Normally, I would not mark the Lunar New Year. However, 2022 is a bit different as it is the Year of the Tiger.
Tigers are a very common motif for air force squadrons the world over. In particular is the NATO Tiger Association; a group of squadrons from the air forces of NATO nations that are bound together by having tigers in their unit heraldry.
To bring in the Lunar New Year of 2022, I’m happy to share with you a selection of pictures I’ve taken of NATO military aircraft from “Tiger” squadrons. Mostly, they are Czech air force machines, but there are also Austrian, Belgian, Hungarian and Slovak jets in the mix:
Long term followers of Pickled Wings will know I’m a big supporter of the Kunovice Air Museum in the south-east of the Czech Republic.
I try to visit it at least once a year and keep my existing article about it updated.
The turnaround the museum has made over the past decade or so from a languishing collection of faded aircraft to a very respectable facility has been nothing short of astounding and a true joy to witness.
Every year, they make new progress and there is always something new to see. I paid my 2021 visit to them on September 26. Here’s some of what was new:
A Bridge to Brno
In 2020, the museum entered a partnership withthe Brno Technical museum.
The partnership allows for the loan of aircraft between the museums as well as access to restoration facilities between them.
In 2021, a late model MiG-21 fighter jet and a Yakovlev Yak-40 transport from the Brno Technical Museum were put on display in Kunovice in exchange for an early production model of a Let L-410 Turbolet from the Kunovice collection going on display in Brno.
Prior to the exchange, the MiG-21 and Let L-410 were cleaned up and restored. The Yak-40 was delivered directly from its retirement from the Czech air force to Kunovice.
A Stairway from Pardubice
A quite welcome addition to the Kunovice collection in 2021 was an airstairs vehicle donated by the airport in Pardubice, in the central part of the country.
The airstairs replace a rather shaky and less than aesthetic set of metal stairs that used to be in place to allow visitors to board the museum’s Avia Av-14 transport.
The new airstairs not only feel much more solid when climbing up and down, they also are exactly the sort of airstairs that would have been used with the Avia Av-14 when it was in service. As such, they improve the historic feel of the aircraft on display tremendously.
Little Things Mean a Lot
Not all changes are as visible as two full aircraft and an airport vehicle, sometimes you need to look to see some of the smaller changes.
Once such change is the museum’s move to secure a set of bombs used by aircraft of the Czechoslovak, and later Czech, air forces to their display stand with metal brackets and straps.
The museum has gone to much effort to restore the bombs over the years, so this move is certainly a prudent one in order to keep the bombs from being moved around, either accidentally or intentionally, by visitors.
A Look to 2022
Even before the 2021 season is over for the museum, we are getting a hint of exciting developments.
In September of 2021, the museum signed and agreement with LOM Praha that will see a MiG-23 fighter currently on display at the LOM Praha offices in Prague loaned to the museum.
The plan is for museum personnel to dismantle the aircraft and transport it to Kunovice, where it will be repaired and restored in the off season and then put on display with the museum’s other MiG fighters in spring of 2022.
LOM Praha is an aircraft maintenance, overhaul and modernization company that also is involved in flight training.
Please follow this link to visit my existing article about the museum.