Technik Museum Speyer
The Speyer Technik Museum is a mandatory visit for space enthusiast in general and especially for those interested in the history of the Soviet Space Program. The museum owns an extremely rare Buran Space Shuttle, developed during the 1980s but cancelled after the collapse of the USSR. There are much more exhibits on display that make a trip to Speyer worth while ,including a giant walk-in Antonov an-22 cargo plane and a giant Chinese steam locomotive.
Am Technik Museum 1, Speyer
Daily from 09:00 - 18:00
The Speyer Technik Museum is located in South-West Germany close to Heidelberg and Manheim. The walking distance from the Speyer city centre, an old town on the Rhine is less than 10 minutes. Speyer is easy to reach by car, busses and trains run from most nearby cities and towns. There are both a Hotel and a camping (for caravans and campers only) near the museum terrain. A visit to the museum can best be combined with a city trip to Heidelberg or Trier or with a Black Forrest, Rhine or Mosel camping holiday. Also located in the area are the Sinsheim Auto & Technik Museum, the Flugausstellung L.+P. Junior Hermeskeil and the Karl Marx Museum in Trier. Comtourist recommends history enthusiast a week trip to South-West Germany combining these very interesting museums.
The Buran OK-GLI Space shuttle
The Buran Space shuttle an absolute top attraction making a visit to the Speyer Technik Museum a must see for space enthusiast. The Buran program began in 1974 as a response to the American Space Shuttle program. The two shuttles look very similar but there are some important technical differences. The main difference is that the Buran does not have any engines that are used to launch it into orbit. These launch engines are were placed on the Energia rocket, making the Buran much lighter then its US counterpart and leaving more space for cargo. The Buran program was suspended in 1993 due to lack of funds.
Thirteen Buran shuttles were constructed for various purposes, ten still exist today, most of them in Russian space test facilities. The OK-GLI (Buran Analog BTS-002) of the Speyer Technnik Museum was one of the Mock up models developed for testing. The OK-GLI vehicles was used to test the aerodynamics of the Buran, nine taxi tests and twenty-five test flights of OK-GLI were performed at Baikonur. The Buran was used as an attraction since its retirement being on display at the MAKS air show in 2000 and during the 2000 Olympics in Sidney. The Speyer Technik Museum bought the vehicle in 2004, but had to wait four years until 2008 before it could be shipped from Bahrain in 2008.
The Buran is displayed in the main hall of the space exhibition with good views from the balconies on the higher floors. A structure build over the Buran allows visitors to look inside the cargo bay and the cockpit. A stairs on the rear of the Buran allows a view in the engine room. Various items related to the Buran are display around the shuttle including its chairs, hydraulic rudder drives and the BOR-5, a 1:8 Buran model used to test the aerodynamic characteristics of the Buran.
The Space exhibition
The Speyer Technik Museum space exhibition is the largest of its kind outside Russia and the United States, the Buran is the showpiece but there is much more on offer. The exhibition is divided is an American and a Soviet section, displaying a large collection of items that actually went to space.
Highlights of the space exhibition (besides the Buran) are a replica of Vostok spacecraft and an original Soyuz capsule. The Vostok 3KA spacecraft was used for the first human spaceflight carrying Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961. The Vostok replica is very well build and looks like the real thing. The actual Vostok 1 capsule is displayed in the RKK Energiya museum near Moscow. The Soyuz spaceships replaced the Vostok in 1969 and are still in use today, the museum capsule was used for mission TM 19 that took place in 1994. Visitors get a good view on the inside of the small cabin that holds three Cosmonauts.
The museum owns a sizable collection of Soviet and Russian space suits that were actually worn in space. The orange SK-1 is a spacesuit that was developed specially for Yuri Gagarin and then used from 1961 to 1963 for Vostok space missions. The Orlan DM space suit was used from 1985-1988 for Salyut-7 and Mir missions by Soviet Cosmonauts. The SPM Survival Suit was used for Soyuz landings and worn over the Sokol KV-2 spacesuit. The Orlan cooling suit controls the temperature during spacewalks inside the Orland Spacesuit. The Solkol space suit on display was worn by Cosmonaut Viktor Michailowitsch Afanasjev during the Soyuz TM-11, TM-18 and TM-29 missions.
