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To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 2: The CMAF

 
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:51 pm    Post subject: To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 2: The CMAF Reply with quote

To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 2:
The Central Museum of the Armed Forces

This trip report can be found at the following URL:
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic12016.html

The URL covering Part I of the trip is:
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11717.html

I had landed up in Moscow: sleepy, hungry (as always), and quite
dishevelled (more the norm, than the exception). At the hotel, I
quickly eyed some city guides - at least, there was one, which
was not in Cyrillic, for the most part. This was quite a good
guide map of Moscow. I quickly freshened up inside the hotel
room, and decided that the weather being nice (it had rained, and
was overcast), I would roam around. My senior colleagues had gone
to their official accommodation, leaving me at this hotel, which
was quite passable. I had studied the options for me, vis-a-vis
my official schedule, which would have me attend some conference
sessions. I would have to inter-sperse my trips to various
attractions sometime in between, sandwiched between the sessions
I had to attend. Sandwiched? Ah, if the reader is familiar with
the writer's tastes (yikes!), he/she would know that references
to mundane events also get linked with terms related to what
elates the writer the most. Not to beat(!) about the bush, in a
nutshell, in short, it is...food.

I was in a mood to explore. There was a Bank of Russia counter on
Pokrovka street (where my hotel was). I was told that the
exchange rate would not be fantastic, but this was open on a
Saturday (which I should be thankful for), and the rate would not
be too bad, either. there seemed to be some unsavoury elements
walking along Pokrovka street, and I scurried along. I did not
have a huge amount of Rubles in my pocket after my first two
transactions at the airport (which accounted for the taxi taking
me to the hotel, in the first place), so this was needed. There
was a transaction fee, which bit me a bit more. I was sleepy and
hungry, but I was in a mood for adventure. Armed with a map of
Moscow in my hands, I set out, on foot, looking for the Central
Museum of the Armed Forces. The hotel reception had not been able
to help me in this regard - it was not a very popular tourist
destination. I was also warned not to try the Metro, as I did not
understand a word of Russian - spoken, or written, and most Metro
travellers would have a similar level of discomfort, in English.
Before my hairline started receding behind,
and my waistline started proceeding ahead,
I remembered that I had loved to take long walks.
The weather was pleasant - cool, and drizzly in parts.
I had a rough idea of where my destination was - since I had a
printout of the museum's web-page (which did not have much about
the location - a bigger picture would have been helpful!).
So, what did Sumantra do?
He walked more than half of the radius of Moscow.
Yes, on foot, asking young Russians who understood a bit of
English, for directions, running into the odd American tourist,
and trying to follow a map which was quite non-uniform in terms
of the details. Some tiny by-lanes had been mentioned, whereas
some wider streets were missing, from the map. My Cyrillic
pattern-matching was put through a stern test, and at about three
hours after I had started, I found myself standing outside my
destination!

The interior of the museum - the halls (some of which had some
exhibition on, and had an extra admission fee), were not of much
interest to me. The general admission fee itself was 70 rubles (a
complete rip-off in my opinion, given the limited things on
display), with an extra royal sum charged for using a camera.
The more I went through the galleries, the more I felt
short-charged. I was not interested in the uniforms, the
war-scene models, the paintings of the battles, and some
artifacts. There was an Su-25 `Frogfoot' front, with an airman in
front, but that was it. Was I disappointed? No, I had not
expected much. No, not at all. I was happy to have been able to
carry my weight on foot for a very long distance, and still
arrive at a place which I knew had some planes of interest to me,
- just in case I was not able to reach the VVS Museum, Monino -
sometime later. Either due to lack of time, or visitor
restrictions, or a lack of detailed directions. On the way, I had
also seen the former KGB headquarters, which absolutely no
identification mark near it, or any information board, which
would give away its grotesque past of the place where people such
as N. Beria and M. Vyshinsky had conducted their inhuman
atrocities. Only the guide map listed the identity of this huge
building. Komitet Gosudarstvennoii Bezopasnostii, as I remembered
from my school days - `The Committee for State Security'. The
last term `Bezopasnostii' I had heard a few times on the
announcements inside the plane - yes, the safety and security of
the passengers was being talked about.

