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Last Updated: Mon Jan 27 11:18:09 UTC 2014

  Cold War Air Power - Soviet Aircraft
  Part A: Monino Central VVS Museum Fighter and Attack Aircraft

Photographic Essay APA-PE-2010-1201

by Paul Cropper
Text and lineart © 2010 Carlo Kopp
Photographic images © 2007 - 2010 Paul Cropper

Tupolev Tu-128 Fiddler A long range interceptor aircraft.

The Monino Central Museum of the Russian Federation Air Force
  is a unique treasure trove of  preserved Soviet era aircraft, without peer globally. What is especially valuable about Monino, unlike most other museums which preserve production examples, is that Monino is home to numerous prototypes and demonstrators, often not well known in the West. As such it provides some unique insights into the vast  development and production effort expended by the Soviet military-industrial complex during the Cold War period, intended to overwhelm Western air forces.

In 2007 the author of this photoessay had the opportunity to visit Monino and collected an extensive photographic record, using a late model 8 Megapixel digital camera, which proved especially good at capturing fine detail.


  1. Центральный музей Военно-Воздушных Сил Российской Федерации (Central Museum of the Russian Federation Air Force).
  2. Imagery: Canon IXUS 950 8.0 MP retouched/corrected/cropped and reduced.

Interceptors and Multirole Fighters

Sukhoi T-10 Flanker A

This is an early prototype of the Flanker, prior to the extensive redesign of the airframe to the now “classic”  Su-27S Flanker B configuration. The differences are much more prominent than observed between the YF-22A and F-22A redesign during EMD.

Sukhoi Su-27M [Su-35] Flanker E

Often confused with the current new build Su-35S [Su-35BM/Su-27M2] “Super Flanker”, the Su-27M was a partly digital rebuild of the Su-27S design, with a glass cockpit, N011 planar array radar, and full strike capability. A limited number were built for the VVS during the 1990s, and the airframe and systems formed the basis of the various demonstrators which led to the Su-30MKI/MKM and later Su-35BM proposal. This aircraft is thus the forerunner of the current late generation Flanker subtypes.

Sukhoi Su-15 Flagon

Retired during the early 1990s, the Su-15/21 Flagon was a heavy air defence interceptor built in large numbers to equip Voyska PVO units defending the homeland. It is best known for its role in the destruction of the hapless KAL007 Boeing 747 which strayed into Soviet controlled airspace near Kamchatka, in 1983.

Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum A

Widely exported to Warsaw Pact nations and other allies or clients, the Fulcrum A was the first high performance Soviet fighter built to challenge the US teen series. The aircraft has been a much less successful export product compared to the Flanker during the post Cold War era.

Mikoyan MiG-29K Fulcrum D

The navalised Fulcrum D is a direct derivative of the Fulcrum A, with a tailhook and structural changes for shipboard operations.

Mikoyan MiG-25R Foxbat B

The MiG-25R Foxbat B was the theatre reconnaissance derivative of the massive high supersonic MiG-25 Foxbat A interceptor. This variant was exported to the Middle East and India, the Israelis downing several using F-15 Eagle fighters or the MIM-23 Hawk SAM.

Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound A

Initially designated the MiG-25M, the extensively redesigned MiG-31 became a mainstay of Soviet PVO interceptor units, and remains in service. Similar in weight, size and performance to the F-111B naval interceptor, it occupies a similar performance and role niche, armed with long range AAMs and tasked with bomber and cruise missile interception.  The Foxhound is equipped with the massive Zaslon PESA fire control radar, arguably the largest installed in a fighter class airframe. Much more specialised than the Flanker, the Foxhound has only been reported as an export to Syria.

Mikoyan MiG-9 Fargo

The MiG-9 Fargo was one of the earliest Soviet turbojet interceptors and drew heavily on captured German jet technology. The cannon armament was designed for interception of USAF and RAF heavy bombers, note the prominent centreline 37 mm gun.

Tupolev Tu-128 Fiddler A

Often described as the largest fighter ever built, the Fiddler was a long range interceptor developed to engage and defeat the US Air Force B-52 fleet over the vast northern frontiers of Soviet Russia. This enormous aircraft was replaced in PVO regiments by the Su-27 Flanker B.

Bolkhovitinov BI-1 Rocket Fighter

Developed during the 1940s as an analogue to the Me-163 rocket interceptor, the BI-1 also employed a liquid rocket engine with corrosive propellant components, alleged to be the cause of several accidents when fumes weakened the plywood structure.

Attack and Tactical Strike Aircraft

Ilyushin Il-2m3 Bark / Shturmovik

An icon of Soviet WW2 propaganda, the Ilyushin Il-2 was manufactured in vast numbers during the 1940s. Heavily armoured, it was a specialised battlefield interdictor and close air support aircraft, which usually suffered heavy attrition when contfronted by Luftwaffe air superiority fighters. It remained in operation with numerous Soviet allies through the 1950s.

Ilyushin Il-10M Beast

The Il-10M was later variant of the baseline Il-10, developed and built as a replacement for the Il-2m3 series in Frontal Aviation strike regiments. This aircraft was used by DPRK forces early in the Korean War, until very high attrition was suffered when engaged by USAF and other allied fighter aircraft.

Mikoyan MiG-15bis-ISh Fagot

The baseline MiG-15 Fagot was developed as an interceptor and air superiority fighter, spawning many derivatives. The MiG-15bis-ISh is a little known battlefield interdictor prototype, with a unique leading edge boom design intended for the carriage of free fall bombs.

Sukhoi Su-25K Frogfoot

The Frogfoot was developed as an analogue to the US A-9/A-10A attack aircraft with a similar role. It has been widely exported and widely used for COIN operations. These images show the internal gun and electro-optical systems well.

Sukhoi T-6-1 Prototype [Fencer]

The T-6-1 prototype of the Fencer series is not well known in the West. Unlike production Fencers with a variable geometry wing, often compared to the F-111, the T-6-1 wing was closer in design to the British TSR-2 prototypes. This aircraft is a good example of the Soviet propensity to experiment with configurations, something harder to accomplish in Western industry where funding was much more tightly controlled during the Cold War.

Yakovlev YaK-38M Forger

The Forger was the first modern Soviet shipboard fighter, developed to fill the same niche as the British Sea Harriers. Introduced during the 1970s, it was no match for the US Navy's F-4S Phantoms and F-14A Tomcats. This example is interesting as it is painted in the original operational camouflage with dark green undersides and blue upper surfaces.

Yakovlev YaK-41M [YaK-141] Freestyle

The Freestyle was developed to replace the Forger, but became a victim of the post Cold War downsizing of Russian naval aviation. Developed for use on helicopter carriers like the problematic F-35B STOVL JSF, it was not competitive against the big deck carrier based MiG-29K and Su-27K/Su-33.

Imagery Sources: © 2007 - 2010 Paul Cropper

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