Chyetverikov MDR-6B-1: In full Bloom.

The few MBR-6’s built were the only real success of designer Igor V. Chyetverikov. A little more than 50 of these highly advanced long range flying boats were produced in the late 1930’s-early 1940’s. The MDR-6’s of the main variant were powered by a pair of radial engines (Shvetsov M-25, M-62 and M-63) and served with the Baltic, Black Sea and Far East fleets until late 1942. Structural defects and faulty fuel system caused their hasty retirement. War then was going badly for the USSR and there was no time to spare in these small production assets…..and there were Lend-Lease Catalinas to burn.

Very beautiful aircraft in their more pedestrian form, the MDR-6 became just gorgeous in its later prototype iterations. In this photo, the first -and prettiest- of those prototypes. The B1 was a total redesign. Slicker and smaller, its designer cleaned it out thoroughly -retracting floats included- and replaced the radial engines with a pair of Klimov M-105 liquid-cooled engines. Add to those features a gorgeous twin-finned tail and the result was just irresistible. It was test flown, crash included, during late 1940-1941.

Mil Mi-8: Here we go again.

A Mil Mi-8 helicopter ready for some early action at the runway of Camp Bastion (Afghanistan) October 23, 2011. Afghanistan is a place those ageless helicopters know all too well. They still, regrettably, have a lot of hot and dangerous days ahead down there.

A superb photo anyway of Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Chandler (Regional Command Southwest).

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23: “War is Peace”.

Abandoned MiG-23’s (MiG-23MS, MiG-23MF and MiG-23UB) of the Syrian AF captured by rebels, mainly of the al-Nusra Front, at Abu ad-Duhor airbase, Northwest Syria on Sept. 9, 2015. The siblings of these old warriors are still in use by the Syrian Regime in that international quagmire called the Syrian Civil War.

An outstanding photo composition anyway. Omar Haj Kadour (Getty Images).

Soyuz 1: “This Devil Ship!”

50 years ago, on 24 April, 1967, we lost the first human in an actual spaceflight. Cosmonaut Vladimir Mikhaylovich Komarov died when his Soyuz 1 capsule crashed into the ground after its parachute recovery system failed, the horrible culmination to a cursed mission full of technical problems. RIP

Komarov here during training in bare bones Soyuz flight simulator. Photo: RKK Energia

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.