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TsAGI – Tupolev: ANT 9 Tupolev’s First Passenger Aircraft

22 July 2022

The ANT‑9 is one of the first Soviet three-engine high-occupancy passenger aircraft. The idea to create such an aircraft belongs to the Red Army’s Directorate of Air Force. In the 1920s—30s, the civil air fleet evolved too slowly and needed new developments. Yet the designers provided the ANT‑9 with military potential as well: the aircraft could be easily turned into a night bomber or a special-cargo carrier.

Following the Decree by Research-and-Technology Committee of Directorate of Air Force, Andrey Tupolev (Deputy Head and Head of Department for Aviation, Hydroaviation and Test Building; TsAGI) found a balanced solution: to create the passenger aircraft on the basis of a bomber.

Tupolev announced the new project on TsAGI Committee Meeting on March 6, 1928: ‘Mr. Alksnis gave me the assignment before going abroad, in Autumn 1927. We could not take on the assignment at that time, being overloaded with the work on military aircraft. Now the situation has changed. The favorable conditions for the passenger aircraft stem from our capability of creating simultaneously a reconnaissance aircraft and this one, too. All the wings will be made just the same way as those of the reconnaissance aircraft.’

Structurally, the ANT‑9 three-engine nine-passenger aircraft included every possible thing from ANT‑7, the multi-purpose aircraft which was simultaneously a reconnaissance aircraft, a long-range escort fighter, a bomber and a torpedo bomber. Thus, an appropriate high-wing monoplane structure was created in the shortest term.

Flights started in May 1929. The aircraft was well-controllable and had good weight ratio. Mass production started immediately. Totally, 66 three-engine aircraft and 60 two-engine aircraft were produced; the latter ones had the M‑17 engines.

From July 10 to August 8, 1929, Gromov’s flight crew and his eight passengers flew on the ANT‑9 Krylia Sovetov (‘The Soviet Wings’) Aircraft over the following route: Moscow — Berlin — Paris — Rome — Marcelle — London — Paris — Berlin — Warsaw — Moscow. The aircraft flew 9,037 km with an average velocity of 177 kph, showing its perfect capability of competing similar foreign aircraft. According to the Flight, one of the oldest aircraft magazines, ‘the aircraft does honor to the designers of the Soviet Russia’.

During the Great Patriotic War, the ANT‑9 were used as cargo and medical vehicles. They would drop reconnaissance paratroopers far behind enemy lines. The aircraft were also used during the Kursk Bulge military operations by the 2nd Red Army Air Force.

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