The ghosts of the old soviet-friendly Afghan Air Force, which collapsed with the rise of the Taliban regime in the early nineties.
At its peak, in the mid eighties, it had almost 500 aircraft, 240 of which were fixed-wing supersonic combat aircraft, now down to barely 200 machines, almost all helicopters, and not a single jet in the inventory.
East German (GDR) MiG-21SPS Crash - Cottbuse, East Germany - Jan 21, 1975
Pilot refused to eject over a crowded industrial area, finally losing control and crashing into a block of apartments, killing the pilot and six others. 16 other residents were injured. The pilot, Peter Makowica, was posthumously awarded the Combat Medal for his attempt to avoid casualties.
In a rare triumph over ‘not invented here’ chauvinism, the United States in 1960 evaluated and enthusiastically accepted the MiG 21C ласточка (“Swallow”) as a replacement for the dangerously hot F-104 Starfighter. Built under license by Douglas as the F-7 Skyshark, in USAF service it made short work of the piston-engine Yak 9s and Il 2 Sturmoviks fielded by the PLAAF during the Quemoy Crisis in 1966. A lack of parts and technical support meant few of the Mig 15 jet fighters still possessed by the Red Chinese were able to operate, the Soviet Union having withdrawn all aid during the Damanskii Island Border Dispute, which raged throughout the 1950s and forced a reconciliation between Russia and the West.
Boeing B-52D “Big Belly” Stratofortress Tail Gunner Station
Credited with two confirmed air-to-air kills against North Vietnamese and one additional unconfirmed kill) MiG-21 Fishbeds during Operation Linebacker II, these quad .50 Caliber machine gun stations were remotely operated by an airman in the tail of the B-52. The kills during the Vietnam War were the last air-to-air kills made by a defensive machine gun in a bomber.