1970: Soviet Supersonic Airliner Tupolev Tu-144 Surpasses Mach 2

1970: Soviet Supersonic Airliner Tupolev Tu-144 Surpasses Mach 2
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 26 May 1970
  • The Soviet Tupolev Tu-144 managed to surpass Mach 2 before its European equivalent - the famous Concorde aircraft.

The Soviet Tupolev Tu-144 became the first commercial (non-military) aircraft which exceeded Mach 2, on this day in 1970.

The only other commercial supersonic aircraft in world history which also exceeded Mach 2 was the Concorde, which happened in November of the same year.

The Tupolev Tu-144 and Concorde were often compared, due to their similarity in terms of being commercial supersonic aircraft.

The two aircraft were very similar. One of their differences was that Tu-144 had the so-called canards at its front end. These wings were used to increase buoyancy at low speeds.

The Concorde and Tu-144 both had a “nose”, which could be lowered. These characteristics allowed their pilots to see the runway during landing more clearly.

The nose was lifted at supersonic speeds, “allowing” the front end of the aircraft to have a shape similar to the top of the rocket.

In terms of their dimensions, Tu-144 was about 3.8 meters long. Both aircraft were designed for more than 100 passengers (the Tu-144 could accommodate a maximum of 140 passengers, and the Concorde a maximum of 128 passengers).

Unlike Concorde, which successfully flew on international commercial lines, Tu-144 was highly unstable and problematic. After 55 performed commercial flights, it was permanently grounded.

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