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SOVIET MILITARY THOUGHT THE COMMAND AND STAFF OF THE 
SOVIET ARMY AIR FORC..IU) DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE 
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The Command and Staff 
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The Command and Staff 
of the Soviet Army 
Air Force in the Great 
Patriotic War 1941-1945 


A Soviet View 



Author: 

M. N. Kozhevnikov 
Moscow 1977 

TRANSLATED AND PUBLISHED 
UNDER THE AUSPICES OF 
THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE 


Published with the approval 
of the All-Union Copyright 
Agency of the U.S.S.R. 















































































































Table of Contents 


Page 

American Editor's Comments . iii 

Abstract. v 

Introduction . 1 

Chapter I. On the Eve of the Great Patriotic War. 4 

The Capitalist Air Forces' Actions in the West. 4 

The Fascist German Air Force Prior to the Attack on the Soviet 

Union. 8 

The State of the Soviet Air Force on the Eve of the War. 12 

Chapter 2. The Soviet Army Air Force Command and Staff at the Beginning of the 

War and in the 1941 Summer-Fall Operations. 33 

The Nature of Aviation Actions by the Belligerents in the First Days of 

the War. 33 

Organizational Consolidation of the Soviet Air Force . 43 

The Senior VVS Aviation Chiefs at the War Fronts. 52 

Chapter 3. Further Consolidation of the Soviet Army Air Force . 66 

The Situation at the Fronts as of Spring 1942 . 66 

Organizational Changes in the Soviet Army Air Force Central 

Administration, Operational Field Forces, and Formations. 67 

Coordination of VVS Activities by Stavka Aviation Representatives in 

the 1942 Summer-Fall Operations. 77 

Chapter 4. The Struggle for Strategic Air Supremacy in Spring and 

Summer 1943 . 107 

Air Encounters in the Kuban'. 108 

Soviet Air Force Air Actions to Destroy Enemy Air Groupings in 

Summer 1943. 117 

Soviet Air Force Actions to Interdict Rail Shipments and Disorganize 

Enemy Motor Traffic. 121 

Chapter 5. Soviet Army Air Force Command and Staff in the Battle 

of Kursk. 125 

The Operational-Strategic Situation in the Kursk Sector in 

July 1943 . 125 

The Soviet Army Air Force Command and Staff During Preparations 

for the Battle of Kursk. 127 

Soviet Aviation Actions in the Battle of Kursk. 133 

Chapter 6. The Soviet Army Air Force in Operations in the Concluding 

Period of the War. 146 

The Situation at the Fronts at the Beginning of 1944. Soviet Army Air 
Force Command and Staff Measures to improve Management of 

Aviation. 146 

The Korsun’-Shevchenkovskiy Operation. 149 

The Belorussian Operation . 152 

The Vistula-Oder Operation. 170 

The East Prussian Operation. 173 

The Berlin Operation. 180 

Chapter 7. In the Far East. 195 

The Situation in Summer 1945 . 195 

Preparations for Combat Actions in the Far East. 198 

Soviet Air Force Combat Actions. 202 


V 





































Appeadfau Soviet Aim Air Force LoAnUp io the Gnat Patriotic Wo 
1941 - 1*45 . 




American Editor’s Comments 


This English language edition of The Command and Staffof the Soviet Army 
Air Force in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945 is the seventeenth volume in 
the “Soviet Military Thought” series, translated and published under the aus¬ 
pices of the United States Air Force. The Soviet edition was published in 1977 
in 70,000 copies by the “Nauka” Publishing House and is intended “to demon¬ 
strate the activities of the Soviet Army Air Force command, die work of the staff, 
and the contribution made by Stavka representatives in coordinating the opera¬ 
tions of the aviation of several fronts and Long-Range Aviation. ’ ’ 

When Germany suddenly launched a massive attack on the Soviet 
Union in June 1941, Soviet Air Force units in the western border 
military districts found themselves in a serious situation because they 
were caught in the midst of an extensive rearmament program. New 
airfields were under construction in the border military districts and 
improved aircraft (MiG-3s) were being introduced to replace the huge, 
albeit largely obsolete, Soviet air fleet. Initial losses in aircraft were 
staggering. 'Not enough work had been done,' the author, M. N. 
Kozhevnikov recounts, 'on the problems of repelling an enemy surprise 
attack, conducting joint WS-ground troop actions in strategic defense, 
and bringing the troops and aviation to increased and full combat readi¬ 
ness.* In addition, the lessons learned from fighting the Japanese along 
the Halhin Gol River in Mongolia in 1939 and from the Soviet-Finnish 
conflict were considered 'unacceptable.' In the dark months to follow, 
the remaining forces would valiantly attempt to stem the advancing 
German mechanized forces and a Luftwaffe flown by highly trained 
and experienced pilots who were well skilled in the use of airpower in 
coordinated operations with mechanized forces and quite aware of the 
importance of well-planned surprise attacks on enemy airfields to sieze 
the initiative and win air superiority. 

Forced on the defensive, the Soviet Air Force command and staff elements 
hastily instituted a reorganization of the Soviet Army Air Force to counter the 
rapidly advancing Germans. This reorganization, based on the valuable combat 
experience gained during the hard-fought initial six months, was to prove invalu¬ 
able in the conduct of future air operations. The key was centralization. Military 
districts were organized into fronts and VVS commanders assigned to front staffs. 
Aviation assigned to army and front commanders was no longer distributed 
among the combined arms commanders and employed in an uncoordinated fash¬ 
ion. At the unit level, greater emphasis was placed on flexibility. Air regiments, 
for example, were made less unwieldiy. The author, himself a member of the 
VVS command and staff during the Great Patriotic War, described the basis of 
the reorganization as the “unification of aviation efforts under the sole leadership 
of the senior air chief in the strategic sector. . . 



Furthermore, the introduction of new and improved armaments in sufficient 
quantities gave rise to the development of the air army concept, which provided 
the command element the flexibility to mass ‘ ‘frontal aviation in the main sectors 
of troop operations, . . .” thus ensuring “centralized control and effective air 
strikes.” This newly acquired flexibility allowed the air army to rapidly conduct 
offensive or defensive operations in any sector with die strength and composition 
necessary for the mission. Essentially, the creation of large air reserve forma¬ 
tions, comprised of air coips and independent air divisions, provided the ability 
to achieve air superiority in a given area, which had been found to be necessary 
for the successful execution of the missions assigned to the ground forces. 

The experience acquired and the new concepts were validated in 
the skies over Moscow and in the great counteroffensive at Stalingrad, 
in the battle for the Caucasus, in the decisive clash at Kursk in 1943, 
and ultimately, over the skies of Berlin. Chief Marshal of Aviation P. 
S. Kutakhov, current commander of the VVS, summed up the 
relevance of the experience learned: "The rich experience of VVS 
operational-strategic employment in the Great Patriotic War has not 
lost its value today, especially the experience of achieving air su¬ 
premacy for development of strategic operations in theaters of military 
operations and in the war as a whole." 

The following acronyms appear in this text and are discussed more fully 
on the first page of their occurrence, either in footnotes or in the body of the 
text: 


ADD—Long-Range Aviation; 

CC VKP (b)—Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (of 
Bolsheviks); 

DBA—Long-Range Bomber Aviation; 

NKO—People’s Commissariat of Defense; 

PTAB—antitank aviation bomb; 

PVO—air defense; 

RKKA—Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army; 

RVGK—Stavka Reserve (literally, Reserve of the Supreme High Com¬ 
mand); 

SNK—Council of People's Commissars; 

VNOS—Air Observation, Warning, and Communication; 

VVS—Air Force, air forces. 

The translation and publication of The Command and Staff of Am Soviet 
Army Air Force in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945 does not constitute 
approval by any U.S. Government organization of the inferences, findings, and 
conclusions contained therein. Publication is solely for the exchange and stimu¬ 
lation of ideas. 



Abstract 


This book is devoted to the activities of the Soviet Army Air Force com¬ 
mand and staff and representatives of the Supreme High Command General 
Headquarters at the fronts of the Great Patriotic War. The activities of the Soviet 
Army Air Force command and staff, of many generals and officers of the central 
administration, of Long-Range Aviation, of the air armies, of Frontal Aviation, 
and of many formations and units are described against the backdrop of the past 
war’s greatest operations. All actions of the VVS command and staff are 
examined in close association with the activities of the General Staff. 


ix 


Introduction 


The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union against fascist Germany and 
its allies in Europe and Asia was the greatest armed clash between socialism and 
the strike forces of imperialism, the hardest and crudest of all wars ever experi¬ 
enced by our motherland. Under the guidance of the Communist Party the Soviet 
people and their armed forces destroyed Hitlerite Germany and its satellites, de¬ 
fended die liberty and independence of die socialist fatherland, accomplished 
their great mission of liberation, and honorably fulfilled their international duty. 
“The victory won in the encounters of the Great Patriotic War,” L. I. Brezhnev 
noted, “was a victory of our heroic working class, the kolkhoz peasantry, and 
our intelligentsia, a victory of all the multinational Soviet people. This was a 
victory of the glorious Soviet Army, an army created by the revolution, nurtured 
by the party, and inseparable from the people. This was a victory of Soviet mili¬ 
tary science, of the combat proficiency of all branches of troops, of die art of 
great Soviet military leaders with their origins among the people. ” 1 

The Soviet Air Force played a significant role in the defeat of fascist Ger¬ 
man troops. Coordinating closely with die ground forces and Navy, it partici¬ 
pated most actively in all operations of fronts and all the largest strategic opera¬ 
tions of the groups of fronts, and it conducted independent air operations. Con¬ 
centration and massed action of the Soviet Air Force in the most important sec¬ 
tors increased the scope and decisiveness of the operations and constituted one 
of the most important factors imparting a maneuvering nature to die war. In the 
long and stubborn struggle, by summer 1943 the Soviet Air Force achieved stra¬ 
tegic air supremacy in all of the most important sectors, thus creating favorable 
conditions for the ground forces to conduct major offensive operations. By its 
actions aviation cleared the way for infantry and tanks, assisted them in penetrat¬ 
ing defenses more quickly and pursuing die enemy swiftly, encircling and an¬ 
nihilating his groupings, forcing rivers, and seizing and holding important 
beachheads, and it foiled the plans and intentions of the fascist German com¬ 
mand. 

The Soviet Army Air Force commander and his staff were tasked with or¬ 
ganizing the struggle for strategic air supremacy, achieving coordination among 
die b> riches of aviation (frontal, long-range, air defense fighter aviation), coor- 
<*' -ung their efforts in strategic operations conducted by groups of fronts and 
in independent air operations, managing the combat actions of Long-Range 
Bomber Aviation (DBA) at the beginning of die war, synthesizing die Air 
Force’s combat experience, and developing proposals for its operational em¬ 
ployment. The WS* command was responsible for training aviation reserves, 
for supplying aircraft and equipment to units and formations, for developing the 
technical specifications on new types of aircraft and armament, for writing air- 


*[VV$—Voy«iM»-VM4Mfa^5ib^-AkFoice--U.S. Bd.) 


1 


field construction and reconstruction plans, and for training and retraining air¬ 
crews and technicians. Its functions included synthesizing progressive methods 
on employment of different aviation branches and components in combat and 
operations, and introducing them into the units and formations. 

Aviation representatives of the Stavka* coordinated the actions of Frontal 
Aviation in all strategic operations. These officers were the senior aviation chiefs 
in charge of the Air Force—the commander, the Military Council member, and 
the deputy commanders of the Soviet Army Air Force. Initially they were given 
the responsibility of organizing massed air strikes on behalf of just one front. 
Beginning in 1942 the Stavka aviation representatives coordinated the efforts of 
aviation on several fronts in cooperation with DBA (ADD) forces. 2 Jointly with 
front commanders and Air Force front commanders, Stavka representatives 
wrote the operation plans, monitored execution of aviation missions, redirected 
its efforts in the course of an operation, apportioned aviation reserves arriving 
at the fronts, and provided air logistical and airfield support to aviation forces 
participating in a given operation. Coordinating the VVS actions on from one 
to three fronts as Stavka representative, die VVS commander maintained con¬ 
stant operational contact with the General Staff and VVS staff. He was always 
aware of events occurring on all other active fronts and issued the necessary in¬ 
structions via his operations group or via the WS staff. 

The author’s objective in this work is to demonstrate the activities of the 
Soviet Army Air Force command, the work of the staff, and the contribution 
made by Stavka representatives in coordinating the operations of the aviation of 
several fronts and Long-Range Aviation. 

This chronologically organized work embraces the period from September 
1939 to September 1945, that is, from the beginning of World War II to ihe 
Soviet Army’s victory in the Far East—the defeat of the Kwantung Army and 
total surrender of imperialist Japan. The book describes the combat operations 
of Western capitalist aviation preceding fascist Germany’s attack on the USSR 
and examines the work of the WS command and staff on the eve of and in the 
initial period of the Great Patriotic War; in operations of the 1941 summer-fall 
campaign; in the grandiose battles of Moscow, Stalingrad, the North Caucasus, 
and Kursk; and in the concluding offensive operations of the Great Patriotic War 
of 1941-1945. The work describes the structure of the VVS staff, its principal 
directorates and sections, the main purposes of their activities, the interaction 
of the VVS command and staffs with the General Staff and with the command 
and staffs of the fronts and air armies, and the role and place of the Air Force 
in defeat < f fascist Germany and militarist Japan by the Soviet Armed Forces. 

In writing this book the author made use of archival and published mate¬ 
rials, his own experience as a participant in the described events, and numerous 
discussions held during and after the war with Chief Marshal of Aviation A. A. 


♦(The word Stavka will be employed throughout this translation to identify the Supreme High 
Command General Headquarters—U.S. Ed.] 

2 



Novikov, who headed the Soviet VVS during the Great Patriotic War, with his 
deputy General A. V. Nikitin, VVS Military Council members Generals P. S. 
Stepanov andN. S. Shimanov, and with many war veterans as well. 

The author expresses his sincere gratitude to Generals V. I. Semenchikov 
and G. A. Pshenyanik, and to Colonels Yu. V. Plotnikov, V. Ye. Sokolov, V. 
S. Shumikhin, F. P. Shesterin, N. Ye. Platonov, and N. N. Azovtsev for their 
kind advice. 

Notes 

1. L. I. Brezhnev, O vneshney politike KPSS i Sovetskogo gosudarstva. Rechi i stal l |The Foreign 
Policy of theCPSU and the Soviet State: Speeches and Articles] (Moscow, 1975), pp. 834-35. 

2. In March 1942 Long-Range Bomber Aviation (DBA) was renamed Long-Range Aviation (ADD). 


3 


Chapter 1. On the Eve of the Great Patriotic War 


The Capitalist Air Forces’ Actions in the West 

On 1 September 1939 Hitlerite Germany attacked Poland. At 0445 hours 
fascist German aviation made massed strikes against the airfields, transportation 
hubs, and economic and administrative centers of Poland. The Wehrmacht’s 
ground forces crossed the border and invaded Polish territory from the north out 
of East Prussia, from the west out of East Germany, and from the south out of 
Slovakia. World War II had begun. 

The forces of the belligerents were rather unequal on the ground and in the 
air. Hitlerite Germany launched some 2,000 combat aircraft against Poland 
(1,000-1,100 bombers, 600-650 fighters, and 200-250 reconnaissance air¬ 
craft). The Polish Air Force had only 824 combat aircraft, most of which were 
obsolete. 1 

Polish air defenses were also very weak, having a strength of only about 
400 medium and light antiaircraft guns. Nevertheless Polish pilots courageously 
joined battle with enemy aviation, shooting down 14 German planes on the first 
day and 130 in subsequent operations. 2 Being numerically and qualitatively 
superior to Polish aviation, the German Air Force easily achieved air supremacy 
and supported the advance of the German ground troops. 

The governments of England and France, which had signed treaties with 
Poland, were forced to declare war on Germany. At 11 o’clock on 3 September 
the government of England, and 6 hours later the government of France, declared 
war on Germany. Immediately following England’s declaration, its dominions 
declared war on Germany. The U.S. and several European countries declared 
their neutrality. England and France declared war on Hitler’s Germany not to 
help Poland, but in the interests of their own far-reaching plans. The imperialist 
circles of England and France did not give up hope that, after seizing Poland, 
Germany would go to war against the Soviet Union. Capitalizing on the conniv¬ 
ances of England and France, the fascist German troops swiftly defeated the 
Polish armed forces and, in the first days of October 1939, mopped up the last 
centers of resistance by regular Polish units. The Wehrmacht’s Polish campaign 
came to an end. The tremendous combat capabilities of aviation and tank troops 
were revealed in the German-Polish war. Massed employment of aviation and 
mechanized troops in narrow sectors made it possible to quickly collapse enemy 
defenses to their entire depth, commit mobile formations to the breakthrough, 
and exploit the breakthrough swiftly. The increased significance of air suprema¬ 
cy for ground forces operations became obvious. 


4 



After the defeat of Poland, fascist Germany began concentrating troops and 
aviation on its western borders with the objective of attacking the armies of the 
Anglo-French coalition. In the period from 3 September 1939 to 9 April 1940 
neither side engaged in active combat operations. During this time the govern¬ 
ments of England and France incited fascist Germany to attack the USSR. This 
explains the slow deployment of Anglo-French troops and their passive actions 
on the ground and in the air. English aviation conducted air reconnaissance of 
the ports and anchorage sites of the German Navy, while French aviation scouted 
groupings of German troops deployed along the French border. Fascist German 
aviation reconnoitered northern France, England, Belgium, and Holland. Ger¬ 
man bombers were active only sporadically against troops and industrial targets. 
On 9 April 1940 fascist Germany occupied Denmark and made a surprise attack 
on Norway, without a declaration of war. In its capture of Norway, Germany 
committed, in addition to ground formations, up to 1,300 combat aircraft (1,000 
bombers and 300 fighters). 3 The Norwegian Air Force possessed only 180 obso¬ 
lete planes. 4 The Norwegian capital of Oslo was captured by a German airborne 
assault party which landed unopposed at Oslo Airport. This force consisted of 
1,500 enlisted men and officers armed with automatic rifles, machine guns, and 
light cannon. Abandoned by their allies (French units abandoned their positions 
on 5 June, followed 2 days later by the English), the Norwegian troops were 
forced to surrender on lOJune 1940. 

The capture of Denmark and Norway by Hitlerite troops improved Ger¬ 
many’s strategic position, placing all countries of Northern Europe under its con¬ 
trol. The Western powers were unable to organize and conduct active opposition 
to fascist aggression in Norway. English aviation was found to be incapable of 
preventing the landing of fascist German troops in Norway, supporting and cov¬ 
ering the actions of its own and Norwegian troops, or providing air cover to 
Norwegian shipping. Enjoying air superiority, German aviation provided effec¬ 
tive support to German ground troops and once again demonstrated the growing 
significance of initial surprise massed strikes against troops, airfields, and ports. 

Fascist Germany’s aggression against Denmark and Norway did not inter¬ 
rupt the Wehrmacht’s preparations for a Western offensive with the objective 
of defeating Belgian, Dutch, and Anglo-French troops. The plans of the German 
command provided for a strike by a strong grouping of ground troops into the 
center of the disposition of allied armies, cutting the allied front, isolation of the 
northern enemy grouping at the English Channel, and its annihilation. The core 
of the strike grouping was to consist of tank and motorized formations, whose 
operations were to be supported by major aviation forces. In accordance with 
the plan, three army groups consisting of eight armies were deployed (136 divi¬ 
sions in all, including 10 tank and 7 motorized divisions), to be supported by 
two German air fleets (the 2nd and the 3rd) with a strength of 3,824 combat air¬ 
craft. 5 

The cgmmand of the 2nd and 3rd Air Fleets was given the missions of 
achieving air supremacy, disorganizing enemy command and control, and pro- 


5 



viding direct support to advancing troops. Twenty minutes prior to the ground 
offensive, 1,200-1,400 planes were to strike Allied airfields, headquarters, com¬ 
munication centers, and transportation hubs near the front in Holland, Belgium, 
and France. From the beginning of the offensive all aviation efforts were directed 
at supporting the ground forces, primarily the tank formations. 

France and England had 108 divisions on the Northeastern Front. In this 
area the French had 2,789 tanks (of these, 2,285 were modem) and 11,200 guns 
of 75 mm and above. The British Expeditionary Forces had 310 tanks and about 
1,350 field guns. The French Air Force had 1,648 first-line combat aircraft, in¬ 
cluding 946 fighters and 219 bombers. In May 1940 British aviation had 1,837 
first-line planes, including more than 800 fighters and 544 bombers. About 500 
English planes were based on French airfields. The Belgian Air Force possessed 
136 planes, while the Dutch Air Force had 120. 6 

The German offensive caught Allied troops and aviation unaware. It began 
with an air attack against airfields, command posts, military supply depots, and 
the most important war industry targets in Holland, Belgium, and France. In 
terms of their concept and methods of action, the operations of the German Air 
Force differed in no way from those during the invasion of Poland. At 0300 hours 
on 10 May 1940 a powerful air strike was made against about 100 airfields in 
Holland. Belgium, and northern France to a depth of up to 400 km. The first 
groups of German paratroopers were dropped in the rear of Dutch and Belgian 
troops at 0430 hours. At 0535 hours the Wehrmachf s ground troops began their 
invasion of Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg. 

The massed surprise attack on the airfields by German aviation played a 
major role in seizure of die initiative and air supremacy. As work began to attain 
air supremacy in the West, the high command of fascist Germany, thanks to its 
agents and air reconnaissance, possessed exhaustive data on the composition, 
basing, and the state of readiness of the enemy’s aviation and air defense forces. 
The sudden massed raids on the airfields by German aviation inflicted great 
losses in planes and personnel on the air forces of Holland, Belgium, and France. 
During the ground offensive, fascist German aviation easily attained strategic 
air supremacy in all of the most important sectors. French and English aviation 
did not put up adequate resistance to the German Air Force attack. 

The Dutch armed forces were almost totally inactive. The Belgian Army 
surrendered on 28 May. The attempts of the French Supreme Command to or¬ 
ganize active ground troop opposition to the enemy were not crowned with suc¬ 
cess. Fascist Italy entered the war against England and France on 10 June. The 
French Navy did not engage in active operations at sea and prior to 20 June 1940 
suffered no great losses. Petain’s French government, however, hastened its de¬ 
cision to surrender, signing the surrender document at 1832 hours on 22 June 
1940. On the day of France’s surrender English aviation based on French air¬ 
fields returned to its own airfields in England. On 24 June 1940 the French gov¬ 
ernment signed a truce with Italy, after which all military actions by the French 

6 


armed forces halted. The Anglo-French Alliance once again suffered disaster. 

What were the most typical features of fascist Germany’s air force opera¬ 
tions? They were as follows: concentration of large aviation forces for the initial 
powerful strikes against the principal airfields with the objective of seizing the 
initiative in the air; extensive use of transport aviation to drop numerous 
diversionary groups of paratroopers in the Netherlands, Belgium, and northern 
France; redirection of German Air Force efforts following suppression of enemy 
aviation to support and cove. advancing tank and motorized troops, with concur¬ 
rent intensified air reconnaissance. 

Following France's surrender the Hitlerite leadership sought military and 
other ways to hasten the signing of a compromise peace with England to Ger¬ 
many’s advantage and turn its sights to the East. “Our principal attention is to¬ 
ward the East. . . . We will probably have to again demonstrate our strength 
to England before she halts her struggle and frees our hands for the East. ” 7 

Hitler hoped that English ruling circles, considering the swift defeat of 
France, would be ready for peace talks with Germany and for sizable conces¬ 
sions. But, although the reactionary ruling circles of England were prepared to 
negotiate with fascist Germany, they could not take this step due to the antifascist 
mood of the broad masses and for fear of universal outrage. Without waiting for 
peace proposals, the fascist command decided to use its air force to bring pres¬ 
sure to bear on England. The Hitlerite command assigned the air offensive to 
the 2nd and 3rd Air Fleets, which had a strength of 1,480 bombers, 760 single¬ 
engine and 220 twin-engine fighters, and 140 reconnaissance aircraft. 8 

The two-month breathing spell enjoyed by England following Dunkirk (the 
defeat and evacuation of Allied troops from the Dunkirk beachhead—from 28 
May to 3 June 1940) permitted the British command to strengthen its air force. 
While on 4 June 1940 English fighter aviation consisted of 446 combat-ready 
fighters, by 11 August the number had reached 704. The air force reserve fleet 
grew in size. The Air Defense Command had at its disposal about 2,000 antiair¬ 
craft guns of various calibers. 9 

Germany also augmented its air power. Beginning in July 1940 the fascist 
German Air Force initiated massed air raids on England. The raids were per¬ 
formed in daytime by large groups of bombers with fighter escort. Airfields, 
ports, petroleum dumps, supply depots, plants, marine shipping, and city resi¬ 
dential districts were struck. English fighters offered stubborn resistance. Com¬ 
bat was continuous in the air. By 18 August 1940 fascist German aviation lost 
367 planes, while English aviation lost 213. From 5 September 1940 the Hitlerite 
command concentrated all air strikes on London. The city was subjected to 
strikes almost every night from 9 in the evening until 6 in the morning. As an 
example, on the night of IS September 1940 London was subjected to a massed 
raid by 1,000 planes. Repelling this air raid, English fighters and antiaircraft ar¬ 
tillery shot down 60 German planes, while losing 26. 10 Periodic night air raids 

7 



on English cities continued until the latter part of February. The German Air 
Force performed its final mass raids on London in late April and early May 1941. 
After this the main forces began to be transferred east. Goman aviation was un¬ 
able to do very much harm to British industry. The hope of the German command 
to break English resistance through the actions of its air force turned out to be 
false. During the July-November 1940 raids alone, fascist German aviation lost 
1,733 planes while the British lost 915. 11 

The combat actions of the German Air Force lacked sufficient purpose. For 
a prolonged period it subjected too large a number of diverse targets to periodic 
attacks. Damage to or destruction of these facilities did not have a significant 
influence on the output of the war industry. 

Nor did English bomber aviation operate purposefully. Strikes were made 
against German targets by small forces, mainly at night and at rather long inter¬ 
vals. Such bombing operations could not seriously harm the economy of fascist 
Germany or hinder its preparations for an attack on the USSR. 

The Italians, who had seized Albania in 1939, invaded Greece in October 
1940, but they were unable to defeat the Greek Army. At the beginning of April 
1941 fascist Germany attacked Yugoslavia and occupied it. Striking airfields and 
cities with its bombers, in April 1941 German tank and motorized formations 
of the ground troops occupied Greece. 

Having occupied Yugoslavia and Greece, in May 1941 the Germans under¬ 
took an airborne assault operation to seize die island of Crete. Encountering no 
active oppostion on the part of England and the U.S., the fascist commanders 
continued their preparations for an attack on the Soviet Union. 

The greater combat capabilities of the air force and its great role in support 
of the missions of the ground troops revealed themselves clearly in die military 
operations in the West. The Soviet command studied the operations of capitalist 
aviation in Western Europe. The Communist Party and Soviet government ar¬ 
rived at certain conclusions and took effective steps to strengthen the air force. 

The Fascist German Air Force Prior to the Attack on the Soviet 
Union 

By the moment of the attack on the Soviet Union the fascist German WS 
had grown quantitatively and qualitatively in comparison with the situation in 
fall 1939. In June 1941 the German VVS had a strength of 10,000 combat air¬ 
craft, including reserve planes and trainers, Italy had 2,416, Finland had 307, 
Romania had 699, Hungary had 269, and the total strength of states in the fascist 
block was 13,690 planes. 12 Organizationally, the German WS was subdivided 
into the air forces of the Main Command (air fleets), troop aviation (army and 
corps), and naval airforces. The composition of the air force included air defense 
forces and airborne assault troops. Air force rear services were organizationally 

8 




separate from the flying units. Commander in Chief ReichsmarschallH. Goering 
commanded the Air Force and General H. Jeschonnek was chief of the WS gen¬ 
eral staff. 

The air fleet was the highest major air formation of the air force. In all, by 
June 1941 there were five air fleets. Each had a strength of from 800 to 1,600 
combat aircraft. The air fleet consisted of air corps (one or two), an antiaircraft 
corps, and an independent air squadron. The air corps was the highest tactical 
formation, and it usually included two or three bomber squadrons, one or two 
fighter squadrons, from one to three reconnaissance groups, and one or two air¬ 
lift groups. The air squadron, the principal tactical air formation, contained two 
or three air groups. The air group had a strength of 39-47 planes, including the 
aircraft of reserve and organic subunits. Fascist German aviation was armed with 
aircraft of fully up-to-date design with relatively high technical specifications, 
as can be seen from table 1. 

Preparing for its attack on the Soviet Union, the German leadership built 
and reequipped airfields at an accelerated pace. From summer 1940 to May 1941 
more than 250 airfields and 160 landing strips were built on German territory. 
During this time 100 airfields and 50 landing strips were built and restored on 
Polish territory. Airfields were built in Romania and Hungary. The well-de¬ 
veloped airfield network permitted dispersed basing and freedom of maneuver 
in all directions to the Luftwaffe. The strategic plan for the war against the USSR 
(Operation Barbarassa) provided for a surprise attack involving several powerful 
strikes by large air, tank, and motorized forces, surrounding and annihilating the 
main forces of the Soviet Army in the western Soviet Union, followed by a swift 
advance deep into the country to a line extending from Arkhangelsk to As¬ 
trakhan’. The Hitlerite command allocated 190 divisions, including 19 tank and 
14 motorized divisions, to Operation Barbarossa; this included their allied armed 
forces. The fascist German grouping had a strength of 5.5 million men, about 
4,300 tanks, more than 47,000 guns and mortars, 4,980 combat aircraft, and 192 
warships. Four of the five air fleets were targeted against the USSR. On 29 May 
1941 the operational formations of the German Air Force and of troop aviation 
intended for action against the Soviet Union consisted of306 combat squadrons, 
including 127 bomber and 89 fighter squadrons. The reserve contained about 400 
planes. 13 Bomber aviation made up the bulk of the German Air Force, contribut¬ 
ing 57.8 percent of the entire aircraft inventory. Fighter aviation made up 31.2 
and reconnaissance aviation 11 percent. Hitlerite strategists believed that, as had 
been the case in Poland and France, they would be able to annihilate Soviet avia¬ 
tion within the first days of the war with bomber strikes against airfields. There¬ 
fore, they paid a great deal of attention to developing bomber aviation. 

The main strikes were to be made against Leningrad, Moscow, and Kiev. 
The resources of three strategic groupings were deployed in these sectors. In the 
Leningrad sector, Army Group North consisting of 29 divisions was to destroy 
Soviet troops in the Baltic states and capture Leningrad and Kronshtadt. The 
army group was supported from the air by the 1st Air Fleet, consisting of 760 
aircraft. 


9 




Messer- 

schmitt) 



























Table 2. Number of Combat Aircraft Possessed by Countries of the Fascist 
Militarist Bloc and Assigned to Attack the USSR.* 



imli 

Finland 

Romania 


Total 

about 4,000 

70 ? 

307 

623 

48 

4,980 


• World War II History, III, 328, 338. 

TAt the end of June 1941 Italy sent 70 combat aircraft against the USSR as an 
• ‘expeditionary ’ ’ corps. 


In central Poland the strongest troop grouping—Army Group Center con¬ 
sisting of 50 divisions and 2 brigades—prepared for the offensive. With the sup¬ 
port of the 2nd Air Fleet (1,670 aircraft) it was to cut the strategic defensive front, 
encircle and annihilate Soviet Army troops in Belorussia, and develop the offen¬ 
sive against Moscow. 

Army Group South consisting of three German and two Romanian armies, 
a tank group, and a Hungarian mobile corps, 57 divisions and 13 brigades in 
all, supported by the 4th Air Fleet and Romanian aviation (1,600 aircraft), had 
the mission of annihilating Soviet troops in the right-bank Ukraine, reaching the 
Dnepr, and developing the offensive eastward. 

German Army Norway and two Finnish armies—21 divisions and 3 
brigades in all—were deployed on Norwegian territory and in Finland. With the 
support of the 5th Air Fleet and the Finnish Air Force (547 aircraft in all), these 
forces were to capture Murmansk and Polyamyy and assist Army Group North 
in capturing Leningrad. The ground forces main command had 24 divisions in 
reserve. 

The Hitlerite command assigned the following missions to the air force: at¬ 
taining air supremacy and paralyzing the actions of Soviet aviation; disrupting 
communications and preventing the reserves from maneuvering; supporting the 
swift advance of ground troops. 

Thus fascist Germany made comprehensive preparations for war against the 
Soviet Union, and it possessed sizable armed forces, including an air force outfit¬ 
ted with all types of combat equipment. 


The State of the Soviet Air Force oa the Eve of the Wtr 


The Communist Party and Soviet government were aware that an armed 
clash with the forces of imperialism could occur, and in the years of peaceful 
socialist construction they took the necessary steps to strengthen the country’s 















Table 3. Number of New Aircraft Types Produced by the Aircraft Industry 
at the Beginning of the Great Patriotic War.* 


Type of aircraft 

1940 

1941, prior to 22 June 

Total 

Yak-1 

64 

335 

399 

MiG-3 

20 

1,289 


LaGG—3 

— 

322 

322 

Pe-2 

2 

458 


11-2 

— 

249 

249 

Total 

86 

2,653 

2,739 


• TsGASA [Central State Archives of the Soviet Army], f. 130, op. 25, d. 199, 11.4-5. [See 
footnote 17 at the end of this chapter for an explanation of these abbreviations—U.S. Ed.] 


defense capabilities. Much attention was devoted to strengthening and develop¬ 
ing the Soviet Air Force. In September 1939 the Politburo of the CC VKP(b)* 
adopted the decree “On Reconstruction of Existing and Construction of New 
Aircraft Plants. ” The plan was to build nine new plants and reconstruct nine old 
ones in 1940-41. By as early as 1940 die Soviet Union’s aircraft plants were pro¬ 
ducing 19 percent more combat aircraft than in 1939. 14,15 


In January 1940 the CC VKP(b) Politburo discussed the work of the 
People’s Commissariat of the Aviation Industry. CC VKP(b) member A. I. 
Shafchurin was appointed People’s Commissar of the Aviation Industry, and air¬ 
craft designer A. S. Yakovlev was appointed his assistant for experimental con¬ 
struction. By the end of 1940 significant organizational changes had been made 
in the aviation industry. Independent design teams led by V. M. Petlyakov, A. 
A. Arkhangel’skiy, P. O. Sukhoy, and V. M. Myasishchev were detached from 
the experimental design bureau headed by A. N. Tupolev. New aviation design 
bureaus headed by A. I. Mikoyan, M. I. Gurevich, S. A. Lavochkin, M. I. Gud¬ 
kov, and V. P. Gorbunov were created. Existing engine design bureaus were 
expanded, and new ones were established. 

The technical flight characteristics of the new Soviet combat aircraft satis¬ 
fied modem requirements. For example, the MiG-3’s combat characteristics 
were superior to those of English, American, and German fighters of the same 
class. The Pe-2 was better than German bombers of the same class, the Ju-87 
and the Ju-88. Capitalist air forces did not possess ground attack planes of the 
11-2 class. In 1939 and 1940 the Soviet Union produced more planes than Ger¬ 
many, but the German aircraft industry was producing new types of planes, 
while our aircraft industry was only just beginning to master production of new 
planes. Owing to this the western border military districts still had many obsolete 
planes as of 22 June 1941, forexample, 1,7621-16and 1,5491-I53 fighters. 16 


•[CC VKPfb)—Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Piny (of Bolsheviks)—U.S. 
Ed.] 


13 
















On 25 February 1941 the CC VKP(b) and the USSR SNK* adopted a spe¬ 
cial decree “On Reorganization of the Red Army Air Force” that ratified the 
plan proposed by the People’s Commissariat of Defense for development of the 
Air Force. The plans called for increasing the aviation strength in the border mili¬ 
tary districts, improving the training of aviation personnel, reorganizing the air 
force rear area, and implementing far-reaching measures to reconstruct and ex¬ 
pand the airfield network to support the basing and combat employment of new 
aircraft. By as early as spring 1941, in comparison with the beginning of 1939, 
the number of aircraft increased by more than a factor of two, and the number 
of air regiments increased 80 percent. 17 Formation of 106 new air regiments 
began in the Air Force at the start of 1941; of these, only 19 were formed by 
the beginning of the war, including 13 long-range bomber regiments. 18 

Reequipping the Air Force and improving its organization, the Communist 
Party did a great deal to develop high morale and combat qualities in the person- - 
nel. Sixty percent of the personnel in the Air Force were communists and Kom¬ 
somol members. They played a leading role in combat training and political 
training and in the push for combat capability and combat readiness of their avia¬ 
tion units and formations. 19 

The combat capability and combat readiness of aviation units and forma¬ 
tions and the effectiveness with which combat equipment was employed were 
directly dependent on the morale, skills, and creative initiative of the aviators. 
The high morale of Soviet pilots, being one of the most vital factors of the Ai 
Force's power, was a product of our socialist social and state structure, the 
sociopolitical and ideological unity of the Soviet people, and the enormous 
ideological, political, organizational, agitational, and propaganda work of the 
Communist Party. 

Much was also done to train cadres. A new principle was adopted in De¬ 
cember 1940 for selecting cadets for military aviation schools. They were 
selected from routine drafts of young people for military service. A 25 February 
1941 CC VKP(b) and USSR SNK decree established a new system for training 
pilots, aviation engineers, and technicians. Three types of military aviation 
schools offering shorter training courses were introduced: basic training schools 
offering a 4-month course in peacetime and a 3-month course in wartime; mili¬ 
tary pilot schools with a 9-month training course in peacetime and a 6-month 
course in wartime; aviation schools with a peacetime training course of 2 years 
and a wartime training course of 1 year. 

Steps were taken to expand the training of aviation leadership cadres, giving 
them higher military education. For many years this training was conducted only 
at the N. Ye. Zhukovskiy Air Force Academy and at the Aviation Department 
of the M. V. Frunze Military Academy. In March 1940 the following depart¬ 
ments were detached by order of the USSR People ’ s Commissar of Defense from 
the N. Ye. Zhukovskiy Air Force Academy (chief—Division CommanderZ. M. 
Pomerantsev, military commissar—Brigade Commissar M. I. Izotov): com- 

* [SNK—Sovet Narodnykh Komissarov —Council of People ’ s Commissars—U S. Ed.) 

14 



N. Ye. Zhukovskiy Air Force Academy (Building A). 


mand, operational, correspondence command, navigator, and refresher training 
courses for air force supervisory personnel. These departments were reorganized 
into an independent academy designated the Red Army Air Force Command and 
Navigator Military Academy. The last graduating class of the command depart¬ 
ment at the N. Ye. Zhukovskiy Air Force Academy in 1940 included P. I. 
Ivashutin, S. N. Grechko, S. A. Pestov, V. A. Novikov, A. I. Podol’skiy, N. 
N. Ostroumov, G. A. Pshenyanik, G. K. Prussakov, A. S. Kravchenko. A. A. 
Karyagin, N. P. Kuz’min, M. N. Kozhevnikov, P. N. Aseyev, M. V. 
Afanas’yev, A. V. Zhat’kov, A. V. Khramchenkov, A. F. Isupov. A. S. Bolot¬ 
nikov, M. I. Maksimov, A. F. Matisov, M. M. Orkin, A. Ya. Ol’shvanger, G. 
M. Sokolov, A. T. Shevchenko, and others. During the Great Patriotic War, 
graduates of this department energetically performed command and staff duties, 
demonstrating excellent theoretical training, good organizational capabilities, 
skill in command and control of troops, and limitless devotion to the people and 
the Communist Party. The academy’s faculty included command department 
chief Colonel M. D. Smirnov, department commissar Regimental Commissar 
A. T. Chumakov, navigator department chief Hero of the Soviet Union Brigade 
Commander I. T. Spirin, officer instructors N. A. Zhuravlev, A. S. Pleshakov, 
A. I. Chugunov, N. F. Kudryavtsev, M. D. Tikhonov, G. D. Ban'kovskiy, V. 
P. Kanokotin.T. M. Artemenko, V. S. Pyshnov, and many others. 

In March 1941 the Air Force Engineering Academy was established in 
Leningrad, and subsequently named after A. F. Mozhayskiy. By the beginning 
of the war a total of three air force academies were in operation, training cadres 
by giving them a higher military education specifically for the Soviet Air Force. 
The Air Force Military Command and Navigator Academy became the principal 
source of trained command and staff cadres. Political officers were trained for 

15 



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17 










General Z. M. Pomerantsev. 


General M. D. Smirnov. 


V VS units and formations at the V. I. Lenin Military-Political Academy. 

Extensive measures were implemented to prepare the theater of military op¬ 
erations. Runway construction, expansion, and reconstruction at more than 250 
airfields assumed broad scope in spring 1941. A significant number of airfields 
was built in the new border zone formed due to the annexation of western Be¬ 
lorussian and Ukrainian regions and admission of new republics—Latvia, 
Lithuania, and Estonia—into the USSR. Some 164 airfields were built between 
8 April and 15 July 1941. 20 

There were plans to have three airfields (primary, auxiliary, and unim¬ 
proved) for every air regiment to ensure high combat readiness and permit avia¬ 
tion maneuvering. One hundred airfield construction battalions were formed to 
accelerate airfield construction previously begun. In addition, 25,000 laborers 
were transferred at the end of March from railroad construction projects to con¬ 
struction of airfields. 21 In western border military districts, where new types of 
planes were to be based, the runways were lengthened and paved with concrete, 
and fuel and ammunition dumps and airfield control posts were built at many 
existing airfields. Owing to this, new types of aircraft could not operate from 
these airfields temporarily, while use of obsolete aircraft was restricted. 

VVS rear services were reorganized due to a 10 April 1941 decision adopted 
by the CC VKP(b) and the USSR SNK. 22 Prior to this, aviation rear services 
units were components of air formations. Combat practice, especially in the 
Soviet-Finnish War, showed that this structure reduces the maneuverability of 
aviation and rear service units. To correct these shortcomings aviation rear serv- 





ices were no longer subordinated di¬ 
rectly to aviation formations and were 
organized on a territorial basis. 

The entire territory of the western 
border military districts was divided 
into 36 aviation base areas (RAB). The 
aviation base area became the principal 
VVS rear service organ of the com¬ 
bined arms army and the military dis¬ 
trict (front), and was intended to pro¬ 
vide logistical, airfield, and medical 
support for three to four air divisions. 
Each area contained air bases at a ratio 
of one for every division. The air base 
was directly subordinate to the area 
chief and, operationally, to the division 
commander. The base had three or four 
air base maintenance battalions (BAO). 
The air base maintenance battalion was 



Brigade Commissar 1. T. Spirin 


a separate rear services unit intended to 

directly support one air regiment equipped with twin-engine planes or two air 
regiments equipped with single-engine planes. Operationally the battalion com¬ 
mander was subordinate to the air regiment commander. This rear services struc¬ 
ture relieved the air units of cumbersome rear services, made all forms of rear 
support more consistent, and increased the capability for maneuvering air regi¬ 
ments and divisions. Restructuring of air force rear services was to be completed 
by 1 August 1941. 


Measures were planned to disperse and camouflage aircraft on the airfields. 
On 14-19 June 1941 the USSR People's Commissar of Defense ordered the com¬ 
mand element of the border military districts to deploy the directorates of fronts 
in field command posts between 21 and 25 June. Orders were published on 19 
June to camouflage airfields, military units, and important targets, to paint tanks 
and vehicles in protective colors, and to disperse aviation. 23 


But the treacherous surprise attack of fascist Germany disrupted most of 
the measures aimed at fundamentally reorganizing and rearming the Soviet Air 
Force. It was precisely for this reason that aviation in the western border military 
districts found itself in an extremely difficult situation at the start of the war. 
Construction of many airfields was not completed, the possibilities for maneu¬ 
vering aviation were limited, and air force rear services had not been fully reor¬ 
ganized into the new system. 24 Because the VVS command sent new types of 
aircraft coming from the plants directly to the airfields in the western border mili¬ 
tary districts, a larger number of obsolete aircraft accumulated at airfields located 
near the country’s border. 


19 


There were 100 or more planes at some airfields of the Western and Kiev 
special military districts. During the upgrade period a great many of the obsolete 
aircraft at these airfields were left without crews. For this reason they could not 
take off when the enemy attacked and were defenseless against German aviation. 
All of this dramatically limited the combat capabilities of the Soviet Air Force. 

The mission of repelling the aggressor’s attack from the west was assigned 
by the Soviet Supreme Command to troops of the Leningrad Military District, 
the Baltic Special Military District, the Western and Kiev special military dis¬ 
tricts, the Odessa Military District, the Air Force, and three fleets—Northern, 
Red Banner Baltic, and Black Sea. 

Formations and units of the National Air Defense forces, combined into five 
PVO* zones—Northern, Northwestern, Western, Kiev, and Southern—were to 
protect rear services facilities from air strikes in the western border zone. Forty 
VVS Fighter air regiments possessing about 1,500 planes were allocated on spe¬ 
cial assignment for air defense. 25 

There were 170 divisions (103 rifle, 40 tank, 20 motorized, 7 cavalry) and 
two brigades in the western border military districts. This grouping had a 
strength of 2.68 million men, 37,500 guns and mortars, 1,475 new tanks (KV 
and T-34), 1,540 new combat aircraft, and a large number of obsolete combat 
aircraft. 26 

At the beginning of the war the Soviet Army Air Force was composed of 
Aviation of the High Command (Long-Range Bomber Aviation), Frontal Avia¬ 
tion (the military district VVS), Army Aviation (the combined arms army VVS), 
andTroop Aviation (corps air squadrons). Of the total strength, 13.5 percent was 
with Aviation of the High Command, while 86.5 percent was with the ground 
troops (Frontal Aviation-40.5 percent. Army Aviation-43.7 percent, and Troop 
Aviation—2.3 percent).* 


The ratio of aviation branches in the western military district VVS was 
59 percent fighter, 31 percent bomber, 4.5 percent ground attack, and 5.5 per¬ 
cent reconnaissance. 27 

The VVS in the border military districts were headed by: Leningrad—com¬ 
mander, Major General of Aviation A. A. Novikov, chief of staff. Major Gen¬ 
eral A. P. Nekrasov; Baltic Special—commander, Major General of Aviation 
A. P. Ionov, chief of staff. Major General of Aviation S. P. Sinyakov; Western 
Special—Major General of Aviation 1.1. Kopets and Colonel S. A. Khudyakov, 
respectively; Kiev Special—Lieutenant General of Aviation Ye. S. Ptukhin and 
Major General of Aviation N. A. Laskin; Odessa—Major General of Aviation 


20 


*\PVO—protivovozdushnaya oboroiui —air defense—US. Ed.) 
t (Troop Aviation is that which is organic to ground units for their support—U.S. Ed. ( 


Table 5. Composition of the Western Border Military District VVS as of 
22 June 1941 * 


Military district 

Air divisions 

Air Regiments* 

Corps air 
squadrons 
(KAE) 

Bomber 

(BAD) 

So 
■5.2 
£ w 

Composite 

(SAD) 

Total 

Bomber 

(BAP) 

Fighter 

(IAP) 

Ground attack 
(ShAP) 

g 

1 

2 
§ 

8 
a t 

Total 

Leningrad 

1 

3 b 

4 

8 

9/1 

13/4 

1 

1 

24/5 

4 

Baltic Special 

— 

I 

4 

5 

8/1 

8/3 

2/1 

1 

19/5 

9 

Western Special 

2 

1‘ 

3 

6 

13/2 

12/5 

2/1 

2 

29/8 

8 

Kiev Special (as 

3 

2 

5 

10 

11/4 

17/5 

2/1 

2 

32/10 

11 

of 1 June 1941) 











Odessa (as of 











1 June 1941) 

— 

_d 

3 

3 

7/2 

7/4 

— 

1 

15/6 

4 


*50 let Vooruzhennykh Sit SSSR[Fifty Years of the USSR Armed Forces] (Moscow, 1968), 
pp. 238,251. 

•Numerator—Total air regiments: denominator—those transitioned into new types of 
aircraft. 

"Including two air defense IADs. 

Two IADs and one BAD were undergoing formation. 

Two IADs were undergoing formation. 


F. G. Michugin and Major General of Aviation A. Z. Ustinov. The commanders 
and chiefs of staff of the border military district VVS were experienced and oper¬ 
ationally well-trained military leaders. 

The VVS in the interior military districts located behind the border military 
districts were headed by: Moscow—commander, Colonel N. A. Sbytov, chief 
of staff. Colonel A. N. Burtsev; Orel—Colonel N. F. Naumenko and Colonel 
A. F. Vanyushin, respectively; Khar’kov—Major General of Aviation S. K. 
Goryunov and Colonel M. A. Belishev; North Caucasus—Major General of 
Aviation Ye. M. Nikolayenko and Colonel N. V. Korneyev; Transcaucasus— 
Lieutenant General of Aviation S. P. Densov and Brigade Commander S. P. 
Lavrik. 


In the Far East on the eve of the war there was the Far Eastern Front, in 
which the VVS commander was Lieutenant General of Aviation K. M. Gusev 
and the chief of staff was Major General of Aviation Ya. S. Shkurin. 2 * 


The VVS of the interior military districts were composed of several air for¬ 
mations and units outfitted with obsolete aviation equipment, and a large number 
of aviation schools. Air regiments, divisions, and groups were formed in the in¬ 
terior military districts and sent to the front after the war began. 


21 




General P. F. Zhigarev. 


Army Commissar 2nd Rank 
P.S. Stepanov . 


Long-Range Bomber Aviation underwent major organizational changes on 
the eve of the war. In order to improve command and control and eliminate a 
multilayered chain of command, the three special-purpose aviation armies 
(AON) of the High Command created back in 1936-1938 were reorganized into 
bomber air corps of two two-regiment air divisions each. In all, five air corps 
and three independent air divisions were created. Formation of one long-range 
escort fighter air division had begun in each air corps by the beginning of the 
war. 


Four air corps and one independent air division were deployed in the vicin¬ 
ity of Novgorod, Smolensk, Kursk, Zaporozhye, and Skomorokha; this was a 
total of nine divisions (29 air regiments) with a strength of 1,346 planes and 931 
combat crews. 29 Of the long-range bombers 86 percent were DB-3s, and 14 per¬ 
cent were TB-3s. There were only 11 of the latest aircraft—the TB-7s (or Pe- 
8s)—in the line units. 30 On the eve of the war the air corps were commanded 
by: I Bomber Air Corps—General V. I. Izotov, II Bomber Air Corps—Colonel 
K. N. Smirnov, III Bomber Air Corps—Colonel N. S. Skripko, IV Bomber Air 
Corps—Colonel V. A. Sudets, and 18th Independent Bomber Air Division— 
Colonel A. M. Duboshin. The V Air Corps was being formed in the Far East. 
Long-Range Bomber Aviation, acomponent of the Soviet Air Force, was headed 
by a specially created directorate of the aviation high command. Hero of the 
Soviet Union, Lieutenant General of Aviation 1.1. Proskurov, a veteran of the 
war in Spain, served as the directorate chief until April 1941, after which he was 
replaced by Colonel L. A. Gorbatsevich. 



On the eve of the war the Soviet Air Force was directed by the VVS Main 
Directorate. The chief of the Air Force Main Directorate was Lieutenant General 
of Aviation P. F. Zhigarev, who had replaced Lieutenant General of Aviation 
P. V. Rychagov on 12 April 1941. 

Pavel Fedorovich Zhigarev was transferred to aviation from the cavalry. In 
1927 he graduated from a military pilot school, and in 1932 he graduated from 
the N. Ye. Zhukovskiy Air Force Academy. He commanded air squadrons, an 
air brigade, and the VVS of the 2nd Independent Red Banner Army in the Far 
East. In December 1940 he was assigned as Deputy Chief of the VVS Main Di¬ 
rectorate. Corps Commissar P. S. Stepanov was appointed to the post of VVS 
Main Directorate Deputy Chief for Political Affairs. 31 Organizationally the VVS 
Main Directorate consisted of the VVS staff (chief of staff General D. N. 
Nikishev, and, as of May 1941, General P. S. Volodin), directorates, and inde¬ 
pendent sections. The DBA directorate and a number of other directorates were 
subordinate to the chief of the VVS Main Directorate. The VVS central adminis¬ 
tration did not have independent rear services at the beginning of the war. Direc¬ 
tives concerning rear services in the military district VVS (or front VVS) came 
straight from the Soviet Army Air Force staff. These functions were performed 
by the staff rear services section, headed by General P. V. Korotayev. 

At this time the Soviet Army Air Force staff consisted organizationally of sev¬ 
eral independent sections. Section One being the principal one. General B. L. 
Teplinskiy, the well-known Soviet military theoretician, was chief of Section 
One; he was at the same time a VVS deputy chief of staff. 32 The VVS staff was 
undergoing reorganization, and new officers were assigned to the principal sec¬ 
tions. Section and department chiefs included General D. D. Grendal’, Colonels 
V. V. Storozhenko, and A. I. Bogdanov, and Majors N. F. Andrianov and D. 
K. Karpovich. 

Highly skilled officers who in their time had flown combat aircraft and, for 
the most part had graduated from the command or navigator school of the air 
force academy, worked on the staff; I. P. Potapov, V. I. Artem’yev, V. P. 
Poshekhontsev, A. Ya. Ol'shvanger, I. M. Kuz’min, Ye. S. Chalik, A. M. Vla¬ 
sov, and V. A. Dmitriyev. The work of the staff was structured in terms of opera¬ 
tional sectors, with one or two officers working in each of them. They main¬ 
tained maps of the VVS operational situation of several military districts, they 
studied the probable enemy, monitored and analyzed his combat strength and 
the airfield network, maintained constant communications with the staffs of the 
military district VVS, prepared draft instructions and orders to the troops and 
reports to the General Staff, monitored the work of reorganizing and reequipping 
the air force, and inspected air units. 

After fascist invaders occupied Poland and France the situation on our west¬ 
ern borders became very tense'. The Germans began to violate our motherland’s 
airspace with increasing frequency. Performing reconnaissance, between 1 Jan- 


23 


uary and 22 June 1941 the fascist German command crossed into USSR airspace 
and penetrated up to 300-350 km into our territory in some cases. A number 
of times Soviet fighters intercepted the German reconnaissance planes and 
forced them to land. Our fighters were prohibited at that time by the Soviet com¬ 
mand from using machine gun fire against the intruders. Explosions often oc¬ 
curred automatically in the cockpits of German planes following a forced land¬ 
ing. This happened, for example, on 15 April 1941 near Rovno, when a Soviet 
fighter intercepted a Ju-86 reconnaissance plane and forced it to land. Two ex¬ 
plosions occurred after the German pilots abandoned the plane. It caught fire, 
but the fire was extinguished. Three cameras were discovered on board, of which 
only one survived. Its film bore images of rail junctions on the Kiev-Korosten' 
line. 33 


Sometimes German planes violating our airspace opened fire on fighter-in¬ 
terceptors that were demanding that they land, and then left our airspace. This 
was observed especially often on the eve of fascist Germany’s attack on the 
USSR, in May and June 1941. 

The intensity of violations of the USSR’s western airspace by German air¬ 
craft increased significantly in May-June 1941. 

“At the same time that they were developing Operation Barbarossa,’’ the 
history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union reads, “in summer 1940 
the fascist German command began deploying troops on the borders with the 
Soviet Union. Saboteurs and spies began to be sent into the USSR much more 
frequently, and the frequency of reconnaissance flights increased dramatically. 
In the first half of 1941 alone there were 324 documented cases of fascist planes 
violating USSR airspace. ’ ,34 

The General Staff and the VVS staff took steps to increase the number of 
fighters on alert at the airfields in all five western border districts. For example, 
the following fighter flights were placed on alert daily in summer 1941 in the 
Western Special Military District: 5 flights of I—153s and I—16s, 3 of the new 
MiG-3s, and 8 flights held in ambush, a total of 16 flights. 35 Somewhat fewer 
fighters were on alert in other border military districts. Fighters on alert played 
a major role early, when the treacherous surprise attack by fascist German avia¬ 
tion was repelled at dawn on 22 June 1941. Along with the border troops, Soviet 
pilots were the first to join the unequal battle against the aggressor, and they of¬ 
fered stubborn resistance to superior enemy forces. 

In the central VVS administration, the principal directorates and the main 
sections of the VVS staff were hastily manned by officer pilots, navigators, and 
engineers who had graduated from military academies. The VVS staff and its 
operational section worked up directives and orders to the troops concerning op¬ 
erational and combat training. Preparation of all aviation manuals and regula¬ 
tions as well as the draft 1944 Field Service Regulations were also accomplished 
with VVS staff participation. We know that as early as January 1940 field manu- 
24 


als had been promulgated for bomber (BUBA-40) and fighter aviation (BUIA- 
40) by order of the USSR People's Commissar of Defense, and the troops used 
them as their guidelines. In that same year an order from the chief of the Soviet 
Army Air Force Main Directorate defined the list of individual theoretical topics 
to be developed by military district VVS commanders. In February 1941 the 
VVS staff developed a list of operational and tactical subjects for use in training 
officers on military district VVS staffs and in air divisions. On 28 February 1941 
the chief of the VVS Main Directorate published an order indicating that de¬ 
velopment of an individual topic was one of the most important ways to improve 
the operational and tactical training of higher and senior aviation commanders. 36 
These topics were fully in line with the requirements for waging war against a 
strong enemy, and they were sufficiently well defined and specific. The list of 
topics included VVS actions in attaining air supremacy in a frontal offensive op¬ 
eration; frontal VVS actions in breaking up enemy shipments and concentra¬ 
tions; frontal VVS actions to prevent advance of strategic enemy reserves to the 
location of a breakthrough; frontal VVS actions in a meeting encounter of a 
mechanized cavalry group; frontal VVS actions in annihilating major enemy 
mechanized formations penetrating deep into our disposition, in supporting an 
airborne landing operation, and in repelling an enemy naval assault landing. 37 
The VVS commanders in the border military districts had to submit abstracts of 
their reports on the assigned topics to the VVS staff by 1 April 1941. This was 
postponed until June 1941 due to tension in the international situation and the 
measures taken at the troop unit level to reorganize and rearm VVS units and 
formations in the border military districts. 

The Soviet Army Air Force staff also resolved the problems of organization 
and coordination among the aviation components and between aviation and the 
ground forces. As early as October 1940 the VVS commanders in four military 
districts (Western Special, Leningrad, Transcaucasus, and Far East) were tasked 
to draft instructions on coordination between aviation and the ground forces. The 
fundamental premises of this draft were utilized at the beginning of the war. 

In January 1941 the USSR People’s Commissar of Defense ordered the mil¬ 
itary district commanders and the chief of the VVS Main Directorate to attach 
the staffs of air formations (including the staffs of Long-Range Bomber Aviation 
air corps) to the appropriate army directorates, and some of the staffs to the mili¬ 
tary district staffs. The goal was to raise the training level of air formation staffs 
and improve the skills of higher commanders in employment of large air forces 
in operations. 38 

The General Staff and the VVS command conducted a variety of air exer¬ 
cises. More than 130 regimental, divisional, and district exercises were con¬ 
ducted in 1940 with WS aviation formations and units participating. 39 

The theory behind operational employment of the Air Force in a future war 
was also rather well developed on the eve of the war. Soviet military science 
considered that aviation was to play a major role in the struggle for air supremacy 
and in supporting the ground forces and the Navy in their offensive and defensive 

25 




operations. The draft R.KKA* Field Manual (1939) stated: "Aviation possesses 
powerful equipment, it is swift, and it has a large radius of action. Itisapowerful 
weapon against enemy manpower and equipment; it can annihilate his aviation 
and destroy important targets. Aviation is linked strategically and tactically to 
the ground forces, it performs independent air operations against objectives deep 
in the enemy rear area, and it fights enemy aviation, securing air supremacy.’’ 40 
The VVS command and staff devoted special attention to resolving issues con¬ 
cerning aviation’s participation in offensive operations, primarily in operations 
in depth. In accordance with the theory of the deep offensive operation, the troop 
offensive must "have the nature of suppression of the entire defensive zone, fol¬ 
lowed by penetration, encirclement, and annihilation of the enemy.’’ 41 It was 
believed that a simultaneous, powerful thrust by infantry, tanks, artillery, and 
aviation would make it possible to break enemy defenses to their entire tactical 
depth, and that subsequent commitment of mobile formations (mechanized and 
cavalry) to the breakthrough, with active support by aviation from the air in com¬ 
bination with decisive actions by airborne troops in the enemy rear area, would 
ensure encirclement and annihilation of the enemy.’’ 42 It was believed that the 
Air Force would perform the following combat missions in these operations: at¬ 
tain air supremacy, support ground troops in penetration of enemy tactical de¬ 
fenses, cover troops and rear facilities from air strikes, carry out strikes against 
operational and strategic reserves and targets in the enemy rear area, support the 
commitment of an exploitation echelon to a breakthrough, support the latter’s 
combat actions in the operational depth of the enemy defenses, support airborne 
landing parties, supply friendly forces by air, and perform air reconnais¬ 
sance.” 43 


Attaining air supremacy was considered one of the most important VVS 
missions. It could be achieved on strategic and operational scales. Air supremacy 
was attained in the sector of the main ground troop thrusts through the joint ef¬ 
forts of the VVS of two or several contiguous fronts, by Aviation of the High 
Command, and by ground-based PVO resources. 

Enemy aviation was to be fought in two ways: through destruction of enemy 
aviation on airfields, coupled with a concurrent strike against his rear services— 
frontline bases, repair services, fuel and ammunition dumps, and destruction of 
enemy aviation in aerial combat. 

The Air Force’s independent air operations were subdivided into strategic 
and operational in accordance with prewar viewpoints. The former included air 
operations conducted by the Supreme High Command in the interests of the war 
as a whole. They were directed against the enemy’s most important military, 
economic, and political centers, and their objective was to undermine his mili¬ 
tary and economic power, disorganize the work of the rear area, disrupt state 


*\RKKA — Raboche-Krest' yanskaya Krasnaya Armiya —Workers' and Peasants’ Red Army— 
US.Ed.) 

26 



administration and communications, and lower the morale of the population and 
the army. 

Operational air operations were to be conducted on behalf of the ground 
and naval forces. Their principal objectives were: defeat of opposing aviation 
groupings; breakup of the enemy’s maneuvering (or concentration); destruction 
of the enemy’s operational-strategic reserves; weakening of the navy and de¬ 
struction of large enemy naval assault landing parties. Professor, Brigade Com¬ 
mander A. N. Lapchinskiy, the author of a number of scholarly works including 
the famous work on military theory entitled Vozdushnaya armiya,* made a sig¬ 
nificant contribution to the theory of independent air operations. His basic prem¬ 
ises were utilized in the practical activities of the Soviet Army Air Force com¬ 
mand and staff on the eve of and in the course of the Great Patriotic War. In 
particular he wrote the following about the main mission facing the Air Force: 
"In the end, no matter what mission aviation performs in relation to the ground 
war, it is always faced with the problem of attaining air supremacy. 


"Aviation entered the war as a new powerful offensive factor. Hence fol¬ 
lows the logical conclusion that land and air forces must act together to achieve 
a common goal. . . . Aviation cannot set the stage for a triumphant procession 
of advancing massed armies, nor will it be able to perform triumphant flights. 
In all subsequent operations the fight between the air forces will be stubborn and 
savage. Aviation will help the land front to the extent that it offers it greater pos¬ 
sibilities for offensive actions in comparison to the enemy by conducting a 
number of its own successive independent operations. 

"When a massive offensive army is at hand, the main mission of an air army 
is to support the forward movement of this army, for which purpose all efforts 
must be concentrated. When a war of maneuver is waged, we must win air-land 
encounters that start in the air and end on the ground; this would require concen¬ 
tration of all air forces. ’ ,44 

In the prewar years the combat employment of the VVS in various opera¬ 
tions and in war overall had been quite thoroughly studied in a number of major 
works by Soviet military leaders and scholars. 45 

There had been studies of employment of aviation in the initial period of 
war. The following were treated as the Air Force's main missions at the begin¬ 
ning of a war in the works of Corps Commander V. V. Khripin and Colonel P. 
I. Malinovskiy, written as early as 1936; suppression of the aerial enemy 
throughout the entire depth of his disposition with the goal of attaining air 
supremacy; prevention of the concentration of ground troops; support of the lead 
ground army's actions by a portion of the aviation resources. 46 Actions against 
the enemy's economic and political centers were not excluded here. The advisa- 


[Vozdushnaya armiya —The Air Army—US. Ed.) 


