|Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-104B at Arlanda Airport in 1972|
|Role||Narrow-body jet airliner|
|First flight||17 June 1955|
|Introduction||15 September 1956 (Aeroflot)|
The Tupolev Tu-104 (NATO reporting name: Camel) was a twinjet medium-range narrow-body turbojet-powered Soviet airliner. It was the second to enter in regular service, behind the British de Havilland Comet, and was the only jetliner operating in the world from 1956 to 1958, when the British jetliner was grounded due to safety matters.
In 1957, Czechoslovak Airlines - ?SA, (now Czech Airlines) became the first airline in the world to fly a route exclusively with jet airliners, using the Tu-104A variant between Prague and Moscow. In civil service, the Tu-104 carried over 90 million passengers with Aeroflot (then the world's largest airline), and a lesser number with ?SA, while it also saw operation with the Soviet Air Force. Its successors included the Tu-124, the Tu-134 and the Tu-154.
At the beginning of the 1950s, the Soviet Union's Aeroflot airline needed a modern airliner with better capacity and performance than the piston-engined aircraft then in operation. The design request was filled by the Tupolev OKB, which based their new airliner on its Tu-16 'Badger' strategic bomber. The wings, engines, and tail surfaces of the Tu-16 were retained with the airliner, but the new design adopted a wider, pressurised fuselage designed to accommodate 50 passengers. The prototype build in MMZ 'Opit' first flew on June 17, 1955 with Yu.L. Alasheyev at the controls. It was fitted with a drag parachute to shorten the landing distance by up to 400 metres (1,300 ft), since at the time not many airports had sufficiently long runways.
Although a popular story says Westerners were surprised by the arrival of the Tu-104 in London during a 1956 state visit[dubious ] by Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev, the airplane had already been revealed at the July 1955 Tushino airshow.
The Tu-104 was powered by two Mikulin AM-3 turbojets placed in the wing roots (resembling the configuration of the de Havilland Comet). The crew consisted of five people: two pilots, a navigator (seated in the glazed "bomber" nose), a flight engineer and a radio operator (later eliminated). The airplane raised great curiosity by its lavish "Victorian" interior - so-called by some Western-hemisphere observers - due to the materials used: mahogany, copper and lace.
Tu-104 pilots were trained on the Il-28 bomber, followed by mail flights on an unarmed Tu-16 bomber painted in Aeroflot colors, between Moscow and Sverdlovsk. Pilots with previous Tu-16 experience transitioned into the Tu-104 with relative ease. The Tu-104 was considered difficult to fly, as it was heavy on controls and quite fast on final approach, and at low speeds it would display a tendency to stall, a feature common with highly-swept wings. Experience with the Tu-104 led the Tupolev Design Bureau to develop the world's first turbofan series-built airliner, the Tupolev Tu-124, designed for local markets, and subsequently the more commercially successful Tu-134.
On 15 September 1956, the Tu-104 began revenue service on Aeroflot's Moscow-Omsk-Irkutsk route, replacing the Ilyushin Il-14. The flight time was reduced from 13 hours and 50 minutes to 7 hours and 40 minutes, and the new jet dramatically increased the level of passenger comfort. By 1957, Aeroflot had placed the Tu-104 in service on routes from Vnukovo Airport in Moscow to London, Budapest, Copenhagen, Beijing, Brussels, Ottawa, Delhi, and Prague.
In 1957, ?SA Czechoslovak Airlines became the only export customer for the Tu-104, placing the aircraft on routes to Moscow, Paris, and Brussels. ?SA bought six Tu-104As (four new and two used examples) configured for 81 passengers. Three of these aircraft were subsequently written off (one due to a refueling incident in India and another to a pilot error without fatalities).
In 1959 a Tu-104 was leased to Sir Henry Lunn Ltd. (Lunn Poly) of London which used the aircraft to transport holiday-makers to Russia with a 4.5 hour flight time.