Most of the captions in the museum were unfortunately (for me,
that is), in Cyrillic, and I do not understand the Russian
language. The wreckage of a plane there - actually turned out to
be the U-2 `Black Lady' in which Francis Gary Powers was shot
down, after he had taken off from Peshawar, Pakistan. Had I had
even an ankling of this, I would have taken lots of pictures of
the pieces of wreckage. How was I to know? This was in a corner
which was not well-lit, and just taking flash pictures of some
twisted metal without knowing what it was - did not make sense to
me. I regretted it. This was one incident I had known about since
quite some time, since I had read about it in the celebrated John
Donovan novel, `Strangers on a Bridge', about the Powers-Abel
exchange. Powers and another American were exchanged at a bridge
in Germany, when Colonel Rudolph Ivanovich Abel - a high-ranking
spy, was caught in the US (New York City, if I remember
correctly). The environs of the twisted piece of metal also did
not give much of a clue. From the ceiling hung a model of a
Tu-16 `Badger' bomber.

Exasperated, I looked for an opening to the outside, under the
grey skies, which had threatened to open up - not just once. It
had rained in the morning, and it would not be odd to expect
another heavy shower, given the cloud cover. I had some with an
umbrella in my bag, which I had to leave at the entrance. In
addition to the physical barrier (which was surmountable, given
that I had a valid ticket), the language barrier was simply
insurmountable. I finally figured out that what the gruff lady
was trying to tell me was to put my bag in a locker, close-by.
What? She had gone through it in some level of detail, and had
found just some papers, and lots of ISO 400 film, which I had
taken along. No, she would not allow the bag inside.
But, neither would the locker.
In an exasperated display of some sign language, I convinced her
that the bag would not fit into the small locker, and that I
would be grateful if I could leave the bag with her. I took quite
a few rolls of film into my pockets, and headed inside, with my
Analog SLR slung around my neck. After managing to enter halls
which I had seen before, and peering through some locked doors
(with some exhibits inside), finally I hit upon a non-descript
corridor led to a pair of doors, behind which some aircraft were
visible...

Even the limited number of planes on display - lit up the drab
surroundings for me. I have always had a healthy interest in all
types of aviation (a bit less in helicopters, though) - both
civil, and military. The latter class was more exciting for me,
since the former Soviet Union had a lot of hardware that were
once classified, and entered into the `Unidentified Aircraft'
section of Jane's All The Worlds Aircraft - a book that had fired
the aviation passions of a little kid growing up in the Delhi of
the early 1970s. Noticing an abnormal attention of attention that
I had paid on modes of transport - more so, the ones that flew -
my father used to get along for me, all the editions of Jane's
All The Worlds Aircraft that he could find, from the library.
From an early age itself, I could differentiate one plane from
the other, make sense of the type of aircraft I could see in the
skies in Delhi (coming in to land primarily on the main runway
28-10, as the flight path was directly above our house, as the
planes came in with their undercarriage lowered). Which editions
had I devoured? The 1964-65 one, the 1970-71 one, and a few more,
which I do not remember much. A good two decades later, I would
be able to lay my hands on some of these gems, and more - but the
fire had already been stoked inside me.

This was almost a dream come true. (The dream destination was of
course...the VVS Museum at Monino!) I had never imagined that I
would stand up so close in front of some aircraft, that at one
time, would be exclusive to the then Soviet Union. What follows -
is not much of a technical description of the planes. It is more
of a personal perspective, built up from a fascination about
these aircraft, right from the time I had my senses about me.
This includes snippets of information I used to collect - from
newspaper reports, pictures, photocopies taken from library
books, and stories I used to hear from my father's friends, who
had been to the former Soviet Union. In what follows, I describe
the aircraft in the order I had seen them. The pathway allowed
one to look at some planes from two sides, and one from three,
and one, from all four!





I started my look around from the top of the stairs. To my left
was a Mig-17. The Mig-17 was an improved version of the Mig-15,
which was perhaps the first modern Soviet fighter. I was looking
around for a Mig-15, but did not find any. I would find them only
at Monino, in a few days time. The British government - in a
moment of kindness after the second world war, had given away
the design of two of the best jet engines in the world at that
time - the Rolls Royce Nene (which the Soviets modified as the
Klimov turbojet series), and the Rolls Royce Derwent. The
captured German engineers gave the Soviets the contra-rotating
Kuznetsov NK-12 engine, which continues to find use in planes such
as the Tu-95 and Tu-142 `Bear' bombers and reconnaissance
aircraft, the huge An-22 Antei `Cossack', and the Tu-114
long-range airliner. This is what some of my nebulous memories
told me, as I looked at the Mig-17 `Fresco' fighter.



