3 Oct

9 Feb



















Production continues.

Tupolev Tu-154(Right) Passengers disembark from the inaugural Tu-154 flight to Simferopol, main airport for the Crimean resort area. (Boris Vdovienko)

Supersonic Diversion

Подпись: SSSR-68001/68002 Flying prototypes (2 more airframes used for static tests). SSSR-77101/77115 Production aircraft. One painted as 77144' for display at Paris Air Show 1975. 77102 crashed at Paris, 3 June 1973. One Tu-144D crashed near Ramenskoye on 23 May 1978.
Подпись:Подпись:Tupolev Tu-154Tupolev Tu-154

Sharing The Dream

While many in the West tended to dismiss the Tupolev Tu – 144 supersonic airliner project as being a copy of the Anglo – French Concorde, with allegations of much industrial espi­onage worthy of James Bond himself, the two aircraft were developed and produced simultaneously. The Tu-144, as many have surmised, was not copied, and did not follow the Concorde. In fact, it was the first to fly, and it was the first to go into service, albeit for air cargo service only, almost as a series of proving flights before the passenger service.

The Tupolev Tu-144, with its extensive use of titanium structure, and its advanced aerodynamics, gained the respect of American engineers and designers as no other Soviet air­craft had ever done before. But the Soviet supersonic program gradually lost momentum as the engineers and operator (Aeroflot) came face to face with reality; and the dream of supersonic airline schedules across the length and breadth of the U. S.S. R. faded.

Success — and Tragedy

The Tupolev Tu-144 had its moment of glory. Test pilot E. V. Yelian made the maiden flight on 31 December 1968, a date said to have been a political imperative, to be ahead of the Concorde, which first flew two months later. Both aircraft attracted world-wide publicity but then came disaster and tragedy. At the Paris Air Show, on 3 June 1973, a Tupolev Tu – 144 disintegrated as it pulled out of a steep dive. At first thought to be structural failure, then pilot error, or a combi­nation of both, later analysis has suggested that both pilot and aircraft could have been victims of enforced program­ming changes that jeopardized a well-disciplined demonstra­tion routine. Whatever the reason, it was a shattering blow to the hopes and aspirations of the Soviet aircraft industry.

Curtailed Service Record

Nevertheless, production continued. At first wholly support­ive of the SST, Bugayev, head of Aeroflot, faced formidable problems and the operation of the revolutionary aircraft


seemed impracticable. The engines could not be programmed to operate at full efficiency in alternating subsonic and super­sonic speeds; high fuel consumption inhibited long range operations; the sonic boom limited the operational scope; and the cabin noise level was unacceptably high.

Ultimately, the entry of the Tupolev Tu-144 into airline service was almost a token gesture. Cargo flights began from Moscow to Alma Ata on 26 December 1975; passenger flights on the same route began on 1 November 1977; and these con­tinued intermittently for only a few months before the service ended on 1 June 1978, after 102 flights. The dream had ended.

Tupolev Tu-154

(Above) The Tupolev Tu-144, nose drooped, ready to take off on the inaugural passenger service from Moscow to Alma Ata on 1 November 1977. (Boris Vdovienko)

Father of Russian Aviation — The Scientist

It was left to a notable scholar of the next generation to examine the scientific principles of flight and to publish analyses of his research. Nikolai Yegorovich Zhukovskiy (1847-1921) is recognized in Russia as the founder of modern aerodynamics and hydrodynamics.

Zhukovskiy graduated at Moscow University in 1868, taught at the Moscow Higher Technical School (M. V.T. U.) from 1872, and, from 1886, simultaneously at the

University. He continued teaching in Moscow, and super­vised the construction of his first wind tunnel in 1902, founded Europe’s first aerodynamic institute in 1904, and M. V.T. U.’s own aerodynamics laboratory in 1910.

His continued studies led to the publication of the law governing lift in 1906, profiles of aerofoils and propellers in 1910-11, and analyses of propeller tip vortices in 1912­13. He published many important monographs on aero­dynamic theory.

In 1918, Nikolai Zhukovskiy was chosen to head the pres­tigious Central Aero-Hydrodynamics Institute (TsAGI). He died in 1921, but such was his stature that TsAGI became known as the Zhukovskiy Institute.