Development of Tupolev Design Bureau differed from other domestic aviation design bureaus. First of all, Tupolev Design Bureau was the incorporation and the continuation of all the advanced trends that existed in the Russian aviation science and technology in the beginning of the 20th century. The rapid growth of interest in the problems of aeronautics and aviation in Russia preceded the creation of the design bureau. A striking manifestation of this was the work of Nikolai Y. Zhukovskiy. In 1909, Zhukovskiy started giving a series of lectures on Aeronautics and running student aeronautical group. Among the attendees and group members of the great scientist a student Andrei N. Tupolev showed outstanding abilities and interest in new trends in aviation.
N.E. Zhukovsky and his disciples (A.N. Tupolev was the first of them), drawing on the experience of their scientific and practical work and having mastered the scientific prediction, realized that the further development of the aircraft engineering was impossible without the organization of the research base. Thus, the idea of creating a scientific aero-hydrodynamic institute was born. With the offer of its organization N.E. Zhukovsky and A.N. Tupolev appealed to N.P. Gorbunov - the head of the Scientific and Technical Department of the Supreme Council of the National Economy. The idea of creating the institute was supported by V.I. Lenin. Thus, in December 1918, a unique industry institute - the scientific base of aircraft engineering - Central Aero-Hydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) began its activities.
N.E. Zhukovsky (Chairman of the board) became the head of the institute, and A.N. Tupolev became his first assistant and simultaneously the head of the aviation department. He immediately took over the organization of the Institute, putting into practice the ideas of N.E. Zhukovsky. The result was an institution that could provide scientific advice, as well as directly supervise the development of the industry. From the very beginning, various sciences evolved in TsAGI, related to the following: lightweight aircraft alloys, their corrosion and anticorrosion protection; aircraft engines; strength of aircraft structures; methods of flight testing and many others. Later, some of these research directions successfully continued its development in specialized institutions such as the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Aviation Materials (VIAM), Central Institute of Aviation Motors (CIAM), Flight Research Institute (LII).
After the death of N.E. Zhukovsky, A.N. Tupolev with S.A. Chaplygin, who led the board of the Institute, continued working on further expansion and development of TsAGI. Parallel to the main, design activities, A.N. Tupolev was actively involved in the creation of experimental facilities. The world's largest wind tunnel T1 – TP at the time, was built according to the scheme developed by Tupolev in 1915. He also initiated a prototype water tunnel, the aircraft structures static test laboratory, operating department, department of flight test and development and other units. Until the last days of his life, Tupolev was taking an active part in the development of TsAGI’s experimental bases and other institutions that were to solve the problems of aircraft engineering.
In 1918-1936, Tupolev was a member of the board and the deputy head of TsAGI’s all-metal prototype aircraft engineering. In 1922, Tupolev became the head of the Commission on the construction of metal airplanes at TsAGI. Since then, an experimental design bureau for developing and manufacturing all-metal aircraft of various classes, formed and headed by him, started its activities within the framework of TsAGI. At the suggestion of A.N. Tupolev, the creation date of the Commission - October 22, 1922 – is considered the date of creation of TsAGI - Tupolev Experimental Design Bureau.
The first Tupolev’s airplane was a small ANT-1 (1923), which was not an all-metal yet, but already the second, ANT-2 (1924) passenger airplane, was manufactured using Junkers’ technology which had resulted in its crude image. The next was P-3 (ANT-3, 1925) reconnaissance airplane. After its triumphant flights in Europe and Japan, the world learned that the Soviet Union could build all-metal planes. For Tupolev and AGOS TsAGI which was led by him (AGOS - unification of departments of the Institute according to themes - aviation, hydroaviation and prototype aircraft manufacturing) the success of P-3 was the start of all-metal aircraft engineering in Russia.
