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Vimpel 'Diamond'


The circular logo with with a yellow sun, a globe with the outline of the Soviet union, a horizontal rocket and the letters CCCP first appeared during the Soyuz-9 mission (1970) on the left shoulder of the new Trenirovochnyi-Nagruzochnogo Kostuma-1 (Training Load Costume; TNK-1) exercise suit. The short-sleeved singlet, with elastic bands at the upper part of the body and docking straps for the KTF-exercise treadmill in the living compartment of the Soyuz-ship, was especially designed for use aboard long-duration missions. It was part of an excercise package called 'Diamond', produced by the company Vimpel. We believe the circular CCCP-logo was originally refering to the entire 'Diamond' package (note the diamond shape outline around the earth) and later became the standard logo sewn to all cosmonaut-related equipment produced by the Vimpel company, like the Zvezda 'Rocket' was sewn to Zvezda-made equipment. We will further refer to this patch as the Vimpel 'Diamond'.

Left: The TNK-1 suit (this one was flown on Soyuz-23). Center: The elastic bands and the Vimpel 'Diamond' patch. Right: Soyuz-29 commander Vladimir Kovaljonok wearing the TNK-1 suit aboard Salyut-6 in 1978.

The crew of Soyuz-9 was the first to take part of the 'Diamond'-package, including the TNK-1 suits, into space. The next mission, Soyuz-10, also carried the long-sleeved 'Athlete' TNK-suit, designed to be worn not only for short 45 minute exercise periods, but during the entire workday, just like the Zvezda 'Penguin'-suit in modern days. The 'Athlete' suit proably came in three colors (orange, green and blue). Since the crew of Soyuz-10 did not manage to board Salyut-1, the TNK-1 and TNK 'Athlete' suits were not used on that flight. Vimpel's TNK-1, and TNK-'Athlete' were used by the ill-fated Soyuz-11 crew aboard Salyut-1 in 1971. The crew also carried the TNK 'Penguin' suit, manufactured by Zvezda, for the first time, but did not wear it as often as they should.

The crew of Soyuz-11 aboard Salyut-1. They are wearing the long-sleeved TNK 'Athlete' suit.

The TNK-1 and TNK 'Athlete' were used on all subsequent Soyuz missions that docked to a Salyut station (Soyuz-13, Soyuz-14, Soyuz-17, Soyuz-18B). Onboard pictures sometimes show one of the cosmonauts wearing the 'Athlete' suit, while the other is wearing the 'Penguin' suit. Maybe, the Soviets wanted to test which of the suits was more effective. Following Soyuz-18B, the full TNK 'Athlete' suit was probably discontinued. Zvezda's TNK 'Penguin' had taken over the role of main exercise suit, worn for long periods each day. For the KTF treadmill, use of the TNK-1 short sleeved singlet with straps was continued, though, so the Vimpel 'Diamond' patch was still used aboard, but only during exercise and thus less visible.

Left: The crew of Soyuz-13 in their Soyuz-ship in 1973. Left, Pjotr Klimuk is wearing an 'Athlete'
suit. Lebedev (right) is wearing a 'Pinguin'. Note the Early Zvezda-logo, barely visible on the upper left sleeve of Lebedev's 'Pinguin' suit. Center: Soyuz-14 commander Popovich in an 'Athlete' suit aboard Salyut-3 in 1974. Right: Pjotr Klimuk of Soyuz-18B aboard Salyut-6, wearing the 'Athlete' suit.

During the Mir-program, a new blue circular 'Vimpel' patch was seen on the KTF treadmill equipment. This was preceded by a period of time in which no patch was on the treadmill equipment at all. So somewhere in between the Vimpel 'Diamond' had been discontinued for that use as well. This probably happened in the early ninetees, when the Soviet Union had collapsed. At that time, the letters 'CCCP' did not make sense anymore and in commercialized Russian society, it became normal for a company name like 'Vimpel' to appear on equipment and suits. In 1990, for instance, the name 'Zvezda' was also worn for the first time on the Soyuz TM-11 Sokol suits.

Left, center: The Vimpel 'Diamond' was attached to the right shoulder of the TK-2 training suits,
which - like the TNK 'Athlete', came in three colors. On the TNK-1 and TNK 'Athlete' suits worn in space, the patch was on the left shoulder. Right: The new 1990's Vimpel patch.

Most visible use of the Vimpel 'Diamond' patch during the late seventies, eighties and early ninetees was that on the colorful 'Trenirovochnyi Kostum' or TK-2 training suits, also produced by Vimpel and seen first in training for the 1975 Apollo Soyuz Test Project (ASTP). The Vimpel 'Diamond' was worn on the right shoulder of these earth-bound training suits. It was still in use on these suits in the 1980's and early 1990's, during the Mir program. The newer 'Vimpel' logo showing the company's name also replaced the Vimpel 'Diamond' on the TK-suits around 1991.

Collecting the Vimpel 'Diamond'

This patch is not commercially available. Stewart Aviation in England did make a replica in the late 1980's, as part of a generic Soviet patch set. These patches were made from pictures sent by Dutch patch collector Luc van den Abeelen. In 2003, Randy Hunt made a replica from the replica. Since detailed pictures of the patch were scarce, both souvenir versions do not accurately depict the diamond shaped outline and the tail of the rocket.

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