The 2015 Victory In Europe Day marks 70 years since the end of World War II, and to mark the event celebrations and memorials were held in many countries, including the Victory Day Parade over Moscow. Paul Filmer was there for GAR.
In Russia it is also known a the Great Patriotic War, which encompasses only the Soviet Union’s war against Germany and it’s European allies.
The annual Victory Day Parade over Moscow this year was one of the biggest that has been seen in modern times. During the Cold War this was often when aircraft and machinery was seen for the first time in the west.
I travelled to Chkalovsky as Su-25 and MiG-29s were staging from there to makeup the “70” formation.
With no real location to shoot decent morning take-off shots, the aircraft were a little high at an acute angle, but with the sun almost down the runway their return could be shot from the other side.
The MiG-29UBs were all very early original 9-12 examples, which are rare to see in Russia these days. The examples seen here were from airbases in Astrakhan near the Caspian Sea and Armavir, closer to the Black Sea.
This was the first time I’d actually seen a Su-25 fly, and seeing so many was a real treat, including a number of two-seaters.
The day of the flypast during the parade was always going to be tricky, but it was far worse than I’d originally thought. It’s difficult to get far enough away to bring the aircraft lower in the sky, due to the high buildings all around. With many streets also being closed, this added to the tough conditions.
This is Russia’s most important holiday, as people often have up to a week off work to participate in the various celebrations. The whole city was out in force for this main event, with seemingly every possible vantage point being utilised. With the Soviet Union losing an estimated 27 million people this war, they were the country that took the heaviest losses, which in some ways goes to explain why it’s seen as such an important day here.
There’s a tradition that people will hold large photos of relatives on placards who served in the war, as a remembrance to them, and as almost every family is somehow connected in this way, there are thousands of these being carried proudly all day.
The lead aircraft in the flying formation was a single Tu-160 piloted by the Commander of the Russian Air Forces, General Viktor Bondarev. He flew overhead the slower formation of helicopters and overtook them to become the lead over Red Square.
The first helicopter formation was made up of a single Mi-26 flanked by Mi-8MTs.
In all there were 28 groups in the whole formation comprising 143 aircraft, which I wont list here!
Some aircraft flew quite high, in fact very much higher than in previous years talking to the locals.
The highlights for me were seeing Tu-95, Tu-22 and Su-24 aircraft flying.
The biggest cheer came from the crowd when the MiG-29 and Su-25 70 formation flew by, followed by an even louder cheer as a formation of Su-25s took up the rear with smoke forming the Russian Federation flag colours.
It really is something that’s very impressive to see first hand, albeit pretty hard to photograph.