Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Location: New Delhi
|Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:04 am Post subject: To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 3: Monino!
|To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 3: Monino!
``Moe-nee-na ee a-braht-na'' (To Monino, and back)
This trip report can be found at the following URL:
Part I of the trip can be found at the following URL:
Part 2: The Central Museum of the Armed Forces:
As with Part 2 above, most of the descriptions of the planes are
as I know them - some incomplete technical information, what I
know of them, and how I got introduced to a particular model, and
what memories I have of the model in question. Most of the
information has been distilled over the years from a large
collection of newspaper cut-outs, books, magazines, and of late,
readings across the Internet. Of course, all of this is modulated
with my memories from an early age, some nebulous, some
The name has been evoking magic in my mind ever since I had heard
about this museum from people, from websites, from pictures, and
hearsay...all added to the build-up. And it just happened, by
chance. I was to attend a conference in Moscow, and needless to
say, the only aim of going there was obviously not the
non-descript conference, it was to relive childhood memories.
I had nearly given up on this, since I was not getting any source
of funding to make the trip. At the last moment, Lady Luck smiled
on me. My conference trip was to be funded, after all.
I could scarcely believe my luck.
What childhood memories?
Childhood memories of my first interest in planes.
My father getting huge volumes of Jane's All The World's
Aircraft, and so many other books on planes, from the library
nearby. Seated on his lap, I poured through all these books from
an age when I could barely read what was written, to an age where
I literally devoured those pages. Soviet planes had always
fascinated me, as our Air Force had many examples of Soviet
hardware, and I could see many commercial planes of Soviet make
in the skies above Delhi. I had been fascinated by the Soviet
Union itself, the lofty ideals, the complete secrecy, and rare
sightings of aircraft, many of which were classified. Of
particular interest to me was a section in the Jane's volumes,
devoted to unidentified/classified Soviet aircraft, and possible
guesses about their identity, and the closest identified
aircraft. The biggest, the fastest, the heaviest...almost all
of these seemed to be Soviet-made flying machines. Even at a
young age, I could associate most Soviet designs with some
western designs, in some case, the similarity between them was
somewhat unmistakable. I had sat with these books in front of
me, in the morning after getting up, while rushing through
breakfast before going to school, while having lunch after coming
back from school, while having the evening milk, and I literally
poured over them over dinner. I dreamt about them.
In 2011, this was a dream come true.
I went over the details, with a lot of trepidation.
I knew nothing about the current Russia, how much of the former
Soviet Union was still in place.
I searched high and low for any information I could get on
Monino. All turned out to be anti-climaxes, until I came to an
incredibly informative site:
This had such detailed instructions, that even a few years after
this was written, most of the information was completely spot-on.
Was this a somewhat secret place?
Possibly, since it was behind a military training school.
Would I somehow make it there, without getting into trouble?
My first day on the Pokrovka street with some rough elements all
around, had made me extra careful.
I was prepared for the worst - to be just satisfied with the trip
to the Central Museum of the Armed Forces, since I had already
been there, and taken pictures of many of my favourite planes.
I devoured the six parts of the above documents, until I almost
knew them by heart. I decided to follow the directions to the
letter. Yes, as the author has written, there are hardly any
directions, and many do not even know about the existence of this
treasure trove. If I tried to contact those who did, there was
every chance of being ripped-off. No prices were `standard' in
this once capital of anti-capitalism. Plus, this was close to a
military school, so would it not be prudent to maintain complete
secrecy about my motives?
I had meticulously planned out my activities in the city - which
days I could spend on what, and clearly kept a complete day off
for Monino. I had been understandably apprehensive after what I
had read about the museum - the entry procedure for foreigners (I
followed it to the hilt). I had sent out a FAX, as emails had
bounced, and I was unable to get to he Museum on the phone. I had
got no email, SMS, or call in reply. What if my FAX had not got
to them? It was quite probable. What if I somehow managed to
reach this suburb of Moscow, and was denied entry to the Museum?
One of the articles I had read about was the following:
I started the day early, after devouring the complementary
breakfast at my hotel. This was to sustain me for most of the
day, I told myself. Or rather, my belly, that is.
The weather was cool and cloudy, with rains having hit the city
the previous day. The skies were clearing up a bit, but I could
not be sure. I took and umbrella along with me, and a good amount
of Russian Rubles. I did not have any idea of the current rates,
or how I would finally make it to Monino, if I indeed managed to
do so. This would be a big adventure, and I was understandably
excited. I set out with a map, and a printout of the 6 volumes
from the website, the contents of which I had almost memorised,
by heart. I was to avoid the Metro too - as I was advised by
many. So, I set foot on the road, and walked, and walked.
After walking past modern and Stalinist-era buildings, I came to
the Komsomolskaya metro station, and the Yaroslavskii Vokzhal,
the station from where I was to take the local train
(`Elektrichka') to Moscow's most famous north eastern suburb from
an aviation enthusiast's point of view, Monino.
I had read the instructions over and over again, as on the above
website. I went to the lady at the window, put lots of Rubles in
front of her, and proudly said,
``Moe-nee-na ee a-braht-na'' (To Monino, and back)
My pronunciation was so bad that she gave me a wry smile, and I
told her in sign language what I wanted. I now held a ticket to
Monino and back! I rushed to the platform, did some Cyrillic
pattern matching, and ran inside the correct train.
The above image shows what an Elektrichka looks from the inside.
I was extremely discreet with my photos, and did not take my
large analog SLR out. The only pictures I took were using my
cellphone. On the way back, I clicked a picture of an Elektrichka
from the outside at Monino station - this is the last picture
of this trip report.
The Elektrichka journey was quite uneventful, and it took about
an hour and 20 minutes. I looked up my Moscow map, and tried to
memorise some Russian words. I also recounted a gchat
conversation I had with a friend, as I waited for breakfast to
be open to `patrons'. (Old-timers may recount a certain `Mr.
Frederick Foresight' from my earlier trip reports.)
Mr. Foresight congratulated me on spending two days
in Moscow without creating any trouble for myself, or others.
Stasiba, I told him (`Thanks')
He asked me what I was doing.