27 



bility of shifting aviation units from primary to unimproved airfields to preserve 
aviation in the initial period of war was also pointed out in the work. The first 
operations of World War II permitted the Soviet command to refine the princi¬ 
ples of the initial period of war and determine its significance for the course and 
outcome of the armed struggle. The initial period was interpreted as the time in¬ 
terval from the beginning of military actions until commitment of the main body 
of armed forces into the encounter. 47 

Problems of employing all services of the Armed Forces in war, including 
the Air Force, were discussed in detail at a conference of high-ranking command¬ 
ers in December 1940 convened by Marshal of the Soviet Union S. K. 
Timoshenko by order of the CC VKP(b). General P. V. Rychagov, chief of the 
Air Force Main Directorate, gave the report entitled ‘‘The Air Force in an Offen¬ 
sive Operation and in the Struggle for Air Supremacy. ’ ,48 

The report pointed out that only air supremacy would make it possible to 
dependably prepare a front’s offensive, provide air cover to troops being brought 
up to the front, especially cavalry and mechanized troops, quickly and systemati¬ 
cally penetrate an enemy fortified zone, and exploit a success in depth. “Attain¬ 
ment of air supremacy,” the report read, “requires destruction of the enemy’s 
aviation on his airfields coupled with a simultaneous strike against aviation rear 
services (frontline bases, repair services, fuel and ammunition dumps) and de¬ 
struction of enemy aviation in the air above the battlefield. ’ ,49 

But the leadership was unable to arrive at a common point of view on a 
number of issues concerning operational employment of the VVS in war, espe¬ 
cially the problems of attaining air supremacy. Exaggerating the very limited 
combat experience of the war in Spain and their own personal experience, some 
conference participants understated the contribution made by the fascist German 
Air Force to the swift defeat of Polish and French aviation, attained mainly 
through surprise massed strikes against airfields. Summarizing the results of the 
conference, S. K. Timoshenko approved the basic premises stated in the confer¬ 
ence reports, though he did critique several. In particular, he said the following 
about VVS employment: “We have accumulated a large amount of experience 
in WS employment in operations, but this experience has yet to be synthesized 
and studied. Moreover, this situation is fraught with dangerous consequences. 
Our VVS leadership has been unable to arrive at common viewpoints on such 
issues as structuring and planning operations, assessing the enemy, the methods 
for conducting an air war and imposing one's will on the enemy, target selection, 
and so on.” 50 

Differences in interpretation of the problems concerning VVS operational 
employment in war also had a certain effect on the VVS organizational structure. 
It was concluded that aviation had to be subdivided into Army Aviation intended 
specifically for coordination with army troops, and Frontal Aviation operating 
in accordance with a front’s plans. But the Great Patriotic War did not support 
this conclusion. It was based on combat experience acquired in combat in the 
battles at the Halhin Gol River (May-September 1939) and in the Finnish conflict 
28 



(30 November 1939 to 13 March 1940). Subdivision into army and frontal avia¬ 
tion was fully justified in minor wars such as these. But in a large war against 
a strong enemy, where massing of efforts and centralized control over all avia¬ 
tion participating in an operation were required, this organizational structure was 
unacceptable. Thus, in the prewar years Soviet operational art offered a basically 
correct interpretation of VVS operational employment in offensive and defen¬ 
sive operations. Many premises of the theory of VVS operational art were tested 
in major exercises and maneuvers conducted in the prewar years. But there also 
were poorly developed aspects in our military theory. Not enough work had been 
done on the problems of repelling an enemy surprise attack, conducting joint 
VVS-ground troop actions in strategic defense, and bringing the troops and avia¬ 
tion to increased and full combat readiness. 

On the eve of the war the Soviet Army Air Force command and staff de¬ 
voted considerable attention to improving the combat and political training of 
units and formations in Frontal and Long-Range Bomber Aviation. New require¬ 
ments on the combat and political training of the troops were promulgated by 
the USSR People’s Commissar of Defense in Order No. 30, dated 29 January 
1941, and in the Soviet Army Main Political Propaganda Directorate “On Reor¬ 
ganizing Party-Political Work,” published in August 1940. Troop training was 
based on the principle: “Teach the troops only that which they will need in war, 
and only the methods used in war. ’ ’ The Air Force was tasked to develop coordi¬ 
nation with ground troops and the Navy, conducting active combat operations 
with large forces, and devoting more attention to mastering flying in poor weath¬ 
er and at night. One air squadron in every air regiment was tasked to take a night 
flying training course. 


The combat and political training of air units and formations was systemati¬ 
cally inspected by the Soviet Army Air Force command on the eve of the war. 
This can be seen from the following example. In April 1941 an inspection was 
conducted of the 12th Bomber Air Division of the Western Special Military Dis¬ 
trict VVS, which was lagging considerably in uograding to new types of aircraft. 
The group of VVS officers detailed for the ir^yection was headed by General 
A. V. Nikitin, chief of the Air Force Organization and Manning Directorate. 


Aleksey Vasil’yevich Nikitin chose aviation as his career as early as 1921, 
enrolling in die military observer pilot school in Petrograd. He joined the Red 
Army in May 1919 and became a member of the Communist Party in 1925. In 
his aviation career he served as an observer pilot, flight commander, air detach¬ 
ment commander, and air squadron commander. Chief of staff of the pilot school 
in Lugansk, he had graduated from this school and, at the same time, acquired 
the specialty of a military pilot. Later he assumed the post of chief of staff of 
the Transcaucasus Military District VVS and chief of staff of the Transbaykal 
Military District VVS. He began working in the VVS central administration in 
1939. 


29 



The inspection confirmed that 104 of the division’s crews were still in tran¬ 
sition training. The division command’s fear of flying accidents was the reason. 
This explains why personnel were assigned more of the easier sorties in the com¬ 
bat training plan than the training level of the pilots would require. Naturally, 
this delayed the progress of the combat training. In the inspection critique Gen¬ 
eral A. V. Nikitin pointed out that such a faulty transition method was unaccepta¬ 
ble and that the air division command had behaved irresponsibly where the state 
of combat training was concerned. The division was ordered to accelerate the 
transition training and immediately begin on the applied combat training prob¬ 
lems. During the inspection the VVS inspectors certified 20 of the division’s 
pilots who had distinguished themselves in the inspection for solo flight aboard 
the new types of aircraft, and air regiment and squadron supervisory personnel 
began working on the combat training problems. 

The inspection gave a solid push to accelerating applied aircrew combat 
training problems, having the positive effect of increasing the division's fighting 
efficiency. In the first days of the war the 12th Bomber Air Division distin¬ 
guished itself in combat and was mentioned in an order of the Western Front 
Military Council. 51 

Long-Range Bomber Aviation units and formations underwent highly in¬ 
tense combat training on the eve of the war. In the first half of June 1941 alone 
the crews flew 8,614 hours, including 1,032 hours at night, and 679 hours were 
spent in high-altitude training. During this time 1,400 navigational sorties were 
flown, there were 1,839 bombing runs at practice ranges, and there were 1,560 
aerial gunnery runs. 52 Long-Range Bomber Aviation had also acquired some 
combat experience in the Soviet-Finnish conflict. In January-March 1940 it flew 
2,129 combat sorties against rail terminals, stations, war plants, and ports. 53 

On the eve of the war the Communist Party, the Soviet government, and 
the High Command did a great deal to strengthen the Soviet Air Force. 

The initiation of World War II gave rise to a need to refine the viewpoints 
on combat employment of the Air Force. Attention was turned to the massing 
of aviation in the sector of the main ground thrust and to the exceptional impor¬ 
tance of attaining air supremacy at the beginning of military actions. The require¬ 
ment to attain air supremacy through independent air operations to destroy the 
enemy’s aviation groupings was recognized. 

The German-Polish war and the campaign in Western Europe confirmed 
that the VVS as a service of the armed forces could perform major operational- 
strategic missions. 


30 


Notes 


1. Istoriya vtoroy mirovoy voyny 1939-1945 [History of World War tl 1939-1945], HI (Moscow, 
1974),p 20. [Hereafter referred to as World War IIHistory —U.S. Ed.]. 

2. Ibid.,p. 22. 

3. Istoriya Voyeruio-Vozdushnykh Sit Sovetskoy Armii [History of the Soviet Army Air Force] 
(Moscow, 1954), p. 399. [Hereafter referred to as SAF History —U.S. Ed.]. 

4. World War II History, 111,71. 

5. Ibid.,p. 81. 

6. Ibid., pp. 86-87,89. 

7. F. Haider, Voyennyy dnevnik [War Diary], translated from the German, I (Moscow, 1968), p. 
495. 

8. World War IIHistory . HI, 132. 

9. Ibid.,p. 133. 

10. Ibid.,p. 134. 

11. Ibid.,p. 135. 

12. Ibid , IV, 13. 

13. Ibid , ni, 326,328. 

14. Istoriya Velikoy Otechestvennoy voyny Sovetskogo Soyuza 1941-1945 gg. [History of the Great 
Patriotic War of the Soviet Union 1941-1945], I (Moscow, 1961), p. 414. [Hereafter referred 
to as Great Patriotic War —U. S. Ed. ] 

15. Ibid. 

16. Voyenno-istoricheskiyzhurnaHMilitary Historical Journal], No. 7, 1974, p. 88. 

17. Arkhiv MO SSSR [USSR Ministry of Defense Archives. Hereafter referred to as Archives ] f. 
35, op. 28401, d. 22, 1. 34. [The preceding abbreviations are Soviet archival designations: f., 
fond; op., inventory; d. item; 1. folio. The Russian word fond is retained because the concept 
has no exact English equivalent. Hereafter in this work the Russian abbreviations will be used 
for such references—U. S. Ed. ] 

18. Ibid., f. 39, op. 11282, d. 17,1.256. 

19. Sovetskiye Voyenno-Vozdushnyye Sily v Velikoy Otechestvennoy voyne 1941-1945 gg. [The 
Soviet Air Force in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945] (Moscow, 1968), p. 23. [Hereafter re¬ 
ferred to a sSAF in World War II —U. S. Ed. ] 

20. Archives, f. 35, op. 28737, d. 1,11.7,33, 116. 

21 World War IIHistory , ni, 423. 

22. Archives. f,35,op. 30807, d. 23, 11. 15-23. 

23 World War!! History, in, 441. 

24. Ibid , IV, 27. 

25. Ibid., HI,425. 

26. Ibid., IV,25. 

27. SAF in World War II. p. 13. 

28. The Field Directorate ofthe Far Eastern Front was established on 21 June 1940. 

29. Archives, f. 35,op. 107559,d. 5,11. 169-70. 

30. Ibid.,op. 11282,d. 20, 1.242. 

31. Ibid.,op. 11235,d.4,1.67. 

32. General B. L. Teplinskiy was responsible for the writing and publication of the following schol¬ 
arly works; Aviatsiya v boyu nazemnykh voysk [Aviation in Support of Combat of the Ground 
Troops] (Moscow, 1940); Osnovy obshchey taktiki WS. [Fundamentals of WS General Tac¬ 
tics] (Moscow, 1940). 

33. Archives, f. 35,op. 11285, d. 118, 11.70-73. 

34. Istoriya Kommunisticheskoy partii Sovetskogo Soyuza [History of the Communist Party of the 
Soviet Union], V, Book l,p. 141. [Hereafter referred to as CPSU History —U.S. Ed.] 

35. Archives, f. 35, op. 11285, d. 26.11. 

36. Ibid , d. 1,1.50. 

37. Ibid , 11.28-45. 

38. Ibid ,d 1,1.88 

39. Ibid , 11.6,7. 


31 



40. Polevoy ustav RKKA (PU-39). Proyeki [RKKA Field Service Regulations (PU-39). Draft] 
(Moscow, 1939), pp. 23-24. 

41. Polevoy ustav Krasnoy Armii. Proyekt [Red Army Field Service Regulations. Draft] (Moscow, 
1941), p. 136. 

42. Ibid.,p. 140. 

43. Archives, f. 35, op. 29401, d. 10,1.79. 

44. A. N. Lapchinskiy, Vozdushnaya armiya [The Air Army] (Moscow, 1939), pp. 98, 119, 137, 
144. 

45. S. A. Mezheninov, Vozdushnyye sily v voyne i operatsii [The Air Force in War and in an Opera¬ 
tion] (Moscow, 1927); A. S. Algazin, Obespecheniye vozdushnykh operatsiy [Support of Air 
Operations] (Moscow, 1928); A. V. Sergeyev, Strategiya i taiaika Krasnogo Vozdushnogo 
Flota [Strategy and Tactics of the Red Air Fleet] (Moscow, 1935); P. P. Ionov, Obshchaya tak- 
tika Voyenno-Vozdushnykh Sil (Air Force General Tactics] (Moscow, 1934). 

46. Archives, f. 35,op. 23373,d. 2,11.5-7. 

47. World War IIHistory, 111.411. 

48. Ibid. ,p. 409. 

49. Archives, f. 35,op. 29373,d. 2,11.5-7. 

50. Zaklyuchitel'naya rech' narodnogo komissara oborony Soyuza SSR. Marshala Sovetskogo 
SoyuzaS. K. Timoshenko 31 dekabrya 1940g. [Concluding Speech by USSR People’s Commis¬ 
sar of Defense, Marshal of the Soviet Union S. K. Timoshenko on 31 December 1940] (Mos¬ 
cow, 1941),p. 35. 

51. Aviatsiva i kosmonavtika SSSR (USSR Aviation and Cosmonautics] (Moscow, 1968), p. 92. 
[Hereafter referred to as USSR Aviation and Cosmonautics —U.S. Ed.] 

52. Archives, f. 35, op. 11290, d. 34,11.12. 

53. Ibid , op. 11600, d. 380,1.2. 


32 



Chapter 2. The Soviet Army Air Force Command 
and Staff at the Beginning of the War 

and in the 1941 Summer-Fall Opera¬ 
tions 


The Nature of Aviation Actions by the Belligerents in the First 
Days of the War 

Violating the Nonaggression Pact, treacherously, without declaring war, at 
dawn on 22 June 1941 fascist Germany attacked the Soviet Union with armed 
forces previously prepared and concentrated at the borders of the USSR. Be¬ 
tween 0330 and 0400 hours fascist German aviation made massed raids on our 
airfields, rail junctions, naval bases, troop groupings, and the cities of Mur¬ 
mansk, Kaunas, Minsk, Kiev, Odessa, and Sevastopol’. At the same time artil¬ 
lery opened a hail of fire on defensive fortifications and troop dispositions. Fol¬ 
lowing powerful artillery and air preparation, enemy tank and motorized divi¬ 
sions went over to the offensive on a front from the Baltic to the Carpathians. 
Battles also began south of the Carpathians, along the Romanian border to the 
Black Sea. Fascist Germany was joined by Hungary, Italy, Romania, and Fin¬ 
land in its war against the USSR. Savage encounters developed, distinguished 
by great scope, high dynamism, and dramatic changes in the situation. The Great 
Patriotic War of the Soviet Union against fascist Germany and its European allies 
had begun. 

The Communist Party and the Soviet government appealed to the Soviet 
people to repel the aggressor and expressed firm confidence in victory over the 
enemy. United by inviolable friendship, the peoples of the USSR all rose up as 
one for the holy war for the freedom and independence of their motherland. 

The Hitlerite command committed up to 50 percent of its aviation concen¬ 
trated at our border to destruction of Soviet aviation. Air raids were made on 
66 airfields where 65 percent of the aviation of the Western border districts was 
based, including 26 airfields of the Western, 23 of the Kiev, and 11 of the Baltic 
special military districts and 6 airfields of the Odessa Military District. As a re¬ 
sult, in the first day of the war the Soviet Air Force lost about 1,200 planes, 800 
of which were parked on airfields. 1 

Aviation from the Western and Kiev special military districts, where fascist 
German aviation managed to destroy and damage 1,015 planes in the first day 
of the war, suffered especially great losses. Out of 409 planes present at the be¬ 
ginning of the war, the 9th Composite Air Division of the Western Special Mili¬ 
tary District VVS lost 347, the 10th Composite Air Division lost 180 of 231, 


33 


and the 1 Ith Composite Air Division lost 127 of 199. On the second day of the 
war these three first-echelon air divisions were rendered unfit for action and sent 
back to re-form. In air engagements, fighters of the Western Special Military 
District V VS shot down more than 100 fascist planes and dispersed large German 
bomber groups, but they were unable to halt their raids or even restrict the actions 
of enemy aviation. In one day the enemy destroyed 387 fighters and 351 bomb- 


The border military district VVS suffered great losses in their inventory of 
planes for the following reasons. The telegram from the USSR People’s Com¬ 
missar of Defense warning the military district commanders of the time of a pos¬ 
sible attack by fascist Germany and containing instructions to make the troops 
combat ready and disperse aviation to unimproved airfields was not transmitted 
to the border military districts until just 4 hours before the enemy’s invasion. 3 
Because many of the airfields were undergoing construction and reconstruction 
the extent to which aviation units and formations of the border military district 
VVS could be maneuvered was limited. The degree to which the airfields were 
camouflaged and the cover provided them by air defense resources were in¬ 
adequate. Some aviation commanders inexperienced in repelling massed sur¬ 
prise raids were unable to protect their units from the strikes and organize deci¬ 
sive opposition to fascist aviation. Soviet pilots had to fight under unequal condi¬ 
tions. For the most part they were forced to fight in obsolete fighters against a 
numerically superior enemy armed with modem planes. 

Despite the difficulty and complexity of the resulting situation, Soviet pilots 
acted boldly and selflessly in all sectors, astounding the world with their unprec¬ 
edented steadfastness and unwavering courage and bravery. On the first day, 
for example, an air squadron of the Western Special Military District VVS 127th 
Fighter Air Regiment commanded by Senior Lieutenant I. I. Drozdov took to 
the air four times to repel enemy bomber raids in the vicinity of Brest, shooting 
down five fascist planes. 


In the Southwestern sector at 0425 hours Senior Lieutenant I. I. Ivanov, 
a flight commander in the 46th Fighter Air Regiment, rammed and downed an 
enemy bomber after using up all of his ammunition in aerial combat. 4 Pilots of 
the 91st and 252nd fighter air regiments also distinguished themselves here. 
Pilots of the 67th and 55th fighter air regiments honorably performed their duty 
to the motherland in the southernmost sector of the Soviet-German front. Major 
B. A. Rudakov, commander of the 67th Fighter Air Regiment, launched his first 
group of fighters against enemy bombers on receiving a report of their approach. 
Several enemy aircraft were shot down in aerial combat. That day the regiment’s 
pilots repelled raids four times. They flew 117 combat sorties, broke up the 
bombing runs by the fascist German bombers, and shot down 13 planes. Lieuten¬ 
ant Colonel V. P. Ivanov, commander of the 55th Fighter Air Regiment, dis¬ 
played resourcefulness and decisiveness. Receiving a report of the approach of 
20 German bombers and 18 fighters, he launched his air squadron, on alert with 
its new MiG-3 fighters, ordering it to attack the enemy, while the regiment’s 
34 



other fighters assisted in dispersing the German bombers and forcing them to 
turnback. 5 





Soviet Fighters on Patrol Over Moscow. 


Combat actions began in the Leningrad sector at dawn on 22 June. At 0320 
hours, while the people of Leningrad were still sleeping, the first aerial encounter 
occurred on the distant approaches to Leningrad. Fighter pilots Shavrov and 
Boyko engaged an Me-110 flight in combat. 6 

On the first day of the war Soviet pilots I. I. Ivanov, L. G. Butelin, S. M. 
Gudimov, A. S. Danilov, D. V. Kokorev. A. I. Moklyak, Ye. M. Panfilov, and 
P. S. Ryabtsev repeated the immortal feat of their compatriot, pilot P. N. Nes¬ 
terov, who back on 26 August 1914 rammed and downed an enemy plane for 
the first time in the world. Later, many comrades-in-arms followed the example 
of the hero pilots. When they ran out of ammunition but the enemy continued 
to advance, they rammed the enemy planes, knocking them out of the sky. 

At 0715 hours on 22 June 1941 the People's Commissar of Defense as¬ 
signed the mission of a retaliatory strike at the enemy to the commanders of the 
border military districts. The directive stated: 


" 1. The troops are to attack enemy forces with all available forces and resources and 
annihilate them wherever they have violated the Soviet border. Ground troops are not 
to cross the border without special instructions. 

"2. Reconnaissance and combat aviation arc to establish the places of concentration 
of enemy aviation and ground troop groupings. Aviation on enemy airfields is to be 
destroyed with powerful strikes by bomber and ground attack aviation, and the main 
enemy ground troop groupings .are to be destroyed by bombing. Air strikes are to be 
made to a depth of 100-150 km into German territory; Koenigsberg and Memel are 
to be destroyed by bombing. . " 7 


35 


But, in view of the situation, the Baltic, Western, and Kiev special military 
district commanders were unable to organize a powerful retaliatory strike. 

On 22 June 1941 Soviet pilots flew about 6,000 combat sorties and de¬ 
stroyed more than 200German planes. 8 

Under terribly difficult conditions our country transformed itself into a mili¬ 
tary camp under the guidance of the Communist Party and the Soviet government 
within the very first days of the war. The national economy was placed on a war 
footing, and the Soviet Armed Forces, including the VVS, were strengthened 
and reorganized. 

On 22-25 June 1941 frontal VVS were created from border military district 
aviation. The following were the VVS commanders of these fronts: Northern— 
General A. A. Novikov; Northwestern—General A. P. Ionov (General T. F. 
Kutsevalov after 1 July 1941); Western—General A. I. Tayurskiy (Colonel N. 
F. Naumenko after 2 July 1941); Southwestern—General Ye. S. Ptukhin (Gen¬ 
eral F. A. Astakhov after 1 July 1941); Southern—General F. G. Michugin 
(General P. S. Shelukhin after 27 June 1941). The great losses suffered by avia¬ 
tion in the border military districts and most importantly the qualitative superior¬ 
ity of the bulk of German planes allowed the fascist German Air Force to seize 
the initiative in the decisive sectors. This significantly complicated the actions 
of ground forces in the border zone as they attempted to repel the developing 
enemy offensive. Nevertheless the Soviet Air Force remained combat capable. 
The Hitlerite command’s attempts at destroying the Soviet Air Force by raids 
on airfields were not successful everywhere. Soviet aviation lost a large number 
of planes only in the western border military districts. Aviation formations of 
the Northern and Southern fronts and of the interior military districts, and Long- 
Range Bomber Aviation suffered almost no losses. Pilots in the border military 
district VVS that had lost their planes were reassigned to newly formed air regi¬ 
ments and divisions. 

A few days prior to the war the Odessa Military District command element 
inspected the combat readiness of its troops and aviation on the southern sector 
of the front. The air units had been deployed to unimproved airfields, where the 
planes were dispersed and camouflaged. The personnel were at increased combat 
readiness. The military district VVS staff (chief of staff General A. Z. Ustinov) 
was transferred from Odessa to Tiraspol’. These measures made it possible to 
successfully repel the aerial attack. The enemy put 6 of our planes out of action, 
but he himself lost 30. 

On the eve of and at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War the Soviet 
Army Air Force Main Directorate had among its command and operational func¬ 
tions management of the combat actions of Long-Range Bomber Aviation di¬ 
rectly subordinate to it. Frontal, Army, and Troop Aviation were not subordinate 
to it in this respect, which had an unfavorable impact on the effectiveness with 
which the different branches of aviation were employed in combat. The chief 


36 






A Soviet Night Bomber Crew PriorToTakeoff. 


of the VVS Main Directorate and the staff were responsible for the combat train¬ 
ing of air units and formations, the operational training of the Frontal and Long- 
Range Bomber Aviation staffs, the training and employment of aviation cadres, 
development of the tactical and technical requirements on aviation equipment, 
timely supply of men and planes to air units and formations, logistical and medi¬ 
cal support, and airfield preparation. 

The border military district VVS commanders were subordinate to the chief 
of the Soviet Army Air Force Main Directorate only in a special respect, i.e., 
for combat training, retraining, manning, and logistics, but not in terms of the 
combat employment of aviation. This is why the Soviet Army Air Force com¬ 
mand could influence Frontal Aviation combat actions at the beginning of the 
war only through instructions to the military district (or front) VVS commanders 
concerning concentration of aviation, its reinforcement, retraining of personnel, 
and supply of planes, aircrews, and technicians. Thus it is no accident that the 
first instructions sent to the border district VVS commanders by the Soviet Army 
Air Force command and staff at the beginning of the war concerned not Frontal 
Aviation combat employment, but mainly its reinforcement. 

For example, on the morning of 22 June 1941 the Western Special Military 
District VVS commander was instructed under General P. F. Zhigarev’s signa¬ 
ture to receive, at the Orsha airfield, 99 MiG-3 planes for that district’s VVS 
units and formations. 

In subsequent days the General Staff allowed the Soviet Army Air Force 
command to instruct front VVS commanders to redeploy air divisions and regi- 


37 


ments from interior military districts to frontline airfields, to establish flight cor¬ 
ridors for friendly aircraft, to utilize civilian line communications, to submit to 
the VVS staff daily combat reports and planned combat employment of Frontal 
Aviation for the following day, and to submit daily reports on the fighting 
strength and manning of VVS units and formations. 

The order to make long-range bomber units and formations combat ready 
was transmitted by the Soviet Army Air Force command to the air corps at 0644 
hours on 22 June 1941. Long-Range Bomber Aviation initiated its combat mis¬ 
sions on 23 June 1941. The day before it was given the following missions: I 
Bomber Air Corps—destroy military targets near Koenigsberg and Danzig and, 
in one corps sortie, support the counterattack by the Northwestern Front troops 
against the flank and rear area of the enemy’s Suwalki grouping; II Bomber Air 
Corps—destroy targets near Lublin and Katowice and, in one sortie, support the 
Southwestern Front troops attacking the enemy’s Lublin grouping; III Bomber 
Air Corps—destroy military targets near Warsaw and, in one sortie, support 
troops of the Western Front attacking the enemy’s Suwalki grouping. The IV 
Bomber Air Corps remained at the disposal of the Stavka, prepared to assist the 
Southwestern Front main troop grouping and, in part, the Black Sea Fleet. The 
18th Independent Bomber Air Division was tasked to destroy targets near 
Krakow, and was a component of the Southwestern Front. 9 Naval Aviation was 
tasked to strike enemy naval bases and ports and destroy military targets of 
Romania's petroleum industry. 

Actions by Soviet aviation against enemy rear area targets were of great 
political significance. They proved wrong the German propaganda fabrications 
that Soviet aviation had supposedly been totally annihilated in the first 2 days 
of the war. 

On 26 June 1941 at 1530 hours the Stavka ordered the commanders of 
Long-Range Bomber Aviation's III and I air corps to destroy enemy tanks ad¬ 
vancing from Minsk on Orsha and Mogilev. Entire regiments were to simultane¬ 
ously attack day and night, making their bombing runs at low altitude (400 me- 
ters). 10 

Executing their combat missions, the long-range bombers struck the 
enemy’s tanks and mechanized columns o/i the move at crossings over the West¬ 
ern Dvina, Neman, Berezina, Drut’, Prut, Dnestr rivers, and they attacked 
troops on the road. On 26 June 1941 enemy tanks were subjected to strikes by 
58 crews west and north of Minsk, by 54 crews in the vicinity of Rava-Russkaya, 
by 60 crews near Lutsk, by 65 crews near Sokol’, and by 15 crews in the region 
southwest of Dvinsk." 

Long-Range Bomber Aviation performed its missions persistent • and with 
great effectiveness, but did suffer considerable losses. For example, 43 crews 
flying the DB-3f failed to return from their mission on 26 June 1941. 12 The 
reasons for the losses included insufficient thought to the organization of day 
combat sorties by the VVS command, weak combat support by fighter escorts, 
38 



Soviet TB-3 Heavy Bombers on a Combat Mission. 

and too low an altitude for day bombing, considering the high density of antiair¬ 
craft resources possessed by enemy mechanized units. This is why the Stavka 
published an order on 3 July 1941 limiting the actions of Long-Range Bomber 
Aviation to high altitude night flying. Employment of Long-Range Bomber Avi¬ 
ation at moderate altitudes in daytime was permitted if fighter escort was present 
and enemy antiaircraft artillery was suppressed. 13 

In the period from 23 June to 10 July 1941 Long-Range Bomber Aviation 
flew 2,112 combat sorties against enemy tanks and motorized columns. 14 

The German troops suffered losses due to the actions of Soviet aviation. 
In a number of cases attacks by large enemy forces were foiled owing to effective 
strikes by our bombers and ground attack aircraft. On the whole, however, the 
actions of Soviet aviation against enemy troops did not have a noticeable influ¬ 
ence on the success of the ground troops' defensive actions in the initial period 
of the war. VVS efforts were often dispersed, planes were not massed adequately 
in the main sectors, the weapons selection and the methods and altitude of bomb 
strikes were not always appropriate, and the tactics of bomber and ground attack 
aviation did not fit the situation. 

The situation was also aggravated by the fact that extensive construction 
of new and reconstruction of existing airfields, especially in the western 
Ukraine, western Belorussia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, where the airfield 
network was poorly developed, severely restricted Frontal Aviation maneuver. 
Moreover exercises held priorto the war and plans written at that time provided 
for Frontal Aviation maneuver only forward and to the flanks. Air terminals were 
not earmarked for the aviation in the rear in the event of a withdrawal by the 

39 




ground forces. In view of this, some air units and formations in the border mili¬ 
tary districts were forced to take to the air on their own and redeploy to the nearest 
unimproved airfields in the rear when fascist German tank or motorized columns 
approached our airfields in the first 2 or 3 days. Because communications were 
interrupted, the efforts of the front VVS commanders and the Soviet Army Air 
Force staff in the first days of the war to organize maneuver and timely redeploy¬ 
ment of first echelon Frontal Aviation formations to auxiliary airfields did not 
always produce positive results. This is why air formation commanders had to 
make their own decisions in a number of cases. Credit should be given to our 
remarkable air formation and unit commanders and to all flight crews and techni¬ 
cians who made the correct decisions under such extremely difficult conditions 
and continued to stubbornly fight enemy aviation, making strikes of tangible 
proportions against enemy troops in some sectors. 


Analyzing the evolved situation, on the third day of the war the Soviet Army 
Air Force staff recommended to the General Staff how to more effectively em¬ 
ploy Frontal Aviation. The report pointed out serious shortcomings in the way 
aviation coordinated with the ground forces, and the fact that aviation was dis¬ 
persed into small groups devoid of unified, centralized leadership by the front 
VVS commander. The suggestion was to have frontal and long-range bomber 
forces conduct a number of massed strikes against enemy airfields. The idea of 
using the aviation of neighboring fronts for this purpose was boldly proposed. 
Proposals were forthcoming on the need for organizing coordination between 
aviation and the troops more efficiently and the need for assigning aviation repre¬ 
sentatives with their own communication resources to the staffs of combined 
arms armies. The VVS proposals were accepted by the General Staff and prom¬ 
ulgated to the front commanders and staffs in the appropriate directives. 


In the first days of the war the Sovie, krmy Air Force command organized 
the struggle for strategic air supremacy as ordered by the General Staff. The ini¬ 
tiative in the air was to be taken away from the enemy at all costs. Without this, 
it would have been impossible for ground forces to be successful or for the coun¬ 
try’s transportation and industry to work normally. The Hitlerites tried to destroy 
our aviation mainly at the airfields. At the beginning of the war the Soviet Com¬ 
mand selected another form of combat, in which massed raids of the German 
Air Force were opposed by active offensive air engagements fought by fighters 
within the limits of each front, alternating with periodic strikes against airfields. 
In these air engagements, not only were planes destroyed but also the most ex¬ 
perienced fascist pilots were killed. In some sectors where the situation was 
favorable, Soviet pilots engaging in active air engagements simultaneously made 
powerful strikes against enemy airfields. This was the situation that evolved in 
the first days of the war in the northern sector of the Soviet-German front, where 
fascist German troops did not go over to the offensive until 29 June 1941. In 
order to weaken the enemy air grouping in this sector and halt the preparations 
for a raid on Leningrad, the Stavka ordered the Air Force to prepare for and con¬ 
duct massed strikes against airfields in Finland and northern Norway, where air 
units of the German 5th Air Fleet and Finnish aviation were based. 

40 


A plan to annihilate enemy planes at airfields in the northwestern sector was 
developed by the Northern Front VVS command (commander—General A. A. 
Novikov, deputy commander for political affairs—Brigade Commissar F. I. 
Usatyy, chief of staff—General A.‘ P. Nekrasov) jointly with the Red Banner 
Baltic Fleet VVS (commander—General V. V. Yermachenkov) and the North¬ 
ern Fleet VVS (commander—General A. A. Kuznetsov), and on 24 June was 
approved by the Northern Front Military Council. In all, 540 planes were com¬ 
mitted to the operation. 

Early in the morning of 25 June, 236 bombers and 224 fighters made the 
first massed strike against 19 airfields. The enemy did not expect such a strike; 
he was in fact caught by surprise and unable to organize any countermeasures. 
As a result Soviet pilots successfully bombed parked planes and fuel and ammun¬ 
ition dumps. They destroyed 41 enemy planes on the airfields. Our aviation suf¬ 
fered no losses. In the next 5 days a few more effective strikes were made against 
the same airfields and new ones discovered by air reconnaissance. According 
to aerial photography Soviet pilots attacking 39 airfields completed about 1,000 
sorties, destroying and crippling 130 enemy planes. 15 The fascist German com¬ 
mand in Finland and northern Norway was forced to withdraw its aviation to air¬ 
fields in the deep rear area and abandon plans for conducting raids against Lenin¬ 
grad in the near future. This was the first air operation by the Soviet Air Force. 
It had important military significance, and it confirmed that Soviet Frontal Avia¬ 
tion was still combat capable. 

On8 July 1941 the Stavka organized a massed strike against enemy airfields 
along almost the entire Soviet-German front. 

A Stavka directive to front commanders and the Soviet Army Air Force 
commander on 7 July reported that the German Air Force might hit our airfields 
on the morning of 8 July 1941. The VVS was ordered to initiate combat opera¬ 
tions at 0300 hours on 8 July with a strike against enemy airfields, and to sub¬ 
sequently transfer its efforts to the battlefield and support the defeat of German 
mechanized troops. 16 

At dawn on 8 July Long-Range Bomber Aviation formations struck 14 air¬ 
fields, while the Northern, Northwestern, and Southwestern front VVS struck 
28 airfields. In all, 429 combat sorties were flown. Many planes on enemy air¬ 
fields were destroyed, including 54 German planes put out of action by the West¬ 
ern Front VVS. 17 

In the period from 22 June to 10 July 1941 the Soviet Air Force destroyed 
more than a thousand enemy planes on the ground and in the air. 18 

Former fascist generals and officers who wrote the book The World War 
of1939-1945 were forced to recognize the great losses German aviation suffered 
in the first days of the war on the Soviet-German Front: “. . . The German avia¬ 
tion losses were not as insignificant as some had believed. In the first 14 days 
of battle, more planes were lost than in any subsequent similar time intervals. 

41 



In the period from 22 June to 5 July 1941 the German Air Force lost 807 planes 
of all types, losing 477 from 6 to 19 July. These losses imply that, despite the 
Germans' achieving surprise, the Russians managed to find the time and strength 
for resolute opposition. ” 19 

In contrast to the First months of World War II, when after achieving air 
supremacy in actions against Poland, France, and other countries of Europe, fas¬ 
cist German aviation encountered no opposition whatsoever in the air, it met 
stubborn resistance on the Soviet-German Front. 

Supporting the ground forces, the Air Force directed its main efforts at de¬ 
stroying enemy troops and equipment. The swift advance of enemy strike group¬ 
ings in the most important strategic sectors forced the front commanders to em¬ 
ploy the bulk of aviation against German mechanized columns and to support 
friendly defending troops. In the First 18 days of the war Soviet aviation flew 
45,000 combat sorties to repel the enemy attack and support the ground forces 
(10,000 by the Northern Front VVS, more than 8,000 by the Northwestern Front 
VVS, about 7,000 by the Western Front VVS, more than 10,000 by the South¬ 
western Front VVS, more than 5,000 by the Southern Front VVS, and more than 
2,000 sorties by Long-Range Bomber Aviation). 20 

Many air units and formations distinguished themselves in these battles, re¬ 
ceiving praise from the military councils of the combined arms armies and the 
fronts: on the Northern Front—the 2nd Composite Air Division (commander— 
Colonel P. P. Arkhangel’skiy), on the Northwestern Front—the 57th Composite 
Air Division (commander—Colonel K. A. Katichev), on the Western Front— 
the 12th, 13th, and 46th bomber air divisions (commanders—Colonel V. I. 
Aladinskiy, General F. P. Polynin, and Colonel B. R. Pisarskiy), on the South 
western Front—the 62nd Bomber Air Division (commander—Colonel V. V. 
Smirnov), and on the Southern Front—the 21st Composite Air Division (com¬ 
mander—Colonel D. P. Galunov). 21 

Many pilots defending the socialist fatherland died in savage encounters, 
displaying unprecedented bravery and heroism. On 26 June 1941 Captain N. F. 
Gastello, commander of an air squadron in the 207th Air Regiment, 42nd 
Bomber Division, and his bomber crew—Lieutenant A. A. Burdenyuk and G. 
N. Skorobogatyy and Senior Sergeant A. A. Kalinin—in the sky above Belonis- 
sia performed an act of heroism of unparalleled bravery and selflessness. When 
the bomber caught Fire in the air after being struck by an antiaircraft shell, rather 
than parachuting out, all of the crew members aimed the burning craft at an ac¬ 
cumulation of German troops. 

The 401st Fighter Air Regiment in the MiG-3 and commanded by Hero of 
the Soviet Union Lieutenant Colonel S. P. Suprun fought fascist German avia¬ 
tion successfully. On 4 July 1941 S. P. Suprun died in an aerial battle against 
superior enemy forces. He was awarded his second “Gold Star" medal posthu¬ 
mously for his bravery and heroism. This was the First Twice Hero of the Soviet 
Union in the Great Patriotic War. The First to be awarded the lofty title of Hero 


42 


of the Soviet Union at the start of the war were fighter pilots M. P. Zhukov, S. 
I. Zdorovtsev, and P. T. Kharitonov. 

In a critical time for the Soviet Union, the Communist Party and the Soviet 
government implemented extraordinary measures to mobilize all of the country’s 
resources to repel the aggression, and to fundamentally restructure the country’s 
life and activity to a war footing. On 29 June 1941 a USSR SNK and CC VKP(b) 
directive to party and Soviet organizations in the combat zones presented a pro¬ 
gram for organizing the enemy’s rebuff. Its basic premises were later presented 
and elaborated upon by J. V. Stalin in a radio broadcast on 3 July, and spelled 
out more specifically in a number of subsequent party and government decisions. 
The Soviet Armed Forces were given the mission of wearing down and exhaust¬ 
ing Hitler's troops, defeating and expelling them from Soviet land, and helping 
the peoples of Europe to cast off the fascist yoke. Established on 30 June 1941, 
the State Defense Committee headed by J. V. Stalin became the organ in which 
all of the country’s power was concentrated. 

Organizational Consolidation of the Soviet Air Force 

The High Command Stavka was created on 23 June 1941, with S. K. 
Timoshenko as chairman, to provide strategic direction to the Soviet Armed 
Forces. On 10 July it was reorganized as the Supreme Command Stavka chaired 
byj. V. Stalin. On 19 July J. V. Stalin became People’s Commissar of Defense, 
and on 8 August became Supreme Commander of the USSR Armed Forces. 
From that time on the Stavka was called the Supreme High Command Stavka 
(SVGK). 

A High Command Stavka order dated 29 June 1941 instituted the post of 
Soviet Army Air Force commander and created the VVS Military Council. Gen¬ 
eral P. F. Zhigarev was appointed VVS commander, and Corps Commissar P. 
S. Stepanov was appointed member of the Military Council. The VVS Main 
Directorate and staff were subordinated directly to the VVS commander. 

Establishment of the post of VVS commander and creation of the Military 
Council significantly broadened the command and operational functions of the 
VVS command and staff, which improved management of the Air Force, espe¬ 
cially in relation to its operational-strategic employment, heightened the combat 
readiness of newly formed air units and formations, and improved their opera¬ 
tional and logistical support. The Soviet Army Air Force commander and his 
staff were assigned organization of the struggle for strategic air supremacy, 
maintenance of coordination between the branches of aviation, coordination of 
their efforts in the strategic operations of groups of fronts and of VVS independ¬ 
ent air operations, management of Long-Range Bomber Aviation combat ac¬ 
tions, synthesizing of VVS combat experience, and development of proposals 
for VVS operational-strategic employment. Moreover the VVS command re¬ 
tained the functions of training air reserves, air logistics, developing proposals 
on creation of new types of planes and armament, managing construction of air- 

43 



Helds, training and retraining flight crews and technicians, synthesizing VVS 
combat experience, and introducing it into the units and formations. These oper¬ 
ational and command functions differed significantly from the functions as¬ 
signed to the chief of the VVS Main Directorate on the eve of the war. 22 

The Soviet Army Air Force Military Council was composed of the VVS 
commander and his deputies, the directors of the aviation departments on the 
CC VKP(b), the People’s Commissar of the Aviation Industry, the chiefs of the 
VVS Aviation Engineering Service and Procurement directorates, and other ex¬ 
ecutives. The Military Council was headed by the VVS commander who, as 
council chairman, jointly with the at-large Military Council member* coordi¬ 
nated and directed the work of all other Military Council members. The Military 
Council discussed and resolved many issues concerning aviation activities. The 
existing frontal VVS organizational structure still did not permit adequate mass¬ 
ing of aviation and its centralized control in the main sectors. Frontal Aviation 
continued to be dispersed among combined arms armies, and its actions were 
often uncoordinated. 

The problem of massing and centralized control of aviation was solved in 
part by the creation on 10 July 1941 of main commands for three sectors—North¬ 
western,Western, and Southwestern—and by the establishment of VVS com¬ 
mands in these sectors. The respective front VVS commanders were made VVS 
commanders of these sectors: Northwestern—General A. A. Novikov, West¬ 
ern—Colonel N. F. Naumenko, Southwestern—General F. Ya. Falaleyev. Such 
unification was advantageous to the Air Force. For example, the Northern and 
Northwestern front VVS, the Red Banner Baltic Fleet VVS, and part of the 
forces of the VII Fighter Air Corps of Leningrad PVO were combined in the 
Northwestern sector under the sole leadership of the Northwestern sector VVS 
commander. A common plan of the combat actions of all Leningrad aviation was 
developed and implemented. It not only made integration of aviation efforts pos¬ 
sible, but also permitted more economic and rational expenditure of resources, 
plus the best results. At the end of July 1941, in 22 days of battle on Leningrad’s 
distant approaches, 16,567 combined sorties were flown and significant losses 
were inflicted on the enemy. 23 Unification of aviation efforts under the sole 
leadership of the senior air chief in the strategic sector formed the basis for a 
new type of Air Force command and control. Aviation in the Western and South¬ 
western sectors engaged in active combat operations. 


Aviation command and control by the Soviet Army Air Force command and 
staff also improved somewhat. On 7 July 1941 the VVS Military Council sum¬ 
marized and analyzed the losses our aviation suffered on airflelds in the first 16 
days of the war. It published a directive to front VVS commanders on mandatory 
camouflaging of airfields and measures for reducing aircraft losses due to strikes 


*[ At-large council member —osvoboihdennvy chlen —a party representative to this council— 
I S Ed | 

44 





against airfields by enemy aviation. 24 Implementation of this directive played 
a major role in reducing aircraft losses from enemy air strikes 

The first days of the war also revealed imperfections in the organizational 
structure at several levels within the Soviet Army Air Force staff There were 
not enough officers in the VVS staff for 24-hour operations For practical pur¬ 
poses some sections were still being established at this time 

The work of the VVS staff was extremely intense As compared to »►«“ 
peacetime work volume, that of all VVS sections increased by several orders 
of magnitude. Section One needed at least three or four officers wonting in two 
shifts for every operating sector, and there were five such sectors in which com¬ 
bat actions were proceeding—the northern, north*,; ,tem, western, southwest¬ 
ern, and southern. Moreover there had to be two permanent officers to keep rec¬ 
ords on the fighting strength of the entire Air Force, two were needed to prepare 
wrap-up reports and operational summaries submitted three times a day to the 
General Staff, two to maintain maps of the overall ground and air situation, and 
several to handle VVS operations documents pertaining to the remaining border 
and internal military districts. On the third day of the war Colonel I. N. Rukhle, 
just assigned deputy chief of the VVS staff, became acting VVS chief of staff. 
New officers were appointed deputy chiefs of staff—Colonel N . 1. Krolenko 
from the staff of a long-range bomber corps and Colonel B. A. Ageyev from 
a military academy. New officers, including several led by Colonel M.V. 
Shcherbakov from the instructor staff of the VVS Military Command and 
Navigator Academy, joined the staff to reinforce the principal sections. Colonels 
V. V. Storozhenko and M. V. Shcherbakov began to direct the operations of 
the VVS staff s main section in shifts. These replacements and transfers during 
the first days of the war had an adverse effect on the rhythmicity of the VVS 
staff s work, since the new officers were totally unfamiliar with the status of the 
troops, their disposition, or the situation at the front. 


Organizational measures were implemented in VVS units and formations 
in July and August. The reason for these measures was that our air formations, 
corps, multiregiment divisions, and air regiments, which had 60 planes, were 
found to be unwieldy and cumbersome, making maneuvering combat difficult, 
and the cumbersome nature of these formations hindered aircraft dispersal at air¬ 
fields and made it easier for the enemy to destroy them on the ground. VVS com¬ 
bat experience in the first weeks of the war demonstrated that air regiments with 
30 planes, and divisions containing two air regiments without corps formations 
was the best organizational approach in terms of both facility of command and 
control and for maneuvering in response to an enemy attack. This is why the 
Stavka decided to gradually reorganize to air regiments with 32 planes and to 
2-regiment airdivisions. 

The General Staff sent the appropriate directives to the front and VVS com¬ 
mands on the basis of the State Defense Committee’s 7 August 1941 decision. 
The Soviet Army Air Force commander published the order on 10 August 1941. 

45 



In accordance with this order the short-range bomber regiments in Frontal 
Aviation were now organized into three squadrons of 32 planes (two bomber and 
one fighter air squadrons of 10 planes each, and two bombers assigned to the 
regimental headquarters). Ground attack air regiments also assumed the same 
organization, but each regiment had 33 aircraft. 

Creation of composite air regiments was appropriate to the situation during 
the first months of the war. but subsequently they failed to justify their existence. 
Uniform regiments were created. A 20 August 1941 USSR NKO* order reor¬ 
ganized all air regiments receiving new planes—11-2, Pe-2, Yak-1—into 
homogeneous regiments of two 9-aircraft squadrons each, with two assigned to 
regimental headquarters, a total of 20. Ways were also sought to create Frontal 
Aviation air reserves. The experience of the first months of the war showed that 
if aviation were to be concentrated in the main ground forces sector, if strikes 
by fascist German aviation were to be parried, if air groups were to be created 
in new sectors, and if other missions were to be accomplished, the Supreme 
Command would have to possess large, powerful, highly maneuverable air re¬ 
serves. 

The aviation in the interior districts was an air reserve of sorts at the begin¬ 
ning of the war. For example, two composite air divisions were transferred in 
June 1941 from the Moscow Military District VVS to the Western and South¬ 
western fronts, and one fighter and one composite air division were transferred 
from the Transbaykal and the Far East. 25 26 

A USSR NKO order dated 21 July 1941 formed the basis for creating six 
organic reserve air groups (RAG) subordinate to the Stavka and used for inde¬ 
pendent missions and for assistance to the VVS of the fronts. In all by the end 
of 1941 six organic reserve air groups had been formed, each possessing 60-100 
combat aircraft. Reserve air groups were utilized successfully, as follows: the 
1 st and 6th in the Bryansk and Southwestern fronts, the 2nd and 3rd in the Lenin¬ 
grad and Volkhov fronts, the 4th in the Southwestern Front, and the 5th in the 
Southern Front. 

In addition to organic reserve air groups, temporary (nonorganic) reserve 
air groups were created in fall 1941 from frontal aviation units and newly formed 
air regiments commanded by Generals I. F. Petrov andG. P. Kravchenko. 

An intense struggle evolved against fascist German troops on the left wing 
of the Western Front in July 1941 in the region between the Dnepr and Berezina 
rivers. The Central Front, composed of the 13th and 21 st armies and frontal VVS 
(front VVS commander General G. A. Vorozheykin), was formed in this sector 
on 24 July 1941 by decision of the Stavka. To strengthen the position and create 
deeper defenses on the Western axis, a Stavka order dated 30 July formed the 


( *NKO—Narodnyy komissariai oborony —People' s Commissariat of Defense—U, S. Ed. j 


46 


Reserve Front, which consisted of six combined arms armies and frontal VVS 
(front VVS commander General B. A. Pogrebov. after 1 August General Ye. 
M. Nikolayenko). The Bryansk Front (front VVS commander General F. P. 
Polynin) was created on 14 August to cover the Bryansk sector. The mission of 
the Bryansk Front was to perform two counterstrikes—one against the flank of 
the 2nd Tank Group near Starodub and another in the vicinity of Roslavl’ in coor¬ 
dination with troops of the Reserve Front—and to delay the enemy’s offensive. 
The Central Front was disbanded by Stavka decision on 25 August 1941. Its 
troops were transferred to the Bryansk Front. 

To aid the front’s troops in their mission, on 27 August the Stavka ordered 
the Soviet Army Air Force commander to prepare an air operation to defeat 
Guderian’s tank group in the vicinity of Pochep, Starodub, and Shostka and to 
halt his advance on Bryansk. This operation was to be conducted between 29 
August and 4 September 1941 through the joint efforts of the aviation of three 
neighboring fronts, the 1st Reserve Air Group, and part of the forces of Long- 
Range Bomber Aviation. 27 The plan for the operation was developed by the 
Bryansk Front desk officers on the VVS staff. The Bryansk Front VVS contrib¬ 
uted 95 aircraft, the former Central Front VVS contributed 54, the Reserve Ar¬ 
mies Front VVS contributed 120, the 1 st Reserve Air Group contributed 95, and 
Long-Range Bomber Aviation contributed 100 bombers, for a total of464 com¬ 
bat aircraft (230 bombers, 55 ground attack planes, and 179 fighters). The plan 
was reviewed by the VVS Military Council and signed by VVS deputy 
commander General I. F. Petrov, Military Council member Corps Commissar 
P. S. Stepanov, and acting VVS chief of staff Colonel I. N. Rukhle. 

While approving the air operation plan on 27 August 1941, the Supreme 
Commander wrote: ‘‘The enemy columns must be hit constantly, wave after 
wave, all day from morning till night to keep the enemy from enjoying a breath¬ 
ing spell or regaining his senses in general.” 28 The VVS staff sent these direc¬ 
tives of the Supreme Commander to the appropriate front VVS commanders. 
General I. F. Petrov, who was in charge of the aviation resources, contributed 
to the operation, implemented the Supreme Commander’s directives concretely 
through daily orders prepared by his operations group of VVS staff officers. The 
air operation lasted 6 days. Beginning on 29 August, bombers and ground attack 
planes made constant strikes against enemy tank columns. Thus on 30 and 31 
August our pilots flew two sorties per night aboard heavy 4-engine TB-3 bomb¬ 
ers, three or four per day in the Pe-2, and 11-2 medium bombers, and six or 
seven sorties per day in fighters. During the entire operation Soviet aviation flew 
more than 4,000 sorties. 29 

Recalling the actions of aviation, Marshal of the Soviet Union A. I. 
Yeremenko wrote: “Thus on 30 and 31 August ... as many as 1,500 sorties 
were flown, 4,500 bombs of various types were dropped, more than 100 tanks, 
over 800 motor vehicles, 180-290 wagons, 20 armored vehicles, and a fuel 
dump were destroyed, 40 fires were started in enemy columns, and 55 planes 
were shot down and destroyed. ’ ’ (Our losses were 42 planes. j 30 


47 


Repulsing an Enemy Bomber Night Raid on Moscow on the Night of 22 July 
1941. 


General Guderian, commander of the German 2nd Tank Group, wrote in 
his memoirs: "On 29 August large enemy forces initiated an offensive against 
the XXIV Tank Corps from the south and west with the support of aviation. The 
corps was compelled to halt the advance of the 3rd Tank Division and the 10th 
Motorized Division. ” ^ 

The Supreme Commander was interested in the progress of the air operation 
aimed at halting the offensive by the enemy’s 2nd Tank Group. On 4 September 
1941 he sent the following telegram: "Bryansk. To Petrov via Yeremenko. Avi¬ 
ation is operating well, but it could operate better if reconnaissance planes 
would call in the bombers quickly by radio, rather than upon returning to their 
landing points. Stay with the Bryansk Front until the end of the operation to de¬ 
feat Guderian. I wish you success. Regards to all pilots. J. Stalin.” 31 

As a result of the strong counterstrikes by our troops and the active aviation 
operations, the enemy’s tank strike grouping suffered significant losses and its 
rate of advance was sharply reduced. But despite heroic resistance and powerful 
strikes by our aviation, the front’s troops could not halt the enemy. Enemy tank 
formations broke through the left flank of the Bryansk Front beyond the Desna 
River and reached the Konotop-Chemigov line on 10 September. 32 At the same 
time savage battles were going on south of Smolensk, where, with air support, 
troops of the Western and Reserve fronts were holding back enemy troops. Al¬ 
though Smolensk had been abandoned by our troops as long ago as 16 July, the 
encounter to the east lasted another month. The Supreme High Command called 
upon long-range bomber corps to organize powerful strikes against the advanc¬ 
ing enemy and to support the front’s troops in destroying the enemy Smolensk- 
48 





The Yevgeniy Vakhtangov Theater Following a Fascist Air Raid on the Night 
of 23-24 July 1941. 


Yartsevo grouping. Thus, between 26 and 28 July 1941, 100 aircraft from the 
I Bomber Corps, 120 from the II and HI Bomber Air Corps, and 100 bombers 
and 150 fighters from the Reserve Front were allocated for this mission. As a 
result of the strikes by these forces the enemy suffered great losses of men and 
equipment. The actions of Soviet aviation were also highly effective in other sec¬ 
tors of the Western Front. An order from Marshal of the Soviet Union S. K. 
Timoshenko, the front commander, stated the following concerning the actions 
of our aviation: “On 21 and 22 August the enemy attempted to halt the move¬ 
ment of our troops; he committed large tank forces and mechanized troops, pre¬ 
sumptuously attacking our units. But the days of easy victories for the enemy 
were in the past. . . . The glorious 64th and 50th rifle divisions and the valorous 
47th Air Division (61st and 215th Ground Attack and 129th Fighter air regi¬ 
ments) destroyed the fascist tanks and compelled the Germans to retreat in disor¬ 
der. The enemy lost as many as 130 tanks, more than 100 motor vehicles, many 
guns, much ammunition, and 1,000 killed and wounded.’’ 33 

During the Smolensk operation, which lasted 2 months, the Soviet Air 
Force flew about 20,000 sorties. The air forces of the Western and other neigh¬ 
boring fronts and Long-Range Bomber Aviation destroyed 700 enemy planes in 
air combat and on the ground. 34 

The front line changed every day. Enemy troops moved deeper and deeper 
into our country. The enemy began bombing raids on Moscow and Leningrad. 
The mission of the Germans was to'destroy Moscow from the air. The first raid 
on the capital was made on the night of 22 July 1941, with 250 enemy planes 
participating. 33 The raid continued for 5 hours. The beams of dozens of search- 

49 







lights crisscrossed the night sky. Antiaircraft artillery threw up intense defen¬ 
sive fire, and fighters attacked enemy bombers in their assigned zones. On this 
night our fighters shot down 12 fascist German planes while antiaircraft artillery 
destroyed 10. Only occasional enemy bombers penetrated to Moscow, and al¬ 
though they did manage to unload their bombs, they did not cause significant 
damage. A few buildings and structures in the city center and on its outskirts 
were destroyed. And yet serious shortcomings were revealed as the enemy raid 
was repulsed. 


Emergency measures implemented by the General Staff and the Soviet 
Army Air Force command to correct the revealed shortcomings made it possible 
to repel subsequent enemy air raids on Moscow with greater organization and 
effectiveness. 

German planes succeeded less and less often in penetrating the screens of 
antiaircraft fire and patrolling fighters and reaching Moscow. Between 22 July 
and 15 August 1941 the enemy flew 18 night raids on Moscow. From 100 to 
120 bombers participated in each of eight of them and from 50 to 80 planes par¬ 
ticipated in each of the rest. Most by far of the enemy bombers were unable to 
penetrate to the city. Only about 70 of 1,700 planes participating in the raids 
made it to the capital. 36 

Because German aviation was making systematic raids on Moscow and 
Leningrad, the Soviet Supreme High Command decided to make retaliatory raids 
on the capital of fascist Germany—Berlin. This mission was given to an air 
group of the 1st Mine-Torpedo Regiment of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet VVS 
commander by regimental commander Ye. N. Preobrazhenskiy. This group of 
DB-3 aircraft made the first raid on Berlin on the night of 8 August 1941 from 
an airfield on Saaremaa Island. 37 


In addition to Red Banner Baltic Fleet aviation, the 81st Air Division from 
Long-Range Bomber Aviation under the command of brigade commander M. 
V. Vodop’yanov (Colonel A. Ye. Golovanov as of 17 August) bombed Berlin. 38 
Jointly with the VVS Fifth Directorate the Soviet Army Air Force staff de¬ 
veloped the combat missions for the 81st Air Division and ensured safe passage 
through the front line for the bombers. In all, prior to 4 September 1941, Soviet 
pilots in small groups of heavy bombers made 10 raids on Berlin. Several 
hundred heavy high-explosive bombs were dropped on military targets in Berlin. 


From 10 July to 30 September 1941 Long-Range Bomber Aviation and 
bombers from the Red Banner Baltic and Red Banner Black Sea fleets struck 
enemy industrial facilities in Koenigsberg, Danzig, Helsinki, Warsaw, Ploesti, 
Bucharest, Sulina, and in other cities. Between 10 and 30 July pilots of the IV 
Bomber Air Corps alone made eight raids on petroleum industry enterprises in 
Ploesti, Constanta, and Bucharest. As a result die productive capacity of the 
Romanian petroleum industry dropped by 30 percent. 39 

50 


Another Fascist Vulture Shot Down, July 1941. 


A 13 August 1941 ukase of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet 
awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union to 10 airmen. Of these, five were 
naval pilots—Colonel Ye. N. Preobrazhenskiy and Captains V. A. Grechish- 
nikov, A. Ya. Yefremov, M. N. Plotkin, and P. I. Khokhlov, and five were val¬ 
orous airmen in long-range aviation—Majors V. I. Shchelkunov and V. I. Maly¬ 
gin, Captains V. G. Tikhonov and N. V. Kryukov, and Lieutenant V. I. Lakho- 
nin. 40 

The aviation of the fronts, of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet, of the VII Lenin¬ 
grad Air Defense Corps, and of Long-Range Bomber Aviation played a great 
role in defensive troop encounters on the distant and near approaches to Lenin¬ 
grad. It actively supported and covered the ground forces, fought fascist German 
aviation in the air and destroyed enemy aircraft on the ground, and struck enemy 
facilities in the strategic rear area. Between the start of the war and 30 September 
1941 Soviet pilots flew about 60,000 combat sorties in the Leningrad sector. 41 

General Grigoriy Alekseyevich Vorozheykin was appointed Soviet Army 
Air Force chief of staff in August 1941. He began army service as a private back 
in 1915, volunteered for the Red Army in 1918, participated in the Civil War, 
and became a Communist Party member in 1927. At the end of 1932 Vor¬ 
ozheykin was transferred to aviation from his post as commander of the 16th 
Rifle Division, Leningrad Military District. 42 In 1933 he graduated from the op¬ 
erations department of the Zhukovskiy Air Force Academy and was appointed 
commander of the 200th Light Bomber Air Brigade. Soon G. A. Vorozheykin 
was appointed assistant commander of the Special Red Banner Far Eastern 


Army. On the eve of the Great Patriotic War he was serving as commander of 
the Volga Military District WS. When the war began he was given command 
of the 21st Army VVS, and then the Central Front VVS. It was from this post 
that G. A. Vorozheykin transferred to the Soviet Army Air Force staff. The work 
of the VVS staff was made more efficient. 

The post of chief of WS rear services was established on 19 August by 
a USSR NKO Order. The post was filled by General N. N. Sokolov-Sokolenok. 
The directorates of rear area organization, airfield construction, and quartermas¬ 
ter and the field supply section were within his jurisdiction. Creation of a central 
aviation rear service agency played a positive role in reinforcing and improving 
the overall system of rear area support to air units and formations. As before, 
questions of supplying aircraft, equipment, and ammunition remained within the 
responsibility of the VVS Directorate of Procurement and Technical Supply sub¬ 
ordinate to the Soviet Army Air Force commander. 

The Senior WS Aviation Chiefs at the War Fronts 

Fall was approaching. The enemy moved deeper and deeper into our coun¬ 
try. The enemy’s thrusts grew very strong. The situation was becoming critical 
at Moscow, at Leningrad, and in the Ukraine. 

By the end of September 1941 the overall operational-strategic situation 
was not to our advantage. German troops had reached Leningrad, captured Vi¬ 
tebsk and Smolensk, and reached the Melitopol’-Zaporozh’ye-Krasnograd line 
in the south. In the western sector the enemy concentrated new forces near 
Dukhovshchina, Yartsevo, Smolensk, Rosiavl’, Shostka, and Glukhov, prepar¬ 
ing for a new offensive on Moscow. On 30 September the enemy began a new 
major offensive with a thrust by the 2nd Tank Group against the troops of the 
Bryansk Front from the vicinity of Shostka and Glukhov in the direction of 
Sevsk, and on 2 October the main forces of Army Group Center attacked posi¬ 
tions on the Western Front. The great Battle of Moscow had begun. 

As early as on the first day of the offensive the German 2nd Tank Group 
penetrated our defenses and reached the 13th Army rear area. 43 The next day 
the Hitlerites also broke through into the zone of the 50th Army. 44 Troops of 
the Bryansk Front found themselves in a difficult situation. The Stavka took 
emergency steps to bring in the main Long-Range Bomber Aviation forces for 
strikes against the enemy’s advancing tank grouping. On the night of 2 October 
1941 the General Staff ordered the Soviet Army Air Force commander to im¬ 
mediately assign destruction of the enemy tank grouping that had broken through 
in the vicinity of Glukhov and Sevsk to the 40th, 42nd, 51st, and 52nd Bomber 
Air divisions of Long-Range Bomber Aviation (the division commanders were, 
respectively. Colonels V. Ye. Baturin and M. Kh. Borisenko, Lieutenant Colo¬ 
nel Ye. F. Loginov, and Colonel A. M. Duboshin), and to the 81st Special Pur¬ 
pose Air Division (commander, Colonel A. Ye. Golovanov). Command of avia¬ 
tion resources was assigned to WS deputy chief of staff Colonel I. N. Rukhle, 
52 



who was ordered to report to the Bryansk Front commander on 2 October. 
Fighter cover for the bombers was assigned to General F. P. Polynin, command¬ 
er of the Bryansk Front VVS. 45 

That same night the VVS staff formed a small operations group commanded 
by Colonel I. N. Rukhle, which left by air for the Bryansk Front on 2 October. 
A warning order from the VVS staff assigned the mission of striking the enemy 
tank grouping to the bomber air divisions listed above, and details concerning 
place and times were later specified from the command post of the Bryansk Front 
commander. Bryansk Front aviation, which included the just-formed 6th Re¬ 
serve Air Group (commander, General A. A. Demidov), struck enemy tank col¬ 
umns on roads and aircraft on the ground during the day, and the bomber divi¬ 
sions from Long-Range Bomber Aviation conducted their operations at night. 
Fighters were also brought in for this mission. Aviation’s active continuous oper¬ 
ations day and night created bottlenecks on the roads, reduced the enemy’s rate 
of advance, and won time for the Stavka Reserves to regroup and occupy defen¬ 
sive lines. General Guderian, former German commander of the 2nd Tank 
Group, wrote the following in his book Memoirs of a Soldier in his description 
of the events of 4 October 1941: “I was rather impressed by the assertiveness 
of Russian aviation. A raid by Russian aviation occurred immediately after I 
landed at Sevsk Airfield. . . . Then enemy aviation bombed the corps staff. . . . 
Then I set off for the road on which the 3rd Tank Division was advancing. Once 
again we were subjected to several bomb strikes by Russian bombers.” 46 De¬ 
spite the assertiveness of our aviation, the Bryansk Front troops could not hold 
the enemy back. Troop command and control by the frontal command was seri¬ 
ously disrupted. Events developed swiftly. Stavka attempts to help the front with 
aviation support did not produce the desired result. 

The Soviet Army Air Force command and staff attentively monitored the 
operation to repel the enemy offensive. Great shortcomings could be seen in the 
coordination between aviation and the troops. On 6 October 1941 a directive 
calling for improvement in coordination between aviation and the troops was 
sent to the front VVS, independent combined arms army, and reserve air group 
commanders. The directive stated the need for either the commanders of the co¬ 
ordinating air divisions personally or their deputies, with operational groups, to 
visit the command posts of the combined arms chiefs. Coded maps, procedure 
charts, and set signals were to be identical to those of the troops; checkpoints 
containing air communication posts intended for transmission of commands to 
planes in the air to attack ground targets or to halt an attack had to be organized 
in the vicinity of the combined arms commander’s command post. 47 

A difficult situation also evolved in the main sector of the Western Front. 
The enemy managed to penetrate our troop defenses. The enemy’s strike group¬ 
ings advanced swiftly, enveloping the entire Vyaz ma grouping from the south 
and north. The enemy achieved a breakthrough at the boundary between the 
Western Front's 30th and 19th armies. On 6 October his mobile formations 
reached Vyaz ma from the north. Simultaneously the Hitlerites broke through 
along the Warsaw Highway within the zone of the Reserve Front’s 43rd Army. 

