These two images capture a unique moment in Cold War history – one photograph taken by an American pilot, the other by a Russian. Intercepts like this were common at the time, but even if adversary pilots both had their cameras with them, it is highly unusual that both pictures should finally find their way into the same collection.
The event in question happened on May 25, 1974, when two Vought F-8J Crusader fighters scrambled from the deck of USS Oriskany to intercept a couple of intruding Soviet Tupolev TU-95 Bear-A/B reconnaissance aircraft. Thankfully no missiles were fired that day, but the fact that the events have been captured from the point of view of both American and Russian crews makes it special. In both pictures, the Orisksany can clearly be seen steaming along in the background, reflecting just how close the bombers got!
The photograph by the Soviet crew was kindly donated by Dominican author Miguel Vargas-Caba, and was first included in his article: “From the Other Side of the Camera”. The note at the foot of the original photo reads:
“Wingman’s Tu-95 RTs of the 304th ODRAP of the Naval Aviation of the Pacific Ocean Fleet, based at Horol’ AB, Primorskiy Kray, USSR, accompanied by two F-8 Crusaders overflying the USS Oriskany on its way to Vietnam. May 25th, 1974. (Photo taken from the left rear observation blister of the leading Tu-95 RTs).”
Miguel’s article and other great images will be included in his forthcoming book: Chronicles of the Bear: Stories from the Bear Crews, a companion to his successful historical novel Bear: Flight to Liberty. Check out Norm Goldman’s interview with Miguel here.
The American photo of the event was first included in the previous article: Great Carrier Reef: Chronology of a Sunken Supercarrier, looking at the career of aircraft carrier USS Oriskany from when it was first launched to the day it was sunk as the world’s largest artificial reef.