A-90 Orlyonok: Under its ground effect’s spell.

The “Eaglet” was, maybe, not the more espectacular of the Soviet ekranoplans (ground effect aircraft), but in my humble opinion is the sleekest and the more charming. This amphibious ekranoplan was designed as transport, specially for beach assault operations. Sadly, like others of its gender only a few (5) were built.

This drawing depicts beautifully the engine configuration of the A-90. Cruise power was provided by the mighty Kuznetsov NK-12MV turboprop placed high in the tail. The aircraft also carried a pair of Kuznetsov NK-8-4K turbofan engines inside the forward fuselage fed by a pair of nose intakes. The exhaust of those turbofans were along the side of the fuselage and its thrust was defected under the wings to produce the necessary increased lift and power for take-offs.

Arwork from “The Threat In The 1980s” DIA exhibit.

Salyut 6: Turn, the World turns…

The space navigation indicator INK-2S Globus (an older variant)  tiny Earth used in the revolutionary Salyut 6 space station. Those Salyut sourced most of their instrumentation for the readily available Space capsules hardware; Soyuz in this case.

This jewel takes me back to my old educational globe years. By the way, I still have it.

(Photo credit: Bonhams)

Lavochkin La-7: “Too Much Love Will Kill You”.

The radial-engined Lavochkin’s were, with the liquid-cooled Yakovlev’s, the fighters that allowed the Soviet AF to face in battle the Luftwaffe finest on a more or less equal footing. Somehow crude and certainly not refined maybe, but sturdy, fast and built in quantity. In good hands the Lavochkin’s gave a good account of themselves…. the top Soviet ace of the war, Ivan Kozhedub (62 victories), ended the war at the controls of one of them.

NPO Lavochkin company is obviously proud of their more famous product. One of the only three survivors is presented this way near their place at Khimki, Moscow. They should take instead a better care of it: a replica would do just as well, it is my humble opinion.

Yakovlev Yak-141: Fork-Tailed Beast.

The Yakovlev company has the honour of being the producer of the second Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) fighter. Even worse, their Yak-38 was an interim second-best effort and they knew it. So when the time came, in the middle 1970’s, to create a replacement they attacked it with a vengeance. The supersonic Yak-141 (originally it was called Yak-41M) was anything the Yak-38 wasn’t: powerful, well-armed, well-equipped and gorgeously nasty-looking. Sadly, it was born (first flight in 1987) when the USSR was on its way to the history books. When the State funding dried Yakovlev tried to save their brainchild with a collaboration with the Lockheed company, but in the end all came to nothing. Only four were built.

Fires in the holes while its hovers at the 1992 Farnborough Airshow  (my guess). Such an amazing photo. With its twin pod tail (to put the main engine nozzle in its appropriate place to the centre of gravity) the Yak-141 was an aircraft with character….and those MNPK Soyuz R-79V-300  main engine and two RKBM RD-41 lift engines. Brutally magnificent.

Bisnovat SK-1: So K-ool.


This utterly slick thing was Matus Bisnovat’s OKB contribution to the plethora of stunning high-speed aircraft made around the world at the end of the 1930’s-early 1940’s. His SK-1 all-metal research aircraft was conceived following the classic formula of the smallest airframe possible powered by the more powerful engine at hand -a 1050hp Klimov M-105 in this case. The SK-1 took the skies in January 1939 and soon demonstrated its superb qualities in both speed and handling. So good it was that a fighter derivative was soon developed from it, the SK-2.

Such a racy thing. In search of aerodynamic efficiency  just a small low-drag radiator installation was employed due to its pressurised coolant system. It had also a incredibly cool flush cockpit equipped with a hydraulically raised pilot seat and canopy roof , the latter became a “windshield” during landings.