I said that I was sitting next to the window,
admiring beautiful Russian Dyevs who walked past.
He threatened me with informing The Wife of the same.
`Nyet, Nyet... Do Svidanya'
I had signed off quickly, with a huge grin on my face.
I arrived at the Monino station. Everything was almost the same
as what was mentioned in the above report, and I sped past the
Military academy so as not to arouse any suspicion or trouble,
and walked into the ticket office with great trepidation.
This said, `Kacca' (pronounced as something like `kassha'- tickets).
My four initial sentences to the lady seated there evoked just one
word in response, after some time, for effect.
My mind also wandered to the famous words in the Johnny
English movies, when someone addresses the character player by
Rowan Atkinson. `English?'
A gentleman came around, and spoke to me in perfect English. I
paid the fee for the entrance as well as the camera (I had my
favourite Analog SLR camera with me), and as in the
well-rehearsed one-act-play as described on Scott Palmer's
website, I was introduced to Retd Col V. Kazashvili, who through
the English-speaking gentleman, was offering me an English
language version of his book on the Museum and its attractions,
for a `very cheap' price of 250 Rubles. Given the book, its
print, the information therein, and its size, this was a complete
rip-off: for this autographed book from him. When the man
mentioned whether I needed a guide, I looked at my dire financial
situation and tight time bounds, and politely refused, saying that
I wanted to take photographs of rare old Soviet-era aircraft, he
said in the old well-rehearsed lines, `Oh, you want to take just
pictures, let me take you in'. He took me into the Main Hall on
the other side of the entrance, and the entrance had me
in-a-trance. He then disappeared.
This was a hanger with a well-maintained hall, with rows of
well-maintained planes sitting on both sides. I went to the end,
where I saw an Il-2 `Bark'. This was one of the greatest success
stories of World War II - `the great patriotic war', along with
its successor, the Il-10 `Beast', which was displayed on the open
The Lavochkin La-7 `Fin' fighter was a modification of the
earlier infamous LaGG range of fighters, whose limitations made
them the bane of the crew forced to operate them.
The Mig-3 (model) was an example of a modern streamline fighter.
Above are two views of the same.
The above are the I-15 and I-16 planes from the Polikarpov stable.
I had first come to know about them in the late 1980s, from a
friend who was also as crazy about Soviet aviation as I was! In
the above images, the nice main hall can be seen in the
background. One hall had been reconstructed after begin destroyed
in a fire accident - I wonder if it was this one, or one of the
two halls behind the field, one of which was not open to
visitors. The other had unique and experimental flying machines.
The above picture shows the Polikarpov R-5 reconnaissance plane.
I did not have a clue about its existence before I saw this
The Polikarpov Po-2 `Mule' was mainly used as a trainer.
The Bell P-63 Kingcobra was exported to the Soviet Union when it was
well obsolete in the US, under a lend-lease agreement.
Monino has a well-preserved example in the main hall. In Soviet
hands, this type was given the NATO code name `Fred'.
The Petlyakov Pe-2 `Buck' dive bomber example at Monino was
assembled from the remains of three planes. This was a quick
conversion from a pressurised interceptor, to a dive bomber role.
The Tu-4 `Bull' bomber first caught my attention in a book on
military aircraft in the 1990s. I had first seen the small and
grainy picture, and wondered what a B-29 was doing in the Tupolev
section. What started then was a massive search for any lead I
could find on this mysterious plane. I got an article which
pointed to the fact that three B-29s had landed in the USSR in
the then US operations targeting Japan. Since the USSR was not in
war with Japan, it had impounded the three aircraft and its crew.
In an official air display in 1947 over Tushino, the presence of
a fourth B-29 gave the West the shivers, that the Soviets had
indeed reverse-engineered the B-29. Even though the Shvetsov
ASh-73 engines were far inferior to the Wright R-2250 and the
Tu-4 `Bull' was much heavier, the Tu-4 could be used on one-way
suicide missions to bomb many US cities. My tryst with the Tu-4
did not end here. My Monino trip started with the exciting plane
to my right, as I entered the large field. I had been fascinated
with the Chinese modifications of the same - the version with the
Ivchenko AI-20 turboprops, and another with a radome fitted on
top- an AWACS version! I was to see them later in 2011, at
Datangstan, near Beijing.
The Tu-16 `Badger' bomber looked a bit like the earlier Tu-14
`Bosun'. This basic design was to evolve into a number of roles,
reconnaissance, refuelling, and more. I remember a picture of a
Tu-16 being gifted to President Sukarno of Indonesia at the
`Djakarta' airport (as mentioned in that edition of the Jane's
All The World's Aircraft, as my childhood memories go).
The Tu-22 `Blinder' was an amazing-looking aircraft, with the
unusual arrangement of two engines on the tail. I had always
wanted to see this plane, which was the Soviet Union's first
supersonic bomber, but had a very limited range of operation.
The Tu-22M `Backfire' bomber was another must-see plane for me,
more so, because 4 of such nuclear-capable bombers were on lease
with the IAF, as per newspaper reports. The Tu-22M is a very
The Tu-16K was a modification of the basic `Badger' bomber.
The Fiddler, not on the roof, but beside the huge hangar roof!
The Tu-28 `Fiddler' was a huge plane - almost too large to be an
interceptor. The main reason behind the large size was the
enormous amount of fuel needed to be carried on the plane, needed
for an extremely long range. The earlier Lavochkin La-250
`Anaconda' was not very successful in this regard. The Tu-28 had
a neat design in my opinion - I especially like the tail with its
top clipped back from the top!
This also causes my mind to look for a bad parody of th famous
Old King Col(d)
was a merry ol' soul
and a merry ol' soul was he
He called for his pipe
and he called for his bowl
and he called for his Fiddlers three.
The An-14 Pchelka (Bee) `Clod' was an interesting plane, suited
for operations on small and unprepared airstrips.
In my enthusiasm to take pictures all around, I almost missed a
very rare plane in the background. I caught it on my analog SLR
with a 28-100mm lens, but do not have a good digital copy of the
same. This was the very rare Be-32 plane, which is a decked-up
Be-30. Both the Be-30 and Be-32 had the NATO code name `Cuff'.
