The project was launched in 2012, driven by the thrill of ideas how to build the Tupolev Tu-104 in 1:144 scale at a reasonable price. At the time all available kits had horroristic prices, so I decided to find an alternative cost-efficient solution to make the Tu-104 as part of my collection.
At the beginning of the 1950s, the Soviet Union's Aeroflot airline needed a modern airliner with better capacity and performance than the piston-engined aircraft then in operation. The design request was filled by the Tupolev OKB, which based their new airliner on its Tu-16 'Badger' strategic bomber. The wings, engines, and tail surfaces of the Tu-16 were retained in the airliner, but the new design adopted a wider, pressurised fuselage designed to accommodate 50 passengers.
On 15 September, 1956, the Tu-104 began revenue service on Aeroflot's Moscow-Omsk-Irkutsk route, replacing the piston-engined Ilyushin Il-14. The new jet dramatically increased the level of passenger comfort. By 1957, Aeroflot had placed the Tu-104 in service on routes from Vnukovo Airport in Moscow to London, Budapest, Copenhagen, Beijing, Brussels, Ottawa, Delhi, and Prague.
Building the model
Following Tupolevís principal of spending minimum efforts the model is based on the Trumpeter Tu-16K-10 Badger-C kit. The wings, engines, and tail surfaces of the Tu-16 were retained in the airliner.
The scratch-built fuselage is made of 0.3 mm aluminium plates that are used by the printing industry. The work started with calculating the dimensions of the 1:144-scale model and creating blueprints of the plane. First the middle section of the fuselage was built. By using ō23 mm aluminium disks and wooden wands I built the framework of the fuselage which was then covered with an aluminium plate.
The nose and the tail section were built with the same method. However a lot of filler was used in these structures in order to reach the proper curved shapes.
After the final integration of the tail, the nose and the mid-section of the fuselage I had to decide which part of the Tu-16 could be used and what modifications need to be done with the wings, the engines and the stabilizers. The air intake of the engine on the Tu-104 is slightly different from the Tu-16ís intake so it has to be modified, the cabin of the tail-gunner of the Tu-16 has to be removed from the horizontal stabilizer and the integration of the wings and vertical stabilizers to the fuselage have to be solved.
When the airplane was ready I decided to paint it according to the early colours of the Aeroflot. The decals were designed and printed by a friend of mine who was working hard to bring the decal and the airplane together.
It was really exciting to build this little airliner, solving the arising problems and bringing the whole aircraft together from scratch.
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