Tupolev Tu-144 "Concordski" Discovered Hidden in Tatarstan

It's not often that we get to write about an airplane, but very few modern birds have an interesting story to tell. The Tupolev Tu-144 is one amazing machine, built, like so many cool things, during the Cold War.
Tupolev Tu-144 "Concordski" 7 photos
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While the British and French were busy with their delta-winged Concorde supersonic airliner, Russian bureaucrats took it as a matter of national pride that the USSR should make one as well. The Tupolev Tu-144 first flew on December 31st, 1968, two months before the Anglo-French jet. Both were supposed to be able to travel long distances at speeds similar to military aircrafts.

Despite this, a prototype famously crashed at the 1973 Paris Air Show and delayed further development. As a result, the Concorde made its commercial flight debut a year before the Russian rivals. Both aircraft featured ogival delta wings, which have never since been used on commercial aircraft. They're super-thin and produce low lift at slow speeds, which made landing very tricky. Tupolev engineers weren't able to figure a the conical camber wing solution found by the French and installed pop-out canard wings on the nose.

Speaking of the nose, this hinges down when landing because otherwise the pitch of the aircraft wouldn't allow the pilots to see in front of the aircraft. Neither model was particularly successful despite billions of dollars of development money. After only 55 low-volume passenger flights, he whole Tu-144 fleet was grounded.

Some of the 16 units were dissembled after the fall of the communist regime and sold for scrap (they're made from aluminum and rare metals). However, one example survived in pristine condition The airplane was recently "discovered" in Kazan, the capital city of the Tatarstan federation of Russia.

After finding the photos below online, we did a bit of digging and actually found the aircraft on Google Maps. It's located on a road connected to Kazan's airport and seems to be in the back yard of a military base. There's even a video shot a few years ago that shows the wipers and the hydraulic nose mechanism are still working, many decades after the Tupolev was decommissioned.

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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