The Be-30 was a competitor to the later Warsaw Pact nations'
standard Czech Let L-410. The Be-32 was a hard-to-get plane in
books in the 1980s - only one - yes, only one grainy and
bad-quality image was there in a Jane's All The World's Aircraft
1970-71 edition that I could lay my hands on, then. I had always
wondered what that mysterious aircraft was.
This is an amazing aircraft, which I did not ever expect to see
at Monino! The PZL M-15 `Belphegor' was a Polish (but hardly
polished!) design, unique in quite a few respects - a jet-powered
agricultural aircraft, a jet-powered biplane - possibly the only
one of its kind in the above respects. I had only read
descriptions and pictures in the Jane's All The World's
Aircraft editions. It was named after the noisy demon of
inventions, Belphegor. This has an AI-25 jet engine on top of the
fuselage, and was designed in response to a strong Soviet
requirement. This is an interesting jet engine - it is the one
that powered the tiny three-engined Yak-40 `Codling'.
As mentioned above the Il-10 `Beast' was a World War 2 modification
of the Il-2 `Bark', and was possibly the Soviet Union's best
plane of the war.
It was a pleasure to see the Il-28 `Beagle' bomber again. It has
the typical Soviet glazed nose front, and was their first
successful medium-range jet bomber.
The Douglas A-20G Havoc. I was quite surprised to see this US
WW2-era bomber at Monino. Somehow, this reminded me of a only
slightly related parody of the famous `Sound of Music' song,
which I had created, while in school.
``Bomb-drops on enemies, and Generals in ranks
bright shiny aircraft and olive green tanks
food and aid packages, tied up in strings....
these are a few of their favourite things''
The A-20 Havoc in Soviet hands had the NATO code name `Box'.
The North American B-25D Mitchell bomber, in Soviet hands, had
the NATO code name `Bank'.
The Lisunov Li-2 `Cab' was one of the few US aircraft
license-built in the Soviet Union. It was inferior to the later
versions of the DC-3/C-47.
The Su-25 `Frogfoot' is Russia's `Shturmovik', a ground support
aircraft that saw success in Afghanistan, till the Stinger
shoulder-launched missiles claimed quite a few kills. The
Shturmovik title was also given to the Il-2 `Bark' and the
This was listed as a Su-7B. I do not have much idea about the
sub-variants, as all Su-7s look quite the same to me.
This is a rather interesting experimental aircraft, an otherwise
standard Su-7 fitted on skis, with the designation `S-26'.
These are images of the Su-7BKL. I was reminded of Dr. Abdul Kalam's
team's RATO (rocket-assisted take-off) experiments on the Su-7,
which had met with a high degree of success at high-altitude
airfields, but was not put into production. Some description of
these experiments finds mention in the book, `Wings of Fire'.
This is the Su-9 `Fishpot': the main difference between an Su-7
and a Su-9 for the layperson like me, is the presence of delta
wings in the Su-9, as opposed to the swept ones of the Su-7.
This is the Su-11, a development of the Su-9. Both carry the same
NATO code name, `Fishpot'. And both look the same to laypersons
This is the Su-17M3, as mentioned on the board.
The Su-17/20/22 are all swing-wing developments of the Su-7, and
all carry the NATO code name `Fitter'.
The Su-15 `Flagon' interceptor. This was the type which is
supposed to have shot down flight KAL007 over the Kamchatka
peninsula, at the height of the cold war.
One reason why the Flagon had to quickly return to base
was...Victor Belenko's defection to Japan in 1975 in his Mig-25,
which allowed the western world to examine the then mysterious
Mach 2.8+ interceptor in detail. Fuel supplies were reduced by
law, so as not to facilitate similar defections.
This is the T-6-1 experimental aircraft, which looks quite like a
Su-24 to me, except with its noise almost level, instead of the
raised Su-24 nose. This has cropped delta wings, and hence the
designation starting with a `T'. The Sukhoi bureau usually puts a
delta-winged plane with a `T' designation, and swept-wing ones,
with an `S'.
This is an otherwise standard Su-24 interceptor.
The Su-35 is an improved version of the Su-27 `Flanker' basic
design. Some sources mention this to be the T-10-1, the prototype
of the Su-27. Well, they look all the same to a layperson like
me. Interestingly, one of Sukhoi's most distinguished test pilots
was Vladimir Ilyushin, the son of the famous designer, who
coincidentally, never flew a plane for his father's design
The largest helicopter in the world, only two or three examples
of which had ever been constructed. The Mi-12 `Homer' was
supposed to be a design which only its creator, Mikhail Mil, was
supposed to love. Count one more - I was fascinated by this
piece of engineering, ever since I had seen a picture of this
amazing helicopter in the Jane's All the World's Aircraft volumes
of the later 1960s. I had seen some pictures of this amazing
helicopter, and tried to build some similar models using my Lego
bricks. A helicopter that did not look like one - almost like a
huge bus, with rotors on top.
The Tu-144 `Charger' was also one of my must-see planes at
Monino. Before the advent of the Internet, information on this
amazing aircraft was extremely hard to get. I had poured over
books, hoping to catch a snippet of information about the type.
Yes, I had known that this was the first supersonic passenger
plane to fly, on 31 December, 1968. the grand old man of Soviet
Aviation, Andrei Tupolev watched the big plane take to the skies,
a plane which had been designed by a team under his son, Alexei
Tupolev. The Concorde was to take to the skies a few months
later. The Tu-144 `Charger's design had changed a few times that
the plane had been publicly displayed. Then came the 1973 Paris
Air Show crash, about which little was know at that time.
This was an enigmatic story of intrigue and espionage.
The Tu-144 `Charger' was inferior in many respects to the
Concorde. The double-delta wings, for one, as compared to the
Concorde's highly complex ogival delta wings.
This was the subject of the Mig-21 `Analogue': an otherwise
standard Mig-21S, albeit with a scaled Tu-144 wing. These were
used for many test flights, and I have two images of the
`Analogue', in the Mig section, below.
