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Eastern Order of Battle

Albanian People's Army – Air Force Command, Tirana

Order of Battle in 1988

Albania did not get new arms from China in the 1980s. Therefore, the last major development of the Albanian Air Force was the development of Gjader, Rinas and Kucova Airport. These airfields are unique in Albania because in being built near a mountain.

Gjader airbase is located in the north west of the country, about 65km north of Tirana. A long crescent-shaped cavern was excavated into the side of the mountain in the base between 1978 and 1984. It was built to allow aircraft after landing to go into a tunnel under the mountain. The Albanian Air Force set about protecting its elite fighter force from possible Yugoslavian attack with the hardened tunnel. From the 765yd (700 m)-long underground tunnel, the aircraft could taxi straight onto the main runway. The tunnel has a capacity of storing about 50 aircraft plus personnel.

The Albanian 5646th Aviation Regiment moved to the Gjader airport from 1974. The 5646th Aviation Regiment flown Albanian Air Force's newest MiG-21F-13 ‘Fishbed-C’ (Shenyang F-7) and MiG-19S ‘Farmer-C’ (Shenyang F-6A/C) fighter and Chengdu ‘FT-5 Fresco’ (mixed Soviet MiG-15UTI and MiG-17F) training aircraft.

Meanwhile built a smaller shelter inside the mountain too on the Kucova air base located in the south of the country for the 1875th Aviation Regiment. This regiment used older MiG-19S ‘Farmer-C’ (Shenyang F-6A) and MiG-17F ‘Fresco-C’ (Shenyang F-5) fighters in the eighties. The Kucova air base also houses the Aviation Maintenance Unit which performs complete overhauls on all Albanian aircraft.

Albanian MiG-17F Fresco-C. Photo: George Kamp

An old best dogfight MiG-17F Fresco-C (Shenyang F-5) fighter airplane at Kucove airbase. Photo: George Kamp
 

Albanian MiG-21F-13 Fishbed-C. Photo: George Kamp

Albanian Air Force's most modern Shenyang F-7 (originally MiG-21F-13) fighter aircraft on 5646th Aviation Regiment's Gjader airport. The Shenyang factory made these aircraft in 1970. Photo: George Kamp

 

Albanian MiG-19S Farmer-C. Photo: George Kamp

Albanian 5646th Aviation Regiment's two MiG-19A ‘Farmer-C’ (Shenyang F-6C) pair are parking on Gjader airfield. This MiG-19 type sub version arrived in 1974 to Albania. Photo: George Kamp

Albanian Chengdu FT-5 Fresco. Photo: George Kamp

Chengdu FT-5 (mixed Soviet MiG-15UTI and MiG-17F) parked next to the hillside at the Gjader air base. Photo: George Kamp

 

Albanian Air Force order of battle in 1988

        * Air Defense Command

When Enver Halil Hoxha communist leader broke off relations with the Peking Government after the death of Mao Zedong in 1978, and the split led to a chronic shortage of spares for the Chinese made weapons fleet. When the Albanian dictator Hoxha died on April 11, 1985, in Albania there was already a huge technology backlog and isolation from the world.

Onto the end of the eighties, the Albanian Air Force unfortunately practically collapsed because they ran out of budget and spare parts.

Albanian Air Force order of battle map in 1988

 

Albanian SA-75 Dvina HQ-2

Chinese made Albanian S-75 Dvina (HQ-2) air defence system’s missile

Three Albanian aviation regiment used older piston-engined IL-14 'Crate', An-2 'Colt' (Harbin Y-5) and Mi-4 'Hound' (Harbin Z-5) transport aircraft and helicopters at the end of the eighties on Rinas, Lapraka and Farka airfield close to the capital city Tirana.

Harbin Z-5 VIP helicopter

Albanian Mi-4S ‘Hound’ (Harbin Z-5) VIP cargo helicopter at Tirana-Farka air base. Photo: George Kamp

Albanian IL-14 Create. Photo: George Kamp

7594th Aviation Regiment’s Ilyushin IL-14 ‘Crate’ cargi aircraft parking at  Tirane- Rinas airport. Photo: George Kamp

Albanian Air Force Military Air Academy

Albanian Yak-18A (Nanchang CJ-6). Photo: George Kamp

Albanian Air Force Military Air Academy used one squadron the Yak-18A (Nanchang CJ-6) and the second squadron the older MiG-15UTI ‘Midget’ and MiG-15bis ‘Fagot-B’ trainer fighters.

Student pilots flew twelve months on the CJ-6 basic trainer followed by 2 years on the MiG-15UTI ‘Midget’, finishing on the single-seat MiG-15bis ‘Fagot-B’ fighter. Pilot's that failed the jet conversion course was moved onto Mi-4 'Hound' helicopters at Farka or An-2 ‘Colt’ at Tirana. In the summer, the school's detachment was deployed to the Akerni reserve air filed.

 

Albanian MiG-15UTI Midget. Photo: George Kamp

Soviet or Czechoslovakian made MiG-15UTI ‘Midget’ trainer aircraft of the 9011th Aviation Regiment. Photo: George Kamp

Albanian MiG-15bis Fagot-B. Photo: George Kamp

9011th Aviation Regiment’s second-hand Soviet MiG-15bis ‘Fagot-B’ old fighter trainer aircraft. Photo: George Kamp

Photos: George Kamp collections in April 1992