The Central Air Force Museum in Monino at the site of Monino Airfield 40km east of Moscow, Russia, is one of the world's largest aviation museums, and the largest for Russian aircraft. 173 aircraft and 127 aircraft engines are on display, and the museum also features collections of weapons, instruments, uniforms, artwork, and other air-related items. A library containing books, films, and photos is also accessible to visitors. Tours are given by ex-pilots.

The museum opened its doors in 1958. Prior to 2001, the museum was closed to the public, because of the display of classified prototypes from the era of the former Soviet Union. These exhibits are what make the museum so special today.
The museum is located next to the Military Academy named after Yu. A. Gagarin.

The museum is open from 9:30am until 1:00pm and 2:30pm until 5:00pm weekdays except Wednesdays, and from 9.30am until 2:00pm Saturdays. The Museum is closed on Sundays and Wednesdays. Since the museum is situated on the territory of a military division (Gagarin Air Force Academy), all visitors must pass the entrance gate to the military complex. Special permission to visit is no longer required (Summer 2006).

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The Monino museum is a must for all aviation enthusiasts. It has a large inventory of aircrafts and helicopters on display. I don’t know about the entry price, because I visited the museum as part of and aviation tour. I must warn the photographers that a lot of aircraft are parked tightly together, which makes clean side-on pictures almost impossible. Most a/c are parked outside, however there are some building which contain a/c of the early aviation models.

When you enter the museum, you are greeted by the giant monstrous Mi-12 Homer double rotor helicopter. To me it is something straight out of a science fiction magazine!

The Soviet made Mil Mi-12 (Also known as the V-12, NATO reporting name "Homer") is the largest helicopter ever built. The Mi-12 features the only two-rotor transverse scheme ever built by Mil eliminating the need for a tail rotor. The twin engines were taken together with the rotors from the Mil Mi-6 and duplicated on the Mi-12. Development came about as a need for a heavy lift helicopter capable of carrying major missile components. Production began on the Mi-12 prototype in 1965 with the goal of lifting no less than 30,000 kg, and it flew first on July 10, 1968. In February 1969, the prototype lifted a 31,030 kg payload to 2,951m (9,682 feet). On August 6, 1969, the Mi-12 lifted 44,205 kg (88,636 lb) to a height of 2,255m (7,398 feet), a world record. Another Mi-12 with the registration number CCCP-21142 / H-833 was built and shown around Europe including at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget in 1971. Despite this, the helicopter did not meet its design specifications and the program was canceled with only two aircraft built. Some sources mention a third MI-12 prototype, which crashed during testing, but this has never been confirmed by official sources. One confirmed accident is a hard landing during first flight, which bent the front wheel; the aircraft was repaired and continued to fly afterwards.

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Monino is a huge place and contains numerous exotic Russian designs. There are many insect like helicopters and strange thunderbirds like jets. For me, one of the highlights was the Tupolev Tu-114 Rossiya airliner.

The Tupolev Tu-114 Rossiya (Russian: ?y-114) (NATO reporting name Cleat) is a turboprop powered long-range airliner designed by the Tupolev design bureau. In response to a demand from the Soviet Civil Aviation Authority for a long range passenger aircraft, the Tupolev Design Bureau was ordered in 1955 to create an aircraft that had a range of 8,000 kilometers. Given the technology available at that time, the best starting point was the existing Tu-95 bomber. An interim design, originally designated Tu-95P (p for Passenger), later known as the Tu-116, was a simple adaptation of the existing Tu-95 bomber. Two Tu-116s were built, and were used to pioneer some of the routes and operational procedures for the dedicated passenger version, to be known as the Tu-114.

The Tu-114 used the basic wing, empennage, landing gear, and power-plants of the Tu-95 bomber, mated to a totally new pressurized fuselage of much larger diameter. To cope with its higher weights, increased landing flap surface area was required, and the flap chord was increased compared to the bomber's flaps. The wing was mounted low on the fuselage, giving the Tu-114 a much higher stance on its landing gear than the bomber. As a result a new nose landing gear strut was required, although the main gear remained unchanged. Part of the Tu-114's bomber heritage remained in the navigator's glass nose.

The production version originally seated 170 passengers, with an additional dining salon (sometimes used as regular seating) and sleeping area. Later, the sleeping area was converted to normal seating, raising the capacity to 200 passengers. Initially it was used on the main international routes for Aeroflot, but when the Ilyushin Il-62 started to appear, it was relegated to domestic flights. The main problem for these domestic operations was the large amount of runway needed for takeoff and landing.

The Tu-114 had a fairly short commercial service life, being operated on regular flights from 1962 to 1976. While in service the plane was known for its reliability, speed and fuel economy, as it used less fuel than the Ilyushin Il-62 that replaced it.

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Another highlight was theTu-144 supersonic airliner which was parked near the edge of the large display area. Unfortunately they way its parked it is impossible to make good pictures.

The Tupolev Tu-144 was the first supersonic transport aircraft (SST), constructed under the direction of the Soviet Tupolev design bureau headed by Alexei Tupolev. Some western observers and popular news media nicknamed the plane Concordski (sometimes Konkordski), as the Tu-144 was similar in shape to Concorde, even though it was a very different aircraft. A prototype first flew on 31 December 1968 near Moscow, two months before Concorde. The Tu-144 first broke the sound barrier on 5 June 1969, and on 15 July 1969 it became the first commercial transport to exceed Mach 2, and was at the time the fastest commercial airliner. The aircraft had two major crashes, and never sold commercially outside Russia. Additionally it was unsuccessful at finding a market within the Soviet Union. The aircraft was part of the development of supersonic aircraft within Tupolev; other supersonic aircraft such as the Tu-160 bomber were more successful.

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia