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Soviet Aircraft - Cold War Phantom Fighters

During the Cold War, both sides closely followed the technical achievements of each other, especially close surveillance was given to aviation and rocket construction. A plane did not have time to go to trial, and already its images were studied by the opposing party, which wrote instructions on the fight against it. The Western aviation press tried to illuminate their readers on Soviet aircraft, but these journalists faced many obstacles. Sometimes they were lucky and the Western military shared their materials, but in other cases, the only thing that the air journalists could offer was the fruits of their imagination.

Until recently, there was enormous confusion, because many designations were kept secret and information flow was slow. The assigning of NATO codenames to aircraft was done for good reason. Sufficiently old books will claim that the "Foxbat" is the 'MiG-23', "Faceplate" is the 'MiG-21', or that "Backfin" was in production as the 'Yak-42'. A few times detailled three-view drawings of non-existing aircraft have been published. And often, even if a general designation of the aircraft is known, different versions with different engines may not be distinguished.

Writing in Flying Magazine in January 1951, the noted English author and student of World War II combat aviation, William Green noted that "Since 1947 it has been a capital offense in the Soviet Union to publish even the most innocent details about Red military aviation which have not been passed through official censorship. Neverthelss, information keeps coming through the Iron Curtain [or over or under it] and careful research permits the assembly of the jigsaw pieces into a nearly complete picture. By such methods comes information on the newest Soviet warplanes known to be in quantity production ....

From time to time the editors of FLYING have been challenged on the authenticity of our inforamtion about Soviet warplanes. here is one source of the drawings and silhouettes whcih have appeard in past issues of FLYING. These pictures from behind the Iron Curtain are the first authentic unretouched photographs of Soviet jet warplanes whcih have ever been published in a Western country. All of them were taken with the aid of telescopic lenses and smuggled out."

Avión, in its April 1956 issue, reported (page 150) on several aircraft whose descriptions were too vague to identify. "Super-MiG: missidentified as MiG-17 some years ago. Probably based on a twin-jet MiG-15 development. A version with nose radome and lateral intakes seems to have been existed. Anyway the type never went beyond the prototype stage.... Super-MiG or Mik-21: The G from Gurevitch would be lost. Twin engine project. ... By 1954 rumors from German sources indicated a Tupolev all weather fighter had entered series production by 1953. It was similar configured as the French Vatour.

By 1956 the wide-ranging effects of the new Soviet line had asserted themselves with extraordinary force in the Communist world, in the West and in the Middle East. On 24 June 1956, in the annual observance of Soviet Air Force Day, the Soviet Union flew at least four new types of military aircraft through rain-swept skies over Moscow with occasional bright periods and generally good visibility.

The air power demonstration had heavy political overtones. Describing the Tushino scene a Moscow Radio aviation expert said that not only was the airfield itself packed with spectators, but for miles around thousands more were seated by the roadside, on farm wagons and on rooftops. Attendance at Tushino proper was of the order of 200,000 and in all some 500,000 must have watched the flying. Last in this dramatic phase came "new Soviet aeroplanes, designed by Antonov, Tupolev, Yaklovlev, Mikoyan and Sukhoi". Soviet jet bombers flew In the sky parade above Tushino airfield, near Moscow, but there were only 16 medium and heavy bombers, compared with more than 130 fighters, several of them new types. The new planes had been forecast. One that had been expected, a four-engine jet transport, was missing.

Contradictory and garbled as were available reports, it was clear that the new deltas — of which there were three, ascribed to the designer Sukhoi, varying, it appeared, in nose design — were extremely advanced aircraft indeed. Two more new fighters were described as enlarged versions of the Farmer (Farmer itself is unofficially reported to be designated Yak-25); and the parade of new types was completed by two developments of the all-weather Flashlight, one having a modified fighter-type nose, and another a transparent nose-cone, possibly indicating adaptation for the light-bomber role.

On the following day, at Kubinka Airfield, 40 miles from Moscow, the Western visitors were taken in cars past a line-up of every type of Russian operational military aircraft. Not previously seen were a twin-jet, swept-wing bomber of about Canberra size which, the Russians claimed, was supersonic. Another new type was a single-jet ground-attack aircraft, with armor plating under the fuselage. There was also a naval machine with extensive provision for external stores, and powered by one turboprop.

The experimental model of aircraft "91" was demonstrated on June 25, 1956 at the Moscow airfield Kubinka to an American aviation delegation, which visited the USSR on an official visit. The head of the delegation was General Nathan Twining. General Nathan F. Twining, as Chief of Staff, Air Force, had formulated the initial military policy of the New Look period, in JCS 2101/113, and later served as Chairman of the JCS from August 1957 until September 1960.