53 



On 4-5 October they captured the area of Spas-Demensk and Yukhnov, having 
enveloped the Vyaz’ma Soviet troop grouping from the south. By 7 October the 
Western Front’s 19th and 20th armies and the Reserve Front’s 24th and 32nd 
armies were encircled west and northwest of Vyaz’ma. The surrounded troops 
continued to offer stubborn resistance, pinning down 28 enemy divisions in this 
area. On 3 October the Hitlerites captured Orel and raced toward Tula. On 6 Oc¬ 
tober the enemy occupied Karachev and Bryansk. On 7 October 1941 at 0540 
hours the chief of the General Staff, by order of the Stavka, issued an order to 
the commander of the Western Front, and to the Soviet Army Air Force chief 
of staff and member of the Military Council obliging Corps Commissar P. S. 
Stepanov to report to Western Front commander 1. S. Konev and organize 
massed air strikes against enemy troops operating against the Western Front. 

All Western Front aviation was subordinated to him for these purposes for 
the duration of the mission, and four air regiments (one regiment of ground attack 
planes, two regiments of rocket-carrying MiG-3s, and one regiment of Pe-2 
bombers) were allocated from the Stavka Reserve. 48 Permission was given to 
call in resources of the Moscow Military District VVS and of Long-Range 
Bomber Aviation. Our aviation completed its missions under difficult condi¬ 
tions. In 9 days it flew 2,850 sorties and inflicted losses on the fascist German 
troops, but it could not stop their advance. 

The enemy continued to reign supreme in the air. In the first 9 days of the 
October offensive about 4,000 overflights by German aviation were noted within 
the zone of the Western Front. 49 Stubborn encounters and engagements took 
place on land and in the air. The enemy's strike groupings wedged themselves 
deeply into the defenses of Soviet troops in some sectors. On 5 October the State 
Defense Committee made a special decision on Moscow’s defense. The 
Mozhaysk line of defense, which passed from Volokolamsk to Kaluga, was set 
as the main line of resistance of the Western Front’s troops. On 10 October the 
Western and Reserve fronts were combined by the Stavka into the single Western 
Front commanded by Army General G. K. Zhukov. The aviation of these fronts 
was combined in the same way. The Stavka and the VVS command took 
emergency steps to strengthen the Soviet Air Force operating in the western sec¬ 
tor. Two long-range bomber air divisions were transferred from the Trans- 
caucasus Front, and newly formed air units arrived from the country’s rear area. 

The Moscow Military District VVS formed the basis for an air group com¬ 
manded by N. A. Sbytov; this group was reinforced by the 46th High-Speed 
Bomber Regiment flying the Pe-2, the 65th and 243rd ground attack regiments 
flying the 11-2, and a squadron flying the Po-2. The group provided tangible 
air support to the 5 th Army troops covering the Mozhaysk line of defense. 50 

By Stavka order the neighboring Northwestern Front VVS and some of the 
forces of the PVO VI Fighter Corps (commander Colonel A. I. Mitenkov) were 
called in to cover the Western Front troops and to strike enemy troops and air¬ 
fields. As of 10 October 194) the PVO VI Fighter Corps had one bomber and 


54 



17 fighter air regiments. 344 serviceable aircraft, and 416 pilots. Of the latter, 

118 were capable of flying night missions in bad weather. 51 

In this difficult period of the war, night air regiments flying the PO-2, R-5, 
and R-Z began to be formed from military school instructors and pilots who had 
graduated from the Osoaviakhim schools * Between October and December 
1941,71 air regiments with PO-2s, 27 with R-5s, and 5 with R-Zs were formed 
in the VVS. By decisions of the Stavka the Kalinin Front and a frontal VVS con¬ 
sisting of five air regiments (front VVS commander Major General of Aviation 
N. K. Trifonov) were formed on 17 October from armies on the right wing of 
the Western Front for the purpose of combining the troops covering Moscow 
from the northwest. The command did everything to alter the correlation of 
forces in the air in our favor and, through air strikes, to make a maximum impact 
on fascist German troops attempting to break through to Moscow. 

At the beginning of October 1941 the Stavka became aware of preparations 
being made for a mass air attack by Hitlerite aviation. 

On 10 October 1941 the Stavka issued a directive to the Soviet Army Air 
Force commander stating that information from agents indicated the enemy was 
to make a massed air raid on industrial and aviation centers, rail terminals, 
bridges, crossings, headquarters, supply stations, and troop combat formations 
along the entire Western Front with a force of 1,000-1,500 planes on 12-13 Oc¬ 
tober 1941 The VSS commander was ordered to organize, during the night of 
11-12 October and in the morning and day of 12 October, decisive destruction 
of enemy aviation on the ground in the Northwestern, Western, and Southwest¬ 
ern sectors; to take steps to disperse friendly aircraft on the ground; to increase 
the readiness of air defense resources for repelling enemy air raids. 52 In conform¬ 
ity with this directive the Soviet Army Air Force command and staff developed 
an urgent plan for the VVS to destroy enemy aircraft on the ground in the period 
from 11 to 18 October. Long-Range Bomber Aviation formations and the North¬ 
western, Western, Bryansk, Southwestern, and Southern front VVS were called 
in for this mission. The VVS plan was reported via the General Staff to the 
Stavka and, after approval, fragmentary orders were issued to the appropriate 
front VVS commanders and to the long-range bomber air formation command¬ 
ers. In terms of scope, the forces allocated, and the results attained, the VVS 
actions against the airfields were in essence a VVS air operation, conducted on 
a broad front, within a short time, and with decisive goals. Its results were ex¬ 
tremely good. The VVS commander reported to the Stavka: “In the period from 
11 to 18 October 1941 the Red Army Air Force made a number of bomb strikes 
against enemy airfields in the Northwestern, Western, and Southern sectors. In 
just 2 days (11 and 12 October) and on the night of 13 October, 166 planes were 
destroyed on the ground at Vitebsk, Smolensk, Orel. Orsha. Siverskaya. 


'[Osoaviakhim - Society for Assistance to the Defense. Aviation, and Chemical Construction 
of the USSR—U S .Ed | 


55 



Novodugino, etc. And, according to incomplete data, at least 500 enemy planes 
were destroyed on the ground between 11 and 18 October. . . . The strikes 
against the airfields caused significant enemy aviation losses, thus foiling the 
enemy ’ s plan for a mass attack. ” 53 

Fascist German aviation reduced its strikes against our troop combat forma¬ 
tions. But the front continued to approach Moscow. Another line of defense was 
created at the immediate approaches to Moscow by a 12 October State Defense 
Committee decision. The city’s and oblast's laborers took an active part in its 
construction. Responding to a party appeal, 450,000 persons, women for the 
most part, participated in construction of the defensive installations on the ap¬ 
proaches to Moscow and within the city itself. Enterprises providing weapons 
and ammunition to the capital’s defenders worked in three shifts. s3a 

Party-political work took on special significance in those days. Its content 
was defined by decisions of the party Central Committee. The following slogans 
were publicized: “We Are Defending Our Capital!’’ and “Defeat of the Fascist 
German Occupiers Must Begin at Moscow !” 53b 

All of the activities of the capital’s party organization were subordinated 
to the interests of Moscow’s defense. Within several days 25 independent com¬ 
munist and workers’ companies and battalions, 75 percent manned by com¬ 
munists and Komsomol members, were formed in Moscow. Within the first half 
of October alone Moscow gave the front 50,000 soldiers. 53c 

In mid-October 1941 personnel on the General Staff and the V VS Staff were 
divided into two echelons in compliance with a Stavka decision to ensure de¬ 
pendable troop command and control. The first echelon remained in Moscow 
while the second was evacuated eastward, to the vicinity of Kuybyshev. 

The first (field) echelon of the operating army's VVS staff consisted at that 
time of VSS commander General P. F. Zhigarev. Military Council member 
Army Commissar 2nd Rank P. S. Stepanov, VVS chief of staff General G. A. 
Vorozheykin, staff military commissar Brigade Commissar A. V. Galichev. and 
deputy chief of staff Colonel A. P. Belyayev. 

The following generals and officers were the chiefs of directorates and sec¬ 
tions, their deputies, and principal officers of the VVS field staff: M V Shcher¬ 
bakov, V. V. Storozhenko, V. I. Artem’yev, A. M. Vlasov, M. N. Kozhev¬ 
nikov, I. M. Kuz’min, P. N. Poluektov, V. P. Poshekhontsev. V. M Pikulin. 
S. V. Sychev, Yu. A. Veliko-Ivanenko, G. T. Korol’kov, N. A. Strelkov. V. 
I. Lugovoy, D. D. Grendal’, A. 1. Sokoloverov, G. K. Gvozdkov. D. K Kar¬ 
povich, F. G. Fedorov, V. I. Al’tovskiy, A. G. Prokudin, V. G. Tairov, A G. 
Doroshenko, A. V. Nikitin, A. S. Shatskiy, D. S. Filatov. A. V Vinokurov, 
M. P. Konstantinov, L. A. Gorbatsevich, P. P. Belichenko. N N. Ishchenko, 
and V. B. Shemborskiy. 


56 




All of the rest of the officers and employees on the VVS staff and directorate 
were evacuated to Kuybyshev on 15 October 1941 under the command of 
Brigade Engineer Ya. L. Bibikov, Division Commissar L. G. Rudenko, and 
V VS deputy chief of staff Colonel B. A. Ageyev. 

After the bulk of the officers and the absolute majority of employees of the 
VVS staff and directorate left, the generals and officers on the VVS field staff 
worked around the clock. This was due to the complexity of the evolved situation 
in the Moscow sector and growing volume of work. The VVS field staff opera¬ 
tions group commanded all aviation concentrated in the Western sector, col¬ 
lected data on the ground and aerial situations on other fronts, maintained opera¬ 
tional situation maps, developed aviation employment plans and fragmentary or¬ 
ders, and prepared daily VVS operational summaries and special reports for the 
Supreme Commander. 


Things became tougher in Moscow as well in those days. The city and its 
contiguous regions were placed in a state of siege as of 20 October by a 19 Oc¬ 
tober 1941 State Defense Committee decree. This was necessary so that the troop 
rear services could be strengthened and the subversive activities of enemy agents 
could be halted. The Communist Party appealed to the people in the capital to 
be calm, to comply with law and order, and to render all possible support to troop 
units. Defense of lines 100-120 km west of Moscow was assigned to the Western 
Front commander. General G. K. Zhukov, while that of the city’s immediate 
vicinity was given to General P. A. Artem’yev, the garrison chief. Amalgama¬ 
tion and coordination of all aviation resources operating in the Western sector 
was assigned by the Stavka to the Soviet Army Air Force commander. General 
P. F. Zhigarev. The CC CPSU Politburo, the State Defense Committee, Stavka, 
and the General Staff operations group were in Moscow. Leadership of the entire 
country and the combat actions at the fronts was exercised from here, and it was 
here that the main problems of the war were solved. 

At the end of October the Hitlerite troops were halted on a line extending 
from Volzhskoye Reservoir east of Volokolamsk along the Nara and Oka rivers 
as far as Aleksin. Soviet aviation actively helped the troops repel enemy attacks. 
During the defensive encounter, between 30 September and 31 October 1941. 
the VVS flew 26,000 combat sorties, including 80 percent for troop support and 
cover. 54 Soviet pilots fighting fascist German aviation displayed extreme brav¬ 
ery and heroism. On 29 October Junior Lieutenant B. I. Kovzan, a pilot in the 
184th Fighter Air Regiment, rammed and downed a German plane near Zaraysk 
after expending all his ammunition. 55 

The advance of the fascist German troops was finally halted within the 
Bryansk Front zone in the second half of October. The Bryansk Front's 3rd and 
13th armies fought hard battles in the enemy rear area for 3 weeks, containing 
the main forces of the German 2nd Field and 2nd Tank armies. By 23 October 
they extricated themselves from encirclement on the Belyayev-Mtsensk-Ponyri- 


57 




L'gov line. Considering their state, the Stavka ordered the front’s troops to with¬ 
draw to a line east of Dubna, Plavsk. Verkhov’ye, Livny, Kastomoye. concen¬ 
trating the main efforts in the vicinity of Tula and in the Yelets sector On 30 
October German 2nd Tank Army formations reached Tula, where they met or¬ 
ganized resistance from troops of the 50th Army and the Tula Workers’ Regi¬ 
ment. Soviet aviation flew 3,750 sorties in 20 days in support of the Bryansk 
Front troops. 56 Destroying enemy troops and equipment, the Soviet Air Force 
also stubbornly fought enemy aviation. The main burden of the fight against 
enemy aviation in the air was placed on the VVS fighters of the fronts, especially 
the VI Fighter Air Defense Corps. 

In October fascist German aviation made 31 raids on Moscow. About 2,000 
planes participated, but only 72 were able to reach their targets. 57 Some 278 
planes were shot down in air engagements and by antiaircraft fire during repul¬ 
sion of the raids. 58 In early November the enemy offensive on Moscow was 
halted in almost all sectors. 

Failing to reach its goal in October, the German command prepared a new 
offensive for the middle of November. The goal was to make two simultaneous 
enveloping thrusts on Moscow with mobile groupings from the north and south, 
with air support from the 2nd Air Fleet. In all, the fascist German command allo¬ 
cated 51 divisions for the capture of Moscow, including 13 tank and 7 motorized 
divisions. 59 


Troops of the Kalinin, Western, and the right wing of the Southwestern 
fronts occupied defensive lines at the near approaches to Moscow Despite the 
fact that the Western Front had been reinforced, in November the fascist German 
Army still had overall numerical superiority in manpower and combat equipment 
in the Moscow environs. Soviet aviation operating in the Moscow sector was 
reinforced, and in total the number of friendly aircraft surpassed enemy aviation 
by a factor of 1.5. 60 


Considering this, and attaching great significance to achieving operational 
air supremacy, the Stavka ordered the Soviet Army Air Force commander to con¬ 
duct an air operation between 5 and 8 November to destroy German aircraft on 
the ground. The VVS command and staff, which had gained experience in or¬ 
ganizing such air operations, developed a plan requiring 32 planes from the Kali¬ 
nin Front VVS, 46 from the Western Front VVS. 56 from the Bryansk Front 
VVS, 32 from aviation of the Moscow Defense Zone, 80 from Long-Range 
Bomber Aviation, and 54 from the Supreme High Command’s 81st Independent 
Bomber Division—300 aircraft in all for a simultaneous strike on 19 airfields. 6 ' 
The plan was approved by VVS Commander General P. F Zhigarev and VVS 
Military Council member Army Commissar 2nd Rank P. S Stepanov, and was 
signed by VVS Chief of Staff General G. A. Vorozheykin. Instructions to the 
front commanders concerning the allocation of aviation were written by the VVS 
staff, signed by the General Staff, and issued to the troops. Concurrently instruc- 


58 



tions were given by the Soviet Army Air Force command to front VVS com¬ 
manders on the procedures for making the airfield strikes. 

Thirteen enemy airfields were struck on 5 November, 15 on 6 and 7 
November, and on 12 and 15 November strikes were made repeatedly against 
19 airfields. As a result more than 100 planes were destroyed and damaged, and 
61 planes were shot down in aerial combat. 62 The two air operations conducted 
by the Soviet Air Force in October and November 1941 to destroy fascist German 
aviation on the ground were to have a positive influence on attaining operational 
air supremacy in the Moscow sector by the beginning of December 1941. 

After a 2-week pause fascist German troops resumed their offensive on 
Moscow. At the price of high losses they managed to reach the near approaches 
to Moscow at the end of November. Soviet troops offered stubborn resistance, 
making strong counterstrikes with the active support of aviation. After Klin and 
Solnechnogorsk were captured the enemy attempted to exploit his gains north¬ 
west of Moscow. On the night of 28 November he managed to cross small forces 
to the east bank of the Moscow-Volga Canal in the vicinity of Yakhroma, north 
of Iksha. 

The Stavka, the Western Front command, and the Soviet Army Air Force 
command took emergency steps to eliminate the resulting danger. Reserve for¬ 
mations and troops from neighboring sectors were transferred to the vicinity of 
Kryukovo, Khlebnikovo, and Yakhroma. An air group commanded by Soviet 
Army Air force deputy commander General I. F. Petrov (chief of staff Colonel 
N. P. Dagayev) was operating in this sector. It had a strength of 160 combat 
aircraft. Operating against enemy troops in the vicinity of Yakhroma, Klin, and 
Solnechnogorsk, the air group flew 150-180 combat sorties daily. General I. F. 
Petrov’s air group played an extremely great role in supporting the troops of the 
1st Shock Army, the forward units of which counterattacked and pushed enemy 
troops penetrating in the vicinity of Yakhroma back to the canal’s western bank. 
With its active support, at the end of November and the beginning of December 
the 1st Shock Army and the newly formed 20th Army made a number of coun¬ 
terblows against fascist German troops, and together with the 30th and 16th ar¬ 
mies finally stopped their advance. The threat of an enemy breakthrough to Mos¬ 
cow from the northwest and north was eliminated. 

On 18 November the enemy broke through defenses on the left wing of the 
Western Front southeast of Tula, and in 17 days reached Venev and Kashira. 
The Soviet Army Air Force command quickly formed an air group commanded 
by Colonel M. V. Shcherbakov with the mission of supporting the 50th Army 
near Tula An air group formed near Ryazhsk and commanded by Twice Hero 
of the Soviet Union General G. P. Kravchenko and Long-Range Bomber Avia¬ 
tion units were brought in to reinforce units operating against the enemy. Sup¬ 
ported by the front’s tanks and aviation, one long-range bomber division, and 
a part of the forces of the VI Fighter Air Corps, on 27 November the I Guards 


59 



Cavalry Corps counterattacked enemy troops breaking through to Kashira, forc¬ 
ing them to retreat in haste. As a result of the active operations of troops and 
aviation on the left wing of the Western Front, the enemy’s offensive was finally 
halted. On 4-5 December 1941 the defensive period of the battle of Moscow 
ended. 

Long-Range Bomber Aviation operated against battlefield targets, inter¬ 
dicted enemy railroad activity, and bombed enemy trains in Vyaz’ma, 
Sukhinichi, Mtsensk, and Zmiyevka and planes at airfields near Vyaz’ma, Vi¬ 
tebsk, Smolensk, and Sukhinichi. All actions of Frontal, Long-Range Bomber, 
and PVO Aviation, as well as of air groups were coordinated by the VVS com¬ 
mand, were planned, were sufficiently purposeful, and highly effective. During 
the entire period of the defense of Moscow the Soviet Air Force flew 51,300 
combat sorties—86 percent on behalf of the troops and 14 percent to cover Mos¬ 
cow. It destroyed up to 1,400 enemy planes, and by the beginning of December 
1941 had attained firm operational air supremacy in the Moscow sector. 63 It was 
attained through systematic destruction of enemy aviation on the ground and in 
active offensive air engagements fought by our fighters. Attainment of opera¬ 
tional air supremacy in the Moscow sector was a great victory for the Soviet Air 
Force and for the Armed Forces as a whole. The Supreme High Command could 
now regroup its troops and concentrate reserves without significant interference 
from enemy aircraft. 

The situation changed dramatically on the entire Soviet-German front at the 
beginning of December 1941. The first victories at Moscow, Tikhvin, and Ros¬ 
tov set the stage for assumption of a counteroffensive by the Soviet Army on 
the main axis—the Moscow sector. The Stavka concept provided for making the 
main thrust in a westerly direction with the goal of destroying the main forces 
of Army Group Center and decisively improving the position of Soviet troops. 
Troops of the Kalinin, Western, and the right wing of the Southwestern fronts, 
aviation from the Moscow Defense Zone, the PVO VI Fighter Corps, two Su¬ 
preme High Command reserve air groups, and the main forces of Long-Range 
Bomber Aviation were allocated for the counteroffensive. All allocated aviation 
resources were combined under Soviet Army Air Force commander General P. 
F. Zhigarev and his field staff. 

The greater share of the mission of destroying the enemy at Moscow was 
assigned to the Western Front commanded by General G. K. Zhukov. Eighty 
percent of all aviation concentrated in the vicinity of Moscow was assigned mis¬ 
sions within the Western Front’s sector. In the counteroffensive the Air Force 
was to support ground troops through active operations, maintain the air suprem¬ 
acy it had achieved, cover Moscow against enemy raids, interdict the enemy’s 
rail shipments, and perform air reconnaissance. Preparations were made during 
the defensive encounter, which permitted the Soviet command to concentrate 
sufficient men and materiel. But the strength of troops allocated to the counterof¬ 
fensive was lower than that of the enemy—by a factor of 1.5 in personnel, 1.4 
in artillery, and 1.6 in tanks. We were superior only in aviation. Soviet aviation 

60 



strength was about 1,200 combat aircraft, while that of the enemy was about 
700. 64 In the moral-political sense Soviet soldiers were highly superior to the 
fascist German troops. Limitless love for the Motherland and an unshakable will 
for victory were also a decisive force which compelled the Hitlerites to flee Mos¬ 
cow. 


At dawn on 5 December 1941 the left wing of the Kalinin Front went over 
to the counteroffensive, and on 6 December it was joined by strike groups of 
the Western and Southwestern fronts. They struck the enemy within a sector 
from Kalinin to Yelets, which was about 1,000 km long. The Soviet Air Force 
command employed about 1,000 combat aircraft in concentrated strikes against 
the enemy grouping north and northwest of Moscow and only 200 aircraft against 
troops on the left flank. 65 

With the active support of our aviation the penetrated the tactical 

zone of the enemy defenses and began to exploi: 1 .. *i r.si-.r .uccessfully in 
all sectors. 


On 9 December 1941 air reconnaissance established the fact of a massive 
enemy withdrawal on the Klin-Teryayeva Sloboda highway. This permitted the 
Supreme High Command and the VVS command to direct the efforts of our avia¬ 
tion at annihilating the retreating enemy columns. To cut off the withdrawal 
route of the German troops the Soviet command dropped a tactical airborne as¬ 
sault party of 415 enlisted men and officers on the night of 15 December in an 
area west of Teryayeva Sloboda. The airborne troops were highly successful in 
their mission, cutting off the enemy’s withdrawal route on the roads and thus 
making it possible for our aviation to strike the great accumulation of enemy 
motor vehicles and equipment on the roads. The airborne assault party joined 
up with troops of the 30th Army at the end of December. 


Here is what Marshal of the Soviet Union G. K. Zhukov writes about this 
in his memoirs: “The counteroffensive actions of the Western Front’s right wing 
continued constantly. Its actions were supported actively by Frontal Aviation, 
by PVO Aviation, and by Long-Range Aviation, commanded by General A. Ye. 
Golovanov. Aviation made powerful strikes against artillery emplacements, 
tank units, and command posts, and when the Hitlerite troops began to withdraw, 
it attacked and bombed infantry, armored, and motor transport columns. As a 
result, following the enemy retreat all westward roads were congested by the 
enemy’s combat equipment and motor vehicles. ’ ,66 


In the course of pursuing the enemy, General I. F. Petrov’s air group oper¬ 
ated actively in the Klin sector, and General Ye. M. Nikolayenko’s air group 
was active in the Kaluga and Sukhinichi sectors. 


Until 7 December Long-Range Bomber Aviation operated against enemy 

61 



Dropping an Airborne Assault Party in the Enemy Rear Area in the Moscow 
Sector. 

troops. Later its efforts were turned to strikes against rail terminals, trains, and 
sidings with the goal of blocking deliveries of troops and equipment to the front. 
It was pointed out at that time in a report of the Soviet Army Air Force Military 
Council to Supreme Commander J. V. Stalin on 22 December 1941 that after 
7 December the mission of the High Command’s aviation was to destroy rail ter¬ 
minals and trains with the objective of interdicting deliveries of ammunition and 
enemy troops to the front. From 8 to 18 December the air divisions flew 251 
sorties and dropped 156 tons of bombs in poor weather (poor visibility, snowfall, 
fog, icing of the planes). As a result of the bombing 32 rail stations, 85 ammuni¬ 
tion and troop trains, and up to 83 tanks and vehicles were destroyed and dam¬ 
aged. A proposal was also made to subsequently employ Long-Range Bomber 
Aviation against large objectives in the enemy rear area. 67 

The counteroffensive by troops of all three fronts in the Moscow sector 
lasted 33 days. In extremely poor winter weather the Soviet Air Force flew about 
16,000 combat sorties, 50 percent of them with the mission of destroying enemy 
troops and combat equipment. 68 In the counteroffensive, aviation was massed 
in the main sectors. Seventy percent of all Frontal Aviation sorties had the goal 
of destroying the northern enemy grouping. Massing of aviation in the main sec¬ 
tor and Frontal and Long-Range Bomber Aviation operations against centers of 
resistance, the enemy’s withdrawing groupings and control posts, rear services, 
and lines of communication created favorable conditions for accelerating the 
pace of the offensive. 

As a result of the joint actions of troops and aviation of the fronts, enemy 
strike groupings threatening Moscow from the north and south were destroyed 
62 





by the end of December 1941. The direct threat to the capital was eliminated. 
The battle of Moscow revealed the excellent combat capabilities of the Soviet 
Air Force which, with centralized control of the combined aviation forces, 
played an extremely great role in the enemy’s defeat. The experience of employ¬ 
ing the VVS in combat, accumulated during the counteroffensive, was sub¬ 
sequently utilized extensively by the Soviet command to better control combined 
aviation efforts in offensive operations conducted by groups of fronts. 

The Communist Party and Soviet government gave a high assessment to 
the Air Force’s actions. On 6 December 1941 six air regiments were reorganized 
as Guards regiments—the 29th, 129th, 155th, and 526th fighter regiments (com¬ 
manders Majors A. P. Yudakov, Yu. M. BerkaT, A. F. Shpak, and N. P. Metel- 
kin), the 215th Ground Attack Air Regiment (commander Major L. D. Reyno), 
and the 31st Bomber Air Regiment (commander Lieutenant Colonel F. I. 
Dobysh). Thousands of airmen were awarded orders and medals. 69 Fifty-two 
brave pilots were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union, including V. A. 
Shishov, S. G. Get’man, A. F. Loktionov, A. I. Molodchiy, A. G. Rogov, F. 
M. Fatkulin, A. N. Katrich, Ye. M. Gorbatyuk, V. Ye. Kovalev, V. V. 
Talalikhin, and others. 70 During the battle of Moscow pilot V. V. Talalikhin 
rammed an enemy plane at night for the first time in the war, and pilot A. N. 
Katrich rammed an enemy plane at high altitude for the first time. 


It is difficult and perhaps even impossible to overstate the great significance 
of our victory over fascist German troops and the vaunted German aviation in 
the battle of Moscow. This was a historic victory inscribed on the unfading pages 
of not only the chronicle of the Great Patriotic War but also world history. The 
defeat of the enemy troops at Moscow strengthened the faith the Soviet people 
and their Armed Forces had in ultimate victory and raised the fighting spirit of 
peoples in countries of Europe occupied by the fascists. The people of the world 
now saw that the Hitlerite army could be and would be defeated. 


Victory was achieved at Moscow because of the advantages of the socialist 
social and state structure, the selfless labor of our people, and the unparalleled 
acts of heroism and bravery of soldiers of the Soviet Army led by the Leninist 
Communist Party. “The historic victory at Moscow,” noted L. I. Brezhnev, 
“inspired the Soviet people to new acts of heroism and strengthened their confi¬ 
dence that the enemy would inevitably be defeated. ” 71 

The experience gained from VVS combat actions in the battle of Moscow 
confirmed the need to seek out and employ a new form of aviation command 
and control—the combination of allocated aviation resources under the com¬ 
mand of a senior air chief. There was a clear need to improve the organizational 
structure of Frontal and Long-Range Bomber Aviation units and formations and 
of the Soviet Army Air Force staff and directorates, and to create large, highly 
maneuverable Supreme High Command air reserves. Actuality demanded syn¬ 
thesizing of the combat experiences of all aviation branches and components, 

63 






and the fastest possible dissemination of this information to the troops, 
academies, and scientific institutions. The organization of aviation coordination 
with ground force field forces and formations required further improvement. The 
enemy still held the technical edge in aviation equipment and armament. Solu¬ 
tion of these major problems required great efforts on the part of the CC CPSU 
and the government, the General Staff, and the VVS command, Military Coun¬ 
cil, and staff. Most of the solutions were worked out early in 1942, submitted 
to the Supreme High Command Stavka, and implemented in 1942. 


Notes 

1 . SAF in World War II. p. 29. 

2. USSR Aviation and Cosmonautics, p. 89. 

3. The directive of People's Commissar of Defense S. K. Timoshenko and Chief of the General 
Staff G. K. Zhukov was transmitted to all border military districts on the night of 22 June 1941 
at0030 hours. 

4. SAFinWorldWarII, p. 34. 

5. Ibid.,p. 35. 

6. A. A. Novikov, Vnebeleningrada [In Leningrad's Skies], (Moscow, 1970), p. 45. 

7. Great Patriotic War. II, 17-18 

8. USSR Aviation andCosmonautics. p. 87 

9. Archives, f. 35, op. 11285, d. 16,11.63-66. 

10. Ibid.,f.96-A,op. 1711,d. 1,1.11. 

11. Ibid., f. 35,op. 11285,d. 115,11.3-5. 

12. Ibid. 

13. Ibid.,f. 4&-A, 1554,d. 19, I. 136. 

14. Ibid., f. 35, op. 7879, d. 6, 11. 1-35. 

15. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhumal, No.6,1972,p. 21; SAF in World War II. p. 37. 

16. Archives. f.48~A,op. 1554,d. 9, 1.213. 

17. Ibid.,f. 35,op. 11285,d. 173, 11. 110-11. 

18. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhumal. No. 3,1972, p. 25. 

19. Mirovaya voyna 1939-1945 [The World War of 1939-1945], translated from the German (Mos¬ 
cow, 1957), p.472. 

20. SAF in WorldWarll, pp. 30-39. 

21. USSRAviationandCosmonautics, p. 92. 

22. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhumal, No. 2,1974, p. 31. 

23. SAF in WorldWarll, p. 44. 

24. Archives, f. 35, op. 30802,d. 10, 11. 1-3. 

25. Ibid., op. 73940, d. 2,11.1-10. 

26. Ibid. 

27. World WarllHistory, IV, 79. 

28. Archives, f. 132-A, op. 2624, d. 41,11.40,42. 

29. SAF in World Warll, pp. 52,53. 

30. A. I. Yeremenko, NaZapadnomnapravlenii [In the Western Sector] (Moscow, 1959), p. 90. 
30a. H. Guderian, Vospominaniya soldata [Memoirs of a Soldier], translated from the German 

(Moscow, 1954), p. 198. 

31. Archives, f. 202, op. 3996,d. 2,1.38. 

32. WorldWarll History, IV, 79. 

33. Archives, f. 209, op. 19013, d. 1, 1.6. 

34. Ibid., 11.14-16. 

35. SAFinWorldWarll, p. 54. 

36. Ibid.,pp.54-55. 

37. Archives, f. 35, op. 78125, d. 3,1. 120. 

64 


38. Ibid.,op. 11250,d.8,1.70. 

39. Ibid., f. 35, op. 7879, d. 6,11.35,73. 

40. A. D. Tsykin, Ot “ U'iMuromtsa " do raketonostsa [From the “Il'ya Muromets” to the Rocket 
Carrier] (Moscow, 1975), p. 69. 

41. World War II History, IV, 69. 

42. ATo’Iaiyye.ryrry/tadbivrWingedSonsoftheMotherlandKMoscow, 1967),pp. 192-95. 

43. At the beginning of October 1941 the German 1st and 2nd tank groups were reorganized into 
tank armies. 

44. Velikaya Otechestvennaya voyna Sovetskogo Soyuza 1941-1945. gg. Kratkaya istoriya [The 
Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union 1941-1945: A Short History] (Moscow, 1970), p. 116. 
[Hereafter referred to as Patriotic War Short History —U.S. Ed. ] 

45. Archives, f. 48-A, op. 1554, d. 91, 1.308. 

46. H Guderian, Vospominaniya soldala, p 222. 

47. Sovetskiye WS v Velikoy Otechestvennoy voyne 1941-1945 gg. Sbomik dokumentov [The 
Soviet Air Force in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945: A Collection of Documents], No. 1, 
(Moscow,I957),p.47.[Hereafter referred to as SAF Collection —U.S. Ed. ] 

48. Archives, f. 48-A, op. 1554, d. 91, 1.359. 

49. SAF in WorldWarll, p. 68. 

50. Archives, f. 6314,op. 11153,d. 88, 11.306-7 

51. Ibid , f. 35, op. 1282, d. 29,11. 139,140. 

52. Ibid ,f.208,op.2677,d.31,1.67. 

53. Ibid., f. 35, op. 30802,d. 8,11. 1-2. 

53a. WorldWarllHistory.W, 96-97 
53b. Ibid.,p.97. 

53c. Ibid. 

54. SAFinWorldWarll, p.71. 

55. Ibid , p. 72. 

56. Archives, f. 202,op. 38,d. 12,1. 102. 

57. Ibid.,f. 208,op. 198982,d. 13,1.88. 

58. USSR Aviation andCosmonautics.p.lQi. 

59. WorldWarll History. IV, 103. 

60. Patriotic War Short History, p. 124. 

61. Archives, f. 35.op. 30802,d.41,11.85-86. 

62. Ibid.,op. 11285,d. 74, 11.85-86; Voyenno-istoricheskiyzhumal, No. 6,1972,p. 21. 

63. SAF in World War II. p . 77. 

64. WorldWarll History. IV, 284 .SAFin WorldWarll. pp. 78-79. 

65. Archives, f. 208, op. 142690, d. 3,1.39;d. 2,11. 19-22. 

66. G. K. Zhukov, Vospominaniya i razmyshleniya [Recollections and Reflections], II, (Moscow, 
1974), p. 45. [Hereafter referred to as Zhukov—U. S. Ed. ] 

67. Archives, f. 35, op. 11290, d. 13,1.1%. 

68. SAF inWorldWarll, p. 87. 

69. USSR Aviation and Cosmonautics , pp. Ill, 112. 

70. SAF inWorldWarll, p.78. 

71. L. I. Brezhnev, Velikaya pobeda sovetskogo naroda [The Great Victory of the Sovet People) 
(Moscow, 1965), p. 12. 


65 








Chapter 3. Further Consolidation of the Soviet 
Army Air Force 


The Situation at the Fronts as of Spring 1942 

The victory of the Soviet Armed Forces at Moscow in the winter of 1941- 
1942 was the outstanding military-political event of the first year of the Great 
Patriotic War. As a result of the counteroffensive and the general offensive, 
Soviet troops subjected the armed forces of fascist Germany to their first major 
defeat in the course of all of World War II. The enemy was pushed back several 
hundred kilometers. The Soviet Army seized the initiative in the main strategic 
sector and retained it for almost half a year. The historic victory of the Soviet 
Armed Forces at Moscow marked the beginning of the fundamental turning point 
in the course of the Great Patriotic War. 

The victory of Soviet troops at Moscow raised the international authority 
of the Soviet Union even higher and promoted unification of the states and 
peoples of the anti-Hitler coalition for the struggle against fascist aggression. On 
1 January 1942, 26 states including the USSR, the U.S., and England signed 
a declaration pooling military and economic resources for the defeat of the fascist 
bloc. 


The bulk of the troops of fascist Germany and its satellites remained on the 
Soviet-German front as before. Some 176 divisions of German ground troops 
(including 21 tank and 14 motorized) and 9 brigades, 14 Finnish divisions and 
8 brigades, 7 Romanian divisions and 7 brigades, 3 Hungarian divisions and 2 
brigades, and 3 Italian, 2 Slovak, and 1 Spanish division were operating on this 
front as of 1 April 1942. 1 

On 1 May 1942 the strength of the fascist bloc armies on the Soviet-German 
front was 6,198,000 men, 56,941 guns and mortars (not including 50-mm mor¬ 
tars), 3,229 tanks and assault guns, and 3,395 combat aircraft (2,815 German, 
295 Finnish, 165 Romanian, 50 Hungarian, and 70 Italian). 2 

In May 1942 the army of the Soviet Armed Forces in the field had a strength 
of 5.5 million persons* 43,640 guns and mortars, 1,220 rocket launchers, 4,065 
tanks, and 3,160 combat aircraft (not counting 320 obsolete reconnaissance 
planes and 375 U-2 light night bombers). 3 

The situation had stabilized on the Soviet-German front by spring 1942. 


66 








The front line passed from Leningrad along the Volkhov River east of Staraya 
Russa, skirted the Demyansk area on the east and west, then proceeded along 
a line east of Kholm, Velikiye Luki, Velizh, Demidov, and Belyy, north of 
Yartsevo, formed the Rzhev-Vyaz’ma salient, embraced terrain west of 
Yukhnov and Kirov, then followed a line east of Lyudinovo, Zhizdra, and Bol- 
khov, west of Verkhov’ye, Tim, and Volchansk, protruded as a westward salient 
in the vicinity of Balakleya, Lozovaya, and Barvenkovo, fell short of Krasnyy 
Liman, Debal’tsevo, and Kuybyshevo, and then followed the Mius River. 

The Soviet command harbored no doubts that fascist German troops would 
resume active offensive actions in early summer. 

The forthcoming intense struggle demanded completion of the process of 
rebuilding the country's national economy, an increase in war production, and 
further development of all services of the Soviet Armed Forces. 

Organizational Changes in the Soviet Army Air Force Central 
Administration, Operational Field Forces, and Formations 

The increased scope of the Great Patriotic War, continuous quantitative and 
qualitative growth of the Soviet Air Force, and the ever-increasing scale of its 
operations on the fronts required improvements in the organizational structure 
of the VVS central administration, numbered air forces, formations, and units. 
The Communist Party Central Committee perpetually kept all problems as¬ 
sociated with strengthening and building the Soviet Air Force within its purview. 
Selection and placement of senior officers and generals was managed by the CC 
VKP(b) Aviation Section headed by General N. S. Shimanov. 

The CC VKP(b) granted a major role to the VVS Military Council in solving 
all major problems of the life and combat actions of Air Force personnel. Com¬ 
bining the functions of military and political leadership, it bore the entire respon¬ 
sibility for combat training, the political-moral state, the selection, training, and 
placement of VVS command and staff personnel, flight crews, and technicians, 
and for equipment supply. 

Under the guidance of the Military Council, in the first half of 1942 the V V S 
central administration developed and implemented major measures to improve 
the resources and methods of aviation command and control, and to improve the 
organizational structure of the VVS central administration, operational num¬ 
bered air forces, formations, and units. The VVS Military Council displayed 
constant concern for political indoctrination of airmen and for improving the 
level of party-political work. Much was done to strengthen discipline and elevate 
the political-moral level of VVS personnel. The Military Council was continu¬ 
ally informed of party-political work going on in VVS of the fronts and armies, 
in Frontal and Long-Range Bomber Aviation formations and units, and exerted 
its influence in this area. Various issues concerning supplying equipment to the 
Air Force were also discussed at Military Council meetings. Thus on 31 March 

67 





1942 the Military Council examined 
progress made in repairing planes and 
engines, on 2 April it examined glider 
production and use, and on 19'April it re¬ 
viewed the status of spare parts for 
planes and engines. 4 Military Council 
members were deeply involved in the 
work of the staff and all VVS control or¬ 
gans, rear services, and central adminis¬ 
tration directorates and services. 

In February 1942 General Alek¬ 
sandr Aleksandrovich Novikov, a partic¬ 
ipant in the Civil War and a CPSU mem¬ 
ber since 1920, was appointed Soviet 
Army Air Force first deputy command¬ 
er. 5 He graduated from the M. V. 

Frunze Military Academy in 1930. A. A. 

Novikov was transferred to aviation 
from the XI Rifle Corps staff, Belorus¬ 
sian Military District. Aircraft construc¬ 
tion developed swiftly and aviation equipment production increased signifi¬ 
cantly during the First Five-Year Plan. The number of air units and formations 
increased. Aviation needed experienced cadres. Many experienced combined 
arms commanders, including A. A. Novikov, were transferred to the VVS in 
the early 1930s. Serving as chief of staff of an air brigade, in 1933 A. A. Novikov 
passed a special exam for observer pilot and in 193S became squadron command¬ 
er. In March 1936 he was promoted to colonel. In June 1938 A. A. Novikov 
was appointed chief of staff of the Leningrad Military District VVS and in July 
1940, following the military conflict with Finland, became district VVS com¬ 
mander. He was serving in this capacity when the Great Patriotic War began. 

After A. A. Novikov was appointed deputy commander of the Soviet Army 
Air Force, the Stavka immediately sent him to the fronts to render assistance in 
combining the aviation forces and employing them in mass in the main ground 
forces sector of operations. 

In the second half of February 1942 A. A. Novikov headed the VVS repre¬ 
sentatives developing the plan for the Air Force operations in the western sector. 
This plan was developed jointly by the Soviet Army Air Force staff and the West¬ 
ern Front VVS staff, was signed 28 February 1942 by A. A. Novikov, and ap¬ 
proved by the Western Sector Military Council. 

At the beginning of March 1942 the Stavka sent A. A. Novikov to the Vol¬ 
khov Front. On 8 March 1942 the Stavka published a directive ordering the com¬ 
manders of the Volkhov and Leningrad fronts and the Soviet Army Air Force 
deputy commander to organize and perform, from 10 to 20 March, massed air 
strikes against enemy combat formations and defensive fortifications on the for- 
68 




ward edge and deep within the zones of advance of the 4th, 59th, and 2nd shock 
armies of the Volkhov Front and the 54th Army of the Leningrad Front, as we)) 
as against enemy lines of communication. 

Organization and performance of the air strikes was assigned to Soviet 
Army Air Force Deputy Commander A. A. Novikov and to his subordinate. 
Major General of Aviation A. Ye. Golovanov, Long-Range Bomber Aviation 
commander. 6 

The Stavka decision to allocate combined aviation forces for massed strikes 
against enemy troops was spurred on by the need for annihilating the enemy’s 
Lyuban’ grouping as soon as possible. 7 By the end of February 1942 the situation 
had evolved in the following way in this sector. Back in early January the Vol¬ 
khov Front’s 4th and 59th armies went over to the offensive towards Lyuban’ 
and Tosno. Arriving formations of the 2nd Shock Army were also committed 
to the encounter. By the end of January the 2nd Shock Army had advanced 75 
km, cut the Novgorod-Leningrad rail line, and had reached the approaches to 
Lyuban’. Offensive actions of the Volkhov Front's other armies were unsuccess¬ 
ful. The Leningrad Front’s 54th Army, which attacked toward Lyuban’ from 
near Pogost’ya, advanced slowly. The 2nd Shock Army’s attempts at widening 
the breach and seizing Lyuban’ were unsuccessful. Powerful air support was re¬ 
quired. To complete this mission A. A. Novikov was permitted to allocate 8 air 
regiments from the Stavka Reserve, a portion of Long-Range Aviation assets, 
and the aviation of the indicated fronts. To the extent necessary, employment 
of combined arms army aviation was also permitted. The Leningrad Front had 
12 air regiments in the frontal and combined arms army VVS, including 8 
fighter, 1 ground attack, and 3 bomber regiments. The Volkhov Front VVS had 
23 independent air regiments; of these 13 were combined into 2 reserve air 
groups—the 2nd and 3rd, which coordinated with the front’s 59th and 4th Com¬ 
bined Arms armies, respectively. 


A. A. Novikov developed the plan for the ac’ions of all aviation with the 
help of the Volkhov Front VVS command and staff (VVS commander General 
1. P. Zhuravlev), General S. I. Rudenko accompanying him, and his operations 
group consisting of three VVS staff officers. The plan was worked out, coordi¬ 
nated, and submitted to the front commanders. Considering the situation and the 
absence of a divisional level in the VVS of the fronts, a decision was made to 
create a temporary air group (commander General S. 1. Rudenko, chief of staff 
Major M. N. Kozhevnikov) from eight air regiments for operations mainly on 
the right flank within the 54th Army’s zone. 


The actions of our aviation rendered significant assistance to troops of the 
Leningrad and Volkhov fronts. For the first time in the war aviation actions were 
coordinated by the senior air chief in support of the troops of not just one but 
two fronts. This was a new phenomenon in strategic coordination between the 
Soviet Air Force and ground forces. 


69 


A USSR Council of People's Commissars decree dated 11 April 1942 ap¬ 
pointed General A. A. Novikov commander of the Soviet Army Air Force and, 
concurrently, USSR Deputy People's Commissar of Defense for Aviation* 

Immediately on assuming his post of Soviet Army Air Force commander. 
A. A. Novikov devoted a great deal of attention to improving the organizational 
structure of the VVS central administration, the numbered air forces, forma¬ 
tions, and units of Frontal and Long-Range Bomber Aviation. Staff proposals 
to alter the organizational structure of VVS sections and directorates were 
examined at meetings of tne VVS Military Council. 

Section One was elevated to the status of a VVS staff directorate in April 
1942 in accordance with a General Staff directive. Colonel N. A. Zhuravlev was 
appointed chief of the directorate, and as of 27 May 1942 Regimental Commissar 
A. I. Kozlov was appointed military commissar. 

This VVS staff directorate consisted of several sections headed by Colonels 
K. T. Burak, Ye. G. Moiseyev, and V. V. Storozhenko. 

Creation of a section for analyzing and synthesizing war experience on the 
VVS staff was of extremely great significance to the Air Force. Its mission was 
to study and synthesize the combat experience of the troops, and to write direc¬ 
tions, instructions, and information bulletins with the goal of rendering practical 
assistance to units, formations, academies, and military educational institutions. 
Its functions also included bringing to light the weak and strong points of the 
employment of Soviet and enemy aviation and of the application of aviation 
equipment and weapons, and developing proposals on introducing new tactics 
and procedures for units, subunits, and individual aircraft. Officers A. A. 
Vasil’yev (section chief as of the beginning of 1943), A. G. Drozdov, M. D. 
Tikhonov, N. N. Ostroumov, I. V. Boldyrev, A. S. Kravchenko, I. V. Pimenov, 
and others worked in the section with extremely great effectiveness throughout 
the entire war. The work of the war experience analysis and synthesis section 
was extremely useful, and it had a direct impact on increasing the effectiveness 
of our aviation's actions. Discussing the need for synthesizing and disseminating 
combat experience, Pravda wrote in 1942: “The accumulated combat experi¬ 
ence and the skill in warfare are precious treasures belonging to our entire army, 
to all of our people. ’ ’ 9 

This was the organizational structure of the Soviet Army Air Force staff 
until 1944. There were changes in the section chiefs, their deputies, and a small 
proportion of the officers. In particular, in 1942 Colonel N. P. Dagayev was ap¬ 
pointed chief of staff of the Kalinin Front VVS. Colonel V. V. Storozhenko was 
appointed chief of staff of the Northwestern Front VVS, and Colonel M.V. 
Shcherbakov was appointed commander of the reserve air group. New officers 
joined Section One. Colonels P. F. Korotkov and G. V. Vinogradov, Majors 
V. B. Shemborskiy and A. S. Bolotnikov, Captains F. Ya. Panyushkin, V. 1. 
Izvalov, and G. I. Glazunov, and Senior Lieutenants A. I. Popkov and I. Ye. 


70 



Savkin; new officers in other sections included Colonel P. V. Ratanov, Lieuten¬ 
ant Colonels M. N. Karpuk and V. M. Bogdan, Captain G. 1. Kopylov, and 
others. 

In April 1942 General Sergey Aleksandrovich Khudyakov became chief of 
staff of the Soviet Army Air Force. While chief of staff of the 8th Cavalry Regi¬ 
ment, in 1931 S. A. Khudyakov was transferred to the command department of 
the N. Ye. Zhukovskiy Air Force Academy. In November 1932 he passed the 
flight tests and was awarded the rank of observer pilot. After graduating from 
the academy he was appointed a department chief on the 5th Heavy Bomber Air 
Brigade staff. Serving as chief of rear services in the Belorussian Military Dis¬ 
trict VVS Directorate, in 1939 he retrained as a pilot without leave from his prin¬ 
cipal work, and in February 1940 was appointed chief of staff of the Belorussian 
Military District VVS. This was followed by his appointment as a front VVS 
commander in February 1942. It was from here that S. A. Khudyakov was trans¬ 
ferred to the Soviet Army Air Force staff. But he was not destined to work for 
very long on the staff. In July 1942, by request of the Western Front Military 
Council, he was appointed commander of this front’s 1 st Air Army. 

General G. A. Vorozheykin, VVS chief of staff, was appointed Air Force 
first deputy commander in April 1942. 

VVS rear services were also reorganized. The rear services included the 
rear area organization, airfield construction, and technical supply directorates, 
the special motor transport and mechanization resource operation, fuel supply, 
and combined arms supply sections, and central aviation supply depots. General 
L. G. Rudenko was appointed chief of rear services. 

Party organization of the Soviet Army Air Force staff was strengthened. 
Major G. M. Shnyrev was elected secretary-at-large of the party bureau of the 
V VS staff party organization. 

Organizational changes in the VVS central administration in accordance 
with a Supreme High Command decision improved the quality of VVS leader¬ 
ship. 


Concurrently Long-Range Bomber and Frontal aviation underwent major 
organizational changes. The combat experience of aviation in the summer-fall 
campaign of 1941 and especially in the battle of Moscow demonstrated the need 
for creating large air reserves and operational numbered air forces in Frontal Avi¬ 
ation which would permit massed employment of aviation in the most important 
sectors of ground forces operations, and their extensive maneuvering, not only 
within a front but also between fronts. ‘ ‘One of the decisive conditions for a suc¬ 
cessful air war,” Pravda stated in 1942, “is skillful maneuvering of air forces. 
The ability to quickly concentrate a strong fist for a powerful surprise attack, 
to direct it at the most vulnerable point or, on the other hand, to regroup one’s 
forces with lightning speed to repel an enemy strike, and, on another occasion, 
to disperse them at the blink of an eye—that is what warfare requires today. ” 10 


71 


A 5 March 1942 State Defense Committee decree reorganized Long-Range 
Bomber Aviation units and formations into Long Range Aviation (ADD),* sub¬ 
ordinate directly to the Stavka. Major General of Aviation A. Ye. Golovanov 
was appointed ADD commander, Divisional Commissar G. G. Gur’yanov was 
appointed Military Council member, and Lieutenant General of Aviation M. I. 
Shevelev was appointed chief of staff. 

Aleksandr Yevgen'yevich Golovanov’s fate in the Great Patriotic War was 
quite noteworthy. He began his fighting career in 1941 as commander of the 
212th Special Purpose Long-Range Bomber Air Regiment intended for action 
against targets deep in the enemy rear area in bad weather and at night. 


The 212th Air Regiment began the war with combat missions assigned di¬ 
rectly from the Stavka, against the enemy’s deep targets. The regiment proved 
itself capable of successfully accomplishing complex missions. That is why in 
August 1941 A. Ye. Golovanov became commander of the independent 81st 
Special Purpose Long-Range Bomber Air Division subordinate directly to the 
Stavka, and in March 1942 ADD commander. 

Generals and officers who served in the Long-Range Aviation command 
and staff during the war distinguished themselves greatly in organizing the com¬ 
bat missions of air formations. These included Deputy Commander General N. 
S. Skripko, Section Chief N. G. Khmelevskiy, Section Chief I. M. Talanin, 
navigators I. 1. Petukhov, V. I. Sokolov, and S. F. Ushakov, Chief Engineer 
I. V. Markov, and others. 

The Main Directorate of the Civil Air Fleet (GVF) + (chief General F. A. 
Astakhov) was subordinated to the Soviet Army Air Force commander by a 26 
April 1942 State Defense Committee decree. The GVF was given the mission 
of transporting cargo to the front, evacuating casualties from the front, and main¬ 
taining air communication with partisan detachments in the enemy rear area. 


The authority of the Soviet Army Air Force command and of the front and 
combined arms army commanders steadily expanded. By Stavka direction, be¬ 
ginning in January 1942 the Soviet Army Air Force commander was permitted 
to call in PVO Aviation located near the front to cover the front's forward units 
as necessary. Front and army VVS commanders were designated deputy front 
and army commanders for aviation, as well as members of the front and army 
military councils, while retaining the rights and responsibilities of front and army 
VVS commanders. At the same time army VVS commanders were given respon¬ 
sibility for timely redeployment of fighters to airfields abandoned by the enemy 


* 1 ADD —A viatsiya dal' tie go deystviya —U S Ed] 
t|GVF —Grazhdanskiy vozdushnyyflol —U.S Ed. | 


72 



and for making them ready to serve as bases. It was for this purpose that a com¬ 
bined arms army VVS was instructed to maintain two or three reserve air base 
maintenance battalions (BAO) reinforced by combat engineers from the ground 
forces." 

At the same time the General Staff and the Soviet Army Air Force command 
sought ways to improve the Frontal Aviation organizational structure. Its disper¬ 
sal among combined arms armies prevented unification of all of the front's avia¬ 
tion resources and their massed employment in the main ground forces sector 
of operations. Combined arms army commanders felt an acute need for aviation 
assistance on the battlefield, and they could not release any forces at all from 
subordinate air units to perform missions on behalf of an adjacent unit or the front 
as a whole. This led to dispersal of aviation and constriction of its combat 
capabilities, which had an unfavorable impact on the effectiveness of its strikes. 
In March 1942 the Soviet Army Air Force staff wrote and the VVS Military 
Council examined proposals for improving the Frontal Aviation organizational 
structure. The VVS commander forwarded these proposals to the State Defense 
Committee. The proposals suggested that our aviation lacked the organizational 
unity and the unity of command required for successfully countering the enemy. 
With aviation dispersed as it was, it could strike anywhere, but all of the strikes 
were weak. The suggestion was to combine aviation into large formations. 12 The 
State Defense Committee approved the idea of creating large air formations. 

In March 1942 a decision was made to form 10 air assault groups (UAG)* 
of composite structure, each containing six to eight air regiments; their mission 
was to reinforce the front VVS that had begun the general offensive in the first 
half of 1942. The air assault groups were formed in accordance with General 
Staff directives, on the basis of which the VVS staff prepared the appropriate 
orders and instructions. 

Orders of the Soviet Army Air Force commander published 16 and 17 
March 1942 created the first four air assault groups, the other six being created 
later. Their composition varied from three to eight air regiments. For example, 
the first group formed had two bomber air regiments flying the Pe-2, two ground 
attack air regiments flying the 11-2. two fighter air regiments flying the Yak-1 
and LaGG-3, and two heavy bomber air regiments flying the DB-3f. 13 All 10 
air assault groups were created by May 1942 and assigned on the following 
fronts: Volkhov—1st and 6th, Northwestern—2nd, Southern—3rd, Western— 
4th and 5th, Bryansk—7th, Southwestern—8th, Crimean—15th, and North 
Caucasus Front—16th. They were committed to battle as the air regiments were 
made ready. The idea of creating air assault groups was basically correct. But 
the altered situation, which required unification of all front aviation resources, 
required a change in viewpoints on organization of reserves as well. Air assault 
groups existed until early June 1942. A new, more effective air reserve organiza¬ 
tional structure was sought. 


'( UAG—Udarnaxa aviat.uonnaxa gruppu —L' S Ed | 


73 



By spring 1942 the resources for a new Frontal Aviation structure were 
created. The number of planes in the operational army increased constantly. 
While in December 1941 the operational army possessed 2,495 planes, by May 
1942 the figure had climbed to 3,164. The aviation industry increased the growth 
rate of aircraft production. In December 1941 the industry provided 693 planes, 
it provided 976 in January 1942, 822 in February, 1,532 in March, and 1,432 
planes in April 1942. 

By this time our aviation industry was producing aircraft of predominantly 
new design—LaGG-3, Yak-1, and Yak-7b. Production of new Tu-2 bombers 
and Yak-9 fighters began. New Pe-2, Yak-1, Yak-7b, and 11-2 aircraft made 
up more than 50 percent of the line unit strength. In 1941 the USSR aviation 
industry produced 15,735 planes, including 12,377 combat aircraft. It produced 
3,301 combat aircraft in the first quarter of 1942, 4,967 in the second, 6,219 
in third, and 7,124 in the fourth, a total of 21,681 planes produced in 1942. 14, ,r 

Considering all of this as well as Frontal Aviation combat experience, .n 
April 1942 the Soviet Army Air Force Military Council examined the problem 
of a new Frontal Aviation organizational structure and decided to create air ar¬ 
mies to replace the previously existing front and army VVS. These air armies 
were large numbered air forces permitting the massing of frontal aviation in the 
main sectors of troop operations, and they ensured centralized control and effec¬ 
tive air strikes. These proposals were submitted by the VVS commander to the 
Stavka, which approved and ordered the General Staff and the VVS command 
to implement them. 

The first air army* was created by a 5 May 1942 USSR NKO order. The 
order read: "For the purposes of improving the striking power of aviation and 
permitting successful employment of massed air strikes, combine the aviation 
resources of the Western Front into a single air army and designate it the 1st Air 
Army."' 6 


Initially the 1st Air Army’s composition included: two fighter air divisions 
of four fighter air regiments each; two composite air divisions of two fighter, 
two ground attack, and one bomber air regiment each; a training air regiment, 
a long-range air reconnaissance squadron, a liaison squadron, and a night air reg¬ 
iment flying the U-2. Each front combined arms army was left with one com¬ 
posite air regiment operationally subordinate to the army commander, but for 
special and aviation support, subordinate to the air army commander. 17 All other 
VVS in the operational fronts were reorganized into air armies during 1942. The 
1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 8th armies were formed in May, the 5th and 6th in June, 
the 14th and 15th in July, the 16th in August, and the 7th, 13th, and 17th air 
armies were formed in November. By November 1942 combat aviation was no 


•(The Frontal Aviatir formation was designated an airf vozdushnayal army, while the reserve 
formation was called an aviation (aviatsionnaya) army. See below for the latrer term—U S. Ed.) 

74 


longer subordinate to the combined arms armies. They were each left with one 
composite air regiment for air reconnaissance and liaison missions. It would be 
difficult to overstate the extreme importance of this measuie to the Soviet Air 
Force. The air armies turned out to be the most successful Frontal Aviation or¬ 
ganizational structure. 

Implementing the new Frontal Aviation structure, the Supreme High Com¬ 
mand and the VVS Military Council continued to seek the most appropriate or¬ 
ganization for powerful air reserves. A USSR NKO 1 July 1942 order initiated 
the formation of two fighter (commanders Generals Ye. M. Beietskiy and V. 
G. Ryazanov) and one bomber aviation army (commander Genera) V. A. 
Sudets). The plan was for each of these armies to contain three to five air divi¬ 
sions with a strength of 200—300 planes each. IK But in reality onh the I st Fighter 
Aviation Army, based near Yelets, was formed and took part in combat. 
Due to the difficult conditions of July 1942 it was formed hurriedly and, although 
not prepared for combat, was committed to the encounter a' Voronezh. In coordi¬ 
nation with the 5th Tank Army, it fought savage battles on the ground and in 
the air, covering the troops against enemy air strikes and striking ground targets 
in individual groups. The following report on 12 July 1942 to the Soviet Army 
Air Force commander by General Ye. M. Beietskiy, indicates the intensity of 
its combat actions: “In 7 days the army’s fighters fought in 104 air engagements 
and shot down 91 enemy planes. Out of 231 planes rereived by the army, 93 
failed to return from their combat missions and 23 made forced landings on 
friendly territory following battle. Forty-nine are down for repairs, and, as of 
the end of 12 July 1942, 66 planes are serviceable.” 19 Combat employment of 
the 1st Fighter Aviation Army revealed serious shortcomings in its organiza¬ 
tional structure. It was found to be cumbersome and insufficiently maneuvera¬ 
ble, and because an air army was part of the front, it was extremely difficult to 
control its formations. 

Only part of the 1st Bomber Aviation Army was committed to battle with 
the mission of interdicting rail shipments and halting enemy reserves in the West¬ 
ern sector. 20 In early August 1942 two bomber air divisions were operationally 
resubordinated to the 1 st Air Army commander for actions against enemy troops 
near Yartsevo and Vyaz’ma, and one bomber division was transferred to Long- 
Range Aviation. 21 

During its formation the 2nd Fighter Aviation Army was divided into two 
groups of two air divisions each, which were transferred to the 1st and 3rd Air 
Armies as reinforcements on 27 July 1942. 

Combat experience showed that it was not advisable to have an air army 
and aviation army within a single front. When there were two armies not under 
a common senior air chief, many difficulties arose in organizing coordination 
between them and the front’s troops. The Soviet Army Air Force commander 
concluded that the Supreme High Command air reserves must be no less power- 


75 



ful in composition than the aviation armies, but in terms of organizational struc¬ 
ture they should be more mobile and maneuverable. Upon joining a front they 
should freely enter the organizational structure of the air army of the front and, 
after completing their combat missions, they should be detached. 

The air corps was found to be the required form of Supreme High Command 
air reserve organization. The Stavka decided to create Supreme High Command 
Reserve* air corps and independent air divisions from the extant aviation armies 
and from the reserve air groups, and air assault groups. 

Formation of RVGK air corps was started under the guidance of the VVS 
Military Council in response to a USSR NKO 26 August 1942 order. The first 
four fighter air corps were formed by the end of 1942. The I Fighter Air Corps 
was commanded by General Ye. M. Beletskiy, the II Fighter Air Corps by Gen¬ 
eral A. S. Blagoveshchenskiy, the III by General Ye. Ya. Savitskiy, and the IV 
Fighter Air Corps by General I. D. Podgomyy. 

The air corps participated in two-sided tactical air exercises between 5 and 
15 October 1942 under the command of the Soviet Army Air Force commander 
with the goal of demonstrating the tactics employed by large groups of aircraft 
over the battlefield and developing the fundamental principles of their employ¬ 
ment in operations . 22 

In all by the end of 1942, 13air corps were formed, including four fighter, 
three ground attack, three bomber, and three composite corps. Nine RVGK air 
corps were sent to the front during that year. The air corps were formed and 
manned under the direct control of the CC VKP(b). Workers of the Central Com¬ 
mittee’s aviation section, the General Staff, and the VVS command systemati¬ 
cally reported to Communist Party leaders, to members of the State Defense 
Committee, and to the Stavka on formation and training of the reserve air corps, 
and always received assistance quickly from them. The air corps consisted of 
two or more divisions, and their strength ranged from 120 to 270 planes. At first 
they were created as both homogeneous (fighter, ground attack, bomber) and 
composite corps, but later the composite air corps failed to justify their existence, 
and they were replaced by homogeneous corps. At this time also the composite 
air divisions and air regiments were converted into homogeneous units. The 
RVGK air corps received new types of aircraft. They were used to reinforce 
Frontal Aviation and to create powerful air groupings in the most important stra¬ 
tegic sectors. 

Responding to Stavka direction, the Soviet Army Air Force commander 
concentrated RVGK air corps in the indicated sectors within a short time in ac- 


*[rezerv vtrkhovnogo glavnokomandovaniya, hereafter referred to as Stavka Reserve or 
RVGK—U S. Ed ) 


76 




cordance with the concept of strategic defense or offense. After the operation 
was completed the corps were transferred to other sectors. 


Being a powerful Stavka Reserve, the air corps permitted extensive maneu¬ 
vering of aviation and dramatic alteration of the correlation of forces in the air 
to our favor. 


For the Soviet Air Force, 1942 was a year of organizational consolidation, 
qualitative and quantitative growth of the fleet of aircraft, improvement of the 
combat skills of personnel, and maturation of commanders and staffs at all levels 
of troop command and control. 


Coordination of WS Activities by Stavka Aviation Represen¬ 
tatives in the 1942 Summer-Fall Operations 

The Stavka provided strategic direction to the Air Force. It determined and 
assigned missions to the Air Force in accordance with the objectives and concept 
of the strategic operations of groups of fronts and air operations, it distributed 
its resources among different sectors, it organized coordination with other serv¬ 
ices of the armed forces, and it directed aviation activities through the General 
Staff, the VVS command, and its own representatives. 

The functions of Stavka aviation representatives at the front were not 
spelled out officially on paper. In each individual case they were indicated by 
Stavka directives and orders. Stavka representatives were right on the scene of 
combat actions and, guided by the Supreme High Command decisions, assumed 
direct responsibility for organizing and achieving coordination between the VVS 
and the ground forces. They coordinated the activities of the fronts and of allo¬ 
cated aviation in terms of target, place, and time; they concentrated the principal 
efforts in the main sector; and they determined the Frontal and Long-Range Avi¬ 
ation flying sectors. 

In the operations of 1942 the functions of Stavka aviation representatives 
were broadened. By the end of the first period of the war they were coordinating 
the efforts of aviation on behalf of two, three, and more fronts. A Stavka aviation 
representative was assisted by an operations group consisting of three to five offi¬ 
cers from the VVS staff. This group maintained the situation maps, drafted in¬ 
structions to air army commanders, refined the Long-Range Aviation missions, 
<• coordinating them with the ADD commander’s operational group, monitored ac¬ 
complishment of aviation missions, and drafted daily reports to the Supreme 
Commander on the results achieved by aviation resources allocated to the opera¬ 
tion. 


