The fourth passenger jet airliner to fly (after Britain, Canada and France) was the Soviet Union’s Tupolev Tu-104. It first flew on 17 June 1955, entering service with Aeroflot on 15 September 1956.

Produced by the Tupolev Design Bureau which could trace its history back to 1922, the Tu-104 became the second jet in airline service after the de Havilland Comet 1. In addition to Aeroflot, CSA Czechoslovak Airlines also operated the aircraft.

Tupolev Tu-104 Video

Following on from last weeks video about the Douglas DC-8, we head behind the iron curtain and see how the Soviet Union entered the jet age. Running for around 15 minutes, this video will tell you all about the Tupolev Tu-104.

Tupolev had a history of basing their civilian aircraft on previous military designs. The Tu-104 was based on the Tupolev Tu-16 strategic heavy bomber, which entered service in 1952. The new passenger jet seated 50 to 115 passengers, with CSA having 81 in their aircraft.

Between 1956 and 1958, the Tu-104 was the only jet aircraft in service in the world. The de Havilland Comet, Boeing 707 and Sud Aviation Caravelle were all in flight testing during this period.

There are lots of interesting pieces in the video, such as the interesting stairs to get in and out of the aircraft. Some very strange looking cabin interior designs are there also, plus the parachutes to slow the aircraft down. It’s well worth a look!

Overall Thoughts

Production ceased in 1960 after 201 aircraft had been built. It continued in passenger service through to 1979, despite its poor safety record. A final crash in 1981 ended its career in the Soviet military which also ended its time flying.

As a pioneer in the jet age, the Tupolev Tu-104 should be remembered. Jet aircraft in the Soviet Union progressively became more advanced after this first foray into the technology.

Did you ever fly on a Tupolev Tu-104? Did you even know this aircraft existed? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Lars Söderström via