Russian Aircraft Relics of Hungary –


Russian Aircraft Relics of Hungary

Hungary was under communist rule until 1989, along with several other Eastern Bloc countries in the area. It had been this way since 1945 when it became a satellite state of the Soviet Union, following the defeat of Nazi Germany. Sanctions placed on the country by the West meant that Russian aircraft were operated throughout the country.


MALEV Air Cargo IL18 at Aeropark, Budapest (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Mark Evans)

During communist rule, MALEV was the flag carrier of the country. At the end it was operating a wholly Russian fleet which included Ilyushin 18, Tupolev 134, Tupolev 154 and Yak40 aircraft.

It was only once the Iron Curtain fell and communist rule ended in 1989 that Hungary and other Eastern Bloc countries would begin to replace their fleets with western jets. Commercial airliners were actually made exempt from the trade embargo in 1988 when the Soviet Union started to reform the political system.

MALEV was quick to act, introducing Boeing 737s at the end of the year, and would eventually operate a western fleet. Boeing 737s became the mainstay for European routes, alongside Boeing 767s for long-haul routes, and Fokker 70s, DHC8s, and Canadair Regional Jets for regional routes. 

Unfortunately, MALEV ceased operations in 2012 and a new flag carrier was never established. Low fares airline Wizzair is now the main carrier for the country. Its headquarters are in Budapest, although its first flight was from Katowice, Poland in 2004. It quickly established bases throughout the eastern bloc nations and has now expanded with subsidiaries in the UK and Abu Dhabi. The airline’s CEO is Josef Varadi, former CEO of MALEV Hungarian Airlines.

MALEV continued to operate some of the Russian aircraft for several years with the last Tupolev 154 not being retired until 2001. Fortunately several of the Russian aircraft have been preserved in two museums within the country.

Located next to Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport and is dedicated to the history of Hungarian civil aviation. It was formed in 1988 when the Soviet Army donated an Ilyushin 14 for exhibition.

HA-MAL IL14 MALEV – Originally operated for the Soviet Air Force from 1957 as 04 RED until it was donated for exhibition. Painted in MALEV cls with fake registration.

HA-MOA IL18 Hungarian Air transport titles – Arrived in 1960, its first flight was to Moscow. It remained in service until 1987 with the last ten years as a cargo aircraft for MALEV.

HA-MOG IL18 MALEV Air Cargo – Operated from 1964 to 1988. It was written off after an engine fire just two months before it was planned to be retired. Initially used by MALEV for training it was due to be dismantled in 2006. But a petition was started and the aircraft was moved to the museum with the exterior being restored in 2014.

HA-LBE T134 MALEV – Its first flight was to prague in 1969 and was retired in 1987. It became one of the first three aircraft in the museum.

HA-LCG T154 MALEV – Operated for MALEV from 1975 to 1994.


Linair Yak 40 at Aeropark, Budapest (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Mark Evans)

HA-LRA YAK40 Linair – Started life with CSA in 1974. It was sold to Hungary in 1990 operating for Aviaexpress and Linair, which were partners with MALEV.


Hungarian Flight Inspection Yak 40 at Aeropark, Budapest (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Mark Evans)

HA-YLR YAK40 Hungarian Flight Inspection – Arrived in 1975 and used to test and authenticate navigation equipment.

HA-LAF LET410 Hungarian Flight Inspection – Purchased new in 1990 and flew for Aviaexpress.

HA-LIQ Lisunov2 MALEV – The LI-2 was the first passenger aircraft to be operated in Hungary. This particular one started life with the Hungarian Air Force in 1954.

HA-MHI AN2 No Title – Used as an Agricultural aircraft since 1967.

HA-YHF AN2 MALEV Aero Club – Delivered in 1979 and used for agricultural services. Painted in the same colors as another AN2 that operated for MALEV Aero Club.


AN2 painted in MALEV Aero Club colours at Aeropark, Budapest (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Mark Evans)

Szolnok Hungarian Air Base is just over an hour’s drive from Aeropark. There is a small museum in the northwest corner of this Air Base.

HA-LBF T134 Operated for MALEV from 1970.

HA-MOE IL18 MALEV Air Cargo – Operated from 1963 and like the other Il18s ended life as a cargo aircraft.

907 AN24 Operated for Hungarian Air Force from 1968. 

202 AN26 Operated for Hungarian Air Force from 1974.

Another MALEV T134, HA-LBH, can also be found in Germany at the Auto Und Technik Museum, Sinsheim.



MALEV Air Cargo IL18 at Szolnok (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Mark Evans)


  • Mark has been interested in aviation since the age of eight when he first went plane spotting at Manchester Airport, England. Trips around various European airports in the following years and then to the USA as a teenager furthered his desire.
    This led to Mark wanting to work in the industry and at the age of twenty one was accepted to train as an Air Traffic Controller. After training and working for several years in England, Mark moved to Bahrain in the Middle East where he worked for six years. He then moved to Sydney, Australia where he resides today after twenty years in the profession.
    Mark’s pursuit to see planes has seen him visit over 140 countries and territories, including places, like North Korea, Sudan and Iran. He has flown over 1,100 times, visited over 700 airports and can always be found researching his next trip.

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