Under a bright red star

Welcome to my home page and the very wonderful world of Easy Connect. My digital spies tell me that you are visitor number to this page since the 16th January 1996.


As you will see from the following, my main interests are in the field of aviation and, in particular, Russian military aviation. These pages show various aircraft which were built in the Former Soviet Union, the Russian Federation, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Peoples Republic of China, countries within the former Communist bloc, as well as including other aircraft associated with the 'red star'.

The following images were taken by myself mainly during a number of trips to Moscow during the period 1993 to 1999, as well as a brief visit to Beijing in January 1996, plus visits to various other locations, and hopefully represent a wide range of 'Red Star' aviation. I hope you like them.

Latest News

I have been unable to devote any time to updating these pages during the last year, but I am hopeful that new pictures will start appearing on these pages in the near future and a number of new images are already scanned in and a number of these appear below.

Latest images are from a brief ramp visit to Bykovo during the period of the 1999 Moscow Air Show. Further images from this Moscow visit will appear in the coming weeks. Also new are the first three images from a visit to the Monino museum during the same period.

Still to come are photographs from recent RIAT shows, as well as the 1997 Mongolia trip (hahaha), and other MAKS shows.

Keep watching, Red Star Fans.

Bykovo Airport, Moscow, August 1999

In August 1999, after some protracted negotiation involving my wife and the airport official delegation staff, I was allowed out on the ramp at this somewhat (and sadly) deserted airfield to photograph the assorted airframes located there.

This is Antonov An-30 RA-46632 c/n 0201 of the air company 'Kumertau Express'. Antonov 30s are normally used for photographic mapping and geological survey work and often make appearances in the UK on 'open skies' overflights. Many of the former Aeroflot Polar Directorate An-30 fleet can now be found at the Myatchkova field near Zhukovsky.

This is a relatively anonymous Antonov An-24RV RA-47359 c/n 67310608. It does not carry any markings as such and my guide was unable to tell me which company it belonged to. However, I understand that it is owned and operated by Ryzanaviatrans.

Equally anonymous is Antonov An-26 RA-26678 c/n 8607. My latest fleet list tells me, however, that it is registered to Tyumenaviatrans.

Further down the flightline from the Antonov prop aircraft were a number of Yakolev Yak-40 tri-jets. It was not clear whether these were waiting entry to the co-located Bykova Aviation Plant or visitors to Bykovo. This example is yet another unmarked example RA-87280. However, it appears that it is actually registered to the wonderfully named Iron Dragon-Fly Airlines and carries the constructor's number 9322026 although the Russian Commercial Aircraft Register has it as being operated by Etel Aero..

The next Yak-40 in the line was easier to identify. Yak-40K RA-87957 is registered to Yevrazia [or Eurasia] and carries the constructor's number 9821857 and formerly flew for Aeroflot, and possibly Kotlas Avia as well.

Bykovo is the home to the Bykovo Avia air company which would appear to fly mainly the tri-jet Yak-42.  A number of examples were to be seen on the ramp this particular day. As well as a number of withdrawn airframes dumped in one corner of the ramp, this one RA-42341 c/n 45201706292 was present and appears to be carrying an older variant of the Bykovo Avia colour scheme.


Monino Museum, Moscow, August 1999

At the end of my two week stay in Moscow, I was invited by Alexander Bolzovnikov, the General Director of the National Air & Space Museum at Khodynka, to visit the Air Force Museum at Monino. The museum is some 50 km to the west of Moscow and lies very close to the Star City complex. Since my previous visit to Monino in 1993 a large number of new exhibits had arrived, many of them, unfortunately, lying just out of range to the casual visitor.

Here we have an overview of part of the MiG OKB display area with MiG-21S 92 red c/n N95210102 in the foreground stretching away to the partially assembled MiG-9 01 red in the distance. The MiG-9 had just returned from static display at the MAKS99 airshow the previous week.

Display aircraft at Monino tend to be arranged in displays according to their OKB and here, in the middle of the Sukhoi OKB, is Sukhoi SU-9B 68 red c/n 0615308. The constructor number for many of the older Sukhoi jets can be found stamped on a metal plate on the leading edge of the main wheelbays - unfortunately paint and time often makes them unreadable..