Antonov An-22 cargo plane
Some very large vehicles are on display at the outdoor area of Speyer Technik Museum including a submarine, a coast guard ship and the Soviet made Antonov An-22 cargo plane. The An-22 is the world’s largest turboprop-powered airplane and was the world’s heaviest aircraft until the An-124 and An-225 were developed. The An-22 of the museum was build in 1966 and used as a military transport by the Soviet army.
Visitors can walk inside the aircraft to marvel at its giant dimensions, the cargo bay alone measures 33m in length. The hallway connecting the cargo bay with the cockpit looks more like the interior of a ship then part of an aircraft. The navigators station is located in a small area in the nose of the aircraft below the cockpit. Stairs lead to the upper deck where the entrance to the cockpit is located. Walking around in this giant plane is a great experience, which we have not yet encountered in any other museum.
East German Government Antonov An-26
Another interesting Soviet made aircraft on display as walk-in plane is an Antonov An-26S that supposedly belonged to the East German government and was used to transport high ranking officials like General Secretary Erich Honecker. The aircraft is furnished with a bed where the official could sleep in, a desk to work on and fitted with a luxurious toilet. A GDR Gaz M13 Chaika government car is transported in the rear section of the aircraft and can be offloaded via the cargo ramp.
The An-26 of the Speyer Technik Museum did not serve as GDR government plane in reality, the museum made this up to make the plane more interesting for visitors. It probably served as a normal transport plane for the East German army or national airline Interflug. The East German government actually flew in Il-18 and Il-62 aircraft and Honecker preferred Volvo over Soviet cars. The Gaz M13 Chaika limousine on display was actually used as the official duty car by the Soviet Trading Agency in Hamburg.
Soviet, Czechoslovakian and Polish aircraft
Both military and civilian aircraft were relatively cheap to buy in East Germany and the Eastern Bloc countries during the late eighties and early nineties, the Speyer Technik Museum took full advantage of this and owns a sizeable collection. A MiG-15UTI training jet hangs on the ceiling in one of the exhibitions halls as if it is performing a ground attack. A pink MiG-21PFM towers on a a pole above the museum terrain and is painted in the colours of the "Red Archers", an acrobatics team of the Indian Air force in the 1970s. A MiG-23BN that belonged to the Letecke museum in Prague is displayed in a black a Czech Air Force colour scheme.
A second A MiG-23BN belonged to the GDR Air Force and was painted in a special Federal Air Force scheme when the GDR and BRD Air Forces were merged. The MiG 23 was bought by the museum in 1990 and is displayed upright. The museum also owns a Yak-27R that was stationed on the Soviet Werneuchen Air Base in the GDR close to Berlin. The Su-22M4 on display belonged to the East German Air Force, which had acquired 48 units of this type between 1984 and 1987, short before the end of the GDR.
The Museum also has three Czechoslovakian aircraft on display. An Aero L-29 Delfin trainer build by the Aero Vodochody works and painted in Czechoslovakian Air Force scheme hangs on the ceiling in one of the exhibition halls. It’s successor, the Aero L-39ZO can be foun don the museum parking lot and is painted in Czech Air Force colours, although it actually belonged to the East German Air Force. Another Czech aircraft is the Cmelak Let Z-37, an agricultural aircraft produced by the Czechoslovak manufacturer LET Kunovice.
Communist Poland is represented by a PZL106 Kruk single-engine single-seat agricultural aircraft produced by the Polish manufacturer WSK-Okecie. No aircraft exposition is complete with the mass produced An-2, the museum An-2TP that was donated to the Technik Museum Speyer by the Russian city of Kurk, a partner town of Speyer.
