Archive digitization

Aviation and Diplomacy

Frank Piasecki

NATO 1949-2009 Projekt ekspozycji w Muzeum Lotnictwa Polskiego w Krakowie

Polish Aviation Museum

31-864 Kraków,
al. Jana Pawła II 39
phone: (12) 640 99 60,
(12) 642 40 70

a cultural institution of the Malopolska Region

Małopolska – Kraków Region


Kraków Airport

Aeroplane: Tupolev Tu-134A (NATO: Crusty)

Tupolev Tu-134A (NATO: Crusty)

  • Technical data

Span 29.01 m
Length 37.1 m
Take-off weight 47000 kg
Maximum speed (cruising) 905 km/h
Ceiling 11600 m
Range (with 3600 kg of load) 2770 km
Powerplant :
2 x D-30, rated at 6800kg each


At the beginning of 1960, the General Secretary of the Soviet Union Communist Party, Nikita Kruschev, along with the state delegation, visited France. He arrived to Paris on board the Tupolev Tu-104 airliner, being then the pride of Soviet aviation technology. The Tu-104 design being based on the Tu-16 bomber. Modifications were carried out at the 156 Experimental and Construction Bureau of Andrei Tupolev. As the visits of the Soviet delegation to some parts of France, were envisaged, the latest French passenger turbojet aircraft, the SE-210 Caravelle was made available.
The peculiarity of this construction was placing of its engines - two were placed on both sides of the rear end of the fuselage. It effected in the decrease of noise and vibrations in the passenger compartment. In the following years, this new form of engine placement found a few followers in the world. After returning to France, Kruschev ordered Tupolev to design a mid-range, passenger aircraft, similar to the French Caravelle. Following this meeting, the Soviet Board of Ministers issued an appropriate resolution in August 1960.

Tupolev judged the best solution, to base the new construction on parts of the Tu-124. The new, D-20 turbojet engines, placed on the both sides at the rear of the fuselage, were envisaged to power the aircraft. It required moving the wings backward and replacing the horizontal stabiliser.
In April 1961, the initial design named the Tu-124A was completed. At the turn of 1961 and 1962, the technical lay-out and factory drawings were ready.
At once the build of the prototype started. By the end of 1963, the prototype, renamed to the Tu-134, was flown. By the end of June 1963, during one of the test flights, a very dangerous aerodynamic phenomenon, the deep stall took place.
As a result of the tests carried out to eliminate this problem, the area of the vertical stabiliser was increased up to 30%. In November 1964, the Tu-134's tests ended. In 1966, on the consecutive aircraft of the test series, the new, D-30 engines, increasing performance and flight safety, were mounted.
In January 1966, on one of the tests a Tu-134 crashed due to the vertical rudder being too deep in angle. After introducing the control travel stop, the aeroplane was recognised to be fit for service. Very soon, the aircraft gained recognition with flying crews for its performance, aerodynamic features and in-flight comfort. In November 1968, the Tu-134 received an international certificate in accordance with the British BCAR norms. To carry out the appropriate tests and trials, the Polish Inspectorate of Civil Aircraft Control was commissioned. It was the first international certificate to be received by a Soviet aircraft. This made use in international air space and selling the aircraft to other countries much easier.
Because of foreign competition, the Tupolev's designers worked constantly on improvements. To face passengers demands for safety and comfort, in 1968, the Tu-134 was modernised. The auxiliary power unit was placed at the rear part of the fuselage. It served as a main engine starter and supplied compressed air for ventilation and heating in the passenger compartment. It also produced electricity, needed during stops on airfields when the engines were switched off. This feature was a very important improvement as it made the aircraft independent to the outer power sources, especially on airfields without appropriate technical ground handling. The modernised D-30 engines with compressed air starters, were also equipped with thrust reversers, shortening the landing run (the earlier Tu-134 versions were equipped with a brake chute), The fuselage was extended, increasing the number of passengers seats. The intension of equipping the aircraft with its own steps was eventually concealed. The new Tu-134 flew for the first time in April 1969. After concluding tests, the aircraft was introduced into production. It was shown at the Paris International Air Show. In the following years, it was improved.
Several derivatives, equipped with new radio, communication and navigation (including satellite) equipment were built in. An all weather radar was also fitted. The effect of those changes was the constant service of many aircraft of this aircraft in the twenty first century.
The Tu-134 were serially produced from 1966 until 1970 and the Tu-134A and its derivatives, from 1970 until 1984. In total, 852 examples (including the test aircraft) were produced.
Part of the Tu-134 was made for military needs or a result of the adaptation of civil aircraft for military purposes. They were used for transport, pilots (the Tu-134UBŁ), navigators (the Tu-134SZ) and supersonic medium and long range (Tu-22M and Tu-160) bomber crew training. A few aircraft were converted into airborne command stations.
The Tu-134 and the Tu-134A were in service with LOT Polish airlines and the Polish Air Force. The Tu-134 entered Polish aviation history as the first turbojet powered passenger aircraft. The turbojet era for LOT airlines started in November 1968, when the first 2 Tu-134's were delivered to Warsaw. They were introduced into service in 1969.
In total, five Tu-134's were bought in 1968 - 1969. In 1973, the first Tu-134A was delivered to Poland. By 1978, seven aircraft were bought.
They remained in LOT's service until the beginning of the 1990's. In the Polish Air Force, two Tu-134 were in service from 1974. They served in special duties transport and were withdrawn in 1991.



Dofinansowano ze środków Ministra Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego
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