Tupolev Tu-114: The First Soviet Intercontinental Airliner
In the early 1950s, OKB Tupolev, the Tupolev design bureau, was instructed by the Soviet government to design a civil airliner with an intercontinental range. Based upon the earlier four-engined Tu-95 strategic bomber, the resulting aircraft was the largest airliner constructed at that time, providing accommodation for up to 220 passengers.
The Tu-144 confounded experts by being able to fly at speeds similar to those achieved by jet aircraft, while still using turboprop technology. The Tu-114 set a number of records, including the speed record for a turbo-prop aircraft that still stands 50 years later.
A total of 31 Tu-114’s entered service with Aeroflot, operating over long distance internal services and international services to cities from Tokyo to Havana. Gradually replaced from 1971, the last Tu-144 Aeroflot service was withdrawn in 1975. However, a number of the Tu-114’s were subsequently converted into AWACS aircraft as the Tu-126 "Moss" for operation in the Soviet navy.
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