Russia's oldest aircraft design bureau, founded by Andrey Tupolev, is celebrating its 85th anniversary. In these eventful years, the Moscow-based bureau has designed and manufactured more than 300 different models, putting over 18,000 aircraft into the skies.
The bureau has designed both military and civilian aircraft.
"With the collapse of the USSR, like many others, we found ourselves in a crisis. But we have managed not only to survive but also to come up with the new prospective market proposals, like the further development of the TU-204 and TU-334 aircraft families," says Mikhail Aseev, the head of the design department.
To start of with Andrey Tupolev's major gamble, the ANT-2, a whole-metal plane, became a flying success in 1924, just two years after he was granted his own design bureau. It became the world's second whole-metal plane and was followed by the ANT-20, the largest plane of its time. The Tupolev bureau was destined for glory, however, only in the post-war era.
In 1955, the Bureau unveiled its first successful jet liner, the TU-104, where they simply converted one of their strategic bombers for civilian use. The aircraft received wide publicity after Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev used it for his trip to London in 1956. The later TU-154 model became the backbone of Russian civil aviation and still continues in service today.
The biggest technological triumph for the bureau was the "Concordsky" the TU-144. The term supersonic passenger plane immediately brings the Concorde to mind. But it was Tupolev's and his son's plane, the Tu-144 that flew two months earlier than the Anglo-French version and with a maximum speed of over twice the speed of sound it also remained the fastest civil airliner.