Tupolev Tu-104

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Tupolev Tu-104
Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-104B at Arlanda, July 1972.jpgAeroflot Tu-104B in Stockholm in 1972
Type: Jet airliner
Design country:

Soviet Union 1955Soviet Union Soviet Union


OKB Tupolev

First flight:

June 17, 1955


September 15, 1956

Production time:


Number of pieces:


The Tupolev Tu-104 ( Russian Туполев Ту-104 , NATO code name Camel ) took off for the first time in 1955 as the second jet airliner in the world, three years after the De Havilland DH.106 Comet started scheduled flights . It was developed by the Tupolev OKB and derived from the Tu-16 bomber . It was slightly larger and faster than the Comet, but had a shorter range. One year after the first flight , the machine was used in scheduled service from 1956. By the end of production in 1960, just over 200 aircraft of this type had been produced.

The Tu-107 transport aircraft was derived from the Tu-104 for the Soviet Air Force ; but this was not taken over into the inventory of the air force.

Another further development was the four-engine Tu-110 , which also did not go into series production.

Development and constructive structure

Cockpit detail
Passenger cabin

The fuselage, designed for military requirements, was redeveloped for use in passenger traffic. The fuselage diameter was increased from 2.90 m to 3.40 m, but without the constrictions in the area of ​​the engine arrangement as with the Tu-16. This resulted in a pressurized cabin 16.11 m long, 3.2 m wide and 1.95 m high. The cabin is divided into a front and a rear cabin area by a raised middle section in the area of ​​the wing center section. The galley was installed there for the first series aircraft. The cockpit is designed for a five-person crew, consisting of a pilot , copilot , navigator (in the glazed bow pulpit), radio operator and flight engineer .

Because of the changes to the fuselage, the arrangement of the engines also had to be changed. The engine nacelles for accommodating the Mikulin - AM-3M engines, which were huge for the time , have now been integrated into the wings. The engines were housed in the rear of the nacelles. The wing was given a wider center section, but was otherwise taken over from the Tu-16. The horizontal stabilizer was now attached to the rear of the fuselage, the nose landing gear placed further forward. Some versions had a braking parachute , which is unusual for a passenger aircraft .

The prototype, aircraft registration number CCCP-Л5400 , took off on June 17, 1955 on its maiden flight . The pilot was J. I. Alasheev. As early as July 3, 1955, it was presented to the public at the air parade in Tuschino . Production took place in aircraft factories No. 135 in Kharkov (22% of production), No. 166 in Omsk (30%) and later also in No. 22 in Kazan (48%).

Thanks to the further development of the engines, OKB Tupolew was able to develop the Tu-104-A in the winter of 1956/57. She had an increased take-off mass and 70 seats for passengers. The A version was followed by the Tu-104B with a fuselage that was 1.21 m longer. The additional increase in payload made it possible to increase the passenger capacity to 100 people (30 front cabin, 15 central area, 65 rear cabin). At the end of the 1970s, almost all Tu-104s were converted to 104 or 115 seats.


Tupolev Tu-104A of the ČSA (1970)

The flight tests of the Tu-104 ran relatively smoothly. In the summer of 1955, Aeroflot began crew training on two demilitarized Tu-16s (also known as Tu-104G). The Tu-104 landed for the first time in the west on March 22, 1956 in London-Heathrow in preparation for a Soviet state visit. The visit aroused great interest among Western experts, especially since only the De Havilland DH.106 Comet was in service as a jet-propelled passenger aircraft.

On September 15, 1956, Aeroflot began regular service on the Moscow - Irkutsk route with Tu-104. From October 12, 1956, the Moscow - Prague route was also flown with this type. Until the early 1960s , the Tu-104 became Aeroflot's most important medium -haul aircraft . The only export customer was the Czechoslovak ČSA , which acquired six Tu-104A units in 1957.

On March 15, 1959, Aeroflot took the Tu-104 on the heavily frequented route Moscow - Leningrad .

From 1981 the Tu-104 was taken out of service by Aeroflot. Some of the machines are said to have been transferred to the military and were partly converted into flying trainers for weightlessness as part of cosmonaut training . At least one machine is said to have been used for meteorological research.

