One of the most thankless Jobs in World War II aviation was that of the maritime patrol pilot. No glory there, just long flights over water — usually, deadly cold water. And usually in airplanes that were sitting ducks for anything else in the air.

While there has been a little written in English about the RAF Coastal Command, and about American patrol pilots flying the Consolidated PBY, there hasn’t been much information about other nations’ patrol planes and their crews. The Japanese and Germans of course suffered defeat, which scattered their veterans and archives; and the Russians took military secrecy seriously, even though they were behind their peers in this particular field. Not only are there few stories, but few artifacts surviving from this unglamorous but vital field of warfare: most nations’ fighters are represented in museums, but all patrol planes left is grainy black-and-white pictures.

Russian crews too flew patrol flying boats on the nations Arctic and eastern coastlines. Their equipment, like the MBR-2 flying boats seen in this video (silent video with music dubbed over, unfortunately), and the 7.62mm single-mount DA machine guns that the flying boats’ defensive gunners used, was more dated than Russian fighters. They seemed to make up the difference with tough guys, hanging exposed in the cold slipstream.


It was only after the war that the Soviet Union would make an amphibious flying boat as modern as wartime American, British, German or Japanese planes, the Beriev Be-6 (Nato Madge). Its successor, the Be-12 Chaika (Nato Mail), continued to operate long after the Americans, British and Germans gave up on flying boats; indeed, a handful of Chaikas may still be in Russian service. They are, if so (and were, if not) the last conventional gear (tailwheel) aircraft operated by a superpower. (Japan and China, as well as Russia, continue to develop flying boats The sheer size of the Pacific encourages use of such machines).


This entry was posted in Air and Naval Weapons, The Past is Another Country on by Hognose.



About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

12 thoughts on “Some Rare Russian Patrol Plane Footage

Boat Guy

Amazing little glimpse of history. Least the Soviets are still patriotic.

I wonder if we sent PBY’s over under Lend-Lease? I know we sent B-25’s, P-39/63 and a helluva lotta rolling stock to say nothing of bullets, beans and bad-aids. All delivered at no little cost largely unheralded.

MPA is STILL a thankless job.


Bonifacio Echeverria

Yes, you did:

The Russian Navy was very interested in the Catalina, so much that they purchased an example before the war for errr… close scrutiny and ended up buying a license (they did it too with the DC-2/3 aka Li-2 on Soviet service, one of the Severesky prototypes and several other American planes in the late 30s). Full story:

Also, the US still had boatplanes around the Vietnam War, the HU-16 Albatross, and Canadair still has his CL-125 series for sale if I’m not much mistaken, but Russians love them. Very practical in a country full of lakes but where concrete laying is an odissey three quarters of the year.



ISTR the few P47’s sent via “Lend Lease” ended up on MPA, due to their long range and their radios.



Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles, WA was tasked with maritime patrol during World War II. The CO was allegedly quite a character and was angry at his pilots for not patrolling to the maximum range of the aircraft. Supposedly while on one patrol he flew west on one tank of fuel until the engines began to sputter. He switched to the other tank of fuel as he turned east, looked at the copilot, and said “Now that’s MAXIMUM range!”



What, no reserve? Dumb thing to do: perhaps that’s what caused the posting to the heat of battle in the PNW. How’d it work out?



At least one Ruskie Chaika was still in service as of July, based on this photo:—Navy/Beriev-Be-12PS-Chaika/2684543/&sid=751ed065ee138899c06753a3ba4aaa2a

Also this report details a plan to replace the remaining MAILs with the Be-200 jet-powered sea plane:

Ukraine inherited a few, and a handful might still be kicking. They also have plans to replace them though:

I believe the Russian military still has tailwheeled An-2 COLTs around for various training and support duties, and in paramilitary and other government support roles. There is some info about COLTs on floats out there by the way. Known variously as the An-2V, An-2M, An-2W and An-4, and the PRC made one, the Y-5C. Doesn’t seem like anybody made a lot of float COLTs though.

Speaking of amphibians, here’s a little bit on C-47/DC-3s with floats:


Hognose Post author

In the 90s there was a guy with a C-47 on floats he was planning to restore.


Hognose Post author

We still have a number of Albatross seaplanes operating (rough equivalent of Be-6, piston engines) but mostly they are used as campers by rich guys!



Reason to be a rich guy! Wonder if I could swing a Be-6 or -12 as my camping plane…



That’s a nice little propaganda short with good editing.