|Aeroflot Tu-114 at Schiphol Airport in 1964
|Large turboprop airliner
|15 November 1957
|24 April 1961
Japan Airlines (in association with Aeroflot)
Soviet Air Forces
The Tupolev Tu-114 Rossiya (Russian: Tyполев Тy-114 Poccия; NATO reporting name Cleat) is a retired large turboprop-powered long-range airliner designed by the Tupolev design bureau and built in the Soviet Union from May 1955. The aircraft was the largest and fastest passenger plane at that time and also had the longest range, at 10,900 km (6,800 mi). It has held the official title of fastest propeller-driven aircraft since 1960.
Due to its swept wing and powerplant design, the Tu-114 was able to travel at speeds typical of modern jetliners, 880 km/h (550 mph). Although it was able to accommodate 224 passengers, when operated by Aeroflot, it was more common to accommodate 170 passengers with sleeping berths and a dining lounge.
The Tu-114 carried over six million passengers before being replaced by the jet-powered Ilyushin Il-62. Thirty-two aircraft were built at the Kuibyshev aviation plant (No.18) in the early 1960s.
In response to a directive No.1561-868 from the Council of Ministers and Ministry of Aircraft Production order No.571, issued in August 1955, the Tupolev Design Bureau was to create an airliner that had a range of 8,000 km (4,971 mi), based on the Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bomber, powered by four Kuznetsov NK-12 engines driving contra-rotating propellers.
The Tu-114 used the basic wing, empennage, landing gear, and powerplants of the Tu-95 bomber, mated to a totally new pressurized fuselage of much larger diameter. To cope with the increased weight, increased landing flap surface area was required, and the flap chord was increased compared to the bomber's flaps. The wing was mounted low on the fuselage, giving the Tu-114 a much higher stance on its landing gear than the bomber. As a result, a new nose landing gear strut was required, although the main landing gear remained unchanged.
The Tu-114 was able to reach speeds typical of modern jetliners (880 km/h), but its cruising speed equivalent to Mach 0.71 was markedly lower than equivalent jet airliners such as the Boeing 707, Douglas DC-8, and Vickers VC10, which usually cruised at Mach 0.83. It carried up to 224 passengers in maximum carriage configuration, although a more usual number for long-distance transcontinental flights was 170 passengers, which enabled the planes to be fitted with such luxuries as sleeping berths and even a dining lounge for the upper-class cabin.
The Tu-114 had several unique features for its time, such as:
The Tu-114s was a rare example of a plane with a dual-use layout — as a commercial airliner and for government transportation. The same dual-purpose layout was used in the first Tu-104s. The Tu-114 had four sleeping compartments with three berths in each, and a "restaurant" cabin in the midsection of the aircraft — the loudest section on the aircraft — with eight tables, each of which had six seats in a face-to-face arrangement. During official flights the middle cabin was used as a restaurant for dining. VIPs like Nikita Khrushchev and his wife travelled in the sleeping compartments, with their staff and entourage in two tourist class cabins with 3+3 layout. Front cabins had 41 seats (first row 2+3), and the aft cabin had 54 seats.
On domestic flights all seats were sold at one price; there was no class difference in the USSR during the Tu-114's flying career. The most uncomfortable places on the plane were in the "restaurant" compartments (six seats instead three sleeping berths), these were sold last. Three places in row 16, near the stair to the lower deck were equipped with baby bassinets. Maximum seating capacity of the Tu-114 in its "native" configuration was 170 passengers.
For international flights, sleeping places were sold as first class. In the early 1970s, sleeping compartments and the "restaurant" on most Tu-114s (excluding three or four) were dismantled and replaced with the usual passenger seats, with maximum seating reaching 200.
The design was not without shortcomings. Passengers on the Tu-114 endured high noise levels (108–112 dB) and vibrations from the propellers and engines.
The first Tu-114, registration СССР-Л5611, was first shown to the West in 1958 at the Brussels World Exhibition. It later carried Nikita Khrushchev on his first trip to the United States in September 1959, the first such visit by any Soviet leader. The Tu-114 was still in the testing phase and had completed its first long range flight only four months earlier, after which postflight analysis found that hairline cracks had formed in the engines. Trusting the Soviet leadership to a still experimental aircraft was risky, but the only other option for a flight to the United States would be the short range Il-18 which would require multiple fueling stops. Although the Central Committee, Minister of Defense Malinovsky, and Khrushchev's personal pilot all considered it too risky to use the new aircraft, the Soviet premier insisted and aircraft designer Andrei Tupolev felt confident enough to put his son Alexei on the same flight. During Khrushchev's flight, a group of engineers were aboard the plane, operating diagnostic equipment to monitor the engines and verify that they were functioning correctly. Khrushchev later said, "We didn't publicize the fact that Tupolev's son was with us" for "to do so, would have meant giving explanations, and these might have been damaging to our image". When it arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, the ground crew found that the aircraft was so large and its landing gear so tall that they had no passenger steps high enough to reach the forward hatch. Khrushchev and his party were obliged to use the aircraft's own emergency escape ladder. The last flight of this particular plane was in 1968, and it is now on display at the Central Air Force Museum at Monino, outside of Moscow. Similar issues were experienced when the plane first landed at London and Paris airports, neither of which had hosted a plane of this size.
The Tu-114 entered regular Aeroflot service on flights from Vnukovo Airport in Moscow to Khabarovsk on 24 April 1961. It was subsequently used for Aeroflot flights to international destinations including Copenhagen, Havana, Montreal, New Delhi, Paris, Belgrade and Tokyo (in co-operation with JAL).