Besides the aircraft "91" the delegation was shown the not yet flown "Tu-98" and the Il-54. All three aircraft were experimental, and fate of two of them was already decided - that they would not go into series production (Il-54 and "91"). After the trip of the Twining delegation to the USSR, approximate configurations of the aircraft "91" appeared in the western aviation press. The first photograph of the "91" appeared in the western press at the beginning of the 1960. In the photo the aircraft was foreshortened 3/4 from the starboard. Prior to the beginning of the 1990 this was the only published photograph of machine. On the basis it for almost 30 years there were done the very approximate drawings of aircraft, which briefly gave some idea about the "bull calf".

As to an over-all estimation of the State of American air power as against that of the Soviets, quotes from testimony by General Twining and General Irvine after their return from Moscow give a fair summation. Asked how far superior USAF is over the Russians qualitatively, General Irvine said, " ... we are not very far ahead of them at the moment, they have been closing the gap over the last 15 years, and so I can only come to one conclusion: That in such areas as ballistic missiles, nuclear bombers, Chemical bombers, long-range interceptors, we must do everything we can in marshaling people and resources into expediting those programs to the fullest.”

Amron Katz wrote in 1957 that "In preparation for General Twining's visit last year to an air show at Moscow the Engineering Division at RAND hastily put together "notes for visiting tourists who might see missiles." This was an informal effort and has not yet been fully documented... .. The mechanics of disclosure by the Soviets of their aircraft and weapons are fairly well understood. We seem to be able to pick up weapons tests with good reliability and precision. Our main knowledge of Soviet aircraft is picked up at the several air shows in and around Moscow by photographic methods and other methods".

Soviet Phantom Aircraft

Fighter-interceptor vertical take-off.

A fighter-interceptor vertical take-off appeared for the first time in Life magazine, which described how a promising development of captive German engineers, to protect industrial facilities. According to the magazine, the plane was already in mass production, and, according to reports from Korea, American Saber pilots had already met the plane in combat. It is interesting to land an airplane not with engines, but with parachutes. Later, this aircraft was widely used in Italian aviation magazines, where it appeared throughout the 1950s.

The principle of the VTOL family of tail-sitter is to take off and land a device with the fuselage placed vertically on the ground, hence the designation "tail-sitter". In the late 1940s, the US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) began to seriously examine the feasibility of developing a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) tailsitter aircraft to protect convoys, task forces, and other vessels. These specialized interceptors would be placed on the decks of ships to provide a rapid defensive air support to protect convoys, task forces, and other vessels. The diminutive Ryan X-13 Vertijet was designed to explore the feasibility of a pure-jet vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) fighter aircraft. Using a Rolls Royce Avon turbojet engine, the aircraft easily made the transition between vertical and horizontal flight and enjoyed a highly successful career.

In the USSR, Boris Yuryev presented in 1946, the KIT-1 and -2 projects, tail-sitter (with a piston engine VK-108) similar to the Convair XFV-1 but which did not go beyond the stage of the board drawing. In the Soviet Union, the Yakolev Yak-36 made its first untethered flight in 1963. Although it was never put into production, it led directly to the operational Yak-38 Forger.

vertical take-off vertical take-off vertical take-off vertical take-off

Cheranovski Che-22 / BICh-22

One of the leading glider designers in Russia, V.I. Cheranovski, was also a great exponent of man-powered flight, and demonstrated his ideas through the construction of a number of machines. The first of the series was built in Moscow in 1921. In 1924 two flying wing gliders of B.I.Cheranovskij (BICh-1 and BICh-2) were presented at the Glider Contest. Pilot was almost hidden inside of the thick 'inhabited' wing.

Boris Ivanovich Cheranovsky, as an aircraft designer, began his journey from work on an absolutely round wing, and in the 20-30s. switched to "paraboloids," by the 1940s. became a supporter of more "arrow-shaped" apparatus, in terms of resembling a triangle rather than a flying saucer. And yet he did not completely abandon the idea of using the advantages of the previous concept. Therefore, if A.S. Moskalev, the developer of "Strela" and "Sigma", in 1944 created the project of a high-speed fighter RM-1, which was an elongated-pointed version of "Sigma" that had completely lost the signs of "plateau" - then Cheranovsky in the war years went on a different path. His project, which appeared almost simultaneously with the RM-1, was a wide and short "flying wing", designed for transonic speeds. It was not implemented, like Moskalev's proposal - but he managed to noticeably influence the design idea of many aviators.

Cheranovski Che-22 / BICh-22On 17 July 1949 during an air show on Tushino, the Soviet government presented a spectacular flyover, in which national and foreign observers were able to appreciate the Soviet aviation development. This parade was organized with the aim of impressing the world with the Soviet military advances and in it modern fighters and reactive bombers participated, although many of them were only experimental prototypes, which would never enter into production. The result was the expected.

