Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

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Mad Dan
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Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by Mad Dan »

The next one in this series is a bit of a misnomer - as the following sequence of shots were actually all taken from inside the fence, rather than outside. It wasn't for lack of trying, I might add - but despite several attempts I was never fortunate enough to catch any action at Finow while the resident 787 Fighter Regiment was still operational. Indeed, as far as the 787th is concerned, I left it very late in the day and only succeeded in photographing aircraft of this unit when they departed from Germany on 11 May 1993. I am sure that there are some who were luckier than I and who did get to shoot here on a normal day - how about it, Berry? I know you managed to get some action at Finow.

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Anyway, with news about departures from the Russian bases always rather hard to come by in a timely fashion, this involved another one of those epic last-minute expeditions from London via the Dover-Calais ferry, followed by the long haul across Europe to Finow, which was situated quite close to Berlin. Unlike some other departures, this one took place on a quite glorious day, with wall-to-wall sunshine in evidence. Access to the base was gained on payment of the usual modest admittance fee - I think it was five marks each, but it might have been a bit more than that. Whatever, it was well worth it. Unfortunately, access to the flight line was denied, but there was an area close to the taxiway at the eastern end of the base that presented plenty of scope for photography - and, amazingly, the sun was in just the right place...

The first image shows the Finow flight line shortly before the first aircraft left, while the second shows one of the 30 MiG-29s that resided here heading out past the flightline, which also contained three MiG-23UB two-seaters. One of the ubiquitous scarecrows is also visble, this being a particularly colourful example of the genre...

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On this occasion, the first aircraft to leave were a pair of MiG-29UB 'Fulcrum-B' two-seaters, which were probably crewed by senior personnel of the 787th. White 11 was typical, the other being White 33.

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These were followed by 28 examples of the Fulcrum-C or 'Fatback' as it was familiarly known in recognition of the humped profile when compared with the original Fulcrum-A. While some bases possessed a mix of Fulcrum-As and Fulcrum-Cs, Finow used only the latter version (excluding the trainers) and its MiG-29s were allocated codes (Bort numbers) in two separate ranges, specifically White 01 to White 10 consecutively and a second range occupying most of the White 68 to White 89 sequence (although there were a few omissions). As far as I can remember, once the MiG-29UBs had gone, the Fulcrum-Cs went in pairs in numerical order of their codes. White 07 is about to take the runway, having being given last chance checks by the technician visible at the left.

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White 09 would have been the lead aircraft of the next pair and is also seen as it moved out to the runway, with smoke trails from the previous two being faintly visible in the distance...

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I have no idea if the aircraft that used codes from 68 onwards were to a different standard, but it is possible that they may have been, as all of them also carried underwing auxiliary fuel tanks, unlike White 01 to White 10. White 68 is typical of these Fulcrum-Cs.

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A convenient hillock (I said hillock...) provided an elevated viewpoint for White 72, which is seen heading for last chance as a pair of Fulcrums wait in the background to begin their take-off roll. Like quite a few of the Finow aircraft, White 72 carried a different Bort number (67) on the fin tips for some reason.

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Part of the flight line is visible to the right of this head-on shot on my 300 mm lens of White 77 moving out to leave. The main air inlet doors are shut to avoid possible FOD ingestion, with auxiliary inlets on the upper surfaces providing air to the engines. One of the Russians nearby became a little agitated while I was taking this shot, evidently concerned that I wasn't going to move out of the way, but there was more than enough time to get this and then switch to a smaller lens for some closer shots (no 120-400 zoom for me in those days - it was all fixed focal length stuff). The centreline fuel tank between the engine bays is also evident in this view.

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A technician lounges in the background as White 80 (70 on fin tip) awaits its turn to depart from Finow, this being one of the final few Fulcrums to go.

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A somewhat enthusiastic throttle manipulation resulted in a cloud of black smoke being emitted by White 87 (67 on fin tip) as it left the last chance check area.

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And rather more smoke is evident in this view of a pair of Fulcrums beginning their take-off roll. As you can see, it was possible to get quite close to the runway end...

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Bringing up the rear were the Flogger-Cs that still flew with the 787th and I make no apology for including shots of all three of these handsome beasts. All were in the usual MiG-23/27 ferry configuration with three auxiliary tanks. Red 20 went first...

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Followed by Red 22...

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And then Blue 62...

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The final pair of aircraft to go were MiG-23UBs Red 22 and Blue 62, with the latter claiming the distinction of being the last fighter to leave Finow - getting airborne at exactly 1136 local time.

