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Tu-104 Camel - Development

Even before the official decision on the aircraft, the Bureau had started works on its development. On June 11, 1954 the Council of Ministers of the USSR issued a decree # 1172-516 on creation a long-range high-speed passenger aircraft designated Tu-16P (within the Bureau it had "104" designation, which further became its official - Tu-104, then the last number "4" became a constant figure in the official designation of Tupolev passenger airplanes). It was to be designed on the basis of Tu-16 airplane with two AM-3-200 engines. Serial production was imposed on the plant # 135 in Kharkov.

By the beginning of 1955, Tu-104 prototype with AM-3 engines was finished in prototype production and immediately transferred to the Bureaus Flight Test and Development base in Zhukovskiy, where its development and preparation for tests began. Factory tests of the prototype started on June 11, 1955 and continued till October 12, 1955. Tests were carried out by the crew consisting of the following persons: captain test-pilot Y.T. Alasheev, copilot - B.M. Timoshok, navigator - P.N. Rudnev, chief engineer - V.N. Benderov. B.F. Petrov was appointed the chief engineer from the Bureau for Tu-104, while the general management of the project, as with Tu-16, was carried out by D.S. Markov, who later became the chief designer of the aircraft. Tu-104 prototype performed its first flight on June 17, 1955. The data obtained during the factory tests met almost all the requirements for the airplane, given in the decree of the Council of Ministers, except for the take-off run, which was corrected by installation of more powerful AM-3M engines. The plane was then recommended for transfer to the state tests.

While the factory tests were under way, production plant # 135 was being prepared for batch production of Tu-104. Hard work on putting the aircraft into production was as tough as it would be in the years of the Great Patriotic War. Less than a year after issuing the decree of the Council of Ministers, the first production Tu-104 was being finished in the newly built assembly shop of the plant (it should be noted that the roof of the shop was not finished yet at that point). The second stage of tests by state commission began in October 1955.

On November 5, 1955 the first serial aircraft Tu-104 performed its first flight piloted by the crew of test-pilot V.F.Kovalev, followed by two more airplanes of zero batches, which by May, 1956 were ready for field tests. In August, 1956 the first preproduction aircraft was ready it was flown for the first time and factory tested by the plants test-pilot F.F. Dotsenko. Then, full-scale production of Tu-104 began.

The state tests of the first prototype took place in the Air Force State Scientific Research Institute of the Red Banner from January 31, 1956 to June 15, 1956. The state tests were performed by the crew headed by A.K. Starikov, who had successfully tested Tu-16 before and has done a lot to teach its younger passenger "brother" to fly. During tests, a large number of flights related to the following emergencies were performed: failure of one of the engines during take-off, fuel dumping in flight, aborted take-off, emergency descent from high altitudes, determination of stall characteristics, check of the effectiveness of anti-icing systems, etc.

During the state tests on March 22, 1956 Tu-104 prototype flew to London with a group of diplomats and I.A. Serov, the chairman of the KGB, who was preparing visit of N.S. Khrushchev and N.A. Bulganin to England. The emerging of Tu-104 in Western Europe caused a real furor in the aviation and general public at the other side of the "iron curtain". It became clear for the Europe that the Soviet Union had brilliantly mastered the complex technologies of aircraft industry and was capable of producing not only modern combat jet airplanes (which the West met during Korean War not so long ago), but also first-class passenger jets.

Field tests of the first two production aircraft began almost simultaneously with the state tests of the prototype. The former were carried out by the CAF with the help of the Ministry of Aircraft Production, specifically, chief engineers of the Bureau B.N. Grozdov V.N. Benderov took part in them.




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