The Soviet SST
When most of us think about supersonic airline service, we instantly think of the Anglo-French Concorde. Likewise, most people think the Concordes were the only supersonic transport (SST) planes ever put into commercial service. Actually, the USSR got a two-month jump on the Concorde with their own SST, the Tupolev TU-144.
The first ideas for SSTs were hypothetical projects proposed on both sides of the Iron Curtain. There were design prototypes intended for military use as possible bombers and transports. Aircraft manufacturing companies proposed their own designs in the pursuit of lucrative military contracts. It was from these efforts that the possibility of building a civilian SST were realized. The Soviet SST concept began in the early 1960s. Journalists in the West first received official Soviet reports about the TU-144 project in 1965.
The Soviet SST design relied upon earlier research for the USSR’s TU-125 and TU-135 bombers. The design…
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