As the number of qualified aircraft designers increased, Tupolev set up his own office, producing a number of designs designated with the prefix ANT from his initials.
However, on October 21, 1937, Tupolev was arrested together with Vladimir Petlyakov and the entire directorate of the TsAGI and EDO on trumped up charges of sabotage, espionage and of aiding the Russian Fascist Party. Many of his colleagues were executed.
In 1939, Tupolev was moved from a prison to an NKVD "sharashka" for aircraft designers in Bolshevo near Moscow, where many ex-TsAGI people had already been sent to work. The sharashka soon moved to Moscow and was dubbed "Tupolevka" after its most eminent inmate.
Tupolev was tried and convicted in 1940 with a ten-year sentence. During this time he developed the Tupolev Tu-2, He was released in July 1941 "to conduct important defence work."