Intense work was done in spring 1942 by the Soviet Army Air Force central 
administration to direct VVS combat actions. Members of the Air Force Military 

77 




Council visited the fronts with small groups of staff and directorate officers to 
render assistance to the command in forming air armies, air corps, and RVGK 
independent air divisions. The V VS staff helped to write the plans for regrouping 
aviation resources in the southern sector. It also provided help locally in organiz¬ 
ing coordination with the ground forces and maintained control over airfield con¬ 
struction and storage and delivery of bombs, shells, and fuel to the fronts. 

In March-June 1942 the Soviet Army Air Force command published a 
number of directives addressed to front V V S and air army commanders. 

In March 1942 the shortcomings in aviation coordination with front and 
army troops were pointed out to all front VVS commanders. These directions 
were prepared by Section One of the VVS staff. They pointed out the need for 
concentrating aviation efforts within strictly delimited sectors and on only the 
most important missions. The recommendation was made to plan and conduct 
aviation combat actions as a maximum effort only when ground forces were en¬ 
gaged in active operations. The results of the activities of aviation coordinating 
with the troops were to be assessed based on the successes of the forces on the 
ground and the effectiveness of coordination on the ground and in the air, as con¬ 
firmed by photographs or inspection flights. 23 These directions played a positive 
role in improving aviation coordination with the troops and in bettering its re¬ 
sults. 

On 27 March 1942 new regulations on intensified use of radio communica¬ 
tions to control aviation on land and in the air were implemented by order of 
the Soviet Army Air Force commander. 

In May 1942 the VVS main staff published a directive requiring correction 
of shortcomings in the organization and exercise of control of fighter aviation 
in the course of air engagements. Tne directive was written on the basis of an 
analysis of serious shortcomings in the Southwestern Front VVS. It emphasized 
that control of the fighters meant not only providing the necessary manpower 
and equipment on time and monitoring the takeoffs, but mainly commitment of 
additional forces to combat at the proper time, thus having an influence on the 
course and outcome of the battle. The directive also pointed out the need for or¬ 
ganizing surveillance of the air situation over the battlefield from forward control 
posts, and for guiding the fighters from the ground. 24 

At the beginning of June 1942 the VVS staff prepared a directive concern¬ 
ing the appearance of the new German Me-109f at the front and sent it over the 
signature of the Soviet Army Air Force commander to the front and combined 
arms army VVS commanders. It gave the tactical flight characteristics of the 
Me-109f. 25 

The belief was that the Yak-1 fighter, which was faster at an altitude of 
3,000 meters, had the same rate of climb, and maneuvered horizontally better, 
was the most suited to combat the Me-I09f. Thus considering these qualities, 
78 




pilots flying Yak-Is could successfully fight the Me-109f. Specific recommen¬ 
dations tested at the VVS Scientific Research Institute on the means of successful 
air engagement with the new type of enemy fighter were provided, i.e., the direc¬ 
tive had great significance. 

A directive to air army, front VVS, and combined arms army VVS com¬ 
manders published in July 1942 by the Soviet Army Air Force commander stated 
that the principle of concentration of forces was not yet being observed as the 
foundation for fighter aviation employment. The art of the commander employ¬ 
ing and controlling fighters lay precisely in his ability to achieve numerical 
superiority at the proper time and place even with small forces, since the most 
success could be achieved through a combination of the skill of the troops and 
the commander’s ability to command. 

A ! une 1942 USSR NKO order prepared by the Soviet Army Air Force staff 
concerning employment of the 11-2 as a day bomber had great significance for 
the Air Force. 

The order stated that we possessed 11-2 ground attack planes, which were 
the most effective short-range day bombers against enemy tanks and personnel. 
No other army possessed such short-range day bombers. . . . We could and 
should significantly increase the frequency of our day bombing strikes against 
the enemy, but to do so we would have to immediately do away with the harmful 
practice of underrating II—2s as day bombers and see to it that not a single 11-2 
took off for battle without a full bomb load. 

/. plan for Soviet Air Force actions in the summer and fall of 1942 was 
examined and approved at the end of March 1942 at a joint meeting of the State 
Defense Committee and the Stavka. Considering the enemy’s superiority of 
forces and the absence of ready reserves, the Stavka decided to foil enemy strikes 
through active defensive operations at prepared lines, inflict losses on the 
enemy, and create favorable conditions for a subsequent transition to the offen¬ 
sive by the Soviet Army. Concurrent with the transition to strategic defense in 
the central sector, offensive operations were to be conducted at Leningrad, in 
the vicinity of Demyansk, in the Khar’kov sector, and in the Crimea. During 
this time the Air Force continued its air reconnaissance, covered the troops 
against air strikes, improved its combat readiness, and waged a stubborn fight 
in the air. 

At the beginning of May 1942 both sides initiated a struggle for the strategic 
initiative on the Soviet-German front. This went on for almost 2 months. Enemy 
aviation intensified its strikes against troops and rear area targets. In May 1942, 
48,180 enemy overflights were observed on the Soviet-German front, while in 
June the figure climbed to 83,949, i.e., 12 times more than in December 

jj 26,27.28 

Between 30 May and 9 June 1942 the air armies made a number of effective 
strikes against enemy airfields in a broad sector from Pskov to the Crimea with 

79 



the mission of reducing German Air Force activity. 29 In general, however, 
events were proceeding unfavorably for the Soviet Army. Troops of the Crimean 
Front suffered defeat in May. This front was formed at the beginning of 1942 
with the mission of liberating the Crimea, and in May it was defending tne nar¬ 
rowest part of the Kerch’ Peninsula, at the so-called Ak-Monaysk positions. On 
12 May 1942 the Stavka ordered the temporary subordination of the Crimean 
Front’s aviation and Long-Range Aviation operating in this sector to ADD Depu¬ 
ty Commander General N. S. Skripko. 30 

The Crimean Front’s attempts at conducting the offensive were unsuccess¬ 
ful. On 8 May 1942 the enemy went over to the offensive with the intention of 
pushing Soviet troops off the Kerch’ Peninsula and then with all of his forces 
attacking Sevastopol’, which was defending itself heroically. 

On 15 May the enemy occupied Kerch’. The loss of the Kerch’ Peninsula 
dramatically worsened the position of Sevastopol’s defenders. The heroic de¬ 
fense of the hero-city went on for 250 days and nights. But the forces were un¬ 
even. On 4 July 1942 Soviet troops abandoned Sevastopol’ with Stavka permis¬ 
sion. 


The Southwestern Front’s Khar’kov offensive operation began on 12 May 
1942. It developed successfully for the first 3 days. The Soviet Command placed 
its main hope on preemptive strikes. In 3 days Soviet troops with active air sup¬ 
port advanced 25 km in the vicinity of Volchansk and 50 km southeast of 
Khar’kov. Favorable conditions for exploiting the success at the Barvenkovo sa¬ 
lient were created on 15 May. 

However, on 17 May a German assault grouping concentrated near 
Kramatorsk made a powerful northward thrust against the flank of the advancing 
Soviet troop grouping and advanced several dozen kilometers in the direction 
of Barvenkovo. The situation in the Southwestern Front deteriorated dramati¬ 
cally. There were no strong reserves to parry the enemy’s thrust. In the second 
half of 19 May the commander in chief of the Southwestern sector ordered his 
troops to go over to the defensive along the entire Barvenkovo salient, repel the 
enemy thrust, and recover the initial position. But this decision came too late. 
Troops of the Southwestern Front and of the Southern Front’s right wing suffered 
great losses. The Soviet offensive operation near Khar’kov ended in failure. 

On 26 June 19 J2 General A. M. Vasilevskiy became chief of the General 
Staff. He arrived at the end of the month at the Southwestern Front with Soviet 
Army Air Force Deputy Commander General G. A. Vorozheykin to provide 
practical assistance to the front command. 

Savage battles were being waged at Leningrad and in the vicinity of De- 
myansk in May and June, concurrently with the encounter in the Khar’kov sector 
and the Crimea. The offensive initiated on 3 May by troops of the Northwestern 
Front to destroy the enemy Demyansk grouping ended without results. Nor were 
troops of the Leningrad and Volkhov fronts able to penetrate the Leningrad 
80 



blockade in a joint operation. The situation on the Soviet-German front changed 
in favor of the enemy due to the failure of operations conducted by Soviet troops 
in May and June 1942. 

In the second half of June 1942 the fascist German command concentrated 
and deployed assault groupings in areas northwest of Kursk and northeast of 
Khar’kov. 

On 28 June enemy troops went over to the offensive from the region east 
of Kursk, penetrated defenses at the boundary between the 13th and 40th armies 
of the Bryansk Front, and in 2 days penetrated 40 km. The Stavka reinforced 
th ■ Bryansk Front with three tank corps. A tank corps from the front reserve was 
brought into the breakthrough sector. Army Commissar 2nd Rank P. S. 
Stepanov with a VVS staff operations group was sent to the Bryansk Front from 
VVS staff as Stavka representative to organize massed strikes against the pene¬ 
trating enemy grouping. He was permitted to employ all front aviation resources 
and 100 bombers from Long-Range Aviation for this purpose. The Stavka as¬ 
signed the principal missions of aviation to P. S. Stepanov in a 29 June directive: 
“The main mission of the front’s aviation is to achieve air supremacy, to create 
our overwhelming superiority, and to force German aviation, especially bomb¬ 
ers, to leave the battlefield. 

‘ ‘The second mission is to employ all of our ground attack and bomber avia¬ 
tion to destroy the enemy’s tank and motorized columns, annihilate his man¬ 
power, and thus support our troops. 

‘ ‘The third mission is for our fighter aviation not only to cover our troops 
but also to bomb enemy manpower to the extent possible. ” 31 

In this same directive the Supreme Commander required that he and A. A. 
Novikov receive reports on the actions of our aviation and enemy aviation twice 
a day. Jointly with the front VVS command P. S. Stepanov took all of the neces¬ 
sary steps to accomplish these missions. Our pilots fought courageously, dis¬ 
playing unprecedented heroism. 

Strikes against advancing enemy troops were made by groups of ground at¬ 
tack aircraft and bombers. The enemy suffered losses in personnel and equip¬ 
ment, but in view of his great superiority of forces on the ground and in the air, 
he continued to advance. Moreover the three tank corps attached to the front by 
the Stavka were committed piecemeal to battle by the front command, and 
moreover, not so much to make a simultaneous counterblow on the penetrating 
enemy as to close the breach In view of this, even though it did operate at high 
intensity, the front’s aviation could not make major massed strikes against 
enemy troops, as required by the Stavka directive. Maintaining the offensive, 
by the end of 2 July the enemy had advanced 80 km. On the morning of 30 June 
fascist German troops of the 6th Army struck formations on the right wing of 
the Southwestern Front from Volchansk. As a result a breach formed at the 


81 




boundary between the Bryansk and Southwestern fronts. 32 By the end of 15 July 
the Germans managed to penetrate defenses between the Don and the Northern 
Donets 170 km and reach the great bend of the Don. On the night of 12 July 
the enemy penetrated to the edges of Stalingrad Oblast.* The German assault 
groupings drove toward the Caucasus and Stalingrad. There was also a threat 
of an air attack on Stalingrad. 

The Stavka ordered P. S. Stepanov to leave for Stalingrad immediately. His 
mission was to determine on the spot the possibilities for basing and providing 
logistical support to arriving air units and formations, and to determine our 
capabilities to counter an enemy air attack on Stalingrad. 

P. S. Stepanov’s operations group included Soviet Army Air Force staff 
officers M. N. Kozhevnikov, I. I. Osipov, A. N. Mal’tsev, M. N. Karpuk, I. 
P. Selivanov, S. A. Tyurev, and P. G. Grigor’yev. 33 


Stalingrad was leading a productive life, all too peaceful a life it seemed. 
Plants, enterprises, and institutions were operating. All movie houses were 
open, children played in the squares and on the boulevards, and the loudspeakers 
blared music and at certain times summaries from the front. The city was brim 
full of citizens from various regions of the southern part of the country. Everyone 
had found housing and settled in. The public food supply was good. None of 
Stalingrad’s residents even had any idea at that time that a terrible threat was 
already hanging over the city, that the crudest encounters of the war against fas¬ 
cist German troops were to begin at Stalingrad within a short time. It was clear 
to the Soviet command, however, that the enemy was breaking through to the 
Volga, to the Stalingrad area. The Communist Party and Soviet government took 
emergency defensive steps. A 14 July ukase from the Presidium of the USSR 
Supreme Soviet established martial law in Stalingrad Oblast. Construction of 
three defense perimeters about Stalingrad, which had been started in fall 1941, 
was resumed in late June and early July in the sector between the Volga and the 
Don. A decision was made to build a fourth (city) perimeter on 15 July. On 11 
July the Stalingrad Oblast Party Committee and Executive Committee adopted 
a decree creating a people’s militia. On 15 July the oblast party committee or¬ 
dered all rayon t committees to immediately create partisan detachments and 
make them combat ready. Hospitals and children’s institutions were evacuated 
from the city. 


“Everything for the defense of Stalingrad!" This was the motto under 
which party, state, and military agencies implemented their measures in the July 
and August days of 1942. 


* [oblast' —Soviet political -admi ni strati veunit—U.S.Ed.J 
firuvon Soviet political-administrative unit - U.S. Ed. | 


82 



The Stalingrad Front was created from the administrative apparatus of the 
Southwestern Front in compliance with a 12 July 1942 Stavka decision. The 
62nd, 63rd, and 64th reserve armies were moved quickly to the great bend of 
the Don. In addition to these armies, the 21st Combined Arms Army and the 
8th Air Army from the former Southwestern Front were assigned to the Stalin¬ 
grad Front. In the second half of July the 28th, 38th, and 57th armies, which 
had retreated into the Stalingrad Front’s sector, were also added. The Volga Mil¬ 
itary Flotilla was operationally subordinated to the front. The front thus estab¬ 
lished had the mission of halting the enemy’s advance, preventing him from 
reaching the Volga, and firmly defending a line passing along the Don River 
from Pavlovsk to Kletskaya and then to Surovikino, Suvorovskiy, and Verkh- 
nekurmoyarskay a. 34 

The enemy advanced with the forces of 14 divisions of the German 6th 
Army (about 270,000 men, 3,000 guns and mortars, and about 500 tanks). They 
were supported by the 4th Air Fleet, which had a strength of up to 1,200 combat 
aircraft. On 30 July the German Command also sent the 4th Tank Army, which 
began its advance on the Caucasus back on 12 July, in the direction of Stalingrad. 
The fascist German troops outnumbered Soviet troops by a factor of 1.7 in per¬ 
sonnel, 1.3 in artillery and tanks, and by a factor of more than 2 in planes. 35 
The complexity of the situation faced by the Soviet troops also lay in the fact 
that to create a new defensive front, formations arriving from deep within the 
rear area had to occupy positions from the march in areas devoid of preparea 
lines of defense. Enemy air activity was high. The forward detachments of the 
62nd and 64th combined arms armies were the first to encounter the advancing 
enemy. They began to retreat in battle to the main defense zone. 

On arriving in Stalingrad P. S. Stepanov’s group surveyed the airfields by 
air and established communication with the command of the Stalingrad PVO 
Corps Area and the commander of the 102nd PVO Fighter Air Division, which 
was covering Stalingrad against „:r strikes. After studying and assessing the situ¬ 
ation and all contingencies, P. S. Stepanov sent a report containing his conclu¬ 
sions and suggestions to the Supreme Commander and the commander of the 
Soviet Army Air Force. The report stated that the city’s air cover was weak. The 
102nd PVO Fighter Division had 80 planes, mostly of obsolete types (1-16,I- 
15bis, 1-153), and an insignificant number of Yak-1 fighters. The far ap¬ 
proaches to the city were not covered by fighters. At least one good fighter regi¬ 
ment armed with new aircraft was needed initially. A thorough report was also 
given on the state of the airfield network and its readiness to receive VVS air 
units. 

These conclusions and suggestions did not go unheeded. In a few days a 
fighter air regiment subordinate at that time directly to the Soviet Army Air Force 
commander and manned by the best Yak-1 pilots arrived at Stalingrad from 
Moscow. The regiment was tasked to defend Stalingrad from the air at the far 
approaches. P. S. Stepanov’s operations group remained in Stalingrad to direct 
the fighter aviation combat actions in the area and to make preparations to receive 
new air formations and units scheduled to arrive. 


83 




With the participation of one Soviet Army Air Force staff directorate, the 
General Staff developed measures to reinforce the troops and aviation of the 
Stalingrad Front. The Stavka sent in 10 air regiments to reinforce the 8th Air 
Army; 75 percent of the planes in these regiments were new—Yak-1, Yak-7b, 
11-2, and Pe-2. 36 Long-Range Aviation air divisions were brought in to make 
strikes against advancing enemy troops. 

In July 1942 Major General of Aviation Fedor Yakovlevich Falaleyev was 
appointed chief of staff of the Soviet Army Air Force. Before coming into avia¬ 
tion he was a combined arms commander. He began his Air Force service in 1932 
as an air brigade inspector. Understanding that if he was to perform the diverse 
functions of an air chief he had to be an expert and a good air specialist, he en¬ 
rolled in the Kacha Military Flight School, from which he graduated successfully 
in December 1933. He soon thereafter graduated from the operations department 
of the N. Ye. Zhukovskiy Air Force Academy. His arrival at the VVS staff re¬ 
sulted in many innovations. He focused his main attention on thoroughly analyz¬ 
ing the combat actions of our aviation and on efficiency and coordination in all 
VVS directorates and services. In July 1942 under Falaleyev’s guidance the VVS 
staff published a directive addressed to the air army and front VVS commanders. 
The directive pointed out that Frontal Aviation employment in an offensive oper¬ 
ation must be based on the most decisive concentration of aviation in the sector 
of the main troop thrust, and that it must be employed in a limited number of 
combat missions. Operations were to be conducted in secondary sectors and in 
support of secondary troop missions only to the extent permitted by the availabil¬ 
ity of untasked aviation resources. 

The directive noted further that such support would be possible only 
through centralized control of all aviation, which should not be taken to an ex¬ 
treme or become an end in itself. The tendency of some senior commanders to 
take charge of the operations of all units even down to individual flights and 
planes, to completely exclude initiative on the part of junior commanders, could 
in no way be justified. It was recommended to air army commanders that aviation 
combat actions be supported by extensive air reconnaissance and observation 
over the battlefield; it was also recommended that when planning combat ac¬ 
tions, the commander should designate an aviatio:< reserve which would be com¬ 
mitted to battle at the decisive moment. The great significance of operational 
air supremacy for the success of an operation was indicated, and recommenda¬ 
tions on how to achieve and maintain it were given. 37 


VVS staff work was improved. At F. Ya. Falaleyev’s direction, General 
N. A. Zhuravlev supervised development of proforma combat reports and opera¬ 
tional summaries based on combat experience. In July 1942 these were dis¬ 
patched to air army and front VVS staffs. 38 

In order to correct shortcomings in VVS staff work, in July 1942 the VVS 
staff recommended that air army and front VVS commanders reinforce the avia¬ 
tion staffs, prohibit transfer of staff workers without the permission of higher 

84 




A Downed Fascist Aircraft, August 1942, in the Stalingrad 
Sector. 

authorities, and initiate short courses at the Air Force Academy for inadequately 
trained staff officers. It was pointed out that the principal mission of the staffs 
was to monitor execution of the commander’s orders and instructions. The chiefs 
of staff were ordered to see that reports were submitted precisely on schedule. 

Close ties were established between the VVS staff, the ADD, the National 
Air Defense Forces, and the Naval VVS staffs. By order of the General Staff, 
beginning in July 1942 reports concerning Long-Range Aviation activities began 
to be submitted to both the Supreme Commander and the VVS commander. 

Daily briefs on the results of Soviet Air Force activities were prepared for 
the Supreme Commander by the VVS staff’s Main Directorate. They usually in¬ 
dicated the principal Air Force missions of the previous day, the focus of its prin¬ 
cipal efforts, the fronts with which it had coordinated, the number of sorties 
flown during the day, the number of air engagements, and the number of enemy 
planes shot down; the distribution of air engagements among the princpal sectors 
of Air Force and ground forces operations; our losses in the air and on airfields, 
and the reasons for them. The actions of our VVS and enemy aviation in the sec¬ 
tors of the ground forces main thrusts and their effectiveness were reported in 
terse form. Changes in enemy air groupings and appearance of new aircraft types 
and weapons were indicated. These briefs were usually prepared by two VVS 
staff officers singled out for this job. During the day they studied and accumu¬ 
lated reports from the troops and coordinating staffs and kept special records on 
the results of the actions and the losses. General N. A. Zhuravlev, who had the 
ability to say a great deal in a few words, usually wrote the final version of these 
briefs. Officers V. M. Pikulin, F. Ya. Panyushkin, and P. F. Korotkov success¬ 
fully prepared the draft VVS staff operational summaries and combat reports 

85 






General A. A. Novikov (right). General S. I Rudenko, and Colonel A. S. Vin¬ 
ogradov Developing a Combat Action Plan. 

during the war. Officers G. V. Vinogradov and A. S. Bolotnikov handled their 
work in an outstanding manner. 

The Soviet Army Air Force command and staff riveted its main attention 
on Stalingrad in July-August 1942. The defensive encounter at the far ap¬ 
proaches to Stalingrad ended on 10 August. 

The Hitlerite command’s plan to break through to Stalingrad with one swift 
strike from the march was foiled by the stubborn resistance of the troops and 
the actions of aviation. In 3 weeks of the offensive, enemy troops were able to 
advance only 60-80 km. 

The 8th Air Army and Long-Range Aviation provided great assistance to 
the ground forces. Possessing 150-200 serviceable combat aircraft, each day the 
8th Air Army flew 400-500 sorties. Pilots of the 434th Fighter Air Regiment 
led by Major I I. Kleshchev fought in 144 air engagements and shot down 36 
enemy planes in 18 days. 

The 150th Bomber Air Regiment flying Pe-2 dive bombers also distin¬ 
guished itself This regiment was led by Lieutenant Colonel I. S. Polbin, a mas¬ 
ter of sniper attacks In iust 4 davs the regiment's pilots destroyed 40 enemy 
tanks and 50 motor vehicle' w 

The heroic struggle ot the ..>s ict troops and aviation at the far approaches 
to the city blocked the enems s w as and gamed time for the command to organize 
defenses at the near approaches to Stalingrad and within the city itself. The great 
length of the Stalingrad Front ( up to 800 km) forced the Supreme High Command 

86 





to divide it into two fronts. On 5 August the Stalingrad and Southeastern fronts 
were formed within new boundaries. The 8th Air Army became part of the 
Southeastern Front, and the 16th Air Army (commander General P S. Stepanov 
and. as of 28 September, General S. 1. Rudenko) was formed for the Stalingrad 
Front. 


On 12 August G. M. Malenkov, a member of the State Defense Committee 
and secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee, arrived in Stalingrad 
along with chief of General Staff General A. M. Vasilevskiy serving as Stavka 
representative. Also arriving to coordinate the actions ot Frontal Aviation and 
allocated Long-Range Aviation assets was Air Force Commander General A. 
A. Novikov, the Stavka aviation representative. 40 

The Stavka reinforced the Stalingrad sector with aviation. Between 20 July 
and 17 August 23 air regiments, or a total of about 450 planes, were transferred 
to the 8th Air Army. 41 

Five Long-Range Aviation air divisions were redeployed closer to Stalin¬ 
grad from near Moscow by 20 August. Long-Range Aviation commander Gen¬ 
eral A. Ye. Golovanov was in charge of the combat actions of these divisions, 
and after his departure for Moscow he was replaced by his deputy, General N. 
S. Skripko. The latter with an operations group of staff officers ironed out coor¬ 
dination problems locally, assigned the division missions, which were coordi¬ 
nated with the Soviet Army Air Force commander, and participated directly in 
writing joint battle plans for aviation and the troops. 

Concurrently, from 19 August to 14 September 1942, in accordance with 
a Stavka decision, part of the Long-Range Aviation forces struck the capitals 
of fascist Germany and its satellites—Hungary and Romania. Raids were made 
on Berlin on 27 and 30 August and 10 September, and 212 sorties were flown 
Two raids were made on Budapest on 5 and 10 September with 122 sorties flown; 
one raid was made on Bucharest on 14 September, in which 46 sorties were 
flown. Moreover three raids were made on Danzig and against military-industri¬ 
al targets in Warsaw, -Coenigsberg, Stettin, Tilsit, Fuerstenwalde, Treptow, 
Ploesti, andGalati. 42 41 

On 17 August fascist German troops began to force the Don in the vicinity 
of Vertyach’iy and Peskovatka. This became immediately known to Generals 
A. M. Vasilevskiy and A. A. Novikov on their arrival at the front. A decision 
was made to transfer the efforts of the 8th Air Army to annihilating the enemy’s 
crossings. Soviet Army Air Force commander A. A. Novikov demanded that 
all aviation forces—ground attack, fighter, and bomber—direct their efforts at 
annihilating the enemy and preventing him from crossing the Don. Groups of 
10-30 Pe-2 bombers and II—2 ground attack aircraft were organized. Each group 
was covered by 10-15 Yak-1 and La-5 fighters. In th' e hot days of battle 
Soviet fighters and ground attack aircraft flew as many as three sorties per day 
while bombers flew as many as two sorties. From 18 to 22 August our pilots 

87 


■A130 405 SOVIET MILITARY THOUGHT THE COMMAND AND STAFF OF THE 
SOVIET ARMY AIR'FORC..IUI DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE 
WASHINGTON DC M N KOZHEVNIKOV 1977 
CLASSIFIED f /G , 5/3 


I 


m 


BB 


li, 






































microcopy resolution test chart 

n4 T,0N.L BURE.U OF ST.NMWSA. 







Soviet Pe—2 Bombers on a Combat Flight to Strike Enemy Troops. 


flew about 1,000 sorties against the crossings. The actions of our aviation slowed 
down the crossings of enemy troops. But our strength was insufficient. Despite 
heroic resistance by our troops and aviation, the enemy managed to concentrate 
at a beachhead near Peskovatka in a sizable force (6 divisions, about 250-300 
tanks), and with strong air support he broke through to the Volga on 23 August 
south of Stalingrad. These were the most critical days. Our aviation operated 
at maximum intensity, covering the cities against enemy raids and engaging in 
air engagements at the near approaches to Stalingrad. 


Capitalizing on his air superiority, in the second half of 23 August the 
enemy made a very powerful massed strike against Stalingrad with about 400 
planes. The German planes flew in several waves, and a person looking up from 
the ground could imagine the difficulty of repelling this raid. The roar of our 
fighters could already be heard in the air, and a large quantity of flak appeared 
in front of the assault echelon of German planes. Disabled German planes fell 
to the ground but the enemy continued to approach the city without changing 
course, the roar of the planes increasing constantly in intensity. As soon as the 
enemy’s assault echelon dropped its high-explosive and incendiary bombs a 
major fire began in the city. Enemy aviation flew up to 2,000 sorties against 
Stalingrad before darkness. Hundreds of buildings were destroyed, and 
thousands of defenseless women, children, and wounded soldiers recovering in 
the hospitals and unable to be evacuated from die city in time were killed. De¬ 
struction of the city and its peaceful population of thousands was barbaric. Re¬ 
pelling the raid, our fighters took part in 25 air engagements above the city, 
shooting down 90 planes and, together with antiaircraft artillery, 120 fascist 
planes. 44 Late at night on the same day the 8th Air Army staff and the command 
post of the air force commander were transferred outside the city. The Stalingrad 
Front command took the necessary steps to oppose enemy troops penetrating to 
88 





the Volga. Between 23 and 28 August troops on the front’s left wing made a 
number of counterblows with active air support. On the night of 28 August the 
enemy was halted at the northwestern approaches to Stalingrad. 

By mid-September enemy troops reached the city’s defense perimeter, 
wedged themselves into the defenses at the boundary between the 62nd and 64th 
armies, captured a number of important hills, and approached to within 3-4 km 
of the city center. In this situation the Stavka assigned the Stalingrad and South¬ 
eastern fronts the mission of stubbornly defending the city, exhausting die enemy 
with counterblows from the north and south, holding a beachhead on the right 
bank of the Don, and building up forces for a subsequent transition to a decisive 
counteroffensive. 43 

Aviation was assigned the mission of supporting the troops making the 
counterblows and providing direct air support to units and formations of the 62nd 
and 64th armies fighting inside Stalingrad for every block, street, and house. 
This required extremely meticulous organization of the coordination between 
aviation and the troops. General T. T. Khryukin's aviation in the 8th Air Army 
and Long-Range Aviation destroyed enemy troops breaking into the city. 
Bomber aviation struck troops, artillery in file positions, and the enemy’s rear 
area facilities 2-3 km from the forward edge. 

The air strikes were successfully shifted from one region of the city to 
another. On 23 September Frontal Aviation and Long-Range Aviation struck 
fascist German troops in the center of the city, and on 24 September it was al¬ 
ready operating in the southern part of the city. Air officers using rockets, smoke 
signals, and tracer shells guided our planes, especially ground attack aircraft, 
to point targets from the control posts of rifle divisions and regiments. 

Operational groups and aviation representatives were sent from the air army 
staff to combined arms armies operating northwest of Stalingrad. Thus, a 16th 
Air Army operations group was sent to the 1 st Guards Army to support the frontal 
counterblows northwest of Stalingrad, and aviation representatives were sent to 
the 24th and 66th armies operating on the flanks. Possessing their own radio 
equipment, they quickly transmitted the requests of the combined arms 
commanders for air action against newly discovered targets to the air army 
commander, and when the groups of planes arrived at the battlefield they guided 
them to their assigned targets. Soviet aviation rendered considerable assistance 
to ground troops in their counterblows against the enemy. Here is how Marshal 
of the Soviet Union G. K. Zhukov evaluated these actions: “We must give credit 
to soldiers of the 24th, 1st Guards, and 66th armies of the Stalingrad Front, and 
to pilots of the 16th Air Army and Long-Range Aviation who, regardless of the 
sacrifices, provided invaluable assistance to the Southeastern Front’s 62nd and 
64th armies in holding Stalingrad-’ ,46 


The Soviet Army Air Force command took steps to improve the effective¬ 
ness of fighter aviation. In September 1942 the VVS commander ordered the 

89 



air army commanders to see that 
"fighter-hunter” groups were created 
in each fighter air division and that 
“fighter-hunter” tactics were de¬ 
veloped. The "fighter-hunters” were 
to be volunteers from among the best 
pilots. These had to be not only valor¬ 
ous pilots but also men that had perfect 
mastery of piloting techniques, were 
excellent aerial marksmen, cold 
blooded, calculating, and confident of 
themselves, their planes, and their 
weapons. 47 

The intense nature of the battle of 
Stalingrad, the great length of the fron¬ 
tal defense zones, the increased number 
of armies in each of them, and the pre¬ 
parations for a counteroffensive started 
in mid-September made it necessary to 
subordinate the fronts directly to the 
Stavka. On 28 September the Stalingrad Front was redesignated the Don Front, 
while the Southeastern Front was renamed the Stalingrad Front. Soviet aviation 
operated continuously against enemy troops. Between 27 September and 8 Oc¬ 
tober the 8th Air Army flew about 4,000 sorties. 

Air actions against the enemy did not cease at night in Stalingrad. On 22 
October 1942 the Soviet Army Air Force commander ordered the air army com¬ 
manders to significantly intensify bomber aviation night activities s*id to train 
five crews in each ground attack and fighter air regiment for actions at night and 
in bad weather. 48 This mission was accomplished successfully. During the de¬ 
fensive period II—2s flew 406 night sorties. They attacked individual centers of 
resistance, troop groupings, and enemy equipment in the city. 

By order of the WS commander an experimental ground radio network in¬ 
tended to guide fighters to their aerial targets was organized and tested by the 
Don Front’s 16th Air Army during the defensive encounter. While serving as 
front WS commander in Leningrad, A. A. Novikov and his assistants made the 
fust attempt at guiding fighters to aerial targets by means of ground-based radio 
stations. General V. N. Zhdanov, the deputy commander of the 13ft Air Army, 
Leningrad Front, and chief of the Soviet Army Air Force staff Signal Director¬ 
ate, General G. K. Gvozdkov, accompanied by a group of officers, were sent 
to the 16th Air Army to organize the effort and share their experience. These 
officers helped the 16th Air Army command write draft instructions on control¬ 
ling, informing, and guiding fighters by radio and submitted them to the Soviet 
Army Air Force commander. 

Fighter guidance radio stations were dispersed along the front line 2-3 km 



Soviet Fighters Attack Fascist 
Bombers. 


90 




Soviet Fighters on Patrol Over Stalingrad. 


91 




from the forward edge ata spacing of 8-10 km. These stations maintained radio 
communication with pilots in the air and at airfields, and with the air army com¬ 
mand post. Twenty-five commanders and deputy commanders of reserve fighter 
air regiments (brigades) were called up and sent to the front by the WS com¬ 
mand to guide fighters to aerial targets via ground-based radio stations. Their 
mission was to set up and check out this new system, acquire combat experience, 
and subsequently implement the system to train flight crews. The radio station 
guidance net was subdivided into command and information stations. In addition 
to providing information on the aerial situation, guiding fighters to enemy air¬ 
craft, and controlling air engagements from the ground, they also began to be 
used to guide ground attack aircraft to ground targets. 

The experiment was used by the WS staff to develop and introduce the 
first Soviet Army Air Force instructions on guiding frontal fighters to aerial 
targets from ground-based control posts—“Instructions to the Air Force on Con¬ 
trolling, Informing, and Guiding Airplanes by Radio.' ’ 

The struggle for air supremacy occupied a special place in the Stalingrad 
defensive operation. It became fiercer after fascist German troops reached the 
outskirts of Stalingrad. Air engagements were the principal means of fighting 
the enemy air force. During the defensive operation our fighters participated in 
1,792 air engagements and shot down 1,636enemy planes. Simultaneous strikes 
were made against airfields. Thus for example between 31 October and 2 
November the air army made a number of successive raids on airfields, destroy¬ 
ing and damaging 31 enemy planes. 49,50 All necessary measures were taken to 
weaken die enemy’s air grouping. A special air operation was conducted from 
27 to 29 October by forces of the 8th Air Army and three Long-Range Aviation 
divisions (24th, 33rd, and 62nd; commanders—Lieutenant Colonel B. V. 
Bitskiy and Colonels I. V. Georgiyev and G. N. Tupikov). Some 173 Frontal 
Aviation and 141 Long-Range Aviation aircraft participated in it, for a total of 
more than 300 planes. Thirteen airfields were attacked. Some 502 sorties were 
flown. The operation was successful, several dozen enemy planes being put out 
of action. 51 

In the defensive operation at Stalingrad Soviet aviation flew 43 percent of 
all of its sorties in its struggle for air supremacy. Between 17 July and 18 
November 1942 enemy aviation lost more than 2,100planes at Stalingrad. 52 

The Stavka prepared for a powerful counteroffensive during the defensive 
encounter at Stalingrad. The Stavka made die basic decision for a counteroffen¬ 
sive as early as 13 Se p t em ber 1942. The front commands were ordered to begin 
the actual work of planning the counteroffensive in early October. On 9 October 
the front commanders submitted their initial ideas to the Stavka. 

WS Commander General A. A. Novikov, his deputy General G. A. Vo- 
rozheykin, and Long-Range Aviation commander General A. Ye. Golovanov 
led the efforts to work out the operational employment of the Air Force in the 
92 



counteroffensive at Stalingrad. The Stavka played the principal role in planning 
and supporting dais operation. The VVS was given the missions of continuing 
the fight for strategic air supremacy and supporting the front strike groupings 
in the offensive. By November 1942 the Soviet Air Force had grown consider¬ 
ably, with a strength in the operational army of4,544 combat aircraft, while that 
of die enemy was 3,500. 53 Ten RVGK air corps had been formed by this time. 
New manning tables were written for Frontal Aviation regiments, which now 
consisted of three rather than two air squadrons. A transition from the 3-plane 
flight to a flight consisting of two pairs of planes was completed in fighter avia¬ 
tion. 


Preparations of the aviation resources called in for the counteroffensive 
were intense. There were delays, however, in concentrating aviation at airfields 
in the vicinity of Stalingrad. There were problems in accumulating aviation fuel 
and ammunition. 


General A. A. Novikov reported to Marshal of the Soviet Union G. K. 
Zhukov, who was in the vicinity of Stalingrad, that aviation was not yet ready 
for the counteroffensive. There was fuel for only two refuelings available and 
ammunition was short. Air units intended as reinforcements had not finished 
concentrating. The marshal reported this to the Supreme Commander. The 
Stavka response received on 12 November read as follows: “If air preparation 
for the operation is unsatisfactory at Yeremenko and Vatutin's locations, the op¬ 
eration will end in failure. Experience in fighting the Germans shows that we 
can win an operation against them only if we have air superiority. In this regard 
our aviation must accomplish three missions: 

“First—concentrate the actions of our aviation in the area of advance of 
our strike units, suppress German aviation, and provide solid cover to our troops; 

“Second—open the way for our advancing units through systematic bomb¬ 
ing of the enemy troops opposing us; 

“Third—pursue retreating enemy troops with systematic bombing and 
ground attacks so as to fully confuse them and prevent them from digging in at 
their nearest lines of defense. 

“If Novikov believes that our aviation is not in a position to accomplish 
these missions now, then it would be better to postpone the operation for a certain 
amount of time and accumulate more aviation. 

' ‘Speak to Novikov and Vorozheykin, explain this to them, and inform me 
of your general opinion. “ M 

The Supreme Commander’s response not only contained specific directions 
as to how to organize the Air Force actions in the counteroffensive at Stalingrad 
but also presented the fundamental principles of Soviet military art based on the 

93 


experience of the first period of the war. These principles formed the basis of 
subsequent aviation employment in all frontal and strategic offensive operations 
of the Soviet Armed Forces. 

The 125-day defensive battle at Stalingrad ended on 18 November. With 
it ended the most difficult first period of the Great Patriotic War. The Soviet Air 
Force played an extremely important role here. Assisting the troops and fighting 
a continuous battle for air supremacy, it flew 77,000 combat sorties, dropped 
23,000 bombs on the enemy, launched 38,000 rockets, fired up to 1.2 million 
cannon shells and about 4 million machine gun rounds, and inflicted tremendous 
losses on the enemy. 55 

The acts of heroism of Soviet pilots filled yet another brilliant page of the 
chronicle of the Great Patriotic War. Our heroes rammed enemy planes 16 times. 
The names of V. V. Zemlyanskiy, I. P. Zazulinskiy, A. A. Rogal’skiy, M. A. 
Presnyakov, I. P. Vedenin, and L. Obukhovskiy, who repeated the immortal 
deed of Captain N. F. Gastello, will remain in the memory of the people forever. 

The battle of Stalingrad also brought glory to I. S. Polbin, 1.1. Kleshchev, 
M. D. Baranov, V. M. Golubev, V. D. Lavrinenkov, L. A. Shestakov, A. V. 
Aielyukhin, I. N. Stepanenko, V. S. Yefremov, S. D. Luganskiy, Amet-Khan 
Sultan, P. Ya. Golovachev. B. M. Gomolko, I. P. Motomyy, V. N. Makarov, 
Z. V. Semenyuk, and many others. 56 

The plan for the counteroffensive at Stalingrad finally was approved by the 
Stavka on 13 November 1942. According to the plan the main thrust was to be 
made by troops of the Southwestern and Stalingrad fronts. The Southwestern 
Front was to penetrate enemy defenses from beachheads in the vicinity of 
Serafimovich and Kletskaya and swiftly advance in the direction of Kalach and 
Sovetskiy. Troops of the Stalingrad Front were to attack from the region of the 
Sarpinskiye Lakes and also advance in the direction of Sovetskiy and Kalach. 
The forces of the 6th Army and die 4th Tank Army were to be encircled in the 
area between the Volga and the Don by means of powerful converging thrusts. 
The Don Front made two thrusts: one from the vicinity of Kletskaya to the south¬ 
east and another from the vicinity of Kachaiinskaya along the left bank of the 
Don to the south. 

VVS resources allocated to participate in the counteroffensive included the 
17th Air Army, Southwestern Front (commander General S. A. Krasovskiy, 
deputy commander for political affairs Brigade Commissar V. N. Totmachev, 
chief of staff Colonel K. I. Tel’nov); the 2nd Air Army, Voronezh Front (com¬ 
mander General K. N. Smirnov, deputy commander for political affairs Brigade 
Commissar S. N. Romazanov, chief of staff Colonel N. L. Stepanov), operation¬ 
ally subordinate to the commander of die Southwestern Front; the 16th Air 
Army, Don Front (commander General S. I. Rudenko, deputy commander for 
political affairs Regimental Commissar A. S. Vinogradov, chief of staff General 
M. M. Kosykh); and the 8th Air Army, Stalingrad Front (commander General 
94 











Soviet Fighters Cover a Troop Crossing Over the Volga River Near Stalin¬ 
grad. 


T. T. Khryukin, deputy commander for political affairs Brigade Commissar A. 
I. Vikhorev, chief of staffColonel N. G. Seleznev). 

Seven independent air divisions and two composite air corps were sent from 
the Stavka Reserve to reinforce the air armies. The I Composite Air Corps (com¬ 
mander General V. I. Shevchenko) was assigned to the 17th Air Army, and the 
II Corps (commander General I. T. Yeremenko) to the 8th Air Army. In the sec¬ 
ond half of November 1942 the 16th Air Army was reinforced by the II Bomber 
Air Corps (commander General I. L. TurkeF), and the 8th Air Army was rein¬ 
forced by the m Composite Air Corps (commander General V. I. Aladinskiy). 
As before, Stalingrad was covered from the air by the 102nd Air Defense Fighter 
Division (commander I. G. Puntus). 


In sum, our aviation had a strength of 1,414 planes, including 426 that were 
obsolete (Po-2, R-S, SB). In this sector the enemy had 1,216 planes. 37 In addi¬ 
tion, five Long-Range Aviation divisions were allocated. 

The Soviet aviation missions in the counteroffensive were spelled out in a 
12 November 1942 telegram sent by the Supreme Commander. 

Prior to the combat actions, aviation had to cover the front strike groupings 
in the regions of their concentration, and, when the troops went over to the offen¬ 
sive, aviation’s mission was to support the troops penetrating enemy defenses, 
support commitment of tank and cavalry corps to the breakthrough, and support 
their actions at operational depth. Much significance was attached to fighting 
enemy reserves. 


95 




Long-Range Aviation was to be employed within the sector of the South¬ 
western Front. It was assigned important missions—fighting operational ship¬ 
ments and reserves, and destroying enemy planes on airfields. 

Being the Stavka aviation representative, A. A. Novikov participated in the 
development of the plans for the front counteroffensive, determined the intensity 
of aviation combat actions, distributed air reserves based on Stavka directions, 
and involved himself a great deal with the problems of organizing coordination 
between aviation and the troops, and of logistical support to aviation combat ac¬ 
tions. 

All of the VVS commander’s work was conducted in close coordination 
with Stavka representatives G. K. Zhukov, A. M. Vasilevskiy, and N. N. Vo¬ 
ronov, as well as with die front commanders and directly with the air army and 
Long-Range Aviation commanders. Here is what Marshal of the Soviet Union 
G. K. Zhukov writes about this. ‘ ‘From 1 to 4 November we examined and made 
adjustments in the (dans of the Southwestern Front, and then we examined and 
coordinated the battle plans of the 21st Army and the Sth Tank Army in all de¬ 
tails. 


“In addition to me, other Stavka representatives were involved in writing 
the battle plan on the Southwestern Front’s staff: artillery problems-General N. 
N. Voronov, aviation-Generals A. A. Novikov and A. Ye. Golovanov, armored 
troops-General Ya. N. Fedorenko; these officers were helpful in achieving a 
fuller understanding of the problems of the employment and coordination of the 
most important branches of troops.” 58 This made it possible to correctly plan 
aviation employment in the counteroffensive of the troops of the front, to react 
promptly and effectively during the counteroffensive to changes in die situation, 
to retarget reserve air corps and ADD formations to the necessary sectors, and 
thus influence the success of the troop offensive. 

Typically the actions of aviation in the 8th Air Army were planned in the 
form of an air offensive, the definition of which was spelled out in the Red Army 
Infantry Field Manual approved by the USSR People’s Commissar of Defense 
on 9 November 1942. It discussed continuous support to infantry by the massed, 
efficient fire of artillery, mortars, and aviation throughout the entire period of 
the troop offensive. 59 The Red Army Field Manual of that same year indicated 
that “the actions of aviation in an offensive battle essentially take the form of 
an air offensive, which consists of two periods: preparation for the attack, and 
support of the attack and action of infantry and tanks deep within enemy de¬ 
fenses.” 60 The principle of massing air power in die sectors of the main thrusts 
by troops of the front formed the basis of planning the combat actions of all air 
armies; for example, all air power of the 17th Air Army was assigned the mission 
of covering and supporting the Sth Tank Army and the 21st Army, which ad¬ 
vanced in the main sector. Formations of the 2nd Air Army were to be used with¬ 
in the zone of advance of the 1st Guards Army, while the !6th Air Army concen¬ 
trated its efforts on the breakthrough sector of the 65th Army. Up to 75 percent 
96 



of the 8th Air Army aircraft were given the mission of supporting the 50th Army. 
Continuous aviation support to penetration of enemy defenses by troops of the 
front and to exploitation of the offensive in depth was provided for. Air cover 
and support of tank and mechanized corps intended to exploit the breakthrough 
were meticulously planned. 

The Soviet Army Air Force commander visited almost all. airfields at which 
units were preparing for battle, he talked with pilots, gave instructions to com¬ 
manders as to how to best solve one problem or another, and ordered his opera¬ 
tions group to ensure compliance with his instructions. He had a phenomenal 
memory; he could recognize almost all air division commanders; he remembered 
the first and middle name of each of them; and he was aware of their shortcom¬ 
ings and their good sides. He remembered many air regiment and squadron com¬ 
manders. All instructions and copies of orders issued by the Soviet Army Air 
Force commander at the front were concurrently transmitted to Moscow, to the 
VVS staff. Thus members of the Military Council and the VVS staff were always 
aware of all instructions issued by the VVS commander and his operational 
group. This made it possible to coordinate the actions of the staff and the appro¬ 
priate VVS directorates with decisions made concerning aviation employment 
on other fronts. 

During the counteroffensive of our troops, which began on the morning of 

19 November 1942 within the zone of the Southwestern and Don fronts, and on 

20 November within the zone of the Stalingrad Front, the Soviet Army Air Force 
commander stationed himself at the forward command post together with A. M. 
Vasilevskiy, to whom the Stavka assigned the mission of coordinating the ac¬ 
tions of all three fronts. The commander from time to time also visited the for¬ 
ward control posts of the 17th and 16th air armies, from which he exerted his 
influence on aviation actions. 

On 23 November the IV Tank Corps, Southwestern Front joined units of 
the IV Mechanized C<xps, Stalingrad Front in the vicinity of Sovetskiy, thus en¬ 
circling the enemy grouping of 330,000 men. Frontal Aviation played a great 
role in the swift advance of our troops, actively covering and supporting the 
troops from the air. In 7 days (from 24 to 30 November) the 17th, 16th, and 8th 
air armies flew 5,760combat sorties, which exceeded by a factor of 5 the number 
of enemy sorties flown in the same time interval. As a result of this and the losses 
the enemy suffered, the activity of his aviation decreased dramatically. 

The fascist German command began transferring reserves on an emergency 
basis from other sectors and from Western Europe to die Stalingrad sector. 
Troops of Army Group Don went over to the offensive on 12 December with 
the goal of breaking through the encirclement. The enemy made it more than 
halfway to the encircled grouping, but was halted on the Myshkovka River by 
the 51st Army, which had been joined by the 2nd Guards Army from the Stavka 
Reserve. The 8*h Air Army f ovided active assistance to these armies. During 
the engagemer. — the * .akovka River it flew more than 750 sorties and 
helped our troops* ' the euemy by striking enemy columns. 


97 




From 24 to 29 December the 8th Air Army flew 1,358 combat sorties in 
the offensive operation undertaken by frontal troops to defeat the enemy’s 
Kotel’nikov grouping. 61 

In order to weaken the enemy air grouping during the offensive of the 
Southwestern Front and the 6th Army of the Voronezh Front, from 3 to 15 De¬ 
cember the 2nd and 17th air armies made a number of concentrated strikes 
against enemy airfields, destroying 140 fascist planes on the ground and in the 
air. 62 

The struggle for air supremacy continued to be intense during the operation. 
Strikes were made against Morozovskiy, Tatsinskaya, Starobel’sk, and Vo¬ 
roshilovgrad airfields, where up to 65 planes were destroyed. 63 

The tank troops assisted the Soviet Air Force in destroying fascist aviation 
in this sector. On 24 December the XXTV Tank Corps commanded by General 
V. M. Bogdanov captured the airfield at Tatsinskaya from the march following 
a 240-km raid. The tank crews destroyed and captured a large number of German 
aircraft. During the operation, which ended on 31 December with the defeat of 
the Italian 8th Army and left flank of Army Group Don, the 2nd and 17th air 
armies flew 4,177 combat sorties, more thar. 80 percent on behalf of the troops 
of the fronts. 64 

At the same time our aviation found itself faced with an entirely new mis¬ 
sion—conducting an active struggle against enemy transport aviation attempting 
to supply the encircled Stalingrad grouping by air. In the first few days the enemy 
used at least 600 Ju-52s, FW-200s, and other planes to carry the cargo. Later, 
due to high losses the enemy was forced to use He-111 and Ju-88 bombers for 
this purpose. 

On 30 November 1942 A. A. Novikov instructed General S. I. Rudenko, 
16th Air Army commander, to detach one fighter and one ground attack air regi¬ 
ment specifically for die fight against enemy transport aviation. The instructions 
spelled out the mission of destroying the enemy transport planes at their terminal 
airfields and in the air, and blockading the most important airfields from the air— 
Bol’shaya Rossoshka and Podsobnoye Khozyaystvo. 65 

On 4 December 1942 the Soviet Army Air Force commander instructed the 
8th and 16th air army commanders to organize operations against enemy air 
transportation in the vicinity of Stalingrad. The mission of interdicting transport 
aviation was the Air Force’s most important one. Specific directions on issuing 
special orders to assign fighters and ground attack planes specifically for this pur¬ 
pose were given, the air army boundary lines and zones of operations were estab¬ 
lished, and the specific missions of blockading and photographing airfields with¬ 
in the ring of encirclement were assigned. The last part of the directive required 
that the pilots who had distinguished themselves be immediately recommended 
for government awards and required immediate telephone notification to the 
command post of the WS commander onceming the transport aircraft that had 

98 


been shot down and destroyed, while detailed reports were to be telegraphed in 
by 2200 hours. 66 

Creation of a network of radio broadcasting and guidance stations around 
the ring of encirclement and use of the radio resources of the aviation representa¬ 
tives in the troop units for these purposes played a major role. For example, on 
the morning of 11 December 18 fighters of the 3rd and 9th Guards fighter air 
regiments took off under the command of Colonel I. D. Podgomyy, commander 
of the 235th Fighter Division, in response to a signal from a guidance radio sta¬ 
tion. In the vicinity of Bol’shiye Chepumiki they attacked 16 Ju-52s and He¬ 
ll 1 s carrying cargo towards Stalingrad under the cover of four Me-109 fighters. 
As a result 15 enemy transports were shot down. 

Suffering high losses, in mid-December the enemy switched to sorties at 
night and in bad weather. By direction of the Soviet Army Air Force commander 
these moves were opposed by night fighters of a special-purpose regiment of the 
102,:d PVO Fighter Air Division, and by intense activity by our light night 
bombers, which shut down all enemy airfields with their attacks. 

Concurrently the Soviet Army Air Force commander refined the missions 
of the 17th Air Army, the 102nd PVO Fighter Air Division, and Long-Range 
Aviation air formations in fighting enemy transport aviation. Communications 
were established and coordination was organized with antiaircraft artillery units, 
and the operation of the VNOS* system was put in order. A map showing the 
zones in which transport aviation was being fought was located at the command 
post of the VVS commander and of the commanders of the fronts and air armies. 
It was compiled and reconciled with the front commanders on the basis of the 
Stavka representatives ’ directions. 

The 17th Air Army and Long-Range Aviation formations operated within 
the first zone, behind the external front of the encirclement. At the end of De¬ 
cember 1942 these formations were joined by the 8th Air Army. Our aviation 
made a considerable impact on enemy airfields at Morozovskiy, Tatsinskaya, 
Sal’sk, Novocherkassk, and Rostov. 

The strike made by Frontal Aviation against the airfield at Sal’sk on 9 Janu¬ 
ary was the most typical. The strike was made by seven II—2s commanded by 
I. P. Bakhtin, escorted by one squadron of Yak-1 fighters commanded by Senior 
Lieutenant Belousov. According to air reconnaissance data more than 300 
enemy transport and combat aircraft had accumulated on the Sal’sk airfield. The 
first attack by our planes was undetected, bold, and extremely skillful. Our pitots 
completed the next five passes extremely successfully as well, with every plane 
hitting its preassigned target. As a result 72 German transport planes were de¬ 
stroyed on the airfield and three enemy fighters were shot down in the air. We 
lost four planes. 67 

*[VNOS—Vot4ushnoye nabtyudeniyt. opoveshcheniye i svyoz '—Air Observation, Warning, 
and Communication—U.S. Ed.] 


99 



The second zone was circular. It was located between the outer and inner 
fronts and subdivided into five sectors with one fighter division each from the 
16th and 8th air armies and the 102nd PVO Fighter Air Division in each sector. 
Two belts of radio guidance stations were set up around the encircled area, with 
command representatives from the fighter divisions at the main stations. They 
notified the fighters of the enemy transports and aided the fighter pilots in acquir¬ 
ing and destroying the aerial targets. 

The third zone bordered the entire area of encirclement, having a width of 
16-20 km in the southwestern and up to 30 km in the southern sectors. Enemy 
transports here were destroyed by antiaircraft artillery fire. By 20 December 
1942 this zone contained 23S medium and light antiaircraft guns and 241 
machine guns subordinate to the combined arms armies and to the Stalingrad 
PVO Corps Area. 68 

The fourth zone encompassed the entire area of encirclement. The 16th and 
8th air armies and a specially allocated PVO air night regiment from the 102nd 
Fighter Air Division operated here. The fighters blockaded the enemy airfields 
during the day and Po-2 aircraft did so at night. When the enemy turned the night 
runway lights on, our Po-2 night bomber aircraft on airborne alert immediately 
bombed the fields. Po-2 night bombers put 15 Ju-52s out of action on the air¬ 
fields and landing strips on 30 November 1942, 13 on 1 December, 31 on 10 
December, and 58 on 11 December. In all during the time of the air blockade, 
250 enemy planes were destroyed and put out of action on the airfields and land¬ 
ing strips of the fourth zone. 69 

This air blockade of the encircled enemy grouping at Stalingrad, maintained 
by the combined forces of aviation and antiaircraft artillery, operated extremely 
effectively. In terms of the content of our aviation activities, the quantity of 
forces allocated, and the results, this was an Air Force air operation, conducted 
by the combined forces of three Frontal Aviation air armies and Long-Range 
Aviation formations. The results of this operation were extremely great. About 
1,200 enemy planes, 80 percent transports and bombers, were destroyed on the 
airfields and in the air. 70 

The Hitlerite command’s attempts at supplying the grouping encircled at 
Stalingrad via an ‘‘air bridge” were unsuccessful. “Every day the 6th Army re¬ 
ceived an average of 50-80 tons of cargo, rather than the 300 tons promised to 
it.” 71 


In all during the counteroffensive between 19 November 1942 and 2 Feb¬ 
ruary 1943, the Soviet Air Force flew 35,920 sorties. Enemy aviation was cred¬ 
ited with about 18,500 sorties. 72 


Having attained operational air supremacy at the beginning of the coun¬ 
teroffensive, our aviation provided effective assistance to ground forces in en¬ 
circling a large enemy grouping, repelling strong enemy counterattacks, and de- 

100 



stroying enemy troops in the ring of encirclement. Soviet aviation achieved air 
supremacy by means of a stubborn struggle. During the counteroffensive the 
number of sorties flown against enemy airfields was increased in comparison 
with those flown during the defensive period, comprising about 33 percent of 
all sorties flown directly for the purposes of attaining air superiority. The number 
of enemy planes destroyed increased from 23.8 percent during the defensive 
period to 55.9 percent during the counteroffensive. 73 The enemy’s best air units 
were defeated in air engagements and on airfields. General H. Doerr, a German 
commander who had participated in the battle of Stalingrad, was forced to recog¬ 
nize that in this operation German aviation suffered the greatest losses since the 
air offensive on England. “Not only the ground troops,” he wrote, “but also 
aviation lost an entire army at Stalingrad." 74 

The Soviet Air Force was able to successfully accomplish three vital mis¬ 
sions—attaining operational air supremacy, active air support to the ground 
forces, and an air blockade of encircled fascist German troops—because of the 
combined efforts of the 2nd, 8th, 16th, and 17th air armies and Long-Range Avi¬ 
ation under the sole centralized command of Stavka representative General A. 
A. Novikov, the competent leadership of the formations and units by air army 
commanders Generals S. A. Krasovskiy, S. I. Rudenko, G. G. Khryukin, and 
K. N. Smirnov and by Generals A. Ye. Golovanov and N. S. Skripko command¬ 
ing Long-Range Aviation, and because of the acts of heroism by commanders, 
political workers, and all flight crews and technicians. For the first time in the 
war four air armies and five Long-Range Aviation air divisions coordinated in 
an organized fashion on a large scale, and for the first time we witnessed a new 
form of WS operational employment—the air offensive. An air blockade was 
organized and conducted extremely successfully, and the problems of organiza¬ 
tion and control were solved in an entirely new way. 

“In the battle of Stalingrad our Air Force destroyed the better part of the 
best German squadrons, and then it brilliantly maintained an air blockade of the 
encircled German armies in Stalingrad. ” 7S 

The heroic deeds of the airmen were highly regarded by the Communist 
Party and the Soviet government. Nine air divisions were reorganized as Guards 
divisions, 17 pilots earned the lofty title Hero of the Soviet Union, and 1,000 
were awarded orders and medals. 

The Hitlerite command was forced to recognize its total defeat not only on 
land but also in the air. “The German Air Force suffered great losses at Stalin¬ 
grad. From 19 November 1942 to 31 December 1942 the Germans lost about 
3,000 planes. This figure includes not only planes shot down but also those cap¬ 
tured by the Russians on airfields. An enormous amount of ammunition as well 
as much equipment and other property was lost. ” 76 

The victory won by the Soviet Armed Forces at Stalingrad fundamentally 
altered the situation on land and in the air. “When we recall the decisive events 

101 



of the Great Patriotic War," said L. I. Brezhnev at a gathering to observe the 
20th anniversary of the Soviet people’s victory in the Great Patriotic War on 8 
May 1965, ‘ we remember the famous battle of Stalingrad, those bloody engage¬ 
ments of summer and fall 1942. In this battle the Red Army displayed heroism 
and military proficiency that had never known equals in the history of war, and 
it won a brilliant victory. This laid the basis for the fundamental turning point 
in the entire world war.” 77 A fundamental turning point clearly took shape in 
the struggle for strategic air supremacy along the entire Soviet-German front. 
The battle of Stalingrad, and especially its second period, contributed a great 
deal to further development of VVS operational art and organizational structure. 
On arriving in Moscow. Soviet Army Air Force commander A. A. Novikov gave 
specific directions to General N. A. Zhuravlev on what to write in a report to 
the Supreme Commander concerning the results of and conclusions on VVS ac¬ 
tions at Stalingrad. On 3 February 1943 the VVS commander submitted the sum¬ 
mary report to J. V. Stalin. It presented the fundamental principles of aviation 
actions at the time of the enemy's penetration of our defenses. It was suggested 
that during artillery preparation, aviation should be released from actions on the 
forward edge and targeted to destroy headquarters and communication centers 
with the goal of disrupting command and control. During ground troop attacks, 
aviation should direct its efforts at destroying artillery and mortars. To fight re¬ 
serves, the air army commander should have at his disposal an air reserve com¬ 
prising up to one-fourth of all forces. Commitment of mobile groups 
(mechanized and tank corps) to a breakthrough should be supported by ground 
attack air formations and units attached directly to the corps, which should have 
aviation representatives present with their own communications for calling in 
and guiding aviation. The report suggested that we abandon patrolling as the 
means of covering troops on the battlefield, resorting to it only in exceptional 
cases, and that we adopt as the principal method placing fighters on alert at for¬ 
ward airfields, to be called in. It was concluded that fighter and ground attack 
aviation was the best resource to be used against transport aviation. It was 
suggested that special formations and,units be assigned to the fight against trans¬ 
port aviation, freeing them from all other missions. 

Presence of a composite air regiment in each combined arms army means 
dispersal of aviation forces; thus it was suggested that these air regiments be dis¬ 
banded and replaced by liaison air squadrons with 12 Po-2’s. A number of pro¬ 
posals were made on improving the organizational structure and on designing 
a new frontal bomber to replace the Pe-2 with its limited radius of action (450 
km maximum). A Pe-2 bomber division should consist of two regiments of 32 
planes each, as opposed to three with 20 planes each. It was pointed out that 
when it was necessary to coordinate the actions of aviation from two or three 
fronts, because of their short range we could not use bombers based in one front 
to strike targets in a neighboring front. 

It was advisable to have composite air corps consisting of two fighter and 
one ground attack or bomber division. In this case one fighter air division could 
coordinate with the ground attack or bomber air division while the second could 
be used in the struggle for air supremacy. 

102 



Moreover our aviation actions in the battle of Stalingrad were synthesized 
by the war experience analysis section and broadly disseminated in information 
bulletins published by the Soviet Army Air Force staff and sent to commands 
and staffs at all levels. These bulletins placed special emphasis on the air offen¬ 
sive as a new form of Frontal Aviation operational employment in the offensive 
operations of frontal troops. It was noted that for the first time aviation was used 
jointly with tank and mechanized corps to exploit an offensive in depth. The sys¬ 
tem employed at Stalingrad for organizing aviation coordination with the ground 
forces was recommended for use in all air armies. Recommendations were also 
made on making broader use of ground-based radio stations to guide fighters to 
aerial targets. 

After the battle of Stalingrad the Soviet Army initiated an offensive in other 
sectors of the front, from Leningrad to the Caucasus. On 18 January 1943 troops 
of the Leningrad and Volkhov fronts broke the blockade of Leningrad with the 
active support of the 13th Air Army (commander General S. D. Rybal’chenko) 
and the 14th Air Army (commander General I. P. Zhuravlev). The Hero-City 
once again had direct land communication with the rest of the country. The vic¬ 
tory of Leningrad, which was besieged by the fascist occupiers for 16 months, 
created favorable conditions for destroying the enemy’s beachhead near De- 
myansk. On 15 February troops of the Northwestern Front went over to the of¬ 
fensive in coordination with the 6th Air Army (commander General F. P. Foly- 
nin). Fearing destruction of its partially encircled grouping, the fascist German 
command withdrew it to the east bank of the Lovat ’ River. The Demyansk beach¬ 
head, which the Germans had held for almost a year and a half, was eliminated. 
Great credit belongs to our aviation for this. In addition to conducting active op¬ 
erations against the enemy grouping it maintained an air blockade, causing the 
enemy to suffer significant losses in transport aviation. German historians recog¬ 
nize that transport aviation losses were about 265 planes. 7 * The actions of avia¬ 
tion were coordinated in this sector by General G. A. Vorozheykin and, in Feb¬ 
ruary, by General A. A. Novikov, who on 17 March 1943 was the first ever to 
be awarded the rank of marshal of aviation. 

Pursuing the enemy with active support from the 3rd Air Army (commander 
General M. M. Gromov) and die 1st Air Army (commander General S. A. 
Khudyakov), troops of the Kalinin and Western fronts liberated Rzhev on 3 
March 1943 and, 3 days later, Gzhatsk; on 12 March they liberated Vyaz’ma, 
and by 1 April they had reached a line east of the cities of Dukhovshchina and 
Spas-Demyansk. 

Offensive actions by Soviet troops in the North Caucasus continued until 
mid-February with the support of the 4th and 5th air armies (commanders Gener¬ 
als N. F. Naumenko and S. K. Goryunov). By this time the troops had moved 
160-600 km forward and liberated the greater part of the North Caucasus and 
Rostov Oblast. 

At the same time strikes were made on the upper Don near Ostrogozhsk, 
Rossosh', and Voronezh. By 27 January 1943,15 fascist divisions had been to- 

103 



tally destroyed and 6 had suffered large tosses. More than 86,000 enemy enlisted 
men and officers were captured. 79 In coordination with the left wing of the 
Bryansk Front and with active Frontal Aviation support (2nd Air Army 
commander General K. N. Smirnov, 15th Air Army commander General I. G. 
Pyatykhin), in late January 1943 the Voronezh Front penetrated fascist German 
defenses and began an offensive in the Kursk sector while making simultaneous 
strikes in the direction of Kastornoye. As a result of the Voronezh-Kastomoye 
operation the enemy grouping was destroyed and the greater part of Voronezh 
and Kursk oblasts was liberated. Continuing their offensive, the Voronezh Front 
troops liberated Kursk, Belgorod, and Khar’kov, and in the first days of March 
1943 they reached the Sumy-30 km west of Akhtyika-Okhocheye line. Here our 
troops were halted by a large enemy force. 

