Soviet and Russian Testbed Aircraft

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Yefim Gordon & Dmitriy Komissarov
Other Publication Information
Hardcover, 416pgs, 700+ B&W and color photos, 100 color profiles, 71 line drawings
Product / Stock #
Provided by: Specialty Press
Front cover art

This is a very large book covering Soviet and Russian test and research aircraft from the late 1930s to modern times. The book contains eight separate chapters of varying lengths devoted to specific areas of research and testing. The Russians and Soviets have developed many interesting designs over the years and this book gives us a look at some of the most unusual.

  • Chapter one covers aerodynamic testbed aircraft showing the different wing and control surface designs tested on various jet aircraft. At 52 pages it is one of the shorter chapters.
  • Chapter two covers the many aircraft systems testbeds. From refueling systems, ejection systems to landing gear configurations. All well documented with photos. Of particular interest was the section showing the many experiments with air cushion skirt landing systems.
  • Chapter three covers propulsion testbeds with various engine and propeller combinations. The Tu-2 with the under fuselage jet engine or the North American B-25B and B-25J used to test JATO and after-burning turbojets would make for interesting model building.
  • Chapter four covers all the avionics test planes. With all the different antenna configurations, probes and nose profile changes there is plenty here as well to inspire a conversion or ten.
  • Chapter five deals with weapons test aircraft used in the development of both air to air and air to surface systems. Most of these aircraft are outwardly identical to their “normal” siblings as most of the weapons were mounted externally. Still this chapter presents the modeler with many interesting loadout options.
  • Chapters six and seven cover weather and geophysical research planes, again sporting a plethora of antenna and probe differences that could inspire an unusual conversion of a model of a production airframe! One of the highlights here is the photo of a turbo-prop An-3T version of the venerable An-2.

Lastly, chapter eight covers the remaining test planes that do not fit in the first seven chapters. From survey aircraft, agricultural aircraft to aircraft for testing specialized optics, all are touched upon here.

This book gives us a well documented and researched look into an area of aviation that is often overlooked. The authors know their subject and do a good job conveying that knowledge! This book would be a good addition to the shelf of the aviation historian, Soviet and Russian aircraft enthusiast, anyone with an interest in research aircraft as well as modelers who are looking to build “something different” than your standard civil or military aircraft! I recommend this to all of the above.

Our thanks to Specialty Press and Hikoki Publications for the review copy!


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