In the middle of the outdoor display area are situated a number of historic aircraft dating back to the Great Patriotic War including a North American B-25 Mitchell and a Douglas A-20 Havoc. Also in this area is this unmarked (and unidentified) Tupolev Tu-2S. A number of these aircraft are also to be found in the Chinese museum at Datang Shan.


RIAT, Fairford


The annual highlight of the European air show calendar must surely be the Royal International Air Tattoo held at the USAF base at RAF Fairford. Each year the event has a number of themes and in 1996 the themes were 30 years of the Harrier and Sea Search 96, both of which attracted a substantial number of aircraft allied to these themes. In addition, invitations are sent out to squadrons round the world inviting them to send aircraft to participate in the extensive static and flying displays. This particular year, some 300 military aircraft and helicopters were on show including examples from Malaysia, Ukraine, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Brazil, Israel, Greece, Jordan, South Africa to name but a few.

The star item in the vast static park must surely have been Ilyushin Il-38 'May', 11006, '22' red, from the training regiment at the Russian Naval Air Arm base at Ostrov. Of particular interest is the that the airframe appeared to have been repainted, in the fairly recent past, in an all-over sea green paint scheme but still carried the 'old' Soviet red star on the tail. In contrast, the May was accompanied by Beriev A-40 Albatross '378' red from the Beriev Design Bureau and Antonov An-72 RA-72972 in Aeroflot marks, both of which carried the Russian tricolour on the tail.

Positioned next to the May was Beriev A-40 'Albatross' '378' from the Beriev Design Bureau at Taganrog. This example has been seen once in Britain before and was considered briefly for the RAF Future Maritime Patrol Aircraft requirement (now to be filled by a rework of existing Nimrod airframes). Sadly, it was only considered briefly as it would have interesting to have seen the modern RAF return to the age of the big flying boats.

Support for the two Russian Sea Search 96 participants, was given by Antonov An-72 RA-72972 in Aeroflot colours. Despite the wearing of civil colours, this particular aircraft was noted at the Moscow Kubinka air base in September 93 which may indicate a normal military transport role. The An-72 could itself be considered as a participant in Sea Search 96 as there is a military patrol version, the Antonov An-72P (An-76) '07' red, which has been exhibited at a past Farnborough air show.

Appearing at Fairford for the first time, although they have displayed in Britain before, were the Ukrainian Air Force. They brought two single seat Flankers from the 62/83 IAP, which are possibly based at Galatsk, supported by a civil registered Il-76MD UR-78820. One aircraft (c/n 36911031411 '57') took part in the flying display while the other Sukhoi Su-27A c/n 36911014411 '48' took pride of place in the fighter aircraft static line-up. Changed days indeed.

Zhukovsky September 1993

Alright, I admit that this picture is not 100% pin sharp as I would have liked, but I make the excuse that it was due to the rather poor weather conditions at the time and, also, that it was taken from a Mil-17 which was climbing out and turning over the forest. This area to the east of the main ramp area at Zhukovsky appears to be a 'graveyard' for various trials and experimental aircraft. Visible towards the central top of the picture is a Tupolev Tu-144, while in the centre of the picture can be seen a Yak-38 fuselage, a Yak-50 trainer, an Il-18, a Yak-40 and an Il-76. Other aircraft in the picture include an An-2, a radar nosed Tu-104, Tu-134, Yak-42 and assorted unidentified other aircraft. Many of these aircraft were reported to have been scrapped by 1995. Just out of sight, off the photo to the right, is a Tupolev Tu-126 Moss and a Tu-22M Backfire. By MAKS95 in September 95, the Backfire had moved location (possibly scrapped) and the Moscow Militia had cordoned off the area preventing further exploration. In August 1997, the Moss had also disappeared.

Among the many interesting based trials aircraft at Zhukovsky are a number of Il-18 with Aeroflot markings which carry registrations in the RA-759** range. They are easily recognised by the cylindrical pod mounted on top of the fin and the wide array of aerials carried on the upper front fuselage. Presumably they have some kind of communications intelligence role and may operate in conjunction with the locally based Beriev 976 (an AWACS dish equipped version of the Il-76) on range communication duties. Although the airframes carry Il-18 on the nose they have been designated as Ilyushin Il-22. Here we have two pictures; the first shows RA-75922 c/n 2964017552 from a frontal aspect displaying both the upper aerial array and the ventral aerial canoe assembly. The second picture show three of the based Il-22 fleet RA-75922, RA-75924 and RA-75901 (displaying a darker almost black cheatline compared to the others). Careful examination also reveals that 75901 c/n 0393609935 carries a slightly different collection of aerials on the upper side.