Among the planes demonstrated in the parade was a small glider in flying wing composition. This glider was the Che-22, in which the pilot IA Petrov showed evolutions of piloting of high school in front of the public gathered there. The presenter of the show announced that this specimen was a training glider conceived for the preparation of the pilots of a supersonic reactive interceptor developed with the same concept.

The Western specialists were totally amazed. It was the year 1949 and the Russians had already developed an interceptor capable of overcoming the sonic barrier. This was a danger that could not be ignored, so soon Western intelligence services echoed this new Soviet weapon. The prestigious Jane's encyclopedia published information about the mysterious and secret Soviet supersonic interceptor fighter developed in 1949.

The designer was said to be developing projects for supersonic aircraft such as the "flying wing" BICH-24 and BICH-26 with a turbojet engine. The BICh-22 was conceived as a single-seat experimental glider and featured a flying wing configuration. At the end of 1949 in the DOSAV workshops in the Chornoye suburb of Moscow, an accident occurred during a flight of the Che-22, killing the test pilot I.A.Petrov. The development work of the glider series was cancelled.

Cheranovsky Tank Carrier

Among Soviet aircraft designers, Boris Ivanovich Cheranovsky (1896-1960) occupies a special place by the unusual nature of the schemes of his gliders and aircraft. B. I. Cheranovsky - the founder of the tailless in Russia and implemented in nature flying wing of a thick profile throughout the world. In 1950-1951 in the model workshop of the MAI aerodynamic laboratory, based on Cheranovskiy's drawings, several wind-tunnel ["blow-down"] models of airplanes and gliders designed according to the "flying wing" scheme were made for aerodynamic experimental studies of them in a wind tunnel. In 1951, according to the order of the Central Committee of DOSAAF, a model of a flying-wing type glider, TLK, designed for research in the T-1 wind tunnel, was made using Cheranovsky's drawings. The testing of the TLK model was preceded by tests of the special profile arms developed by Cheranovsky. (This profile was used in the layout of the airframe wing.) The works were carried out at the MAI in 1952.

Hawley Bowlus was an interesting man who led a varied and rich life. He started the Airstream Travel Trailer Company which produces those iconic polished, round-cornered aluminum skinned trailers. He also designed gliders as well as teaching many to fly them — in fact he taught Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Bowlus also designed the AC Bowl 02 (also called the MC-1) which the U.S. military tested as the XCG-16 (manufactured by General Airborne Transport) — an aircraft strongly reminiscent of the Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster (designed by Vincent Burnelli). The design is that of a lifting fuselage with wings — there is no fuselage, in the conventional sense.

The most common way for tanks to be transported during the Second World War was by rail or tank transporter. Tanks are not meant to traverse long distances on their own. The moving parts in tanks are designed to withstand extreme conditions but this comes at a price. In the Second World War, some late war German vehicles had extremely powerful engines (and other parts) that were designed to basically work under full load for only a few hours. In countries without a densely developed road infrastructure (especially in more distant regions) such as Russia, the preferred method of transporting tanks is by rail. But the Russian rail network had only limited coverage. Air travel is not only very expensive, but also requires specialized aircraft. Not every transport plane can carry a main battle tank.

On 17 March 1951, the "Picture Post" published by the New York Herald Tribune printed artwork of what was described as a Cheranovsky Tank Carrier. It generally resembled a Bowlus flying wing, with Italian style tri-motor engines. There is no indication that this aircraft had any existence outside of the fevered imagination of the artist. While it was a not-implausible design, there is not other attestation of such an aircraft, by this or any other designer.


Avión, in its April 1956 Issue, reported (page 150) that in 1946 a limited number of jets with Me-262 configuration entered service with Soviet Air Force. It was suposed to be a Lavochkin type and designated La-8. A further improvement from 1948 was given the La-13 number. It was a straight wing type with underwing podded engines. Armament was 4 NS 23 mm in the nose.

At the end of the Great Patriotic War, Comrade Stalin assigned OKB Sukhoy [later OKB-51] to create a new-generation jet fighter, but because of safety concerns, technical delays, and Stalin's perception that the design was too derivative of the German Me 262, Sukhoy's Su-9 and its subsequent modifications were never adopted for production. Stalin eventually closed his design bureau in November 1949, and Sukhoy's team became a subdivision of the Tupolev design bureau in Moscow. After Stalin's death in 1953, the Soviet government permitted Sukhoi to regroup his old team as an independent design bureau.


