❤ Sharing Folkworthy Stuffs ❤
1 Comment | Vintage
The Soviet supersonic airliner: of almost exactly contemporaneous devolopment history with Concorde … but it actually achieved its maiden flight slightly over two months earlier.
It was obviously virtually an analogue of Concorde, and together they were the only two supersonic commercial transport aircraft there have ever yet been. The Tu144 had the higher top speed – quite substantially higher at 1310 knots, compared to Concorde’s 1132 knots, although it was generally reckoned – that is, amongst those who aren’t in the habit of putting Soviet technology & engineering down by default – that Concorde was alround the superior design. Maybe the designers pushed the pursuit of speed too far, and the speed of Concorde was prettymuch at the limit for an aircraft of that kind … but that is just my speculation. But the Tu144 was a supremely excellent aircraft – as was Concorde – they both were … and NASA have since acquired some of the Tu144s, and I gather that the pilots of that august body hold them in very high esteem. Part of what doomed the Tu144 as a commercial transport (it did some service, but very little, being confined to routes internal to the Soviet Union) was the extremely public & spectacular crash of one at the Paris Airshow in 1973: I remember myself (just!), after that incident, that the opinion ‘in the air’ was that it was basically finished as a viable commercial transport … but that ‘mindedness’ was of course an extension of the anti-Soviet rhetoric so prevalent at the time. Maybe the crash was to some extent a consequence of design fault – the causes of it are still debated: the Soviets insisted it occured because the pilot was startled by a nearby French fighter-aircraft (which was indeed flying close to it) into performing a precipitate evasive manœuvre.
I just wish both had been around (and indeed were still around!).
If you look very carefully at the picture, it seems to have rolled slightly to starboard, as the port main undercarriage has begun to lift off the ground, whilst the starboard one is still firmly on the ground. But maybe I’m already lapsing back into the habit of deprecating Soviet engineering … a slight roll on take-off may be nothing unusual, for all I know.