The situation did not evolve favorably for us in the Donets Basin and at 
Khar’kov. With the support of the 17th Air Army (commander General S. A. 
Krasovskiy), troops of the Southwestern Front had gone over to the offensive 
back on 29 January 1943. In the first half of February they liberated the northern 
part of the Donets Basin and mobile formations reached the vicinity of Krasnoar- 
meyskoye; actively supported by the 8th Air Army (commander General T. T. 
Khryukin), troops of the Southern Front went over to the offensive on 5 Feb¬ 
ruary, broke enemy resistance at the tower reaches of the Don and die Northern 
Donets, and by 17 February 1943 had reached the river Mius. On 19 February 
a large enemy force made two strikes from areas northwest of Krasnograd and 
south of Krasnoarmeyskoye against the right wing of the Southwestern Front. 
As a result, in March 1943 troops of the right wing of the Southwestern Front 
were forced to withdraw across the Northern Donets where the enemy's advance 
was halted. On 4 March a strong grouping of fascist German troops southwest 
of Khar’kov began a counteroffensive against troops of the Voronezh Front. Out¬ 
numbered, troops of the Voronezh Front abandoned Khar’kov on 15 March, and 
Belgorod 3 days later. By the end of March 1943 the front’s troops had with¬ 
drawn and were dug in on a line from Krasnopol’ye north of Belgorod down 
along the left bank of the Northern Donets. This formed the southern face of the 
so-called Kursk salient, fated to play such a great role in subsequent actions of 
the Soviet Armed Forces. 

Notes 

1. WorUWarllHistory, V,25. 

2. Ibid.,p. 121. 

3. Patriotic War Short History, p. 133. 

4. Archives, f. 33, op. 11230,d. 91,11.7-18. 

3. Dvaihdy Gtroi Sovetskogo Soyusa [Twice Heroe* of the Soviet Union] (Moecow, 1973), p. 
144. [Hereafter referred to as Twice Htrots —US. Ed.) 

6. Voyenno-itloricheskiy zhurnal, No. 2,1974, pp. 33-34. 

7. WorUWarll History, TV,515. 

8. Bol'shaya tovttskaya entsiklopediya [Great Soviet Encyclopedia], 3rd ed., XVm, (Moecow, 
1974), p. 64; Twice Heroes, p. 144. 

9. Pravda, 28 September 1942. 

10. Ibid.,23July 1942. 

104 



11. Archives, f. 132-A,op. 2642,d. 12,11.166-67, 

12. Ibid.,f. 35, op. 30809,d. 30,11.4-6. 

13. Ibid.,op.ll28S,d.519,11.28-35. 

14. WorldWarll History, 48. 

15. Ibid. 

16. Archives, f. 290, op. 517179, d. 7,1.27. 

17. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhurnat , No. 9,1972, p. 69. 

18. Ibid , No. 5,1974, p. 55. 

19. Archives, f. 35,op. 11285, d. 555,11.2-6. 

20. Ibid ,d.567,1.1. 

21. Ibid , 11.1-6. 

22. Ibid.,f. l,op.517117,d. 1,1.11. 

23. Ibid.,f. 319,op. 826,d. 37,1.36. 

24. Ibid.,f.346,op.52133,d.3,11.147-48. 

25. Ibid ,f. 35, op. 30802, d. 54,11.11-20. 

26. I. V. Timokhovich, Operativnoye iskusstvo Sovetskikh WS v Velikov Otechestvennoy voyne 
[Soviet Air Force Operational Ait in the Great Patriotic War] (Moscow, 1976), p. 33. [Hereafter 
referred to as Timokhovich—U.S. Ed.] 

27. Ibid. 

28. Ibid. 

29. Archives, f. 132-A,op. 2642,d.41,11.152-53. 

30. Ibid , 1.139. 

31. Ibid.d. 12,11.. 253-54. 

32. Patriotic War Short History, p. 166. 

33. Archives, f. 35, op. 11285, d. 546,1.113. 

34. World WarllHistory, V, 157. 

35. Ibid .p. 158. 

36. PatrioticWarShortHistory.p. 168. 

37. Arr/uves, f. 319,op. 8026,d. 37,11.141-46. 

38. Ibid ,f. 35,op. 11285, d. 514,11.28-37. 

39. World War IIHistory, V, 165. 

40. Ibid, pp. 168,169. 

41. Ibid. 

42. Archives, f. 35, op. 11519, d. 270,11.19-20,27-28. 

43. Ibid. 

44. Ibid., 1.14; WorldWarll History, V, 174. 

45. WorldWarll History. V, 179. 

46. Zhukov, n, 89-90. 

47. Archives, f. 366,op. 21852,d. 1,1.87. 

48. Ibid , f. 368, op. 14985, d. 2,1.39. 

49. Ibid., op. 6476, d. 4,11.114,115. 

50. Ibid. 

51. SAFCollection, No. l,p, 34. 

52. Timokhovich, p. 35. 

53. WorldWarll History, VI, 20. 

54. Zhukov, II, 109-10. 

55. SAF in WorldWarll, p. 114. 

56. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhumal, No. 7,1972, p. 33. 

57. SAF in World War II, p. 136. 

58. Zhukov, n, 107. 

59. Boyevoy ustav pekhoty Krasnoy Armii [Red Army Infantry Field Manual], Part 1 (Moscow, 
1942), p. 8. 

60. Polevoy ustav Krasnoy Armii. 1942. Prcryekt [Red Army Field Service Regulations. 1942. 
Draft], Moscow, 1942, p. 12. 

61. Archives, f. 228, op. 505, d. 2,11.506-31. 

62. Ibid., f. 379, op. 142207,d. 1,1.10. 

63. Ibid., II. 15-16. 


105 



64. SAF in World War II, p. 144. 

65. Archives, f. 368,op. 21852, d. 3,1.91. 

66. Ibid., 11.91,93-94. 

67. Ibid.,f.346,op. U8418,d. 10,11.8-9. 

68. Voyska protivovozdushnoy oborony strany. Istoricheskiy ocherk [National Air Defense Forces: 
A Historical Outline] (Moscow, 1968), p. 204. 

69. Great Patriotic War, ID, 383. 

70. SAF in World War II, p. 147. 

71. Mirovaya voyna 1939-1945 gg., [The World War of 1939-1945), translated from the Goman, 
(Moscow, 1957), p. 480. 

72. SAF in WorldWarll, p. 151. 

73. L. Korets, Sovetskiye WS v bitve pod Stalingradom [The Soviet Air Force in the Battle of Stalin¬ 
grad] (Moscow, 1959), p. 262. 

74. H. Doerr, Pokhod na Stalingrad [The Stalingrad Campaign], translated from the German (Mos¬ 
cow, 1957), p. 118. 

75. Pravda, 20 August 1944. 

76. Mirovaya voyna 1939-1945 gg. Sbomik statey [The World War of 1939-1945: A Collection 
of Articles], p. 481. 

77. L. I. Brezhnev, Leninskim kursom [Following Lenin's Course], I (Moscow, 1970),p. 126. 

78. Mirovayavoyna 1939-1945 gg-.p. 476. 

79. PatrioticWarShortHistory.p.lli. 


106 



Chapter 4. The Struggle for Strategic Air Su¬ 
premacy in Spring and Summer 1943 


During the winter campaign of 1942-1943 the Soviet Air Force achieved 
significant successes in the struggle for strategic air supremacy. Enemy aviation 
suffered serious losses, more than 4,300 planes being destroyed. 1 Fascist Ger¬ 
man aviation lost its strategic air supremacy in the Stalingrad sector. The 
Luftwaffe command could not accept the situation, and it perpetually increased 
the forces of aviation in the East. From IS March to 1 July 1943. 13 air groups 
were transferred from Germany, France, and Norway to reinforce the 6th and 
4th air fleets. The command intended to recapture the lost initiative on the front’s 
southern wing and retain strategic air supremacy from the Barents to the Black 
Sea. There were 2,620 German planes (1,710 bombers, 555 fighters and 355 
reconnaissance planes) on the Soviet-German front in spring 1943, not counting 
reserve units. Moreover, 335 planes from the Finnish, Romanian, and Hungar¬ 
ian air force were operating in this area. In all, the Soviet Air Force was opposed 
by about 3,000 enemy combat aircraft. The Hitlerite command tried to compen¬ 
sate for the shortage of planes and flight crews by introduction of a new aircraft, 
the Focke-Wulf-190a. 2 The Henschel-129 began to be used as a ground attack 
plane on the battlefield. 3 But the new planes could not significantly influence 
the change in the correlation of forces in the air, which was constantly turning 
in favor of the Soviet Air Force. The Soviet Air Force greeted the spring of 1943 
with much higher strength. The air armies created in 1942 turned out to be the 
most successful form for organizing major Frontal Aviation operational air for¬ 
mations. By April 1943, 13 air armies were operating within the fronts. By this 
time 19 RVGK air corps had also been formed (four fighter, nine composite, 
three ground attack, and three bomber), with a total strength of more than 2,600 
combat aircraft. 4 As a rule the RVGK air corps were attached to frontal air armies 
for the duration of the ground and air operations, and thus they enlarged their 
aircraft inventory. While at the end of 1942 the average air army strength did 
not exceed 350-400 planes, by summer 1943 the attached air corps increased 
the combat strength of the air armies by a factor of two and that of air armies 
operating in the main sector by a factor of three. 

Long-Range Aviation experienced quantitative and qualitative growth as 
well. On 30 April 1943 the State Defense Committee decided to organize eight 
air corps to replace the existing 11 independent Long-Range Aviation air divi¬ 
sions. The total number of planes within ADD increased to 700. The following 
were appointed corps commanders: I—General D. P. Yukhanov, II—General 

107 



Ye. F. Loginov, III—General N. A. Volkov, IV—Colonel S. P. Kovalev, V— 
General I. V. Georgiyev, VI—General G. N. Tupikov, VII—General V. Ye. 
Nestertsev, and VIII Air Corps—General N. N. Buyanskiy. Soviet Air Force 
command cadres acquired experience in command and control of numbered air 
forces, formations, and units in modem warfare. 

Preparing new strategic offensive operations in spring 1943, the Stavka 
tasked the Air Force to carry out a decisive attack on enemy aviation and achieve 
strategic air supremacy once and for all. Attainment of strategic air supremacy 
was one of the important prerequisites for achieving a fundamental turning point 
in the Great Patriotic War. All of the necessary conditions for accomplishment 
of this mission existed. 

The Soviet operating army’s Air Force possessed more than 5,500 combat 
aircraft in the spring of 1943, surpassing enemy aviation by a factor of 1.8. 5 The 
Soviet Army Air Force command and staff acquired a great deal of experience 
in organizing the fight against enemy aviation, both in terms of daily combat 
actions within the frameworks of defensive and offensive operations, and in re¬ 
gard to the conduct of special air operations. 

The turning point in the struggle for strategic air supremacy that First man¬ 
ifested itself at Stalingrad developed further during air encounters in the Kuban’ 
and in the spring-summer Soviet Air Force air operations, and it was achieved 
in the summer of 1943 at Kursk. 

Air Encounters in the Kuban’ 

Air encounters in the Kuban’ in spring 1943 entered history as one of the 
most important stages in the Soviet Air Force’s struggle for strategic air suprem¬ 
acy on the entire Soviet-German front. 6 They were most intimately associated 
with ground forces operations and they developed in the unique situation which 
evolved in response to military-political and physicogeographic factors. 

The North Caucasus Front had to complete the destruction of fascist Ger¬ 
man troops in the Caucasus and liberate the Taman’ Peninsula. In turn the fascist 
German command pursued the goal of retaining occupied positions at all costs 
and wiping out the beachhead southwest of Novorossiysk, where back on 4 Feb¬ 
ruary 1943 a naval assault landing party commanded by Major Ts. L. Kunikov 
landed in the vicinity of the fishing village of Stanichka. The assault landing 
troops, who were subsequently reinforced by troops of the 18th Army, held 
firmly to their beachhead with active support from North Caucasus Front and 
Black Sea Fleet aviation. 


The German 17th Army, which had a strength of 16 divisions, was defend¬ 
ing itself at the lower reaches of the Kuban’ River and on the Taman’ Peninsula. 
It occupied east of Krymskaya a line, consisting mainly of strongpoints and 

108 


pockets of resistance in population centers and on hills. The village of 
Krymskaya was the enemy’s most important center of defense, since the main 
lines of communication to Novorossiysk, Anapa, Taman’, and Temryuk passed 
through it. The German Supreme Command reinforced the 17th Army with two 
German infantry divisions and one of Romanian cavalry. 

Troops of the North Caucasus Front were superior to the enemy in infantry 
and tanks by a factor of 1.5, and in artillery by somewhat less. 

Feeling the shortage of troops, the enemy placed his hopes on halting the 
preparations for the Soviet offensive and destroying our assault landing group 
at Myskhako with the assistance of aviation. It was with this goal that up to 1,000 
combat aircraft of the 4th Air Fleet (510 bombers, 250 fighters, 60 reconnais¬ 
sance, and 170 transport planes) were concentrated at the airfields of Crimea and 
Taman’ in mid-April. 7 In addition the enemy allocated 200 bombers based in 
the Donets Basin and in the southern Ukraine for strikes against troops of the 
North Caucasus Front. The enemy’s air grouping in this sector consisted of the 
best German Air Force units—the Udet Fighter Squadron and the 5th Moelders 
Fighter Squadron, manned by experienced flight crews and equipped with new 
Me-109 and FW-190a aircraft. 

Prior to 23 April the North Caucasus Front VVS consisted of the 4th Air 
Army with 250 planes (commander General N. F. Naumenko) and the 5th Air 
Army with a strength of 200 planes (commander General S. K. Goryunov). In 
addition the troops of the North Caucasus Front were assisted by 70 planes from 
the Black Sea Fleet VVS (commander General V. V. Yermachenkov) and one 
Long-Range Aviation division with a strength of 60 planes. 8 The North 
Caucasus Front VVS was headed by General K. A. Vershinin. 9 The offensive 
previously started by the North Caucasus Front’s troops was resumed on 4 April. 
The concept of the operation envisioned bypassing Krymskaya on the north and 
south, capturing it, and, exploiting the offensive with troops of the right wing 
and center toward Varenikovskaya and with troops of the left wing toward 
Verkhne-Bakanskiy and Anapa, destroying the main enemy grouping on the 
Taman' Peninsula piecemeal. Fierce battles raged near Krymskaya and Mys¬ 
khako throughout April. 

By direction of the Supreme Commander on 18 April 1943 Stavka represen¬ 
tatives Marshal of the Soviet Union G. K. Zhukov and Marshal of Aviation A. 
A. Novikov arrived at Taman’. 

“I was ordered,’’ wrote Marshal of the Soviet Union G. K. Zhukov in his 
memoirs, "to fly to the North Caucasus Front on 18 April. The hoops of this 
front were involved in intense engagements with the objective of liquidating the 
enemy’s Taman’ grouping, the nucleus of which was the well-equipped German 
17th Army. 

"Liquidating the enemy on the Taman’ Peninsula was of great importance 
to the Soviet command. In addition to destroying a large enemy grouping (14-16 

109 



divisions or about 180,000-200,000 men were operating in this area), as a result 
of the operation we liberated Novorossiysk. Here on a small beachhead a heroic 
detachment of soldiers of the 18th Army and seamen of the Black Sea Fleet had 
fought since early February. 

“I arrived at the headquarters of General K. N. Lesilidze’s 18th Army with 
People’s Naval Commissar N. G. Kuznetsov, VVS commander A. A. Novikov, 
and General S. M. Shtemenko from the General Staff. ” 10 

The VVS commander's operations group included Colonels N. F. An¬ 
drianov and A. N. Mal’tsev and Lieutenant Colonel M. N. Kozhevnikov. There 
was also a small operations group made up of several officers from the General 
Staff. The Soviet Army Air Force staff had worked out the measures for concen¬ 
trating air formations of the Stavka Reserve in the southern sector back in the 
beginning of April. 

By 20 April the North Caucasus Front VVS was reinforced from the Stavka 
Reserve by the II Bomber Air Corps (commander General V. A. Ushakov), m 
Fighter Air Corps (commander General Ye. Ya. Savitskiy), II Composite Air 
Corps (commander General I. T. Yeremenko), and the 282nd Fighter Air Divi¬ 
sion (commander. Colonel S. P. Danilov). 11 Long-Range Aviation sent the 50th 
Air Division (commander Colonel S. S. Lebedev). The 62nd Air Division (com¬ 
mander Colonel G. N. Tupikov) also arrived in April. The allocated Long-Range 
Aviation forces were led by General N. S. Skripko. Including the newly arrived 
air formations and Black Sea Fleet aviation, our air grouping now consisted of 
900 combat aircraft, including 800 planes in Frontal Aviation (270 fighters, 170 
ground attack planes, 165 day bombers, and 195 night bombers.) 12 

Thus when we include aircraft brought in from the VVS of the neighboring 
fronts, the correlation of forces in the air was approximately equal. Overall 
leadership and coordination of aviation actions was the responsibility of Marshal 
of Aviation A. A. Novikov. 13 The combat capability of our aviation was ex¬ 
tremely high. There wore many well-trained air formations and units in the North 
Caucasus Front VVS. The proportion of new types of planes in bomber aviation 
was 65 percent. Fighter aviation had been almost totally rearmed with new 
planes—the Yak-1, Yak-7b, and La-5. In all, 11 percent were planes produced 
in America and England—B-20 and B-3 bombers, and Aerocobra and Spitfire 
fighters. In regard to the correlation of forces, we had the advantage in fighters, 
while the enemy was superior to us in bomber aviation and enjoyed better basing 
and more airfields for maneuvering. 

The following missions were assigned to the Air Force in the North 
Caucasus sector: attain air supremacy, reliably cover the ground forces, support 
the offensive of the 56th Army and the stubborn defense of our assault landing 
units southwest of Novorossiysk. 

With the rich combat experience in employing aviation at Stalingrad as a 
basis, the plan for an air offensive was written in full scope here for the first time. 
110 



It was signed by the North Caucasus Front commander General I. I. Maslen¬ 
nikov, front Military Council member General A. Ya. Fominykh, and by the 
front VVS commander General K. A. Vershinin. On 20 April 1943 the plan for 
the air offensive by the North Caucasus Front Air Force with attached aviation 
from the Stavka Reserve to destroy the enemy grouping on the Taman’ Peninsula 
was approved by Marshal of the Soviet Union G. K. Zhukov and Marshal of 
Aviation A. A. Novikov. 

The plan provided for attaining air supremacy; destroying enemy man¬ 
power and artillery by bomber and ground attack strikes to support the stubborn 
defense of our assault landing units southwest of Novorossiysk and the advance 
of the 56th Army; and performing air reconnaissance on behalf of the front’s 
troops and aviation. 

The following were allocated to accomplish these missions: 733 planes 
from the North Caucasus Front VVS, 79 from the Black Sea Fleet, 36 from the 
Southern Front VVS, and 200 planes from Long-Range Aviation—1,048 planes 
in all (508 bombers, 170 ground attack planes, and 370 fighters)—plus a portion 
of the Southwestern Front aviation resources. 14 In the event the enemy was espe¬ 
cially active on the ground and in the air against the assault landing group south¬ 
west of Novorossiysk, all aviation was to be retargeted for its support. 

During preparations for and conduct of the operation the command devoted 
a great deal of attention to organizing and achieving coordination between the 
aviation elements and branches and with the ground forces. Frontal Aviation co¬ 
ordination with the Black Sea Fleet VVS was to involve distribution of areas and 
times of action and transfer of the operational subordination of some of the 5th 
Air Army fighters to the Black Sea Fleet VVS commander. The front VVS aux¬ 
iliary control post was deployed with the front command post near the village 
of Abinskaya to control all aviation over the battlefield. The auxiliary control 
posts of the 4th and 5th air armies were deployed and moved to the front line. 
Aviation representatives were assigned to the rifle divisions. 

Five radio stations were deployed at the front line to control fighters over 
the battlefield; three were in the sector of the 56th Army, including one main 
control radio station. 15 A. A. Novikov, K. A. Vershinin, 216th Fighter Air Divi¬ 
sion commander General A. V. Borman (in charge of fighter guidance), and a 
group of officers from the 4th Air Army were present in the main control radio 
station during the air encounters. 

The first air encounter began on 17 April when the enemy attempted to wipe 
out the assault landing units on the beachhead near Myskhako. At 0630 hours, 
following intense artillery and aerial preparation, the enemy went over to the of¬ 
fensive. The enemy launched 450 bombers and about 200 fighters against troops 
of the 18th Army defending a beachhead with a total area of 30 square km. To 
oppose the enemy offensive near Myskhako, the Soviet command allocated 500 
planes, including 100 bombers. On that day German bombers flew more than 

111 




1 000 sorties against Myskhako. Soviet fighters responded with active resist¬ 
ance. 16 On 20 April the enemy once again undertook a powerful offensive 
against the defenders of the “Little Land. ’’ About 30 minutes before the begin¬ 
ning of the enemy’s offensive. Frontal Aviation made an effective strike with 
a force of 60 bombers and 30 fighters against enemy troops preparing for the 
attack. After a short interval of time the offensive of the enemy troops was halted 
for all practical purposes by a second strike by a group of 100 planes. General 
K. N. Leselidze, commander of the 18th Army, wrote in this regard: "The 
massed strikes by our aviation against the enemy trying to destroy the assault 
landing units near Myskhako foiled his plans. Personnel of the assault landing 
group gained confidence in their strength. ’ ’ 17 

The high morale of the defenders of the "Little Land," their steadfastness, 
and their bravery were constantly bolstered by party-political work conducted 
intensively by the 18th Army’s political department, which was headed by Colo¬ 
nel Leonid Il’ich Brezhnev. 

On subsequent days the power of our air strikes against the enemy grew 
continuously due to commitment of RVGK air corps arriving at the front. The 
enemy launched large fighter forces against our bombers and ground attack air¬ 
craft, and he continued bombing the defenders of the “Little Land.” Fierce air 
engagements went on continuously. On 20 April Soviet fighters shot down 50 
German planes. Having lost 182 planes (152 shot down by fighters and 30 by 
antiaircraft artillery) in 8 days of battle (from 17 to 24 April), the fascist German 
squadrons were compelled to abandon the battlefield to our aviation. 18 A turning 
point occurred in the air situation. Fascist German aviation activity declined 
noticeably. The Hitlerites were forced to halt the offensive started on 17 April 
and withdraw to their initial position, and German aviation went over to defen¬ 
sive operations. 


"Our aviation played an important role in repelling all enemy attacks at 
Myskhako,’’ wrote Marshal of the Soviet Union A. A. Grechko in his memoirs. 
"By its massed actions, it contained the enemy offensive and forced enemy avia¬ 
tion to reduce its activity. The 17th Army Command was forced to report to the 
Army Group A staff: 'Today’s Russian air offensive initiated against Novoros¬ 
siysk from the area where the assault party landed, and the strong attack by the 
Russian air fleet on the airfields demonstrated the great potential of Russian avia¬ 
tion. ’ The first air encounters in the Novorossiysk sector were won by our avia¬ 
tion.” 19 


Our pilots displayed great courage and heroism. On 21 April pilot N. V. 
Rykhlin of the 805th Ground Attack Air Regiment in his 11-2 was attacking 
ground targets. Suddenly four German fighters ambushed him. In an unequal 
air engagement over the battlefield pilot N. V. Rykhlin and gunner I. S. Yef¬ 
remov shot down two enemy fighters. The II—2 had been hit many times, but 
the pilot managed to return the crippled plane to his territory and land success¬ 
fully on an unimproved airfield at the front. Marshal of Aviation A. A. Novikov 
112 




Aerial Combat. 


witnessed the entire battle from the forward command post. The pilot and gunner 
were ordered to report to the forward post, and the two men were awarded 
battlefield promotions for bravery and valor by an order signed on the spot. 
Junior Lieutenant N. V. Rykhlin was promoted to senior lieutenant and Senior 
Sergeantl. S. Yefremov was promoted to junior lieutenant. 20 


113 


The glory of outstanding combat aces resounded over the Kuban’ in those 
days—A. A. Pokryshkin, the brothers D. B. and B. B. Glinka, V. I. Fadeyev, 
V. G. Semenishin, G. A. Rechkalov, and others. After the enemy’s offensive 
near Novorossiysk was halted, the North Caucasus Front’s aviation was reas¬ 
signed to support troops of the 56th Army in their offensive near the village of 
Krymskaya. Concurrently, by Stavka directive the Soviet Air Force made sys¬ 
tematic strikes against enemy airfields on the Taman’ Peninsula, in the Crimea, 
and in the southern Ukraine between 17 and 29 April. These actions evolved into 
an air operation. Its goal was to weaken enemy aviation in the southern sector 
of the Soviet-German front and thus promote attainment of air supremacy. 

In addition to the 4th Air Army, the participants of the operation included 
formations of the 8th Air Army of the Southern Front, the 17th Air Army of the 
Southwestern Front, the Black Sea Fleet VVS, and Long-Range Aviation. Air¬ 
fields at Saki, Sarabuz, Kerch’, Taman’, and Anapa were subjected to massed 
attacks. Long-Range Aviation alone destroyed 170 planes at the Saki and 
Sarabuz airfields. In all, between 17 and 29 April Soviet pilots put 260 planes 
out of action on enemy airfields. 21 

The savage battles on the “Little Land” were followed by a lull on the en¬ 
tire North Caucasus Front until 29 April. On that day at 0740 hours, following 
artillery preparation and with active air support, troops of 56th Army resumed 
their offensive with the objective of splitting the enemy grouping on the Taman’ 
Peninsula with a strike on Krymskaya and Anapa and then annihilating it. The 
56th Army’s offensive was preceded by aerial preparation, which later evolved 
into air support. Just during the first 3 hours alone, 144 of our bombers, 82 
ground attack planes, and 265 fighters operated over the battlefield. Enemy 
bombers tried to halt the 56th Army’s offensive. Engagements lasting hours on 
end went on in the air. Forty-two group air engagements, in which Soviet fighters 
shot down 75 enemy planes, occurred on that day. In the course of the day our 
aviation flew l ,268 sorties. 22 

By attacking north and south of Krymskaya, troops of the 56th Army 
threatened the enemy’s Crimean grouping with encirclement, forcing it to with¬ 
draw its troops from this area. Krymskaya was liberated on 4 May. Due to lack 
of resources, the 56th Army had to abandon any further offensive action. En¬ 
gagements on the ground died down, while the fight in the air flared up with 
new, incredible force. On a relatively narrow sector of the front (25-30 km) up 
to 40 group air engagements occurred in a single day, with 50-80 planes from 
both sides participating in each of them. The intensity of the air struggle persisted 
even longer. 

In all, between 29 April and 10 May the 4th Air Army, the Black Sea Fleet 
VVS, and Long-Range Aviation flew about 10,000 sorties, 50 percent of them 
against enemy troops and equipment on the battlefield. During this period 368 
of the enemy’s planes, i.e., more than one-third of his initial grouping, were de¬ 
stroyed. North Caucasus Front aviation losses were 70 planes. 23 
114 






After liberation of Krymskaya, troops of the North Caucasus Front began 
preparing for a new offensive operation with the goal of penetrating the enemy's 
“Blue Line,” defeating the German 17th Army, and liberating the entire Taman' 
Peninsula. On the morning of 26 May, following powerful artillery and aerial 
preparation, troops of the 56th and 37th armies went over to the offensive in the 
sector between the settlements of Kiyevskoye and Moldavanskoye. Aerial prep¬ 
aration consisted of one massed attack by 338 planes (84 bombers, 104 ground 
attack planes, and 150 fighters). 24 

The enemy resisted savagely, especially in the air, concentrating up to 
1,400 aircraft in a radius of up to 500 km from Krasnodar, i.e., within range 
of Kiyevskoye and Moldavanskoye, against troops of the North Caucasus Front; 
this required him to transfer bombers in from the Ukraine. 25 In the first 3 hours 
of the offensive, enemy aviation flew more than 1,500 sorties. He managed to 
seize the initiative in the air temporarily, and in the second half of the day was 
able to make a strong attack against our troops with about 600 planes. 26 A major 
encounter once again took form in the air. Our fighter pilots fought enemy avia¬ 
tion heroically. The 4th Air Army command took steps to heighten the effective¬ 
ness of fighter aviation. Enemy bombers began to be intercepted by fighters at 
the far approaches, and the “free hunting” tactic came into wider use. The 
number of night strikes against enemy airfields was increased. Between 26 May 
and 7 June 845 sorties were flown against enemy airfields. 

The steps taken made it possible for our aviation to recover the initiative 
in the air within a relatively short time. In early June enemy air activity began 
to show signs of a decline. Soviet fighters once again became the masters of the 
Kuban’ skies. The third major air encounter in the Kuban’ was once again won 
by our aviation. Stubborn battles continued on the ground and in the air until 
7 June. But troops of the North Caucasus Front were unable to penetrate the en¬ 
tire depth of enemy defenses and the offensive actions were halted by Stavka 
directive. 

Air engagements in the Kuban’ lasted more than 2 months. They evolved 
into three large air encounters during the period of active ground forces actions. 
They were the largest of the entire war in terms of the number of air engagements 
and aircraft participating in them on a narrow sector of the front. During the air 
encounters our aviation flew approximately 35,000 sorties, 77 percent by Frontal 
Aviation, 9 percent by Long-Range Aviation, and 14 percent by Black Sea Fleet 
aviation. The enemy lost 1,100 aircraft, including more than 800 destroyed in 
the air. 27 

Air engagements and encounters in the Kuban’ demonstrated the growing 
mastery of flight crews and air commanders. Extensive use was made of vertical 
maneuvering, echeloning of combat formations by altitude, commitment of re¬ 
serves to the encounter, and control of a group air engagement from ground- 
based control posts. The fighter warning and guidance system was well or¬ 
ganized, and intensification of the air activity during an air encounter was 
broadly employed. Fighters often employed the “free hunting” tactic, and 

115 



blockaded airfields. Bombers were intercepted by strong maneuvering groups 
of fighters at the far approaches to the front line. After fighters were equipped 
with radios, they were able to abandon dense, closed combat formations. While 
formerly a commander could control his subunit in the air only by maneuvering 
his own aircraft or by personal example, which required visual communications, 
in the battle of Stalingrad and especially here in the Kuban’ he exercised control 
by radio alone. Owing to this the fighter combat formations could be echeloned 
by altitude and front; this came to be called the ‘ ‘Kuban’ stack. ’ ’ 

In the Kuban’ battles Soviet pilots displayed bravery, boldness, inventive¬ 
ness, and extreme devotion to their people and their Communist Party. Fifty-two 
pilots were awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union title. The names of those who 
distinguished themselves in air encounters over the Kuban’— A. I. Pokryshkin, 
who shot down 20 enemy planes over the Kuban', G. G. Golubev, A. F. Klubov, 
N. F. Smirnov, V. G. Semenishin, V. I. Fadeyev, B. B. Glinka, D. B. Glinka, 
G. A. Rechkalov, and many others—have been inscribed on a glorious page in 
Soviet Air Force history. 

The victory in the Kuban’ was a new, important stage in Soviet aviation’s 
fight for strategic air supremacy along the entire front of armed conflict. The 
outcome of the air encounters in the Kuban’ altered the subsequent course of the 
struggle for strategic supremacy in favor of the Soviet Air Force. 

Speaking at a conference of air division and corps commanders and super¬ 
visory personnel of the 4th Air Army, North Caucasus Front on 11 May 1943 
at the village of Pashkovskaya near Krasnodar, Marshal of Aviation A. A. 
Novikov praised the actions of our aviation near Myskhako and within the 56th 
Army’s sector of advance. He also dwelt on three vital problems in the theory 
and practice of aviation actions, as revealed in the battles at Stalingrad and here 
in the Kuban'—air supremacy, the air offensive, and how to control aviation via 
radio. In his statements he defined operational air supremacy and the air offen¬ 
sive. Summarizing two air encounters that had occurred over the Kuban’ be¬ 
tween 17 April and 10 May, A. A. Novikov pointed out that the 4th Air Army 
enjoyed all the conditions for retaining the operational air supremacy it had won 
over the Kuban’ and for successfully conducting a powerful air offensive on be¬ 
half u; the front’s troops in the future. He noted that the struggle for air suprem¬ 
acy is the most important Frontal Aviation mission, successful completion of 
which would deprive enemy bombers of the opportunity to make accurate bomb 
runs against our combat formations and ensure accomplishment of the missions 
of our bombers and ground attack aircraft. In such a case fighter aviation could 
destroy enemy bombers with less interference and force them to drop their bomb 
loads on their own troops. He once again confirmed that the air offensive concept 
includes the entire complex of missions performed by an air army in an offensive 
operation by frontal troops. He devoted special attention to organizing and exer¬ 
cising control of aviation by responsible air commanders guiding their aircraft 
from radio stations located at forward control posts at the front line—wherever 
the ground forces troops are engaged in active operations, wherever they are 
striking the main blow . 28 


116 



A. A. Novikov’s speech at the commanders’ conference was subsequently 
published in an informational bulletin by the Soviet Army Air Force staff and 
disseminated to all air army supervisory personnel. 

Aviation actions in the Kuban' demonstrated that the VVS command and 
the commanders of the air units and formations had increased their skill in con¬ 
trolling these formations and units. 

Soviet Air Force Air Operations to Destroy Enemy Air Group¬ 
ings in Summer 1943 

By summer 1943 the center of gravity of the struggle for strategic air 
supremacy had shifted to the central sector of the Soviet-German front. Prepar¬ 
ing the country’s armed forces for the summer-fall encounters, the Stavka at¬ 
tached extremely great significance to completing the struggle for strategic air 
supremacy and disorganizing German troop concentrations in the Kursk sector. 
The conditions favored large VVS air operations along a broad front. Being a 
combination of single or successive massed strikes and air engagements (or en¬ 
counters) according to a single concept and plan, a VVS air operation seriously 
weakened opposing enemy aviation groupings and improved the air situation. 

In May and June 1943 the Stavka decided to conduct two large air opera¬ 
tions to destroy the enemy’s main air groupings. At the same time, it was decided 
to attack enemy rail and motor transportation in the front's central sector. The 
decision to conduct the first air operation was made by the Stavka at the begin¬ 
ning of May. By order of the Stavka, on 4 May 1943 Chief of General Staff A. 
M. Vasilevskiy directed the military councils of the Western, Bryansk, Central, 
Voronezh, Southwestern, and Southern fronts to destroy enemy planes on the 
ground and in the air, to interdict rail shipments, and to disorganize motor traffic 
on highways and dirt roads. The concept was to contain the actions of fascist 
German aviation through simultaneous surprise attacks on airfields along a broad 
front 1,200 km long from Smolensk to the shores of the Sea of Azov and defeat 
the enemy groupings near Seshcha, Bryansk, Orel, Khar’kov, and Stalino. The 
time for the first massed attack against the airfields was set as 0430 to 0500 hours 
for the 1st, 15th, 16th, 2nd, 17th, and 8th air armies, with subsequent actions 
against these airfields for a period of 3 days. After a 2-day break, the enemy 
airfields were to be struck once again by the Soviet Air Force for 3 days. Actions 
against rail facilities, highways, and dirt roads were to continue for 10 days. 29 

Air reconnaissance was given an important role in the air operation. Its pur¬ 
pose was to determine the locations of aircraft at airfields, the disposition of air 
defense resources, and the locations of ammunition and fuel dumps, and to deter¬ 
mine the most concealed routes to and from the airfields for our ground attack 
planes and bombers. Beginning in early May, the enemy’s main airfields were 
subjected to air reconnaissance three times a day—in the morning, in the after¬ 
noon, and at twilight—without disturbing the established pattern of reconnais¬ 
sance. Lengthy surveillance revealed where all of the planes were parked, the 


117 




disposition of antiaircraft resources, and the times when all enemy aircraft and 
personnel were present at most of the airfields. 

The VVS command and staff actively participated in development of the 
air operation plan by the General Staff. A 5 May 1943 directive from the VVS 
commander issued specific directions to the frontal air army commanders on how 
to accomplish the assigned missions. The directive stated: “Fulfilling the Stavka 
order, you must simultaneously attack all of the enemy’s main airfields at which 
aircraft are present in number. The bulk of the enemy’s aviation must be sup¬ 
pressed the first day. Thus the enemy airfields must be subjected to repeat attacks 
that same day, and night bombers must operate against them at night. In the next 
2 days, without reducing the stubbornness and persistence of the actions, con¬ 
tinue hitting enemy aviation both on the main airfields and on new ones discov¬ 
ered by air reconnaissance. . . . Strike the airfields in large groups, allocating 
enough aircraft from the air resources available to suppress enemy air de¬ 
fenses.” 30 

In accordance with the directives of the Stavka and the Soviet Army Air 
Force commander, the air armies were to operate against the following numbers 
of airfields: 1st Air Army—six, I5th—two, 16th—five, 2nd—eight, 17th— 
two, and 8th Air Army—three airfields. 

To accomplish these missions, the air armies were to fly the following 
number of sorties in 10 days: 1st Air Army—2,800, 15th—650, 16th—1,050, 
2nd—1,900,17th—2,300, and 8th—1,600, foratotal of I0,300. 3 ' 

The covert nature of and careful preparations for the air operation ensured 
complete surprise and a highly effective first massed strike. Some 434 planes 
participated in it, simultaneously attacking 17 enemy airfields. Caught unaware, 
the enemy was unable to offer organized resistance and lost 194 planes on the 
ground and 21 in air engagements. Soviet aviation lost 21 planes. 32 On the aver¬ 
age it took two of our sorties to destroy one enemy plane. A repeat strike was 
made on 6 May at 1500 hours by 372 planes against 20 airfields. The enemy 
offered serious resistance in the second strike. He had all of his air defenses at 
full readiness. Fighters were patrolling in the air, and antiaircraft artillery 
covered the airfields with defensive fire. The Soviet command had expected this. 
Additional resources were allocated to counter the enemy's air defenses and 
blockade airfields where fighters were based. Surmounting savage resistance, 
Soviet pilots destroyed and damaged 134 planes on the ground and shot down 
24 German fighters in the air, losing 46 of their own aircraft. 

In the third massed attack made on the morning of 7 May, 405 Soviet planes 
attacked 22 airfields and put 122 enemy planes out of action, including 29 in 
air engagements. Our losses were 46 planes. 


The Soviet Army Air Force command and staff continually monitored air 
army progress in accomplishing the missions of the operation. On 8 May 1943 


118 


the VVS commander published a directive stating, “Our 6 May 1943 attack on 
enemy airfields was successful owing to surprise. The situation on 7 May 1943 
was different. Enemy fighter aviation was alert, at a higher combat readiness, 
closer to the front line.... In such a situation the actions should be directed 
only at well-reconnoitered airfields, and the number of fighters covering the 
strike groups should be increased. Ground attack groups must be constantly 
strong so that they can not only strike aircraft at airfields but also dependably 
suppress air defenses. . . . Raid tactics should now be based on strength and 
cunning, since we can no longer count on surprise. ’ 03 

On 8 May the Soviet Air Force made a fourth strike with 181 planes. But 
this strike produced the poorest results. Our aviation destroyed only six enemy 
planes. The initial surprise was lost, and the Stavka ordered a temporary cessa¬ 
tion of strikes against the airfields. 34 On 13 May 1943 the Soviet Army Air Force 
commander reported the following revised summary to the Supreme Command¬ 
er concerning the actions of our aviation in the air operation of 6, 7, and 8 May 
1943. “In 3 days our VVS flew 1,392 sorties, destroyed 373 enemy planes on 
the ground, damaged SI, shot down 67 in air engagements, and damaged 10 in 
the air. In sum the enemy lost SOI planes. These data are based on pilot debrief¬ 
ings, information from partisans,and photographs. Our losses were 122 planes, 
including 21 in air engagements and 8 shot down by enemy antiaircraft artillery; 
93 planes failed to return from their missions. ’’ 3S The report stated that an analy¬ 
sis of the results of the Soviet Air Force’s actions demonstrates the great effec¬ 
tiveness of a simultaneous massed strike against enemy airfields situated along 
a broad front. 

In the first massed attack two sorties were flown for every enemy plane de¬ 
stroyed, 2.4 were flown in the second, as many as 3.2 were flown in the third, 
and 30.2 were flown in the fourth attack. This means that the enemy’s opposition 
increased. In the first massed attack one Soviet plane was lost per 21.7 sorties, 
one per 8.1 sorties in the second attack, and one per 8.4 sorties in the third. The 
fourth attack on 8 May turned out to be totally ineffective. 36 Thus it was correctly 
concluded that simultaneous surprise attacks against enemy airfields by large 
numbers of our planes were the most suitable. The report analyzed the reasons 
for the lower effectiveness of the subsequent strikes—the higher combat readi¬ 
ness of enemy aviation, especially fighter aviation, and rebasing of enemy avia¬ 
tion at auxiliary airfields, which were extremely difficult to attack without pre¬ 
liminary detection and reconnaissance. This is why the report suggested simul¬ 
taneous surprise strikes by large aviation forces as the strategy to be employed 
in actions against enemy airfields when the objective was the destruction of his 
aviation. 


The results of the air operation improved the air situation for the Soviet 
Armed Forces in the central and southern sectors of the front. But the power of 
fascist German aviation had not been broken yet. It supported its troops and 
raided important rail terminals and industrial centers in our country and our air¬ 
fields. 


119 



By Stavka decision on 8-10 June 1943 the Soviet Air Force conducted 
another very large planned air operation to destroy enemy aviation on airfields. 
Its objective was to destroy bomber aviation making night raids on important 
industrial regions in our country—Gor’kiy, Saratov, and Yaroslavl’. The 1st, 
1 Sth, and 2nd air armies and Long-Range Aviation formations participated. First 
IS, and later another 13 airfields were struck. The main attention was turned to 
destroying planes at the airfields of Seshcha, Bryansk, Karachev, Orel, 
Olsuf yevo, Khar’kov, Stalino, and Zaporozhye, where air reconnaissance de¬ 
tected the greatest accumulation of enemy bombers. There were unique features 
to the planning and preparation of this air operation. The Soviet Army Air Force 
command and staff possessed data indicating that the fascist German command 
had taken into account the shortcomings of their air defense against our airfield 
strikes in May, and that they had significantly strengthened airfield cover. This 
is why in his directives the VVS commander ordered the air army commanders 
to allot larger forces to the support echelon intended for suppression of antiair¬ 
craft resources. Fighters were tasked to engage enemy fighters in combat in the 
air and to blockade forward airfields. Up to 160 planes participated in strikes 
against individual airfields, half of them operating as fighter cover. As a result 
of the massed Frontal and Long-Range Aviation strikes 141 enemy planes were 
destroyedanddamagedon8 June, 92on9June, and 16on 10 June. In all, during 
the air operation fascist German aviation lost 168 planes on the ground and 81 
in air engagements. 37 

In all, three air operations conducted in spring and at the beginning of sum¬ 
mer 1943 the Soviet Air Force destroyed a total of more than 1,000 planes, which 
significantly accelerated our attainment of strategic air supremacy in summer 
1943. 

In May and June the fascist German Air Force attempted a number of re¬ 
taliatory strikes against our airfields. About 300 raids were made against Soviet 
airfields, with more than 1,200 aircraft participating. But owing to dispersal and 
meticulous camouflage of planes on the ground, creation of dummy airfields, 
and strong air defenses, their effectiveness was low. Here is what the VVS com¬ 
mander reported to the Supreme Commander on 22 July 1943 in this regard- 
"We are employing dummy airfields with great success as one airfield air de¬ 
fense measure. For example, the enemy has dropped 2,214 bombs weighing 
46,755 kg on 8th Air Army dummy airfields on the Southern Front in the last 
month and a half, dropping 61 bombs weighing 2,750 kg on real airfields during 
this time. ” The enemy struck dummy airfields, the report went on, supplied with 
good mock-ups which could not be distinguished from real planes in photo¬ 
graphs. It was requested in this connection to have the People's Commissariat 
of the Aviation Industry build 100 dummy Pe-2s. 300 dummy II—2s, and 500 
dummy fighters . 38 


Thus the air operations conducted with the objective of destroying the 
enemy's air groupings were distinguished by great scope, decisiveness of goals, 
and great effectiveness. They were conducted in periods of relative calm on the 
120 



front, when the ground forces were 
making preparations for forthcoming 
encounters. Consequently the aviation 
of the air armies was not busy support¬ 
ing troops of the fronts and armies. This 
permitted the VVS to concentrate its ef¬ 
forts on independent missions. 

Nevertheless the air operations were 
conducted mainly to support forthcom¬ 
ing strategic offensive operations by 
groups of fronts. 

During the air operations enemy 
aviation was simultaneously sup¬ 
pressed along a broad front and to a 
great depth; close coordination was 
achieved between the Frontal Aviation 
air armies and Long-Range Aviation 
formations. During the operation the General N. S. Shimanov. 
enemy was deprived of the capability of 
maneuvering his aviation, concentrat¬ 
ing his efforts in the sector of the main strikes made by our VVS, and making 
retaliatory strikes on a broad front. All of this permitted the Soviet Army Air 
Force command and staff to reach the correct conclusion that air operations were 
an effective form for attaining strategic air supremacy. 

As a result of the fierce struggle for strategic air supremacy in spring and 
early summer 1943 the power of fascist German aviation was sapped away. It 
lost about 3,700 planes on the Soviet-German front between April and June 
1943. 39 The enemy was already losing the strategic initiative in the air, but he 
continued to try to maintain his grasp on it with all of his forces. The struggle 
was resumed with new force at the beginning of July 1943, when the Hitlerites 
went over to the offensive in the Kursk sector. 



Soviet Air Force Actions to Interdict Rail Shipments and 
Disorganize Enemy Motor Traffic 

The most important mission of the Soviet Air Force was to fight the enemy’s 
rail shipments and disorganize his motor traffic on highways and dirt roads. It 
acquired especially great significance during preparations for the decisive sum¬ 
mer encounters of 1943. An order by People ’ s Commissar of Defense J. V. Stal¬ 
in on 4 May 1943 stated; "Strikes against railroad trains and attacks on motor 
columns are to be the most important missions of our VVS. ’ ,4 ° 

The air armies of seven fronts and Long-Range Aviation were allocated for 
these missions. 


121 


Air Army 

Rail Shipments 

Motor Shipments 

3rd. Kalinin Front 

On the line: Sebezh, Novo- 
Sokol’niki, Polotsk-Nevel’, 
Vitebsk-Nevel' 

East of the line: Pustoshka. 
NeveP, Gorodok 

1st. Western Front 

East of the line: Vitebsk. 

Mstislavl’, Pochep 

East of the line: Smolensk, 

RoslavP. Bryansk 

15th. Bryansk Front 

From Bryansk to Orel and 
on to the front line 

East of the line: Karachev, 

Dimitrovsk-Orlovskiy 

16th, Central Front 

From Unecha to Mikhay- 
lovskiy and from Konotop to 
Vorozhba 

East of the line: Trubachevsk, 
Konotop 

2nd, Voronezh Front 

From Poltava to Khar’kov 

East of the line: Belopoi'ye, 
Akhtyrka, Nov. Vodolaga 

17th, Southwestern Front 

On the lines: Novo- 

Moskovsk, Merefa, Krasno- 
grad, Slavyansk, Pavlograd. 
Merefa 

East of the line: Krasnograd. 
Krasnoarmeyskoye 

8th, Southern Front 

On the lines: Chaplino. 

Krasnoarmeyskoye. Gor- 
lovka. Debal’tsevo; north of 
the lines Gorlovka, Debal'tsevo 
Mariupol’, Stalino. Gorlovka, 
Taganrog 

East of the line: Krasnoarmey¬ 
skoye. Mariupol’ 


A 4 May Stavka directive assigned the mission of interdicting rail shipments 
and disorganizing motor traffic to the frontal air armies; the table above shows 
the sectors assigned. 

The Frontal Aviation targets included locomotives, railroad trains, and 
motor vehicles. One ground attack and one fighter air regiment were allocated 
from each air army for destruction of these targets by order of the Soviet Army 
Air Force commander. Operating in small groups using the “free hunting” 
method, these regiments effectively destroyed the assigned targets. A fixed 
group of ‘ ‘hunters” was assigned to each rail route. Owing to this, within a short 
time the pilots managed to determine the traffic pattern of enemy trains, the ter¬ 
rain, and the air defenses along each line, and to successfully fight enemy ship¬ 
ments. Pilots of the 16th and 2nd air armies alone flew about 2,000 sorties for 
this purpose, destroying 6 railroad trains, up to 260 loaded cars, 7 locomotives, 
and more than 120 motor vehicles , 41 

Long-Range Aviation systematically disrupted enemy rail shipments in the 
spring of 1943. In March, in accordance with a Stavka directive, it conducted 
a special air operation for the purpose of destroying shipments deep in the 
enemy’s rear area. 

For the next three months railway junctions and stations and trains on the 


122 





roads were struck. The depth of Long-Range Aviation activities reached 450- 
600 km, and the width of the zone in which the strikes were made, 350-400 km. 

In this period, railway junctions were subjected to intense night raids: 
Bryansk-2,852 sorties, Orel-2,325, Gomel’-l,641, Unecha-762, Smolensk- 
523, Orsha-483, Vyaz’mar-427, and Novozybkov-400 sorties. Certain railway 
junctions were struck repeatedly. For example, the Bryansk junction was struck 
11 times in April, 7 times in May, and 4 times in June; in those months Orel 
was hit 19 times, once, and twice; Gomel’-3 times, 4, and once; Unecha-4 
times, once, and twice. In all, Long-Range Aviation flew 9,400 sorties in April, 
May, and June 1943. 42 

The effectiveness of aviation activities was great. On 6 March 1943 avia¬ 
tion, together with the partisans, put out of action for several days a section of 
the Unecha-Bryansk track and in April a section of the Roslavl’-Bryansk track. 
As a result of a strike on the Gomel’ railway junction on 7 March, 17 tank cars 
with fuel and 24 cars of provisions were burned and 28 cars with ammunition 
blown up. 43 

Due to the joint activities of Frontal Aviation and Long-Range Aviation, 
the enemy suffered significant losses, and his communications were systemati¬ 
cally disrupted. At the same time, Long-Range Aviation struck military-industri¬ 
al and administrative centers deep in the enemy’s rear area. 

In April the city of Koenigsberg was subjected to air attacks five times, 
Danzig-twice, Insterburg-once, and Tilsit-three times. In all of April Long- 
Range Aviation flew 920 sorties against the above cities, dropping nearly 700 
tons of bombs. 44 On the night of 29 April for the first time a 500-ton bomb (the 
FAB-500) was dropped on Koenigsberg. The strikes by Long-Range Aviation 
on industrial and administrative centers deep in the enemy’s rear area, although 
not causing any significant material damage, forced the fascist command to keep 
air defense personnel and equipment in combat readiness and had a definite ef¬ 
fect on the enemy’s morale. 

The actions of the Soviet Air Force in disrupting rail shipments and disor¬ 
ganizing motor-vehicle traffic slowed the concentration of enemy troops in the 
Kursk sector, complicated their maneuvering, and, in the final analysis, influ¬ 
enced the postponement of the enemy’s offensive from June to July 1943. 

Notes 

1. World War II History. VI. 160. 

2. A multipurpose fighter having a maximum speed of over 600 km/hr at 6.000 meters; arma¬ 
ment—four cannon and two machine guns. 

3. A two-engine single-seat plane possessing powerful cannon and machine gun armament. 

4. World War II History . VII, 101 

5. Timokhovich, p. 41. 

6. Air engagements occurred from 17 to 24 April, from 29 April to 10 May. and from 26 May 
to 7 June. 


123 




1. A. A Grechko. Bitva :a Kavkaz [The Battle of the Caucasus) (Moscow, 1973),p 362. [Hereaf¬ 
ter referred to as Grechko—U. S Ed | 

8 SAF in World War II, p i 55. 

9. In response to a Stavka directive, on 24 April 1943 the 5th Air Army directorate transferred 
its air formations to the 4th Air Army and withdrew to Kursk, placing itself at the disposal of 
the Steppe District (Front) command. General K A Vershinin assumed command of the 4th 
Air Army The North Caucasian Front VVS staff was disbanded. 

10 Zhukov. II. 149 

11. Archives, f. 319,op.4798.d. 70. 1.9. 

12. Grechko,p.372. 

13 Ibid, p.363 

14 Archives, f. 224.op, 214836,d 5. 11. 105-7. 

15 SAF in World War II. p. 158. 

16. Archives, f. 6598.op. 12475.d. 140, I. 134 

17. Ibid , f 371. op. 13995, d. 2. 1. 180 

18. Great Patriotic War, III, 388 

19. Grechko, p.367. 

20. SAF in World War II. pp. 161 -62. 

21. Great Patriotic War, III, 388 

22. Grechko, p. 376. 

23. Great Patriotic War. Ill, 388. 

24. Archives, f. 319,op. 4798, d. 47, 1.73. 

25. Ibid., 1.74. 

26. Ibid. 

27. Ibid., 1.81. 

28. Ibid . f. 35, op. 11280, d. 88,11.27-42. 

29. Ibid.,f. 48-A,op. 2,d. 8, 11. I03^f. 

30. Ibid.,f. 290,op. 3280,d. 50,1.58. 

31. Including 2,500 sorties flown by light night bomber aviation. 

32. SAF in WorldWarll. p. 175. 

33. Timokhovich, p. 80. 

34. Archives, f. 48-A, op. 2. d. 8, 1. 136. 

35. Ibid.,f.35,op.226133.d. 1. 1.99. 

36. Ibid. 

37. Timokhovich, p. 83. 

38. Archives, f. 35. op. 1128S,d. 807, 11.89-90. 

39. Ibid , op. 22614, d. 8, I. 164. 

40. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhurnal. No. 1, 1975, p. 78. 

41. SAF in World War II. p. 177. 

42. Archives, f. 35,op. 283235,d. 94, 1.4. 

43. Ibid.,f. 39, op. 11495,d. 13,1.33. 

44. Ibid.. op. 11519, d. 649, 11.52-6?. 


124 



Chapter 5. The Soviet Army Air Force Command 
and Staff in the Battle of Kursk 


The Operational-Strategic Situation in the Kursk Sector in July 
1943 

By summer 1943 the center of gravity of the armed conflict shifted to the 
central sector of the Soviet-German front. 


The victory of the Soviet Armed Forces in winter and spring 1943 shook 
the foundation of the fascist bloc. By this time Germany’s general situation had 
deteriorated considerably. Displeasure with the war intensified in the satellite 
countries. The prestige of Germany in the eyes of its allies fell. Italy was on the 
verge of quitting the war. But despite these undeniable facts Hitlerite politicians 
and strategists felt that the war was not yet lost. The fascist German command 
decided to conduct a major summer offensive on the Soviet-German front with 
the goals of improving the army’s morale, preventing disintegration of the fascist 
bloc, and recovering prestige. The fascist German Army was still a large force 
in summer 1943. There were about 4.8 million men on the Soviet-German front, 
or about 72 percent of all the German army’s forces in the field. In addition there 
were 525,000 men on this front in satellite armies. In ali, countries of the Hitler¬ 
ite bloc had 5.325 million men on the Soviet-German front. 1 However, the corre¬ 
lation of forces still did not favor the Hitlerite troops. The Soviet army in the 
field had a strength of 6.442 million men. We surpassed the enemy by a factor 
of 1.2 in manpower. The superiority of the Soviet Armed Forces was even great¬ 
er in terms of equipment. We had 98,790 guns and mortars as opposed to 54,300 
enemy weapons, 9,580 tanks and self-propelled guns as opposed to the enemy’s 
5,850, and 8,290 combat aircraft as opposed to the enemy’s 2,980. 2 The front 
line extended from the Barents Sea to Lake Ladoga, then along the Svir’ River 
to Leningrad, and from there south. At Velikiye Luki it turned southeast, form¬ 
ing a huge salient in the vicinity of Kursk extending deep into the German troop 
disposition. Next from the vicinity of Belgorod the front line passed east of 
Khar’kov, then followed the Northern Donets and Mius rivers to the —«st shore 
of the Sea of Azov. On the Taman’ Peninsula the front line passed east of Tem¬ 
ryuk and Novorossiysk. 

Preparing for his offensive in the Kursk sector, the enemy concentrated 
about 50 of the most combat capable divisions—up to 900,000 men, about 
10,000 guns and mortars, and 2,700 tanks and self-propelled guns. 3 


125 


By striking toward Kursk on converging sectors, the Hitlerite command 
planned to encircle and destroy Soviet troops at the Kursk salient, crush our stra¬ 
tegic reserves on the Livny-Novyy Oskol line, and regain the strategic initiative. 

The Hitlerite command placed high hopes on massed employment of heavy 
Tiger and Panther tanks and Ferdinand self-propelled guns, which had sound 
armor protection and powerful armament, and on its air force. 

The fascist German command created two powerful air groupings to sup¬ 
port troops from the air near the Kursk salient. The 6th Air Reel was to support 
the strike groupings in the area south of Orel. Between 15 March and 1 July the 
fleet was reinforced by five air groups transferred from Germany, France, and 
Norway. 

The 4th Air Fleet supported the strike group north of Khar’kov. At the be¬ 
ginning of the offensive the fleet was reinforced by five bomber groups and one 
fighter group and by two groups of dive bombers, each containing 30 planes. 

In all, the enemy air grouping at Kursk had a strength of2,050 planes (1,200 
bombers, 100 Hs-129 ground attack planes, 600 fighters, and 150 reconnais¬ 
sance planes). 4 

Troops of the Central and Voronezh fronts occupied the lines of defense 
of the Kursk salient. Their strength was more than 1.3 million men. 19,300 guns 
and mortars, and more than 3,300 tanks and self-propelled guns. 5 * The Steppe 
Front, which, included the VVS, had a strength of 573,000 men, 3,397 guns, 
4.004 mortars, and 1,550 tanks and SPGs, 6 was concentrated in the second stra¬ 
tegic echelon. 


The air grouping consisted of the Central Front’s I6th Air Army, the Vo¬ 
ronezh Front’s 2nd Air Army, and the Southwestern Front’s 17th Air Army 
(commanded respectively by Generals S. I. Rudenko, S. A. Krasovskiy, and V. 
A. Sudets), and the main forces of Long-Range Aviation. The Steppe Front in¬ 
cluded the 5th Air Army (commander General S. K. Goryunov). The air armies 
were reinforced by RVGK air corps. The 16th Air Army contained three air corps 
and six independent air divisions, a total strength of 1,000 planes; the 2nd Air 
Army had two fighter, one ground attack, and one bomber air corps and two in¬ 
dependent air divisions, a total of 880 planes; the 17th Air Army had three com¬ 
posite air corps and two independent air divisions, a total strength of 735 planes. 
In all, our air grouping had 2,900 planes (1060 fighters, 940 ground attack 
planes, 550 day bombers, and 400 night bombers). If we consider Long-Range 
Aviation, our strength was greater by a factor of 1.4 than that of the enemy air 
force. 7 


*lSAV—samokhodnayaarullenyskayaustanovkaox, in English. SPG—U S. Ed. 1 


126 



The Soviet Army Air Force Command and Staff During Prepa¬ 
rations for the Battle of Kursk 


The Soviet Supreme High Command discovered the enemy's plans for a 
summer offensive in time. To defeat the enemy with the lowest possible losses 
to ourselves, as early as 12 April 1943 a preliminary decision was made to first 
wear down and bleed the German strike groupings white with an active defense, 
then go over to a decisive counteroffensive and rout them. All services of the 
Soviet Armed Forces were prepared with this in mind. On receiving the basic 
instructions from the General Staff, the Soviet Army Air Force command and 
staff began major preparations for air operations. These preparations consisted 
mainly of creating a strong air grouping, preparing the airfield network, manning 
the units and formations, and creating the necessary logistical reserves. Concur¬ 
rently the VVS command and staff carefully studied the enemy and the combat 
capabilities of the air forces of the belligerents, and took steps to ensure more 
effective employment of the aviation resources allocated to the operation. 

The constantly increasing deliveries of new types of planes, radio sets, and 
logistical supplies from industry made this possible. In 1943 the average monthly 
output of combat aircraft increased from 2,100 in 1942 to 2,900 in 1943. The 
Soviet Air Force aircraft inventory underwent fundamental renovation. By the 
beginning of the battle of Kursk basically only night bomber air units still had 
obsolete aircraft. Especially great changes occurred in the fighter fleet. Several 
modifications of the new La-5fn and Yak-9 assumed dominance in 1943. 8 By 
July 1943 all regiments in ground attack aviation had the 11-2, and the over¬ 
whelming majority of them were two-seat ground attack planes. The bomber 
fleet was almost completely replaced with the Pe-2. By 1943 Frontal Aviation 
fighters were armed with M. Ye. Berezin's heavy machine guns (12.7 mm), 
which replaced the ShKAS* machine guns. In addition to heavy machine guns, 
20-mm cannons designed by B. G. Shpital'nyy and S. V. Vladimirov (ShVAK) + 
were installed aboard all aircraft. Beginning with spring 1943 the 37-mm can¬ 
nons designed by A. E. Nudel’man and A. S. Suranov (NS-37) were being in¬ 
stalled aboard the Yak-9. The Germans did not have an aircraft gun as powerful 
as this. 

Invention of the PTAB-2.5-1.5* hollow-charge antitank bomb by engineer 
I. A. Larionov in 1943 had extremely great significance in increasing the effec¬ 
tiveness of ground attack aviation. This bomb was highly destructive, light and 
small, and inexpensive to manufacture. By USSR GKO 8 decision, radio trans¬ 
ceivers began to be installed in about half of the fighters beginning in October 


*\ShKAS — Shpital' nyy-Komarnilskiy aviatsionnyy skorostrel' nyy I pulrmet} —7.62-mm rapid- 
fire aircraft machine gun designed by Shpital 1 nyy and Komamitskiy—U S. Ed | 

— Shpital'nyy-Vladimirov aviatsionnaya krupnokttliberna vu tpushka >—20-mm 
heavy aircraft cannon designed by Shpital'nyy and Vladimirov—U S Ed ] 

t| PTAB—protivotankovaya aviabomba —antitank aviation bomb- U S. Ed | 

§[GKO—Gosudarstvennyy Komitet Oborony —State Defense Committee—U' S Ed. ] 


127 



1942. 9 In 1943 every new plane was outfitted with a radio. The ZOS* service 
underwent extensive development. The number of radio communications stations 
it possessed increased from 180 in 1942 to 420 in 1943. Redut and Pegmatit radar 
devices were adopted in Frontal Aviation. 

In the first half of 1943 the Soviet Army Air Force commander’s support 
apparatus underwent further improvements in organizational structure and in the 
methods of troop command and control. Many sections were enlarged into direc¬ 
torates (the Navigator Service Directorate and others). A PVO service, a rear 
service, an air gunnery service directorate, and a Main Directorate ol Frontal 
Aviation Combat Training were created. Two directorates were created within 
the VVS Main Directorate of the Aviation Engineering Service-the Field Repair 
Directorate and the Major Overhaul Directorate. The VVS Main Organizational 
Directorate was renamed the VVS Main Organizational and Training Director¬ 
ate. 10 

The Soviet Army Air Force Military Council was made stronger. General 
Nikolay Sergeyevich Shimanov was appointed member at large of the VVS Mili¬ 
tary Council in March 1943; he concurrently performed the duties of director 
of the CC VKP(b)’s Aviation Section. N. S. Shimanov remained at these posts 
for the rest of the war. During the war the VVS Military Council membership 
included P. F. Zhigarev, A. A. Novikov, P. S. Stepanov. L. G. Rudenko, N. 
S. Shimanov, G. A. Vorozheykin, F. Ya. Falaleyev, A. V. Nikitin. A. I. 
Shakhurin, A. K. Repin, S. A. Khudyakov, and other troop commanders. 

The VVS Military Council discussed and resolved the most important is¬ 
sues concerning the life and combat actions of the Soviet Air Force. All funda¬ 
mental issues pertaining to the organizational development and future of the Air 
Force were discussed as a rule at meetings of the Military Council, and decisions 
made by the VVS commander were reported to the General Staff rhe Stavka, 
or the State Defense Committee. 

In its practical activity the Air Force Military Council relied on command¬ 
ers, political agencies, party-political staffs, and the party organizations of air 
units and formations and training institutions. 

In May 19 4 3 General S. A. Khudyakov was reappointed VVS chief of staff. 
General F. Ya. Faialeyev was appointed at-large Soviet Army Air Force deputy 
commander. 

The VVS command and military council did a great deal to organize reserve 
air regiments. Creation of reserve air regiments began back in the early days of 


*1 ZOS—zemnoye obespecheniyr samoletovozhdenixa — ground-based navigational aides— 
U S Ed . | 


128 



the war in compliance with a USSR NKO order dated 11 July 1941. The most 
important task for the reserve air regiments was to learn to operate new planes. 
As suggested by the VVS command, on 7 May 1943 the USSR GKO adopted 
a decree calling a halt to the practice of withdrawing air units from the front to 
bring the reserve air regiments and brigades up to strength. Replacements were 
now sent to the air units at the front from air squadrons, flights, and individual 
crews trained in reserve regiments. As a result of this measure the number of 
air units which cycled through the reserve regiments decreased by a factor of 
four as compared to 1942. This put an end to the hasty training of flight personnel 
that had often occurred in previous years. 

The VVS command attached great significance to proper employment of 
the RVGK air corps. On 29 March 1943 the Soviet Army Air Force commander 
instructed the air army and air corps commanders that RVGK air corps operation¬ 
ally attached to air armies were to be employed only in the sectors of the main 
blows, and under no circumstances were they to be dispersed for simultaneous 
strikes against a large number of targets or for accomplishment of many mis¬ 
sions. 

Discussing the results of air activities in the Kuban’, the VVS Military 
Council devoted much attention to making broader use of radio and ensuring that 
the air army staffs were mutually informed on the operational situation. The 
Soviet Army Air Force commander published an order on 20 April 1943 request¬ 
ing the air army commanders to make broader use of radio resources to control 
aviation on the ground and in the air. Another order from the VVS commander 
dated 11 May 1943 introduced a regulation requiring the air army staffs to inform 
each other about the operational situation at the front every day. These orders 
had a positive influence, improving control over aviation and promoting better 
staff work. The results of fulfilling these orders had an effect in the battle of 
Kursk, in which Stavka representatives had to organize and coordinate the activi¬ 
ties of aviation from several fronts and of Long-Range Aviation. 

Just like the frontal troops, the Soviet Air Force capitalized on the 3-month 
pause in active ground forces operations preceding the battle of Kursk to make 
preparations for the forthcoming encounter. 

At the end of June the Stavka ordered A. M. Vasilevskiy to put all of his 
efforts into preparing troops of the Voronezh Front, and G. K. Zhukov to coordi¬ 
nate the actions of the Central. Bryansk, and Western fronts. Soviet Army Air 
Force Commander A. A. Novikov and his deputies, Generals G. A. Voro- 
zheykin and S. A. Khudyakov, who were present in the frontal air armies with 
small operational groups of VVS staff and rear services officers, were ordered 
to prepare aviation and coordinate its actions. 

Preparations had perhaps never been so methodical, so systematic, and of 
such a great scale in any previous operation. In compliance with a Stavka deci- 


129 




sion, the RVGK air corps and independent air divisons were rebased. On 1 May 
1943 the command and an operations group from the 5th Air Army staff came 
from the Caucasus to the vicinity of the city of Usman’. By that time formations 
of the II Fighter, IV Ground Attack, and VII and IX composite air corps were 
completing their redeployment to Steppe Front airfields." 12 RVGK air corps 
and independent divisions from the Stavka Reserve and from other sectors of 
the front were concentrated in the Kursk sector. The plans for combat employ¬ 
ment of the aviation of the 16th and 2nd air armies and from Long-Range Avia¬ 
tion were developed right at the troop unit level. 

The plans for combat employment of aviation were written in accordance 
with the plans of the frontal troops, in four versions taking account of the proba¬ 
ble sectors of the enemy's main blows against the northern and southern faces 
of the Kursk salient. Much attention was devoted to organizing coordination. 
In order that aviation could be employed effectively, plans were written for coor¬ 
dination between the 16th and 2nd and between the 2nd and 17th air armies. The 
coordination plan for the 2nd and 17th air armies in the defensive operation of 
the Voronezh and Southwestern fronts was signed by General G. A. Voro- 
zheykin and by the air army commanders, Generals S. A. Krasovskiy and V. 
A. Sudets. The plan provided for mutual assistance among the air armies. The 
17th Air Army allocated 180 planes tasked to fly 990 sorties in the first 3 days. 
The 2nd Air Army allocated 170 aircraft tasked to fly 930 sorties in the first 3 
days in support of the Southwestern Front. The plan also provided for maneuver 
of aviation, utilizing the airfields of neighboring air armies for these purposes. 13 

Air reconnaissance was intense. As early as 14 May 1943 A. A. Novikov 
reported to the Stavka that photographic air reconnaissance by the 4th Recon¬ 
naissance Air Regiment had established the existence of a large accumulation 
of enemy tanks and motor vehicles near Orel and Kromy at the end of 14 May. 
The report contained the conclusion that the enemy was obviously preparing for 
a powerful offensive by tank and mechanized formations and was creating a 
strong air grouping on airfields in the Kursk sector. 14 

Air reconnaissance revealed the concentration areas of the enemy’s main 
troop groupings, the locations of enemy air bases and the composition of fascist 
German aviation, the airfield air defense system, the nature of defensive fortifi¬ 
cations, and the locations of strongpoints, artillery positions, and enemy re¬ 
serves. All of this helped the Soviet command reveal the enemy’s concept better, 
take steps to organize a stubborn defense in time, and more purposefully prepare 
for the forthcoming offensive. 


The efforts of air and combined arms field forces and formations were coor¬ 
dinated in place and in time during the preparations. 

Operational air groups were assigned to the combined arms armies and avia¬ 
tion representatives to the rifle corps in the most highly threatened sectors. 

130 






At a Forward Control Post. Left to Right: Marshal of Aviation A. A. Novikov, 
General A. Ye. Golovanov, Lieutenant Colonel M. N. Kozhevnikov. 


By order of the air army commanders, the air corps and division command¬ 
ers moved to the main line of resistance to reconnoiter the terrain, define the 
targets for strikes, and coordinate with the troops on the ground on the signals 
to be used for mutual identification and target designation. 


131 



Much was done by VVS political organs and by party and Komsomol or¬ 
ganizations, which directed their activities mainly at enhancing the combat capa¬ 
bility of the air units and formations, and at strengthening friendship between 
airmen and personnel of the combined arms andtank armies. 

Air army rear services and their attached engineering battalions worked in¬ 
tensively to prepare the airfield network and accumulate reserves of munitions 
and materiel. With the active assistance of the populace, 154 airfields were built 
within the zones of operation of the 16th and 2nd air armies; in addition they 
built 50 dummy airfields. 15 To permit maneuver of aviation, reserve air base 
maintenance battalions were created in the air armies. Logistical reserves sup¬ 
porting 10-15 days of active aviation combat operations were created. 

The aviation of the air armies did not halt its combat actions during the prep¬ 
arations for the forthcoming encounter. It covered the troop concentration, re¬ 
pelled enemy raids on rail junctions and airfields with the help of fighters and 
antiaircraft artillery, periodically struck enemy reserves, and maintained pur¬ 
poseful air surveillance over all enemy troop movements. 

During preparations for the summer offensive, fascist German aviation in¬ 
tensified its activities against rail junctions, stations, bridges, and sidings near 
the Kursk salient, attempting to paralyze the communications of the Soviet 
troops. The Kursk rail terminal was the principal target of enemy aviation. The 
first massed raid on Kursk was undertaken by enemy aviation on 22 May. About 
170 bombers participated in this raid. The raid was opposed by fighters of the 
16th and 2nd air armies and of the 101st PVO Fighter Air Division. Most of the 
bomber groups were dispersed by fighter attacks at the approaches to the city. 

Fascist German aviation made its largest raids on the Kursk rail terminal 
during the day on 2 June and on the night of 3 June. More than 500 planes partici¬ 
pated in die day raid, including 424 bombers. Some 280 fighters of the 16th and 
2nd air armies, forces of the 106th and 101 st PVO fighter divisions, and antiair¬ 
craft artillery of the Kursk PVO Group were called in to repel the raid. 

The first enemy aviation echelon, consisting of more than 160 planes (137 
bombers and 30 fighters) and flying from the direction of Orel via Patezh was 
intercepted by fighters from the 16th Air Army, which boldly attacked the enemy 
and shot down 58 aircraft. Only a very few enemy bombers penetrated to the 
city. There were 175 planes (120 bombers and 55 fighters) in the second and 
third echelons coming from the same direction. Eighty-six Soviet fighters took 
off to repel the raid by these two echelons. The Soviet fighters attacked the 
enemy air columns unceasingly and shot down 34 aircraft. A disorganized group 
of about 55 penetrated to the city. 

The fourth and fifth echelons contained more than 180 enemy planes (167 
bombers and 14 fighters). They came from a new direction, from Oboyan’, at 
an altitude of6,000-7,000 meters. 

132 




The Soviet command allocated major fighter forces—about 205 aircraft— 
to repel the enemy raid, but they were unable to intercept all bomber groups. 
About 100 enemy planes struck the Kursk rail terminal and put it out of action 
for 12 hours. The enemy air losses were tremendous in the 2 June raid. The 
enemy lost 145 planes, including 104 shot down by fighters and 41 brought down 
by antiaircraft artillery fire. Soviet aviation lost 27 fighters. 16 

The mass air raid on Kursk was the Great Patriotic War's last major day 
raid by fascist aviation against rear area targets. The Hitlerite command was 
forced to abandon subsequent activities against rear area targets during the day¬ 
time, and to shift the actions of its bomber aviation to nighttime. 

Thus the Stavka and the Soviet Army Air Force command did a great deal 
of purposeful work to prepare troops and aviation for the forthcoming encounters 
in the central sector of the Soviet-German front. During the 3 months of prepara¬ 
tions the 16th and 2nd air armies and Long-Range Aviation flew more than 
42,000 combat sorties, accomplishing all the missions with which they had been 
tasked. 17 


Soviet Aviation Actions in the Battle of Kursk 

On 5 July 1943 powerful fascist German troop groupings went over to the 
offensive on the northern and southern faces of the Kursk salient. It was not a 
surprise to our ground forces and aviation. On 2 July the Stavka warned Central 
and Voronezh front troop commanders that the enemy might go over to the offen¬ 
sive in the next few days. Thus the troops and aviation were combat ready. 


Interrogation of prisoners captured by our scouts revealed not only the day 
but also the hour of the attack—5 July at 0300 hours. At dawn on 5 July a power¬ 
ful artillery counterpreparation was initiated by order of Marshal of the Soviet 
Union G. K. Zhukov. Simultaneously, 417 ground attack aircraft and fighters 
of the air formations of the 2nd and 17th air armies made a massed strike against 
seven of the most important airfields ^Mikoyanovka, Sokol’niki, Pomerki, Os- 
nova, Rogan’, Barvenkovo, Kramatorskaya) with the objective of weakening 
the enemy air grouping and disorganizing his activities, destroying 60 enemy 
aircraft on the ground. The Hitlerite forces were weakened by the artillery coun¬ 
terpreparation and the strikes against the airfields. The surprise the fascist com¬ 
mand had so counted on was not there. The fascist German troops had to post¬ 
pone the beginning of the offensive from 0300 hours to 0530 hours. The enemy 
troop offensive began with the support of major aviation forces. Under the cover 
of fighters, fascist bombers flying in groups of 100-150 planes attacked the 
Soviet positions. They were met initially by pilots of the VI Fighter Air Corps 
(commander General Ye. Ye. Yerlykin) and the 1st Guards Fighter Air Division 
(commander Lieutenant Colonel I. V. Krupenin) of the 16th Air Army, as well 
as of the IV and V fighter air corps (commanders Generals I. D. Podgomyy and 

133 



D. P. Galunov) of the 2nd Air Army. 

An air encounter took place over the troop positions. In the first half of 5 
July Soviet fighters shot down 79 fascist aircraft. 18 At the same time, pilots of 
the III Bomber Air Corps (commander General A. Z. Karavatskiy) and the VI 
Composite Air Corps (commander General I. D. Antoshkin), and of the 2nd 
Guards (commander Colonel G. I. Komarov) and the 299th Ground Attack air 
divisions (commander Colonel I. V. Krupskiy) attacked enemy tanks and infan¬ 
try on the battlefield and near Yasnaya Polyana, Ozerki, and Arkhangel’skiy in 
groups of six to eight planes. This was the first day our ground attack aircraft 
used the new PTAB-2.5-1.5 antitank bombs. They were able to penetrate the 
armor of fascist Tiger and Panther tanks. Pilots of the 291st Ground Attack Air 
Division (commander Colonel A. N. Vitruk) alone destroyed 30 enemy tanks 
with these bombs in 1 day at Voronezh. 19 General F. Mellenthin, former chief 
of staff of the German XLVIII Tank Corps, later wrote: “Many tanks became 
the victim of Soviet aviation, and Russian pilots were extremely bold. ’ ’ 20 

During 5 July our aviation actively helped troops on the Central and Voro¬ 
nezh fronts repel savage attacks by enemy infantry and tanks. Coordinating with 
the 2nd Air Army from the Voronezh Front, the 17th Air Army, Southwestern 
Front struck enemy tanks and infantry crossing the Northern Donets in the vicin¬ 
ity of Solomino and Bezlyudovka, while units of the 15th Air Army, Bryansk 
Front helped the 16th Air Army, Central Front repel bomber aviation raids on 
our troops. 

Within the zone of the Central Front there were simultaneously up to 300 
German bombers and at least 100 fighters over the battlefield on 5 July. On this 
day 16th Air Army pilots flew 1,232 combat sorties, fought in 76 group air en¬ 
gagements, and shot down 106 enemy planes. In all, the four Frontal Aviation 
air armies flew 3,385 sorties on this day. Enemy aviation flew 4,526 sorties, 
to include 108 within the Bryansk Front zone, 1,737 within the Central Front 
zone, 2,561 within the Voronezh Front zone, and 120 in the Southwestern Front 
zone. 

On 5 July Soviet pilots shot down 260 enemy planes in air engagements 
and destroyed 60 on the ground. 21 Our losses were 176 planes. 


As a result of the opposition of our fighters and the losses suffered, the 
enemy aviation activity declined somewhat on the Central Front in the second 
half of 5 July, while on the Voronezh Front the enemy was totally unable to sur¬ 
mount the resistance of our fighters. However, not everything went so smoothly. 
Shortcomings were revealed in the actions of our fighters. They were lured into 
battles with fighters, sometimes leaving enemy bombers untouched. The system 
for signaling the approach of German bombers was not organized well enough. 
Actions by small groups of our ground attack aircraft and bombers against enemy 
troops prevented effective action against the enemy’s antiaircraft artillery, and 
large numbers of fighters had to be assigned to cover these small air groups. 

134 



Evaluating all this, on the following day the VVS command and the air 
army commanders changed the forms and methods of action by our aviation, 
switching to massed strikes against advancing enemy troops. Utilizing refined 
air reconnaissance data, aviation of the 16th Air Army made a massed strike on 
6 July against advancing enemy tanks and motorized infantry in the vicinity of 
Podolyan’ and Soborovka; 450 planes of the VI Composite Corps and the 2nd 
and 299th Ground Attack air divisions participated in the attack. Results were 
very good and ensured the success of the counterblow made by the front’s troops. 
On that day the 16th Air Army performed two more massed strikes. As a result 
of the counterblows by our troops and the massed actions of aviation, the enemy 
suffered serious manpower and equipment losses. The offensive spirit of the 
enemy troops declined noticeably. Strikes by the 2nd and 17th air armies were 
no less successful on that day in the Belgorod-Kursk sector. 

At the same time, major adjustments were also made in the organization 
of fighter combat actions. Fighter air formation commanders traveled to forward 
control posts, from which they controlled subordinate units directly. Fighter pa¬ 
trol zones were extended into enemy territory. The fighters now began to be 
guided to enemy aircraft, mainly to bombers, by radio. Competent guidance and 
the buildup of forces in the air engagement, the presence of air fighter formation 
commanders at the control posts, and pilot familiarity with the voices of their 
commanders on the radio network exerted an influence, dramatically altering the 
air situation. 

German aviation drastically reduced its activity as a result of great losses. 
While 4,298 sorties were noted on 5 July on the Central and Voronezh fronts, 
only 2,100 occurred on 6 July. 22 

On the Central and Voronezh fronts Soviet pilots flew 2,800 combat sorties 
and shot down 217 enemy aircraft in air engagements. Our losses were 171 
planes. 

On 7 July 1943 the enemy concentrated the main aviation efforts against 
troops of the Central Front. Here the enemy operated in groups of80-120 planes, 
but once again was unable to achieve air supremacy. Operating with the 15th 
Air Army, the 16th Air Army flew 1,370 sorties, while the enemy flew slightly 
more than 1,000. On the Voronezh Front the 2nd Air Army, supported by some 
of the forces of the 17th Air Army, flew 1,400 sorties, while the enemy flew 
560. The actions of the I Ground Attack Air Corps (commander General V. G. 
Ryazanov) were especially effective. With two powerful strikes the corps foiled 
an attack by major enemy tank forces and infantry in the vicinity of Syrtsevo 
and Yakovlevo. 

The same day 233 enemy aircraft were shot down and 12 were destroyed 
on the ground in the Central and Voronezh fronts. Our losses were 122 planes. 23 

From this day on Soviet fighters firmly held the initiative in the air. Most 
enemy bombers were intercepted and destroyed by our fighters at the approaches 

135 




11-2 Ground Attack Aircraft Strike Targets on the Battlefield. 

to the targets they were covering. Fascist German aviation activity of the 
Luftwaffe declined with each passing day. 

On 8 July aviation of the 16th Air Army flew 1,070 sorties, shot down 88 
enemy planes in 48 air engagements, and lost 43 planes. On the Voronezh Front 
German aviation had flown only 118 sorties by 1300 hours. Soviet pilots flew 
1,210 sorties, shot down 78 enemy planes in air engagements, losing 54. 24 

A massed strike made by the 16th Air Army on 9 July was typical of the 
aviation actions. Under fighter cover, 150 ground attack planes and bombers 
struck the enemy 9th Tank Division near Soborovka; the strike was so successful 
that it halted the enemy’s advance, and afterwards the enemy exhibited no activ¬ 
ity whatsoever throughout the rest of the day. 

136 


Thus the gigantic battle that had taken shape on the ground and in the air 
began to gradually abate. Enemy aviation activity declined with every day. By 
10 July the offensive capabilities of fascist Gem - in troops in the Orel-Kursk sec¬ 
tor were exhausted. Suffering tremendous lov.es, the Hitlerites went over to the 
defensive once and for all. 

The battle went on for another few days in the Belgorod-Kursk sector. After 
the enemy's plan for breaking through to Kursk via the shortest route from the 
south through Oboyan’ failed completely, he began seeking vulnerable places 
in the defenses in other sectors, and he concentrated his main efforts in the 
Prokhorovka sector. Attempting to foil the enemy's plan, with Stavka approval 
the Voronezh Front command decided on 12 July to make a powerful coun¬ 
terblow employing forces of the 6th Guards and 1st Tank armies, which were 
advancing from a line north of Meloyoye and Kruglik in the direction of Yakov- 
levo. General P. A. Rotmistrov’s 5th Guards Tank Army and part of the forces 
of General A. S. Zhadov’s 5th Guards Army made the principal thrust from the 
vicinity of Prokhorovka in the direction of Yakovlevo. Three rifle divisions of 
the 7th Guards Army went over to the offensive east of Belgorod. 

For 2 nights prior to the offensive .ADD formations and night bombers from 
the air armies constantly bombed enemy troops on the battlefield and destroyed 
railroad sidings. Aerial preparation began 1 hour before the counterblow of our 
troops. The I Bomber Air corps (commander Colonel I. S. Polbin), the I Fighter 
Bomber Air Corps (commander General V. G. Ryazanov), and the 291st Ground 
Attack Air Division participated, striking accumulations of enemy tanks and ar¬ 
tillery in fire positions. Following 15 minutes of artillery preparation, at 0830 
hours on 12 July formations of the 5th Guards Army and 5th Guards Tank Army 
went over to the offensive. About 1,200 tanks from both sides took part in the 
encounter at Prokhorovka. Stubborn engagements lasting the entire day took 
shape in the air during this time. Ground attack planes and bombers from the 
2nd Air Army actively supported the tanks. As a result of joint actions by ground 
forces and aviation, the German armored wave was halted. The enemy lost more 
than 350 tanks and over 10,000 enlisted men and officers. 25 


The final enemy attempt at breaking through to Kursk was foiled by the ef¬ 
forts of our ground forces and aviation. By 23 July troops of the Voronezh Front 
had restored the position they had occupied before 5 July. The defensive period 
of the great battle had come to an end. 

In the defensive period the Soviet Air Force flew more than 28,000 sorties, 
providing considerable assistance to the ground forces in repelling this powerful 
enemy offensive. In the air, Soviet Aviation fought about 1,000 air engage¬ 
ments, in which it shot down more than 1,400 enemy aircraft, including 517 in 
the Orel-Kursk sector and 899 in the Belgorod-Kursk sector. The defeat of the 
advancing enemy groupings created favorable conditions for the Soviet troops’ 
counteroffensive. The plan for this counteroffensive was developed and ap¬ 
proved by the Supreme Commander back in May, after which it was discussed 

137 




many times by the Stavka and adjusted by the General Staff. Two groups of 
fronts were to conduct the operation. The enemy Orel grouping was to be de¬ 
stroyed by troops of the Western Front’s left wing and the main forces of the 
Bryansk and Central fronts, while the Belgorod-Khar’kov grouping was to be 
destroyed by troops from the Voronezh and Steppe fronts. Powerful fascist Ger¬ 
man troop groupings were operating forward of the Soviet fronts. Despite the 
tremendous losses they suffered during their offensive, the total strength of their 
armies in this sector was 900,000 men when our counteroffensive began. The 
troops possessed about 10,000 guns and mortars, up to 1,800 tanks and assault 
guns, and 2,100 combat aircraft. This concentration of forces was attained by 
transferring in new divisions and by march reinforcement.* The strength of the 
Soviet troops was 2,226,500 men, over 33,000 guns and mortars, 4,800 tanks 
and SPGs, and over 4,300 combat aircraft. 26 The Soviet Air Force was assigned 
the following missions: maintaining air supremacy and dependably covering the 
strike groupings; supporting the ground forces in their penetration of enemy de¬ 
fenses; preventing fascist German troops from occupying defensive positions on 
intermediate lines; foiling enemy attempts at maneuvering reserves; disrupting 
troop command and control. This was to be an air offensive in the full sense of 
the term. Long-Range Aviation was tasked to participate in the aerial preparation 
and to strike rail junctions and other targets in the enemy rear area. PVO fighter 
air formations were allocated to cover frontal troops and targets in the rear area. 

The counteroffensive of the troops of the Western and Bryansk fronts in 


*\marshevoye popolneniye —reinforcements from reserve regiments located in the rear area— 
U.S.Ed.l 

138 



Soviet Tanks, With Air Support, Attack the Enemy. 


the Orel sector began with active air support on 12 July. Troops of the Central 
Front went over to the offensive on 15 July. 

In addition to three Frontal air armies, long-range bombers from the I, II, 
and III Guards air corps (commanders General D. P. Yukhanov, Ye. F. Loginov, 
N. A. Volkov), the V and VII air corps (commanders. Generals I. V. Georgiyev, 
V. Ye. Nestertsev), and the 45th Air Division (commander Colonel V. I. 
Lebedev) actively participated in the Orel sector. 

Fifteen minutes prior to the attack 70 Pe-2 bombers and 48 11-2 ground at¬ 
tack planes of the l st Air Army made a concentrated strike against enemy artil¬ 
lery and strongpoints in the breakthrough sector within the zone of advance of 
the 11th Guards Army, Western Front. Long-Range Aviation formations and the 
1st Air Army's 213th Night Bomber Air Division also operated in this area dur¬ 
ing the night. Aerial preparation was conducted at night in the breakthrough sec¬ 
tor of the 61st Army, Bryansk Front by Long-Range Aviation and the 15th Air 
Army’s 313th Night Bomber Air Division. As a result of the aerial and artillery 
preparation, enemy defenses were significantly weakened in the breakthrough 
sectors of both fronts. Frontal troops exploited the offensive during the day with 
the support of aviation. On 12 July our Aviation flew 2,174 sorties, and in 72 
air engagements shot down 86 enemy aircraft, but we also lost 59 of our own. 27 

The fascist German troops offered stubborn resistance. In 8 days troops of 
the Western Front advanced 70 km, while the Bryansk Front troops advanced 


139 


20 km. Between 18 and 25 July the XXV Tank Corps, the 11th Army, the 4th 
Tank Army, and the II Guards Cavalry Corps were committed in succession to 
the encounter. Their commitment to the encounter and their operations in depth 
were supported by all the forces of the 1 st and 15th air armies. The enemy’s Bol- 
khovo grouping was destroyed by 29 July. Troops advanced simultaneously in 
the Orel and Kromy sectors. Some 120 ground attack aircraft, 112 bombers, and 
200 fighters from the 15th Air Army supported the 3rd Guards Tank Army in 
the Orel sector, accomplishing their missions of covering and supporting the tank 
army quite successfully. Fighter pilots from the French Normandie Air Squadron 
fought valorously along with Soviet pilots in this sector. Arriving at the front 
on 25 March 1943 and joining the 1st Air Army, the French volunteers displayed 
their high skill and courage in the very first skirmishes with the enemy. On 2 
July 1943 a Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet ukase awarded Soviet orders 
to the first five French pilots (J. Tulasne, A. Littolff, A. Durand, M. Lefevre, 
L. Duprat) for exemplary accomplishment of their combat assignments and the 
bravery and valor they displayed. By the end of July 1943 the French pilots were 
credited with shooting down more than 30 enemy planes. 28 On 5 July 1943 the 
French air squadron was reorganized as the Fighting French Normandie 1 st Inde¬ 
pendent Fighter Air Regiment (regimental commander Major Pierre Pouyade). 

During the offensive, troops of the Central Front regained their 5 July posi¬ 
tions , and on 6 August they liberated the city of Kromy. The 16th Air Army pro¬ 
vided effective support to the troops during the offensive, flying 1,000 and more 
sorties every day. On 5 August troops of the Bryansk Front with the support of 
troops of the Western and Central fronts on the flanks liberated the city of Orel. 
Subsequently taking Bolkhovo and Kromy. troops of these fronts organized the 
pursuit of enemy troops with the support of aviation, and by 18 August they 
reached the line Zhizdra-Karachev-Dmitrovsk-Orlovskiy. 


Troops of the Voronezh and Steppe fronts went over to the counteroffensive 
in the Belgorod-Khar’kov sector on 3 August. On the night prior to the offensive, 
Long-Range Aviation formations and the 2nd Air Army’s 208th Night Bomber 
Air Division operated intensively against enemy defensive structures and troops 
in the breakthrough sector. They flew 370 sorties. Ground attack planes and 
bombers were committed to action 2 hours prior to the attack of the troops. 
Enemy troops and strnngpoints within the zones of the Voronezh Front’s 6th 
Guards and 5th Guards armies were suppressed and partially destroyed by pow¬ 
erful artillery fire and air strikes. The troops of these armies captured the battle 
position during the fust half of the day. In the second half of 3 August the 1st 
and 5th Guards tank armies were committed to the encounter within the 5th 
Guards Army zone of operations. They were supported by the main forces of 
the 2nd Air Army. Our aviation hew 2,670 sorties that day. 29 

By 11 August the tank armies reached the vicinity of Vysokopol’ye and 
Kovlyagi. By this time troops of the Steppe Front had liberated Belgorod, 
reached the outer Khar’kov perimeter, and begun the fight to penetrate it. 

140 


On 5 August 1943 our Motherland’s capital—Moscow—gave the first sa¬ 
lute in honor of a major victory—the liberation of the cities of Orel and Belgorod. 
An order by the Supreme Commander dated 5 August 1943 stated: “Today, 5 
August, troops of the Bryansk Front took the city of Orel following savage bat¬ 
tles in which troops of the Western and Central fronts provided support on the 
flanks. Today also, troops of the Steppe and Voronezh fronts broke enemy resist¬ 
ance and captured the city of Belgorod. Today, 5 August, at midnight our 
Motherland's capital, Moscow, will salute our valorous troops who have liber¬ 
ated Orel and Belgorod with 12 artillery salvos by 12 guns. . . 

In the period from 11 to 17 August 1943 troops of the Voronezh Front re¬ 
pelled a counteroffensive in the vicinity of Bogodukhov with active air support 
from the 2nd Air Army, and between 18 and 20 August they repelled a counterof¬ 
fensive in the vicinity of Akhtyrka. Suffering tremendous losses and failing to 
achieve his objective, the enemy was forced to withdraw. On 23 August Soviet 
troops liberated the city of Khar’kov from the fascist German occupiers. By 23 
August the operation to rout the Belgorod-Khar’kov grouping was completed. 

During the Belgorod-Khar'kov operation Soviet aviation flew 28,265 com¬ 
bat sorties. The enemy lost 800 planes in savage air engagements and on the 
ground. 30 

For the Soviet Air Force, the battle of Kursk was a time of further improve¬ 
ment in operational art and tactics. 

A full-scale air offensive was conducted by the air army commanders and 
coordinated by Stavka aviation representatives Generals G. A. Vorozheykin and 
S. A. Khudyakov during the counteroffensive on all fronts in the Kursk sector. 
After the aerial preparation, ground attack and bomber aviation immediately 
switched to support of the advancing troops throughout the entire depth of the 
operation. 

The efforts of our aviation were concentrated on narrow sectors of the front 
against the most important targets, mainly enemy tanks and artillery. Through 
continuous pressure on enemy troops, Frontal Aviation reduced their capability 
to resist, inflicted great losses on them, and thus promoted the success in penetra¬ 
tion of enemy defenses by our troops. General Z. Z. Rogoznyy, commander of 
the XLVIII Rifle Corps, Steppe Front, wrote in a report dated 3 August that 
ground units were able to advance successfully only because of well-organized 
coordination and the massed strikes by ground attack pilots. 31 When tank field 
forces and L ..nations were committed to the encounter, the air armies directed 
their efforts at suppressing enemy antitank defenses, at isolating the encounter 
area to prevent resources from moving up, and at providing air cover for tank 
and mechanized corps. From 50 to 80 percent of the air army forces were shifted 
to supporting and covering these corps and to fighting antitank resources. For 
example, the 1st and 5th Guards tank armies were supported by the V Ground 
Attack (commander General N. P. Kamanin) and the X Fighter (commander 
General M. M. Golovnya) air corps, as well as by the 202nd Bomber (command- 

141 


er General S. I. Nichiporenko) and the 291st Ground Attack (commander Colo¬ 
nel A. N. Vitruk) air divisions. 

Soviet aviation took the most active part in pursuit of the withdrawing 
enemy troops. During the counteroffensive our aviation successfully accom¬ 
plished its mission of interdicting enemy rail and motor shipments. When the 
fascist command began transferring tank and motorized divisions from the 
Donets Basin and other sectors to the vicinity of Bogodukhov and Akhtyrka on 
an emergency basis, the 8th Air Army, Southern Front was committed to action 
First by order of the Soviet Army Air Force commander. As the reserves moved 
along the front line, the 17th, 5th, and 2nd air armies successively went into ac¬ 
tion against them, destroying enemy trains at the rail stations of Gorlovka, 
Slavyansk, Barvenkovo, md Pavlograd, and motor columns on the roads. In this 
same period aviation of the IV and VI Long-Range Aviation air corps operated 
against rail junctions and stations at Poltava, Lyubotin, Krasnoarmeyskoye, 
Krasnograd, and Merefa. Between 4 and 12 August our aviation flew more than 
7,100 sorties to interdict the enemy’s rail movements. Air formations of the 8th 
and 17th air armies alone burned 16 trains and destroyed 20 tanks and about 30 
motor vehicles on the roads. 32 As a result of the combined actions of Frontal 
and Long-Range Aviation, transfer of enemy troops was delayed and entailed 
great losses. Durin,, the counteroffensive at Kursk, Soviet aviation flew more 
than 90,000 sorties. In 1,700 air engagements it destroyed 2,100 enemy planes; 
in addition, 145 were destroyed and damaged on the ground, and 780 were shot 
down by antiaircraft artillery. 33 

The great battle of Kursk ended with the brilliant victory of the Soviet 
Armed Forces over the fascist German Army. “The gigantic battle in the Orel- 
Kursk salient in summer 1943,” said L. I. Brezhnev, “broke the backbone of 
Hitlerite Germany and turned its armored troops to ashes. Our army’s superiority 
in combat skills, in armament, and in strategic leadership became clear to the 
entire world.” 34 The battle of Kursk had tremendous significance for the sub¬ 
sequent development of events on the Soviet-German front. It created favorable 
conditions for a general offensive by the Soviet Army, which resulted in the lib¬ 
eration of the left-bank Ukraine, the Donets Basin, western oblasts of the 
RSFSR,* and eastern regions of Belorussia; the Dnepr was crossed, beachheads 
were captured on its right bank, and, on 6 November, the Ukrainian capital of 
Kiev was liberated. This was the fundamental turning point, marked by outstand¬ 
ing victories of the Soviet people and their army, which dramatically altered the 
military-political situation in the international arena. 

For the Soviet Air Force the battle of Kursk was an intense struggle for stra¬ 
tegic air supremacy in the concluding stage. Up to 35 percent of all sorties were 
flown to accomplish this mission. This struggle, which lasted for almost a month 
and a half, culminated in defeat of the main enemy air forces and attainment of 


•(RSFSR—Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, the largest of the 15 union republics 
which form the USSR—U.S. Ed.] 

142 




strategic air supremacy by the Soviet Air Force. 

Soviet pilots displayed mass heroism and great combat skill in the battles. 
On 6 July 1943 pilot communist A. K. Gorovets performed an immortal act of 
heroism. He shot down nine enemy bombers in a single air engagement. This 
was the only time such a thing every happened in the world. A. K. Gorovets 
was posthumously awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. The citation ac¬ 
companying his award read: “In this air engagement comrade Gorovets dis¬ 
played exceptional flying skill, valor, and heroism, he personally shot down nine 
enemy planes, and he himself died the death of the brave.” 35 Pilots S. D. 
Luganskiy, M. S. Tokarev, V. 1. Andrianov. A. P. Mares'yev, A. N. Yefimov, 
N. D. Gulyayev, A. V. Dobrodetskiy, and many others fought selflessly. Junior 
Lieutenant 1. N. Kozhedub, who subsequently went on to earn the title of Hero 
of the Soviet Union three times, experienced his baptism of fire here. 

The battle of Kursk demonstrated that the tactics employed by the branches 
of aviation in our VVS actions had improved. The tactic of ground attack avia¬ 
tion flying in large groups enjoyed further development. Bomber aviation ac¬ 
cumulated a great deal of experience in dive bombing and in making concen¬ 
trated attacks in units of as high as division strength. 

Fighter aviation displayed greater skill in conducting group air engage¬ 
ments and air encounters. 

On the whole, VVS operational art and the tactics of the branches of avia¬ 
tion were enriched with many new premises at the battle of Kursk and were raised 
to a new level in their development. 

The Soviet Army Air Force command, commanders, staff, and political or¬ 
gans of the frontal air armies broadly utilized the lessons learned by aviation in 
the battle of Kursk and in other sectors. Measures were implemented to further 
improve the organizational structure of air units, to synthesize and disseminate 
combat experience, and to raise the level of logistical support In October 1943 
new manning tables were introduced for fighter and ground attack air regiments 
by decision of the VVS Military Council. Amalgamation of the air regiments 
satisfied the growing requirements of VVS tactics and operational art. 

In December 1943 the VVS Military Council held a meeting of the military 
district VVS commanders, commanders of reserve air brigades, and representa¬ 
tives from the air armies in the field devoted to upgrading the quality of pilot 
training in reserve air regiments. The proceedings of the conference were utilized 
to develop new combat training courses for fighter, ground attack, and bomber 
aviation, to be introduced in 1944. 

Ways of improving the combat skills of flight crews such as tactical flying 
conferences enjoyed extensive support in many air armies. In December 1943, 
as troops of the 3rd Ukrainian Front prepared to liberate the right-bank Ukraine, 

143 



a conference was held in the IX Composite Air Corps, 17th Air Army. It was 
attended by the commanders of air divisions, regiments, air squadrons, and 
flights, by pilots, by chiefs of staff, and by party-political workers. Stavka repre¬ 
sentatives Marshal of the Soviet Union A. M. Vasilevskiy and General F. Ya. 
Falaleyev, front commander General R. Ya. Malinovskiy, and General V. A. 
Sudets, commander of the 17th Air Army, took an active part in the conference 
proceedings. The conference played a positive role in preparing commanders 
and flight crews for the offensive operations. 36 

Commanders, political organs, and party and Komsomol organizations of 
units and formations in the field utilized the intervals between battles to train 
flying personnel. Recalling this, Chief Marshal of Aviation Pavel Stepanovich 
Kutakhov, an active participant in air engagements in the North, wrote the fol¬ 
lowing in the newspaper Krasnaya zvezda: “The engagements were stubborn. 
One would have thought that we were too exhausted to train in the short intervals 
between them. Nevertheless we managed to fight and to train. ... A bunker 
containing a wick lamp made from a spent shell casing served as the classroom, 
and the auditorium in which we took our examinations was the air, the engage¬ 
ment. The bunker where we took our theoretical training had a magnetic attrac¬ 
tion for us. We often studied there at the expense of sleep and rest. ” 37 

VVS political organs reorganized the primary party organizations in June 
1943 in accordance with an RKKA Main Political Directorate directive dated 
4June 1943, “On the Structure of Red Army Party Organizations.” 38 Some 237 
new VVS primary organizations were created. Their number was increased by 
13 percent. All flying subunits had their own party organizations. More party 
organizations, growth of party membership, and encouragement of fresh party 
forces to lead and participate in party life resulted in more active party-political 
work. It became even more effective and more closely associated with combat 
mission accomplishment. 

Generals and officers of the Main Directorate of Frontal Aviation Combat 
Training headed by General D. F. Kondratyuk did an enourmous amount of fruit¬ 
ful work to improve the combat qualities of the personnel of VVS units and for¬ 
mations operating at the fronts. This directorate was created by State Defense 
Committee decision back in January 1943. In 1 year it held more than 2,000 lec¬ 
tures, military games, group exercises, and various lessons in air army units and 
formations. More than 4,500 demonstration and training flights were flown for 
the purpose of teaching the tactics of single and group ajr engagements and dem 
onstrating the combat formations used by new types of aircraft. Various methods 
of attacking small mobile ground targets and guiding aircraft by radio to enemy 
air and ground-based targets were tested. 34 


144 



Notes 


!. Patriotic War Short History, p. 237. 

2. Ibid. 

3. Great Patriotic War, III, 241. 

4. SAP in World War//, p. 174. 

5 Patriotic War Short History, p. 239. 

6. Archives, f. 13-A.op. 504.d. 310, 11.4-160 
7 SAP in World War II. p. 174. 

8. At an altitude of 2,000-4.000 meters the La-5fn had a level velocity 40-80 km/hr greater than 
that of the German FW-190, and it was more maneuverable 

9. Archives, f. 35, op. 11250, d. 47. 1.52 

10. Ibid .op. 11285.d.5.1 33. 

11. Ibid.,op. 11268,d. 5. 1.33. 

12. Ibid. 

13 Ibid., f. 302. op. 4196. d. 24, 11 67-70. 

14. Ibid.,f.35,op. 92815,d.59. 11.22-23. 

15. Ibid..f. 368.op. H538.d. 3.1. 114; f. 302, op. 20739. d. 16. 11.39.117. 

16. SAP in World War II. p. 177. Great Patriotic War, HI. 395. 

17. Archives, f. 368. op. 11588. d. 3. 1.214. 

18. USSR Aviation and Cosmonautics, p. 155. 

19. Ibid . p. 157. 

20. F. Mellenthin, Tankovyye srazheniya 1939-1945 gg. (The Tank Encounters of 1939-1945), 
abridged, translated from the English (Moscow, 1957). p. 192. 

21. USSR A viation and Cosmonautics. pp. 155. 157. 

22. Archives, f. 35, op. 11285. d. 822, 1.36. 

23. Ibid., 1.47. 

24. Ibid., 1.58. 

25. Great Patriotic War. III. 274. 

26. Patriotic War Short History, p. 250. 

27. SAF inWorldWarll.pp. 188-89. 

28. USSR Aviation and Cosonaulics.p. 162. 

29. SAF in World War II. p. 195. 

30 Ibid . p. 197. 

31. Archives, f. 317,op.48734,d. 1. I. 110. 

32. Ibid., f. 35, op. 283444.d. 12. 11.60-63. 

33. Great Patriotic War. III. 403. 

34. L. I Brezhnev, Velikaya pobeda sovetskogo naroda (The Great Victory of the Soviet People] 
(Moscow. 1965). p. 13. 

35. Archives, f. 33. op. 793756, d. 11,1.268. 

36. Ibid .f. 370. op. 6548,d. 38, II 42.43. 

37 Krasnaya zvezda. 25 May 1968. 

38. KPSS o Vooruzhennykh Silakh Sovetskogo Soyuza. Sb. dokumentov (1917-19681 (The CPSU 
on the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union: A Collection of Documents (1917-1968)1 (Moscow. 
1969),pp. 323-24. 

39. Archives, f. 35, op. 11291.d.8. !!.6-7;d.63. 11 1-7 


145 




Chapter 6. The Soviet Army Air Force in Opera¬ 
tions in the Concluding Period of the 
War 


The Situation at the Fronts at the Beginning of 1944. Soviet 
Army Air Force Command and Staff Measures to Improve 
Management of Aviation 

Two and a half years of difficult engagements and encounters had passed. 
The year of the fundamental turning point had gone by. By the beginning of 1944 
the situation on the fronts was taking shape in favor of the USSR. The great vic¬ 
tories of the Soviet Army in 1942-43 demonstrated to the entire world the in¬ 
creased military might of the socialist state and its Armed Forces. It had become 
obvious that the Soviet Union was capable of bringing the war to a victorious 
conclusion with its own forces. This resulted in further growth of the USSR’s 
prestige. The war economy grew even stronger. Soviet industry continued to 
supply first-class combat equipment to the Armed Forces on ever-increasing 
scales. The strength of the Soviet Army in the field was 6,165,000 men, 88,900 
guns and mortars, 2,167 rocket launchers, about 4,900 tanks and self-propelled 
guns, and 8,500 planes. Although the German armed forces had suffered consid¬ 
erable losses on the Soviet-German front and experienced a certain reduction in 
strength, nevertheless they were powerful. On the Eastern front the enemy had 
4,906,000 men, over 54,000 guns and mortars, 5,400 tanks and assault guns, 
and 3,000 planes. 1 

The strategic initiative was in the hands of the Soviet command. The Stavka 
made plans for an offensive along the entire front, involving a number of power¬ 
ful, successive strategic operations in separate, widely spaced vital sectors of 
the Soviet-German front. The main thrust was to occur in the southwestern sec¬ 
tor, with the objective of destroying the largest enemy grouping and liberating 
the right-bank Ukraine and the Crimea. The mission in the northwestern sector 
was to destroy the enemy grouping, relieve blockaded Leningrad, and reach the 
approaches to the Soviet Baltic republics. In the western sector, Army Group 
Center was to be defeated and the enemy was to be cleared from a significant 
part of Belorussia. As before, the Hitlerite command considered the Eastern 
front to be the main front. It planned to concentrate its troops in those sectors 
where thrusts by the Soviet Army were expected and, maneuvering its reserves 
and aviation, to halt the advance of Soviet troops. In the West, fascist Germany 
made preparations to repel the assault landing in northern France, to seize the 
initiative, and to achieve victory in the war. The idea of seizing the initiative 
and achieving victory in the war was adventuristic; it did not correspond to the 
146 






real situation that had evolved on the Soviet-German front at the beginning of 
1944. 

The Soviet Air Force entered the third and final period of the Great Patriotic 
War outfitted with the latest equipment and with a tremendous amount of ac¬ 
cumulated combat experience. It had mastered new forms for operational em¬ 
ployment of large numbered air forces and methods of action for all aviation 
components and branches, both in independent air operations and in actions 
jointly with the ground forces. The Soviet Air Force firmly held the strategic 
initiative and air supremacy along the entire Soviet-German front. Our aviation 
industry produced 35,000 combat aircraft in 1943. As of 1 January 1944 the de¬ 
mand of Soviet Army Air Force air units and military educational institutions 
for planes was satisfied by more than 100 percent. As of 1 January 1944, 86.7 
percent of the planes in fighter aviation, 100 percent in ground attack aviation, 
and 74.3 percent in bomber aviation were new } 

Frontal Aviation air divisions of the services shifted from a two-regiment 
to a three- and four-regiment composition, and 50 ground attack and 36 fighter 
air regiments converted to an authorized strength of 40 aircraft. 3 

The growing might and the superiority of Soviet weapons and Soviet mili¬ 
tary science were demonstrated most clearly in the operations of the final period 
of the Great Patriotic War, conducted on the central and southern wings of the 
Soviet-German front. Typical features of Soviet Air Force actions in this period 
of the war included concentration of large aviation forces <n the main sectors of 
ground forces operations, massing of the efforts of aviation within a narrow sec¬ 
tor to accomplish its primary missions, extensive maneuvering of RVGK air 
corps and divisions, allocation of significant Long-Range Aviation forces to 
accomplish missions in direct support of frontal troops, and coordination of the 
actions of several Frontal Aviation air armies and Long-Range Aviation actions 
under the sole leadership of a senior chief of aviation. 

New typical characteristics in the actions of Soviet aviation manifested 
themselves most clearly in such major offensive operations as the Korsun’-Shev- 
chenkovskiy, Belorussian, Vistula-Oder, East Prussian, and Berlin operations. 
The Soviet Army Air Force command and staff took a most active part in these 
operations. Creation of new aviation equipment, its rapid assimilation by flight 
crews, and its proper employment on the war fronts were the daily concerns of 
the VVS commander and all members of the Military Council. At the beginning 
of January 1944 the VVS Military Council reviewed the availability of new types 
of planes in Frontal Aviation and concluded that the upgrading of aviation in 
progress in the Far East had to be continued. 

A report addressed to the Supreme Commander stated: “We have ac¬ 
cumulated a reserve of fighter aircraft ensuring replenishment of losses and com¬ 
plete equipping of units placed in the reserve and of newly formed units. Consid¬ 
ering these favorable conditions, we believe it possible to continue upgrading 
fighter aviation of the Far Eastern and Transbaykal fronts, whose air units have 

147 




the obsolete 1-16. 1-153. and 1-I5bis.” 4 In response the Supreme High Com¬ 
mand ordered that aviation in the Far East be upgraded with new types of aircraft. 

On 7 February 1944 the VVS Military Council discussed progress in creat¬ 
ing new aviation equipment and decided to submit a plan for experimental con¬ 
struction of aircraft and armament in 1944-45 to the USSR People’s Commis¬ 
sariat of Defense. The problems of upgrading the quality of aircraft and arma¬ 
ment produced by industry were discussed many times as well. 5 

In February 1944 the Soviet Army Air Force held a conference of supervi¬ 
sory personnel from military district VVS and VVS military educational institu¬ 
tions. At this conference the VVS Military Council demanded that participants 
take efficient steps to eliminate the preconditions for flying accidents, to 
strengthen military discipline, and to intensify party-political work, viewing 
these as the most important prerequisites for high-quality training of cadets in 
flight schools. 6 In March the VVS Military Council held a conference of the 
chiefs of technical schools, advanced training courses, and air mechanic and 
junior specialist schools. The decision was made at this conference to improve 
technician training, taking the war experience into consideration. 7 The Soviet 
Army Air Force staff provided the command with continuity in air army com¬ 
mand and control, it participated in the writing of plans, it synthesized the experi¬ 
ence of aviation combat actions, and disseminated it to the troops. 

In the first half of 1944 the generals and officers on the VVS staff wrote 
and submitted to the Soviet Army Air Force command a number of directives 
addressed to air army commanders on improving command and control of avia¬ 
tion and achieving its more effective combat employment. On 15 April 1944 the 
VVS commander published a directive on countering enemy air reconnaissance. 
It stated that individual German air scouts had recently been penetrating deeply 
into our rear area and monitoring our movements. All air army commanders were 
ordered to develop special measures on countering enemy air reconnaissance; 
to assign particular zones to air fighter corps and divisions for actions against 
enemy reconnaissance aircraft; to organize fighter ambushes on probable routes 
used by enemy air reconnaissance and to make broad use of radio guidance. 
Fighters in the air were ordered to pursue and annihilate the enemy aircraft. 8 

On 15 May 1944 the VVS commander published a directive requiring that 
air army commanders abandon the practice of assigning combat missions to 
RVGK air corps and divisions as single sorties; instead, they were to assign mis¬ 
sions for a particular period of time, for the day of an operation as a minimum. 
Missions could be assigned as single sorties to air corps and divisions only in 
exceptional cases. 9 In 1944 specific air force staff officers were appointed to 
write summaries on the air situation on the Soviet-German front every 10 days, 
to be reported to the commander and Military Council members. This summary 
indicated the composition of the air groupings of the belligerents, and their quan¬ 
titative and qualitative changes; the concentration of aviation in strategic sectors 
and the use of new tactics; the number of sorties flown and the intensity of com¬ 
bat actions by aviation branches and elements; the total number of air engage- 
148 



ments. and new tactics employed in them. The summaries ended with conclu¬ 
sions and proposals concerning more effective V VS employment. 10 

In addition, V VS staff officers capably prepared timely monthly reports for 
the General Staff on Air Force actions. An overall large-scale map of the opera¬ 
tional situation was constantly maintained by two highly qualified officers, the 
senior being Colonel I. M. Kuz’min. Usually by 2200-2300hours they had com¬ 
pleted the work of plotting the data on the situation map and of writing draft re¬ 
ports to the Supreme Commander and the situation report on the results of Soviet 
Air Force actions the previous day. At this time the VVS commander and Mili¬ 
tary Council members usually came to a large room in one of the directorates 
where all of the summary data were brought together. There, the directorate chief 
briefed the strategic and operational situation, the changes that had occurred in 
the correlation of forces in the air, and the preliminary data on the results of VVS 
actions the previous day. Decisions were often made here in regard to a number 
of problems associated with enhancing the effectiveness of the actions of the var¬ 
ious aviation branches and elements, and these decisions were put in official 
form on the spot by VVS staff officers. A new section for staff operational train¬ 
ing was created on the VVS staff. General M. D. Smirnov was appointed chief 
of the section, and his deputy was Colonel N. A. Sokolov. Favorable conditions 
were created for more purposeful and integrated solution of many problems con¬ 
cerning the operational employment of the Air Force. 

The Soviet Army Air Force command and staff significantly improved the 
level of supervision of numbered air forces and formations on the war fronts in 
1944, and they acquired a great deal of experience in maneuvering air reserves 
and concentrating the efforts of aviation in the most important sectors of ground 
forces operations and in providing comprehensive support to combat operations. 


The Korsun ’-Shevchenko vskiy Operation 

In compliance with the overall concept of the Supreme High Command, 
troops of the four Ukrainian fronts initiated an offensive on the southern wing 
of the Soviet-German front in late December 1943 and in early January 1944. 11 
Stavka representatives coordinated the actions of the fronts—Marshal of the 
Soviet Union G. K. Zhukov on the 1st and 2nd Ukrainian fronts, and Marshal 
of the Soviet Union A. M. Vasilevskiy on the 3rd and 4th Ukrainian fronts. The 
actions of allocated aviation were coordinated by Marshal of Aviation A. A. 
Novikov. Troops of the 1 st Ukrainian Front were the first to begin combat ac¬ 
tions at the end of December i943, with the active support of aviation of the 
2nd Air Army (commander General S. A. Krasovskiy). By 14 January they had 
almost completely liberated the Kiev and Zhitomir oblasts and many rayons in 
the Vinnitsa and Rovno oblasts. The 2nd Ukrainian Front, supported and 
covered by the 5th Air Army (commander General S. K. Goryunov), went over 
to the offensive on 5 January 1944. The front's troops liberated Kirovograd by 
mid-January. The right flank of the enemy grouping in the vicinity of Korsun’- 
Shevchenkovskiy was threatened. 


149 



The 3rd and 4th Ukrainian fronts undertook an offensive on 10-11 January 
1944 with the objective of destroying the enemy at the Nikopol’ beachhead and 
in the vicinity of Nikopol’. The fronts were covered and supported from the air 
by the 17th Air Army (commander General V. A. Sudets) and the 8th Air Army 
(commander General T. T. Khryukin) respectively. The offensive actions of the 
troops of the 1 st and 2nd Ukrainian fronts resulted in envelopment of both flanks 
of the Korsun’-Shevchenkovskiy grouping. The Stavka ordered the commanders 
of these fronts. Generals N. F. Vatutin andl. S. Konev, to encircle and annihilate 
the enemy’s Korsun’-Shevchenkovskiy grouping. Troops of the 2nd Ukrainian 
Front assault grouping began combat actions at Korsun’-Shevchenkovskiy on 
24-25 January, and on 26 January the 1st Ukrainian Front assault grouping at¬ 
tacked on a converging sector. The troops of the fronts were supported by the 
5th and 2nd air armies. The latter possessed 768 combat aircraft, being inferior 
in numbers to the enemy, who concentrated about 1,000 planes in this sector. 12 
The assault groupings of both fronts attacked on converging sectors and met near 
Zvenigorodka. Ten of the enemy’s divisions and one of his brigades were encir¬ 
cled. By 3 February Soviet troops had created an inner and outer front of encir¬ 
clement. The actions of our aviation proceeded in extremely bad weather. 
Moreover a thaw set in in late January and early February 1944, meaning the 
dirt landing strips could no longer be used. By this time the air armies had only 
two or three operable airfields left for all practical purposes, with 50-100 of our 
planes based at each. But even despite these conditions the ground troops re¬ 
ceived considerable assistance from the air. Between 29 January and 3 February 
1944 our aviation flew 2,800 combat sorties in the vicinity of the Korsun’-Shev¬ 
chenkovskiy enemy grouping, while enemy aviation flew half that number. 13 

A. A. Novikov, before leaving Moscow, had reported to the Supreme Com¬ 
mander his suggestions concerning employment of aviation to destroy the 
enemy’s Korsun’-Shevchenkovskiy grouping. By the former’s direction, exten¬ 
sive use was made of high-explosve bombs by 11-2 ground attack aircraft, and 
Po-2 light night bombers were widely used. They were especially helpful in re¬ 
pelling enemy counterblows in the outer front of encirclement in the vicinity of 
Tolmach and Lisyanka. On 4 February, when enemy tanks wedged themselves 
into the defenses of the 53rd Army, 2nd Ukrainian Front, enemy attempts at pen¬ 
etrating into the encircled area were foiled by the efforts of ground attack aircraft 
and artillery. Ground attack aviation of the 2nd Air Army made two powerful 
strikes against enemy tank groupings attempting to relieve the encircled group¬ 
ing. German divisions managed to penetrate to the vicinity of Lisyanka at high 
cost, while the encircled troops pushed toward the latter near Shenderovka. The 
two formations were separated by a strip only 12 km wide. But they were unable 
to cross it. 

After hope for assistance from without was lost, the encircled fascist Ger¬ 
man troops attempted to break out of the encirclement independently. On the 
night of 17 February 1944 the.enemy troops formed into columns and began 
marching southwest form Shenderovka. Crews of the 312th Light Bomber Air 
Division led by Colonel V. P. Chanpalov constantly bombed the Hitlerite col¬ 
umns. Fleeing the air strikes, they fell under intense rocket artillery fire. Most 

150 





were annihilated, and only a small group of tanks and armored personnel carriers 
was able to break out of the encirclement during the intense hail of fire. The air 
blockade of the encircled enemy grouping was organized and maintained well, 
and there was much to be teamed from it. Following the experience of Stalin¬ 
grad, jointly with the 2nd Air Army commander. General S. A. Krasovskiy, and 
General L. G. Rybkin, commander of the X PVO FighterCorps, A. A. Novikov 
created four zones for destruction of enemy transport aviation attempting to sup¬ 
ply the encircled troops by air. German aviation was destroyed in the four zones 
by fighters from the 2nd Air Army and the X PVO Fighter Air Corps. Beyond 
the outer front of encirclement, airfields at Uman', Vinnitsa, and Nova-Ukrainka 
were struck. Enemy airfields and landing strips were struck simultaneously. The 
5th Air Army provided support to troops destroying the encircled enemy. 

Between 31 January and 18 February during the air blockade, our aviation 
shot down 257 enemy planes, including 31 transports. During the entire period 
of the destruction of the encircled grouping 457 fascist German planes were de¬ 
stroyed in air engagements and on the ground. 14 As a result of the air blockade, 
the encircled grouping was isolated and deprived of external assistance, which 
to a significant degree facilitated its liquidation. 


Some 49 tons of gasoline, 65 tons of ammunition, and 525 rockets for the 
guards mortars were delivered between 8 and 16 February to forward units of 
the 2nd and 6th tank armies by the 326th Night Bomber Air Division. This was 
invaluable assistance to troops operating in thaw conditions, when stuck vehicles 
cluttered the roads and tractors were not always able to travel. The Korsun'- 
Shevchenkovskiy operation ended. Some 55,000 German soldiers and officers 
were killed and wounded, and more than 18,000 were taken prisoner. 15 The Kor- 
sun’-Shevchenkovskiy operation entered the history of the Great Patriotic War 
as a remarkable example of encirclement and annihilation of a large enemy 
grouping. Once again the Soviet Army demonstrated its ability to conduct an 
encircling operation, which is one of the most complex forms of combat actions. 
Soviet aviation demonstrated its total superiority over enemy aviation, isolating 
the encircled grouping from external assistance by air. In the winter and spring 
of 1944 troops of the 1st, 2nd. 3rd, and 4th Ukrainian fronts with active air sup¬ 
port inflicted a major defeat on the enemy. The right-bank Ukraine was totally 
liberated. The Soviet Armed Forces entered the territory of Romania. In the first 
3 months of 1944 the Soviet Air Force flew more than 700,000 sorties and 
dropped thousands of tons of bombs on enemy targets. It destroyed 1,467 enemy 
planes in air engagements and on the ground . 16 

On 21 February 1944 a ukase of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium 
awarded the highest rank in aviation—chief marshal of aviation—to Aleksandr 
Aleksandrovich Novikov for his exemplary military service to the Communist 
Party and our socialist Motherland. 


151 



The Belorussian Operation 

In the winter and spring'of 1944 
the Soviet Armed Forces subjected the 
enemy to serious defeat and reached the 
eastern regions of the Baltic, Belorus- 
sia, the western oblasts of the Ukraine, 
and northeastern Romania. In the sec¬ 
ond half of April 1944 the Soviet Army 
halted its offensive by Stavka order. 

Troops of the 1st Belorussian and 1st 
Ukrainian fronts went over to the de¬ 
fensive on 17 April, troops of the 2nd 
Baltic Front went over to the defensive 
on 18 April, and troops of the Lenin¬ 
grad, 3rd Baltic, and 3rd and 2nd Be¬ 
lorussian fronts went over to the defen¬ 
sive on 19 April. An order was pub¬ 
lished on 22 April to strengthen de¬ 
fenses within the sector of the 1st Baltic 
Front, and on 6 May the 2nd and 3rd 
Ukrainian fronts went over to the defensive. Intense preparations began for the 
summer strategic offensive operations. In winter and spring 1944 the Soviet 
Union constantly increased its military might. In the first half of the year about 
14,000 medium and heavy tanks and self-propelled guns, 26,000 guns with 
calibers of 76 mm and higher, and more than 90,000,000 shells, bombs, and 
mortar shells were produced. In the first half of 1944 the aviation industry pro¬ 
duced 16,000 planes, which replenished losses and made it possible to form new 
VVS units and formations. 17 In the first 5 months of 1944 the number of aircraft 
in the army in the field increased 25 percent. 18 Multimillion-man armies con¬ 
tinued to oppose each other on a front 4,450 km long from the Barents to the 
Black Sea. The Soviet Army in the field had a strength of about 6.5 million men, 
83,200 guns and mortars, about 8,000 tanks and self-propelled guns, and 11,800 
combat aircraft. Troops of the fascist bloc on the Eastern front had 4 million men, 
about 49,000 guns and mortars, over 5,200 tanks and assault guns, and about 
2,800 combat aircraft. 19 Despite the landing of American and English troops in 
Northern France on 6 June 1944, the Soviet-German front continued to be the 
decisive front of the war. Fifty-six percent of all of the Wehrmacht’s ground 
forces were operating here, and if we include satellite troops the figure climbs 
to 63 percent. 20 

In summer 1944 the Communist Party and the Soviet government assigned 
the following mission to the Armed Forces—clear the occupiers from all Soviet 
land, and begin the liberation of the peoples of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bul¬ 
garia, and other European countries from fascist enslavement. 

The Belorussian operation occupies a special place among the offensive op¬ 
erations of the second half of 1944. Preparations for it began in spring 1944. 
152 




GeneralM. M.Gromov. 1st Air Army Commander, at a Combat Airfield. 


Its objective was the destruction of the German Army Group Center and libera¬ 
tion of the Belorussian SSR and its capital. Minsk. The plan for the Belorussian 
offensive operation was written by the General Staff and discussed in the Stavka 
on 22 and 23 May. Participants in the discussion included G. K. Zhukov. A. 

M. Vasilevskiy, I. Kh. Bagramyan. K. K. Rokossovskiy, A. A. Novikov. N. 

N. Voronov, N. D. Yakovlev, A. V.Khrulev, M. P. Vorob yev, I. T. Peresyp- 
kin, and A. I. Antonov. 21 On the 1,100 km front from Lake Nesherdo to Verba, 
the fascist German grouping in Belorussia was opposed by four Soviet fronts— 
the 1st Baltic and the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st Belorussian, as well as the Dnepr Naval 
Flotilla; Belorussian partisans were active in the enemy rear area. The main idea 
of the operation was to penetrate enemy defenses in six sectors using frontal 
strikes, encircle and annihilate the enemy flank groupings at Vitebsk and Bo- 
bruysk, destroy enemy troops near Orsha and Mogilev, and, by a swift maneuver 
of troops of the 3rd and 1st Belorussian fronts in the general direction of Minsk, 
encircle and annihilate the German 4th Army. Partisan activity was to be coordi¬ 
nated with the powerful strikes of the four fronts from the east. 

The Soviet Supreme High Command concentrated the main Air Force 
grouping of five air armies in the central sector of the front: the 3rd Air Army 
(commander General N. F. Papivin), the 1st Air Army (commander General T. 
T. Khyrukin), the 4th Air Army (commanderGeneral K. A. Vershinin), and the 
16th Air Army (commander GeneralS. I. Rudenko). 

The 6th Air Army under the command of General F. P. Polynin operated 
in the second phase of the operation on the left wing of the 1 st Belorussian Front; 
back in April this air army had been assigned to the front (the 3rd Guards Ground 
Attack Air Division, the 242nd Night Bomber Air Division, and two independ¬ 
ent air regiments). In all, these five air armies possessed about 6,000 planes, 

153 




including more than 1.100 day and night bombers and 2,000 ground attack air¬ 
craft, 22 In addition, eight Long-Range Aviation corps were allocated—about 
1,000 bombers. 

Fascist German troops of Army Group center were supported by air forma¬ 
tions of the 6th Air Fleet, which had 1.342 combat aircraft. 2 ' Its air squadrons 
were based at airfield complexes at Minsk. Baranovichi, and Bobruysk. Placing 
aviation closer to the center of the Belorussian salient, the fascist German com¬ 
mand intended to employ it as the most mobile reserve in any sector of the front 
from Vitebsk to Kovel’. 

Thus the air situation evolved favorably for our VVS at the outset of the 
Belorussian operation. The VVS had the opportunity for successfully making 
powerful strikes against the enemy and actively supporting the ground forces of¬ 
fensive. The Soviet Army Air Force commander sent a directive to all air armies 
at the beginning of June 1944 concerning the results of Air Force activities in 
the winter and spring of 1944 and the missions of the summer. The directive con¬ 
tained a detailed analysis of shortcomings, it explained their causes, and it 
proved specific instructions on how to correct them. Flight crews were ordered 
to constantly study their targets, and air staffs were encouraged to work more 
carefully on the planning tables of coordination of aviation with tank and 
mechanized formations, especially at the time of the latter's commitment to the 
encounter and in actions in the operational depth. In July 1944 all fighter division 
commanders, their deputies, chiefs of staff, and supervisors on air army staffs 
were ordered to acquaint themselves with the work of fighter air corps (or divi¬ 
sion) command posts and gain the practical skills of controlling aviation in the 
air by radio. It was recommended that ground attack aviation be controlled over 
the battlefield in acc\,^ance with the principle of fighter aviation control. Air 
army commanders were categorically prohibited from controlling the sorties and 
actions of individual groups of aircraft. Instead, it was recommended that they 
assign specific missions only toaircorps and divisions, granting them the author¬ 
ity to manage the lower echelons. The chiefs of staff of the air armies and air 
corps were obligated to visit their subordinate staffs systematically and provide 
concrete assistance to them in planning and organizing command and control. 

A fighter air corps or division was io be assigned by special order in each 
air army to counter enemy aviation, and radio resources were to be provided. 
The fight was not be be limited to air engagements. Strikes against airfields were 
to be mandatory. 24 . 