Zhukovsky August 1997

Four years later and not much has changed. Many of the stored (dumped?) aircraft are in the same position as they were back in 1993 including the Sukhoi demonstrator Su-24. Included amongst the vast array of dumped aircraft is this Tu-22M-2 '32' red. which carries the construction number 4830156. Noteworthy (on the original photograph at least) are the three logos that it carries on the side of the nose. These are the logos of the Tupolev OKB, the LII flight research centre and the TsAGI research institute. Sadly, it also appears to be lacking a lrge number of panels and would not appear to have much of a future.

Also present among the large number of stored aircraft on the Tupolev OKB ramp were a significant number of Tu-204 airliners. Painted examples included two for Rossiya - the Government Airline, a number in Aeroflot marks and this one RA-64013 which carries the markings and colours of Vnukova Airlines. This particular airframe was operated by Vnukova as part of the Tu-204 flight test programme although, judging by the dirt stains on the fuselage side, it would not appear to have flown for some time.

Although a design with considerable potential for those carriers unable, or unwilling, to purchase the Boeing B757, the Tu-204 appears to be bedevilled by problems with two production plants (Kazan and the Aviastar plants) fighting each other for orders as well as the much publicised difficulties with the PS90 power plant.

Moscow Sheremetievo

One of the first things an eagle eyed aviation enthusiast will see on arrival at Sheremetievo Airport is probably the derelict Il-18 near the Western threshold. This is Ilyushin Il-18 SSSR-75671, c/n 188000805, which was originally built at the Khodynka plant and is one of two wfu Il-18s at Sheremetievo (wingless SSSR-75646 with the SVO training school being the other).

Moscow Gorky Park

Displayed in Gorky Park, in central Moscow, is one of the Buran engineering mockups which has now been converted into a cinema/video game hall. The picture was taken on the 27th August 1994 (the day following my wedding in Moscow!). One other Buran SSSR-3501002 remains at Zhukovsky for display purposes, as do a large number of engineering models in various scales and materials. The dismantled remains of a Buran nose section were noted at Zhukovsky in September 1993.

Moscow Park of Economic Achievements

The Park of Economic Achievements can found on Prospect Mira on the way out of central Moscow. The park, known as VDnKh is a large exposition site formerly featuring pavilions from the different Soviet republics with large exhibitions of different types of industrial and agricultural concerns. Sadly (from my point of view), many of the larger exhibition pavilions now appear to have been converted to car and electrical goods showrooms.

However, if you go down the central walk from the main gate you eventually arrive at the Space Pavilion and outside are displayed a number of aircraft. An early TU-154 and YAK-42 have been displayed there for a number of years but this August Yak 38M '11' yellow appeared for the first time.

This appears to have been one of the two Forgers which were listed as being present at Monino museum and is reputed to have been towed from Monino on its wheels in early August. It carries the painted identification number 16323 on both folding wingtips, as well as on the port main wing edge. However, this number does not tie up with other Yak-38 constructor numbers!

Khodynka Museum

The next is the first of a series of photographs taken at the National Aviation & Space Museum at the former Moscow Central Airport at Khodynka during May 1993 and January 1995.

This is Ilyushin Il-14M 148001908, '08' red, which is displayed wearing VIP colours. It also carries the roof top 'canoe' aerials similar to those carried by the current VIP IL-62 fleet. A declining number of Aeroflot Polar Directorate Il-14 are still to be found around the Moscow area with (at least) one returning to flying condition for enthusiast flights. One other military Il-14, '23' red, was noted at this year's MosAero show at Zhukovsky.

Also present but, sadly, in very bad repair is Mikoyan MiG-19P 6221061, '21' red. As you can see, the undercarriage has collapsed and a pile of tyres is needed to support the nose. Incidentally, during the mid 1990s, a number of early MiGs (15s, 17s and their Polish licence built counterparts the LiM series) were to be found in the USA, particularly in the Phoenix AZ area.

