|Type||Tu-116, Tu-114D Diplomaticheski|
|Crew||7 + flight attendants|
|Weights and loads|
|Wing Load (kg/m2)||392|
|Power load (kg/hp)||2.03|
|Cruising at 12,000m||770km/h|
|Cabin size LxWxH||?m3|
|Seats||40 (24 by some sources)|
The Soviet government had planned for several years that the General Secretary of the Communist Party and Premier of the USSR, Nikita Khruschiov, should address the UN General Assembly. As a matter of prestige, he had to travel on a Soviet airliner.
Shortly to enter service, Tu-104 jet liner was not considered suitable because of its relatively short range. The Tu-114 was in the early stages of design, and it was not clear if it will be operational before the end of decade. Nonetheless, aircraft with appropriate range was available, but... it was a Tu-95. Can the nation leader travel in a strategic bomber?
In urgency, two production bombers (N°402 and N°409) were taken from production line at Kujbyshev. No armaments or military equipment were fitted, but behind the wing spar a 2-section pressurized passenger compartment was installed. It was capable to accommodate 40 passenger in the VIP luxury. Kitchen, toilet and the service room were also installed. Retractable stairs were installed, so passengers could board and disembark without a need for special airport equipment.
Communication with crew included pneumatic pipe container line. Tu-116 was equipped for flying in all weather conditions, including blind landing. It retained 'Rubidij-MM' (Rubidium) panoramic radar of Tu-95. Two inflatable rafts and two inflatable boats could be used in case of emergency water-landing.
Although the work (credited by sources to A.A.Arhangelskij or N.Bazenkov) started only in mid-1957, the Tu-116 (or Tu-114D) was airborne by Spring 1958. Its suffix 'D' stood for 'Diplomaticheski' (diplomatic) and not for 'Dalnij' (long range) as usual. Nonetheless, its range was impressive.
Among the long distance flights made by Tu-116 in 1958 during the Tu-114 development were:
But what about Khruschiov? He never boarded Tu-116. As all world leaders, on his arrival in a plane, he was greeted by the press, and he wanted to wave to them as all the leaders do. But there was a problem, the exit (or entrance) wasn't on the side of the plane, as usual, but there was a built-in ramp at the back - under the tail.
Khruschev allegedly said he wasn't going to appear through the "ass" of the plane. So the plane was rejected, and given out to military squadron No.2, despite it was a good plane and those few who were among lucky passengers found it very comfortable. Besides, passenger Tu-114 was ready in time, and carried the Secretary General to New York UN Headquarters.
Tu-116 was used also for proving flights on Moscow-Khabarovsk route prior to series Tu-114 first went into service (April 24, 1961). By the end of that year, five services a week were flown over this 6800km route.
The only known occasion on which Tu-116 was flown outside Soviet territory was 1958 visit of Aeroflot Tu-114D to Prague.
Two Tu-116 were built. '7801' and '7802' served in Soviet Air Force insignia. Later '7802' received civil number SSSR-76462 and appeared in Aeroflot colors. This aircraft is currently preserved in the Uljanovsk Museum of Civil Aviarion.
Tu-116 was also used to carry mail and urgent freight over very long distances.