The Mi-24 `Hind' helicopter is quite interesting to look at, especially
from up and close!





Mig-21: This would be the `Fishbed-C' version - the first Mig-21
version that had captured my imagination as perhaps the most
good-looking delta-winged aircraft of all times. This was the one
I had seen in the Jane's initial edition books, and was the one
which had accompanied the Myasishchev `Bounder' bomber in the
Encyclopaedia Britannica photograph, that I have been unable to
find an on-line copy of. (More about the latter in the Monino
trip!)



The Mig-21 `Bis': This was clearly one of the most recent
versions of the Mig-21 variants, and one which the IAF has used
extensively, in addition to the current state-of-the-art version,
the `Bison'.







The Mig-23 `Fencer' MF: the fighter variant was once which did
not have too many examples of, in the IAF. More common was the
bomber `BN' version, which I still often confuse with Mig-27
variants.



The Ka-25 `Hormone' has a rather queer shape, along with many
other examples from the same stable. When I was young, I used to
wonder how such a small and ugly helicopter could actually fly.



Yak-50 variant of the old Yak-18 aerobatics plane, with the
Venedeev radial engine which made a rather characteristic sound
(I have seen a few YouTube videos of the type). The Mi-24 `Hind'
is seen behind this plane, in the above picture.





The Il-28 `Beagle'.
This was the Soviet Union's first successful medium-range jet
bomber. This was procured in many numbers both in the Soviet
Union, as well as in China (without license?).
I somehow seem to remember pictures of some Beagles in
the Finnish air force. Do my nebulous memories make sense?



The Mig-29 `Fulcrum'/`Baaz' was the IAF's first `modern'
interceptor, along with the multi-role Mirage 2000 `Vajra'. I
could not get a picture of the plane without people coming in
front. The one on the right excitedly said, `Meeeeg' to his
companion, and was talking excitedly with him, all the time
standing close to the plane. The Mig-25 can be seen behind the
Fulcrum.



The Su-27 is the original design for the IAF's current front-line
Su-30 MKI multi-role aircraft. This was parked between a Yak-15
`Flagon' and the Aero L-29 `Delphin'. Also visible in this
picture is the nose of a Mig-25 `Foxbat'.



In the picture above, a Mig-25 `Foxbat' (which the IAF had a few
examples of, in its `Trisonics' squadron, primarily used for
reconnaissance tasks, due to its high speed and extremely high
altitude of operation) sits behind a Czech Aero L-29 Delphin jet
trainer. The Czech Aero L-29 `Delphin', the Soviet Yak-30 and the
Polish Iskra had competed for the standard jet trainer of the
Warsaw Pact nations, where a political decision awarded the
position to the Delphin (the Yak-30 was considered a superior
machine), while Poland would continue with its own Iskra. The IAF
also purchased the Iskra in some numbers, which served the
organisation with some distinction, over quite a long time
period.



The Yak-15 `Flagon' stood at a corner. One of this types was
responsible for the downing of flight KAL 007 over the Kamchatka
Peninsula.



Su-25 `Frogfoot' close-support plane saw a lot of action in
Afghanistan. Behind the nose is one of the exhausts of the
Su-27 example there.



There was one example of a Mi-4 helicopter.



The Su-7 was the last plane I sighted, before going up the
stairs, and heading off back again. I was looking for a Su-24
`Fencer', so that I could caption its picture as `The Fencer by
the Fence', but this was not to be. The Su-7 has seen quite some
action with the IAF - the Hindi movie `Hindustan Ki Kasam' with
`Jaani' Raj Kumar in the lead, had him mouthing lines such as,
``I will take my Sukhoi and...''

I was quite satisfied. The hunger to see a few of these
well-maintained pieces of history, had countered my physical
hunger, to a large extent. I headed back towards the hotel, on
foot again! It would be nice to traverse the radius of the city
once again, in such such weather. The hunger would not be wished
away however, and I spent 50 Rubles on a non-descript hot-dog at
a street-side stall. A complete rip-off, but Moscow is a costly
city!