This Tu-144 was fitted with retractable canard `moustache'
fore-planes, to increase lift at take-off, and to have a lower
landing speed. Eduard Elyan and Mikhail Kozlov were the pilot
and co-pilot on the `Charger's first flight, it is ironic that
the airframe involved in the 1973 Paris Air Show crash was
Mikhail Kozlov's last, as a Captain. Photographs of the first
prototype's flight with the landing gear extended were published
in the Jane's editions.
It was only in the 1980s that the French Government released some
classified documents, which showed that there was a Mirage
in the Charger's flight path that day, which may have contributed
to the Charger's final crash. There are theories regarding the
accident, including a camera getting stuck with the joystick, the
pilots being commanded to perform unwarranted maneuvres to outdo
the Concorde (which were not warranted by the control laws of the
aircraft, or were untried and undocumented), and the airframe
not able to sustain the g-forces on the sudden pull-up.
The Tupolev Tu-141 `Strizh' (Swift) drone was a plane I knew
nothing about, before I came to Monino. It was apparently a
standard UAV in the Soviet armoury, till the 1980s.
The Mig 105.11 `Spiral' was also called the `shoe' due to the
design of its front portion.
The Lavochkin La-15 `Fantail' fighter was an experimental design
(yes, wasn't I excited to see it?). It was a contemporary of the
equally mysterious Mig-9 `Fargo', and was a turbojet adaptation
of the La-7 `Fin'. It did not see an extended production run, as
the British government's gift of the Roll Royce Nene and Derwent
engines had the former modified in the Klimov range, and used to
power the first truly modern Soviet jet fighter, the Mig-15
`Fagot'. This plane had behind it another experimental design,
the La-250 Anaconda. Unfortunately, I do not have a good
electronic picture of the same.
The Mig-9 `Fargo' was the last Soviet attempt at an `indigenous'
(in quotes, since the engine was a reverse-engineered German
design - a Junkers Jumo model?) jet fighter (along with the
La-15), which were inspired from piston-engined designs. This
plane had a troubled beginning, and the production line of the
Mig-15 paid put to both the above aircraft. I had only seen
grainy black-and-white leaked images of the Mig-9 in a book in
the mid-1990s, so this was quite exciting for me!
The Mig-15 `Fagot' was one plane I had always wanted to see right
in front of me. This was the first modern Soviet interceptor, and
one that performed admirably against the US Sabre jets in the
Korean war, among others. This was perhaps the first modern
Soviet jet fighter. I had always wanted to see this good-looking
aircraft. The trainer version was also there at the side - please
see the description below. This was one unique aircraft - please
read on, to find out why!
The Myasischev M-17 `Mystic' and its later development, the M-55
(with the same NATO reporting name) high-altitude plane was one
of the last flickers from the Myasischev stable, which had given
the Soviet Union planes such as the 3MD/M-4 `Bison', and the one
supersonic bomber that had sparked my imagination in large Soviet
planes, the M-50 `Bounder'.
The Be-12 `Tchaika' (Seagull) `Mail' was the standard amphibian
of the Soviet armed forces. The Be-10 `Mallow' was a jet version,
which I had read about, and seen images of, but this type did not
enter production, possibly due to technical difficulties with the
aircraft. This was a completely mystery aircraft - the Jane's All
The World's Aircraft had a grainy photograph of the plane, which
was then the only jet-powered amphibious aircraft in the world.
The break-up of the Soviet Union brought to light some
information about this aircraft. The Be-200 Altair and the
earlier related Be-42/A-40 Albatross `Mermaid' are the current
jet amphibious aircraft. The Tchaika is the only amphibious plane
on display at Monino.
Two examples of the Mig-29 `Fulcrum' (IAF name: `Baaz')
interceptor are displayed at Monino. One is right behind the huge
Mi-12 `Homer', another is in the general Mig line. The example
in the picture above corresponds to the second. The Su-27
`Flanker' multi-role aircraft and the smaller Mig-29 `Fulcrum'
evolved from a similar set of specifications, and have similar
layouts, but different roles. The overall twin-boom shape is
similar to the US McDonnell-Douglas F-15 `Eagle', and was
developed to counter the plane. The twin-boom configuration was
also used in the carrier-based Grumman F-14 `Tomcat'.
The Mig-21 `Fishbed' is possibly the most recognisable
delta-winged interceptor in the world, and possibly the most
widely-used interceptor, too. The above example is possibly one
of the later `Bis' models. What developed as a limited short
range day interceptor evolved into a lean and mean fighting
machine, which in recent avatars such as the `Bison' version with
the IAF with uprated avionics and electronics packages, is a lean
and mean fighting machine. In the picture, the two large
Ivchenko AI-20 engines of the Be-12 Tchaika (Seagull) `Mail'
amphibian plane seem to attach horns to the Mig-21, much like we
put our hands behind a friend's head without his or her
knowledge, when taking a photograph.
The Mig-21 `Analogue' was an otherwise standard Mig-21
interceptor, but fitted with the Tu-144 `Charger's double-delta
wing and `tailless' wing. I had seen photographs of the
`Analogue' flying with the Tu-144 first prototype.
This was the Soviet Union's first Mach 3 interceptor. The Mig-25
`Foxbat' also saw action with the IAF, with one squadron, which
used this fast aircraft primarily for reconnaissance from a huge
height, and at a great speed. The squadron also had one example
of a two-seat trainer version, with the second seat curiously
positioned lower, on the nose section.
Wispy clouds overhead, a Mach 3 interceptor below - what more
could one ask for? The Mig-31 `Foxhound' bears some
similarity with the earlier Mig-25 `Foxbat' interceptor.
The Mig-27 `Flogger' is possibly the mainstay of the IAF's bomber
force. It is interesting to note that the Jane's All the World's
Aircraft editions list the IAF reporting name right next to the
name of the plane. The IAF calls them the `Bahadur'. I always
confuse the Mig-27 from the Mig-23 BN version, as they look quite
similar externally. In the first image, the Be-12 Tchaika
(Seagull) `Mail' amphibian seems to put it propellers as horns,
on the Mig-27's head.