In Flying Magazine December 1952, Ian Morton reported that "Since the last war, Lavochkin has produced a series of twin-engine jet fighters based on German designer Willy Messerschmitt's Me-262 Sturmvogel. The first of thse was put into limited production under the designation La-13. Then followed the La-15, a 1948 development, powered by Russian-built M-004 axial turbojets. When the 6,600 lb. static thrugh M-012 engines became available, Lavochkin set about to dedesing the obsolescent La-15. The revamped version had swept wing and tail surfaces, and was in limited production as an all-weather fighter at the start of 1951."


Avión, in its April 1956 Issue, reported (page 150) on the La-16, a 1949 evolution from La-8/13 types with swept surfaces and armament allocated in the forward fuselage sides to allow instalation of a powerful radar in the nose. The first public apearance in Tushino 1955 of an all weather interceptor codenamed Flashlight seems to be the final developmental stage of the La-16. Nevertheless the Flashlight shows several differences in detail with the La-16 and nobody can be sure even the Flashlight is a Lavokhin product.


Avión, in its April 1956 Issue, reported (page 150) on La-17, an interim fighter with nose radar (similar to that illustrated for the MiG-15) has been fielded while waiting for a >deffinitive all-weather fighter. A 2-crew assault had been tested but not adopted. Lateral intakes leaving a pointed nose for a radar and 4 cannons instalation.


In Flying Magazine December 1952, Ian Morton reported that a "revamped version had swept wing and tail surfaces, and was in limited production as an all-weather fighter at the start of 1951. ... Lavochkin's "F-89" is a sleeker looking job than its American counterpart. performancee figures are, at present, unknown, but with the installation of two modified M-012 turbojets, a maximum speed in excess of 700 mph should be attained... Although once attributed to a bomber design similar to the B-26 in aerodynamic configuration, the designation La-26 is tentatively linked with the new all-weather jet." "Avión, in its April 1956 Issue, reported (page 150) on the La-26 that nothing more had been heard about this all-weather twin jet.


La-47 / "Transonic Research Plane"

Modern aviation is a technique of great speeds. At the disposal of specialists, then there was no powerful computer technology, and it was not possible to obtain accurate computational results. As the speeds of aircraft increased, other mechanisms of loss of stability were discovered. At near-sound speeds, for example, so-called shock waves are formed. Similar phenomena, called buffeting (from the English buffet - to strike, strike), occur at subsonic speeds at large angles of attack.

The August 1950 edition of "Flying Magazine" included artwork of a Soviet "Transonic Research Plane" described as "one fo the Red's most advanced, reconstructed from three authentic photos. Craft resembles British Supermarine 510, has 35° sweep-back on wing leading edge.... They first built a sweptwing research craft to investigate sonic speeds. One of these machines flew in 1948 and is presented here in fully substantiated detail for the first time. Accompanying illustrations are not "'artist's impressiones" but accurate reconstructions of actual photos. This is probably the most interesting genuine aeronautical information to come from Russia since the end of the war".

The first jet planes (mid-1940s) were built on the basis of the previous aerodynamics, but only with engines without propellers. But the subsequent sharp increase in speed led to cardinal changes in the entire external figure of the machine. There appeared a swept wing of small elongation, which sharply reduced the resistance at speeds close to the speed of sound.

The transonic airplane acquired a new aesthetic expressiveness due to elements born as a result of the research of scientists and designers. In subsonic airplanes, the constant-geometry air intake with its rounded leading edge performs well enough. For supersonic aircraft, it was necessary to develop air inlets of a different form and another principle of operation. Due to the wide range of operational speeds of these aircraft, their air intakes and air ducts should work equally well under different conditions.

The achievements of German specialists became the basis on which the transonic airplanes were born, both abroad and in the Soviet Union. The La-176 fighter, on which the test pilot Ivan Fedorov, on December 26, 1948, for the first time in the USSR overcame the sound barrier, was an entirely unrelated design.

The "Transonic Research Plane" was otherwise un-attested outside of the pages of "Flying Magazine".

Lavochkin La-47 Lavochkin La-47But in December 1952 in "L'Ala D'Italia" under the title "Rassegna dell'aviazione sovietica" ["Soviet Aviation Review"] it is reported that this design "appeared for the first time in 1950. The characteristic silhouette is detached considerably from that of other Soviet fighters. The air intake is far forward: it almost gets confused with the fuselage. The top of the T-tail is raised to a certain height relative to the plane of the wings. Velocity is 1100 km/hour." [E apparso per la prima volta nel 1950. Caratteristatica la sua sagoma che si stacca notevolmente da quella degli altri caccia sovietici. Canina posta molot avanti: quasi si confonde con la fusolliera. Piani di dierzione a T sollevati a una certa altezza respetto al piano delle ali a delta. Velociat: ikm 1100/ora."] Confusingly, another entirely different airplane was represented a few pages later with the same designation

MiG- Fearless

The Fearless was described as a "new variable geometry air superiority fighter developed by the Mikoyan bureau", undergoing flight testing, according to Air Enthusiast December 1971, which reported a T/W Ratio: 1.2:1, agross weight: 40,000lb and 2 x 24,000lb turbojets.

