What Happened to Giant Soviet PS-124 Aircraft?

YouTube / Paper Skies

On December 14, 1942, the Giant Soviet PS-124 Aircraft went into deep dive and crashed, immediately killing everyone onboard. 

The details of the crash arguably became the strangest, and perhaps the most ridiculous accidents in Russian aviation history. 

World’s Largest Aircraft

During the 1930s, Tupolev began planning the biggest aircraft in the world. It found support in the Union of Soviet Writers and Publishers to celebrate writer Maxim Gorkii’s (or Gorky) career. 

Workers all over Russia donated for the construction of the plane- approximately 6,000,000 roubles were collected.

Flying for the First Time

The plane first flew on May 19, 1934. Tupolev’s first ANT-20 Maxim Gorki is approximately 206 feet long, has a gross weight of 52 tons, and has eight engines totaling 72,000 hp. 

It seats to up 10 to 80 passengers and houses a cinema, newspaper office, printing press, buffet bar, toilets, sleeping quarters, and more.

Replacement Plane

Eventually, a replacement plane for the ANT-20 Maxim Gorki was built, with the same dimensions, but with only six engines, and a greater weight. It was eventually known as the PS-124 or ANT-20bis.

Giant Clumsy Plane

The plane stood idle for a whole year until the outbreak of the war, during this time the Soviets needed as many transport planes as possible. 

Realizing it was easy prey for enemy aircraft, in 1941, the plane was used on local routes, transporting various cargo. 

PS-124 crash

On December 14, 1942, the plane crashed when the pilot allowed a passenger to momentarily take his seat, and the passenger disengaged the automatic pilot, which sent that plane into a nosedive from an altitude of 1,600 feet, immediately killing all 36 passengers onboard.

According to a report of the investigation, the captain left the cockpit for an unknown reason, which according to witnesses, happened repeatedly on previous flights. What’s even more mind-boggling, is that the body of the captain was found on the passenger cabin, completely naked.