For the first time in the world practice Tupolev has not only scientifically proved the rationality of cantilever all-metal monoplane scheme with high thickness of wing profile and engines located at the leading edge of the wing, but also created such an airplane, that had no analogues at that time (ANT- 4, 1926). Tupolev has developed and put into practice the technology of mass production of light and heavy metal aircraft. Bombers and fighters, passenger, transport, marine and special record airplanes, as well as snowmobiles, torpedo boats, gondolas, power plants and empennage of the first Soviet airships were developed under his leadership. Tupolev put into operation arrangement of the affiliates of the main design bureau at production plants of domestic aircraft engineering, which greatly accelerated production of airplanes. He has also introduced creation of flight and development bases of the branches, reducing the timescales of both the factory and the state tests of prototype airplanes.
In 1932, Prototype Constructions Plant was put into operation, while the head design bureau was moved to a new building of the Design department of prototype aircraft engineering department at TsAGI. By 1935, a quite straight structure of design departments of the Bureau had been formed, with a clear division of work between them in different areas of their activities. Some of the brigades were headed by the closest colleagues of Tupolev: V.M. Petlyakov, I.I. Pogossky, A.P. Golubkov, P.O. Sukhoi, A.A. Arhangelsky, V.M. Myasishchev and other designers, whose names became history of Russian and world aircraft engineering.
In 1936, Tupolev was appointed first deputy chief and chief engineer of the general directorate of the aviation industry of Narkomtyazhprom. Simultaneously, Tupolev was heading the design bureau that was created within the TsAGI framework and then separated, together with the Prototype Constructions Plant, which then were renamed as plant № 156 in the system of People's Commissariat of the tank industry, and then in the system of People's Commissariat of Aviation Industry.
Throughout the whole creative career, Tupolev always paid attention to the creation of new aircraft materials. On his insistence, and with his support, the following materials were created and began to be widely used: since the second half of the 30-ies - light magnesium alloys; since the late 40-ies - early 50-ies - high-strength aluminum alloys for high-speed heavy aircraft; since the late 60-ies - heat resistant aluminum alloys for supersonic aircraft. He was the first who began using chromansil (high strength steel), glass fiber and many other non-metallic materials for aviation. He has also organized a special laboratory for research and development of technological processes for producing these materials and providing their serial implementation and for the creation of new non-metallic materials.
In the period of 1937-1941 Tupolev was groundlessly arrested and while in custody, he worked in the Central Design Bureau № 29 of NKVD. Here he has created "103" (Tu-2) bomber. Since the spring of 1939, the backbone of the Tupolev’s company, to which the national aviation owes much of its post-war success in the field of heavy and especially, heavy jet aircraft engineering, was being formed in the system of Special Technical Bureau of NKVD.
In the prewar period, ANT-4, ANT-6, ANT-40, ANT-42 and Tu-2 bombers, ANT-9, ANT-14, ANT-20 "Maxim Gorky" passenger airplanes and ANT-25 record aircraft became the milestone airplanes of Tupolev, which embodied the latest achievements of science and technology in the field of aircraft engineering. TB-1 (ANT-4), TB-3 (ANT-6), SB (ANT-40), R-6, TB-7 (ANT-42), MTB-2, Tu-2 and torpedo boats G-4, G-5 took part in the Great Patriotic War.
In the postwar period, a number of military and civilian aircraft were created under the leadership of Tupolev (since 1956 he was general designer). Among them are the following: Tu-4 strategic bomber, Tu-12 first Soviet jet bomber, Tu-95 turboprop strategic bomber, Tu-16 bomber, Tu-22 supersonic long-range bomber/rocket carrier and Tu-128 supersonic loitering fighter-interceptor. In 1964, Tu-123 “Yastreb” - long-range supersonic reconnaissance UAV, which became the first-born in the family of Tupolev unmanned reconnaissance complexes, was put into service.
In 1956-1957, a new division for development of unmanned aircraft was created in the design bureau. This division has developed "121", "123" cruise missiles and "131" surface-to-air missile. It also worked on "130" glide hypersonic aircraft and "136" "Zvezda" rocket plane. Since 1955, work on bombers with nuclear power plant was carried out. After the flights of Tu-95 ЛАЛ - flying nuclear laboratory it was planned to create Tu-119 experimental airplane with nuclear power plant and supersonic bombers "120".