No collection of Soviet period aircraft is complete with the addition of some Mil helicopters. The Speyer Technik Museum owns for examples; a Mi-2, M-8, Mi-14 and a Mi-24 gunship. The Mil Mi-2 is located in the Space Exhibition hall. It belonged to the Soviet Air Force and is now painted in Aeroflot scheme.
The Mil Mi-8 helicopter is painted in Aeroflot colours. The Mi-8 was first produced in 1961 and used by over 50 countries, 17.000 of these helicopters were build until today making it the most produced Helicopter in the world. The Mi-8 was also used as military transport; the passenger compartment can transport 24 troops in addition to its armament anti tank rockets.
The Mil Mi-14PL anti-submarine helicopter is not seen as often in museums compared to the other helicopters. The Mi-14 of the Speyer Technik Museum saw service in the East German Peoples Navy before it was sold to the museum. The helicopter was equipped with towed sonobuoys and retractable search radar to hunt down submarines. The anti submarine warfare station from where the navigation officer would track down enemy submarines is still fully equipped and accessible for museum visitors.
Twelve brand new Mi-24P gunships were delivered to the East German Army just before the wall would collapse in 1989. One of these great looking helicopters ended up with the Speyer Museum and is now mounted on poles so visitors can view it from all around. This version of the Hind had a fixed side-mounted 30-mm GSh-30K twin-barrel cannon that replaced the 2.7-mm machinegun as seen on most other Mi-24 models.
Helmets, suits, ejection seats and simulator
The space exhibition hall not only hosts the Buran and other space exhibits but also a large amount of military aviation related items including flight helmets, pressure suits, ejection seats and even a MiG-15 flight simulator. The KKO-5 pressure suit was introduced for pilots of Mach 2 aircraft such as the MiG-21 and Su-9 at the beginning of the 1960s. The KM-1 Ejection Seat was used in various soviet fighter models including the MiG-21 and MiG-23. We were not able to determine the exact specifications of the Soviet flight simulator on display. The cockpit instruments suggest that it was used to familiarize pilots with the MiG-15 instruments before they would fly the jet for the first time.
A large section of the exhibition is dedicated to high altitude pilot helmets with many Soviet models. Most of these helmets can be bought on Ebay or in dump store, but seeing them all together is sill interesting. The GSh-4 and GSh-6 models date from the 1960s and were used until the early 1980s by Mig-21, MiG-23 and MiG-25 pilots. The ZSh-3 helmets with KM-32 oxygen mask were also introduced in the 1960s and used in virtually every type of Soviet-made aircraft. The ZSh-5 models with KM-34 oxygen mask were standard issue for Soviet jet pilots during the 1970s and are still in use today. Models from the 1980s include the ZSh-7AS with KM34D Series II oxygen mask, the ShL-78, ShLO-78, ShZ-78 and ShZ-78 models. The Polish THL-5CN Helicopter Pilot Helmet was used in most Mil helicopters and is a copy of the American SPH-4 helmet. The THL-5W is another Polish Helmet from used with a KM-32-4 oxygen Mask.
The outdoor exhibition of the Speyer Technik Museum also includes a section with some rare locomotives and other railway exhibits. The star exhibit is a giant Chinese QJ steam locomotive. The QJ was the principal heavy freight steam locomotive used by China Railways until they were replaced by the Diesel locomotives in the 1990s. Also on display is a DRB Class 52 with a Soviet Red Star on the front, the DRB Class 52 was a German steam locomotive built in large numbers during the Second World War, many were used by the USSR after the war. A yellow work locomotive was build in the GDR for the VEB BKK Brigade OttoSchlag in the city of Deuben.
Miscellaneous Soviet and GDR related exhibits
Slightly disappointing was the lack of any Soviet or GDR cars in both the Sinsheim and the Speyer Technik Museum, a single Trabant represents the cars from the East. One other exhibit is the Stalin Tractor; a Soviet version of the Caterpillar used during World War II and afterwards for the rebuilding of the USSR. Two sections of the Berlin Wall are found on the extensive outdoor terrain.