I bet most people thought this was a joke! Photo: Chris Sloan | Airchive.com
The 1970s were a time of economic malaise for the west. Weirdly, the Soviet Union was chugging along at its own egregious and bizarre pace, and Soviet air travel needs had never been more pressing. Millions of Warsaw Pact and Soviet citizens needed to shuttle around the Iron living room. In fact, Aeroflot celebrated its hundred-millionth-passenger year in 1976. This called for larger aircraft. Engine technology issues were holding up Ilyushin’s domestic design, which we now know as the mostly-extinct IL-86.
The program to which the IL-86 stemmed from was formally known as the “aerobus”. The IL-86 was not supposed to be the only aircraft of the family of short, medium, and long-haul indigenous widebody aircraft.
Believe it or not, Tupolev almost built a similar aircraft (but widebody) to the Dassault Mercure. Photo: Alain Durand
Tupolev had stepped up to offer the Tu-184, an aircraft that was similar to a twin-aisle Dassault Mercure. Thankfully, at the time of its inception Andre Tupolev was still alive. He took one look at it and decided that the company should not waste any resources on what he was sure would be nothing but a reputation-wrecking disaster. Not that Tupolev was immune to civil aviation failures, they are simply beyond the scope of this article. They were also, usually, swept under the rug and blamed on Myashischev (a competing design bureau).
The Baade 152 rolls out – Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-54953-0004 / CC-BY-SA
The Junkers Ju-287 was never meant to be a transport plane; it was supposed to be another Nazi doom weapon that was nothing but the fever dream of Hermann Goering and his cronies. However, because of different circumstances, the aircraft would end up becoming Germany’s first airliner, the Baade 152 – which never entered service.
It was designed as a mid-winged monoplane bomber with either two or four BMW 003 engines, depending on the availability of basic aviation necessities like fuel and aluminum. It did have some notable technological advances for its time, however. It featured a forward-swept wing and (allegedly) a high cruise speed.
At the end of the war, the Soviets “inherited” a nearly-complete version of the Ju-287, which they called the OKB-1 EF-131. It had two wing-root mounted engines and a flight deck styled after the older Ju-88. When that design went nowhere, it was transferred to the Alekseyev Design Bureau [try not confuse Semyon Alekseyev with Rostislav Alekseyev – the father of modern wing-in-ground effect aircraft].