The Central Bank of Russia has announced this years entrants in their long-running History of Russian Aviation series of sterling silver coins. Starting in 2010, there have been two coins in this series released every year, except for some reason, 2015. Each coin features a Russian plane and to date the series has covered both military and commercial aircraft, old and new. The 2016 pair are both military aircraft.
The first coin showcases the Lavochkin LA-5, a World War II fighter aircraft and one of the best they produced in the conflict. First flying in March 1942, and entering combat just four months later, it was a good fighter at lower altitudes, although outclassed by Luftwaffe designs like the FW190 at higher altitudes. Almost 10,000 were built, but losses were high and today, there remains only a single surviving example which is currently a wreck awaiting restoration.
The second coin features the Sukhoi Su-25 Grach, designated Frogfoot by NATO. First flying in 1975, this close-air support aircraft is still flying combat operations in Syria as we write. Over its life it has seen combat in Afghanistan, Iran, Macedonia, Chechnya and Georgia, along with counter-insurgency operations and civil wars in several African countries. Nicknamed the Flying Tank, this armoured aircraft is seen as the Russian equivalent to the famous Fairchild Republic A10 Thunderbolt II used by the US.
Both coins continue the basic design theme of the series, having stylised blue-coloured patterns integrated into the reverse-face artwork. The designs are pretty good, certainly not ground-breaking or the best that the CBR has issued, but aircraft fans will likely enjoy them, especially as the subjects rarely ever appear on numismatics. Struck in a ¼ oz of sterling silver, they shouldn’t be too expensive, but they’re not the easiest coins to pick up, especially with the mintage down from 5,000 to just 3,000.