The Mig-23 was the first Soviet aircraft to get massive export
orders. This was constructed in primarily two versions - the MF
Interceptor version, and the BN bomber version. Both of these
types saw active service with the IAF. At one time, this swing
wing (the first Soviet aircraft of this kind) was highly
classified, and only rough and grainy pictures were the ones
leaked out to the western media. For the Mig-23 MF model at
Monino, a ladder goes up to the cockpit, giving the viewer a view
of what the plane looks like from above. The reader can figure
this out from the second picture, where the background also shows
the Be-12 Tchaika (Seagull) `Mail' aircraft, a Mig-27, the Tu-114
`Cleat' behind, beside an An-8 `Camp' aircraft.
This is the Mig-19 `Farmer' interceptor - another aircraft I
wanted to see up and close. This is an aircraft that the
Pakistan air force has used in large numbers, with Chinese
ancestry. This was the first Soviet interceptor capable of
supersonic level flight.
The Mig-17 `Fresco' was somewhat of a mystery aircraft for me.
The Mig-19 `Farmer' was in service with the Chinese and Pakistani
Air Force, while the Mig-17 was in service in the Afghanistan.
Initially thought to be a development of the Mig-15 `Fagot', it
was later confirmed to be a new model, and assigned the NATO code
I saw a streetlight repair ladder parked in the undergrowth, and
when I found no one looking, I simply climbed up, perched up
precariously on the swaying platform, and took a look from the
amazing vantage point that this offered! I was even more excited
than before, and loved the view.
A unique plane, and a beautiful one behind. The beautiful one
soon replaced the aircraft in the foreground, for long-haul
flights. The unique plane was the Tu-114 `Cleat' - another of my
`must see' planes. This was the only swept-wing passenger
turboprop driven aircraft to be ever produced. This had a good
capacity, and was quite fast! The basic design came from the
Tu-95 `Bear' bomber, and had a much enlarged pressurised fuselage
on the Kuznetsov NK-12 contra-rotating propeller engines. When
Khrushchev had come to New York for a `shoe-banging' UN session,
this was the plane he came in on, 1959. This was so high that no
ladder at the JFK airport proved `up' to the task, something
which had apparently given him some degree of satisfaction.
A nice view of the airfield looking towards the Tu-144 `Charger'.
The aircraft in the foreground is the Myasischev M-17 `Mystic'
The light had gone bad at times, owing to a threatening cloud
cover which came on, and went off at times. This bad-quality
picture shows the Mig-15 UTI `Midget' trainer in the foreground,
the very example in which both Yuri Gagarin and Valentina
Tereshkova had trained in. What a marvellous piece of history!
At the back is the big daddy of them all, the Tu-144 `Charger'.
The highlight of this picture is the foreground - a Mi-2
`Hoplite' helicopter, which was being restored. Doesn't it look
That is a side view of the huge Mi-6 `Hook' helicopter!
This is the Li-2 `Cab' passenger liner, in nice condition. This
is stored on the road leading from one of the back gates to the
Museum's display area. I went all around this plane - I simply
love the sound of the Pratt and Whitney Wasp engines (of the
original DC-3), and dreamt that the plane was parked with its
engines running, just beside me.
The An-22 `Antei' `Cossack' was said to be an up-scaled version of
the An-12, with two vertical fins in place of the An-12's one.
The An-8 `Camp' was a two-engined military transport aircraft,
which was the precursor to the largely successful An-12 `Cub'.
Some more details appear, below.
Images of the Beriev Bartini on Airliners.net had sparked my
interest in the type. `Ugly airplanes do not fly,' so says the
caption of a snowed on remains of the prototype at Monino, of an
image from www.airliners.net. What was this plane that did not
look like one? I wish that I had access to get close to this
amazing design. This is located at a great distance from the
ropes cordoning off the grass area, storing many a plane which
were among my must-see list.
The An-12 `Cub' was a versatile military transport aircraft which
served the IAF for a very long time, being called the `Mountain
Geese'. Behind the An-12 was an An-10 `Cat', the first prototype
of which was called the `Ukrainia' (Just as the first prototype
of the Il-18 was called `Moskva', and the Tu-114 prototype,
`Rossiya'). The An-10 and An-10A did not fare particularly well
in comparison to the Il-18 and its developments, and design flaws
resulted in some horrible accidents.
The Mi-26 `Halo' development of the Mi-6 `Hook' are often
confusing for someone who is not exactly a helicopter enthusiast
I have written about the L-29 Delphin `Maya' in my previous trip
report on the Central Museum on the Armed Forces. This is a
trainer aircraft that went on to become the standard trainer
aircraft of the Warsaw Pact nations, owing to a political
decision to give preference to this type over the allegedly
superior Yak-30 `Magnum' and the Polish(ed?) Iskra.
The Il-62 `Classic' was one of the most beautiful aircraft ever
built. Rumoured to be `inspired' from the Vickers VC-10, this was
the standard Soviet long-range plane for many decades, and made
me look up at the sky in awe as a Little child, whenever I saw
this plane coming in to land on the main runway 28-10 in Delhi. I
used to like the simple Aeroflot livery, with `CCCP' written
below the wings. I love the sound of the Kuznetsov NK-8 turbofan
engines! The example in the VVS Museum in Monino has its nose
wheel raised, as if it is just rotating, and about to take off.
This also has the prominent anti-tail strike tail wheel deployed.
What a beautiful plane!
This is a picture of the fastest propeller-driver passenger plane
of all times, the unique swept-wing Tu-114 `Cleat'.
The An-8 `Camp' can be seen some distance behind.
Oh how would I have loved to simply jump over the chained fence,
go through some undergrowth to reach two of my other favourite
Soviet designs! The Il-18 `Coot' was the Russian counterpart of
the western designs such as the DC-7 and the Bristol Britannia,
and was powered by the perhaps only prominent Russian turboprop
engine in mass production since the beginning, the Ivchenko AI-20
engines (except perhaps the contra-rotating Kuznetsov NK-12).
This was modified into the Il-20, many examples of which served
as airborne command posts. Another modification was the Il-38
`May' maritime surveillance aircraft, which served has served the
Indian Navy since quite some time.
The second exciting plane looks like the short-lived Tu-124
`Cookpot', whose shortcomings forced the much improved Tu-134
`Crusty' into service. The Tu-134 had been taken out from
service only the day before, as I read in the papers. I saw one
of them flying overhead, making many passes over the nearby area,
at some altitude.
