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Andrey Nikolayevich Tupolev

The Russian aeronautical engineer and army officer Andrey Tupolev [November 10, 1888 – December 23, 1972] was the leading designer of large and heavy aircraft in the USSR. To overestimate the importance of A.N. Tupolev for Soviet aviation is simply impossible. Most of the successes of the domestic aircraft industry in the prewar period are somehow connected with his name. He became the 4-time winner of the Stalin Prize, the winner of the Lenin and State Prizes.

Andrey Tupolev was born into a large family on 10 November 1888 in the village of Pustomazovo near the city of Kimry in Russia’s Tver Region. His father Nikolay Ivanovich Tupolev was a notary at the Tver Region District Court. His mother Anna Vasil’evna Lisicyna was a housewife. She spoke fluently French and German.

After graduating from the Tver gymnasium Tupolev was admitted in 1908 to two Moscow universities at the same time. One was the Institute of Connecting Lines (engineering). But he preferred to study at the leading technical university of the Russian Empire at that time – the Imperial Moscow Technical School that is now known as the Bauman Moscow State Technical University (BMSTU).

Young Andrey Tupolev showed a great interest in aviation from an early age. While performing his studies at the university in 1909 he started attending an aeronautics group under the command of Nikolay Zhukovsky, a famous Russian scientist and founding father of modern aero and hydrodynamics. Young engineer Tupolev constructed his first sailplane and performed in it his first time flight in 1910.

As is well known, Andrei Nikolayevich was arrested and expelled from Moscow and under the tsarist government, being a student of IMTU. He participated actively in anti-government riots and handed out illegal brochures. In March 1911, he was arrested and accused of allowing the use of his address "for the communications of city coalition committees of higher educational institutions in St. Petersburg and Moscow in order to unite these institutions in conducting strikes." May 28, 1911 he was expelled from technical school. He left Moscow to return to his native village in the Tver Region and stayed there under police supervision. Permission to continue studying was given on August 10, 1912 after consideration of his application for reinstatement in the school.

During 1916-1918 Andrey Tupolev, in cooperation with Nikolay Zhukovsky, worked on the development of aerodynamic tunnels. Graduating with honors from the university in 1918 young Tupolev with professor Zhukovsky founded TsAGI (the Central Aero Hydrodynamic Institute). Tupolev was the head of the aviation department.

Following Zhukovskiy’s behests A. N. Tupolev continued aviation science and experimental facilities development; he became a mastermind and founder of Russian metal aircraft industry in the days of wood constructions prevalence and by that determined the all-metal way of the world aircraft industry development. In the 1920s Tupolev and his team constructed heavy bombers which design and layout solutions determined the military and civil heavy aircraft ways of development.

One of the major innovations brought by Tupolev to the Soviet aircraft manufacturing industry was replacing wooden parts of the planes with duralumin. This upset the wood producing industries. But Tupolev overcame the wood lobby and insisted on using duralumin in aircraft construction. The first development under his leadership was a small monoplane named the ANT-1 after his initials, including his patronymic Nikolayevich. The Soviet Union still did not produce the aluminium alloys needed to build aircraft, so Tupolev created this new branch of industry himself. Before long the ANT-3 was being shown off to the Europeans, marking the entry of the USSR into the airborne arms race.

The results of the work were the ANT-5 (1927) and the ANT-4 (1925) also known as the TB-1 heavy bomber. By building these aircraft and by consistently using duralumin Tupolev determined the future development of the aircraft manufacturing industry.

Tupolev's design approach defined for many years the trends of civil and military heavy aircraft development. Aircraft designed at TsAGI at that time had outstanding flying performance and range. With these aircraft it was possible to fly from the USSR to the USA via the North Pole. One of the symbols of that time was the Tupolev ANT-20, also known as Maxim Gorky - an 8-engine aircraft, the largest in the 1930s. It could cover outstanding distances.

On 22 October 1922 the famous OKB Tupolev (Tupolev design bureau) was founded. It was also known as OKB-156, with the design office prefix Tu. It was home to more than 300 different projects. More than 100 of them were built. About 70 were in serial production. Among these were world known civil and military aircrafts such as Tu–95, Tu-160, Tu-154 and Tu-144. More than 78 world records were set with these planes.

Andrey Tupolev’s scientific interests were not limited to aircraft design. He took much interest in related scientific spheres. He could always foresee the future development of aviation and always implemented the most cutting-edge innovations in aircraft design. His many-sided approach to the challenges that faced his OKB was noticed and highly appreciated by the Commissar of Soviet Heavy Industry. Andrey Tupolev was appointed as head engineer of the Soviet aircraft building industry. He started numerous projects in experimental spheres of aviation. Tupolev also tried to modernize building factories, using the most innovative western technologies. These actions gave an unprecedented impulse to Soviet aviation underlined by the slogan “catch up and surpass the western aviation industry.”

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Page last modified: 04-11-2018 17:41:30 ZULU