Russian Air Force Decorates images of
Medieval Christian Saints on fighter Jets
The Russian air force has decorated three of its MiG-29 fighter jets based in Armenia with images of medieval Christian saints. “The pilots are sure that the faces of these holy men on the fuselages of their fighter jets will not only protect them, but will strengthen their martial spirit,” the press service of the Southern Military District announced.
One can’t help but notice that the three heroes so honored — Alexander Nevsky, Dmitry Donskoy, and St. Mercurius of Smolensk — are known for their struggles and martyrdom fighting against the Tatar-Mongol yoke.
“The earthly journey of Prince Alexander Nevsky, Dmitry Donskoy, and the martyr Mercurius of Smolensk were marked with military glory and honor, they became Christian saints. The pilots consider them to be their heavenly protectors,” the Russian military announcement continued.
Dmitry Donskoy was best known for his victory in the Battle of Kulikovo, a decisive moment in Russia’s throwing off Mongol rule. Russian forces in that battle were famously inspired by an icon of Alexander Nevsky. Mercurius was martyred after an icon of the Virgin Mary instructed him to attack the forces of Batu Khan in a battle near Smolensk.
These sort of historical references may gladden the hearts of the MiGs’ Armenian hosts, whose enemy, Azerbaijan, are kin to the Tatars. But given world events it must be asked how will it be received by Russia’s Turkic Muslim allies in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Regrettably, the press service didn’t release any photos of the decorated planes.
This event brought to the author’s mind how the US Air Force has in the past embellished the sides of its aircraft. It very interesting that one country chooses Patron Saints and another chooses Devil Dogs and Naked ladies. Art work on US military planes dates back to World War I. Unit insignia were extravagantly painted on the noses of the Warbirds. After the war regulations were put in place to stymie the practice. They again reappeared during the second World War when regulations were relaxed or just plain ignored.
Nose art on Warcraft isn’t exclusive to just American or Russian jets, it has become commonplace throughout the world. It is used primarily as a morale booster for those who fly everyday in pursuit of protecting their homeland. What is interesting is what they choose to adorn their aircraft.