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Ilyushin Il-86VKP "Maxdome"

by Jennings Heilig


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The Il-86VKP (Vozdooshniy Komanndniy Poonkt - airborne command post - also known as the Il-80) is Russia's answer to the Boeing E-4B NEACP (National Emergency Airborne Command Post). It is meant to fly the highest ranking members of the Soviet (now Russian) government to safety in the event of all-out nuclear war. The first Il-86VKP flew in 1985, with deliveries reportedly beginning in 1987. Four aircraft were converted, originally registered SSSR-86146 through 86149.

Apparently the last four Il-86s built, the aircraft are heavily modified from the standard Il-86 airliner configuration. All cabin windows are deleted (including the portholes in the doors). Cabin entry doors are deleted except for the upper deck forward door on the left and the aft door on the right. The air stair doors in the belly that characterize the Il-86 are all missing except the forward one. There appears to be a baffle of some sort blocking the aft cockpit windows, most likely as an EMP shield.

Externally the aircraft are easily identified by the large SATCOM hump on the upper fuselage. There are numerous blade antennas, and small fairings forward of the vertical fin on the upper fuselage, and extending aft from the main gear well on the lower fuselage. The lower fuselage fairings are symmetrical left and right of centerline. A small hemispherical sensor pod is located above the APU exhaust, and a VLF trailing wire antenna fair lead is located on the lower left side of the fuselage. A retractable refuelling probe is fitted below the cockpit on the left side, with a pipe running back over the wing. It is assumed this directs fuel flow into the main wing tanks. The horizontal stabilizers appear to have a sort of 'collar' wrapped around their upper and lower surfaces just inboard from the tip which may be a sensor or communication antenna of some description.

Perhaps the most radical departure from the standard Il-86 airliner configuration is the two huge jet powered electrical generator pods mounted on large pylons inboard of the inboard engine nacelles. These pods are approximately 9.5 metres (31' 6") long and 1.3 metres (4' 3") in diameter. Each has a large intake scoop on its right side, with a large jet exhaust on the outboard side of the aft end. Smaller intakes are mounted on each side near the nose, and at their extreme front end, both pods have a landing light mounted.

The Il-86VKPs are based at Chkalovsky Airbase 31km (20 miles) northeast of Moscow (near the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center at Star City). They are rarely seen, although at least one was flown at an airshow recently. RA-86147 has been photographed without engines, apparently out of service.

Bra.Z. Models (http://www.brazmodels.com) is currently working on a resin conversion kit for the Maxdome, to fit the excellent Zvezda 1/144 Il-86 Camber kit (also marketed by Revell). Bra.Z. also makes improved engine stator/fan blades for this kit.

Image and Text Copyright 2008 by Jennings Heilig
Page Created 7 June, 2008
Last Updated 7 June, 2008

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