The Spanish Ministry of Defense BOLETIN DE INFORMACION NUM. 62-IX Marzo, 1972 reported on the development of a new series or "family" of tactical fighter aircraft, would augment the already formidable arsenal. The advanced apparatus, a "Mikoyan" with variable wing, known as "Fearless", had been specially projected to counteract the American series of fighters such as "McDonnell-Douglas" F-15 of the USAF and "Grumman" F14 of the Navy. The "Fearless" had a combat of about 300 nautical miles a gross weight of approximately 40,000 lb and a maximum speed of Mach 2.5. The relationship between thrust and weight of the Fearless was reported as 1.2, consiederably better than other Soviet aircraft, which typically had a thrust-to-weight of 0.7 to 0.9.

Airplanes with variable geometry are sometimes referred to as "swing-wing aircraft" (e.g. "Grunmann F-14 Tomcat", "Mikoyan-Gurevitch MiG-23 and MiG-27" etc.). These aircraft comprise a fuselage with a pair of wings projecting therefrom in the transverse direction. Each of the wings has an inner wing section arranged stationarily with respect to the fuselage and an outer wing section adjacent thereto and pivotable about a pivot axis. The pivot axis is substantially oriented in the vertical direction of the aircraft.

By means of the pivotability of the outer wing sections of such a swing-wing aircraft, the sweep of the wings, and thus the geometry ("configuration"), can be varied during the flight so as to advantageously adapt the flight characteristics (e.g., air resistance, uplift, maneuverability etc.), to take account of the respective requirements in different flight situations (e.g. take-off and landing, cruise flight, military combat missions etc.). It is known that a rather small sweep is advantageous, for example, for an energy-efficient flight over large distances (cruise flight), whereas a larger sweep is particularly advantageous for reducing the air resistance during a particularly fast flight.

However, the aircraft with variable geometry also have disadvantages. Besides the need to install a pivoting drive for pivoting the wings, which increases the weight, there was an increasing demand with respect to a "low radar signature shape" in order to avoid radar detection or ranging of the aircraft or at least to make it difficult. Additionally, this field typically required an energy-efficient cruise flight, as well as maneuverable and agile flight characteristics, as in case of a combat aircraft, within one flight mission. The design objectives for an aircraft which meets these requirements are complementary. A particularly energy-efficient cruise flight is only possible with wings having a high aspect ratio (slim wings). However, such wings reduce the agility due to the relative high moment of inertia about the longitudinal axis of the aircraft. Moreover, slim wings make it difficult to design suitable pivoting kinematics for a predefined wing area.

The MiG-23 FLOGGER with a variable sweep wing and a maximum takeoff weight of 18,000kg [40,000 pounds] was designed in 1964-66 as a successor to the MiG-21. The prototype first flew in April 1967 and MiG-23s began entering operational service in 1971. In early 1974, the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff US Armed Forces, Admiral Thomas Moorer, made a sensational statement about the appearance of Soviet attack aircraft of the new generation of Class F-111, which NATO experts gave the name "Fencer" and [mis]identified as Su-19, with a Maximum takeoff weight of 39,700 kg [87,000 pounds].

The design of the successful MiG-23 "Flogger" interceptor was the basis for the MiG-27, a swing-wing ground-attack aircraft with a variable sweep wing and a maximum takeoff weight of 20,5600kg [45,000 pounds]. In 1969, the MiG-23-based strike aircraft was chosen, dubbed the MiG-23B, made its maiden flight on 20 August 1970. The MiG-27 retained the same NATO codename of "Flogger" as the MiG-23.

MiG-X "Rhombus"

In 1954, an article of the aircraft designer Mikoyan on diamond-shaped or delta-shaped wings came to the Western press. The article was published in several magazines and caused quite an interesting reaction. Many journalists decided that the USSR had already built a fighter with a similar wing. For the first time the reconstruction appeared in the "French Journal of Aviation" in 1956. In it the plane is called simply and unpretentiously - the MiG. According to the description, this was a supersonic interceptor, armed with two guns, without any additional details. Since that moment the procession of this aircraft begins in magazines, and soon it got the name MiG-X.

The description of the aircraft also changed. In the Italian "Journal of Aviation" they wrote that this interceptor was already in mass production. The Spanish aviation almanac already reported the presence of guided missiles in the armament of the aircraft. And in the French magazine "Avion" suddenly became a combat training subsonic fighter. So in different images MiG-X surfaced in various articles almost until the late 1960's.

