Car video reviews:

Meet the Soviet Supersonic Aircraft TU-144, the Result of the Cold War’s Competition

TU-144 the Supersonic Aircraft 8 photos
TU-144 Supersonic AircraftTU-144 Supersonic AircraftTU-144 Supersonic AircraftTU-144 Supersonic AircraftTU-144 Supersonic AircraftTU-144 Supersonic Aircraft
While the French and British were working together to create the Concorde, the Soviets had their own version of the supersonic aircraft, called Tu-144. In total, the Russian made sixteen aircraft, with series numbers from 77101 to 77115. One of them, unit 77110, has just turned 30 years of total non-flying time.

The world is today celebrating the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings of World War 2. It’s the historic moment when the largest seaborne invasion in history changed the face of the planet. It's widely considered the tipping point of the war. After that, Natzi Germany was fighting a war on two front, one it couldn't hope to win.

All that considered, we dare you to remember Tupolev Tu-144 aircraft, the product of the crazy Cold War’s aircraft-engineering competition. A prototype first flew on 31 December 1968 near Moscow, two months before Concorde did. For those few that forgot, we’ll remind you that the western countries along with the U.S. on one side, and the Soviet Union, on the other one, were dealing with a great competition in designing the world’s fastest and strongest aircraft, guns and of course nuclear armaments.

That is why Tupolev Tu-144 was so important for the reds to finish building first. The soviet plane first went supersonic on 5 June 1969 and on 26 May 1970 became the first commercial transport to exceed Mach 2. 

Only 16 “Concordski,” the name it got in the West because of the frequent comparisons to Concorde, were ever produced. One of them, the 77110, had its 30th anniversary of... total non-flying. The airplane has 247 flight hours of which 116 hours were supersonic and since June 1st 1984, it hasn’t risen up into the sky.

English Russia has recently published a number of photographs of the aircraft, dating from 1984 until present time. And if you’re not that attracted to supersonic airplanes, you might want to know that there is a lot of espionage issue when it comes to this one. As a matter a fact, the development of the Tu-144 is closely related to industrial espionage against the French company Aerospatiale, which was (along with the British Aircraft Corporation) developing Concorde. Many soviet agents were arrested during the 60s and 70s on this issue.


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories