Why do I feel like it’s been so dang long since I’ve last created a side view aircraft template? It feels like eons ago since my last post, but…that was at the end of March. Just 7 short weeks ago! Of course, based on some messages I’ve received from a few of you during that time, it was 6 weeks too long. Sorry about that! I’ve been busy with other projects (mostly my YouTube channel), but I’m always anxious to get back to these illustrations whenever I have the time.
Anyway, I’m coming back with a bang today. These highly-detailed drawings of the mighty Tupolev Tu-154 were incredibly fun to create, and I learned a ton of really interesting things about this aircraft over the past weeks. For example, I had no idea that the Tu-154 was such a tough airplane. It was so tough that much of it’s success was attributed to the fact that it was one of only a few airliners capable of operating in brutal arctic conditions. I didn’t know that.
Other interesting facts about the Tupolev Tu-154 I didn’t know:
- By the mid 2000’s, this aircraft type had carried half of all Aeroflot passengers since the inception of the airline 1923
- The first versions of the Tu-154 (in 1971) delivered mail. It wasn’t until one year later that it was launched into passenger service.
- The passenger doors are smaller compared to western aircraft of the same class (the Boeing 727 for example)
- 17 non-Russian airlines have operated the Tu-154
- The last Tu-154 was delivered to the Russian Defense Ministry in February 2013
- There have been 39 fatal incidents
The Tu-154 Wikipedia page is stuffed with loads of other really interesting bits of information. Much of it far too detailed for me to include in this post, so do check that out if you’re having an irresistible craving to pour over the history of this bird.
Why did I choose to illustrate the “M” variant and not others?
As best I can tell, there are (were) 14 variants of the Tupolev Tu-154 (including some that were never built). Most were slight upgrades from one model to the next, and the neat thing is that there weren’t any major design changes in it’s 50-year history:
- Tu-154: introductory model
- Tu-154A: new engine, flaps, center fuel tanks, modified avionics, etc
- Tu-154B: new wing, additional emergency exits, another center fuel tank
- Tu-154B-1: increased capacity for 160 passengers
- Tu-154B-2: increased capacity for 180 passengers (by removing the galley)
- Tu-154S: freighter version
- Tu-154M: new engines, flaps, and APU
- Tu-154M-LK-1: cosmonaut trainer (how cool is that?!)
- Tu-154M-ON: military observation configuration
- Tu-154M-100: integration of western avionics
- Tu-155: built for testing alternative fuels
- Tu-164: what the Tu-154M was supposed to be called
- Tu-174: stretched version of the Tu-154M (never built)
- Tu-194: shortened version of the Tu-154M (never built)
Anyway, the M model was the obvious choice for my template, simply because it was the most popular (best selling) Tu-154 of them all. I haven’t been able to find a reliable source for the number of aircraft that were built and/or converted to this designation, so if anyone knows, I’d highly appreciate a link to some data.
It’s also important to mention that I don’t have any plans at the moment for creating templates of any other Tu-154 variant. I can certainly create others if you have a legitimate business need though, so please let me know.
Everything that I like and don’t like about the Tu-154
Being that this is my first ever “classic“ Russian aircraft template (the SSJ-100 doesn’t count), I thought it would be fun to list out a few things I like (and don’t like) about it.
First, let’s start with the stuff I like:
- The design. It’s incredibly unique compared to western aircraft, and I like how Tupolev wasn’t influenced (too much) by design from the west.
- The history. Produced from 1968 to 2013, the Tu-154 had one of the longest production runs in airliner history.
- The noise! Check out this video to see (listen) to what I mean…
And then, here’s the stuff I don’t like about the Tu-154:
- The design. As much as I like the shape of this aircraft, I find it equally (and weirdly) proportioned for my western tastes.
- The fact that I’ve never seen one in real life. At the time of this writing, there are less than 30 in active service. Time is running out if I want to see a Tu-154 in the flesh!
Blah blah blah. So what’s the next Norebbo template gonna be?
Considering that I haven’t been posting many aircraft templates lately, I feel like I need to make up for it somehow. One of the ways I can do that quickly is to bang out some variants of existing templates that I never got around to in the past.
For example, my MD-80 series is still missing the -81, and –87. And I still need to do an E195 (the E1 version). Maybe I’ll tackle some of those quickly(ish) so it looks like I’m actually doing something. lol
After that, who knows? The 777X is high on my hit list, as is some more Russian aircraft. And what about some corporate jets? There’s just so much to do!