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Sukhoi P-42 "Record Flanker"


This plane is a stripped version of the Su-27, without armament or electronics, used to set time-to-height records. Accordingly, one of the T-10S prototypes was stripped of all armament, radar and operational equipment, the fin tips were removed, as was the tailboom and the wingtip launch rails. Even the radome was replaced by a lighter metal fairing. Stripped of paint, the aircraft was polished and all drag-producing gaps and joints were sealed. The engines were modified to give an increase in thrust of 2,204lbs, giving the P-42, as the modified aircraft was designated, a phenomenal thrust-to-weight ratio of almost 2:1.

The mainwheel brakes could not hold the aircraft at full thrust so the P-42 was anchored to a tracked armoured vehicle by a steel hawser with an electronic lock. With the engines wound up to full power, the hawser was released and the P-42 leaped into the air and climbed at an optimum angle to altitude.

Between 1986 and 1988 the P-42, piloted variously by Victor Pugachev, Nikolai Sadovnikov, Oleg Tsoi and Yevgeni Frolov, took no less than 27 records from the Streak Eagle, including time-to-height records for 3000, 6000, 9000, 12000 and 15000 metres, a height record of 19335m (63435 ft) and time-to-height records with various payloads. The aircraft even set records for STOL aircraft with a take-off run of less than 1540ft! Most of these records still stand to this day.

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