Thursday, 25 August 2016

Planes and trains on pedestals and plinths

The Soviet Union and the countries of the Soviet Bloc produced vast fleets of combat aircraft in the belief that they could overcome the West by sheer force of numbers. Luckily for civilisation, this did not happen. By the early 1980s, numerical inferiority was more than made up for by superior avionics and computer-guided weapons systems (as seen over the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon in 1982, when Israeli F-15s and F-16s shot 100 Syrian MiGs out of the skies for no Israeli losses).

By the end of the decade, the Cold War was over, the the former Soviet Bloc, Poland included, was left with thousands of unwanted jet fighters. Some had long found new uses, such as this Lim-2, a Polish licence-built MiG 15 (below). Placed on a pedestal in Warka, it serves as a war memorial, dating back to 23 August 1969. [The 30th anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, but I'm sure that's not what the communists wanted to achieve by this act. Or did they...?]

Below: a bit of Photoshoppery and the MiG 15 takes to the air.

Below: no Photoshop involved (other than anticlockwise rotation). All I'll say is that this Ty2 Kreigslok locomotive is a well-known landmark in Wrocław.

Below: in much scruffier state, this Lim-5 (Polish licence-built MiG 17) graces a square in Nowe Miasto nad Pilicą. The pedestal is covered with advertising bills.

Below: a MiG 21 standing in a field on the western edge of the village of Nowa Brzeżnica on the DK42. Neither the aircraft, nor the house in the background, are present in the Google Street View imagery from September 2013.

Below: at Broniszew, on the S7 between Białobrzegi and Grójec heading north towards Warsaw, at the petrol station and Scottish restaurant, stands a Sukhoi Su-22 Fitter, a variable-geometry ground-attack fighter. Still in service (as of 2016) with the Polish Air Force.

Below: A plane that's closer to my heart - the Polish- designed and built Iskra jet trainer. Fifty years ago, on holiday in Poland, I stuck together a 1/72 scale plastic model of the PZL TS-11 Iskra (I can still smell the glue now!) Today, half a century on, the Iskra is still flying, the aircraft used by the Polish Air Force's Biało-Czerwone Iskry aerobatic team. This one is on a plinth in Łask, 30km south-west of Łódź, now home to the F-16s of Poland's 10th Tactical Squadron.

Below: bonus pic for rail enthusiasts: a nicely preserved Px48 narrow-gauge steam engine with period carriage, in Przaska, further west along the DK42. The Google Street View imagery from September 2013 shows the loco in light grey primer, minus its headlamps!

There's another Px48, though not so nice, and without a carriage, in Zduńska Wola (DK14, ul Łaska, just past the railway viaduct heading west).

This time four years ago:
Twilight, ul. Karczunkowska

This time seven years ago:
First hints of autumn in the air

This time eight years ago:
Slovakia - we were not impressed

This time nine years ago:
Jeziorki - late August cultivation

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