Central Museum of the Russian Air Force


The Central Museum of the Air Force, simply named Monino after the city in which it is located, can be reached from Moscow in about an hour by car or an hour and a half by train. I have already been to this museum three or four times, the last time in 2017, but for the first time without companions and interference. I devoted the whole day to this and I was right. Both in terms of the time spent and the pleasure received.

The Central Museum of the Air Force is a Mecca for connoisseurs of Russian aviation history. The museum is unique. The collection of its exhibits is the largest in Russia and one of the largest in the world: the funds contain 34,894 museum objects.

The exhibition presents authentic samples of military, civil and experimental aircraft (194 units), aircraft engines (164 units), weapons and rescue equipment (3478 units), unique photographs and rare documents, personal belongings of famous aviators and many other relics – evidence of all history of domestic aviation.
The museum’s exhibitions are located in the main museum building with a total area of 10,280 square meters, in two hangars with a total area of 5,200 square meters and in an open area of 18 hectares.

The exhibits are located in 8 exhibition halls (including 24 aircraft), in hangar No. 8 (including 30 aircraft) and on the open viewing platform of military equipment and weapons of the Air Force. The exhibitions cover the history of the development of the Air Force from the birth of aeronautics in Russia to the present.

The halls of the central one-story building are something like this.

The hangar adjacent to it is filled as follows.

And hidden in the space between the two hangars is the “Propellers” exhibition.

The second hangar, which you go out into in the middle, is like this: look to the left,

look to the right.

Through the same entrance, which is now the exit, you go out into the street and, having crossed the road very diagonally, you find yourself in front of the gate.

You can buy a ticket there separately, but I already bought tickets for everything at once. It will cost you $3 each location. For me, as a pensioner, it’s half the price.

If you believe, and there is no reason not to, the website of the local municipality, then the open area is something like that.

You can use any mapping service that will give a less beautiful, but more reliable picture. Like Google Maps, for example.

Or you can just wander along the paths, enjoying every minute of your stay.

I walked along each path at least a dozen times and if it weren’t for the benches on the territory, I would clearly have been left without legs. I preferred to sit in the shadow of this giant.

On the territory there is another hangar accessible to the public with the alluring name “Unique aircrafts”.

Here and now I will not lay out everything to you directly. This will be in subsequent reports, which I do not plan to run in a continuous series, as in the case of Kubinka. From time to time we will digress into other topics. Because I still have a bunch of huge museums, a sequential story about each of which would take a month or two of storytelling.

In principle, with 194 museum aircrafts, it is quite possible to display them all. In Kubinka there were about 170 armored vehicles. But it’s not that it’s lazy, it’s tedious.

PS For a brief acquaintance with this museum, this material is enough. But I have more than one and a half thousand photographs from the last visit. In Russian, I am planning a series of reports on it. Materials on bombers and helicopters are already being prepared. Then there will be other topics.

Question for members of this forum:
To be continued… ?


I’m hooked! I want to go just walk the grounds…looks amazing.

I do have to ask, what is that giant, twin helicopter, jet engine, thing? I would love a kit of that!

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Well, aint that cool! I’m gonna have to look for one now. Thanks guys!

Found some…they are expensive, but I am still interested!

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Please continue the thread @fromSalekhard - there look to be some awesome pieces in that museum. I’d very much like to see more.


Thanks Yuri, great stuff. Look forward to seeing the big helos, Mi-6 and Mi-26. Which is the red and white schemed helo?


This is a Mi-6 firefighter. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.


Soviet American.

I don’t know how it will go further, but I want to start with bombers. Firstly, these are really big things that immediately catch your eye. Secondly, these are beautiful things. And thirdly, the planes in this particular museum are quite interesting and many have their own legends.

Usually, my English text is shorter than the Russian text. I simply remove all sorts of local details and linguistic delights, leaving only the essence. In this particular material the opposite is true. In addition, I considered it necessary and possible to separate the history of one aircraft into a separate publication.

Right next to the entrance, there is this handsome four-engine aircraft with an unusual appearance for Soviet aviation.

If anyone is surprised that the exhibition at the Central Museum of the Russian Air Force begins with the American B-29 Superfortres,

(image source: Уильям Боинг (История и фото) - legendyru.ru)

even though in Soviet livery, he will be wrong. This is not an American, but a Soviet plane, but… which is an exact copy of the American one.