This particular Tu-124 had a large part of it destroyed in a
fire, but from a distance, a new metal skin told me that at least
a part had been repaired. However, this is too far to be seen in
detail. I would have loved to roam around this part of the museum
(which is close to the airfield), and look at the goodies on
offer there, parts and other miscellany strewn around the place.
Oh how would I have loved to view this part of the airfield! I
have never seen a Tu-104 `Camel' from up and close, this still
remains in my to-see list. My only close view of a Tu-124
`Cookpot' was to be later in September 2011, in Datangstan, near
Beijing. This is quite ironical, given that there are two Tu-124
airframes in north India, both in possibly fair condition. On top
of it, these are the rare Tu-124K variant, one of which is some
distance behind the Air Force Museum at Palam in Delhi, which at
one time hosted this good-looking plane. Now, this craft is
somewhere behind the museum and the technical area, and can be
seen at a distance from the secondary runway, where it is parked,
along with a DC-3, a Caribou, and a rarer Il-14 `Crate' (There is
an Il-12T `Coach' at Monino, but was just a bit too far out in
the grass parking to be visible to my camera lens. I was to see
the Il-12/14 up and close only in Datangshan, a few months
later). There used to be a C-46 Curtiss Commando is shoddy
condition in front of the Terminal 1A - I wonder where it is now.
The other Tu-124K frame is in Lucknow, oddly in the midst of a
zoo - a museum in Lucknow. The picture above closely shows the
part where a new metal skin has replaced the burnt-out portion of
the Tu-124 fuselage. The Tu-104 at one time, was the only jet
passenger airline in service, with the Comet-1 withdrawn from
service after the horrible crashes.
The Yak-40 `Codling' was an amazing design, a jet plane that
could operate from places otherwise served with light propeller
aircraft. This plane was infamously called `the kerosene
exterminator', due to the incredibly fuel-thirsty engines.
The Yak-42 `Clobber' was built as a replacement for the Tu-134
`Crusty' and the Il-18 `Coot', but was not built in large
The picture above is one of the Mi-6 `Hook' helicopter.
The Yak-12R `Creek'. I would have known nothing about the plane
until I came across the type at Monino, and a picture, on
Airliners.net. What a beautifully restored plane!
The Yak-38 `Forger' was the Soviet Union's only operational VTOL
aircraft, serving on board Kiev class aircraft carriers. It had
numerous problems with the engines under varying conditions,
limited payload, limited operating radius, and was withdrawn from
active service in the early 1990s. The `Forger' was of great
interest to me as I scanned old editions of the Jane's All The
World's Aircraft volumes, and could not but help note the
similarity with the Hawker Harrier prototype.
Yak-141 `Freestyle' was perhaps the only supersonic carrier-based
aircraft in history. Of special interest to India is that its
sea-based trials took place on the Baku, later Admiral Gorshkov,
and now, to be INS Vikramaditya. There were only operational
prototypes, and did not make its way into regular production.
The Yak-27 family has the NATO code name `Flashlight' and
`Mangrove', for the interceptor, and reconnaissance version,
respectively. The picture above shows the Yak-27R Reconnaissance
Here is a closer look at its interesting glazed nose section.
The Yak-25RV, `Flashlight' interceptor, and `Mandrake'
high-altitude reconnaissance version.
This was the Yak-28L, with the NATO code names `Brewer',
`Firebar' and `Maestro', for the bomber, interceptor and trainer
versions. Most Yaks of this design look absolutely similar to
me, and had it not been for the designations on the signboards
and matter on the Internet, I would not have been able to know
anything about the actual designations.
The Mi-24 `Hind' is a large helicopter, and looks really `mean'.
The exhibit allows one to see details of the cockpit from up and
The Mi-8 `Hip' helicopter is one that the IAF has used for quite
I had wanted to see the only helicopter from the Yakovlev design
bureau, the Yak-24 `Horse'. Why? It was a rather simple and
elegant design, much like a bus with two rotors. It was also
interesting to me, as the bureau did not build any other
helicopter again, leaving this field to the Mil and the Kamov
The Vertol 44 had a rather interesting `V' design.
I was quite surprised to know the the US had exported one frame
to the Soviet Union at that time.
[...continued in the next post]
Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Location: New Delhi
|Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:36 am Post subject:
This was a plane that had always fascinated me. The US XB-70
Valkyrie had fascinated me as a military aircraft that to me as a
young boy, looked like the Concorde - actually, a bit more like
the Tu-144 `Charger'. The extensive use of Titanium and stainless
steel also gave the plane a completely different look, which
added to my fascination. Yes, it had a drooping nose, which
increased my fascination for this type. The type was pulled out
of consideration for production, apparently not for any technical
shortcoming. I wonder why!
The 3M/M-4 `Bison' was one of the success stories for the
Myasischev design bureau. The type saw many roles - as a bomber,
as a tanker, for reconnaissance, as well as a carrier mother-ship.
I had always found the bicycle-type landing gear interesting,
with wheels at the two ends of the wings.
This was THE plane which many of my dreams were about.
This was the plane which had raised my fascination for Soviet
aviation, when seated on my father's lap, while he was handling a
heavy volume of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, where there was a
grainy image of the Myasischev M-50 `Bounder', which was
accompanied by Mig-21 `Fishbed' interceptors, in a display over
Tushino. The image caption said that ti was the largest
supersonic bomber ever made. It was a neat-looking aircraft,
with a very interesting arrangement for the outer engines - they
were on the tips of the wings! Unfortunately, I have not been
able to find that particular image anywhere on the Internet,
the image that had fired my imagination. One that is somewhat
close to the original Encyclopaedia Britannica image is perhaps
at the following URL: [all rights reserved with the originator]
This plane was not a success, it was large, but speed and range
do not go hand-in-hand.
There is a replica of an biplane designed by the famous Henri
Farman, inside a large hall beside the Tu-28 `Fiddler'.
This is a Sukhanov Diskoplan 1, a mysterious 1958 design.