In compliance with a Stavka decision. Stavka representatives traveled to 
the front to coordinate the efforts of frontal troops and aviation in the operation— 
on 5 June, Marshal of the Soviet Union G K Zhukov to cwrdinate the actions 
of the 1st and 2nd Belorussian fronts and. somewhat later. Chief Marshal of Avi¬ 
ation A. A. Novikov. Marshal of the Soviet Union A. M. Vasilevskiy and Stavka 
aviation representative General F Ya. Falaleyev reached the 1st Baltic and 3rd 
Belorussian fronts on 4 June The hard work of preparing for the operation went 
on for 22 days in all air units and formations. Ten air corps and eight air divisions 
154 


arrived in the first half of June to reinforce the air armies. Their deployment re¬ 
quired the construction of 70 airfields. They were built by airfield engineering 
units from aviation rear services under the supervision of air army chiefs of rear 
services generals I. M. Giller, V. N. Uspenskiy, P. V. Korotayev. A. S. Kiril¬ 
lov, and 1.1. Semenov. 

The 1st Air Army, 3rd Belorussian Front and the 16th Air Army, 1st Be¬ 
lorussian Front received the largest numbers of reinforcements. For • xample, 
in May and June the 1st Guards and the 273rd Fighter air divisions returned to 
the 16th Air Army after being brought back up to strength. New units included 
the VIII Fighter Air Corps (commander General A. S. Osipenko), the IV Ground 
Attack Air Corps (commander General G. F. Baydukov), the 132nd Bomber Air 
[^vision (commander General I. L. Fedorov), the 300th Ground Attack Air Divi¬ 
sion (commander Colonel T. Ye. Kovalev), and the 19th Independent Fighter 
Air Regiment (commander Colonel P. F. Chupikov). All of them were directly 
subordinate to the Soviet Army Air Force commander. The air regiment was 
manned by top-class aces and outfitted with the latest fighters. 25 Seventy percent 
of all planes and all day bombers (three air corps and two independent air divi¬ 
sions) were in the 1 st and 16th air armies. Such massing of forces was in keeping 
with the concept of the Belorussian operation. 

The political organs and party organizations of the air armies and air forma¬ 
tions and units did a great deal of fruitful work. Prior to the offensive a confer¬ 
ence of unit supervisory personnel and active party and Komsomol members was 
held. All indoctrination was conducted in the spirit of selfless devotion to the 
socialist fatherland and hatred of the fascist German occupiers Much attention 
was devoted to increasing Communist Party membership. Communists had the 
leading role in preparing the units and formations, and they cemented the ranks 
of the airmen. 

A group of generals and officers from the VVS staff directorates, including 
generals I. L. Turkel’, P. P. Ionov, G. K. Gvozdkov, and B. V. Sterligov, was 
sent to the 16th Air Army by order of the VVS commander to render assistance 
in basing the formations, organizing command and control. and putting logistical 
support in order. During preparations for the operation, in several days of actual 
flying the organization of massed strikes by bomber air corps was worked out 
at airfields in the rear area. This work was headed jointly by General S. 1. 
Rudenko, commander of the 16th Air Army, and General B. V. Sterligov. Soviet 
Army Air Force chief navigator. This was the first experience in bringing to¬ 
gether and forming entire bomber corps in the air. After detailed analysis of all 
the positive and negative aspects of this measure, the decision was made that 
it would be more advantageous to make a massed strike against ground targets 
by the forces of divisions and air regiments. 

Plans were outlined for a powerful large-scale air offensive during the oper¬ 
ation. Enemy fortifications in the breakthrough sectors were to be razed by 
bomber strikes on the night prior to the offensive, and at the beginning of the 
attack enemy fire positions on the battlefield, artillery, and reserves were to be 

155 


destroyed in coordination with the ground troops in place and in time. Significant 
forces were allotted to maintain air supremacy. During the preparations for the 
operation, aviation had the important mission of conducting air reconnaissance. 
Dependable data had to be acquired on the composition and grouping of fascist 
troops, on 'he nature of their defensive structures, and on the locations of fire 
positions. Long before the beginning of the operation from 30 to 50 percent of 
all sorties were flown with this goal. Photography of terrain in the breakthrough 
sectors permitted combined arms commanders to study all details of the disposi¬ 
tion of enemy defenses beforehand. 

The air armies provided a great deal of assistance to partisan detachments 
and formations by delivering armament, ammunition, and food to them and 
evacuating casualties. Aviation provided fire support to partisans in their en¬ 
gagements with punitive detachments in the vicinity of Ushache, Lepel', 
Borisov, and Begoml'. 

By 20 June 1944 the bulk of the planning work for the powerful air offensive 
and preparing the units and formations for the operation was completed. Frontal 
Aviation and Long-Range Aviation were assigned the following missions: firmly 
maintaining air supremacy; supporting frontal troops in their penetration of 
enemy defenses, encirclement, and destruction of the Vitebsk and Bobruysk 
groupings, and encirclement and annihilation of the main forces of Army Group 
Center east of Minsk; preventing the approach of enemy reserves to the 
battlefield and disorganizing westward retreat of enemy troops, constantly con¬ 
ducting air reconnaissance. 

Because the 1st Belorussian Front was to make two thrusts simultaneously 
(in the Rogachev-Bobruysk and Parichi sectors), the forces of the 16th Air Army 
were divided into two groups. Thirteen air divisions were placed in the northern 
group and seven in the southern. 26 Formations of the 1st Air Army. 3rd Belorus¬ 
sian Front were also divided into two groups. Six air divisions were to operate 
in the Bogushevsk sector, and 11 in the Orsha sector. 27 

In the 3rd and 4th air armies, all aviation was to be used in the sectors of 
the main thrusts of the 1st Baltic and 2nd Belorussian fronts. The time for the 
1st Belorussian Front to go over to the offensive was postponed I day by Stavka 
decision so that the efforts of Long-Range Aviation could be concentrated suc¬ 
cessively in support of the advance of the four fronts. Thus all Long-Range Avi¬ 
ation forces could be concentrated initially to support the 1st Baltic and the 3rd 
and 2nd Belorussian fronts, and then they could be transferred to the zone of 
operations of troops of the 1st Belorussian Front. We can see from this that the 
Stavka attached great significance to the actions of our aviation. 

‘‘A. A. Novikov, A. Ye. Golovanov, S. I. Rudenko, and K. A. Vershinin 
and I,” writes Marshal of the Soviet Union G. K. Zhukov in his memoirs, "thor¬ 
oughly discussed the situation, the goals, missions, and plans for employing air 
armies and their coordination with Long-Range Aviation, the strikes of which 
were aimed at the headquarters, the communication centers of major operational 
156 



field forces, reserves, and other vital targets. In addition we examined the prob¬ 
lems of maneuvering Frontal Aviation in the interests of all.” 2 * 

At A. A. Novikov’s suggestion and with the approval of Marshal of the 
Soviet Union G. K. Zhukov, 10 days before the start of the operation Long- 
Range Aviation conducted an air operation lasting 4 nights with the objective 
of destroying enemy planes on the ground. Between 13 and 18 June seven enemy 
airfields were struck—Brest. Belostok, Orsha. Minsk, Baranovichi. Bobruysk. 
and Luninets—where up to 60 percent of the 6th Air Fleet's aircraft were based. 
Fleavy bombers flew 1,472 sorties to accomplish this mission. 24 

Problems of employing Long-Range Aviation directly in the Belorussian 
offensive operation were refined by A. Ye. Golovanov with the front command¬ 
ers and staffs. 

On 14 and 15 June 1944 the 1st Belorussian Front commander had the 65th 
and 28th armies rehearse the forthcoming operation forG. K. Zhukov. A minia¬ 
ture reproduction of the sector of the front where the operation was to take place 
was prepared in the forest, away from the roads. The front line boundaries be¬ 
tween combined arms armies and divisions, and all targets, pockets and re¬ 
sources of resistance were depicted. Army, division, and regiment commanders 
demonstrated their decisions right there on the terrain and answered G. K. 
Zhukov’s questions. This allowed the command to “play out” the planned oper¬ 
ations with commanders at all levels and work out all details of coordination in 
a situation as close to real as possible. 

Aerial preparation for the offensive began on the night of 23 June in the 
breakthrough sectors of the 1st Baltic and the 3rd and 2nd Belorussian fronts. 
Some 147 long-range bombers operated within the breakthrough sectors of the 
3rd Belorussian Front, and 258 operated within the breakthrough sectors of the 
2nd Belorussian Front. 30 In addition female pilots of the 46th Guards Taman' 
Night Bomber Regiment led by Major Ye. D. Bershanskaya operated success¬ 
fully on the 2nd Belorussian Front. 

Prior to the infantry attack in the Orsha sector. 162 bombers made a concen¬ 
trated strike against enemy pockets of resistance. 11 

The bomber strikes were followed by continuous actions by ground attack 
planes, which destroyed gun positions hindering the advance of our infantrymen 
and tanks and annihilated enemy reserves. In the initial days pilots of the three 
air armies flew more than 4,500 combat sorties, fought in 42 air engagements, 
and shot down 19 enemy planes. 12 General F. Ya. Faiaeyev, the Stavka aviation 
representative to the 1st Baltic and 3rd Belorussian fronts, coordinated the ac¬ 
tions of air formations from the 3rd and 1st air armies. While an enemy grouping 
encircled west of Vitebsk was being mopped up, at his direction the efforts of 
the 3rd Air Army were concentrated on the outer front of encirclement while part 
of the forces of the 1st Air Army assisted in the fastest possible liquidation of 
the enemy grouping by means of air strikes. When it became necessary in early 

157 







July to intensify air support to troops of the 1st Baltic Front, Stavka representa¬ 
tives Marshal of the Soviet Union A. M. Vasilevskiy and General F. Ya. 
Falaleyev decided to transfer a few air formations from the 1st Air Army to the 
3rd; these formations played a major role in making the offensive of the front's 
troops successful," 

On 24 June, when troops of the 1st Belorussian Front went over to the offen¬ 
sive. the scope of air force actions increased even more. Some 303 long-range 
bombers participated in the night aerial preparation, and 250 sorties were flown 
by two night bomber air divisions from the 16th Air Army. 14 During the day 
of 24 June, at 1200 and 1700 hours, bomber and ground attack aviation from 
the 16th Air Army made two massed strikes on defensive strongpoints in the vi¬ 
cinity of Bol’shaya Krushinovka and Tikhinichi. The massed bomber strikes, 
combined with echeloned actions by ground attack planes, had a strong impact 
on fascist German troops, causing significant losses and reducing the stability 
of enemy defenses. Tactical lines of defense were broken on all fronts on 25 and 
26 June, and mobile groups were committed to the breakthrough. Supporting 
and covering these groups became the main mission of our aviation. One 
bomber, one ground attack, and two fighter air corps coordinated with the 5th 
Guards Tank Army, 3rd Belorussian Front. Air corps commander General V. 
A. Ushakov was present at the forward command post with an operations group 
of corps staff officers. With air support, troops of the 5th Guards Tank Army 
achieved firm control of the Moscow-Minsk highway and rail line and began 
swift pursuit of the enemy in the Borisov sector. On the 1st Belorussian Front, 
two air corps—ground attack and fighter-coordinated with a mechanized cavalry 
group, and one ground attack and one fighter division coordinated with the tank 
corps. Bomber corps were employed as a powerful fire reserve intended for 
strikes against the most important targets within the zone of advance of the 
front’s troops Ground attack air formations struck enemy troops and equipment 
in groups of 9-12 planes at the request of aviation representatives at forward con¬ 
trol posts within the tank and mechanized corps combat formations. General B. 
S. Bakhirev, commander of the IX Tank Corps, wrote the following in a tele¬ 
gram to the 16th Air Army commander on 26 June: "Please extend my gratitude 
to Colonel N.S. Vinogradov, commander of the 199th Ground Attack Air Divi¬ 
sion, and to all personnel of his division for their outstanding support to the IX 
Tank Corps. ’ v,s 

Beginning on 26 June the fascist German troops began to withdraw along 
the entire front. Successfully exploiting the offensive at operational depth, tank 
and mechanized formations encircled the German troops. By 27 June, troops of 
the 1st Belorussian Front encircled troops of the German XXXV Army Corps 
in an area southeast of Bobruysk. According to air intelligence the corps had 
been preparing for a breakthrough, concentrating tanks, artillery, and motor ve¬ 
hicles on the Zhlobin-Titovka road with the hope of quickly ramming through 
the hastily occupied defenses of the XI Tank Corps. G. K. Zhukov and A. A. 
Novikov were present at General K. K. Rokossovskiy’s forward command post. 
Discussing the situation, A. A. Novikov suggested making a massed air strike 
to foil the enemy's plans. G. K. Zhukov agreed with this suggestion and ordered 
158 




its immediate implementation. Here is how Marshal of Aviation S I. Rudenko 
describes this episode: “At 1700 hours Colonel M. N. Kozhevnikov, who was 
accompanying the VVS commander, telephoned the 16th Air Army staff and re¬ 
ported that G. K. Zhukov, A. A. Novikov, and K. K. Rokossovskiy were aware 
of the critical situation in the vicinity of Titovka. and that they intended to order 
aviation to destroy the enemy column." 16 

Together with General P. I. Brayko, army chief of staff General S. 1. 
Rudenko immediately issued instructions to the air corps and division command¬ 
ers. Some 523 planes took off. The massed strike lasted an hour and a half. More 
than 160 tons of bombs were dropped, and tens of thousands of shells were fired 
Our air strike was extremely successful. Some 150 tanks, 6.000 motor vehicles, 
and much artillery were destroyed and put out of action near the encircled group¬ 
ing southeast of Bobruy sk. 17 

Marshal of the Soviet Union G. K. Zhukov wrote the following in this re¬ 
gard: “I did not have the opportunity of observing the liquidation of the enemy 
at Bobruysk, but 1 was able to witness the defeat of Germans southeast of the 
city. Coordinating with the 48th Army, hundreds of bombers from S. I. 
Rudenko’s 16th Army made strike after strike against the enemy group. Fires 
appeared on the battlefield. Dozens of motor vehicles and tanks and POLs were 
burning. The entire battlefield was wreathed in the sinister flames. Orienting 
themselves b> the light, more and more echelons of our bombers continued to 
approach, dropping bombs of different calibers on the enemy. German soldiers 
were scattering in all directions like madmen, and those who refused to be taken 
prisoner died on the spot. Hundreds and thousands of German soldiers, deceived 
by Hitler, who had promised a lightning victory against the Soviet Union. 
died.’’ 18 

A. A. Novikov sent the following telegram to 16th Air Army flight crews: 
“Asa result of the offensive southeast of Bobruysk our troops encircled a large 
enemy grouping. ... In order to crush the enemy and force him to surrender, 
on 27 June 1944 from 1815 to 2100 hours aviation of the 16th Air Army, 523 
planes strong, made a massed bomber and ground attack strike, against the 
enemy grouping encircled southeast of Bobruysk. As a result of the successful 
air strike, the encircled enemy grouping was fragmented, and what was left of 
it on the night of 28 June was annihilated and captured by the ground troops. 
A large quantity of damaged enemy equipment and masses of corpses of German 
soldiers and officers remained on the battlefield in the area subjected to the air 
strike. Thus air units accomplished their mission in an outstanding manner, for 
which I extend my gratitude to all personnel who particpated in the massed 
strike—pilots, navigators, and radio operator-gunners. This telegram is to be 
brought to the attention of all personnel in 16th Air Army air units. ” w 


The massed air strike against the encircled grouping was a clear demonstra¬ 
tion of the growing combat capabilities of our Air Force and competent leader¬ 
ship by the VVS commander, the 16th Air Army commander, and the command- 

159 



ersof the air corps, divisions, and regiments. Troops of the 1 st Belorussian Front 
with active air support captured Bobruysk on 29 June. 

Air formations of the 1st and 4th air armies participated with the front’s 
troops in the destruction of enemy groupings encircled in a forest southeast of 
Minsk. Reconnaissance aircraft flew at low altitude, and revealed the disposi¬ 
tions of the enemy faultlessly, and they immediately radioed their intelligence 
data to air control posts. On the basis of the information provided by the air 
scouts, groups of ground attack aircraft and bombers took off and struck enemy 
troops. 

Belorussian SSR Communist Party Central Committtee Secretary P. K. 
Ponomarenko reported the following to Marshal of the Soviet Union A. M. Vasi- 
levskiy on 12 September 1944: “We recently discovered and reconnoitered a 
huge reinforced German camp southeast of Minsk that had been completely de¬ 
stroyed by our ground attack aviation. The scale of the destruction and the signs 
of the power of our air fleet evident in this area make a sobering impression. 
On being informed that Minsk had been taken, one of the Germa-i groups built 
a fortified region, where more than 11,000 Germans, several hundred tanks, 
many guns, and more than 5,000 armored vehicles dug in. Our 14th Ground At¬ 
tack Stalingrad Red Banner Division discovered and destroyed this grouping. 
There were 5,000 corpses of German soldiers and officers, more than 5.000 
burned-out vehicles, and a large quantity of destroyed ammunition in the camp 
within the area inspected. . . . Informing you of this, we request that the 14th 
Ground Attack Stalingrad Red Banner Division, its commanders, and its flight 
crews be recognized appropriately.” 40 The Soviet government awarded orders 
to many of this division’s commanders and pilots. 

The actions of our aviation to destroy the encircled enemy grouping in the 
area southeast of Bobruysk were analyzed, synthesized, and subsequently 
studied in all air armies with the goal of making practical use of this experience. 

By this time the Vitebsk, Orsha, and Mogilev enemy groupings had been 
totally destroyed. Tank formations of the 3rd and 1st Belorussian fronts began 
to advance quickly toward Minsk The new mission of our aviation was to cover 
and support the advancing troops and pursue the enemy. In the vicinity of Be- 
rezino the withdrawing fascist German troops were subjected to massed strikes 
by the 4th and 16th air armies. Between 28 and 30 June they flew more than 
3,000 sorties. 41 Berezina River crossings were systematically destroyed by our 
aviation, and our ground attack aircraft made effective strikes against German 
troops pinned down on the river’s east bank. Between 29 June and 3 July the 
4th and 16th air armies flew more than 4,000 sorties against withdrawing enemy 
troops. 42 Preventing rapid withdrawal of fascist German troops beyond the Be¬ 
rezina, our aviation thus promoted their encirclement east of Minsk. On 3 July 
1944 Soviet troops liberated Minsk. The Belorussian offensive operation was 
successful due to the coordinated actions of three main forces—tank formations 
encircling a large grouping of German troops east of Minsk from the north and 
south and reaching the grouping's rear area; rifle formations operating from the 
160 



front; Frontal Aviation and Long-Range Aviation blocking the retreat of the Ger¬ 
man 4th Army to Minsk. 

After the liberation of Minsk the offensive of the Soviet troops, actively 
supported by our aviation, unfolded along a broad front and progressed at a fast 
pace in the directions of Vil’nyus, Belostok,* and Brest. Troops of the 2nd Be¬ 
lorussian Front liquidated encircled enemy groupings east of Minsk. 

By mid-July 1944 Soviet troops had traveled far to the west. The Belorus¬ 
sian salient was cut off. Pilots of Polish air units formed with the assistance of 
the Soviet Union fought with Soviet pilots in the concluding stage of the Belorus¬ 
sian operations and later in engagements for the complete liberation of Poland. 
On 14 August the 1st Warsaw Fighter Regiment, flying Yak-Is and the 2nd 
Krakow Night Bomber Air Regiment, flying Po-2s, joined the front. 43 The 
Polish 4th Composite Air Division (commander Colonel G. P. Turykin) was 
formed at the end of 1944. It consisted of three air regiments—the 1st Fighter, 
the 2nd Light Bomber, and the 3rd Ground Attack. The I Composite Air Corps 
(commander General F. A. Agal’tsov) consisting of the Polish 1st Bomber Air 
Division, the Polish 2nd Ground Attack Air Division, and the Polish 3rd Fighter 
Air Division, was formed in the beginning of 1945. The Polish Air Force flew 
more than 6,000 sorties on the Soviet-German front between the second half of 
August 1944 and the end of the war. 44 

The Belorussian operation ended on 29 August. With air support, Soviet 
troops in the Belorussian operation soundly defeated Army Group Center, 
moved west 550-600 km, and liberated the Belorussian SSR, a large part of the 
Lithuanian SSR, part of the Latvian SSR, and eastern Poland. The following 
cities were liberated: Orsha on 27 June, Bobruysk on 29 June, Borisov on 1 July, 
Minsk on 3 July, Vil’nyus on 13 July, Lublin on 24 July, Belostok on 27 July, 
Brest on 28 July, Kaunas on 1 August, and others. 


The Soviet Air Force pounded encircled enemy groupings with crushing air 
strikes at Vitebsk, Bobruysk, Minsk, Kaunas, Vil'nyus, and other places. With 
active support from ground attack aviation, troops of the fronts made rapid as¬ 
sault crossings over a number of large water obstacles—the Vistula, Neman, 
Narev, and Berezina. Soviet pilots firmly maintained air supremacy, preventing 
enemy aviation from striking the troops and targets in the rear area. During the 
operation Frontal Aviation and Long-Range Aviation flew 153,545 sorties, 
while PVO Aviation flew 3,166 sorties. 45 Never in previous operations had the 
combat actions of the Soviet Air Force achieved such great scope. Two thousand 
fascist German planes were destroyed in air engagements and on the ground. 


Statements by captured German officers about the actions of our aviation 
in the Belorussian operation are interesting. Officers of the General Staff of the 


(City in Poland also referred to as Bialystok—U.S. Ed.) 


161 





Marshal of Aviation F. A. Vo- 
rozheykin. 


Marshal of Aviation F. Ye 
Falaleyev. 


260th Infantry Division, captured on 11 July 1944, stated the following in their 
interrogation: “Between 26 June and 4 July 1944 the columns with which we 
were traveling were subjected to frequent air raids on the entire route to Minsk; 
troops and transportation en route suffered a great deal from this. When planes 
appeared, the soldiers scattered off the roads into the forests and fields, the col¬ 
umns ran into one another and became confused, and intense panic arose, which 
aggravated our situation even more and facilitated the actions of aviation. The 
perpetual raids recurred every half hour to hour, hindering the actions of the 
troops. . . 

The military councils of the fronts and armies gave a high assessment to 
the actions of our air corps and divisions. Here, for example, is the evaluation 
made by the 65th Army Military Council (commander Colonel General P. I. 
Batov. Military Council member General N. A. Radetskiy, Army chief of staff 
General M V Bobkov) of the actions of the VIII Bobruysk Red Banner Fighter 
Air Corps “Fighter aviation of the VIII Fighter Air Corps covered the opera¬ 
tional concentration of the troops by its active operations during preparations for 
pen ,‘tration of enemy defenses During the Bobruysk operation units of the VIII 
Fighter Air Corps supported the 65th Army as it penetrated enemy defenses, 
exploited the success in depth, and encircled and annihilated the enemy in the 
vicinity ot Bobruysk 

General A S Osipenko. VIII Fighter Air Corps commander, was person¬ 
ally present at the command post in direct proximity to the 65th Army command 
post, thus ensuring that planes would be sent to the battlefield efficiently and 
162 




that control of the planes would be reliable. The bold and decisive actions c f 
VIII Fighter Air Corps personnel ensured the success of the ground troops. T 
65th Army Military Council expresses gratitude to all personnel for the brave*, 
and heroism they displayed. ” 47 The Motherland placed great value on the mili¬ 
tary deeds of the Soviet airmen. The title Hero of the Soviet Union was awarded 
to 53 pilots and navigators of the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 16th air armies by a 
ukase of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet. 

The Soviet Air Force actions in the Belorussian operation introduced many 
innovations into Air Force operational art and tactics. The experience of concen¬ 
trating the main air grouping in the central sector of the Soviet-German front was 
highly instructive. Of special interest are the measures implemented by the com¬ 
mand to covertly move air units and formations first to airfields quite far removed 
from the front line and then to airfields in the combat zone prior to the beginning 
of combat actions. There were many interesting aspects to the organization of 
coordination between air armies as well as between Frontal Aviation and Long- 
Range Aviation. This coordination was organized by Stavka aviation representa¬ 
tives. It was distinguished by flexibility in the transfer of aviation forces along 
the front by switching air formations from one air army to another, and through 
switching VVS efforts from one sector to another without changing bases. In 
this case decisions on maneuvering the aviation forces were made on the spot 
by Stavka representatives. 

The problem of air support to and cover of tank, mechanized, and cavalry 
formations was solved somewhat differently. Several air corps and independent 
air divisions operated in support of the tank army as it was committed to the 
breakthrough and as it exploited success in depth; control was concentrated in 
the hands of one of the air corps commanders. Centralized control of aviation 
made it possible to transfer air formations quickly to accomplish newly arising 
combat missions. Fighter aviation typically employed the "free hunting" strate¬ 
gy with the mission of not only destroying enemy planes in the air, but also motor 
vehicles, railroad trains, and other small targets. Ground attack aviation was em¬ 
ployed extensively by actions of groups of ground attack aircraft in accordance 
with a previously developed schedule in short intervals of 10-20 minutes, as well 
as with aircraft on air and ground alert. 

As our swift offensive developed in the central sector, the Soviet Army with 
the active support of aviation, struck the enemy hard on the southern wing of 
the Soviet-German front and in the Baltic. In the period from July to November 
1944 the Soviet Army cleared the occupiers from the Moldavian SSR and its cap¬ 
ital, Kishinev, and captured the major industrial region of Ploesti and Romania’s 
capital, Bucharest. In September it entered Bulgaria, completed the liberation 
of Romania, Bulgaria, and almost all of the Baltic republics, reached the Vistula, 
and captured three beachheads on its left bank. 


Pilots in Czechoslovak and Romanian units and formations formed and 

163 




Marshal of Aviation S. A. 
Khudyakov. 


General A. V. Nikitin. 


armed with the assistance of the Soviet Union fought valorously together with 
Soviet aviation within the 2nd, 8th and 17th air armies. The Czechoslovak 1st 
Fighter Regiment began its combat history as part of the 2nd Air Army in July 

1944. In September 1944 Czechoslovak pilots were redeployed to the vicinity 
of Zvolen. There, in the enemy rear area, they remained for more than a month, 
actively supporting Slovak rebels. Later the Czechoslovak 1 st Composite Air Di¬ 
vision was created, armed, and trained in the Soviet Union. Fighting together 
with Soviet airmen, Czechoslovak pilots flew more than 1,400 sorties and de¬ 
stroyed about 50 fascist planes before the end of the war. 48 

Romanian Air Force pilots took part in completing the defeat of enemy 
troops and liberating Romania. In coordination with troops of the 2nd Ukrainian 
Front, the Romanian I Air Corps flew 2,500 combat sorties and shot down 100 
fascist planes in air engagements between 24 August and 25 October 1944 at 
Bucharest and in Transylvania. 49 

To support the People’s Liberation Army of Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav 1st 
Fighter Regiment and the 2nd Ground Attack Air Regiment were formed in 

1945, after which they left for Yugoslavia. Prior to this, in accordance with an 
agreement signed 15 November 1944 the Soviet Union subordinated a Soviet 
air group commanded by General A. N. Vitruk to the People’s Liberation Army 
of Yugoslavia command for an indefinite period of time. It included the 10th 
Guards Ground Attack Air Division, the 236th Fighter Air Division, and the 9th 
Aviation Base Area with all of its materiel, armament, and technical and admin¬ 
istrative resources to support them. The Soviet air group provided considerable 
164 



assistance to the People’s Liberation Army of Yugoslavia in its fight against fas¬ 
cist German troops. 50 

The Normandie Independent Fighter Air Regiment of the Fighting French 
took an active part in the battles of Belorussia. In October 1944 the regiment 
received the honorary title Neman for its successful combat actions while sup¬ 
porting and covering troops crossing the Neman River. It was renamed the 1st 
Normandie-Neman Independent French Fighter Air Regiment. On 5 July 1943 
the French air squadron became the 1 st Normandie Independent Fighter Air Reg¬ 
iment of the fighting French (regiment commander—Major Pierre Pouyade and, 
as of 28 October 1944, Major Louis Delfmo). Soviet Air Force officers assigned 
to the regiment were Captain I. V. Shurakhov as chief of staff and Captain- 
Engineer S. D. Agavelyan as regimental senior engineer. The reason was that 
French aircraft mechanics had been called to North Africa in August 1943, and 
so the engineers, technicians, and staff had to be replaced by Soviet servicemen. 
The French regiment was armed with the newest Yak-9 fighters, which had bet¬ 
ter technical flight characteristics than the Yak-1 (higher rate of climb, better 
maneuverability, and a speed of about 600 km per hour). In summer and fall 
1944 the air regiment’s pilots fought in 78 air engagements and shot down 129 
enemy planes. 51 The regiment’s personnel were awarded many Soviet orders for 
exemplary accomplishment of the Soviet Command’s combat assignments in the 
fight against the fascist German occupiers and for the valor and bravery dis¬ 
played. 

On 8 September 1944, when troops of the 3rd Ukrainian Front entered Bul¬ 
garia with the active support of the 17th Air Army, Bulgarian pilots joined the 
fight against the fascist invaders as well. Between September and November 
1944 they flew 4,400 combat sorties. 52 

During the operation the Soviet Air Force provided significant support to 
the ground forces in their missions. The Communist Party and Soviet govern¬ 
ment gave a high assessment to the activities of the Soviet Army Air Force com¬ 
mand and staff. On 19 August 1944 a ukase of the Presidium of the USSR Su¬ 
preme Soviet awarded the rank of marshal of aviation to VVS deputy command¬ 
ers G. A. Vorozheykin, F. Ya. Falaleyev, andS. A. Khudyakov. A. V. Nikitin 
was promoted to colonel general of aviation, and N. I. Krolenko and N. A. 
Zhuravlev to lieutenant general of aviation. This ukase also awarded the highest 
rank of chief marshal of aviation to A. Ye. Golovanov, the Long-Range Aviation 
commander, and the rank of marshal of aviation to his deputy, N. S. Skripko. 

In the summer of 1944 American aviation conducted “shuttle” air opera¬ 
tions from Soviet airfields in accordance with a treaty signed by the governments 
of the U.S. and the Soviet Union. As we know, the U.S. 8th and 15th air forces 
and British Long-Range Aviation were operating in Europe as of the beginning 
of 1944. American aviation was based on English and Italian airfields, and it 
operated with fighter escort against targets in Germany and allied countries, 
mainly during the day. The RAF operated at night. Because of limited range, 
American fighter escorts could not reach targets in eastern Germany and in the 

165 


countries of eastern Europe. Thus 
representatives of the American dele¬ 
gation to the foreign ministers' con¬ 
ference in the fall of 1943 in Moscow 
asked the Soviet government to pro¬ 
vide airfields for American aviation 
on the territory of the USSR. The 
Soviet government responded favora¬ 
bly to this request. The Soviet Army 
Air Force commander received in¬ 
structions from the Supreme High 
Command to prepare the bases and 
provide air engineering and logistical 
support to the American air group in 
the USSR. For this purpose, as well as 
to resolve issues associated with com¬ 
bat actions initiated from Soviet terri¬ 
tory by air units of Poland, France, 
and Czechoslovakia, a special section 
and later a VVS directorate (director¬ 
ate chief General S. D. Levan- 
dovich) was created on the Soviet Army Air Force staff and subordinated directly 
to General A. V. Nikitin, a Soviet Army Air Force deputy commander. 

On 4 February 1944 the State Defense Committee published instructions 
to the VVS command providing basic guidelines for housing and feeding Ameri¬ 
can pilots and supplying fuel and bombs to the air bases. 53 It was assumed that 
up to 360 B-I7 (Flying Fortress) and B-24 (Liberator) bombers and up to 150- 
200 escort fighters would participate in the “shuttle” operations. The Poltava 
airfield complex, which consisted of the airfields at Poltava, Mirgorod. and 
Piryatin, was allocated to American aviation. The 169th Special Purpose Air 
Base was formed to maintain them. General A. R. Perminov was assigned as 
commander. Lieutenant Colonel II. Kolesnikov as deputy commander for polit¬ 
ical affairs, General S. K. Kovalev as chief of staff. Major N. F. Shchepankov 
as chief of the operations section, and Major-Engineer K. A. Stroganov as chief 
of the airfield complex. The Poltava airfield complex was covered from the air 
by the 310th PVO Fighter Air Division (commander Colonel A T. Kostenko) 
and by an antiaircraft artillery unit of the VI PVO Corps. With the permission 
of the Soviet government General F. Anderson. U S. Air Force deputy com¬ 
mander in the European theater, came to Poltava on 15 May with a group includ¬ 
ing Captain Elliott Roosevelt, the son of U S. President F. Roosevelt. General 
Anderson gave a favorable rating to the air base preparations made. 54 

At the end of May 1944 preparations of the air base for receiving the Ameri¬ 
can pilots were completed. In accordance with the treaty, the first 'shuttle'' air 
operation by American aviation was scheduled for 2 June 1944 The Americans 
were to take off from Italian airfields, strike enemy targets in Southeastern 
Europe, and then land at the Poltava airfield complex. Early in the morning of 
166 




Chief Marshal of Aviation A. Ye. 
Golovanov. 


Marshal of Aviation N. S 
Skripko. 


2 June up to 750 planes of the American 15th Air Force took off from airfields 
in Italy and struck their assigned enemy targets. Some of them returned to their 
own bases, and 128 B-17 bombers escorted by 64 P-51 fighters (Mustangs) with 
Lieutenant General I. Eaker, commander of the 15th Air Force, in charge landed 
at the Soviet airfields. As General A. V. Nikitin recalls, an extremely warm wel¬ 
come was organized for the American pilots at the airfields Logistical, special, 
and medical support to arriving Allied aviation was organized at a high level. 
Later, "shuttle” air operations were conducted on 6 June in coordination with 
Soviet aviation against targets near Galati, with recovery at Italian airfields. On 
11 July more than 1,000 planes struck military targets in Romania and Yugo¬ 
slavia, some of them landing at airfields near Poltava after their mission. The 
American 8th Air Force performed a "shuttle" air operation from English air¬ 
fields against industrial targets in Berlin on 21 June 1944. Of the 2.500 American 
aircraft participating in the operation, 137 bombers escorted by 62 fighters 
landed at the Poltava airfield complex. 

Fascist German aviation intensified its air reconnaissance whenever Ameri¬ 
can aviation landed at our airfields. On the night of 22 June 1944 it struck Poltava 
and Mirgorod airfields and, despite intense antiaircraft fire and the actions of 
night fighters covering these airfields, 44 American and 15 Soviet planes were 
destroyed and put out of action on the airfields. It should be noted that, by order 
of the Soviet command. General A. R. Perminov had suggested that day that 
the American command redeploy the planes to other airfields before dark. This 
suggestion was rejected, however. By evening, at the insistence of the Soviet 
command, the American planes were dispersed along the edges of their airfields, 
and most of the flight crews were quartered away from the airfields. All PVO 

167 





resources were made combat ready. Although these measures did decrease 
American losses resulting from strikes by enemy aviation, they could not elimi¬ 
nate them completely. In the second half of July small groups and single Ameri¬ 
can planes landed at the Poltava airfield complex. On 27 July, after striking 
enemy targets, 38 P-38 (Lightning) fighter-bombers and 34 P-51 (Mustang) 
fighters landed at these airfields. 

In September 1944 American aviation performed three "shuttle'’ air opera¬ 
tions (11, 13, and 18 September) from the Poltava airfield complex. Later, be 
cause the front line had changed dramatically and bombers and fighters of the 
American 8th and 15th air forces could now reach all enemy targets and return 
to their own bases, “shuttle” air operations were no longer necessary. But the 
actions of American aviation participating in these “shuttle” operations did not 
have a direct effect on events on the Soviet-German front. 

The year 1944, a year of great victories for the Soviet people and their valor¬ 
ous Armed Forces, was coming to an end. The war years strengthened the un¬ 
shakable moral-political unity of the Soviet people. The power of the Soviet state 
grew immeasurably. The Air Force also matured quantitatively, qualitatively, 
and organizationally. In 1944 the aviation industry gave the front 17,872 fight¬ 
ers, 10,719 ground attack planes, and 4,039 frontal and long-range bombers. 
Including cargo and trainer craft, more than 40,000 planes were produced. As 
compared to the previous year, aircraft production increased by 15.6 percent in 
1944. 55 By the beginning of 1945 there were as many as 14,500 new combat 
aircraft in the VVS in the field. 56 VVS units were equipped with the new, more 
sophisticated Yak-3 and La-7 fighters and 11-10 ground attack aircraft. They 
were superior to equivalent types of enemy aircraft in speed, maneuverability, 
and armament. Our aviation received new resources and a significant number 
of radar sets. A 6 December 1944 GKO decree reorganized Long-Range Avia¬ 
tion into the 18th Air Army, consisting of five bomber air corps (I Guards 
Smolensk commanded by General G. N. Tupikov. II Guards Bryansk com¬ 
manded by General Ye. F. Loginov, III Guards Stalingrad commanded by Gen¬ 
eral V. Ye. Nestertsev, IV Gomel’ commanded by General G. S. Schetchikov, 
and XIX Bomber commanded by Colonel M. N. Kalinushkin) and four air divi¬ 
sions (45th Heavy Bomber commanded by Colonel V I. Lebedev, 56th Fighter 
commanded by Colonel A. D. Babenko, 73rd Auxiliary, and 27th Training), and 
subordinated it directly to the Soviet Army Air Force commander. The reason 
was the requirement to employ long-range bombers extensively in support of the 
ground forces during the Soviet Army’s major offensive on the entire Soviet- 
German front. The mobility and maneuverability of the Soviet Air Force in¬ 
creased as a result. Organization of command and control and the conditions for 
Long-Range Aviation coordination with air armies in Frontal Aviation and with 
the ground forces were improved. 

The Soviet Army Air Force staff, attaching great significance to synthesiz¬ 
ing the experience from aviation combat actions, on 18-20 November 1944 held 
meetings with staff officers from the air armies, air corps, and military district 
VVS responsible for studying and utilizing the experience of the Great Patriotic 
168 




War. Back on 29 April 1943 the VVS command published an order on studying 
and introducing the experience of the Great Patriotic War into the units of the 
Red Army Air Force The order required commanders and staffs at all levels to 
generalize everything that was best about aviation combat actions. 57 

Airmen in VVS units and formations thoroughly studied the combat experi¬ 
ence and developed new tactics and methods of combat action bom in battle. 
Combat experience was publicized via various bulletins and memo sheets pub¬ 
lished by the air divisions. The Soviet Army Air Force staff systematically pub¬ 
lished “Information Bulletins” and sent them to the troop units. The journal 
Vestnik Vozdushnogo flota and air army newspapers played a definite role in dis¬ 
seminating combat experience and heightening the skills of air force fliers and 
technicians. 

During meetings air army staff officers suggested many new and interesting 
ideas pertaining to the combat employment of air units and formations in various 
types of operations and combat. They suggested new ideas regarding the organi¬ 
zation and maintenance of coordination between aviation and the troops, and 
control of aviation using radio resources and forward command posts. 

In his concluding speech. General N. A. Zhuravlev formulated the three 
main tasks: “The first—work quickly and efficiently. The experience of warfare 
must be extracted daily from VVS combat actions, and it must be processed and 
quickly disseminated to subordinate air units; the second—study aviation actions 
covering a short interval of time or during one characteristic operation and, on 
this basis, make conclusions and disseminate them to the units; the third—ac¬ 
cumulate and preserve materials for future history." The results of the meetings 
and the main tasks were spelled out in a Soviet Army Air Force staff directive. 58 


New manuals on the combat actions of ground attack (NShA-44), bomber 
(NBA-44), fighter (NIA-45), and reconnaissance aviation (NRA-44). which 
synthesized the rich war experience and employment of the new aviation equip¬ 
ment coming into the inventory, were written under the guidance of the Military 
Council in 1944 by military academies jointly with the VVS staff. They reflected 
the war experience quite fully. A Soviet Army Air Force chief of staff directive 
dated 19 December 1944 ordered air army, military district VVS, and air corps 
commanders to study the new manuals and implement them in practical combat 
actions. 59 

During this time fascist Germany was undergoing a deep military-political 
crisis which marked the approach of a catastrophe. During the summer-fall cam¬ 
paign of 1944 the Soviet Army annihilated or captured 96 fascist divisions and 
24 brigades. In addition it routed 219 divisions and 22 brigades, which lost from 
50 to 75 percent of their force. In sum the losses suffered by Hitlerite Germany 


| Herald of the A ir Fleet -US Ed .| 


169 



on the Soviet-German front during this time totaled 1.600,000 men, 6.700 tanks. 
2,800 guns and mortars, and more than 12,000 aircraft. 60 

The Vistula-Oder Operation 

The victories of the Soviet Armed Forces in 1944 produced outstanding 
political and military results. The fascist German occupiers were completely ex¬ 
pelled from Soviet territory (with the exception of the northwestern part of the 
Latvian SSR), and the state border was restored from the Barents to the Black 
Sea. Fascist Germany lost all its allies in Europe, and found itself in a situation 
of total political isolation. The front had moved to its borders, and in East Prussia 
it had crossed them. Our Air Force enjoyed strategic air supremacy along the 
entire Soviet-German front. In 1945 the Stavka assigned the mission of complet¬ 
ing the defeat of fascist Germany’s armed force 1- and providing help to the coun¬ 
tries of central and southeastern Europe in liberating themselves from fascist op¬ 
pression and, jointly with the Allies, forcing fascist Germany to surrender un¬ 
conditionally. According to the Supreme High Command’s plan, our troops 
were to deliver crushing blows along the entire front and destroy enemy group¬ 
ings in East Prussia, Poland, Czechoslovakia. Hungary, and Austria. The main 
efforts were focused in the Warsaw-Berlin sector. Next the Soviet Army was 
to occupy Berlin, liberate Prague, and bring the war to a victorious conclusion. 


The concept of the Vistula-Oder operation was as follows: powerful simul¬ 
taneous thrusts were to be made against the enemy in the Poznan and Bresiau 
sectors. Army Group A defending Polish territory was to be destroyed, the Oder 
was to be reached, and advantageous conditions for a final strike on Berlin were 
to be ensured. The beginning of the offensive was planned for 20 January 1945. 
but fascist German troops placed Anglo-American troops in the Ardennes in a 
difficult position. At the request of the government of Great Britain, the Stavka 
decided to accelerate the beginning of the offensive of the Soviet troops. In the 
January offensive Soviet troops were to destroy the enemy in Poland and liberate 
the Polish people from Hitlerite tyranny. The Stavka assigned the mission of de¬ 
stroying the fascist German occupiers in Poland to troops of the 1st Belorussian 
and 1st Ukrainian fronts. Troops on the left wing of the 2nd Belorussian Front 
were to advance on the right Hank, while troops on the right wing of the 4th 
Ukrainian Front were to advance on the left Hank. Troops of the 1st Belorussian 
Front were covered and supported from the air by the 16th Air Army (command¬ 
er General S. 1. Rudenko, deputy commander for political affairs General A. 
S. Vinogradov, chief of staff General P. I. Brayko), while troops of the 1st 
Ukrainian Front were covered and supported by the 2nd Air Army (commander 
General S. A. Krasovskiy, deputy commander for political affairs General S. 
N. Romazanov. chief of staff General A. S. Pronin). There were 4,770 combat 
aircraft in the two Frontal Aviation air armies. Enemy aviation was significantly 
inferior to ours quantitatively and qualitatively Enemy troops were covered and 
supported by units of the 6th Air Fleet.'’ 1 Troops of the 1st Belorussian Front 
were faced by about 450 planes. This was no longer the enemy that si had fought 


170 



in the first years of the war. Soviet aviation was now superior to his in all re¬ 
spects. Although the Germans did try to employ individual new jet planes for 
the first time in the Vistula area, these jets brought about no significant change 
in the air situation. 63 


Air army units and formations made meticulous preparations for the forth¬ 
coming operation. Special attention was directed to studying the enemy, break¬ 
ing in new pilots, and practicing dive bombing against small targets. Much was 
done to ensure covertness of the preparations and surprise in the employment 
of aviation. The arrival of new air formations, of which there were many, was 
kept a deep secret. Traveling to the forward edge to study their targets on the 
battlefield, commanders and air group leaders wore jackets without shoulder 
boards and rank insignia. The Soviet Air Force had to maintain strategic air 
supremacy and support the ground forces and the Navy in their missions by con¬ 
centrated attacks on the enemy. The 16th Air Army was augmented by the III 
Fighter Air Corps (commander General Ye. Ya. Savitskiy), the IX Ground At¬ 
tack Air Corps (commander General I. V. Krupskiy), the 183rd Bomber Air Di¬ 
vision (commander Colonel M. A. Sitkin), the 242nd Night Bomber Air Divi¬ 
sion (commander Colonel P. A. Kalinin), and the 1st Guards Fighter Air Divi¬ 
sion (commander Colonel V. V. Sukhoryabov) from the Stavka Reserve. 63 
Dummy airfields were built. Aircraft mock-ups were set up on these airfields, 
and movements of airfields and combat equipment were simulated. For example. 
818 mock-ups of planes and specialized vehicles were set up at 55 dummy air¬ 
fields within the 16th Air Army, Most dummy airfields “operated” around the 
clock and so plausibly as to give the enemy no doubts as to their authenticity. 
Prior to the offensive the enemy bombed them 5 times during the day and 19 
times at night, dropping 660 heavy bombs. 64 The real airfields, meanwhile, were 
meticulously camouflaged, and they were subjected to almost no air strikes dur¬ 
ing this period. Beyond the Vistula, air reconnaissance discovered seven pre¬ 
pared enemy lines of defense echeloned to a depth of 500 km and six antitank 
ditches from 20 to 60 km long, and it discovered the areas of concentration of 
reserves and enemy artillery groupings. All crossings over the Vistula and the 
Pilica rivers were photographed, and the airfield network and the aviation based 
there were discovered. Air reconnaissance data permitted the Supreme High 
Command and the frontal command to plan the offensive operation more 
soundly. In addition to conducting air reconnaissance, during the preparations 
for the operation, Soviet aviation fought enemy reconnaissance aircraft, covered 
friendly troops against air strikes, and prevented the enemy from regrouping his 
troops by making individual strikes against the troops and equipment. These mis¬ 
sions required 3,500 sorties. 65 


The offensive was initiated on 12 January by an assault grouping from the 
1st Ukrainian Front and on 14 January by an assault grouping from the 1st Be¬ 
lorussian Front. Immediately after the fronts went over to the offensive, aviation 
(more than 85 percent of all forces) concentrated its main efforts on supporting 
the fronts’ assault groupings. The 4th and 3rd Guards tank armies and two tank 

171 


corps (XXXI and IV Guards) of the 1st Ukrainian Front, which were committed 
in the second half of the First day, were actively supported from the air by avia¬ 
tion of the 2nd Air Amy. About 400 ground attack planes and bombers of the 
air army, flying continuously in small groups, struck enemy reserves advancing 
to the area in which our tank armies were being committed to the encounter. Avi¬ 
ation disrupted the enemy plans, which called for a strong counterstrike. On 16 
and (7 January the 2nd Air Army alone flew about 4,000 combat sorties on be¬ 
half of the advancing tank armies and corps. 66 Closely coordinating with the 
combined arms and tank armies, ground attack and bomber aviation disor¬ 
ganized the withdrawal of enemy columns retreating to intermediate lines of de¬ 
fense, thus helping the frontal troops to destroy the main forces of the German 
4th Tank Army and operational reserves opposing our troops and operating from 
the Sandomierz beachhead. Soviet aviation actively helped the troops make an 
assault crossing from the march over the Nysa, Pilica, and Warta rivers and ad¬ 
vance their forward detachments to the Radomsko-Czestochowa-Tamow line. 

Concentrating its efforts on covering and supporting the 1 st and 2nd Guards 
tank armies and the tank and cavalry corps, beginning on 16 January the 16th 
Air Army actively helped them to accomplish their assigned missions. The VI 
Ground Attack Air Corps, which flew 272 missions in a single day, coordinated 
with the 2nd Guards Tank Army, while the 1 st Guards Tank Army was supported 
by the 2nd and 11th Guards ground attack air divisions. That day they flew 345 
sorties. 67 In the vicinity of Opoczno ground attack planes destroyed the enemy’s 
10th Mechanized Division. More than 3,000 motor vehicles and armored trans¬ 
porters and several dozen tanks were destroyed by aviation and abandoned on 
the roads. Bombers of the III Bomber Air Corps (Commander General A. Z. 
Karavatskiy) and the 183rd and 221 st bomber air divisions made several power¬ 
ful strikes against the enemy rail targets during the day. In all, during the third 
day of the offensive the 16th Air Army flew 3,43) sorties. 68 Aviation of the 16th 
Air Army played a great role in supporting the troops which liberated Warsaw. 
The Polish 1 st Army, which went over to the offensive on the night of 17 January 
and broke into Warsaw in the same day, took part in the liberation of Warsaw 
along with Soviet troops. Early in the operation the 16th Air Army dropped a 
great quantity of mortars, antitank rifles, automatic weapons, ammunition, food, 
and medicine to patriots of the Warsaw underground organization. During the 
4 days of battle by the front’s troops in the liberation of Warsaw, the 16th Air 
Army flew 6,493 combat sorties. In addition, the Polish 4th Composite Air Divi¬ 
sion flew about 400combat sorties. 69 

By the end of 17 January the enemy main forces had been destroyed through 
the efforts of the troops of the two fronts and aviation. Poland’s capital, Warsaw, 
was liberated from the German occupiers. 

During the subsequent advance of the troops of the fronts to the Oder, our 
aviation continued, despite poor weather, to support the ground troops in their 
pursuit o r the retreating enemy. However, the conditions under which Soviet avi¬ 
ation had to operate became more complex as the troops moved west. An unex¬ 
pected warm spell caused a major thaw. Unimproved airfields were put out of 
172 


action. Aviation lagged behind the ground troops due to the poor basing condi¬ 
tions. At the same time favorable conditions had developed foT enemy aviation. 
The weather was good at enemy bases, and well-prepared paved airfields were 
available. Fascist German aviation capitalized on this, and in the first third of 
February it flew about 14,000 sorties within the zone of advance of the 1st Be¬ 
lorussian Front, while the 16th Air Army flew only 624. 70 The Soviet command 
took emergency steps. Large highways were used to base fighters. The first ex¬ 
periment with this sort of unusual airfield was made by Thrice Hero of the Soviet 
Union Colonel A. I. Pokryshkin, commander of the 9th Guards Fighter Air Divi¬ 
sion. The entire air division was based on the highway by evening. The 22nd 
Guards Fighter Air Division (commander Lieutenant Colonel L. I. Goreglyad) 
did the same. In addition, each combined arms army within its zone built one 
airfield out of special metal plates. This is how the problem of basing our aviation 
during this operation was solved. By their bold and decisive actions, Soviet 
fighters broke enemy resistance in the air. While during the second third of Feb¬ 
ruary enemy aviation flew more than 3,000 sorties, in the last third they flew 
only 670. During the same time the 16th Air Army alone flew more than 10,000 
sorties. 71 

In accomplishing their combat missions during the period of pursuit be¬ 
tween 18 January and 3 February, the 16th and 2nd air armies flew more than 
42,000 sorties. The RVGK III, VI, and XIII Fighter Air Corps commanded by 
Generals Ye. Ya. Savitskiy, I. M. Dzusov, and B. A. Sidnev performed with 
special distinction. The formations they led dependably covered the ground 
troops against air strikes and boldly attacked the enemy on the ground. In support 
of the 1st Ukrainian and 1st Belorussian fronts, the Long-Range Aviation 18th 
Air Army used night actions to disrupt enemy rail shipments and prevent concen¬ 
tration of reserves. Between 17 and 26 January it flew more than 600 combat 
sorties. 

Soviet aviation once again demonstrated in the Vistula-Oder operation that 
it was capable of supporting and covering advancing troops continuously and 
effectively throughout the entire operation in bad weather. During the offensive 
operation from the Vistula to the Oder, units from fighter air formations were 
redeployed seven times, while ground attack units were redeployed six times. 
Pilots of the two air armies flew 54,000 combat sorties. Our fighters fought in 
1,150 air engagements and destroyed 908 enemy planes . 72 

The East Prussian Operation 

Concurrently with the powerful offensive from the Vistula to the Oder, the 
Soviet Armed Forces initiated offensive actions in East Prussia and northern Po¬ 
land. Planning the East Prussia operation, the Stavka assigned the following mis¬ 
sions to the Soviet troops: cutting off Army Group Center from other fascist Ger¬ 
man Army forces, pushing it to the sea, dividing it, and annihilating it 
piecemeal. 71 This mission was assigned to troops of the 3rd and 2nd Belorussian 
fronts, supported by the Air Force and the Red Banner Baltic Fleet. The Soviet 

173 



air grouping consisted of the 1st Air Army of the 3rd Belorussian Front (com¬ 
mander General T. T. Khryukin, deputy commander for political affairs General 
I. G. Litvinenko and, as of March, General I. T. Chernyshev, chief of staff Gen¬ 
eral 1. M. Belov) and the 4th Air Army of the 2nd Belorussian Front (commander 
General K. A. Vershinin, deputy commander for political affairs General F F. 
Verov, chief of staff General A. N. Alekseyev). In all, the two air armies, rein¬ 
forced by Supreme High Command air reserves, possessed more than 3,000 
planes. 74 In addition, some of the forces of the 3rd Air Army, 1st Baltic Front 
and the 18th Air Army were allocated. Actions of the air armies in the operation 
were coordinated by Stavka aviation representative Marshal of Aviation F. Ya. 
Falaleyev. The German Army Group Center was supported by the 6th Air Fleet, 
which possessed 775 planes. 75 The Stavka and the front commanders assigned 
aviation a major role in the forthcoming offensive operation. 

To achieve surprise in the actions of its troops and aviation in the main sec¬ 
tor, false preparations for an offensive were made on the left wing of the 3rd 
Belorussian Front. Between 1 and 10 January the 1st Air Army covered the false 
concentration of troops in the vicinity of Suwalki. Dummy airfields were created 
in this sector, and 100 ground attack and 60 fighter mock-ups were set up on 
them. Radio stations simulating the work of an air army staff, a ground attack 
air corps, and three bomber divisions were operated in the vicinity of the dummy 
airfields. Camouflage measures were also employed in other air armies. On the 
morning of 13 January 1945 troops of the 3rd Belorussian Front went over to 
the offensive, followed by troops of the 2nd Belorussian Front on 14 January. 
During the night prior to the offensive, aviation of the 1st Air Army conducted 
powerful aerial preparation, flying 740 sorties. During the day on 14 January 
aviation supported the troops of the 5th Army in repelling strong enemy coun¬ 
terblows. On 15 January 1,320 planes of the 1st and 3rd air armies struck the 
principal enemy centers of resistance in several powerful successive strikes, as 
a result of which the front’s troops advanced up to 10 km and penetrated the main 
line of defense. On the fourth day of the operation 342 bombers of the 1st and 
3rd air armies made a massed strike against strongpoints on the enemy's second 
line of defense in the sector within which the II Guards Tank Corps was commit¬ 
ted to the encounter. A second strike by 284 bombers occurred 3 hours after the 
first against targets on the third line of defense. 

Air support to the tank corps combat actions was provideu by five bomber 
air divisions, three ground attack divisions, and one fighter air division. In all. 
on 16 January aviation of the two air armies flew more than 2.800 sorties. 76 By 
the end of 18 January, troops of the 3rd Belorussian Front with active air support 
broke enemy defenses along a broad front. The 1st and 3rd air armies flew 
10,350 sorties in support of the front’s troops. 77 In the zone of advance of the 
2nd Belorussian Front, the 4th Air Army actively supported commitment to the 
encounter of two tank.corps on 15 January and one mechanized corps on 16 Janu¬ 
ary, and on the following day it supported commitment of the 5th Guards Tank 
Army. 

Aviation played a major role in annihilating an enemy grouping encircled 


174 



in the fortress city of Torun. On 31 January troops of the 70th Army began an 
assault on the surrounded fortress. The enemy attempted a strong counterblow, 
resulting in 5,000 of his troops breaking out of the encirclement. Ground attack 
aviation was tasked to annihilate them. By its strikes it blocked the movement 
of the columns and in its subsequent actions inflicted heavy losses on them. 
Later, capitalizing on a temporary improvement in the weather, Soviet pilots 
struck troops and pockets of resistance in the Heilsberg fortified area and fought 
fascist German aviation. Between 19 January and 9 February the 4th Air Army 
flew 8,130 sorties, while the 1st Air Army flew 9,740 sorties. 78 Troops of the 
fronts captured a siginificant part of the Samland Peninsula, bypassed 
Koenigsberg on three sides, and reached the Heilsberg fortified area. The East 
Prussian grouping suffered heavy losses and was divided into three parts. The 
second stage of troop combat actions in East Prussia—liquidation of the isolated 
enemy groupings—began on 10 February. This mission was assigned to troops 
of the 3rd Belorussian and 1 st Baltic fronts. On 18 February 1945 near Mehlsack 
Army General I. D. Chemyakhovskiy, commander of the 3rd Belorussian Front, 
was mortally wounded. Marshal of the Soviet Union A. M. Vasilevskiy was ap¬ 
pointed 3rd Belorussian Front commander by order of the Stavka on 18 February 
1945. Vasilevskiy arrived at the front staff on 20 February. On 23 February the 
Stavka ordered Soviet Army Air Force commander Chief Marshal of Aviation 
A. A. Novikov to travel to the 3rd Belorussian Front in East Prussia to coordinate 
the actions of the participating aviation forces. On 24 February A. A. Novikov 
and an operations group from the Soviet Army Air Force staff took off for the 
3rd Belorussian Front aboard a military transport. The plane was piloted by Gen¬ 
eral V. G. Grachev, commander of a VVS military transport air division. On 
21 February the Stavka decided to transfer troops operating in East JVussia to 
the 3rd Belorussian Front, making the latter responsible for the liquidation of 
all isolated enemy groupings. In compliance with this decision the 1st Baltic 
Front was disbanded as of 2400 hours on 24 February 1945, and its troops, which 
were renamed the Samland Group, were included within the 3rd Belorussian 
Front. The 3rd Air Army was also a part of the combined 3rd Belorussian Front, 
meaning that the front now had two air armies. 79 Operating during the spring 
thaw of the dirt roads and in dense fog*, in the second half of March the front’s 
troops divided and defeated Germans occupying the Heilsberg fortified area. The 
defeat of the enemy’s Koenigsberg grouping consisted of the following: the gar¬ 
rison’s forces were to be divided by powerful converging strikes from the north 
and south with active air support, and then the city was to be captured by an as¬ 
sault. An auxiliary strike was to be made from the vicinity of Koenigsberg in 
a westerly direction toward Pillau (Baltiysk) to contain the enemy's Samland 
grouping. Artillery fire and powerful air strikes, which were to accompany the 
troops and totally demoralize the defending enemy, were given a special role 
in the assault on the city. Two combined arms armies—the 43rd and 50th—were 
to strike from the north, the 11th Guards Army was to strike from the south, 
while the 39th Army was to cut the fortress off from the enemy’s Samland group¬ 
ing. 

For the first time in the Great Patriotic War three VVS air armies (1st, 3rd, 
and 18th), the Red Banner Baltic Fleet VVS (commander General M. I. 

175 





Samokhin), and two bomber air corps—the V Bomber (commander General M. 
Kh. Borisenko) from the 4th Air Army and the V Guards (commander General 
V. A. Ushakov) from the 15th Air Army—were allocated from the Air Force 
to support a single front. In all, by the beginning of the Koenigsberg operation 
this grouping possessed 2,444 combat aircraft, including 1,124 bombers (500 
heavy long-range, 432 short-range, and 192 light night bombers), 470 ground 
attack planes, 830 Fighters, and 20 torpedo bombers. 80 All planes, with the ex¬ 
ception of 150 from the fleet VVS tasked to interdict enemy marine shipments, 
were intended for actions on the land front. During the war the Soviet command 
accumulated a great deal of experience in controlling large masses of aviation 
in strategic operations conducted by groups of fronts and in independent air oper¬ 
ations. But all aviation actions there were dispersed on a broad front. In this case 
more than 2,000 combat aircraft from five operational numbered air forces had 
to be committed to the encounter within a very narrow sector of the front, since 
the main goal of the operation was to destroy the Koenigsberg grouping and cap¬ 
ture the city and fortress of Koenigsberg. 

The enemy attached not only military but also political significance to 
Koenigsberg. One of the most important areas of Germany’s war industry and 
the center of East Prussia, it was also the center of the Prussian military clique. 
To defend the city, the enemy had allocated about 130,000 men, up to 4,000 
guns and mortars, and more than 100 tanks and assault guns. Some 170 combat 
aircraft were based at airfields on the Samiand Peninsula (Gross Dirschkeim, 
Gross Hubnicken, and Neutief). 81 The Hitlerites created four zones of defense 
within and around Koenigsberg. The first (outer perimeter) consisted of a system 
of trenches, an antitank ditch, lines of dragon’s teeth, antipersonnel obstacles, 
and minefields. The second (inner perimeter) included earth-and-timber 
emplacements, concrete pillboxes, and 15 strong ancient forts containing sizable 
garrisons. The third was on the outskirts of the city, and it consisted of a complex 
of reinforced concrete fire positions and prepared defensive structures. The 
fourth ringed the center of the city and consisted of bastions, turrets, and strong 
buildings. Koenigsberg was covered against air strikes by 56 antiaircraft bat¬ 
teries (about 450 tubes). There were large underground fuel and food storage 
facilities in the city. 


Clearly the defeat of such a grouping and the capture of Koenigsberg de¬ 
manded considerable, meticulous preparations. Jointly with the front's heavy ar¬ 
tillery, aviation was to play the main role here. This was understood quite well 
by A. M. Vasilevskiy and A. A. Novikov. The staffs were ordered to coordinate 
carefully and develop detailed plans for coordination among all branches of 
troops. The plans for aviation were written by the 1st Air Army staff with the 
direct participation of the operations groups representing the Soviet Army Air 
Force commander. Receiving instructions from A. M. Vasilevskiy, A. A. 
Novikov spelled out the missions to the comma.ider%of the 18th Air Army, the 
Red Banner Baltic Fleet aviation, and the two bomber air corps of the 4th and 
15th air armies. Some refinements were made in the plans for the combat actions 
of the I st and 3rd air armies 
176 





After this. Section One of the 1st Air Army staff, headed by Colonel N. 
P. Zhil’tsov, worked out the final plan for the aviation actions, guided by Chief 
of Staff General I. M. Belov and with the officers in the operations group of the 
Soviet Army Air Force commander participating. Section One then coordinated 
this plan with the plans of the front and of the combined arms armies. The battle 
plan for Frontal Aviation for the 1 April operation was approved by the front 
Military Council. 

The plan called for preliminary aerial preparation for 2 days with the goal 
of rating the forts and key strongpoints within the zones of advance of the 43rd 
and 11th Guards armies, destroying aircraft, and putting landing strips out of 
action. Destruction of fascist aviation was to be completed by powerful strikes 
by air formations. There were plans to fly 5,316 sorties and drop 2,620 tons of 
bombs in the first 2 days. 

On the first day of the operation prior to attacks by the front’s troops a 
massed strike against targets on the battlefield was planned by a total of 539 
planes (406 TU-2s and Pe-2s and 133 fighters armed with bombs). After this 
strike, ground attack aircraft were to escort infantry and tanks. A second bomber 
attack was planned for 4-5 hours later. The 129th, 240th, and 330th fighter air 
divisions and part of the XI Fighter Air Corps were intended to cover the bombers 
and ground attack aircraft, while the remaining fighter formations were targeted 
against enemy aviation in the air. In all, during the first day of the operation more 
than 45,100 sorties were to be flown. In subsequent days of the operation Frontal 
Aviation was to act in accordance with instructions from the commanders of the 
1st and 3rd air armies—Generals T. T. Khryukin and N. F. Papivin. During the 
planning, special attention was given to joint actions by ground attack air divi¬ 
sions and the troops. In addition to a powerful bomber air strike group, a strong 
ground attack group was created. It contained six ground attack divisions— 
Colonel S. D. Prutkov’s 1st Guards, General V. I. Shevchenko’s 182nd, Colonel 
F. S. Khatminskiy’s 277th, Colonel P. M. Kuchma’s 211th, Lieutenant Colonel 
K. P. Zaklepa’s311th, and General S. S. Aleksandrov’s 335th. 82 

Fighter aviation was also allocated for ground attack missions. Two 
hundred planes of the XI Fighter Air Corps led by General G. A. Ivanov were 
specially trained for dive bombing strikes against point targets. Colonel F. I. 
Shinkarenko’s entire 130th Fighter Air Division, flying the new Yak-9 with spe¬ 
cial internal bomb bays accommodating up to 400 kg of bombs, operated as a 
ground attack formation. Schedules indicating the times ground attack aircraft 
took off for combat missions and returned to the airfields were developed by the 
air armies. Flying zones were established for every air formation. All air divi¬ 
sions had their own corridors and specific altitudes at which they flew to and 
from their targets. In order that the pilots could orient themselves precisely in 
night operations, our troops were to light signal fires along the forward edge, 
and the center of Koenigsberg was to be designated by intersecting searchlight 
beams. Three days before the beginning of the operation the air corps and air 
division commanders received photomaps of the city of Koenigsberg, large scale 

177 



maps and diagrams with the targets numbered, and instructions on aviation com¬ 
bat employment. 

On the eve of the operation, air officers were sent with portable radio equip¬ 
ment to ground troop formations to guide our planes to enemy targets within vis¬ 
ual acquisition. Operational groups and aviation representatives were sent to 
the command posts of the combined arms armies to coordinate with and control 
the ground attack planes that were coordinating directly with the advancing 
troops. 

