Russian Central Air Force Museum at Monino – Rusting Airpower of the USSR
If you’re in Moscow and looking for somewhere a bit different to spend the day, escape the crowds or just venture from the city centre then the Russian Central Air Force Museum at Monino is definitely worth a trip.
Or perhaps you’re more like me, somewhat of an aviation fanatic, where the opportunity to see these monolithic aircraft is an opportunity of a lifetime not to be missed.
The Russian Central Air Force Museum at Monino is about 40km east of Moscow. Also known as the Russian Federation Air Force Museum, it is the largest in Russia. It’s collection features over 170 aircraft, including conventional planes, helicopters, gliders and some unusual flying machines.
The museum consists of one main building where there is information on the history of Russian aviation (though mostly only in Russian) and an indoor hangar featuring a number of WW2 fighter aircraft. Outside however is an enormous open air area where hundreds of post WW2 aircraft are stored which have to be the museums main attraction.
Many of the aircraft on display were top secret during and even after the Cold War.
Known only by their NATO code names, these aircraft were at the cutting edge of design and aeronautical experimentation of the time. A couple of aircraft on display are still types that are in active service.
Along with military aircraft there is also a few civilian aircraft on display, one of particular note the Tupolev 144. Not many people realise that it was actually the Soviet’s who built & flew the world’s first first supersonic airliner….they snuck in 2 months ahead of the Concorde
The museum not only houses planes but a large number of helicopters too.
From attack to transport they’re just as impressive. Greeting you at the gate you can’t miss the Mil V-12, it’s size is dwarfing and its longer than a Boeing 737. It’s almost unbelievable that this thing got of the ground with its strange design features, but it did and still holds records to this day.
The museum is located next door to an active Air Force Base so you may be lucky enough to see some of the current inventory of the Russian airforce buzzing overhead. Fighter jets and transports leaving their dark streaks across the sky, on the day I was there there were probably 7 or more circling around every few minutes or so. Not many museums provide a free airshow along with the ticket!