AModel 1/72nd scale Tu-114
KIT #: 72024
PRICE: $275.00 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Andrew Abshier
NOTES: 440 parts total; epoxy-fibreglass fuselage and wings; limited-run injection molding


In the history of aviation, it is hard to find types that are truly unique.  Most good designs beget similar designs if the basic design is found to be sound, which is why, as an example, so much of airliner service these days is by twin-engined, conventional-layout aircraft such as the 737 and A320.  Fifty years ago, the Tu-114 broke the mold for airliner design--no similar design has been built or even envisioned before or since--and the tremendous size and sophistication of the design shocked aerospace observers when the aircraft was first shown in the West in 1958.

The Tu-114 arose from a requirement issued to the Tupolev design bureau in the early 1950s for a long-range intercontinental transport based on the Tu-95 strategic bomber.  At that time in the Soviet Union there were no jet engines suitable for long-range flight, so the new airliner would be powered, like the Tu-95, with the Kutznetsov NK-12 turboshaft engines driving contra-rotating propellers.  The engine had great power, but also good efficiency, enabling the Tu-114 to have a range of 5,560 miles (8950km)--the longest range of any airliner developed in the 1950s.  The powerful engines and swept-wing layout gave the aircraft tremendous speed for a propliner--478 MPH (770km/hr), faster than Britain's Comet 4 pure jet and not much slower than the crusing speed for the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8. 

Tupolev incorporated the wings of the Tu-95 with a new fuselage and empannage designed to hold 220 passengers in an all-tourist seating arrangement, though the usual arrangement was 120-150 seats with a midships dining area, served, for the first time on any airliner design, by a belowdecks galley.  One disadvantage of Tupolev's design was the very high positioning of the passenger floor, almost 16 ft (4.9m) above the ramp.  The great cabin height made ground servicing a challenge, especially in the early years of the type's service. 

The first prototype, SSSR-L5611, flew for the first time on 3 October 1957.  Two years later, the same aircraft flew Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev to the United States for the first visit to that nation by a Soviet leader.  The boarding stairs available were found to be well short of the 16 foot cabin height, so the Premier was obliged to scramble down a ladder to the top of the regular boarding stairs, along with his traveling party, upon arrival at New York's Idlewild Airport. 

The Tu-114 entered revenue service in 1962 on the Moscow-Khabarovsk route.  In 1963 the Tu-114 began international services.  That same year, two Tu-114s were modified for very long range services between Murmansk and Havana, a 5,328 mile (8,575km) nonstop route.  These aircraft carried extra fuel and a maximum of 60 passengers.

In 1967 Japan Air Lines began no-change-of-plane interchange services between Tokyo and Moscow.  JAL cabin crews and mixed JAL-Aeroflot flight crews operated the service, which shaved hours off competitor's much longer routings from Japan to Europe.  The service, however, was relatively short-lived, ending in 1969.

As the newer Il-62 jets were introduced into international service, Tu-114s were redeployed to domestic routes, where they flew schedules until 1975.  Afterward, some Tu-114s were used as crew transports by the Soviet armed forces until the type was ultimately retired in 1991.

Three Tu-114s still survive in museums in Ulyanovsk and Monino, and one has been used as a maintenance trainer in Kiev for many years.


AModel is no stranger to producing really large model kits in 1/72nd scale; this is their 19th kit in the "AMonster" series.  If you've seen a 1/72nd 707-320B, B-52, or E-3A built up, you'll have an idea of how large a model you'll get when the Tu-114 is completed.  "Big" doesn't even start to describe it; I put the Tu-114 next to my in-progress Heller 707 and it made my model of the Boeing airliner look petite! 

The very large box contains the three fibreglass parts (fuselage and wings) with the smaller sprues bagged together.  The fibreglass casting is very well done with very restrained surface detail; you will have to finish the seams on the fibreglass parts, but the casting appears to not have any mismatches.  In spite of their size, the fibreglass parts are amazingly light and strong and will form a good basic structure for the model.  The extreme ends of the fuselage--the nose to the level of the pilot's seats and the tail cone--are cast as plastic parts, as are the tips of the wings and vertical tail.