Helge Bergander is a profound expert on Soviet aircraft and very familiar with original newspapers and magazines from the 1950s and 1960s. This is what he wrote about the mysterious fighter: “An article written by A I Mikoyan was published on June 19, 1954 (it was the eve of the Tushino parade) in the daily newspaper “Sovietskaya Literatura” and came like a bomb to western aviation circles. The parade itself was totally uninteresting. The article was also published in British and US magazines (e. g., Aviation Week Sept 20, 1954). The “Rhomb(us) MiG” which was 'created' by western editorial offices based on this article. They contained two misinterpretations. Mikoyan doesn't write about MiGs, but about the whole Soviet aviation industry. The term “rhomboidal wing” came from the TsAGI and doesn't mean the rhomb as an mathematic-geometrical term, but a delta wing with negative swept trailing edge as used on the Tsybin RSR, Myasishchev M-54, and Convair B-58. Interestingly, there was a more correct interpretation in the excellent translation by the Aviation Week from 1954 – the Russian original specialized literature came up with this statement/definition not before 1990.



The design of the MiG-17 was undertaken to correct the deficiencies that the earlier MiG-15 had at higher speeds. The prototype MiG-17 (NATO code name Fresco) first flew in January 1950 and was reported to have exceeded Mach 1 in level flight. Production began in late 1951, but the aircraft were not available in sufficient quantities to take part in the Korean War. Deliveries to the Soviet Air Force began in 1952. In April-May 1954 in "L'Ala D'Italia" under the title "Rassegna dell'aviazione sovietica" ["Soviet Aviation Review"] an aircraft of this designation was reported, but each and every detail was in error.


In January 1949 in the "Popular Mechanics" was published information about the MiG-18 with a mixed power plant. The main engine is an air-cooled piston motor. At the tail of the aircraft was a rocket engine used as a booster. According to the description in the article, the plane could reach a speed of 900 km / h, and was armed with four guns, and was intended to gain air supremacy. Where American journalists have taken such a plane is not clear.


MiG-19 Barile Volante ["Flying Barrel”]

Aerei d'Oltre Cortina "Planes from Outer Curtain" reported "Surely a not orthodox shaped fighter, the MiG-19 betrays in its appearance the breed from the German Ta-183, and looks like the Argentine Pulqui II, a direct development of the German project. Supposed to be the successor of Mig-15, the MiG-19 should have found not a few difficulties in the set-up process, since the Mig-17 has been chosen instead as standard. After the clamorous apparition occurred in Tushino in 1951, anything new has been heard about the new jetplane, up to a couple of years later, when news came about the introduction in the first line of a certain amount of models. The speed of MiG-19 should be in the range of 1200 Km/h." Avión, in its April 1956 issue, reported (page 150) on "MiG-19 : "Flying Barrel", shown in Tushino on 1951. A possible failure. According to some sources entered in service by 1953 but in very limited numbers. The Fresco was prefered for mass- production."

MiG-19 Model

MiG-19 / Yak-25

In the early 1950s, details of Soviet aircraft were hard to come by. But that didn't stop the then-nascent Aurora Models company from kitting a so-called Russian fighter "inspired" by Nazi Germany's experimental TA-183. Definitely one of the stranger selections in Aurora's stable of airplane kits was the fictitious aircraft they chose to first call the "Yak-25" then later "MiG-19".

Of course it was neither, looking more than a stylized interpretation of a late-war Luftwaffe drawing board concept. First released as the YAK-25 in 1953, the simple model was retooled with missiles, landing gear and surface detail and re-released in metallic green plastic as the MIG-19 a year later [Revell's issuing a more accurate kit of the real Yak-25 may have had something to do with that]. Although the TA-183 did lead to the development of an actual Soviet Fighter -- the MIG 15 -- this particular design was purely fanciful. Aurora made this kit based on a fuzzy picture in an avaiation magazine, a common source of subjects in the 50s.

Yak-25 Model MiG-19 Model MiG-19 Model MiG-19 Model


Air Trail was a magazine for aircraft enthusiasts and modelers very popular in the US during the 50s. It published its own vision of the “MiG-19” in June 1953 (the same month of the release of the Aurora Yak-25!) via an article with the title “Inside Story of MiG-19”. This article presented an aircraft with a similar general shape of the Aurora model but with a completely different tail, and with two engines instead of only one. “The “Super-MiG”-19 is a beautiful fighter which was first seen publicly at the last Summer Aviation Day’s display at Thushino Airport and made its combat debut over Korea last October”. This affirmation is especially “nice” when it is compared with the true saying that the real MiG-19 made its first flight in January 1954.