It was with this aircraft that the post-war domestic… no, not aviation, but the aviation industry began. In the two post-war years, repeating such a high-tech and complex product as the best American aircraft is worth a lot. On June 23, 1945, the first of the three original models landed in Moscow, and on August 3, 1947, the first three soviets vehicles took part in an air parade in honor of Aviation Day.

In Russia, everyone who is even slightly interested in aviation knows at least a little about the history of the creation of this aircraft. It is quite possible that some outside Russia have not heard about this.

After the US used the atomic bomb, the USSR realized the urgent need for long-range bombers. The management decided not to take risks by developing their own aircraft, but to repeat an aircraft that had already proven its characteristics. The famous aircraft designer Tupolev was urgently summoned to Stalin, who in the form of an ultimatum demanded to copy the American B-29. The development of the aircraft was supervised by the all-powerful head of the KGB, Lavrentiy Beria.

Such a significant event could not help but acquire a layer of legends. Before moving on to them, I want to draw your attention to the fact that Tupolev came to the famous conversation with Stalin with his finished project for the “64 aircraft”.

The most famous story is that they copied so accurately and strictly, fearing to violate the Leader’s order, that at the same time they copied the camera of one of the crew members. Like this is where the production of cameras began in the USSR. Sometimes the brand of the camera “Leica II” is mentioned, but I have not previously come across a mention that this is not an American, but a German camera.

Yes, this product played a significant role for us, but it happened in January 1934, when the FED camera, named after Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, the head of the Cheka, was put into production.

But the fact that they began to hang it on every plane - I can believe that.

From new tales for myself, I learned that:

…even the ashtrays in the cockpit were copied, although smoking was strictly prohibited on Soviet bombers.”
“… found a small hole on the left wing, neither aerodynamicists nor strength specialists - no one has any idea why the hell there is such a hole. … So on all Tu-4 strategic bombers, a tiny hole appeared on the left wing, drilled with the thinnest drill.”
“…the passage between the pressurized cabins inside the plane was painted green, and not completely. Perhaps the American worker ran out of paint, but all the passages in the Tupolev copies were repainted in exactly the same way.”

At the same time, you need to understand that engines, a weapon system (cannons instead of machine guns), radio stations and a “friend or foe” recognition system and much more, for example:

…American parachutes. They are located on the back and, when placed in a backpack, serve as a soft backrest for the crew members. And our stowed parachute is a wearable pillow on which the pilot sits. That’s why the seat under our parachute is a square bowl.

were different from the original sample.

Already with age and work experience, the understanding came that Tupolev was not only and not so much a brilliant designer, but a talented organizer and virtuoso schemer. Most likely, every little thing on the verge of idiocy was deliberately blown out of proportion, and in the shadow of these bubbles, truly important things were done. It was in the part of this aircraft that he had no design duties, only organizational responsibilities. And it was not he who added the designation “Tu” to the name of the aircraft.

Most of the difficulties were caused by different measurement systems. If for Americans a size of 1/16” is a reasonable and familiar size, then for Europeans it looks like a gear-crushing size of 1.5875 mm. In this case, we were talking about the thickness of the sheathing sheets. If you round to 1.6 mm, the plane will become much heavier, and if to 1.5 mm, there will be a loss of strength. Approximately the same difficulties were encountered at the start of production of the T-26 tank (nee Vickers) and the GAZ-A car (originally Ford A).

The most recent joke on this topic goes like this:
“Gradually the problems became less and less. Everyone is accustomed to the standard response from the Chief, to do as the Americans did on the first plane. Nobody asked any more questions. In this regard, a small anecdote was born: the question was, what kind of stars will we paint on the planes - white American ones or red Soviet ones? It was this question that first puzzled Tupolev. If you draw white American stars, they will put you up against the wall [and shoot] as a public enemy. And if the red ones are Soviet, then, firstly, they are not one to one, as ordered, and secondly, perhaps the Supreme Commander-in-Chief is thinking of using them against America, England or China with American identification marks. The question about the stars was the only question during the entire copying period that Tupolev asked Beria. Beria, however, was also perplexed
They say that Beria told Stalin about the stars, also in the form of a joke, and from the way Stalin laughed at the joke, Beria unmistakably understood what the stars should be like. The last problem was solved and mass production began."

