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How enthusiasts from the Leningrad region preserve the memory of Russian military history – Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Date: October 1, 2023 Time: 01:55:57

Aviation began in Gatchina.

The history of domestic military aviation began in Gatchina. It was here that the country’s first military airfield was opened and enrollment in the first aviation school began, where future pilots were trained. Therefore, the appearance of a museum here, and on the territory of a former airfield, is a natural step. However, it was not created long ago and precisely thanks to the forces of caring people. The exhibition tells the story of the conquest of the air, from the Mozhaisky plane (19th century) to space rockets.

– We started implementing the project two years ago, collecting materials and exhibits. Gatchina residents brought something, we bought something. The authorities also helped: without their support we would not have been able to obtain decommissioned military equipment. Initially, while we were still developing the plan for the future museum, we decided: we will use modern technologies to a minimum, that is, we will not focus on the now popular interactive. But between us everything is alive, real. You can touch and try on some things, for example, flight helmets,” explains Gennady Panev, general director of the museum.

You can sit in the cockpit of a real helicopter and imagine yourself in the sky. But this, of course, is not inside, but on the nearby exhibition grounds. Here are the Mi-2, Ka-26, MiG-19, Yak-9 helicopters – the same legendary fighter that played an important role in the Great Patriotic War.

Moreover, the engine of the Pe-2 bomber, found by search engines. It was on this plane (recognized by its number) that the heroes of the Soviet Union Vasily Grechishkin and Alexey Peregudov crashed into enemy artillery installations on September 30, 1943. When the Pe-2 was shot down by the Germans and caught fire, The pilots decided to destroy the anti-aircraft gun at the cost of their lives. Grechishkin died in a burning plane, Peregudov was thrown from the cockpit near the ground, but the wounds he received were fatal. Gunner-radio operator Ivan Marchenko, the third of the crew, who was literally torn from the cabin by the air flow during the dive, escaped, but was captured and sent to a concentration camp. And yet Marchenko survived and only later, after the war, confirmed it: the Pe-2 did not simply fall, but was carried to the ram until the last moment. They say that Peregudov’s grandson, also a pilot, could not hold back his tears when he saw the relic.

A separate section is dedicated to the first women pilots. The biographies of aviation actresses are amazing. Thus, Princess Evgenia Shakhovskaya studied at the Gatchina flying school, achieved great success and participated in the First World War. But she didn’t die in battle, but in a random shooting in a restaurant.

In Gatchina you can even see the first domestic airplanes. Photo: Stanislav Akimov

They are expanding the museum into a full complex, including a large hangar for 12 aircraft.

The legacy of two wars

Fort Krasnaya Gorka (Alekseevsky, by the name of the last Tsarevich) is one of the two most powerful coastal forts of the Kronstadt position (the second is Ino). Alekseevsky is also called Kronstadt fort number 22. The main buildings of 1909-1914: the main task of that time was to contain a possible attack by German troops. During the Great Patriotic War, Krasnaya Gorka became the defense center of the Oranienbaum bridgehead. Formidable cannons (on land their firing range was 25 kilometers, on water – due to the fact that the fort is located at an altitude of 35 meters above sea level – it increased significantly, to more than 40 kilometers) and powerful walls of the structures. made the fort almost impregnable. Even a special directive was issued saying that there was no need to fire on the fort, it was still useless. The fort was also used in the 1950s, when the world was preparing for a nuclear war. It was then converted into warehouses and the military finally abandoned the territory in the 1990s.

Two kilometers of fortifications are located underground. There are only two terrestrial objects, and in one of them, the casemate, the exhibition is located. By the way, formally Krasnaya Gorka is listed as an exhibition and not a museum. Admission is free.

Here everything is based on popular enthusiasm.

– Krasnaya Gorka, you could say, is the last trench of my life. There is no help from the State, we do everything ourselves. Officially they call us an exhibition of military artifacts, not a museum. They offered me to decorate the fort as a private museum. But then you have to register it for one person. Not well. “I have forty comrades who actively participated in the revival of Krasnaya Gorka,” explains Alexander Senotrusov, the ideological inspirer of the project. He is a nineteenth generation officer!

The “new story” of the abandoned fort began in 1989, when Senotrusov and his daughter went down to the basement and discovered with horror a whole warehouse of shells from the First World War and huge shells, each of which weighed 290 kilograms. The seal on some ammunition was damaged over time and an explosive liquid leaked out of them. Senotrusov knocked on the door for a long time, trying to achieve something simple: to make the territory safe. It only became so in the 21st century, largely thanks to the efforts of enthusiasts among the ex-military.

On the territory you can examine some of the structures and the weapons themselves. Awesome. You can, for example, climb onto the TM-3-12 305mm mount. And in the exhibition hall (two meters of concrete on the roof, three meters and sixty centimeters on the side surfaces!), you can get acquainted with the life and living conditions of its former inhabitants. The conditions, by the way, were extremely difficult. For example, in this same room we had to sleep next to each other, a hundred people together, without heating or air conditioning.

The organizers of the exhibition also allow you to personally test the operation of a huge projectile elevator. Here you will see in detail how using a gear system you can easily lift half a ton. Design thinking plus physics, nothing more. Schoolchildren like it: everything is here in person, the mechanics are completely visible.

When leaving the museum, don’t forget to take a look at the so-called 14-meter bannik for cleaning gun barrels. And imagine how much effort it took to simply keep the artillery ready for combat.

If you have time, not far from the fort in the village of Lebyazhye you can see the monument to the “Defenders of the Leningrad Sky”, in the center of which is the Il-2 attack aircraft, the “Flying Tank”, as it was called. In 1943, the plane was shot down, caught fire and fell into the lake. The crew died. The wreckage of the plane was recovered, the attack aircraft was restored and placed on a pedestal. And this is another milestone in the memory of those who defended Leningrad.


The new aviation museum in Gatchina was highly appreciated by pilots. Good luck and “fuck you!” Rustam Sagdullaev, who played the role of Romeo in the film “Only Old Men Go to Battle”, wished the creators. His autograph can be seen in the museum.

And to get a complete idea of ​​the history of domestic aviation, it is also worth visiting the Museum of Aviation Engine Construction and Repair, which is also located in Gatchina. The museum was opened on the basis of an aircraft repair plant and among its exhibits are the first domestic aircraft.

By the way

During the Great Patriotic War, the defenders of the Krasnaya Gorka fort were dying of hunger, and how! Food was delivered to them along the Little Road of Life, through Kronstadt. And this is a separate page of history. And in one of the villages a hospital was opened, where those who were completely exhausted were taken, fed with fish and given pine infusion to drink. But there was as much ammunition as was needed: before the war a huge warehouse was built 10 kilometers from the fort.

Hansen Taylor
Hansen Taylor
Hansen Taylor is a full-time editor for ePrimefeed covering sports and movie news.

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