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Early in the 20th century, shortly after military aviation came on the scene, Imperialist Russia started using aircraft to support the operations of the Russian Navy. Rapid development of naval aviation continued after the October Revolution of 1917 and Soviet naval airmen flying fighters and torpedo-bombers made a significant contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War.
Yet the heyday of Soviet Naval Aviation (or AVMF) was in the post-war years. While in the late 1940s the AVMF relied largely on indigenous and American propeller-driven aircraft that had survived the fray, in the 1950s the naval airmen began mastering jets. The AVMF units started re-equipping with Il’yushin IL-28 Beagle twinjet bombers and were the sole operator of the Tupolev Tu-14 Bosun torpedo-bomber.
Continue reading “Soviet Naval Aviation 1946-1991”
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Starting life in 1927, with Aleksandr Sergeyevich Yakovlev's first aircraft, the AIR-1, the OKB produced aircraft such as the Yak-4 light bomber, the Yak-6 light transport and the Yak-1 fighter. The latter paving the way for the highly successful Yak-3 and Yak-9. Post-war the Yak-15, -17 and -23 were fighters with a distinctive 'pod-and-boom' layout, the Yak-25 was first in a line of twin-jet tactical aircraft while the Yak-18 trainer, Yak-24 tandem-rotor helicopter, Yak-38 VTOL and Yak-40/42 airliners added variety.
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The MiG-31 started life as an advanced derivative of the famous MiG-25P interceptor, becoming the first Soviet fourth-generation combat aircraft. First flown in 1975, it differed from its progenitor primarily in having a crew of two (pilot and weapons systems operator), a highly capable passive phased-array radar – a world first – and new R-33 long-range missiles as its primary armament. The maximum speed was an impressive Mach 2.82, the cruising speed being Mach 2.35. The type entered service in 1981; more than 500 copies were built between 1981 and 1994. The powerful radar and other avionics allowed the MiG-31 to operate as a ‘mini-AWACS’ scanning the airspace and guiding other interceptors to their targets; a flight of three such aircraft in line abreast formation could cover a strip 800 km (500 miles) wide. To this day the MiG-31 remains one of the key air defense assets of the Russian Air Force.
The book describes the MiG-31’s developmental history, including upgrade programs, and features a full and comprehensive survey of the various MiG-31 model-making kits currently available on the market.
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Born in the 1930s, the Soviet Air Force's long-range bomber arm (known initially as the ADD and later as the DA) proved itself during World War II and continued to develop in the immediate post-war years, when the former allies turned Cold War opponents. When the strategic bomber Tu-4 was found to be too 'short-legged' to deliver strikes against the main potential adversary – the USA, both Tupolev and Myasishchev OKBs began the task by creating turbine-engined strategic bombers. By the Khrushchev era in the mid/late 1950's the Soviet defense industry and aircraft design bureau set about adapting the bombers to take air-launched missiles for use against land and sea targets. In 1962 the DA fielded its first supersonic aircraft – the Tu-22 Blinder twinjet, which came in pure bomber and missile strike versions. The Brezhnev years saw a resurgence of strategic aviation with the Tu-22M Backfire 'swing-wing' supersonic medium bomber entering service in the mid-1970s followed in 1984 by the Tu-95MS Bear-H and Tu-160 Blackjack which were capable of carrying six and 12 air-launched cruise missiles respectively. Soviet Strategic Aviation in the Cold War shows how the DA's order of battle changed in the period from 1945 to 1991. Major operations including the air arm's involvement in the Afghan War, the Cold War exercises over international waters in the vicinity of the 'potential adversary', and the shadowing of NATO warships are covered together with details of Air Armies, bomber divisions and bomber regiments, including their aircraft on a type-by-type basis. More than 500 photos, most of which are previously unpublished in the West, are supplemented by 61 color profiles, color badges, and line drawings of the aircraft and their weapons, making this an essential reference source for the historian and modeler alike.
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When the USA launched a new battlefield attack aircraft program which eventually led to the development of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the Soviet Union saw the need to create an equivalent. The Soviet aircraft industry had considerable experience in attack aircraft design to fall back on, dating back to the most famous of these types, the Ilyushin IL-2 Shturmovik of the World War II era. When a contest was called to produce a latter-day Shturmovik, the Sukhoi Design Bureau emerged as the winner with its T-8 project, beating competition from the Ilyushin and Myasiishchev bureaus. After a series of design changes the aircraft entered production and service as the Su-25. The book describes the Su-25's development history and its extensive combat career, starting with Operation Romb, when the then-experimental Su-25 received its baptism of fire in the Afghan War, to the conflicts in former Yugoslavia and the drug-busting operations in Peru. The type's Afghan War involvement receives extensive coverage, as does the Su-25's use in the Chechen Wars. A detailed list is given of the type's many operators, which even included a NATO country (Slovakia). In addition to the main versions up to and including the Su-25TM (Su-39) 'tank killer'. Due attention is paid to the latest programs to upgrade the Su-25 with modern requirements both in Russia and elsewhere. The book includes color artwork and detailed scale drawings in the usual Aerofax style.