My next report will cover the dream destination...Monino!
Stay tuned.
Cheers, Sumantra.
---
Links to my previous TRs, in reverse chronological order:

11. To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 1: The Overall Trip
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11717.html

10. The City of Lakes: Mother's Heart, Heart of the Motherland
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11556.html

9. Mostly Indoors, in Indore:
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11533.html

8. Inter-metro Shuttling on AI: DEL-BOM on AI810, BOM-DEL on
AI888
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11449.html

7. On the cusp: DEL-BOM on IC863, BOM-DEL on AI660
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic11160.html

6. DEL-BOM on IT308, BOM-DEL on IC166
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10986.html

5. DEL-MAA on IC439, MAA-DEL on IC802
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10809.html

4. DEL-PNQ on IC849, PNQ-DEL on IC850
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10510.html

3. DEL-MAA on IC429 (A321), MAA-DEL on IC7602 (CRJ7)
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10401.html

2. DEL-NAG-NDC, NDC-BOM-DEL on G8
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10169.html

1. IGI T3, AI 314 DEL-HKG and AI 311 HKG-DEL
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic10018.html
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The_Goat
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent TR, Sumantra. The Monino museum is one of the places that I have always wanted to see.

You are right about the SU-7 with the IAF. It saw a lot of action during the 1971 war. It was a real tough bird. In one incident, an IAF pilot managed to land safely after having almost half of his tail knocked out by a Pakistani missile. The tail can still be seen at the IAF museum in Delhi.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the appreciation! I will cover the VVS Museum in my next trip report. This was really a moment to savour for me, since it just summed up the planes I had longed to see, to know more about - were all there.
About the Su-7 - yes! The one you are talking about is a frame piloted by Flying Officer H. S. Mangat. It is an amazing tribute to both the hardy Su-7, as well as the brave officer. He flew it back in with most of its control surfaces out of order - incredible. A Canberra recee aircraft also flew back in a similar condition during the Kargil war - this is an incident which does not find ready mention, but is a tribute to the engineering corps of the IAF, the Canberra, as well as the officer involved.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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shivendrashukla
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent TR Sumantra. Loved reading it.

sumantra wrote:
A Canberra recee aircraft also flew back in a similar condition during the Kargil war - this is an incident which does not find ready mention, but is a tribute to the engineering corps of the IAF, the Canberra, as well as the officer involved.
Cheers, Sumantra.


Yes. The Canberra flew back from Kargil all the way back to Agra, its home base. The pilot and the EO refused to believe that it flew back after they have had a look at the damage. The entire engine cowling along with a part of the wing had been ripped off by the stinger.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Shivendra - I hope to cover the dream destination, Monino - in Part 3. Thanks for the details regarding the Canberra! Simply amazing...
Some postscript with regard to that amazing Canberra.
The Pakistani soldier who fired the Stinger missile possibly never
recovered from the shock. He had just seen overhead, in pristine
mint condition, a plane which his grandfather may have flown.
All eye-witnesses did not report the incident, as they knew
nobody would believe a word of what they would describe. A
Canberra flying overhead, about half a century after the last
plane was manufactured. Moreover, they had failed to down such a
slow-flying aircraft, even after taking it by surprise.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Sumantra, excellent report!
I don't recall anyone writing a TR based on Military aviation here, from that aspect it's an unique one and with lots of info.
With your time-tested interest in Military aviation, Russia is the ideal place to come face to face with those beasts that dominated Indian Airforce for so long!
Thoroughly enjoyed! Waiting for Monino TR.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr. Pal, thank you - now that you mention it, it never occurred to me before that this may possibly be the first on this forum, on purely military aviation. In fact, even Monino has a fair civil aviation presence! Yes, my Russia trip was dominated by thoughts of seeing the once classified planes: both civilian, as well as military. I am sure Moscow's north eastern suburb would have been graced by your presence not once, but many times! We would all love to hear about your trips there (even if you do not have too many pictures), or to other air museums across the length and breadth of the huge country.
Thanks, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool report, thanks for sharing !

