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Incredible Soviet Rip-offs of Western Technologies

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Nothing says "Cold War glamour" like a Soviet knock-off of a Western technology — especially when it's been reverse-engineered to perfection. Here are some of the greatest and most stylish examples of Soviet techno-piracy.

Original: Boeing B-29 Superfortress (produced between 1943 and 1946) – Rip-off: Tupolev Tu-4 (produced between 1949 and 1952)


B-29 Superfortress

The Tu-4 was a reverse-engineered copy of the B-29:

The impounded plane, one of three United States Air Force bombers that made forced landings in the Soviet Far East port of Vladivostok in 1944, was reduced to its 105,000 component parts and each one was copied by engineers working for the aviation pioneer Andrei Tupolev. – according to The Telegraph.



(via United States Air Force, parfaits and Clement Vasters)

Original: Hasselblad 1600 F (1948-1953) with a Kodak Ektar 2.8/80 mm – Rip-off: Salyut (1957-1972) with an Industar-29 2.8/80 mm lens. The export version of Salyut was known as Zenith 80.

Hasselblad 1600 F

It was the first Soviet attempt to produce a good medium format camera.




(via USSR Photo and Wikimedia Commons)

Original: Packard Super Eight (1939-1951) – Rip-off: ZIS-110 (1946-1958)


The ZIS-110 was developed from the reverse engineering of a 1942 Packard Super Eight in 1944.


(via Deutsche Fotothek/Roger und Renate Rössing and conceptcarz)

Original: ZX Spectrum by Sinclair Research Ltd. (1982-1992) – Rip-off: Dubna 48K (1991-?), Simvol IK and many others


The ZX Spectrum+


Simvol IK


Dubna 48K

(via Wikimedia Commons 1 - 2 and Aleksey Kurepin)

Original: Nintendo Game & Watch handheld games (1980-1991) – Rip-off: Electronika IM series from 1986


(via Rudy Eng, Jay Springett and IGN)

Original: Zeiss Contax II (1936-1942), the first camera with a viewfinder and a rangefinder combined in a single window – Rip-off: Kiev II (1947-1957) with a copy of a Zeiss Sonar 2.0/50 mm lens (ZK-Zorki, Solid ZK or Jupiter-8)


(via Danipuntocom and Fedka)

Original: Ford Prefect (1938-1949), produced in Dagenham, Essex, United Kingdom by the UK division of Ford – Rip-off: KIM 10-50 (1940-1941)


The Ford Prefect


The KIM 10-50

(via Chris Sampson and Sah68)

The Space Shuttle (1981-2011) – Buran (1988)


The Space Shuttle-like Buran completed only one unmanned spaceflight, and spent only three hours in space. The Buran programme was cancelled in 1993, but four other ones were being built then – the Shuttle 2.03 was fully dismantled, the 2.02 was 10-20% done, partially dismantled and some parts were sold on the Internet, the 30-50% done Baikal (2.01) was left under open sky for years, and the OK-1K2 Ptichka (1.02) was 95-97% complete.

(via NASA)

Original: The German V-2 rocket (produced between 1942 and 1945) – Rip-off: The R-1 (tested in 1948, accepted by the army in 1950)



In 1945 the Soviet Army captured some military factories, V-2 production facilities, among others. Between 1946 and the mid-1950s some German missile engineers were forced to stay in the Soviet Union to help constructing the Soviet copy of the German rocket.



(via German Federal Archives and

Original: Hawker Siddeley Harrier (1967-mid 1970s) – Rip-off: Yakovlev Yak-38 (1971-1976)


Hawker Siddeley Harrier

The Hawker Siddeley Harrier was the only successful V/STOL (vertical and/or short take-off and landing) close-support fighter aircraft. The Soviet copy was not that popular – it could hover and fly quite well, but carried only 2200 pounds (1000 kg) of weapons.


Yakovlev Yak-38

(via U.S. Navy and Alan Wilson)

Bonus Round: Cultural Ripoff

Original: Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (Disney, 1966, 26 min.) – Rip-off: Vinni-Pukh (1969, 11 min., based on Chapter 1), Vinni-Pukh idyot v gosti (1971, 10 min., based on Chapter 2), Vinni-Pukh i den zabot (1972, 21 min., based on Chapter 4 and 6), all by Soyuzmutfilm and directed by Fyodor Khitruk


All three episodes are available on Youtube with English subtitles here.

(via Mubi)