The unimaginable vastness of the Soviet Empire and incredible remoteness of some of its parts was always considered as a double-edged sword. On one hand, the Empire is unconquerable, the fact ingloriously proven by Napoleon and Hitler among others. On the other hand, such colossal land is extremely hard to manage, both economically and politically.
In an attempt to tie his gargantuan land together, Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin ordered a direct air link between European part and Far East part of the USSR to be operational by summer of 1955.
Koba, as he was affectionately called, demanded two things: a non-stop line that would allow him “to eat breakfast in Kaliningrad, sip a tea in Vladivostok and eat supper back in Kaliningrad, all in the same day”, and a plane “big enough to board every single member of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union.” For the uninitiated, number of deputies in Supreme Soviet: 1,500.
Two major problems were glaringly obvious: lack of infrastructure (airports) and capability of building a plane large enough to carry 1,500 passengers.
Both problems were dealt with one stroke: building a largest flying boat. Instead of building new airports, Soviets opted for using existing seaports.
Initially two lines were conceived, Red line connecting Kaliningrad and Vladivostok, and Blue line connecting Odesa and Komsomolsk.
So, “only” one problem remained: how to build a plane capable of carrying 1,500 passengers and range of 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi), that could make a trip from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok in 12 hours.
This daunting task was assigned to "Опытное конструкторское бюро - 156", better known as Tupolev Design Bureau.
Hero of Socialist Labor Andrei Nikolayevich Tupolev immediately assembled a core team of 42 engineers and went to work. By late 1953 first scale wind tunnel tests were made and on 1st of May, 1955, Tupolev ANT-201 took her maiden flight.
The plane, aptly named “Gorostas” (The Giant), was far bigger than anything ever conceived. It was 114 meters long, 30 meters high, with a wingspan of 138 meters. Propelling this enormous monster were 6 Kuznetsov NK-12 engines with total output of 90.000 HP.