And planes are nice, but what about the food ? You started out with being hungry, but all you mentioned was a hot dog . What else did you eat... Please share ! Very Happy
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Jason!
To think that I had had food on the flight, and subsisted on just
a hot dog would not just be incredible for the reader - it was
also incredible for me, since I had walked the diameter of the
city. I did some justice to the biscuit packet that The Wife had
so thoughtfully put in place for me. That's it? Yes!
However, the next morning's complementary breakfast however, got
the hotel management in two minds as to whether they should
continue with the policy, or not.
It was more like the idiot box serials Ramayan and the
Mahabharat: the armies shout, `aakramaN', and...
Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Next time you have to eat lots, take pictures and post them !
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah Jason, most of my sessions of gluttony go un-photographed since the `Flight' mode of most mobiles are not accepted on most flights, more so, by fellow passengers, even if acceptable by the airlines themselves. Hence, I try to do a vivid description each time - when I proof-read my reports (the well-healed reader will still see how superficial my efforts often are!), I often end up salivating just as much as I did, when the real thing was in front of me. I recently did a DEL-PAT and PAT-DEL round with the former on the day of the recent Air India pilot's strike. I did the unthinkable - buy-on-board, and regretted it. More so, in my trip report. They say that a man without much foliage on the top does not frequent the shade of coconut trees. I managed to repeat the act on my return trip as well.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two aircrafts mentioned here Sukhoi-7 and Canberra (English Electric ) have glorious history. Indian Air Force received about 150 Su-7 in 1968 and it became the mainstay of its ground attack fighter squadrons. In 1971 war with Pakistan these aircrafts served well. Although Su-7 had a poor range , it was simple to operate and could come home in spite of heavy damage by ground fire or AA missile. It was cheap to produce and its daytime only performance was a limitation. Su-7 served India for 20 years in flying colors.
English Electric Canberra was a first generation high altitude light bomber. It could fly up to 70,000ft and had a pay load of 4.5 tons. It also had transatlantic range and was the only ( perhaps ) bomber with wooden parts. It was extensively used in both the IndoPak wars as also all around the world. Photo recon. version of this venerable aircraft is still used in some countries. It was retired by RAF in 2006 and IAF perhaps uses only the photo recon. version. This is the only aircraft after B-52 that has completed 60 years operational life after first production started.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sabyasachi, thanks for the very informative inputs!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, for accepting me in this forum!
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sabyasachi, military aviation does not seem to have too many takers on this forum. Judging by the (lack of) numbers of people who take part in military-related aviation discussions, I think we are rather honoured to have someone who knows so much about the same, and that too, of old warbirds. We look forward to more informative posts from you, and of course, trip reports - to places, and military museums, too!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sumantra wrote:
Sabyasachi, military aviation does not seem to have too many takers on this forum. Judging by the (lack of) numbers of people who take part in military-related aviation discussions, I think we are rather honoured to have someone who knows so much about the same, and that too, of old warbirds. We look forward to more informative posts from you, and of course, trip reports - to places, and military museums, too!
Cheers, Sumantra.

Yes, you are right, Military aviation is not in the minds of most desi folks. A few forum instructed me not to discuss about it! I dont know why? But I am very much interested in it and will share whatever I know with the forum
Another area that interest me is the slow development of Kolkata's NSCBI airport. Is anybody interested here?
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sabya99 wrote:
and was the only ( perhaps ) bomber with wooden parts.

The DH Mosquito could give the Canberra some competition in that matter Wink Now if you count only Jet Engined aircraft, then.....
Quote:

This is the only aircraft after B-52 that has completed 60 years operational life after first production started.


The An-2 is a Senior citizen too. FF Aug 1947, in production till 2002, 18000+ built, and still flying happily 65 years on.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

iflytb20 wrote:
sabya99 wrote:
and was the only ( perhaps ) bomber with wooden parts.

The DH Mosquito could give the Canberra some competition in that matter Wink Now if you count only Jet Engined aircraft, then.....
Quote:

This is the only aircraft after B-52 that has completed 60 years operational life after first production started.


The An-2 is a Senior citizen too. FF Aug 1947, in production till 2002, 18000+ built, and still flying happily 65 years on.

I am considering modern jet engine aircrafts and not crop dusters like AN-2.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sabya99 wrote:

Another area that interest me is the slow development of Kolkata's NSCBI airport. Is anybody interested here?

Sabyasachi, why don't you start a separate thread on this, on the Civil Aviation forum? Apart from the new gates 2 and 2A (where the earlier baggage verification was done), and till the new building comes up, CCU is in a terrible state, more so, the International `terminal', which looks awful, especially airside.
Cheers, Sumantra.
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sabya99
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sumantra wrote:
sabya99 wrote:

Another area that interest me is the slow development of Kolkata's NSCBI airport. Is anybody interested here?

Sabyasachi, why don't you start a separate thread on this, on the Civil Aviation forum? Apart from the new gates 2 and 2A (where the earlier baggage verification was done), and till the new building comes up, CCU is in a terrible state, more so, the International `terminal', which looks awful, especially airside.
Cheers, Sumantra.

That is a good idea. I will definitely think of it. Very Happy
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