Monino Museum

My first visit to Moscow in May 1993 culminated in a visit to the Air Force Museum at Monino, on the outskirts of Moscow, where I also met my future wife! Among the vast array of aircraft displayed outside was another product of the Sukhoi OKB, the Sukhoi Su-27. This particular example, '20' blue, is thought to be the T-10 series prototype T-10-1. Unfortunately this aircraft, like most other museum aircraft in Moscow, is suffering from exposure to the vagaries of the extreme Russian climate.

There are currently three Lisunov Li-2 aircraft (a licence built Dc-3) in the Moscow area. One is the airworthy FLA-01300 c/n 23441605 which is now based at Sheremetievo and has been displayed at the past two MosAero shows at Zhukovsky. There are also two on display at the Monino museum (SSSR-86414 & SSSR-93918) and here is one of them (unfortunately, I'm not clear exactly which one this is). Total licence production of the Li-2 is estimated to be have been about 6,157 aircraft. See later for a second Li-2 photograph.

Datang Shan Museum

And now, at long last, some of the pictures taken at the China National Air Museum at Datang Shan near Beijing. A museum that must, surely, rate as one of the most interesting collections in the world.

One of the surprises of recent years was the discovery of a number of turboprop powered Tupolev Tu-4 Bull aircraft which had been donated by the Soviet Union to China. What was even more surprising was the news that the aircraft had still been in use until fairly recently. The museum has two aircraft on display; one is a drone carrier while the other one, 2806501 '4114' red, has been modified to carry a rotating mast mounted AEW dish on top of the fuselage. Behind the aircraft, you can see the entrance to the large curving underground hangar which forms the main display area.

This is a Shenyang JJ-5, which is a two seat version of the locally produced MiG-17 copy. This particular specimen carries a rather pleasing blue and white colour scheme (which would indicate that it has seen use with an aerobatic team at some point in the past) as opposed to the more normal all over bare-metal/silver colour scheme with red tactical numbers seen on other airframes nearby.

As well as producing copies of Soviet fixed-wing aircraft. the Chinese aviation industry also builds copies of Soviet helicopters and here we have a Harbin Z-5 otherwise known as the Mil-4. This one, '7272' yellow, is one of a large number of Z-5s around the museum site.

Also present in some numbers is the Lisunov Li-2. This one, '3049' red, carries air force marks and allows the museum visitor the chance to compare with the original Douglas built aircraft, various examples of which, including XT-115 of the former China National Aviation Corporation, are also on display.

Farnborough 1992

The main highlight of the 1992 SBAC Farnborough air show was the large number of aircraft displayed by manufacturers from the Former Soviet Union. A number of these were being exhibited for only the first or second time in the West. Among the highlights were the first appearances in the UK by the Yakolev YAK-141 and the Tupolev Tu-22M.

The Yakolev YAK-141 c/n 141-2, '141', distinguished itself by melting the concrete runway, during a takeoff on the practice day, with its vertically mounted engine complete with afterburner.

The Tupolev Tu-22M c/n 1212347 also participated in the flying display and, again, managed to distinguish itself by setting off all the vibration sensitive car alarms in the vicinity.

Sadly, the Yak-141 never returned to the UK after that brief appearance, and a Tu-22M waited six years before making a return visit to the UK, this time in the markings of the Ukrainian Air Force.

Please keep watching here for further images (e.g. MosAero 93, 95 & 97 at Zhukovsky) as, and when, I can get them scanned in.

In addition, the Federation of American Scientists run an Intelligence Resource Program home-page which contains many examples of interesting intelligence imagery. Two particular images which will be of interest to 'Red Star' fans are Cam Ran Bay airfield with resident Tu-16 Badger, Tu-95 Bear and MiG-23 Flogger aircraft visible and a Long Range Aviation Airfield photographed by a passing U-2.

The USAF Museum at Wright Patterson AFB Dayton OH has a very interesting WWW site with pictures of a number of MiG aircraft including a MiG-19S "Farmer" which came from the 457 Technical Evaluation Squadron at Nellis AFB, Las Vegas NV. Among their current equipment are a number of ...... (well, fill in the missing dots yourself).

If you would like to send me an email, then please contact me (Brian Elliott) at this email address.

Please click here to return to Alexei's Russian Aviation Page or here to go to the University of Southampton home page - my day job!.

For some more of my obsessions, please see here for a trip I made on Class 40 D200, oops, that should read Class 55 55-015 Tulyar. More to come soon....

updated 29th April 2005 to repair broken links

last updated 1th October 2005 to repair broken links