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In 1932 an unusual-looking plane took shape on the drawing board of the distinguished Russian aircraft designer Andrei N. Tupolev. Built in 1935, this plane, which became known as the ANT-25, a designation based on the initials of its designer, was to pioneer an air route across the top of the world. And in the process, the ANT- 25 established a new world record for distance in a straight-line flight.
With its enormous 112-foot wingspan and streamlined design, the ANT-25 resembled an oversize glider. It was 44 feet in length, and despite its size, had only one engine. The aircraft could carry an astonishing six and a half tons of fuel and was powered by an AM-34 engine that developed about 900 horsepower. It was flown by a three-man crew and had tremendous range--a range it demonstrated during a record breaking 1937 flight across the North Pole.
The ANT-25 was crammed with special navigational equipment, including a unique trans-polar compass and a short-wave radio with a range of 5,000 miles. In addition, it had a cockpit heater, flotation bag to keep it afloat if it was forced down at sea and a special cooling system that allowed the engine to operate at very low temperatures.
In 1936 three Russian fliers--Valeri Chkalov, pilot; George Biadukov, copilot; and Alexander Beliakov, navigator -- flew an ANT-25 some 5,800 miles from Moscow across the Siberian subarctic to Kamchatka near the Bering Sea. Though long, daring and dangerous, the flight was not a record for nonstop long-distance flying. Still, it was a stern test of the ANT-25 and a remarkable feat of human endurance. In recognition of their accomplishments, all three fliers were later proclaimed Heroes of the Soviet Union.
Then, on July 13 of the following
year, another three-man Soviet crew--Mikhail Gromov, Andrei Youmachev and Sergei
Daniline-- flew an ANT-25 from Moscow, across the North Pole, to San Jacinto, California,
a distance of slightly more than 6,295 miles. Not only did the Russian
aviators set a new world distance record for a nonstop flight in a straight line, but they
also blazed an aerial route across the Arctic. The route they pioneered was to
have great flight significance for both commercial and military aviation.
The preceding information was extracted from the pamphlet,
"The Great Airplanes Sterling Silver Miniature Collection", published by The Franklin Mint, 1979.
Permission was granted to ALLSTAR by The Franklin Mint to use the preceding materials.
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Updated: March 12, 2004