Monday, September 2, 2013
Russian Federation Air Force Museum Monino (Moscow)
Last week I was able to tick off another item from my Aviation bucket list; the Russian Federation Air Force museum at Monino.
Monino is a disused airport about 50km East of Moscow and was until a few years ago the home of the Gagarin Air Force academy. The museum which opened in 1958, is still the largest aviation museum in the former USSR.
Two hangars hold quite a few memorable World War 2 (Mig-3 above) and experimental aircraft but the main attraction is clearly the more than 100 aircraft parked outside.
As one enters the "airpark", the first attraction is the worlds largest helicopter, the mighty record breaking Mil-V12 which could carry 196 passengers. This twin rotor monster still holds the 1969 record for carrying a load of 40.000 kg to an altitude of 7400 feet. Only two were built and the project was eventually cancelled in 1974.
There is an impressive collection of most Cold War strategic bombers parked at Monino. Interesting NATO used to give all Russian military aircraft a NATO name, this because the official Russian name was often initially not known. You will find these names between parentheses in this post.
Examples are this early nuclear Tupolev TU-16 "Badger" bomber
and the Tupolev TU-24M "Backfire"
My personal favorite is the mighty Tupolev TU-95M "Bear". Standing just inside the gate it looks like this aircraft is a recent addition to the museum. I can still remember seeing pictures of "Bears" being intercepted by NATO aircraft in the 1980's, with the Russian crews waving at the "enemy" aircraft.
A interesting collection of transport and airline prop-liners can be found at the Western side of the static park. This includes the worlds largest turbo-prop aircraft, the Antonov AN-22 "Antheus",
This particular sleek looking Tupolev TU-114 flew USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev non-stop from Moscow to New York in 1959 on a state visit.
Moving on to fast jets, there is a nice collection of Soviet fighters, including some prime examples of the very beginning of the jet age such as the Lavochkin La-15 below,
or this YAK-23 "Flora".
I particularly like the vintage Mig collection (right to left) all the way from the Mig-15 "Fagot", Mig-17 "Fresco" to the Mig-19 "Farmer".
There also is a fair amount of rare birds on display. The weirdest one is probably the Mig-105 Spiral, nicknamed the "Shoe". This lifting body was the forerunner for the "Buran" which in turn was the Russian version of the Space Shuttle which unfortunately only did one unmanned flight before the project was cancelled with the fall of the Soviet Union.
Another aircraft with a twist is this experimental version of the Sukhoi SU-7; the S-26 equipped with skis to operate from low density runways (snow, etc..).
Used as an agricultural spray airplane, this Polish built PZL M-15 is the worlds only "pure jet powered" biplane.
Because aircraft are parked very closely, I did focus on photographing some aircraft details such as the canopy of this Sukhoi SU-7.
Or the nose section of the Sukhoi TU-4. More info on this one of a kind aircraft can be found on the next Pic(k) of the week 36 post, due Sep 4, 2013.
Even though I had the luxury of having a Russian guide (thanks Natalia) one can make his own way to Monino.
We made our way to the Yaroslavsky railway station in central Moscow by metro and then caught a train to Monino. Even though the direct distance is only about 50km, the train ride does take about 1h 20'. We bought return tickets leaving Moscow for 150RUB per person. When travelling without a Russian speaker, I suggest you ask somebody ( hotel staff...) to write down what tickets you want in Russian.
Once you arrive at the Monino railway station there is about a 15 to 20 min walk before you get to the museum. I recommend using a GPS application like CityMaps2Go to find your way since there are very little signs. Alternatively save a photo of the entrance sign on your phone so you can show it when asking for directions.
Online information telling you to book the visit beforehand is outdated. The museum is open unrestricted on weekdays from 0930 to 1530 and on Saturdays from 0930 to 1400. Avoid getting there between 1300 and 1430 since the ticket desk will be on a lunch break. All is closed Wednesday and Sunday.
There seems to be an additional fee for a special "photography permit", but since were not questioned, we only paid the normal 150 RUB entrance fee.
Lastly make sure you stop by the Yuri Gagarin monument about halfway the walk between the station and the museum.
On 12 april 1961, Yuri was the first human to go into space. My Russian friend Natalia was clearly and very rightly so, proud on that achievement!
Overall I'm very happy I made it to Monino and probably will go a second time at some stage. As I grew up I've always been fascinated by some of the Russian aircraft designs. At that stage I never thought that one day I would get to see these with my own eyes.