Image for article titled This Soviet Jet Crashed So Often That People Wrote a Creepy Folk Song About It

Photo: Lars Söderström via Wikimedia Commons

It’s an unfortunate fact of flying, but sometimes, planes crash. Some even do it more than others, but only one has ever crashed with such a frequency that a creepy Soviet Folk song was written about it. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Tupolev Tu-104.

Between 1956 and 1960, the airplane maker built 201 of these flying coffins. It was introduced to the general public in 1956 and had its last flight in 1981. In that time, 16 Tu-104s were lost in crashes out of the 37 that were written off. That comes out to a hull loss rate of about 18 percent, which is absolutely wild. A total of 1140 people died because of the Tu-104, according to the American Flight Safety Foundation.

It was enough for the resilient people of the Soviet to write an entire folk song about the jetliner to the tune of what our Deputy Editor, Lalita Chemello, tells me is Chopin’s Marche Funèbre. I’m inclined to believe her.

Tupolev Tu-104 folk song.

The song – as you may have imagined – is in Russian. It’s a language I do not speak, but one YouTube commenter was kind enough to translate it. Is it correct? Who is to say? Let’s just take them at their word.

Tu-104 is the best plane that ever existed.

It can fly you to heaven in five minutes.

I should’ve gone by train.

I should’ve gone by train.

Tu-104 is the best plane that ever existed.

I should’ve gone by train.

I should’ve gone by train.

Tu-104 will never fell from the sky.

Truly lovely lyrics, aren’t they? At this point you’re probably wondering why this thing was so prone to falling out of the sky. Well, the main reason was the design was catastrophically bad. First things first, it was based on a Soviet strategic bomber. That’s not the best way to start your new passenger jet aircraft’s production.

According to Mustard, an excellent YouTube channel that dives into the backgrounds of other ill-fated machines, controls were reportedly heavy, and pilots would need to make their final approach at speeds that were just too fast to be safe. On top of that, the Tu-104 had a tendency to stall at low speeds because of the highly swept wings it featured, and it was known to Dutch roll. Think of that as a tank slapper, but on a jet. Not good.

None of that could compare to the Tu-104’s biggest issue. It could – without any warning – pitch up violently, stall, and enter an irrecoverable dive. Two accidents are attributed to this issue alone.

So, if you ever wanted to hear a creepy song about a shit piece of Soviet technology, this one is just for you.

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