PS This museum cooperates well and a lot with volunteers, who provide assistance both in simply cleaning the territory and in restoring exhibits. There is a lot available to volunteers that is not available to ordinary visitors. Here you can see photographs of the interior of this particular aircraft, and in the comments there is a mention that such aircraft remained in service in the mid-1970s.

PSS It seems to me that this material will be interesting to you. That is why I took the liberty to talk at length about this aircraft. Although in reality even a few books would not be enough.


Very interesting Yuri- I’ve never heard about this before. It reminds me a little of Stalin’s ZiS-115 limo- I believe it was based on an American Packard he had been gifted. He liked the design so much he decided to have his own heavily armored version made.

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Yes, almost like that.

There are some subtleties there.

The main one was that the ZiS-110 was not armored

and the ZiS-115 was only for Stalin and armored.

Armored window.

However, outwardly they were almost no different.


Some of the tales were new to me and the camera as well. Did hear the rudder petals have Boeing written on them to go along with the details copied.

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In the last photo of the field of aircraft, what is the odd fellow in the NW quadrant with the pieces of wings lying south of it, right behind the big fellow?

I saw part of it in another photo and the shape is strange.

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From what i’ve read about the Tu-4 “Bull” is that four B-29 Superfortressses had to land in Soviet territory during bombing raids to Tokyo during WW2; the USSR was a neutral party during the Pacific War, so the 4 bombers (three complete and one that was wrecked) were interred while their crews returned to the US.

The planes were then flown to Moscow and one was fully disassembled and studied from nose to tail while the others were used for training, and one was left intact. Stalin tasked Tupolev to “Reverse engineer the plane and have a copy built in short order”.

The Tu-4 was the USSR’s main strategic bomber until it was replaced in the 1960s by the Tu-95 Bear and the Tu-16 Badger.


This is a VERY unusual plane. And we will get to it yet.


So let’s talk about them!



Among propeller-driven vehicles, one cannot fail to mention the Tu-95. As a matter of fact, you won’t be able to pass by him: over there he spread his wings for fifty meters.

Tu-95 bears the title of the fastest propeller-driven aircraft. He’s also the loudest. Yes, in the overall ranking, first place goes to the American Republic XF-84H,

but it was an experimental aircraft, and the Tu-95 was a serial one.

When a couple of Tu-95s flew by at the Navy parade in St. Petersburg, alarms went off on all cars along the route.

They were bringing up the rear and a whole bunch of planes had already flown in front of them. But the car alarms greeted only them.

There are two such aircraft in the museum. One stands in the center, you can’t get close to it, and it doesn’t have a sign.

For most of its museum life, it was known as the Tu-95N (Carrier): a strike system consisting of a carrier aircraft and a supersonic RS (Record of Speed) bomber, which was a single-seat aircraft 27.5 m long. The RS was supposed to reach a speed of 3000 km/h and carry one nuclear bomb with a yield of 30 kilotons to a range of 13000 km.

Thanks to the volunteers, it was possible to establish that this is in fact the second copy of the Tu-95-2 aircraft - the progenitor of the entire line. At the end of its activity, it was used as a flying laboratory (летающая лаборатория), i.e. Tu-95LL.

Next came jet aviation. And it began with our first front-line jet bomber Il-28,

equipped with a copy of the English Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet engine with a centrifugal compressor. (Here’s where we also suffered with the conversion from the inch to the metric system).

Let’s return to strategic aviation and Tupolev aircraft, namely the Tu-16.

The museum does not disclose this, but there is information that this is the first copy of the reconnaissance modification.

There are again two such aircraft in the museum. The second is the Tu-16K missile carrier, which is not difficult to guess from the KSR-5 missiles suspended.


It’s the Bartini Beriev VVA-14 Experimental Ekranoplan

Only models known on scalemates are in 1/72 and 1/144



Ah, okay. I’m more familiar with the later aircraft of that type.


The Bear Bomber is such an iconic bomber.

Many generations of American and European interceptors have rubbed elbows with the big, bad, Soviet Tupolev Tu-95.

RCAF F-101 Voodoo

USAF F-4D Phantom


US Navy F-14 Tomcat

RAF Electric Lightning


USAF F-106 Delta Dart

USAF F-22 Raptor

RAF Tornado

Yup! The old Bear has seen it all.