As for those plastic parts, they are cast in AModel's typical low-pressure style.  Molding is generally very good--much better than I've seen in AModel kits in the past--but there are a few sink marks in some of the larger parts that will need cleanup.  Surfaces are very clean overall. 

The flight deck is fully detailed for all 5 crew positions (pilots, radio operator, engineer, and navigator); add some seatbelts and you're all set.  No cabin detail is provided, but you're not going to see much inside the fuselage once built. 

Clear parts are fairly good.  Polishing would definitely help, but the basic parts are reasonable.  All 70 cabin windows are provided, but thankfully are added from the outside; assuming they fit well, this will save a ton of masking for sure!  Alternatively, the modeler can make the cabin windows from Humbrol Clearfix or Microscale Crystal-Clear.

Landing gear and wheel wells are well molded.  The landing gear struts are extremely complex and careful study will be needed to assemble the struts correctly.  I would advise building these up completely unpainted, so that all joins have maximum strength--they're going to have to hold up this big SOB once built, after all!  The instructions call for the gear to be trapped between the nacelle halves or nosewheel well sides; on mine I'm going to convert them to trunion mounts so I can add the gear after painting.

Nacelles are very detailed with realistic depth on the intakes and exhausts; the exhausts also include fan disks at the base for greater realism.  The contra-rotating propellers are cast to the spinners, so there won't be the tedium of cementing in, and lining up, 32 propeller blades!

AModel really went to town on external details including seperate door hinges, door handles, and every antenna seen on the actual aircraft.  There is not going to be very much that the modeler will have to add to bring their model to life. 

I haven't dryfitted my kit yet but AModel kits typically require "modeling skill" to complete, meaning the fit is only fair at best; Mach 2 it isn't, but don't anticipate Tamiya fit either.  I expect that the six-word mantra for success in building limited-run kits will be required: dry fit, adjust, dry fit again!

Decals have never been AModels' best subject, but they really dropped the ball here.  Two variations of the Aeroflot early 1960s livery are provided: a straight Aeroflot aircraft and an Aeroflot/Japan Air Lines joint service aircraft.  Decal designer Jennings Heilig takes it from here:

"With the exception of a nicely chosen shade of blue for the cheatlines, every single other thing about the decals is wrong, wrong, wrong. Utterly, totally, and completely wrong. All of the lettering is wrong (either shape, size, or color, or all three). Newer style Aeroflot winged hammer & sickle logos are provided, which were not on the aircraft depicted (or any other Tu-114s that I know of in the original scheme). The registration letters & numbers are beyond horrid. Shapes are completely wrong. The big Soviet flags on the tail are hopelessly wrong. You do get Japan Air Lines titles, but they don't provide the JAL crane logo (which was on both of the aircraft that flew the JAL interchange)[actually they do--but, of course, they are wrong], and the lettering for the JAL titles is, well, wrong. Not even close."

There are some alternatives to the bad decal sheet.  Tu-114s in their later years of service flew the 1970s Aeroflot scheme (darker blue fuselage stripe, dark blue Aeroflot titles); the title style for this scheme is readily available, and could be made up relatively easily.  A much more hard-to-find alternative is to locate one of the 30 custom decal sets for this kit produced by Jennings Heilig which include the 1960s Aeroflot/JAL scheme and the scheme for the first prototype.  Jennings' decal fixes all of the problems with the AModel decals and then some, and getting the prototype markings (which was the airplane that flew Premier Khruschev to New York in 1959) is a big plus.  These sheets were sold through Linden Hill Imports and are all gone, but some might  turn up on Ebay; surely modelers building a Tu-114 in one scheme might make the scheme they don't use available to others. One can hope, anyway. 


This will be a major undertaking for the builder, but the finished product will not be touched for impressiveness (hey, you always wanted an excuse to build that addition to your house, right?).  There was no airliner ever built or even conceived like the Tu-114, so the completed model is going to be an attention-getter wherever it is shown.  Other than the decal sheet, AModel did a great job on this one.

Review sample courtesy of one very dinged wallet via Jennings Heilig!


Davies, R.E.G.: Aeroflot: An Airline and Its Aircraft.  Paladwr Press, 1992  

Seattle P-I Blog: Khruschev: Mine's Bigger than Yours published Sept. 21, 2009

Tu-114 Photos on Airliners.netAndrew Abshier

 October 2009

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