The Sikorsky Ilya Muromets was then the largest four engined
plane in existence. I have seen numerous Soviet-era illustrations
of the same (the weird painting-style photographs) in old Soviet
books. It was nice seeing a mock-up in front of me.
Early Tupolev aircraft had the initials of the designer, `ANT'.
The ANT-25 was a long-range aircraft, used for record-breaking
The hall also houses a model of a Viosin aircraft.
The Sopwich (yes, that is what the board said) triplane is on
display inside the last hanger, as I mentioned.
How many planes had I seen, and how many had I missed? The Mi-10
`Harke' crane is no longer at Monino. I wonder where it is now.
There were many, which were out of bounds for visitors. I have
mentioned a few, above. There were some that I do not have even
fair-quality pictures of, hence I have not included them in my
report, here. Notable omissions include the Yak-36 `Freehand'.
The 1970-71 edition of Jane's All The World's Aircraft lists some
STOL/VTOL aircraft design activity going on around that time in
the Soviet Union. There were STOL versions of the Mig-21
`Fishbed', and some photographs of a mystery Mig STOL aircraft
with NATO code name `Faithless'. This was later identified as a
STOL variant of the Mig-23 design, which did not see the active
production. the Mig-23 `Flogger' was still not a knwon
designation - there were two grainy pictures of a `Mikoyan
Swing-wing plane' in that Jane's edition.
The Yak-36 `Freehand' had an interesting design, with
a long nose nozzle.
I also do not have an image of the An-24 `Coke'. This plane, and
its developments, the An-26T `Curl', the An-30 `Clank' research
aircraft, and the An-32 `Cline' have been important products of
the Soviet aviation history. The An-32 `Cline' is known as the
`Sutlej' in the IAF, and has had a long history of success.
The Tu-2 `Bat' was there in the last hall I visited, but the poor
lighting (combined with my cellphone camera) did not do any
justice to the shots I tried to click.
I have already mentioned the La-250 Anaconda.
E166 Ye-152 `Flipper' looks rather like a Mig-21 `Fishbed'. It is
based on the same, and was used to set a number of records,
including a speed record by a woman pilot.
Ah - I was in a state of perfect bliss. I had been up and close
to many planes I had only dreamt about, since I had my senses
about me. However, the reader would also note that I had set out
early in the morning, after partaking of the complementary
breakfast offered by the hotel. I had taken along with me, two
small bottles of water. I had spent most of the day outdoors, in
somewhat muggy weather, but the sun had made brief appearances,
and I was understandably thirsty. Not sure about where I would
have access to toilets, I used the contents of the bottle
somewhat sparingly. I was quite thirsty by the time I was out of
the complex, and wondered how far I was from some water,
and...food! My throat was parched, and my pocket, quite empty,
from all the rip-offs, in the morning. On the train back, I
almost jumped at the sight of an ice-cream seller selling the
`Stakanchik', a Russian ice cream stick at 35 Rubles. I took the
cherry and milk one, and gulped it down in no time. The hour-long
Elektrichka ride did not help my hunger and thirst in any way,
and I almost jumped at a lady selling cold drink bottles on
landing at the platform. I completely emptied my pockets of all
my change to go in for perhaps the best bargain of the day - the
largest capacity bottle I got could for what I had in my pocket.
I downed the contents of the Sprite bottle in no time, and
walked on and on, till I got to the hotel. I took some water
there, looked at my watch and the conference schedule - I was in
time for a reception that day! That calmed my nerves and soothed
my hunger, for a while at least. Yes, I started walking again,
and made it to the conference venue, with not exactly calloused
feet - I noticed the big toe on my right foot trying to make its
way out of its bondage (I wear open shoes). While I set out to
make some adjustments before I entered the venue, I noticed that
I had done justice to my being the owner of one of the largest
collections of unpaired socks, in the world. I then wished away
my tiredness as I spotted some fluids with specific gravity less
than one. I decided to start with...some Russian Champagne.
After my first sip, my mind went to the Sound of Music (ah, the
name of this movie appears again, in this trip report) song
scene (`So long, farewell...'), when one of the von Trapp boys
asks his father, `...drink my first Champagne...Yes?'
`No,', was his father's reply.
Now I know exactly why.
The Champagne on offer, must have been Russian Champagne.
They started with the US.
The Soviets tried to copy the B-29 bomber.
Down to a rivet hole mistake.
The result was the far inferior Tu-4 `Bull'.
From the US, they looked eastwards, towards the UK and France.
They tried to create a Chinese copy of the Concorde.
The result was a horridly inferior Tu-144 `Charger'.
From the UK and France, they looked towards France alone.
Their target was not a plane `Champagne', but plain Champagne.
Did I confuse fractional distillation with...a distillery?
Links to my previous TRs, in reverse chronological order:
12. To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 2: The Central Museum
of the Armed Forces
11. To Russia, with Awe: Moscow, 2011, Part 1: The Overall Trip
10. The City of Lakes: Mother's Heart, Heart of the Motherland
9. Mostly Indoors, in Indore:
8. Inter-metro Shuttling on AI: DEL-BOM on AI810, BOM-DEL on AI888
7. On the cusp: DEL-BOM on IC863, BOM-DEL on AI660
6. DEL-BOM on IT308, BOM-DEL on IC166
5. DEL-MAA on IC439, MAA-DEL on IC802
4. DEL-PNQ on IC849, PNQ-DEL on IC850
3. DEL-MAA on IC429 (A321), MAA-DEL on IC7602 (CRJ7)
2. DEL-NAG-NDC, NDC-BOM-DEL on G8
1. IGI T3, AI 314 DEL-HKG and AI 311 HKG-DEL
Joined: 19 Dec 2011
Location: New Jersey/CCU
|Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:36 am Post subject:
|What an incredible trip report. I have never seen so many planes in one report. How lucky you are to see all of them in one place.
Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Location: New Delhi
|Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:46 am Post subject:
|Thanks, Sabyasachi - I had never seen so many `dream' planes at the same destination. As I mentioned in the preamble, I was indeed lucky!
Joined: 10 Aug 2007
Location: Indian Ocean
|Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:30 pm Post subject:
|Superb TR Sumantra!
