My relationship with the Mil Mi-6 led me to this Wikimedia photo of a time-worn Mi-6 in Riga airport.

In the photo there are the Mi-6, a Skoda Fabia, some picnic equipment, other stuff and a supersonic jet fighter (is it really a jet fighter?) with a large, red "43" on the nose. Here it is a detail from the wikimedia photo

detail of Wikimedia photo

What airplane is the "43" red?

Bonus points for the white "27" on the left (but it's difficult because you have just a detail of the nose) and the jet bomber (?) on the right, partly hidden by the red metal ladder.

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    $\begingroup$ The white-nosed glider below the Su-7BKL ("27") is a L-13 Blanik. $\endgroup$ – Party Ark Dec 23 '19 at 13:31
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    $\begingroup$ I have been misguided into asking from the junkyard appearance in the photo. If I had imagined that it is instead the Riga Museum of Aviation, with a well organized site... $\endgroup$ – gboffi Dec 23 '19 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ @gboffi it is somewhat junkyard-like, and in my initial search I found some Tripadvisor reviews calling it exactly that. It may have improved a bit in the years since, however. $\endgroup$ – AEhere supports Monica Dec 23 '19 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ it's amazing what a telephoto lens can do to a scene. $\endgroup$ – Jasen Dec 24 '19 at 0:33

An Su-7U. I initially confused it with a Mig-21 and later with an Su-17 due to the similar nose cone, but you can see the exact airframe on the Museum's website:

enter image description here

The wing fences are a giveaway, as is the tail shape and slightly less prominent intake cone.

From the museum website:

At the beginning of 1960's Sukhoi Design Bureau finished to develop its new fighter-bomber Su-7B («Fitter») and another important task arised — to make two-seat training variant of this type. This objective was urgent because Su-7B was hard to control, especially on landing and critical flight stages. Two-seater, designated Su-7U («Moujik»), destined to make training process easier and quicker for pilots.

Nevertheless Sukhoi team managed to release first Su-7U prototype only in October, 1965 due to its high workload connected with evaluation of Su-7B and another projects. Trainer was a bit longer than Su-7B, also was unmounted one of the two cannons in order to reduce weight. The rest of the armament remained mostly the same. Crew seats were located behind each other under the separate canopies. Rear canopy was equipped with large retractable mirror to improve instructor's field of view on take-off or landing. Also instructor had full set of instruments and controls and was able to interfere in flight whenever he decided. Emergency ejection system allowed crew to leave aircraft in dangerous situations separately and safely.

Su-7U production commenced at Komsomolsk-na-Amure Aviation Factory in 1966 and continued till 1971, together with Su-7BKL and Su-7BMK manufacturing. Two-seater' export modification Su-7UMK was bought by Algeria, Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Iraq, Syria, North Korea, Poland, Czechoslovakia and took part in 1970-80's wars and conflicts. Soviet Air Force used Su-7U for very long time — till beginning of 1990's, because of its similar performance with Su-7B's successor Su-17.

Museum's Su-7U serialled 43-red and has production number 2318.


"27" is a Su-7BKL "Fitter". The museum says:

In Su-7BKL was invented new wheels-and-ski landing gear, gunpowder accelerators, two-canopy breaking parachute, increased amount (six) of weapons pylons, upgraded bombsight. New gears were adopted for taxiing, take-off and landing on soft-surface aerodromes. Front gear received tyre with increased diameter and on main landing gear were installed small steel skis, together with wheels. During take-off or landing on hard surface were not working due to their suspension, not allowing to touch the runway. But they started to work when wheel became to deepen into soft soil. Skis helped to distribute pressure and not allowed wheels to get deeper and to brake aircraft movement.

Apparently it's been in Riga since the mid 1980s.

Su-27BKL source

  • $\begingroup$ It's a Su-7 as well as the "43" red, but in my photo "23" stays at least 50 cm lower, is it the different landing gear? $\endgroup$ – gboffi Dec 23 '19 at 13:59
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    $\begingroup$ If you look closely you'll see that the nosewheel of "43" is not on the ground, hence the discrepancy - it's sitting tail-heavy with its nose pointed upwards. $\endgroup$ – Party Ark Dec 23 '19 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ I looked closely, the nosewheel is not on the ground indeed... good catch. $\endgroup$ – gboffi Dec 23 '19 at 16:50

The aircraft behind is, I think, the more interesting of the aircraft, a Tu-22M1 Backfire, with its prominent refuelling probe.

It is the pride of the collection of the Riga air museum:

The bomber transferred to the museum in the early 90's. In the museum bomber drove in three tractors! And in the mid 90s, the Americans saw from the satellite to the territory of the Riga airport Tu-22M1, came and gutted the electronics and the nose of the bomber. Currently, the Tu-22M1 is in our museum and is the pride of the collection.

Tu-22M1 source

  • $\begingroup$ The yellow box text is gibberish, probably a machine translation. Does it imply that the Americans saw it from satellite, and then came and took the electronics out of its nose? Sounds unlikely, and now I am curious. $\endgroup$ – Mike Wise Dec 24 '19 at 11:34
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    $\begingroup$ @MikeWise: I agree that the translation is awful, but the story sounds at least vaguely plausible. Based on the timeline, I assume the bomber ended up in Riga in the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union. And I can believe some US intel clerk examining satellite imagery a few years later, spotting what looks like an ex-Soviet bomber sitting in now-friendly territory and suggesting that it be investigated. (Remember this was way before Google Maps, and indeed before Google; the Internet was still in its infancy, and the museum likely had no web page yet.) Details would be nice, though… $\endgroup$ – Ilmari Karonen Dec 24 '19 at 12:43
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    $\begingroup$ @MikeWise the russian version of the description at ru.airmuseum.lv/blog/tu-22m1 says the exact same thing, so while it's interesting if it's an accurate description of what happened, that's what the museum people are asserting. $\endgroup$ – Peteris Dec 24 '19 at 20:08

To me it looks like a Sukhoi jet bomber SU17, SU20 or SU22


Su-20 RB3 Su-20 RB3 taken from Wikimedia

  • $\begingroup$ @AEheresupportsMonica Could you please post in a comment your link to the Riga "Aviation Museum" that I had not the time to copy... $\endgroup$ – gboffi Dec 23 '19 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ I've rewritten my answer and found a better link from the museum itself. Note it's not an Su-17, but its predecessor. $\endgroup$ – AEhere supports Monica Dec 23 '19 at 13:23
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    $\begingroup$ @AEheresupportsMonica the "predecessor" of SU-17 is the SU-15 which has no air intake at the nose: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c3/… $\endgroup$ – Timothy Truckle Dec 23 '19 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ @TimothyTruckle predecessor in the sense that Sukhoi designed the 17 based on the 7. $\endgroup$ – AEhere supports Monica Dec 23 '19 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ @TimothyTruckle because the one in Riga is the U trainer version, see here: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ca/Su-7UMK-1998.jpg Also the 17 does not have strakes along the spine. $\endgroup$ – AEhere supports Monica Dec 23 '19 at 14:02

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