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Last edited by Mad Dan on Tue 11 Nov 2008, 11:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by skippyscage »

superb! love the commentry as well :clap:

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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by APG »

I can never tire of looking at these threads, cracking shots yet again.

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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by Jonesy »

Another corker of a thread. Anything with a red star on the tail floats my boat.

The noise must've been fantastic.
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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by TonyO »

Another cool thread Eccles, your comment about the fuel-tank equipped MiG-29C reminds me that it is still unusual even now to see a 29 with tanks.

Now tell me, are we going to have a topic on Gross Dolln? Brandis?
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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by Mad Dan »

I thought a topic was a chocolate bar, Tony...

Templin - certainly. Had two good flying days there and was also present when the 20th APIB tipped out in April 1994, so got to shoot about 35 Su-17s over the three visits. Can't do Brandis, I'm sorry to report - I never got there, but did get a fair few of the Su-25s at Demmin-Tutow (which is on the list to be done one of these weeks).
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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by DeanW »

Another great thread. Looking forward to more!

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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by IanH »

Top draw 'young' man. Still remember reading your feature in the old' Av News' from x years ago. Infact I think I still have a copy. Hope all ok. Regards, ian

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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by AMB »

Here we go again! Another epic illustrated description. Well done 'Dan' - always love your posts!! Can I have a bound copy?
Adrian

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Mad Dan
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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by Mad Dan »

Thanks Ian - I remember that series of articles well. There were four in all - and I greatly enjoyed writing them, though not half as much as I enjoyed researching them in the first place...

And thanks to you too, Adrian... If I ever get around to doing some kind of memoirs volume, you can rest assured that East Germany will figure prominently. In the meantime, though, there are no bound copies to be had.
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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by TonyO »

Mad Dan wrote:I thought a topic was a chocolate bar, Tony...

Templin - certainly. Had two good flying days there and was also present when the 20th APIB tipped out in April 1994, so got to shoot about 35 Su-17s over the three visits. Can't do Brandis, I'm sorry to report - I never got there, but did get a fair few of the Su-25s at Demmin-Tutow (which is on the list to be done one of these weeks).


Templin was one that always intrigued me because of the layout, a main runway and then a secondary right into the forest, did any of the bases you visited have gates onto the roads or autobahns so that the jets could use those as runways?
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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by Mad Dan »

I'm not aware of any of the Russian bases having that - but I seem to recall that Laage did have a spur that led out to the adjacent autobahn - and there were certainly hard standings on the autobahn very close to Laage, which were used by combat aircraft. I think they subsequently provided a sound foundation for petrol stations and service areas. As for Templin, Chris and I went for a spin down the secondary runway in his Astra - but failed to get airborne! There was also a sneaky back way into the base down at the end of that runway - a track disappeared into the woods and emerged onto a road some distance away. Nice to know, but wouldn't have been a lot of use when they were flying, as it was about as far from the prevailing end as it was possible to get. In fact, position 'A' for photography at Templin was actually inside the base perimeter in a sort of bowl-shaped recess in the ground and Su-17s were just perfect on 135mm (it may have been 200mm) telephoto. This recess provided good cover from any Russians who happened to be in the vicinity, such as those who manned radar facilities quite close by.
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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by Koen L »

Another interesting selection, keep them coming please! :clap:

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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by flying figgis »

These are just amazing!! :clap:
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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by F-86 »

Yet another great thread, thanks for sharing these treats. :clap: :clap:

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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by Bobman »

Very nice to see those old dino's. We want more.

Bob

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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by dunny »

Love looking at these threads, please keep 'em coming!

Cheers,
Paul

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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by Davef68 »

Like Ian, I well remember enviously reading your old Av News articles - a once in a lifetime opportunnity. If we'd had digital cameras and the WWW in those days, you'd probably wouldn't have been able to do it - can you imagine 1000s of enthusiasts invading?

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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by CH2 »

A great series in all, many thanks for the excellent posts.
Cheers,

Chris

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Mad Dan
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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by Mad Dan »

I didn't think there was anyone on here who was old enough to remember those articles - apart from Ian, that is. And he really ought to be known as Methuselah!!!

