Tu-144 - not just a "first signs" of supersonic passenger aircraft.This is one of the symbols of the Soviet Union era, "Cold War" and its technical superiority over the Western world.Tu-144, almost twice the speed of sound, and a few decades ahead of his time, marked the beginning of a new era of passenger aircraft, which, however, did not come until now.Its only competitor in this field - the Anglo-French "Concorde" - suffered even more resounding failure.
In the sixties humanity, perhaps, was still technologically and scientifically is not ready for such an achievement.Then the world of science virtually nothing was known about metal fatigue.The whole history of the two competition vehicles accompanied by continuous disasters and failures on both sides.
When it became aware of the joint Anglo-French project to build a fundamentally new supersonic passenger airliner, the reaction of the Soviet Union was the lightning.The response to this project was supposed to be Tu-144."Concord" was calculated on the cruising speed in the range of 2200-2300 km / h.Soviet equivalent was required to exceed this figure, as well as many others.Nikita Khrushchev in no way wanted to give his Western foes.
development of this ambitious project was entrusted to Tupolev.The new aircraft was given the mark of "Tu-144", and the construction of the Voronezh aircraft factory engaged.The birth of a new child of the Soviet aircraft industry before "Concord" and the technical superiority of the Soviet airliner over the Anglo-French machine were regarded not only as the most important political task.Money for the construction of the Tu-144, as it was adopted in the USSR, not spared.
The whole structure of the supersonic metal bird was the embodiment of light and the advanced technological ideas: Post harvesting to automated CNC and the output was a huge fragment of the plane fuselage or wing.Automation of course, do not let down, but such an approach for some reason forget that semi-finished products such gigantic size and ingots need appropriate scale.They are rather difficult to mold, resulting in the formation of local inhomogeneities inclusions or defects, attenuating metal.
Maybe in this, and there would be nothing wrong if it were not for the purpose of the machine.After all, the Tu-144 had to overcome the sound barrier, and thus withstand the enormous overload.For example, its technological rival "Concord" after not very long operational period just started to fall off in flight wings.And the reason for a long time to figure out failed.He held a variety of tests fine.Including in the deep pools in a very high pressure.In the end, it was just taken out of production.
A similar fate befell the TU-144.After processing structure made of solid metal plate of large thickness in some areas were thinner (two millimeters) jumper.They have something in time and rushed without sustaining permanent huge overload.
Still, the Tu-144 on the date of operation far exceeded "Concord", although there is still the memory of this machine crashes.Perhaps the most famous of them - a catastrophe that happened in the air show in Le Bourget in 1973.The invaluable experience gained in the creation of this machine has been successfully used in the design and construction of heavy supersonic airliner Tu-22M and Tu-160.
And do Tu-144 until mid-nineties, have been used successfully in a variety of scientific research: the study of the ozone shell of the planet, solar eclipses and so forth. In the modification of the machine - the Tu-144D - delivered thirteen world records that have not yet been beaten.