The Ilyushin Il-14 Revisited

A well restored Il-14 on display in Budapest Hungary in 2015

Today, I revisited one of my older entries on the blog, that of the Ilyushin Il-14. What was initially going to be the updating of a few pictures and the addition of a couple of new links became a complete rewrite of a couple of sections.

I think the article is better for the changes and I hope you’ll feel the same:

A Moment for Paris


This morning, the aftermath of lastnight’s attacks in five locations accross Paris are being transmitted around the world for all to see.

Needless to say, with the attacks in January of this year, 2015 has been a very difficult year for Paris and France in general. No people of any city or town anywhere, much less those in a developed and civilized nation, should see such acts of terrorism occuring in their homeland or live under the pall of fear such events create.

On behalf of Pickled Wings and its readership, I extend deepest condolences to the people of Paris and France, with the sincerest hope that this is the last such event they will be subjected to.

We mourn with you.

A Good Read – “Flying to Norway, Grounded in Burma”

I just finished reading “Flying to Norway, Grounded in Burma” by Goronwy ‘Gron’ Edwards DFC and enjoyed it very much.

The author became a tremendously experienced pilot in the RAF during the Second World War and his personal flight log included a wider variety of aircraft than many other pilots could lay claim to having flown. This experience is well covered through the length and breadth of the book, the reader is given respectable and accessible insight into the flying qualities af several machines.

One thing that sets this book apart from a lot of books about the RAF during the period is that it covers aspects of RAF activities in Coastal Command and operations in India and Burma. If you want to read RAF stories that don’t centre on Fighter Command and Bomber Command operations in the European Theatre, this is a very good book to consider.

Edwards started his RAF flying career in Coastal Command flying Avro Ansons and then Lockheed Hudsons, both less written about aircraft types. The author gives very good insight into working and flying with both types as well as taking the Hudson into combat against German aircraft and shipping.

From Coastal Command, Edwards spent a bit of time as in instructor at a navigational school before qualifying as a Specialist Armament Officer and being posted to India and Burma. this section of the book gives a good overview of what operations in Burma could be like.

The Author’s writing style has a very good balance of humour and poignancy and is quite accessible to the general interest reader as well as being satisfying to the more informed reader on the subject.

I can’t recommend this one enough.

You can find it available in both hardcover and electronic versions:

Aeropark Museum – Budapest, Hungary

An Ilyushin Il-14 on display at Aeropark
An Ilyushin Il-14 on display at Aeropark

A Time Capsule by the Terminal

In October of 2015, I had the chance to visit the Aeropark Museum next to terminal 2B at Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport.

Established in 1988 and at its current location since 1991, Aeropark is a compact museum that focuses on preserving the history of Hungary’s former national airline, Malév. Through a collection of around a dozen aircraft and assorted ground support vehicles representing all eras of that airline’s existence, the museum represents the former airline very well indeed.

In my experience of visiting outdoor aviation museums, I was struck by the cleanliness and overall good condition visible in most of the aircraft on display at Aeropark. only one or two looked extremely faded and weathered and none of them looked like they were on the verge of falling apart, in fact, I saw very little corrosion evident on any of them. This is particularly unusual for aircraft constantly exposed to the elements and testament to the care and passion of Aeropark volunteers.

A Lisunov Li-2; the first airliner used by the Hungarian state airline when it was established in 1946.
A Lisunov Li-2; the first airliner used by the Hungarian state airline when it was established in 1946.

1946-2012: When Hungary had Wings

The beginnings of a national Hungarian airline began shortly after the end of the Second World War with the establishment of Maszovlet (Hungarian-Soviet Civil Air Transport Joint Stock Company) in 1946. The airline started with a fleet of Lisunov Li-2 airliners and a handful of Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes used as mail planes.

The airline’s name was changed to Malév in 1954 after Hungary acquired all the Soviet stocks and full control over the airline operations. By the late 1950s, the airline was replacing their Li-2 fleet with Ilyushin Il-14 aircraft. By the mid 1960s, Malév had taken on the larger Ilyushin Il-18 turboprop airliner. Before the 1960s were out, the airline had entered the jet transport age with the Tupolev Tu-134.

An Ilyushin Il-18, one of two in the Aeropark collection.
An Ilyushin Il-18, one of two in the Aeropark collection.

By the early 1970s, the Tupolev Tu-154 tri-jet had entered the Malév fleet and extended the airline’s reach considerably.