The I-340 was a dual-seat, twin-engine prototype of a fighter with a radar in the nose that flew in 1949 and 1950. Jean-François Fulconis notes that "the general shape of this plane is very near the imaginative “MiG-19”, especially in the aspect of the nose, the cannon position, the wings and the tail. The nose and wings of Aurora’s model kit look like the I-340, although the tail is completely different. ... We can imagine that some pictures of the I-340 were transferred to the West in the beginning of the 50s, willingly or not. We can completely think that it was done willingly because at this time the I-340 had no interest for the Soviets, but it was a good card to play in the propaganda domain. Therefore if a journalist “well informed” with “good military sources” had a copy of one or several picture of the I-340, it was very easy to create the “MiG-19” of Air Trail in 1953."

MiG-19 Model MiG-19 Model

MiG-23 Flipper

'The World's fighting Planes' 4th Ed. by William Green and published by Macdonald: London in 1964, mentions the MiG-23 Flipper, known today as the Ye-152 as "potentially one of the best current short-range, single-seat all-weather fighters extant, and is presumably intended to form a team in the I.A.-P.V.O. with surface-launched missiles and the longer-ranged Fiddler." It goes on to describe the 'Awl' IR-guided AAM on the pylons and the intake cone was presumed to house a 28" A.I. radar with a range of thirty miles. It mentions a centre-line pylon for fuel tanks and a rocket pack as well.

Die Deutsche Wissenschaftlich Technische Fachzeitschrift Fur Die Zivile Verteidigung for February 1965 noted "Mig-23 "Flipper", a heavy-duty fighter-bomber with a maximum speed of Mach 2 is the fastest attack weapon of the Soviet air force. The air-to-air missiles are easily recognizable... It should not go unmentioned in the list of jet-tactical bomber the Mig-23 "Flipper", probably the most modern single-seated aircraft of the Red Air Force. Here is the Russian aircraft also as in the"Fiddler" on the line of Western air arms has realized a unitary aircraft looking for both interceptor hunting and reconnaissance as well as the attack on ground targetscan. In contrast to earlier hunting aircraft of the Mig-Series, it is expected to be in service only in small numbers."

Flipper was the NATO code name given to an experimental twin-engined interceptor which briefly appeared during the 1961 Tushino flyby. It had the familiar delta-wing configuration of the MiG-21 fighter, but was appreciably larger and more powerful. Since it was assumed at the time that this aircraft was the intended successor to the MiG-21 in Soviet Air Force service, it was thought in the West that the designation of this aircraft was MiG-23, and many publications used this designation for the aircraft. However, the actual designation of this aircraft was Ye-152A, a Mikoyan design bureau number. Since the aircraft never achieved production status, it was never assigned an official MiG designation. The MiG-23 designation was later given to the swing-wing Flogger design.


The Su-21 airplane appeared in the Spanish arms encyclopedia in the mid-1980. It was described as a prospective Soviet fighter in the class F-15 / F-18, which came to the USSR to replace the MiG-23. The aircraft was able to develop a speed of Mach 2 and carry on external suspensions up to 10 missiles. It is unknown where this plane came to the Spaniards. It is clear that it was created under the influence of rumors about the experimental Soviet aircraft of the fourth generation, but the real Su-27 is the last thing it looks like. The logic of the Spaniards in the choice of designation was also interesting.


Boris and Natasha may have told the guys at Popular Science [August 1951] this was a Tupolev design- but in reality it was an Ilyushin II-28, NATO code name "Beagle'. In December 1952 the ever imaginative "L'Ala D'Italia" under the title "Rassegna dell'aviazione sovietica" ["Soviet Aviation Review"] reported the two aircraft separately. Side note: the Soviet Air Force has always been obsessed with providing all aircraft with a rear gun if there was any possible way to jam one in. This devotion to blazing away at tail-gators extends to present day military transports.

The Tupolev ANT-10 was a prototype single-engined light bomber/reconnaissance aircraft of the 1930s. Another Tu-10 was a Tu-2. This was a four-crew aircraft fitted with inline Mikulin AM-39FNVs of 1850hp.

Tu-10 Tu-10 Tu-10 Tu-10


The Yak-21 appeared in one issue of the "Popular Mechanics" with the MiG-18. It was described as a Soviet twin-engine supersonic interceptor, armed with three 20-mm guns, developed on the basis of captured German technology. It was noted that the aircraft could also be used as an escort fighter. Unlike his counterpart in the article, it became well known in comic books in the early 50's, it was this Yak-21 that often confronted superheroes, if they encountered Soviet aviation. As late as 1955, the design appeared in Life Magazine [06 June 1955, page 147], attributed not to Yak but to "Cheranovski, one of Russia's best aviation engineers". But later they forgot about the plane.