As for 1000s of enthusiasts, I rather doubt it - the number-crunchers shunned that stuff, 'cos "it doesn't have proper numbers"...as was once said to me... OK, there were no digital cameras about - but I reckon that Kodachrome 64 was a pretty good substitute. The web might well have made a difference though, but one of the problems was getting confirmation of departure dates - which often resulted in a very hasty, last-minute dash, as I have mentioned before. It was sometimes just a matter of hours - and getting from London to Dover and then across the Channel and then across a sizeable chunk of Europe overnight wasn't exactly a bundle of laughs...
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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by Chuck »

As with Mad Dan's post featuring Welzow, I would like to post some shots from Finow as well. I will try not to post to many of what has been posted before. On my first visit to Finow, nothing flew. Bad luck with a visit planned on a non flying day. I went back late on the day on 14 August 1991 and this time I was lucky. Although it was quite late, from memory it was about 19:00, plenty of MiG-29s still flying. Just the one picture:

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Whilst there, another Dutch guy had been speaking to some of the locals and heard about rumours of an open day a few days later! This was an opportunity not to be missed, however, I could not make it in the weekend. Plans changed quickly and I decided to be back at Finow in the early hours on the 16th (the day before the show) in the hope some aircraft would show up. Upon arrival, speaking to the samen Dutch guy, we heard some aircraft had arrived the day before. Whilst chatting away, the first few aircraft where towed from the HAS site to the flight line and this Mi-8MT arrived:

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We watched all the aircraft being parked, ready for the next day and thinking how cool it would be if we could gain access today... After a while we all took the bull by the horns and we rang the bell at the main gate. After a long and difficult conversation, a female turned up to act as an interpreter. It turned out the aircraft had been placed on the flight line for a high ranking officer so he could have a closer look. If we could come back in about two hours, she would see if there was a possibility for us to take some pictures. The next two hours where spend dreaming about being the first foreigners to photograph some front line Soviet aircraft at a Soviet base. After two hours, the same long and difficult conversation took place as there was a new shift on. Eventually the woman turned up and with a bit of negotiation, access to the base and flight line was granted!!!

She walked with us from the main gate to the flight line and arranged a Russian guide for us. Thank you very much. Once there and all pictures taken with the covers on the aircraft, we decided to milk it completely and persuaded some Russians to take some the large covers of the aircraft. And, euh, we don't like these tow bars either... A few Mark did wonders!

Let's start at one end of the line with the helicopters. A Mi-8MTV operated by 487 OVP:

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Parked next to a Mi-24V from the same unit:

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I will skip the Fulcrum on display and move on to the MiG-23UB. When the withdrawal of the various units started, the MiG-23UBs started to swap about a little as this particular UB was not present any more when the 787th left Finow:

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A Su-17M4 Fitter from 20 ABIP. This aircraft had recently be transferred from Neuruppin to Templin and a new code was applied:

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And a bit closer:

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368 OShAP based a Brandis send this smart looking Su-25K:

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Thankfully, Welzow send two aircraft to Finow, one of which was 01, a Su-24MR:

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The other being a MiG-25RBK:

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Last aircraft present was a Mi-8TB:

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I will end with a few of the withdrawal of the 787th. A small part of the flightline was 'open' to the public before the Soviets decided to ask everybody to leave... I did not make it past the MiG-23UBs, but I was extremely happy with what I got:

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And the one MiG-29 I got the shoot on the flightline:

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Before the jets started their engines, this Mi-8PS arrived, presumably with a high ranking officer to witness the event:

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Time for a small number of MiG-29 pictures:

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And this brings Finow to a close for me. I did go back one last time a few years later to visit the newly established museum, then housed on the western side of the airfield. Not on a par with the action seen before I'm afraid.

Cheers, Berry

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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by Mad Dan »

A fine selection, Berry - and I enjoyed the tale of how you gained access the day before the open house. Must have felt like you'd won the lottery, I should think... I also took a look at the museum collection some time later - and, as you so rightly say, it pales into insignificance when compared with what had gone before.
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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by alnewhaven »

Outstanding stuff gentlemen and the accompanying narrative in all these threads, complements the pictorial element superbly.

I think I may still have one of Lindsay's Aviation News articles somewhere.

Alastair

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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by agdickie »

What an awesome thread, brilliant shots chaps :clap: :clap: :clap: I dare say the "ring the doorbell" technique wouildn't work nowadays at any base :sad:
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Re: Along the fence in Eastern Germany #5, Finow-Eberswalde

Post by Rory76 »

Amazing sets gentlemen!

Any ideas what the bloke in pics 2-4 who seems to be dressed as a character from Alice in Wonderland is doing?
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