The Soviet-era produced vast numbers of aircraft but very few of them have garnered much respect in the Western world. One that definitely has is the Ilyushin IL-76, although admittedly it is a military type first and a civilian aircraft second. NATO gave it the codename 'Candid' and though far from a looker it has proven its worth over the years as a very effective all purpose transport aircraft - almost like a pure-jet Hercules. The type first flew in March 1971 and was designed as an Antonov AN-12 replacement capable of operating into unprepared airstrips in inhospitable regions and weather.
Well over 900 aircraft were produced with production running into the late 1990s after a service entry in 1974. The majority of aircraft were manufactured in Tashkent in what is now Uzbekistan. Over 80 have seen service with Aeroflot since 1976 and many more with the Soviet Air Force – often themselves carrying Aeroflot colours. Indeed the type was the workhorse of the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan accounting for 89% of troops and 74% of cargo lifted into the nation between 1979 and 91. By 2006 the Soviet Air Force still operated over 200 aircraft.
CCCP-76660 was originally built in 1985 but in 1996 became part of the Ukrainian Air Force as 76660. By 2013 she was stored in poor condition. Note the gun turret position in the tail.
The Polar Aviation Division of Aeroflot operated in the far north of Russia and its aircraft were typically painted in red to enable easy identification against the snow covered landscape.
This IL-76, CCCP-76479, was delivered in 1985 wearing the red Polar colours and wasn’t repainted into standard Aeroflot blue until well into the 90s by which time she was RA-76479. In the late 1980s she was one of three aircraft leased to Air India for a time and regularly seen at Bombay. Information is a bit hard to find but she may have been the only IL-76 to wear the red scheme.
She was sold onto the Moldovan register as ER-IBK with Tiramavia and later Jet Stream. The Moldovan authorities clamped down on dodgy airlines operating in the Middle East and removed their AOC a year later and she passed to Gomelavia of Belarus in August 2007 with the registration EW-264TH. A year later she was sold to the Kazakhstani Eastern Express, as UP-I7628, though fundamentally she still wears her Aeroflot scheme albeit without titles or flag.
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I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: