How the Soviets One Upped The West

How the Soviets One Upped The West: The TU-114 Story

In 1955 the Tupolev Design Bureau was given a directive to convert the Tu-95 intercontinental strategic bomber into an airliner. It would be the quickest way to build the Soviet Union a new long-range airliner. Two parallel projects were launched. The first aimed to minimally modify the Tu-95 and convert it into a VIP transport for Soviet Heads of State (Tu-116). A second, more ambitious project aimed to turn the Tu-95 into a proper airliner (Tu-114).

The Tu-114 was significantly modified, but still retained the Tu-95’s powerful turboprop engines and swept wings, which were mounted lower to accommodate a wider fuselage. Other design changes include larger flaps, a taller nose gear and new stabilizers. The Tu-116 airliner is most notable for its incredible maximum speed of 880 km/h (550 mph), which is comparable to modern-day jet-powered airliners. It also boasted a very impressive (for it’s day) range of 10,900 km (6,800 mi). Early versions were configured in a three-class layout, which was rather unconventional for a Soviet Airliner. Features included, large tables, private sleeping cabins and a dining lounge served by a full-size kitchen in the lower deck .