Like all of the first jet-powered passenger aircraft, the Tu-104 had 37 total losses of around 200 (18.5%) machines built, a high rate of losses by today's standards. It was significantly worse than the DC-8 (14.5%), roughly on par with the Boeing 707 (17.0%) and better than the De Havilland DH.106 Comet (21.9%) and the Sud Aviation Caravelle (23.0%). At the beginning of use, several Tu-104s went into a flat spin for unknown reasons . A connection with the construction was not initially seen. In the second crash on a scheduled flight on October 17, 1958, in which all 80 passengers died, the pilots radioed some details about the cause of the crash. The causes could then be determined: At high Mach numbers (> 0.82), altitudes over 10,000 m and rear centers of gravity of over 30%, gusts from below could cause the aircraft to tear up, lose speed and then spin. This phenomenon was not known until then. Control elements were not designed strong enough for such cases. At the end of 1958, design changes were made and certain operating parameters were restricted.

Like almost all aircraft at the beginning of the jet age, the Tu-104 was very loud .


Tupolev Tu-104A of the former ČSA in the Kbely Aviation Museum in Prague
  • Tu-104 : basic model, 50 seats, 29 pieces were built
  • Tu-104A : Version with more powerful AM-3M engines and modified cabin layout, 70 seats, 77 units were built
  • Tu-104B : Version with 1.21 m extended fuselage, enlarged wing area and modified landing flaps, 100 seats, later converted to 115 seats, first flight in July 1958
  • Tu-104D : converted Tu-104A with 85 seats, was later reduced to A-standard
  • Tu-104E : improved version from 1963 with M16-15 engines. Two copies were created, one of which had modified air inlets, a shortened bow, double-slit landing flaps and slats. The version came too late for series production
  • Tu-104G : two Tu-16s converted to civilian crew trainers (no actual Tu-104)
  • Tu-104W : from 1962 upgraded Tu-104A to 116 seats, later reduced to A-standard
  • Tu-107 : test version converted into a military troop transport with twin cannon in the rear, no series production


From the first flight in 1955 to the end of operations in 1986, the Tu-104 suffered 37 total aircraft losses. 1139 people were killed in 23 of them. This list is incomplete and has only just begun (November 2018).

  • On October 17, 1958, a Tupolev Tu-104A of the Soviet Aeroflot ( aircraft registration number CCCP-42362 ) crashed on the flight between Beijing and Moscow-Vnukowo after a stopover at Omsk Airport near Kanash , Soviet Union . All 71 passengers and the nine-person crew were killed. The machine unexpectedly rose from a height of about 10,000 m when flying through a strong updraft to about 12,000 m and got into an uncontrollable flight condition. As a result of the too high angle of attack, both engines failed, the machine sagged, took a steep dive and hit the ground at high speed near km 636 of the Moscow-Kazan railway line.
  • On June 1, 1970, after two failed attempts to approach runway 18, a ČSA Tu-104A (OK-NDD) was flown into the ground at Tripoli Airport when the pilots made a third attempt from the opposite direction. In this CFIT ( controlled flight into terrain ) all 13 people on board were killed, ten crew members and three passengers.
  • On May 18, 1973, a passenger detonated a bomb in an Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-104B (CCCP-42411) , causing the aircraft to crash east of Lake Baikal . All 82 inmates were killed.
  • On September 30, 1973, an Aeroflot Tu-104B (CCCP-42506) crashed into a forest four minutes after taking off at Omsk Airport, ten kilometers southwest of Yekaterinburg Airport. Obviously, a loss of power led to the failure of both artificial horizon instruments and, as a result, to a loss of control and a subsequent crash. All 100 passengers and 8 crew members were killed.
  • On November 28, 1976, a Tu-104B (CCCP-42471) had an accident shortly after taking off from Moscow-Sheremetyevo Airport as a result of a loss of control in bad weather. All 67 passengers and six crew members were killed.