Flights to Havana via Conakry in Guinea began on 10 July 1962. After the United States government placed political pressure on Guinea, landing rights were denied after four flights, and the Tu-114 service had to be routed through Dakar, Senegal, instead. Further American pressure to isolate Cuba resulted in denial of landing rights after three flights, and the route was changed to Algiers, Algeria, instead. After three more flights, Algiers was also closed to the Tu-114. To overcome this, the Tu-114 was specially modified into the long-range Tu-114D variant, with seating reduced from 170 to 60, and 15 extra fuel tanks added. These aircraft refuelled at Olenya near Murmansk, in the far North of the Soviet Union, and then flew via the Barents Sea to Havana. Usually, this fuel load was enough, but in case of strong headwinds, an emergency refuelling stop in Nassau in The Bahamas was necessary; this was an American military field. All planes operating this route were converted back to normal specifications after the jet-powered Ilyushin Il-62 began flying the Moscow–Havana route.
Aeroflot first appeared in the OAG registry in the January 1967 issue, which shows:
The May 1967 OAG adds the weekly flight to Tokyo, taking 10:35 hours and the return to SVO in 11:25 hours.
Ilyushin 62s took over the Delhi and Montreal flights in 1967 (though the August 1968 OAG shows a weekly SVO-YUL-HAV Tu-114 along with a weekly Tu-114 via Algiers). Ilyushins took over the Tokyo flight in May/June 1969 and Havana, probably sometime in 1969.
With the increasing use of the Il-62, the Tu-114s were shifted to long domestic flights from Domodedovo to Alma-Ata, Tashkent, Novosibirsk and Khabarovsk. Tu-114s were also used for charter operations for senior officials of the USSR and various official delegations.
The Tu-114 had a short commercial service life compared with other Soviet airliners, being operated on regular flights from 1961 to 1976 (in comparison, the Il-62 is still in civilian service 52 years after its introduction, as of 2019). The fatigue life of the airframe was set at 14,000 flying hours. Most of the aircraft passed this point in 1976. By the summer of 1977, Aeroflot decided to scrap 21 aircraft at the same time. A few continued in use by the Soviet Air Forces until 1991.
The Tu-114 was renowned for reliability, speed and fuel economy. Tu-114 burned 5,000-5,500 kg/hour of fuel at cruise flight. Its safety record was rarely matched: there was only one accident involving fatalities, but the plane was not airborne at the time. It was only withdrawn from service after the introduction of the Il-62 and after carrying over six million passengers with Aeroflot and Japan Airlines.
For the Moscow–Tokyo route, Japan Air Lines made an agreement with Aeroflot to use the Tu-114. The flight crew included one JAL member, and the cabin crew consisted of five each from Aeroflot and JAL. The seating was changed to a two-class layout with 105 seats, and the aircraft livery included a small JAL logo and lettering on the forward fuselage. The first flight was on April 17, 1967. In 1969, the Moscow–Tokyo Tu-114 flights ended and the four involved planes converted back to the 200-seat domestic layout.
In June 1959 the Aviation Sports Committee of the Central Air Club named after Valeriy P. Chkalov approached the Tupolev OKB suggesting that various aviation records could be taken by Tupolev-designed aircraft. The Tupolev OKB prepared a detailed plan for record attempts on the Tu-16, Tu-104, Tu-104B, Tu-95M and Tu-114. The second preproduction Tu-114 (СССР-76459) was prepared and clearance obtained to fly with the 30-tonne (metric ton) payload required for some of the record attempts.
In a series of flights beginning on 24 March 1960 the Tu-114 achieved the following records in Sub-class C-1 (landplanes) Group 2 (turboprop):
All these records stand, but the category was discontinued when the category was split into takeoff weight sub-groups. Similar records have been set in the new sub-groups by Tu-95 and Tu-142 aircraft at faster speeds.
Main article: Tupolev Tu-116
The Tu-116 was a Tupolev Tu-95 bomber fitted with pressurized passenger cabins built to serve as the official government transport. The two passenger cabins were fitted into the space of bomb bays and were not connected to each other or the flight deck.
Main article: Tupolev Tu-126
The Tu-126 (NATO reporting name Moss) was used by the Soviet Air Force in the airborne early warning (AEW) role until being replaced by the Beriev A-50.
During its service life, the Tu-114 had only one fatal accident. On 17 February 1966, Aeroflot Flight 065 attempted to take off from Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport at night in deteriorating weather conditions, after the flight had been delayed several times. The crew was unaware that snow had not been properly cleared from the full width of the runway involved. The plane's wing struck a large snow mound at speed and the propellers of the number 3 and 4 engines hit the runway, resulting in the aircraft veering off course and catching fire. Initial Soviet sources suggested that 48 of the 70 persons on board were killed, including the pilot. The aircraft was bound for Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo with a number of Africans and a Soviet trade delegation on board. Later reports give the fatalities as 21 of 48 on board.
Another non-operational aircraft was written off, with fuselage damage, on 7 August 1962 at Vnukovo Airport after the nose undercarriage collapsed during servicing. Tail number СССР-76479 was one of only three long range D models manufactured.
СССР-L5611 – (Prototype) On static display at the Central Air Force Museum in Monino, Moscow Oblast. This is the airliner used by Nikita Khrushchev when he visited the United States in 1959.
СССР-76490 – On static display at the Ulyanovsk Aircraft Museum in Ulyanovsk, Ulyanovsk Oblast together with the sole surviving example of the related Tu-116.
СССР-76485 – On static display at the Aviation Museum of the National Aviation University in Kryvyi Rih.
Data from Jane's all the World's Aircraft 1969–70