Joined: 04 Sep 2009
|Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 12:33 am Post subject:
|Fantastic TR Sumantra!
keep em' coming.
Causal Determinism : We are hardwired to need answers. The Caveman who heard a rustle in the bushes and checked out to see what it was, lived longer than the guy, who assumed it was just a breeze.
- Greg House
Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Location: New Delhi
|Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:46 am Post subject:
|Thanks for the kind words, Varun and Rishul! I have quite a few reports in the works including a three-part report on a Beijing trip (and a trip to the Chinese equivalent of Monino)...`should post them soon.
Joined: 22 Dec 2006
|Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:09 pm Post subject:
|Nice TR. You are lucky to see so many types of airplanes in one spot.
Joined: 16 Dec 2006
Location: Bangalore, India
|Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:13 pm Post subject:
|Amazing read - I just wish the pictures were a little larger and clearer . But you've clearly had a blast that day - and I hope you get many more such opportunities in the future.
We miss you Nalini!
Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Location: New Delhi
|Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:58 pm Post subject:
|Thanks for the kind words, Srinivas and Nimish!
Srinivas: yes, Monino was a dream destination - seeing the planes I always wanted to see!
Nimish: Very just comment about the quality of the pictures (the lack of it, actually). I only have an entry level cellphone, which barely has a camera. I have better pictures on my analog SLR, which I am too lazy to scan in. Thank you for the good wishes - I hope so, too! Datangstan was also on my wish list, which I did last year. There are a few more - I hope I am able to go to those places, soon.
Joined: 22 Dec 2006
Location: YWG, Canada
|Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:54 am Post subject:
|Excellent TR Sumantra!
Read quite a few times already to grasp the extensive coverage of Soviet Aircrafts that you did! Very well written and sort of a guide to a person like me who doesn't know much about military aircrafts.
How come this time all your Russian words are spot on! And also I should commend your courage of taking a local train alone to Moscow suburb. Sometimes things turn ugly...Russia is not a tourist-friendly place!
Eagerly waiting for your next TR (you mentioned China).
41 Countries ||55 Aircraft types ||60 Airlines ||75 Airports
Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Location: New Delhi
|Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:52 am Post subject:
|Thanks for your kind words, Mr. Pal! The spot-on Russian words - ha ha! It is much like the fool being in paradise until he opens his mouth (at least, not too much Yes, I was a bit apprehensive of the Moscow streets, given that I did a huge lot of walking on them, and came across some unsavoury elements as well. Luckily, there was nothing untoward. The Beijing trip report will come out in three parts. Since I try to post reports chronologically, some may be chronically delayed. In the works are some domestic trips, including some to exotic places such as Madurai (the one coming up - this has pictures of the lovely new terminal building), and Jabalpur - of all places! Also in the list are Calcutta (with bad-quality pictures and descriptions of the new gate area around gates 2 and 2A - perhaps the only thing new in the old structure, at least circa August 2011), and Nagpur. Then comes the three-part report.
Joined: 22 Dec 2006
|Posted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 3:52 pm Post subject:
|Wow simply amazing TR Sumantra, i had always wanted to know what a trip to Monino would be like and have always imagined myself going there and getting awestruck just as you did,
Now thanks to you and your wonderful trip report i got to do both
On identifying the Mig 23 vs Mig 27 look at the noses, the Mig 27 is not sharp as it has a Laser built inside for dropping LGB on enemy targets
Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Location: New Delhi
|Posted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:56 pm Post subject:
|Wow, thanks for your kind words, Karan! I have admired your posts on A.net, and also remember perhaps your latest trip report (that was quite some time back!), which indicated that some rot had then set in, in the AI 777 fleet and service after the initial euphoria, which thankfully has been arrested, now. I also remember that you had one of the first ever pictures of the Air India 767s (one of the two 763s leased from FlyGlobespan, not the Portuguese CS-TLQ) on the Internet - you had a picture of its tail at Sahar, before Nitin Sarin's A.net picture came up. I had a dream 2011 in terms of aviation museums - first, Monino, and then Datangshan in Beijing. The latter finds a detailed mention in Part 2 of my 2011 Beijing trip report:
`No Panda-monium: Beijing, 2011 Part 2'
Regarding the Mig-23 vs Mig-27 identification, Karan - the Mig-23MF - the interceptor version is relatively easy to make out, due to a different nose section (sharper, as you correctly point out). This is also clear from my Monino picture:
However, the bomber version, the Mig-23BN is externally very similar to the Mig-27. The two Monino pictures below, are of a Mig-27:
You may check out the following two pictures of a Mig-23BN (the bomber version), which is in the VNIT (the erstwhile VRCE) campus at Nagpur. This is something I described in my Aug'11 Nagpur trip report:
`Going Bananas over Oranges: Nagpur, Aug'11'
The nose section is very similar to the Mig-27 whose Monino pictures I had posted in my Monino trip report, with possibly a very similar functionality.
The above two pictures are clearly that of a Mig-23BN - the plaque at VNIT says that this was a Mig-23BN which had served in the Kargil war. Secondly, the registration number SM224 removes all doubts. The SM- series was only used for the Mig-23s. It is no accident that the NATO reporting name `Flogger' is the same for both the Mig-23 and the Mig-27.
Joined: 22 Dec 2006
|Posted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 10:34 pm Post subject:
|Thanks for your kindest words Sumantra
I unfortunately took a rather long hiatus from airliners.net india and international sad to see that i missed some good posts and TRs from enthusiasts of your caliber
Over the coming days will try and catch up on as many posts especially TRs as i can
2011 definitly seemed to be a good year for you regarding the aviation museums
I too had sort of a record in the number of new types of Aircrafts flown by me last year like MD11,762er,764er,DC-9-50,717,380 all on one trip actually
Regarding the Migs i see the confusion now did not know you were referring to a particular variant of the same your confusion matches mine
Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Location: New Delhi
|Posted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:53 am Post subject:
|I honour the appreciation of one of the first regular Indians on A.net, from where I picked up the interest in Indian aviation - thank you! Karan, given your nice descriptive skills, please try to key in some parts of this trip - now that you have given us this sneak preview, we are all the more eager to read about that trip, and see some nice pictures!
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