These Rare Images Show A Soviet Il-38 Maritime Patrol Aircraft Flying in U.S. Navy Markings

Il-38 in US Navy markings
The Soviet Il-38 in US Navy markings.

Take a look at these rare shots of a real Il-38 Dolphin of the Soviet Naval Aviation painted with US insignias.

The following images of an Il-38 in U.S. Navy markings were brought to my attention by writer Miguel Vargas-Caba. Author of “Bear: Flight to Liberty”, during research for his novels, Miguel has acquired an extensive collection of Soviet and Russian articles, videos, documentaries, books, hundreds of photos, etc., illustrating the Soviet Armed Forces during the Cold War, as well as the Russian Armed Forces of today.

Among the material he has collected, there are the following images (probably stills taken from a video) depicting a real Il-38 Dolphin of the Soviet Naval Aviation painted with U.S. Navy insignias for a Soviet movie called “Incident at Square 36-80” made in 1982 by Mosfilm.

Mystery Airplane of the US Navy - 1 BW

“The movie was about “an American nuclear sub” that got in troubles and threatens to blow up and contaminate the ocean. Before the sub sank, the Soviet Navy comes to the rescue of the unfortunate, stranded American sailors, and saves the day.

Mystery Airplane of the US Navy - 2 BW

A nice, if somewhat prophetic movie, although on the wrong side. In October 1986 Soviet submarine K-219 (seen in the movie “The Widow Maker” with Harrison Ford) had an accident onboard, when one of its torpedos blew up, causing it to sink. One happened in fiction, the other, for real.

Mystery Airplane of the US Navy - 3 BW

The Il-38 (largely based on the original Il-18 turboprop airliner) is a maritime patrol aircraft and anti-submarine warfare aircraft designed in the Soviet Union.

The current Il-38N or Il-38SD is the improved variant of the baseline Il-38 aircraft. The main difference between the Il-38 and Il-38N is that the latter is equipped with the Leninets Novella-P-39 and Sea Dragon systems whichintegrate several sensors, including a radar for detecting aerial and surface targets; radio sonobuoy system; a MAD (Magnetic Anomaly Detector) with a range up to 900m; an EO (Electro-Optical) turret with TV, IR, imaging, laser rangefinder and automatic target tracking; ESM (Electronic Support Measures) with sensors hosted in a circular pattern in a box fairing located over the forward section of the fuselage.

About David Cenciotti 4407 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

4 Comments

  1. I thought for a moment that this may be a US-made film and thus would, perhaps, explain a longstanding mystery of why Russian Navy IL-38 RED-71 would be sat outside a hangar in Texas in 1995. Alas, not. The film appears to be Russian.

    I don’t believe that IL-38s were ever used for Open Skies flights, so why was it at Sherman-Grayson with some unfriendly guys encouraging my friend (the photogprapher) to skidaddle?

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/n6q36kd3t4q3kfm/Il-38 brightened.jpg?dl=0

  2. I was hoping that this may explain the mystery of why 71-RED IL-38 was sat outside a hangar at Sherman-Grayson, TX in 1995. But the film appears to be Russian, so that rules that out.

    I don’t believe that IL-38s were ever used for Open Skies missions, so what was an IL-38 doing in Texas attended by some unfriendly guys who encouraged my friend the photographer to leave?

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/n6q36kd3t4q3kfm/Il-38 brightened.jpg?dl=0

    Any ideas welcome!

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