Significantly, in 1988, Malév became the first carrier among the then still Socialist European countries to operate a western designed and built aircraft when they began taking deliveries of the Boeing 737-200. By this time, they had also made progress in retiring several of the Soviet aircraft from their fleet.

Through the 1990s and early 2000s, Malév steadily replaced their remaining Soviet aircraft with western types. With the retirement of their last Tu-154 in 2001, the face of the airline was fully composed of western aircraft.

Aeropark's Tupolev Tu-134.
Aeropark’s Tupolev Tu-134.

Privatisation in 2007 marked a change in the fortunes of Malév. Through a succession of owners, the airline found itself renationalised in 2010 and receiving illegal financial aid from the Hungarian government.

In the wake of a European Union investigation and ruling, the airline was ordered to return the money to the Hungarian government; a move which thrust the carrier into financial ruin and heavy debt.

Malév was declared bankrupt and insolvent in February of 2012. At the time of writing, Hungary remains without a national airline.

The mighty Tupolev Tu-154, the largest aircraft in the  Aeropark collection.
The mighty Tupolev Tu-154, the largest aircraft in the Aeropark collection.

A Visit to Aeropark

Beyond the good condition of the aircraft on display, there is a good amount of space between them, this makes it easy to isolate a particular aircraft for a photograph with minimal interference from other aircraft. It also allows visitors to space themselves out enough to not get in each others’ way.

One can walk right up to all the aircraft and examine them closely. Exhibits which the museum does not want touched are clearly labeled as such.

On the day I visited, a guide who spoke reasonable English was on hand opening several of the aircraft for visitors to see the cockpits and other interior details. The aircraft cockpits are largely intact and complete if a bit worn in places from their long service lives. The details and transitions in technology between the aircraft is quite absorbing to take in.

For its tight subject focus on Malév and making sure all aircraft in the collection relate to that, Aeropark really is a unique museum that’s very much worth a visit if you’re in Budapest or the near vicinity.

The pilot and co-pilot stations of the Tupolev Tu-154.
The pilot and co-pilot stations of the Tupolev Tu-154.

Visiting Aeropark and Learning More

Aeropark is quite straightforward to reach via Budapest’s well organised public transportation system. A bus runs directly to the airport from the Kőbánya-Kispest metro station at regular intervals and the museum is a short walk along a well prepared pedestrian pavement from the terminal building.

The museum visiting hours are variable depending on the season.

This is a link to the Aeropark website. While it is only in Hungarian, I have found that it responds reasonably well to translation into English through online translator functions:

Soko J-22 and Avioane Craiova IAR 93 – Of Eagles and Vultures

An NJ-22 Orao in the markings of the Serbian air force. Seen in Brno, Czech Republic in 2005.
An NJ-22 Orao in the markings of the Serbian air force. Seen in Brno, Czech Republic in 2005.

A Striker out of Alignment

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the former Yugoslavia faced the pressing problem of finding a replacement for its remaining fleet of obsolete American made Republic F-84 Thunderjet fighters as well as the domestically produced Soko J-21 Jastreb light strike aircraft which had partially replaced the Republic jet in Yugoslav service.

The idea of producing the new aircraft domestically appealed to Josip Broz Tito, then president of Yugoslavia, and was a preferable course of action owing to Yugoslavia’s membership in the Non-Aligned Movement which he helped establish in 1961. The initial vision was that the new aircraft could be an option for other non-aligned nations to consider in favour of designs coming from NATO or Warsaw Pact countries.

While the domestic aircraft producer, Soko, had experience building their own aircraft and license producing machines by foreign companies; the development and production costs of a more advanced, potentially supersonic type were simply beyond the country’s abilities to carry alone. A partner had to be found to share the load.

A Partner Found and a Compromise Made

A partner for the project was found in Romania. The then president of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu, shared Tito’s enthusiasm for such a project as the new aircraft represented and was quick to agree to a share in it. The project would serve that nation well on two fronts as it would not only give them much needed experience and credibility in modern aircraft design, the resulting aircraft would provide them with a replacement for ther fleets of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 and MiG-17 fighters.

In 1971, the YuRom joint venture was formalized between the two nations with research and development began in earnest shortly after. Two problems delayed development of the new aircraft: Romania’s lesser degree of experience in aeronautical design, Avioane Craiova had been set up in 1972 specifically to carry Romania’s share in the project, and difficulty developing an effective afterburner for the Rolls Royce Viper engine which had been chosen for the new machine. The latter problem proved to be a constant one for the aircraft throughout its development and, with the exception of one supersonic flight done in a shallow dive in 1984, the aircraft remained firmly subsonic in performance.