Whilst the Tu-104 continued to be used by Aeroflot throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the safety record of the aircraft was poor, in comparison to other jet airliners of its day (16 out of 96 aircraft were lost in crashes). The Tu-104 was unreliable, heavy, very unstable with poor control response, with an inclination to Dutch roll. Poor design aerodynamics of the wings resulted in a propensity to stall with little or no warning and a dangerous tendency to pitch-up violently before stalling and entering an irrecoverable dive. Due to the fear of inadvertent stalls aircrew would fly approaches above the recommended approach speed, landing at 270-300 km/h (170-190 mph), nearly 50 km/h (31 mph) faster. At least 2 accidents were attributed to the pitch-up phenomenon, prompting changes to the design of the aircraft and operating procedures, but the problem remained. Aeroflot retired the Tu-104 from civil service in March 1979 following a fatal accident at Moscow, but several aircraft were transferred to the Soviet military, which used them as staff transports and to train cosmonauts in zero gravity. After a military Tu-104 crash in February 1981 killed 52 people (17 were senior army and naval staff), the type was permanently removed from service. The last flight of the Tu-104 was a ferry flight to Ulyanovsk Aircraft Museum in 1986.
Data from: 
|Date||Tail number||Aircraft type||Location||Casualties||Description||Refs|
|19 February 1958||CCCP-?5414||Tu-104||Savasleyka||0/3||Force-landed short of the runway after running out of fuel following a diversion.|||
|15 August 1958||CCCP-?5442||Tu-104A||Chita||64/64||Aeroflot Flight 4 stalled, spun down and crashed after entering an updraft at 12,000 m (39,000 ft).|||
|17 October 1958||CCCP-42362||Tu-104A||Kanash||80/80||A flight carrying high-level delegations crashed when it entered a dive and crashed after entering an updraft at 12,000 m (39,000 ft). The Tu-104 was limited to 9,000 m (30,000 ft) and the tail modified in the wake of this accident.|||
|20 October 1960||CCCP-42452||Tu-104A||Ust-Orda||3/68||Aeroflot Flight 5 struck sloping terrain and crashed while the pilot was checking the landing lights.|||
|1 February 1961||CCCP-42357||Tu-104A||Vladivostok||0||Overran runway after landing too late.|||
|16 March 1961||CCCP-42438||Tu-104B||near Koltsovo||7/51||Aeroflot Flight 68 force-landed on a frozen pond following double engine failure. Two people on the ground died when a house was struck by the aircraft.|||
|10 July 1961||CCCP-42447||Tu-104B||Odessa||1/94||Aeroflot Flight 381 crashed after entering downdrafts while landing in bad weather.|||
|17 September 1961||CCCP-42388||Tu-104A||Tashkent||0||Heavy landing; written off.|||
|2 November 1961||CCCP-42504||Tu-104B||Vladivostok||0||Struck a radio antenna while on approach and force-landed in a field following engine failure.|||
|4 June 1962||CCCP-42491||Tu-104B||Sofia||5/5||Struck a mountain following engine failure.|||
|30 June 1962||CCCP-42370||Tu-104A||Krasnoyarsk Krai||84/84||Aeroflot Flight 902 crashed after it was accidentally shot down by a missile.|||
|3 September 1962||CCCP-42366||Tu-104A||Khabarovsk||86/86||Aeroflot Flight 3 lost control at 4,500 m (14,800 ft) while climbing. Although the cause was not determined, issues with the autopilot were blamed. An accidental shoot-down by a missile was also theorized.|||
|25 October 1962||CCCP-42495||Tu-104B||Sheremetyevo||11/11||Crashed on takeoff during a test flight due to cross-connected rudder controls.|||
|16 March 1963||OK-LDB||Tu-104A||Santa Cruz Airport||Unknown||Caught fire while being refueled.|||
|18 May 1963||CCCP-42483||Tu-104B||Leningrad||0||Stalled on approach and crashed.|||
|13 July 1963||CCCP-42492||Tu-104B||near Irkutsk Airport||33/35||Aeroflot Flight 12 crashed short of the runway due to incorrect instrument readings. Water entered the instrument wiring, causing a short circuit.|||
|9 June 1964||CCCP-42476||Tu-104B||Novosibirsk||Unknown||Overshot runway in heavy rain during second landing attempt.|||
|28 April 1969||CCCP-42436||Tu-104B||Irkutsk||Unknown||Landed 600 m (2,000 ft) short of runway; written off.|||
|1 June 1970||OK-NDD||Tu-104A||Tripoli||13/13||Crashed short of the runway after the pilot attempted an approach to runway 36.|||