In 1955, the first Soviet jet passenger aircraft Tu-104 was created based on Tu-16 bomber. It was followed by Tu-114 first turboprop intercontinental airplane, Tu-110, Tu-124, Tu-134 short and medium-range airplanes.
Moreover, in the second half of the 1960s, the design bureau was developing multi-mode long-range bomber/rocket carrier with variable sweep wing - Tu-22M, which, in the course of its development, became the basic aircraft of domestic long-range aviation and naval aviation. Tu-22M has gradually replaced subsonic Tu-16 and supersonic Tu-22 aircraft.
The 1960s in the design bureau were marked by development of a new medium-range passenger aircraft Tu-154, which in the 70s replaced the passenger jets of the first generation, as well as by creating Tu-144 - the world's first supersonic passenger aircraft (in cooperation with A. A. Tupolev).
Tu-154 medium-range jet was the turning point for the design bureau in the development of modern passenger aircraft. For the first time in the practice of the bureau it was developing a passenger plane, that wasn’t based on the military prototype. It enabled creation of a highly efficient passenger aircraft, with economic and performance characteristics that were equal to the best foreign analogues.
Tu-154 performed its first flight in 1968, and since the early 70s, these airplanes were actively operated in the country and were supplied to other countries. By the end of the XX century, in total, more than 900 of Tu-154 were built in several versions. The most perfect modification of Tu-154 was Tu-154M, which had significantly increased economic efficiency by the introduction of new, more efficient engines and improvements in aerodynamics. Until now, Tu-154 in various versions continues to work in Russia and abroad.
Creation of the world's first supersonic passenger aircraft Tu-144 - is a separate glorious chapter in the history of the design bureau. During the development of Tu-144, it managed to solve a number of difficult scientific and technical problems of supersonic passenger aviation successfully, which allows to be optimistic about the future of this line of development of passenger air transport and, in particular, about the creation of supersonic passenger aircraft of the second generation.
In total more than 100 types of aircraft were designed under the leadership of A.N. Tupolev, 70 of which were mass manufactured. His airplanes have set 78 world records and performed about 30 prominent flights. Tupolev has raised a number of prominent aircraft designers and scientists, who then headed different aviation design bureaus. Among them are: V.M. Petliyakov, P.O. Sukhoi, V.M. Myasishchev, A.I. Putilov. V.A. Chizhevsky, A.A. Arhangelsky, M.L. Mil, A.P. Golubkov, I.F. Nezval’ and others.
In the 1970s, after the death of A.N. Tupolev, his son Alexey Tupolev became the head of the company (since 1966 - MMZ "Opyt"). During these years and in the following decades, a multi-mode intercontinental bomber Tu-160 was developed in the design bureau for long-range aviation. The bureau also carried out works on "Reis" and "Strizh" - unmanned reconnaissance complexes of a new generation, and launched development works on passenger airplanes of a new generation, which led to the creation of Tu-204 medium-range and Tu-334 short-range airplanes.
Despite all the objective and subjective difficulties in the life of the design bureau and its staff, in the 1990s, it managed to start batch production and operation of several modifications of a new medium-range Tu-204 and to begin tests of the newest short-range Tu-334.
History of Tupolev design bureau is a living history of the design and construction of civil and military aircraft. All these years were characterized by successful solution of completely new tasks and the creation of new airplanes. It was with the first all-metal aircraft ANT-2, aircraft-giant "Maxim Gorkiy" (ANT-20), the first passenger jet Tu-104, the first supersonic passenger jet Tu-144, the first aircraft running on the cryogenic fuel Tu-155.
At the turn of the XX and XXI centuries Tupolev design bureau was incorporated into the new structure – Tupolev PJSC, including besides the Design Bureau also test facility and serial aircraft manufacturing plant "Aviastar-SP" in Ulyanovsk,.
In accordance with Presidential Decree № 140 dated February 20, 2006, "Tupolev" JSC became part of "UAC" JSC.