Yak-21 Yak-21 Yak-21 Yak-21


Mentioned in some American magazines as a Soviet copy of U-2, created after studying the downed Powers aircraft. The aircraft was first mentioned in the Aviation Week in 1963, as being in development. Until the mid-1970s it occasionally appeared in the European press as already being in series production. It is interesting that in the USSR, however, an attempt was made to copy U-2. Designing the machine, which received the designation C-13, was engaged in OKB Beriev, but work on it was stopped in May 1962.

The "Yak-26" design was generally similar in layout to the actual Yak-25RV Mandrake, a single-seat high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft generally comparable to the American RB-57D. This derivative of the basic Yak-25 design replaces the swept wing with a high aspect ratio straight wing.

The actual Yak-26 was created by Decree of the Council of Ministers -616-381 of March 30, 1955. This supersonic twin-engine aircraft in three directions: a front-line bomber, an interceptor and a front-line scout. The aircraft were to be equipped with two perspective afterburner engines AM-11 design OKB AA Mikulina. The new bomber received a preliminary designation Yak-123 (later designation Yak-26) and was created on the basis of an experimental Yak-125B. By the end of 1956, all the ordered Yak-26 had been completed at the factory No. 30. However, the military unsatisfied with the test results did not accept the aircraft. A modified version of this design eventually saw service as the Yak-28 FIREBAR / Yak-28 Brewer.

Yak-149 Blowlamp / Blowtorch

Yak-149 Blowlamp / BlowtorchIn 1956 the aircraft was shown to a US Military Delegation at Kubinka, 40 miles from Moscow. The Western visitors were taken in cars past a line-up of every type of Russian operational military aircraft. Not previously seen were a twin-jet, swept-wing bomber of about Canberra size which, the Russians claimed, was supersonic. The delegation was told that the Il-54 was the Il-149, as part of the deception program (according to some reports, the aircraft was demonstrated as the Yak-149). As a result, the Il-54 was assigned far more importance than it actually warranted. The aircraft was assigned the NATO reporting name ("Blowlamp") after it had ceased flying.

Yak Seaplane

First appeared in the Life magazine in an article about the achievements of Soviet aviation. Subsonic fighter, armed with three 30-mm guns. According to the magazine, it was developed in the Yakovlev Design Bureau as a response to the American Sea Dart, although inferior to it in all respects. Convair Sea Dart was a unique American seaplane fighter aircraft that rode on twin hydro-skis for takeoff. It flew only as a prototype, and never entered production. The Sea Dart is the only seaplane so far to have exceeded the speed of sound. Saunders-Roe SR./A.1 was a prototype flying boat fighter aircraft designed and built by Saunders-Roe in 1947. It was tested by the Royal Air Force shortly after World War II. In the West, the massive American carrier buildup of 1944 and 1945 removed any need for fighter seaplanes.

It was said to be possible to base the Yak airplane on both conventional ships and submarines. Life Magazine reportd 06 June 1955 that "three of the Soviet seaplane fighters underwent tests on the White sea as long ago as March 1953. Air intakes and tailpipes of twin jet engines which may drive the plane at mover 600 mph are mounted high to clear water spray on takeoff and landing."

Beriev Be-10 Mallow The "Yak Seaplane" appears to be a mis-identification of the Be-10, which first flew 20 June 1956. The Be-10 was first unveiled to the public at the Soviet Aviation Day in 1961, and the aircraft soon captured no fewer than twelve world class records for seaplanes. The Be-10 was a marine reconnaisance-bomber hydroplane. The aircraft Beriev Be-10 "Mallow" was the world's only production flying boat with turbojet engines. This jet-engined flying boat was the only one its class to enter operation service. Yet few Be-10s were built, and the Be-12 was preferred because of its endurance and better rough sea capability. The Be-10 had highly swept wings, with strong anhedral and floats attached to the tips. The engines were placed in the enlarged wing roots.

Yak Fiddler

The Tu-128 'Fiddler' was long thought to be a Yakolev product. Die Deutsche Wissenschaftlich Technische Fachzeitschrift Fur Die Zivile Verteidigung for February 1965 noted "As the most modern heavy fighter-bomber of the Red air force must be considered the Yak "Fiddler", which apparently - as it has been realized in the West for some time - is intended as a multi-purpose high-performance aircraft, it can also be used as a remote hunter and reconnaissance. The two engines that with afterburning each 10400kp thrust are installed in the fuselage and bring the machine to Mach 1.7. The arrangement of air inlets on both sides of the front fuselage are very similar that of the "StarfIghter". The crew consists of 2 men. The weight is approx. 30 000 kg, the range 4500 km. The aircraft is 30 m long and 22 m long, considerably larger than comparable types in NATO." The Statesman's Year-Book 1967-68 mentioned that "The twin-jet Yakovlev ('Fiddler') fighter, armed with long-range missiles and carrying powerful search radar, is believed to have re-equipped some squadrons."

Yak Fiddler Yak Fiddler

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