Technical specifications

Three-sided tear
Parameter Tu-104A Tu-104B
crew 5
Passengers 70 100
length 38.85 m 40.05 m
span 34.54 m
height 11.90 m
Wing area 174.40 m² 183.50 m²
Wing extension 6.80 6.50
Wing swept 37 ° 30 ′
Trunk width 3.50 m
cabin Length: 16.11 m
Width: 3.20 m
Height: 1.95 m
Volume: 143.20 m³
Length: 20.12 m
Width: 3.20 m
Height: 1.97 m
Volume: 149.20 m³
Cargo hold volume 13.00 m³ 28.00 m³
Undercarriage track width 11.83 m
wheelbase 14.10 m 15.32 m
Empty mass 41,600 kg 42,500 kg
Payload 34,400 kg 33,500 kg
payload 9,000 kg 12,000 kg
Max. Takeoff mass 76,000 kg
Wing loading 435.5 kg / m² 457.7 kg / m²
Power load 3.9 kg / kp
Engines two jet engines Mikulin AM-3M
power each 6750 kp
Tank volume 33,000 l
Fuel consumption 6000 l / h
Top speed 900 km / h
Cruising speed maximum 800 km / h
economical 750 km / h
Landing speed 200 km / h
Range 3100 km with maximum tank volume
2650 km with maximum payload
3100 km with maximum tank volume
2100 km with maximum payload
Service ceiling 11,500 m
Cruising altitude 10,000 m
Take-off / landing runway 2000 m / 1100 m with braking parachute 2000 m / 1800 m


In September 1957, the Tu-104A set an altitude record of 20,000 kg payload at 11,221 m over three days. Furthermore, this aircraft set a speed record of 847.498 km / h with a payload of 20,000 kg in the traffic area . A Tu-104A also set a speed record of 970.821 km / h on a 1,000 km circuit with a payload of 10,000 kg.

The Tu-104B achieved even greater performance than its predecessor. With this type, a speed record of 1,015.86 km / h was set on a 2,000 km circuit with a 15,000 kg payload. Furthermore, the Tu-104B achieved an altitude record of 12,799 m with a payload of 25,000 kg.

In plant no.22, a Tu-104B with the serial number 920905 from ongoing production was converted into the Tu-104E version for record flights and СССР–42443approved for the Aeroflot Research Institute (GosNII). With this aircraft, the crew of Kowaljow set a world record on June 2, 1960 on a 2000 km route with a 15,000 kg payload, a speed record of 959.940 km / h.

Tu-104 on Soviet postage stamp (1958)
Tu-104 on Soviet postage stamp (1969)


  • Ulrich Unger: The legendary Tu-104 . In: Fliegerrevue Extra . 3 and 4, 2003 and 2004. Möller, Berlin.
  • de Agostini (ed.): Aircraft . The new encyclopedia of aviation. No. 29 . TOPIC, Munich-Karlsfeld 1993.
  • Heinz A. F. Schmidt: Soviet planes . Transpress, Berlin 1971, p. 71 .

Web links

Commons : Tupolev Tu-104  - collection of images

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Karl-Heinz Eyermann, Wolfgang Sellenthin: The air parades of the USSR. Central Board of the Society for German-Soviet Friendship, 1967. p. 38
  2. Unger, Fliegerrevue Extra No. 4, p. 119
  3. Ulf Gerber: The great book of Soviet aviation 1920–1990. Rockstuhl, Bad Langensalza 2019, ISBN 978-3-95966-403-5 , pp. 608, 619 and 621.
  4. Ulrich Unger in Fliegerrevue Extra 3, cited. in: Holger Lorenz: Start of the nozzle age. hollipress self-published 2008, ISBN 978-3-931770-75-4 , pp. 188/190
  5. Heiko Thiesler: A bang 60 years ago: Tu-104 goes into regular service . In: Fliegerrevue . No. 08/2016 , p. 48-51 .
  6. ^ Accident statistics Tupolev Tu-104 , Aviation Safety Network (English), accessed on November 5, 2018.
  7. ^ Accident report TU-104A CCCP-42362 , Aviation Safety Network (English), accessed on August 19, 2017.
  8. ^ Accident report TU-104 OK-NDD , Aviation Safety Network (English), accessed on October 27, 2019.
  9. ^ Accident report TU-104B CCCP-42411 , Aviation Safety Network (English), accessed on November 5, 2018.
  10. ^ Accident report TU-104B CCCP-42506 , Aviation Safety Network (English), accessed on November 5, 2018.
  11. ^ Accident report TU-104B CCCP-42471 , Aviation Safety Network (English), accessed on October 27, 2019.
  12. Unger, Fliegerrevue Extra No. 3, p. 123 (construction list of all Tu-104 produced).
  13. Unger, Flieger Revue Extra No. 4, p. 125