Tu-95KM & F-4B: Maintain Social Distancing.

An US Navy F-4B from the VF-151 “Vigilantes” intercepting a missile-less Soviet Tu-95KM during the early 1970s in this splendid picture.

Keeping a safe distance, my friends. If they could do it, you too.

Lavochkin La-15: Against too much bad luck.

The nimble and slick La-15 entered service around the same time the MiG-15 did. Compared to the latter, the La-15 was smaller and was powered by the less powerful RD-500 (a RR Derwent copy). In service the design was well-loved by its crews, but suffered a series of accidents. One of the fatalities was a good friend of Stalin’s son…. In the end the Soviet AF decided to have just one interceptor model, and the MiG-15 was cheaper. Only circa 235 La-15s were built.

At first sight it looks a lot like the seminal Ta 183, a slender one. Kinda pretty too.

Antonov An-30D: The eye of the beholder.

Taking as a basis their An-24, the Antonov OKB conceived in the mid-1960s this funny looking aerial survey airplane. The whole forward fuselage was changed and fitted with this extensively glazed nose section for the navigator; the cockpit was raised in the process. A wide array of photo equipment and configurations were available. 124 were built in the 1970s and some were exported to the usual friendly nations. The An-30s are well-known because they are still employed by some of their operators in “Open Skies Treaty” duties.

The splendid An-30’s “raison d’etre” of this cute thing. In this case the An-30D Sibiryak (Siberia) ice reconnaissance variant. Equipped on each side of the fuselage with additional fuel tanks, long-range navigation system and other equipment for operations in the Arctic.

Yakovlev Yak-23: “Tanto se estira la cuerda que al final se rompe”.

At the end of WW2 the arrival of jet engine opened a whole new arena for innovation. Yet there were some who found hard to break with tradition. One of them was Alexander Yakovlev OKB. That philosophy proved to be good enough in producing their successful “pod-and-boom” Yak-15/17 stopgap so, why not? The Yak-23 was the ultimate evolution of that formula refined aerodynamically, powered by a RR Derwent knock-off and equipped with a tricycle landing gear. First flown in 1947, this neat tiny fighter displayed decent performances…., for a straight-wing jet fighter. Production soon followed, but just a short one because against the MiG-15 it had not a chance.

“The rope is stretched so much that it finally breaks”. Such a slick design anyway.

Mikoyan MiG-27ML: Legs to stand on.

The MiG-27 is the ultimate ground attack version developed from the basic MiG-23 design. Here one of the licence-built MiG-27ML “Bahadur” (Valiant) of the Indian AF. These purposeful and demanding beasts were retired from service there last December (2019). Now just a bunch of them remain operational in both Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan.

There’re many, many things I’m partial about the MiG-23 and the undercarriage is definitely very high in that list. Sheer poetry in engineering motion. 

Photo: Ishan Gore.