|25 July 1971||CCCP-42405||Tu-104B||Irkutsk||97/126||Aeroflot Flight 1912 landed 150 m (490 ft) short of the runway; breaking off the left wing. The aircraft rolled to the left and caught fire.|||
|10 October 1971||CCCP-42490||Tu-104B||Vnukovo||25/25||Aeroflot Flight 773 crashed shortly after takeoff after an explosion occurred while climbing through 1,200 m (3,900 ft). The explosion damaged the fuselage and destroyed flight controls. Control was lost and the aircraft rolled right and entered a descent until it struck the ground. The explosion was caused by a bomb placed between the cabin wall and a passenger seat in the rear of the cabin near frame 45.|||
|19 March 1972||CCCP-42408||Tu-104B||Omsk||0||Struck a snow wall short of the runway during the fifth landing attempt.|||
|24 April 1973||CCCP-42505||Tu-104B||Leningrad||2/57||Hijacked by a passenger who demanded to be taken to Sweden. The crew returned to Leningrad. While the landing gear was lowered, the hijacker set off a bomb, killing himself and the flight engineer. The bomb blew a hole in the fuselage, but the aircraft was able to land safely.|||
|18 May 1973||?-42379||Tu-104B||Buryat ASSR||82/82||Aeroflot Flight 109 was hijacked by a passenger who demanded to be taken to China. A bomb that the hijacker had put on board the aircraft detonated at 30,000 ft (9,100 m) and the aircraft lost control and crashed east of Lake Baikal.|||
|29 August 1973||OK-MDE||Tu-104A||Nicosia||0/70||CSA Flight 531 veered off the runway after landing after the pilot failed to stop the aircraft in time. The wreckage remains at the airport site to this day.|||
|30 September 1973||CCCP-42506||Tu-104B||Sverdlovsk||108/108||Aeroflot Flight 3932 crashed shortly after takeoff due to a power failure of the artificial horizons.|||
|13 October 1973||CCCP-42486||Tu-104B||Domodedovo||122/122||Aeroflot Flight 964 crashed while on approach following a power failure to the compass system and main gyros and resulting loss of control. The crash is the worst involving the Tu-104.|||
|7 December 1973||CCCP-42503||Tu-104B||near Moscow||16/75||Aeroflot Flight 964 crashed after a wing struck the ground after coming in too fast.|||
|5 November 1974||CCCP-42501||Tu-104B||Chita||0||Overran the runway on landing and came to rest against a railway embankment.|||
|30 August 1975||CCCP-42472||Tu-104B||Tolmachevo Airport||0||Right landing gear collapsed following a heavy landing.|||
|9 February 1976||CCCP-42327||Tu-104A||Irkutsk||24/115||Aeroflot Flight 3739 crashed after banking to the right while climbing for takeoff and entering a descent. Debris from the aircraft struck a North Korean Tu-154 that had just landed. Although the official cause of the accident was loss of control caused by crosswinds, improper fueling (too much fuel on one side) and pilot error were also theorized.|||
|17 July 1976||CCCP-42335||Tu-104A||Chita Airport||0||Failed to take off and crashed due to overloading.|||
|28 November 1976||CCCP-42471||Tu-104B||near Sheremetyevo||72/72||Aeroflot Flight 2415 lost control and crashed following artificial horizon failure and resulting crew disorientation.|||
|1976||CCCP-42371||Tu-104A||Borispol Airport||Unknown||Crashed short of the runway after the engines were shut down in flight.|||
|13 January 1977||CCCP-42369||Tu-104A||Alma-Ata||96/96||Aeroflot Flight 3843 exploded in mid-air due to an engine fire.|||
|17 March 1979||CCCP-42444||Tu-104B||near Moscow||58/119||While operating as Aeroflot Flight 1691, the crew encountered a false fire alarm from engine during takeoff and turned back to Vnukovo. The plane crashed while attempting to return to the airport. Aeroflot removed the Tu-104 from service following this accident.|||
|7 February 1981||CCCP-42332||Tu-104A||Pushkin||50/50||Soviet Navy flight; 1981 Pushkin Tu-104 crash, failed to take off due to shifting cargo. All military Tu-104's were grounded following this accident.|||
A Tu-104 is the supposed aircraft making a flight from London to New York which forms the subject of the 1959 film Jet Storm. Footage of an actual Tu-104 taxiing and taking off is shown near the beginning of the film.
Tu-104 is depicted on Soviet postage stamps of 1958 and 1969.
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