Soviet Sst the

Howard Moon, Author Crown Publishers $24.95 (276p) ISBN 978-0-517-56601-5
In 1961, Khrushchev ordained that the Anglo/French effort to produce a supersonic transport was to be surpassed by a parallel Russian effort, thereby launching a program in which nationalistic preening took precedence over commonsense engineering. Although the TU-144 beat the Concorde into the air, making its maiden flight on December 31, 1968, two later crashes doomed the project. In his account of the political and technical aspects of the program, Moon, a student of Soviet technopolitics, concludes that the TU-144 was both ``an astounding achievement'' and ``a magnificent failure.'' Referred to sneeringly as the Concordski in Western aeronautical circles, the Soviet SST was, as the author details, significantly different despite the similarity of profile. In an impressive piece of detective work, Moon suggests the cause of the disastrous 1973 crash at the prestigious Paris air show. This is a well-written history of a promising program that, according to the author, was ruined by the insistence of Soviet leaders that the TU-144 should be primarily ``a political stick to use against the West.'' Photos. ( July )
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
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