Soviet air show

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In the life of Soviet Union, air shows were a highly regarded type of parade, almost always of military nature. They happened on various occasions and anniversaries, in many locations across the country. A notable air show was the Tushino Air Show held annually in August.


Soviet Air Fleet Day[edit]

The most frequent date of air shows was the Soviet Air Fleet Day (Russian: День Воздушного Флота). It was also known as the Soviet Air Forces Day (Russian: День Военно-воздушных Сил), or Soviet Aviation Day.[1] It was established in 1933[2] and was most usually held on the third Sunday of August,[3][4][5] weather permitting. The initial exhibition on August 18, 1933,[1][6] was a result of Yakov Alksnis initiative, and was held in Khodynka Aerodrome (the Central Moscow Aerodrome), but since the next[7] year the show became located on Tushino airfield near Moscow, where it remained for entire decades. In 1937, the parade was attended by nearly a million people,[7][8] observing the masses of aircraft spelling in the sky "LENIN", "STALIN" and "SSSR". The celebrations repeated until the fall of Soviet Union, and continue[1][9][10] in Russia (location is now Zhukovskiy airport, see MAKS airshow).

May Day[edit]

The 1st of May was dedicated to multitude of parades throughout the Soviet Union. They often included large-scale flypasts.[11][12]


The Soviet Air Fleet Day became primarily associated with Soviet Air Forces (VVS), so a separate day has been established for Soviet Air Defense Forces (PVO) a second arm of Soviet military that employed numerous fighter squadrons. It was called Soviet Air Defense Forces Day (Russian: День войск противовоздушной обороны СССР),[13] occurred on the second Sunday of April,[14] and was celebrated with air parades of lesser scale.

The October revolution anniversary usually included air parade, but as it was held on 7 November, the aircraft were often cancelled because of weather conditions.[15] The same problem pertained to 19 November, the Soviet Rocket Forces and Artillery Day.

Notably, the 50th anniversary of October revolution air show was held in the summer, on 9 July 1967 at Domodedovo airport. In an unprecedented display of air power, it featured twelve new types or variants of military aircraft,[1][16] and prompted concern in the West.

Notable first appearances[edit]

The Soviet air shows conveyed more than entertainment. In the atmosphere of harshly enforced clandestinity, these air shows were frequently the main source of information about the recent aviation achievements of Soviet design bureaus (OKBs).[1] Both Eastern and Western public opinion benefited from it, as well as foreign military intelligence.[1]

Year Month Day Airfield New fighters
(Soviet designation)
New bombers
(Soviet designation)
Other new aircraft Comments Reference
1947 August 3 Tushino airfield Yak-19, La-150, La-156, La-160, Su-9, Su-11 Tu-4, Tu-77 - new jet designs [17]
1954 May 1 Tushino airfield - Myasishchev M-4 - - [12]
1956 June 24 Tushino airfield MiG-21, Su-7B, Su-9     - [18]
1961 July Tushino airfield Tu-28 Tu-22, Yak-28 Be-12, Ka-25, Mi-8, Mi-10 - [18]
1967 July 9 Domodedovo Airport MiG-23, MiG-25, Su-11,[18] Su-15, Su-17, STOL aircraft (MiG, Su, Yak-36) - - major impact in the West [16]
1971 May Vnukovo Airport - - Tu-144, Tu-154, Il-76, Il-62M, Tu-134A, Yak-40, B-12 civil aviation exhibition [1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Pre-history of MAKS - provides the complete information on Russian and Soviet air shows.
  2. ^ Council of People's Commissars of the USSR decree 859 of 28.04.1933
  3. ^ Petrone, Karen (2000). Life has become more joyous, comrades: Celebrations in the time of Stalin. ISBN 978-0-253-33768-9.
  4. ^ "Airmen celebrate their professional holiday". Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  5. ^ "Russian Life magazine". Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  6. ^ Curiously, the August 17, 1933, was the date of the first launch of Soviet rocket - GIRD-09. Albrecht, Ulrich; Nikutta, Randolph (October 1993). The Soviet armaments industry. ISBN 978-3-7186-5313-3.
  7. ^ a b Everett-Heath, John (1983-05-10). Soviet helicopters: Design, development and tactics. ISBN 978-0-7106-0259-6.
  8. ^ Higham, Robin D. S; Greenwood, John T; Hardesty, Von (1998). Russian aviation and air power in the twentieth century. ISBN 978-0-7146-4784-5.
  9. ^ Decree 3564-1 of September 28, 1992: "The establishment of the Russian Air Fleet Day" (Russian: Об установлении праздника День Воздушного флота России)
  10. ^ Decree 949 of 29 August 1997: "On establishing the Day of the Air Force" (Russian: Об установлении Дня Военно-воздушных сил) and a revision 549 of 31 May 2006.
  11. ^ Inc, Time (1949-06-20). LIFE. - May Day of 1947
  12. ^ a b "Soviet and Russian Bombers". Retrieved 31 July 2012. - May Day of 1954.
  13. ^ Avis, George (1987). The Making of the Soviet citizen: Character formation and civic training in Soviet education. ISBN 978-0-7099-5105-6.
  14. ^ When it was established on 20 February 1975 the commemoration day was set for 11 April but it changed to the second Sunday of April following the decree of 1 October 1980.
  15. ^ "RUSSIA: Hero's Return". Time. November 17, 1952.
  16. ^ a b Hirschberg, Michael J (October 1997). Soviet V/STOL aircraft: The struggle for a shipborne combat capability. ISBN 978-1-56347-248-0.
  17. ^ Dow, James (1997). The Arrow (2nd ed.). Toronto: James Lorimer. p. 67. ISBN 1-55028-554-8.
  18. ^ a b c Jane's All The World's Aircraft. 1975–1976. pp. 488, 494–521. ISBN 0-354-00521-9.