The Romanian and Yugoslav prototypes had simultaneous maiden flights in late October of 1974. However, the flight development program was marked with delays from accidents and a great deal of experimentation with wing design options. Before the 1970s were out, three of the Romanian pre-production aircraft and one of the Yugoslav ones had been lost in crashes. Engine problems had been a factor in one crash while tail flutter, a situation in which part or all of the tail vibrates to structural failure, was the cause of two of the other crashes.

Another view of the  NJ-22 Orao at Brno in 2005.
Another view of the NJ-22 Orao at Brno in 2005.

Into Uniform

The new aircraft entered Yugoslav air force service as the Soko J-22 Orao (Eagle) in 1978 while its Romanian counterpart, the IAR 93 Vultur (Vulture) entered its respective country’s air force the following year.

The aircraft was a robust and relatively straight forward machine to maintain with no exotic avionics or radar. It was designed to be operable from austere field conditions and capable of taking off and landing from dirt or grass strips if need be. In these qualities, and somewhat in appearance, the aircraft could be seen as something of a counterpart to the Anglo-French Sepecat Jaguar strike aircraft whch had been developed and put into service on a slightly earlier timescale.

As one might expect of a machine developed outside of the superpower nations, produced in relatively small numbers and served only a modest number of air arms; the J-22 and IAR-93 led largely uneventful and unremarkable service lives. In the case of the J-22, however, a baptism of fire would come with the fall of Socialism in 1989 which precipitated the breakup of Yugoslavia and the begining of the Yugoslav wars which lasted from 1991 to 2001.

Initially operating under the jurisdiction of the Yugoslav air force, until that body was disolved in 1992, J-22s were used against targets in Croatia.

The Bosnian War (1992-1995) resulted in a number of former Yugoslav J-22s falling into the possession of the Republika Srpska air force.

The aircraft were used in a series of actions against the Kosovo Liberation Army in 1999.

The effect that the Yugoslav wars and the United Nations embargoes that accompanied them had on the aircraft and its creators was an excercise in contrasts:

Romania ceased production of the IAR-93 in 1992 and the type was completely retired from Romanian service by 1998. Avioane Craiova still exisits today as an aircraft manufacturer; producing its own IAR-99 jet trainer and providing a diverse selection of aviation services.

The J-22 Orao still flies in limited numbers with the Serbian air force. Soko aircraft factories were regularly targeted and attacked during the Yugoslav wars and the company was effectively out of the aircraft production business in the early 1990s as a result. Some of the company’s aviation production assets were relocated to the facilities of UTVA, another Yugoslav aircraft manufacturer that had worked very closely with Soko on the J-22.

Soko still exists today, but was substantially restructured in the late 1990s. Its aircraft division was not restarted and their present business seems to focus on refrigeration and air conditioning equipment.

What Remains and Learning More

Your chances of seeing a J-22 flying outside of Serbia are likely quite remote due to the small number still active, their advancing age and their relatively rare airshow appearances.

As of 2015, there are around 15 IAR-93 aircraft preserved in museums around Romania as well as examples preserved in Slovakia and Slovenia.

A similar number of J-22 Oraos are preserved in Museums around Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This link will take you to a summary of the J-22 at the Aeronautical Museum of Belgrade, Serbia:

This is the IAR-93 page at the Avioane Craiova website:

This page contains a photogallery of derelict IAR-93s in Romania in 2006:

199. Show Time!

Source: 199. Show Time!

A Dream Come to Life!

On October 3, 2015, a labour of love of three brothers in the UK to build a flying replica of the Bristol Scout fighter their grandfather flew in the First World War came to life and took to the air at the legendary Old Warden aerodrome.

I’ve been quietly following their blog about constructing the aircraft and it’s been quite an education to say the least with regards to period aircraft construction techniques.

Take some time to enjoy the video clips of the flight in the link above and then go to the blog page and spend even more time taking in the whole construction process.

A New Feature at Pickled Wings – The Bookshelf

Today, I’m introducing a new section to the blog that I call “The bookshelf”. You can find it in the main menu at the top of the page.

The Bookshelf will contain a list of books on aspects of aviation that I feel may be of interest to anyone wishing to do further reading on that subject.

The list will grow and be ammended as I read and review the books within it and newer editions of them, when and if they become available.

I hope you will visit the new section often and find it useful.