The extent of the role given to aviation in the capture of the city and fortress 
of Koenigsberg can be seen from the fact that A. M. Vasilevskiy postponed the 
beginning of the assault from 5 April to the 6th due to the poor weather predicted. 
A. A. Novikov ordered General V. I. Al’tovskiy, chief of the Soviet Army Air 
Force meteorological services, to convene meteorological experts in Moscow 
and provide, by 1600 hours on 4 April, an updated weather forecast for the 
Koenigsberg vicinity of 5 and 6 April. According to the prediction by the VVS 
meteorological service in Moscow, the weather was to be satisfactory for air ac¬ 
tivity on 6 April. In fact, however, it did not become suitable for flying until 
the morning of 7 April. VVS Military Council members Generals N. S. 
Shimanov and A. V. Nikitin jointed A. A. Novikov at the front during the prepa¬ 
rations for the operation, bringing reports on a number of VVS problems. They 
joined the VVS operations group and provided practical assistance in preparing 
air formations for the operation. 

At dawn on 6 April A. A. Novikov was accompanied by A. V. Nikitin and 
M. N. Kozhevnikov to the command post of General A. P. Beloborodov’s 43rd 
Army. The command post was near Fuchsberg on the slope of a gentle hill about 
1.5-2 km from the forward edge; bunkers outfitted with stereoscopic viewers and 
two towers had been built among the trees. The forward command post of the 
1st Air Army, headed by Colonel N. P. Zhil’tsov, was deployed in one of the 
towers. Personnel trenches were dug next to the towers, and the air army’s radio 
stations and motor vehicles were concealed in previously dug shelters. The tower 
commanded a good view of the battlefield and the city of Koenigsberg. At about 
0900 hours guns of the llth Guards Army began to thunder south of 
Koenigsberg, followed about an hour later by the guns of all the other armies. 
Artillery action against enemy defenses lasted more than 2 hours. The salvos of 
the high -powered guns literally shook the ground. 


On that day the weather prevented full implementation of the aviation battle 
plan. By 1400 ho|frs only about 300 sorties had been flown. In all, on 6 April 
1,052 of the planned 4,000 sorties were flown. The weather improved dramati¬ 
cally on 7 April. A. A. Novikov issued instructions to retarget almost all bomber 
aviation against the main centers of resistance immediately ahead of the advanc¬ 
ing troops. On this day 246 Tu-2s and Pe-2s made three powerful successive 
strikes against enemy troops west of Koenigsberg. Troops continuously escorted 
by ground attack planes broke through the enemy’s third defensive zone and pen- 
178 






etrated directly to the city in the second half of the day. This was the moment 
when the enemy had to be struck hard from the air. Heavy bombers of the 18th 
Air Army were to make a massed strike against defensive structures within 
Koenigsberg itself. It was not a simple matter to commit the main aviation strike 
force to the encounter, since this was the first time the 18th Air Army had been 
employed in daytime. Prior to this it had operated primarily at night. General 
A. I. Antonov of the General Staff gave permission for its combat employment. 
The beginning of the massed strike of the 18th Air Army was set for 1310 hours 
on 7 April. 

Frontal Aviation assigned 124 fighters to provide direct cover to the heavy 
bombers, while 108 fighters patrolled constantly over the city for the entire time 
th j .t the bombers were passing over Koenigsberg. 

In addition, 20 minutes before the 18th Air Army’s planes approached the 
city, 118 11-2 ground attack aircraft and Pe-2 bombers struck enemy fighter air¬ 
fields. The approach of the 18th Air Army aircraft was clearly visible from the 
command post tower. A powerful massed strike was made by 514 heavy bomb¬ 
ers against strongpoints and forts in Koenigsberg. The troops had never before 
witnessed such a powerful strike by our aviation in daytime, in good sunny 
weather. The thunder of heavy bombs continued in Koenigsberg for about an 
hour. A total of 3,743 bombs weighing 550 tons was dropped on the enemy . 81 
The entire city was engulfed in smoke. Many strongpoints and forts were de¬ 
stroyed. Following such a strike, enemy resistance decreased drastically, and our 
troops began to advance quickly toward the center of the city. Not a single enemy 
fighter was able to penetrate to our bombers, and ground attack aircraft put anti¬ 
aircraft artillery out of action. The heavy bombers of the 18th Air Army all re¬ 
turned to their own bases unharmed after the strike. Great credit for preparing 
the air formations for the strike and conducting the massed strike itself belongs 
to the 18th Air Army command, led by Chief Marshal of Aviation A. Ye. 
Golovanov. This strike was followed by successful actions on the part of frontal 
bombers and ground attack aircraft commanded by Generals V. A. Ushakov and 
M. Kh. Borisenko, During 7 April Soviet aviation flew about 5.000 sorties; on 
the night of 8 April it flew 2,000 combat sorties. Our VVS had never flown such 
a large number of sorties in a single day in support of the offensive troops of 
a single front. 

The assault on the fortress from the air continued on 8 April. Up to 2,000 
planes made two massed strikes on that day against a German tank grouping west 
of Koenigsberg. By the end of the third day the aviation and artillery activities 
resulted in the destruction of a large number of fortifications and serious losses 
to enemy troops. On 9 April, with active air rapport, the heroic troops of the 
3rd Belorussian Front stormed and captured the city and fortress of Koenigsberg. 
The remnants of the enemy garrison surrendered. 

In 4 days Soviet aviation flew more than 14,OX) sorties and dropped 4,440 
tons of bombs on the enemy. 


179 



Prisoners of war confirmed the great effectiveness of our air strikes. Thus 
one of the senior officers present in the fortress as aviation representative from 
the German Supreme High Command testified that “aviation was one of the 
causes which forced General Loesch to conclude that any further resistance was 
senseless." The Koenigsberg operation was very short in terms of duration. But 
in terms of its nature, the amount of aviation resources allocated, its employment 
en masse, of air power committed, and the effectiveness of the actions, it was 
in a sense a dress rehearsal for the assault on Berlin, the last stronghold of fascist 
Germany in the aggressive war it had unleashed. 

The actions of aviation in the Koenigsberg operation were summarized, and 
a report containing the results and an analysis was published in a Soviet Army 
Air Force information bulletin. 

The Communist Party and Soviet government placed great value on the 
deeds of Soviet pilots. After the operation the ranks of our airmen were enlarged 
by another four Twice Heroes of the Soviet Union—General T. T. Khruykin, 
pilot-commanders Ye. M. Kungurtsev, G. M. Myl’nikov, andG. M. Parshin. 
Chief Marshal of Aviation A. A. Novikov and pilots V. A. Alekseyenko, A. 
I. Kazima, A. N. Prokhorov, and N. I. Semeyko were awarded the title Hero 
of the Soviet Union. 84 Pilots of the French Normandie-Neman Fighter Air Regi¬ 
ment participated in the operation along with Soviet pilots. During January 1945 
alone the regiment flew more than 500 combat sorties and destroyed about 60 
enemy planes in the air and on the ground. Twenty-four of the air regiment’s 
officers were awarded orders of the Soviet Union. In the period from 23 March 
1943 to 2 May 1945 the French Normandie-Neman Regiment traveled the com¬ 
bat path from Kaluga to Koenigsberg. The pilots flew 5,062 combat sorties, 
fought in 869 air engagements, and shot down 266 German planes. Eighty pilots 
were awarded orders of the Soviet Union, and four of them—M. Albert, R. de 
la Poype, M. Lefevre, and J. Andre—were awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union 
title. The air regiment was recognized seven times in Soviet Supreme High Com¬ 
mand Orders and was awarded the Soviet orders of the Red Banner and Alek¬ 
sandr Nevskiy, the French Order of the Legion of Honor, the Croix de la Libera¬ 
tion, and the Medaille Militaire. 85 

The defeat of fascist German troops in East Prussia was of great military- 
political significance. Soviet troops occupied all of East Prussia with its capital 
Koenigsberg, and liberated some of the northern regions of Poland. The East 
Prussian operation was a clear example of successful coordination among several 
air armies of Frontal Aviation, Long-Range Aviation, and the Navy under the 
guidance of the senior air chief. The Air Force was one of the decisive factors 
in the operation leading to swift defeat of the large enemy grouping occupying 
a strongly fortified area of East Prussia. 

The Berlin Operation 

Having destroyed large enemy groupings in East Prussia, Poland, Eastern 
Pomerania, and Silesia in January-April 1945, the Soviet Armed Forces reached 
180 


the Oder and Neisse on a broad front and made preparations for the decisive bat¬ 
tle of Berlin. Soviet troops on the south wing of the Soviet-German front com¬ 
pleted the destruction of the enemy Budapest grouping and liberated Hungary, 
part of Czechoslovakia, and the eastern regions of Austria. Germany found itself 
under the immediate threat of strikes by Soviet troops from the east and south. 

By the beginning of the Berlin operation the German command still had sig¬ 
nificant ground and air forces. Troops intended to defend the approaches to Ber¬ 
lin and the city itself had a strength of I million men, 10,400 guns and mortars, 
1,500 tanks and assault guns, and 3.300 combat aircraft. A garrison of more than 
200,000 persons was concentrated in Berlin. The reserve of the ground forces 
main command contained eight divisions. 86 Preparing to repulse the Soviet of¬ 
fensive, the fascist German command created powerful defenses in the eastern 
part of the country, utilizing the stone buildings in the cities and villages and 
the rivers, canals, and lakes for this purpose. The forward edge of defense was 
along the Oder and the Neisse. Berlin's defenses were deep, and the troop con¬ 
centration was high. Strong centers of resistance were created in Stettin (Szcze¬ 
cin), Gartz, Schwedt, Frankfurt-on-Oder, Guben, Forst, Cottbus, and Sprem- 
berg. The defenses were strongest opposite the Kostrzyn beachhead occupied 
by Soviet troops. There were more than 400 permanent reinforced concn ° 
structures in Berlin alone. Fascist German aviation, which consisted of up to 70 
percent fighters, including up to 120 Me-262 jets and composite aircraft, pre¬ 
pared for stubborn resistance. 87 

The Soviet Supreme High Command concentrated a strong troop and avia¬ 
tion grouping in the Berlin sector. Soviet troops were superior to the enemy in 
manpower by a factor of 2.5,4 in artillery, 4.1 in tanks and self-propelled guns, 
and in aviation by a factor of 2.3. 88 The strategic concept of the operation was 
to make powerful strikes by troops of the 2nd and 1 st Belorussian and 1 st Ukrain¬ 
ian fronts with the support of the Air Force in a zone from Stettin to Penzig. de¬ 
stroy enemy defenses in a number of sectors, divide the Berlin grouping into sev¬ 
eral isolated parts, employing swift strikes by strong groupings, and sub¬ 
sequently encircle and destroy this grouping. After capturing Berlin, on the 12th- 
15th day of the operation the advancing troops were to reach the Elbe on a broad 
front, where they were to join up with Anglo-American troops, force Germany 
to surrender, and end the war in Europe. 89 

On 9 April 1945 the Soviet Army Air Force commander, who was still with 
the 3rd Belorussian Front, received instructions from the Stavka to leave for the 
1st Belorussian Front to participate in the preparation for and coordination of 
the combat actions of all aviation resources allocated for the Berlin operation. 
The VVS commander’s operations group consisted of General N. F. Andrianov, 
Colonel M. N. Kozhevnikov, Majors L. M. Smirnov and P. A. Ko'esnikov, and 
Colonel F. S. Luchkin. The latter was from the section for analysis of v ar experi¬ 
ence in the VVS staff operational directorate. The Soviet Army Air Force staff 
concentrated aviation reserves in the Berlin sector, and jointly with Long Range 
Aviation the command and staff worked out the problems of employing the 18th 
Air Army in combat. According to Stavka instructions. RVGK air formations 

181 



were transferred to the Berlin sector. Thus the VI Bomber Air Corps (command¬ 
er General I. P. Skok), the I Guards Fighter Air Corps (commander General Ye 
M. Beletskiy), the 113th and 138th bomber divisions, and the 240th Fighter Air 
Division (commanders Colonel M. S. Finogenov, Hero of the Soviet Union 
Colonel A. 1. Pushkin, and General G. V. Zimin) were concentrated within the 
16th Air Army. The Soviet air grouping consisted of three Frontal Aviation air 
armies (4th, 16th and 2nd) commanded by Generals K. A. Vershinin, S I. 
Rudenko, and S. A. Krasovskiy, and Long-Range Aviation’s 18th Air Army 
commanded by Chief Marshal of Aviation A. Ye. Golovanov. The 2nd and 16th 
air armies contained 50 ati formations, 32 attached from the Stavka Reserve. 
The 4th Air Army contained 15 air formations, including 6 attached from the 
Stavka Reserve. By the beginning of the operation the 1st Belorussian Front’s 
16th Air Army contained 28 air divisions and 7 independent air regiments. The 
army had 3,033 serviceable combat aircraft (533 day and 151 night bombers, 
687 ground attack planes, 1,548 fighters, and 114 reconnaissance and spotter 
aircraft). By the beginning of the Berlin operations the 16th Air Army was the 
largest in our V VS . 90 The Polish I Composite Air Corps and Polish 4th Compos¬ 
ite Air Division participated in the operation with troops of tiie Polish 1st and 
2nd armies. The total strength of Polish aviation and ours was 7,500 combat air¬ 
craft, including 297 Polish planes. 91 


The average aviation density per kilometer of front line was extremely high 
considering the total length of the zone of advance—up to 30 planes. It was more 
than 100 planes in the sectors of the main thrusts, and within the zone of advance 
of the 5th Shock Army and 8th Guards Army of the 1st Belorussian Front the 
density reached 170 planes. In order to support such a quantity of aviation, air 
army engineering units restored and built 290 airfields with the active help of 
the ground troops, and a dependable reserve of fuel, ammunition, and other 
forms of logistical support to aviation was created in 10-12 days. 


No offensive operation conducted by ground troops in the Great Patriotic 
War had ever involved such a large number of air formations and planes on three 
fronts. In order for all aviation resources to be employed purposefully and be 
operationally effective, their efforts had to be coordinated, the time and sequence 
of massed strikes had to be agreed upon, the zones of operation had to be defined, 
and the airfields in the zones of adjacent fronts to be used by air units following 
combat missions had to be specified. All these problems were solved by the VVS 
commander, acting as Stakva representative, jointly with the front and air army 
commanders right in the combat zone. Frontal aviation was assigned the follow¬ 
ing missions: to firmly maintain operational air supremacy; dependably cover 
frontal troops and rear area targets against enemy aviation; conduct aerial prepa¬ 
ration and support ground troops during penetration of the enemy tactical defense 
zone; support troops of the 2nd Belorussian and 1 st Ukrainian frpnts making an 
assault crossing of the Oder. Neisse, and Spree rivers; support commitment of 
tank armies into the encounter , annihilate enemy reserves; and conduct air recon¬ 
naissance and surveillance over the battlefield. 

182 




The plans for combat employment ol the air armies in the operation were 
developed with extreme care. Special attention was given to organizing coordi¬ 
nation between aviation and the troops, to supporting commitment of tank armies 
and independent tank and mechanized corps to the encounter, and attention was 
also given to their air escort to the entire depth of the operation. 

The 1st Belorussian Front's 1st and 2nd Guards tank armies (commanders 
Generals M. Ye. Katukov and S. 1. Bogdanov) were to advance on Berlin from 
the north and northeast, while the 1st Ukrainian Front's 3rd and 4th Guards tank 
armies (commanders Generals P. S. Rytalko and D. D. Leiyushenko) were to 
turn toward Berlin as well, in the event that they were able to advance beyond 
Luebben. The steel waves of the two coordinating fronts were to break through 
to Berlin with active VVS support, encircle the city, and cut off the westward 
route of withdrawal of the Berlin grouping's main forces. The plans provided 
for allocation of 75 percent of the aviation of the 16th and 2nd air armies to sup¬ 
port of the tank armies. The main forces of ar. air army totaling 2,453 planes 
were to support two combined arms and two tank armies in the sector of the main 
thrust bv troops of the 1st Belorussian Front, who were to attack from a beach¬ 
head on the Oder River west of Kostrzyn. Meanwhile the northern and southern 
auxiliary groupings were to be supported from the air by only one air division 
each. 

The 2nd Air Army combat employment plan provided for four massed at¬ 
tacks against the enemy on 16 April, the first day of the operation, by 800, 570. 
420, and 370 planes, and srr"'l groups of planes representing all aviation branch¬ 
es were to operate in the intervals between these strikes.^ 

There were also unique features in the organization of the 4th Air Army 
combat actions. Because the 2nd Belorussian Front’s artillery was located on the 
east bank of the Oder, aviation was assigned the mission of suppressing and de¬ 
stroying enemy targets located in the depth of the defenses: this mission was to 
be conducted mainly by ground attack aircraft, since the 4th Air Army's bomber 
group was not strong enough. The plan called for more than 4,000 sorties during 
the first day of the offensive. 

The 18th Air Army also prepared carefully for the operation. Just prior to 
the offensive, at night, it was to make the first massed strike against the principal 
strongpoints in the second line of defense in the sector of the main thrust by 
troops of the 1st Belorussian Front, and then it was to make another series of 
powerful air strikes during the offensive. 

Jointly with the front command, the Soviet Army Air Force commander de¬ 
voted a great deal of attention to organizing coordination between aviation and 
the troops. Air army commanders and staffs were ordered to thoroughly develop 
coordination plans with each tank and combined arms army. During the prepara¬ 
tions air army and air formation commanders' reports were heard several times, 
and corrections and amendments were made The commanders' attention was 
called to the possibility of strong enemy opposition in the air It was known that 



AU A 130 405 SOVIET Mil I TART.THOUGHT THE COMMAND AND STAFF OF THE 
SOVIET ARMY AIR FORC..IUI DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE 
WASHINGTON DC M N KOZHEVNIKOV 1977 

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the enemy air grouping supporting Army Group Vistula and, in part. Army 
Group Center included formations of the 6th Air Fleet and the Reich Air Fleet, 
the latter consisting mainly of air defense aviation in the Berlin zone. At Berlin’s 
airfields the Germans also had Me-262 jet aircraft and Mistel composite air¬ 
craft. 93 

Enemy troops were covered by about 200 antiaircraft batteries, and 600 
antiaircraft guns were concentrated specifically for defense of Berlin. 94 

The imminent end of the war, which all flight crews sensed, and our overall 
considerable superiority in aviation resources might have engendered laxity and 
complacency. This is why all personnel had to attend briefings which prepared 
them mentally for outstanding accomplishment of their missions. Political work¬ 
ers from the air armies and the party and Komsomol organizations carried out 
this task with great success. They made every pilot, navigator, radio operator, 
technician, engineer, and rear and staff officer conscious of the great missions 
to be performed in the forthcoming battle with an enemy that was still strong, 
one resisting in a frenzy of desperation, an enemy who had brought so many tears 
and so much pain to the Soviet people and peoples of oppressed countries. 

On the night of 16 April A. A. Novikov went out to the 8th Guards Army 
observation post, the location of the frontal command headed by Marshal of the 
Soviet Union G. K. Zhukov and Military Council member Genera] K. F. Telegin 
and the location also of the command of this army headed by General V. I. 
Chuykov. 

On 16 April at 0300 hours (Berlin time) powerful artillery preparation of 
unprecedented force began. Thousands of explosions from gun and mortar shells 
shook the air. The light from the gunfire made it seem to be daytime. More than 
ISO night bombers from die 16th and 4th air armies began to bomb staff and com¬ 
munication centers on the enemy’s first and second lines of defense almost 
simultaneously. Before the attack by infantry and tanks was started, 140 antiair¬ 
craft searchlights in response to a single signal were turned on in the sector of 
the main strike grouping of the 1st Belorussian Front, blinding the enemy with 
the light. Artillery shifted its fire to the second line of defense. The troops rushed 
to the attack. Prior to this, 745 heavy night bombers of the 18th Air Army made 
a powerful massed strike against the principal strongpoints on the second line 
of defense. This was an unforgettable picture. A sea of fire raged about the Oder 
Valley and the Seelow heights, the artillery cannonade, the roar of the planes, 
the explosions of heavy bombs, the grinding of the tracks of advancing tanks, 
and automatic weapon fire rolled all along the Oder. At dawn the 16th Air Army 
was committed to the encounter. A low morning fog necessitated corrections in 
its combat employment plan. Between dawn and 0800 hours only ground attack 
aircraft operated in groups of six to nine; Pe-2 dive bombers began their strikes 
against enemy targets after 0800 hours. But the main forces of the 16th Air Army 
were not employed until the second half of the day, after Marshal of the Soviet 
Union G. K. Zhukov decided to commit the 1st and 2nd Guards tank armies to 
the encounter. At 1500 hours there were 647 combat aircraft in the air. This was 
184 



Soviet Bombers Over Berlin. 


I 

a strong air screen for the tank armies, dependably covering them from the air 
and effectively suppressing enemy artillery fire. At the same time, enemy avia¬ 
tion became extremely active. The enemy tried to penetrate to the combat forma¬ 
tions of our advancing tank armies in groups of 20-40 aircraft. Savage air en¬ 
gagements began, lasting until the end of the day. Fighters of the 16th Air Army 
operated decisively along the entire front, both over the battlefield and at the ap¬ 
proaches to it. In most cases the air engagements were fought at the approaches 
to our troops. This was possible due to an excellently functioning network of 
radar stations, which promptly detected enemy aviation and provided the data 
permitting the maneuver of fighter aviation and augmentation of its efforts in 
the most threatened sectors. 

That day our aviation concentrated its efforts on suppressing enemy de¬ 
fenses on the Seelow heights and on supporting the tank armies; two-thirds of 
all sorties were flown to accomplish this mission. 

On the first day of the operation the 16th Air Army flew 5,300 combat sor¬ 
ties, including 3,200 against enemy artillery batteries, tank groupings, and pock¬ 
ets of resistance. Concentration of the main forces within the zones of advance 
of the 5th Shock, 2nd Guards Tank, 8th Guards, and 1st Guards Tank armies 
operating in the main sector, was typical of its actions. In all, eight air corps 

185 



and seven independent air divisions were operating within the zones of advance 
of these armies. During the day General S. I. Rudenko’s pilots fought IS1 air 
engagements and shot down 131 enemy planes. Our losses were also high—87 
planes. 95 

The offensive developed successfully on the 1st Ukrainian Front. By the 
end of 16 April Marshal of the Soviet Union I. S. Konev’s troops, with strong 
air support had penetrated the first line of defense rather quickly and had begun 
the fight for the second. The water obstacle afforded by the Neisse did not help 
the Germans either. By 1000 hours successful assault crossings had been made 
along the entire front of advance. 

Under the command of General S. A. Krasovskiy, on the first day the 2nd 
Air Army supported the main grouping of the 1 st Ukrainian Front as it penetrated 
the defenses and made an assault crossing over the Neisse River. In support of 
the advancing troops and covered by 2S0 fighters, 418 bombers and ground at¬ 
tack aircraft were involved for more than 2 hours straight in destroying the princi¬ 
pal strongpoints and fire positions on the first line of defense and delivered a 
highly effective concentrated strike against objectives near Forst. Later, groups 
of 6-12 ground attack planes continually struck enemy artillery, troops, and 
strongpoints directly ahead of the ground forces combined arms formations, ac¬ 
companying them in the course of the offensive. Concurrently troops and defen¬ 
sive structures near Cottbus and Spremberg were destroyed by several concen¬ 
trated bomber strikes. Supporting frontal troops, during the day the 2nd Air 
Army flew 3,546 combat sorties, including 2,380 in the sector of the main thrust. 
On that day 33 air engagements were fought and 40 fascist German planes were 
shot down. A. A. Novikov placed a high value on the actions of the 2nd Air 
Army. Units of the I and II Guards Ground Attack air corps (commanders Gener¬ 
als V. G. Ryazanov and S. V. Slyusarev) gave an especially good account of 
themselves. With their powerful strikes they forced the enemy guns to remain 
silent in the face of the advancing troops, and thus they helped the troops quickly 
capture enemy centers of resistance on the first line. 

In all, during the first days the Soviet Air Force flew more than 10,500 com¬ 
bat sorties in support of troops of the 1st Belorussian and 1st Ukrainian fronts. 
On the night of 17 April the main forces of the 18th Air Army continued to bomb 
enemy targets on the Seelow heights. It flew 759 sorties and dropped 931 tons 
of bombs. 96 Later during the operation the 18th Air Army made several massed 
night strikes closely tied in with the actions of tank armies from the 1st Belorus¬ 
sian and 1st Ukrainian fronts. It made its third strike on the night of 18 April 
with 214 planes against reserves and strongpoints northeast and east of Berlin; 
the fourth strike came on the night of 21 April with 529 bombers against troops 
and targets in Berlin; the fifth strike was made on the night of 25 April against 
Berlin’s strongpoints by 111 planes and the sixth strike was made on the night 
of 26 April by 563 planes. 97 On 17 April the Supreme Commander ordered I. 
S. Konev, commander of the 1st Ukrainian Front, to turn the 3rd and 4th Guards 
tank armies northwest for a thrust on Berlin from the south. These instructions 
were implemented. 

186 





The Stavka ordered the 2nd Be¬ 
lorussian Front to go over to the offen¬ 
sive on 20 April and to make a thrust to¬ 
ward Schoenebeck with its main forces 
not later than 22 April, bypassing Ber¬ 
lin on the north. 98 

After brief artillery preparation, 
on the morning of 18 April troops of the 
1 st Belorussian Front resumed their of¬ 
fensive, and by 19 April they com¬ 
pleted the breakthrough of the third 
zone of the Oder line of defense; then 
by the end of 21 April they penetrated 
enemy defenses throughout their entire 
depth right up to Berlin. 

The frontal air armies actively 
supported the advancing troops 
throughout the operation with powerful 
strikes by day bombers and constant ac¬ 
tions by ground attack aircraft. Because 
the coordination of air corps and independent air divisions with tank and com¬ 
bined arms armies was clearly organized beforehand and because operational 
groups from the air armies and aviation representatives from air formations, with 
their own communication resources, were constantly present in the tank and 
combined arms armies, bombers and ground attack aircraft could be promptly 
targeted against enemy targets, precisely at the times specified by the combined 
arms chiefs. For example, on 18 April 16th Air Army dive bombers dealt very 
effectively with approaching German reserves near Bidsdorf and Muencheberg. 
The 1st Belorussian Front’s 16th Air Army provided air support to troops pene¬ 
trating through the Oder line of defense between 16 and 19 April, and it firmly 
maintained air supremacy. In the 4 days of the operation it flew 16,880 combat 
sorties. 

The 1st Ukrainian Front’s 2nd Air Army flew 7,517 sorties between 16 and 

18 April in support of troops penetrating the line of defense along the Neisse 
River. On 17 April alone this air army’s pilots shot down 48 enemy planes in 
air engagements. Pilots of the VI Guards Fighter Corps (commander General A. 
V. Utin), who provided cover to General D. D. Lelyushenko’s 4th Guards Tank 
Army, fought especially well in air engagements. On 17 and 18 April they fought 
in 50 air engagements and destroyed 56 fascist German planes. In the next period 
of the offensive of the two fronts’ troops, the 16th Air Army flew 15,367 sorties 
between 20 and 25 April, the 2nd Air Army flew 10,285 combat sorties between 

19 and 25 April, and between 20 and 25 April the 4th Air Army flew more than 
15,000 sorties in support of the front’s troops, covering them from the air and 
conducting air reconnaissance. 99 Pilots of the Polish Air Force fought closely 
with Soviet pilots. During the operation they successfully completed 865 combat 

187 



11-2 Ground Attack Aircraft Attack 
Targets Near Berlin. 


sorties and shot down 17 fascist German planes in air engagements. 100 

At the beginning of the assault on the central districts of Berlin, aviation 
switched to echeloned actions by small groups of planes. Soviet fighters block¬ 
aded encircled Berlin from the air and provided excellent cover for friendly 
troops. Tank formations of the 1st Belorussian Front captured several army air¬ 
fields, to which 16th Air Army fighters immediately deployed. On 28 April the 
347th Fighter Air Regiment, 193rd Fighter Air Division deployed to Tempeihof 
Airport. Fighting was still going on around the airport. Regimental commander 
Lieutenant Colonel P. B. Dankevich and his wingman were die first to appear 
over the airport. Descending to ground-level flight, the two command planes 
landed at die airport. Soviet gunners suppressed the enemy’s antiaircraft artillery 
and mortar fire, permitting the rest of the planes to land. On the same day the 
515th and 518th fighter air regiments of the same division began combat opera¬ 
tions from Berlin’s Schoenefeld Airport. On 24 April troops of the 1st Belorus¬ 
sian and 1st Ukrainian fronts completed encirclement of die enemy’s Frankfurt- 
Guben grouping southeast of Berlin, and on 25 April, supported by troops of 
the 2nd Belorussian Front, they encircled the enemy’s Berlin grouping. Aviation 
assisted in accomplishment of this highly important mission, and its actions 
against enemy columns and crossings created “bottlenecks” on the roads, hin¬ 
dering the westward movement of the encircled Frankfurt-Guben grouping. On 
25 April troops of the 5th Guards Army met forward units of the American 1st 
Army near Torgau on the Elbe River. As a result, the front of the fascist German 
troops west of Berlin was cut into a northern and southern part. 

Between 26 April and 1 May Air Force efforts were aimed at supporting 
the troops in wiping out the Frankfurt-Guben and Berlin groupings. The encir¬ 
cled Frankfurt-Guben grouping had a strength of up to 200,000 men. Three com¬ 
bined arms armies (3rd, 69th, and 33rd) of the 1st Belorussian Front, two com¬ 
bined arms armies (28th and 3rd Guards) of the 1st Ukrainian Front, and about 
1,000planes of the 16th and 2nd air armies took part in wiping it out. 

Forces of the 2nd and 16th air armies flew 7,244 sorties in support of the 
fronts to annihilate this grouping. Constant observation of the surrounded enemy 
from the air permitted the frontal command to carry out timely reinforcements 
of weak points on the inner front of encirclement and to make extensive use of 
concentrated attacks by our bombers and ground attack aircraft. Fighters were 
employed to destroy the encircled grouping. Aviation played a great role in sup¬ 
port of troops operating on the outer front of encirclement. Ground attack avia¬ 
tion actively opposed the advance of the German 12th Army, which was attempt¬ 
ing to join up with the Frankfurt-Guben grouping from the west. Enemy attempts 
at penetrating die encirclement failed. The 1 st group of Germans was wiped out 
on 1 May near Beelitz. 

The encircled Berlin grouping consisted of the remnants of six divisions 
from the German 9th Army and a large number of special formations with an 
overall strength of 200,000 men. 101 'Hie assault on Berlin began with massed 
strikes by bomber aviation from the 16th, 2nd, and 18th air armies, after which, 
188 



on 26 April, frontal troops began their offensive from all directions toward the 
center of the city. Some 13,000 sorties were flown through the combined efforts 
of die air armies. Fighter aviation, which not only provided cover to the ground 
troops against the aerial enemy but also successfully blockaded the city from the 
air, played an important role in the annihilation of the Berlin grouping. In the 
battles for the city, aviation suppressed and destroyed gun positions concealed 
in stone buildings. 

During the Berlin operation the air armies of the three fronts and the 18th 
Air Army flew more than 91,000 sorties, including 39,559 in support of the 1st 
Belorussian Front, 25,490 in support of the 1st Ukrainian Front, and 26,335 in 
support of the 2nd Belorussian Front. The 16th Air Army flew 59 percent of all 
sorties in die operation with the specific purpose of striking enemy troops and 
equipment on the battlefield and in the operational-tactical depth. The second 
most important mission, which required concentration of Air Force efforts in the 
concluding stage of the war, was to maintain air supremacy and to provide reli¬ 
able cover for the troops against air strikes. During the time of the Berlin opera¬ 
tion our aviation fought 1,317 air engagements, shot down 1,132 enemy planes, 
and destroyed 100 on the ground. 102 Our aviation’s victory was not an easy one. 
It lost 527 planes in air engagements and to antiaircraft artillery fire. 103 It is obvi¬ 
ous from this that the aviation actions were quite intense. Soviet aviation had 
the total initiative in the air, and provided reliable cover for the troops and rear 
area targets of the three fronts. Coordinating closely with the ground forces, the 
Air Force helped them to completely destroy the armed forces of fascist Germany 
in the battle of Berlin. 


“The war culminated in the gigantic Berlin encounter,” said L. I. Brezhnev 
at a solemn meeting dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Soviet people’s vic¬ 
tory in the Great Patriotic War. “A ring of fire literally strangled what remained 
of the once-powcrful army of the Third Reich. The Hitlerites resisted with the 
desperation of madmen. But the enemy was crushed and annihilated. . . . The 
Soviet flag, the red banner of victory, was planted above the lair of fascism. ” 104 

Early in the morning on 1 May the Banner of Victory was unfurled above 
the Reichstag. On 1 May pilots of the 2nd Air Army made an unusual flight over 
Berlin. By order of the command the Guards fighter pilots prepared two panels 
of red cloth. One of them bore the inscription “Victory” on one side and “Glory 
to Soviet Soldiers Who Hoisted the Banner of Victory Over Berlin ” on the other 
side; the other read “Long Live the First of May.” During the day, escorted by 
16 fighters commanded by Twice Hero of the Soviet Union Colonel A. V. Vo- 
rozheykin and flown by Heroes of the Soviet Union V. N. Buyanov, I. P. 
Laveykin, P. I. Peskov, and other celebrated pilots, the two courageous pilots 
Guards Captain V. K. Novoselov and Major N. A. Malinovskiy appeared over 
the Reichstag and dropped the red panels by parachute. These panels of cloth, 
which could be seen from far away on the ground, heralded, as it were, the total 
victory of the Soviet Armed Forces on the ground, at sea, and in the air. By the 
end of 2 May, Berlin was completely occupied by Soviet troops. The troops of 

189 




Soviet Fighters Over the Reichstag. 


the 2nd Belorussian Front struck Rostock, destroyed the German 3rd Tank 
Army, reached the coast of the Baltic Sea, and came into contact with the English 
2nd Army on the Wismar-Schwerin-Elbe River line. On 8 May 1945 the act of 
unconditional surrender of fascist Germany was signed in the Berlin suburb of 
Karlshorst. The fall of Berlin and the subsequent unconditional surrender of fas¬ 
cist Germany were the most important results of the Berlin operation. 

Soviet aviation once again demonstrated its invincible might in the Berlin 
operation. The flight crews passed their combat maturity examination brilliantly, 
and the Soviet Army Air Force command, the commanders of the air armies, 
and the commanders of the formations and units demonstrated their ability to 
organize and control aviation under complex conditions. 

The Communist Party and Soviet government placed a high value on the 
combat actions of personnel in the air armies. The honorary Berlin and Branden¬ 
burg titles were awarded to 45 air units and formations. Thousands of pilots, 
navigators, aerial gunners, mechanics, political workers, staff officers, and rear 
services workers received orders and medals. Those who distinguished them¬ 
selves in battle the most were awarded the lofty title of Hero of the Soviet Union. 
Major I. N. Kozhedub, a participant in the Berlin operation, was awarded his 
third Gold Star of a Hero of the Soviet Union. 

Order No. 359 of the Supreme Commander, dated 2 May 1945, concerning 
the final destruction of the Berlin grouping and capture of Germany’s capital, 
Berlin, by troops of the 1st Belorussian and 1st Ukrainian fronts made mention 
of . . pilots Chief Marshal of Aviation A. A. Novikov. Chief Marshal of 
Aviation A. Ye. Golovanov, Generals S. I. Rudenko, S. A. Krasovskiy, Ye. 
190 





Ya. Savitskiy, Ye. M. Bektskiy, G. N. Tupikov, Ye. F. Loginov, G. S. 
Schetchikov, V. Ye. Nestertsev, V. G. Ryazanov, A. V. Utin, B. K. Tokarev, 
I. V. Krupskiy, A. Z. Karavatskiy, I. P. Skok, B. A. Sidnev, I. M. Dzusov, 
S. V. Slyusarev, V. M. Zabaluyev, P. P. Arkhangel’skiy, andG. I. Komarov, 
and Colonels V. J. Stalin, D. T. Nikishin, A. I. Pokryshkin, and V. I. Aleksan¬ 
drovich.” 105 

In the concluding stage of the war against fascist Germany the Soviet Air 
Force provided invaluable assistance to the ground troops in the destruction and 
capture of major enemy groupings during the liberation of Poland, Czecho¬ 
slovakia, Hungary, the eastern part of Germany, and a significant part of Aus¬ 
tria. In the concluding operations of 1944—1945 the Soviet Air Force flew 
1,470,600 combat sorties, dropped 18,332,000 bombs on the enemy, and in¬ 
flicted significant manpower and equipment losses. Soviet aviation and antiair¬ 
craft artillery destroyed more than 21,000 enemy planes in the air and on the 
ground.' 06 The Supreme High Command attached extremely great significance 
to the actions of Soviet aviation, concentrating its major groupings in the sectors 
of the main thrusts of the ground troops. This was achieved by allocating Su¬ 
preme High Command air reserves and combining the efforts of aviation from 
fascist German army groups North, Center, Northern Ukraine, and Southern 
Ukraine were destroyed in 1944 with the most active support from Soviet pilots. 
The enemy’s strategic groupings operating on the Soviet-German front in the 
offensive operations of 1945 were subjected to even more crushing air strikes. 
During the operations the Soviet Air Force firmly held the strategic initiative in 
the air, possessed great striking power and tremendous reserves, and surpassed 
the enemy in the art of maneuvering numbered air forces and formations, in 
controlling them, and in the skill and moral qualities of the personnel. The vic¬ 
tories on the war fronts heightened the sense of pride of the soldiers in their great 
fatherland, strengthened their faith in the power of our combat equipment, and 
inspired them to new feats. Steadfastness, bravery, and love for the motherland 
were nurtured in battles and encounters. The command, political organs, and 
party and Komsomol organizations unswervingly raised the level of their party- 
political work, tempered the fighting spirit of the airmen, infused them with a 
deep faith in a victorious outcome of the war, and inspired devotion to the 
socialist motherland and hate for the enemy. In the third period of the Great Pat¬ 
riotic War against fascist Germany the Soviet Air Force successfully accom¬ 
plished all its assigned missions in close coordination with other services of the 
Armed Forces. 

The war in Europe came to an end. May 9 became Victory Day. The peoples 
of Europe were given the opportunity for peaceful democratic development. The 
victorious conclusion of the war in Europe created the necessary conditions for 
a quick defeat of imperialist Japan and for the end of World War II. 


191 




Notes 


1. Patriotic War Short History, p. 318. 

2. Archives, f. 35, op. 11282, d. 262,1.35;d. 502,11.165-67. 

3. Ibid.,op. 11321,d. 93,1.39. 

4. Ibid.,op. 11250,d. tOl, 1.1;op. 73889,‘d. 1,1.1. 

5. Ibid.,d. 91,11.7-186; f. 92,op. 78122,d. 7,11.4-66. 

6. Ibid.,f.35,op. 11284,d. 1169,11.57-102. 

7. Ibid.,op. 11250,d. 100,11.128,I82;d.91,1.195. 

8. Ibid , op. 11285, d. 954,11.30-31. 

9. Ibid., 11.33-37. 

10. Ibid.,op. 11275,d. 1221,11.1-8. 

11. By GKO decision, on 20 October 1943 the names of the fronts were changed: Central to Be¬ 
lorussian, Kalinin to 1st Baltic, Baltic to 2nd Baltic, Voronezh to 1st Ukrainian, Steppe to 
2nd Ukrainian, Southwestern to 3rd Ukrainian, and Southern to 4th Ukrainian. The numbered 
air armies within these fronts remained unchanged. 

12. USSR Aviation andCosmonauncs.p. 177. 

13. Archives, f. 302, op. 4196, d. 63,1.58. 

14. Great Patriotic War, TV, 66. 

15. Patriotic War Short History, p. 330. 

16. USSR Aviation andCosmonautics. p. 180. 

17. Patriotic War Short History, p. 341. 

18. USSR Aviation and Cosmonautics, pp. 185,186. 

19. Patriotic War Short History, p. 343. 

20. Great Patriotic War, IV, 125. 

21. S. M. Shtemenko, General'nyyshlab vgody voyny [The General Staff in the War Years] (Mos¬ 
cow, 1968), p. 239. (Hereafter referred to as Shtemenko—U.S. Ed.] 

22. SAFin World WarII, p. 291. 

23. Ibid. 

24. Archives, f. 35, op. 11285, d. 954,11.55-64. 

25. 16-ya Vozdushnaya armiya [The 16th Air Army], pp. 141, 142. [Hereafter referred to as 16th 
Air Army —U.S. Ed.] 

26. Archives,f.368,op. 142206,d.49,1.9;op. 20551,d. 213,1.11. 

27. Ibid.,f. 290,op. 142208,d. 55,11.13-17. 

28. Zhukov, n, 252. 

29. Archives. f.39,op. 11519,d. 1080, 1.7. 

30. Ibid.. f. 290, op. 12943, d. 17,1.503; f. 319, op. 14296, d. 22,1.46. 

31. Ibid.,f.290,op. 142208,d.46,1.33. 

32. Ibid. 

33. Ibid., op. 12943, d. 8,11.226,251,283. 

34. Ibid.,f.35,op.283348,d.6,1.58. 

35. Ibid., f. 368, op. 15054,d. 11,1.581. 

36. Vcryenno-istoricheskiy zhumal. No. 2,1971, p. 26. 

37. Archives, f. 368, op. 142206, d. 49,1.41. 

38. Zhukov, n, 256. 

39. Archives, f. 368, op. 142206, d. 29,11. 1-49. 

40. Ibid.,f. 35,op. 11250,d. 124,11.60-61. 

41. Ibid , f. 368, op. 142206, d. 49,11.44-50; f. 319, op. 142196, d. 31,11.85-100. 

42. Ibid., f. 319, op. 142196, d. 22,1.140; f. 368, op. 142206, d. 49.1.44. 

43. Ibid., f. 363, op. 16708,d.6,1.258. 

44. USSR Aviation and Cosmonautics, p. 192. 

45. Archives, f. 216, op. 392279, d. 4,11.244,294. 

46. Ibid.,f.35,op. 11250,d. 124,1.34. 

47. Ibid., 1.6. 

48. USSR Aviation and Cosmonautics,?. 200. 

49. Ibid., p. 203. 

50. Archives,f.3S,op. 11275,d. 93,1.22. 

192 




51. USSR A viation and Cosmonautics, p. 163. 

52. Ibid., p. 204. 

53. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhumal, No. II, 1975,p.42. 

54. Ibid.,p.43. 

55. Ibid., No. 7,1975, p. 74. 

56. Patriotic War Short History, p. 579. 

57. Archives, f. 35, op. 11250,d. 68,11.3-6. 

58. Ibid.,op. 11285,d. 754,11.1-2. 

59. Ibid., 1.117. 

60. Patriotic War Short History, p. 459. 

61. The 6th Air Fleet possessed 1,050 combat aircraft, of which about 45 percent were flying mis¬ 
sions in East Prussia. 

62. Archives, f. 368,op. 6476, d. 557,1. 249. 

63. 16th Air Army. pp. 245-46. 

64. Archives, f. 368,op. 6476,d. 557,1.265. 

65. SAP in World War 11. p. 367. 

66. Ibid.,p. 370. 

67. 16thAirArmy, p. 269. 

68. Ibid.,p.270. 

69. Ibid , p.276. 

70. USSR Aviation and Cosmonautics, p. 209. 

71. Ibid ,pp. 209,210. 

72. SAP in World War 11. pp. 386-87. 

7 3. Patriotic War Short History, p. 471. 

74. SAF in World War II, p. 350. 

75. Ibid. 

76. Ibid , p.353. 

77. Ibid. 

:g. Ibid , pp. 355,356. 

79. A. M. Vasilevskiy, Delo v-rey zhizni [An Entire Life’s Work] (Moscow, 1973),p.487. 

80. 9 maya 1945 goda [9 May 1945] (Moscow, 1970), p. 276. [Hereafter referred to as 9 May 
1945— U.S.Ed.J 

81. Archives, f. 241, op. 2593, d. 988,11.202-7. 

82. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhumai, No. 9, 1968, p. 73; 9May 1945. p. 277. 

83. 9May 1945, p.288. 

84. Ibid.,p.292. 

85. USSR Aviation and Cosmonautics, p. 165, SAF in World War 364 

86. Patriotic War Short History, p. 491. 

87. SAF in World War 11, p. 388. 

88. Osvoboditel' naya missiya Sovetskikh Vooruzhennykh Sit vo vtoroy mirovoy voyne [The Libera¬ 
tion Mission of the Soviet Armed Forces in World War II] (Moscow, 1974), p. 368. {Hereafter 
referred to as Liberation Mission —U.S. Ed.] 

89. Ibid., pp. 366-67. 

90. 16 th Air Army, p. 322. 

91. SAFinWorldWaril, p. 389. 

92. 9May 1945, p. 297. 

93. Ibid.,p.299. 

94. Archives, f. 368, op. 21863 6 13,. . 

95. 9 May 1945, p. 311. 

96. Ibid. 

97. USSR Aviation and Cosmonautics, p. 217. 

98. Liberation Mission, p. 373. 

99. /siortyoSSSU[USSRHiitoty],No. 3,1975,p. 43. 

100. 16th Air Army, p. 381. 

101. Liberation Mission, p. 380. 

102. SAFinWorldWarII, p.412. 

103. Great Patriotic War, V. 290. 


193 




104. L. I. Brezhnev, Leninskim kursom, Rechi i stat'i [Following Lenin's Course: Speeches and 
Articles], I, (Moscow, 1970), p. 127. 

105. Prikary Verkhovnogo Glavnokomanduyushchego v period Velikoy Olechestvennoy voyny 
Sovelskogo Soyuza [Orders of the Supreme Commander in the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet 
Union] (Moscow, 1975), pp. 494-96. 

106. SAFin WorldWarll. p. 415. 


194 


Chapter 7. In the Far East 


The Situation in Summer 1945 

Peace came to Europe following surrender of fascist Germany. But in the 
Far East World War II was still going on. Rejecting the surrender ultimatum of 
the U.S., England, and China on 29 July 1945, imperialist Japan continued its 
military actions, counting on evading a total defeat and achieving an advanta¬ 
geous compromise peace. The Soviet Union could not remain indifferent to mili¬ 
tary events occurring near its Far Eastern borders. For many decades Japanese 
imperialism was a constant source of aggression in Asia, it was an ally of Hitler¬ 
ite Germany, and it was a most bitter enemy of our motherland. In 1940 the gov¬ 
ernment of Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Hitlerite Germany and Italy; 
this pact was aimed directly against the USSR. Japanese imperialists concen¬ 
trated their large Kwantung Army in Manchuria, and for 3 years they awaited 
the moment for attack. And it was only the heroic struggle of the Soviet people 
and their Armed Forces against the fascist invaders and their major victories in 
the battles of Moscow, Stalingrad, and Kursk that cooled the military fervor of 
the Japanese militarists and kept them from attacking our Motherland. Neverthe¬ 
less during these times of difficulties for the USSR the Kwantung Army pinned 
down more than 40 Soviet ground divisions and major air and naval forces in 
the Far East, forces so badly needed by the Soviet Armed Forces in the war 
against fascist Germany. 

Faithful to its duty to the Allies, in compliance with decisions made in Feb¬ 
ruary 1945 at the Yalta Conference, on 5 April the Soviet Union denounced its 
treaty of neutrality with Japan. This was a serious warning to Japan, but it went 
unheeded. Its rulers, who possessed a ground army almost 5 million strong and 
major air and naval forces, counted on protracting the war, splitting the antifas¬ 
cist alliance by diplomatic tricks, avoiding total defeat, and achieving an advan¬ 
tageous compromise treaty. 

“We had nothing left,” writes Army General S. M. Shtemenko in his 
memoirs, “but to activate our preparations to accomplish our obligations to the 
Allies.” 1 

The Armed Forces in the Far East, including the Air Force, began major 
preparations. A plan for regrouping air formations from the west to the Far East 
was developed in April by the VVS command and staff in response to General 
Staff instructions. The following formations moved: The VI Bomber Air Corps 
(commander General I. P. Skok) consisting of the 326th and 334th bomber air 

195 



divisions; the VII Bomber Air Corps (commander General V. A. Ushakov) con¬ 
sisting of the 113th and 179th bomber air divisions; the 190th Independent 
Fighter Air Division, without its planes (commander Colonel V. V. Fokin); the 
54th Transport and 21st Guards Transport air divisions (commanders Generals 
V. A. Shchelkin and I. M. Gorskiy). The Soviet Army Air Force commander 
published his executive directive ordering the regrouping of air formations from 
the west to the Far East on 24 June 1945. Groups of officer specialists were ap¬ 
pointed from the VVS staff and directorates to monitor the move and provide 
assistance. They were sent to the air formations and to locations along the route. 
The Soviet Army Air Force staff supervised the transfer of the air formations. 
Twice a day the staffs First Directorate reported to the VVS Military Council 
and submitted reports to the General Staff. In the period between 25 June and 
10 July 1945 the VVS command and staff implemented measures to man air units 
and formations in the air armies in the Far East and to provide new planes to 
them. At the end of June 1945 the Stavka sent its representative, Marshal of the 
Soviet Union A. M. Vasilevskiy, and Soviet Army Air Force commander Chief 
Marshal of Aviation A. A. Novikov to the Far East. On 30 July 1945 the Stavka 
decided to create a special higher organ of command and control in the Far 
East—the High Command of Soviet Far East Troops. 2 Marshal of the Soviet 
Union A. M. Vasilevskiy was appointed commander in chief. General I. V. Shi- 
kin was appointed Military Council member, and General S. P. Ivanov was ap¬ 
pointed chief of staff. Coordination of the actions of the Pacific Fleet and the 
Red Banner Amur Naval Flotilla with troops of the fronts was assigned to Fleet 
Admiral N. G. Kuznetsov, while coordination of the actions of all allocated avia¬ 
tion resources and coordination with ground troops and the Navy were assigned 
to Chief Marshal of Aviation A. A. Novikov. The field headquarters of the 
Soviet Army Air Force commander was staffed by the following generals and 
officers from the VVS command and directorates—N. P. Dagayev, B. V. Ster- 
ligov, V. N. Uspenskiy, N. F. Andrianov, M. N. Kozhevnikov, P. F. Korotkov, 
1.1. Zhdanov, P. A. Kolesnikov, L. I. Smirnov, and others. On 5 August 1945 
the Stavka redesignated the Maritime Group of Forces as the 1st Far Eastern 
Front, and the Far Eastern Front as the 2nd Far Eastern Front. 3 


The Japanese command maintained significant ground and air forces oppo¬ 
site the Soviet Union on the territory of Manchuria and Korea, on Southern 
Sakhalin, and in the Kurile Islands. The Kwantung Army, which consisted of 
the 1st (Eastern Manchurian) Front, the 3rd (Western Manchurian) Front, the 
4th Independent Army, the 2nd Air Army, and the Sungari River Naval Flotilla, 
was located in Manchuria. 4 As soon as military operations began, the 34th Army 
of the 17th (Korean) Front and the 5th Air Army were included in the Kwantung 
Army. In all, the Kwantung Army possessed 24 infantry divisions, 8 infantry 
brigades, and 1 special-purpose (Kamikaze) brigade, for a total of 443,000 sol¬ 
diers and officers, 1,155 tanks, 5,360 guns, 25 warships, and 1,800 planes. 5 In 
addition, the Manchukuo army, the forces of Inner Mongolia, and the Suiyuan 
Army Group (13 infantry and cavalry divisions, 14 infantry and cavalry 
brigades, and 4 independent cavalry regiments, with a strength of 280,000 men) 
were subordinate to the commander in chief of the Kwantung Army. Three infan- 
196 





try divisions, an infantry brigade, an independent infantry regiment, and an inde¬ 
pendent tank regiment with a strength of 100,000 men were deployed on South¬ 
ern Sakhalin and in the Kurile Islands. These troops were part of the 5th Front, 
subordinate directly to the Japanese Imperial Staff. In all, the Soviet Armed 
Forces were opposed in the area of forthcoming combat actions by troops of four 
fronts, one independent Japanese ground force army, one naval flotilla, and two 
air armies. Counting the Manchukuo Army, the forces of Inner Mongolia, and 
the Suiyuan Army Group, the enemy troops had a strength of 871,000 men, 
1,215 tanks, 6,700 guns and mortars, 25 ships, and 1,907 aircraft. Strategic re¬ 
serves (more than two field armies—six to eight divisions) were deployed in the 
vicinity of Beijing. 6 Along the Soviet border the Japanese militarists set up a 
system of permanent fortifications 1000 km long, including 17 fortified areas 
(8,000 pillboxes and other reinforced concrete structures). The Maritime-Man- 
churian operational sector, which contained seven fortified areas, was covered 
the most strongly. There were 20 air bases, 133 airfields, and over 200 landing 
strips capable of supporting up to 6,000 planes in Manchuria and Korea. 7 

The main forces of the Kwantung Army were concentrated on the Manchu¬ 
rian Plain. About one-third of the army troops were in fortified areas within the 
border zone. The Japanese command intended to halt Soviet troops with coun¬ 
terblows by its main forces and force them to go over to the defensive, after 
which it planned to conduct an extensive counteroffensive with the objective of 
invading the Soviet Far East. Planning military activities in the Far East, the 
Soviet Stavka allocated the forces of the Transbaykal, 1st Far Eastern and 2nd 
Far Eastern fronts, the Pacific Fleet, and the Amur River Naval Flotilla to 
achieve the goals of the campaign. In order to reinforce troops of the Far East, 
two frontal directorates, the 5th, 39th and 53rd combined arms, and the 6th 
Guards Tank armies were transferred by rail from the West between 6 May and 
the start of July. This was a total of 27 divisions, 12 brigades, a number of inde¬ 
pendent formations and special units, and a great deal of combat equipment. 8 
By the beginning of military actions the three fronts possessed 11 combined 
arms, one tank, and three air armies; this included the troop groupings allocated 
from the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Army. Their total strength was 80 
divisions (including six cavalry, two tank, and two motorized rifle), four tank 
and mechanized corps, six rifle brigades, and 40 tank and mechanized brigades. 
The grouping had a strength of 1,578,000 men and more than 26,000 guns and 
mortars. The Pacific Naval Fleet possessed 427 warships. The Amur River 
Naval Flotilla possessed 83 ships. Three PVO armies provided air cover to the 
troop concentrations. Soviet-Mongolian troops were superior to enemy troops 
in personnel by a factor of 2, in guns by a factor of 4, in tanks and self-propelled 
guns by a factor of 4, and in planes by a factor of 2.5. 9 - 10 The Soviet Air Force 
grouping in the Far East included the 12th Air Army of the Transbaykal Front 
(commander Marshal of Aviation S. A. Khudyakov, deputy for political affairs 
General S. A. Pal’yanov, chief of staff General N. G. Seleznev), the 9th Air 
Army of the 1st Far East Front (commander General I. M. Sokolov, deputy com¬ 
mander for political affairs General F. N. Khorobrykh, chief of staff General 
A. V. Stepanov), the 10th Air Army of the 2nd Far Eastern Front (commander 

197 






Table 6. Composition of the Soviet Air Force in the Far East at the 
Beginning of Combat Actions.* 





Air Divisions 




Air 

army 

Air 

corps 

Bomber 

air 

divi¬ 

sions 

Ground 

Attack 1 Fighter 
air air 

divi- , divi¬ 
sions sions 

Com- Trans- 

posite port 

air air 

divi- divi¬ 
sions sions 

~1 

Total 

Inde¬ 

pend¬ 

ent 

regi¬ 

ments 

Combat 

Aircraft 

9th 

1 

Bomber 

air 

corps' 

3 

2 ! 3 


8 

4 

1.137 

10th 

i 

Com¬ 

posite 

air 

corps 

1 

i 

2 ■ 3 

j 

1 

1 

2 ! 

8 

2 

1.260 

12th 

2 

Bomber 

air 

corps 

... * 

2 3 

2 

13 

2 

1,324 

Total 


10 

6 1 9 

_1_ 

2 2 

• 

29 

8 

— 

3.721 


* Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhurnal, No. 8, 1975, p. 66. 

♦The 19th ADD Bomber Air Corps was operationally subordinate to the 9th Air Army. 
Aviation of the Pacific Fleet had a strength of more than 1,500 planes. Velikaya Otechestvennaya 
voyna Sovetskogo Soyuza 1941-1945 gg.: Kratkaya isioriya [The Great Patriotic War of the 
Soviet Union 1941-1945: A Short History], p. 544. 


P. F. Zhigarev, deputy commander for political affairs Colonel S. K. Fedorov, 
chief of staff General S. A. Lavrik), the XIX Bomber Air Corps of the 18th Air 
Army (commander General N. A. Volkov), and the Pacific Fleet VVS (com¬ 
mander General P. M. Lemeshko)(table6). 


Preparations for Combat Actions in the Far East 

In planning the Far East campaign, the Stavka assigned the following mis¬ 
sions to armed forces in the Far East: destroy the Kwantung Army, which was 
the main strike force of imperialist Japan, force the Japanese government to sur¬ 
render and thus eliminate the center of aggression in the Far East. The concept 
of the Soviet command was as follows: the forces of three fronts were to break 
through the enemy system of fortified areas in several sectors; then, exploiting 
the offensive on sectors converging toward Harbin, Changchun, and Mukden, 
encircle the enemy main forces, cut them off, and destroy them piecemeal. In 
accordance with this concept the Transbaykal Front was assigned the mission 
of making the main strike with the forces of the 17th, 39th, and 53rd combined 
arms armies and the 6th Guards Tank Army in the general direction of 
198 





Changchun, defeating the opposing enemy, crossing the Great Hinggan range 
and, joining forces with the 1 st Far East Front, cutting off the route of withdrawal 
of Japanese troops from Manchuria. The 36th Army made a supporting thrust 
toward Hailar, and a cavalry-mechanized group from the Soviet-Mongolian 
forces made a subsidiary attack toward Kalgan-Dolonnur. The mission of the 
1st Far East Front was to advance on Jilin, Changchun, and Harbin with forces 
of the 1st Red Banner, 5th, and 25th armies and the X Mechanized Corps, break 
through the system of fortifications, defeat opposing enemy troops, join forces 
with the Transbaykal Front, and encircle the Kwantung Army. Supporting 
thrusts were made by the 35th Army toward Boli and by the 25th Army toward 
Wanging. The mission of the 2nd Far Eastern Front was to advance on Harbin 
with the forces of the 15th Army and the V Rifle Corps, attack Qiqihar with part 
of its forces, and take up defensive positions along the Amur River, on Sakhalin, 
and on the coast of the Tatar Strait. 

The Pacific Fleet was to interdict enemy sea lines of communication, land 
assault landing parties, capture ports in North Korea in coordination with troops 
of the 1st Far Eastern Front, and support friendly sea lines of communication 
in the Sea of Japan and the Tatar Strait. 

The Far East Air Force had the following combat missions: achieve air 
supremacy and dependably cover the main troop groupings of the fronts against 
air strikes; prevent the enemy from maneuvering his reserves by striking rail fa¬ 
cilities, trains, and motor vehicle columns; support ground troops in their pene¬ 
tration of the system of fortified areas, and in their exploitation of the success 
in depth; destroy troop command and control by actions against headquarters and 
communication centers; conduct air reconnaissance systematically. 

The combat actions of the air armies were planned as an air offensive, with 
consideration given to the specific conditions under which the ground troops 
were to accomplish their combat missions. Ninety-five percent of all forces of 
the 12th Air Army were assigned to support and cover the troops of the Trans¬ 
baykal Front advancing in the main sector. Two ground attack air divisions—the 
248th and the 316th (commanders Colonels I. B. Savel’yev and A. A. 
Yerokhin)—and the 245th Fighter Air Division (commander Colonel G. P. 
Pleshchenko) were assigned the sole mission of supporting the 6th Guards Tank 
Army, which was in the first operational echelon of the front’s troops and which 
was to advance swiftly in the direction of Changchun. The mission assigned to 
bomber aviation formations of the 12th Air Army was to demoralize the enemy 
rear area in the first days of the operation, disrupt the lines of communication, 
and isolate the area of the encounter from reserves. 1 ' Two bomber, two ground 
attack, and one fighter division were assigned to actions against airfields in the 
first day of the operation. 12 

In the 9th Air Army, bomber and ground attack aviation directed its main 
efforts at razing defensive structures and suppressing troops on the battlefield. 
The plan called for powerful aerial preparation in the form of massed bomber 
strikes, and for continuous support and cover of advancing troops penetrating 

199 


The Soviet Army VVS Command at a 12th Air Army Forward Control Post. Left 
to Right: Marshal of Aviation S. A. Khudyakov, General N. G. Seleznev, Chief 
Marshal of Aviation A. A. Novikov, General V. N. Uspenskiy, General B. V. 
Sterligov, Colonel M. N. Kozhevnikov. 

the Mishan, Pogranicheskiy, Dongning and Dongxingzheng fortified areas. 13 

The efforts of the 10th Air Army were concentrated on supporting frontal 
troops making an assault crossing of the Amur River and advancing in the direc¬ 
tion of the Sungari. 

The Soviet Army Air Force commander and the generals and officers ac¬ 
companying him made a great many preparations in the air armies, air formations 
and units, and at the airfields. They were not only interested in the progress of 
preparations for battle, but they also took an interest in the lives and personal 
affairs of the personnel. In talks with commanders and flight crews, they shared 
the combat experience our aviation had acquired in the fight against the fascist 
German invaders. 

Air formations permanently deployed in the Far East made their prepara¬ 
tions for 3 months, while those arriving from the European territory had from 
15 to 30 days in which to prepare. In this time the air armies were replenished 
with new planes, flight crews, and technicians, and they took steps to camou¬ 
flage the airfields and control posts; this played an impoitant role in successful 
destruction of the Kwantung Army. 

Jointly with the staffs of the fronts and of the combined arms and tank ar¬ 
mies and with the participation of the Soviet Army Air Force field staff, the air 
army staffs prepared detailed coordination plans, standard encoded maps, radio 
200 





signals, procedure tables, and troop and aviation coordination signals, Opera¬ 
tional groups consisting of air army staff officers tasked to call in aviation from 
airfields, control it on the battlefield, work out with the combined arms com¬ 
mand problems of coordination during the operation, and keep the air army com¬ 
mander and staff informed on the ground and air situation in their areas were 
assigned to tank and combined arms armies tasked to advance in the main sec¬ 
tors. Air controllers were sent from air formations to rifle and tank divisions. 

Personnel arriving from the west intensively studied the theater of military 
operations on maps and from the air. This theater was distinguished by highly 
complex terrain and climate and by difficult orientation from the air. In order 
to facilitate navigation at the fronts the air armies created, with the help of the 
ground troops, a network of checkpoint and identification signs along the borders 
of the country and on large roads. Numerous ground aids to navigation (radio 
direction finders, light beacons, radio beacons, and so on), which were moved 
to forward airfields on the eve of combat actions, were also widely used. 

The Soviet Army Air Force commander reinforced the air armies with air 
engineering formations and units arriving from the west. Front commanders pro¬ 
vided a great deal of assistance to aviation by supplying troop subunits and en¬ 
gineering equipment for construction of new airfields in the course of combat 
actions. To permit maneuvering of airfields, the air army commanders kept air 
base maintenance battalions in reserve to provide airfield services just behind 
the advancing troops; these battalions were concentrated at the country's border 
at the beginning of August. As a result of intense work, aviation rear services 
units were well prepared for this strategic operation. They created a 15-20 day 
reserve of combat resources and materiel, and they prepared the required airfield 
network. A. A. Novikov and his assistants visited most of the airfields and per¬ 
sonally checked the readiness of our air units and formations. A. M. Vasilevskiy 
and S. P. Ivanov displayed constant concern about the readiness of the air ar¬ 
mies. 

On the eve of the operation the air armies regrouped. Their formations and 
units were redeployed to forward airfields, from which they began their combat 
actions. To conceal the redeployment, the planes were flown to their new air¬ 
fields in small groups at low altitude, with radio communications strictly limited. 
All aircraft were dispersed and camouflaged at the airfields. In addition to the 
operating airfields, an extensive network of dummy airfields was created, avia¬ 
tion equipment mock-ups were set up at these airfields, and combat preparations 
of an air regiment were simulated. Air engineering formations and units and four 
motor transport battalions were transferred from the reserves to the 9th and 12th 
air armies. 

Party-political work was active during the preparatory period. The com¬ 
mand, the political organs, and the party and Komsomol organizations nurtured 
a hatred of the Japanese invaders in the airmen, studied the combat experiences 
of the Soviet Army at Lake Hasan and the Haihin Got River, and mobilized the 
personnel of the air units to make better preparations for combat actions. 


201 



Soviet Air Force Combat Actions 


The ground troops went over to the offensive on the night of 8-9 August 
1945. To achieve surprise, artillery and aerial preparation were not conducted 
before the attack. The forward detachments of frontal troops covertly penetrated 
enemy territory at night, bypassed and blockaded the most important defensive 
fortifications, and began battling the Japanese garrisons. Many of the enemy’s 
border fortifications were captured by dawn on 9 August. 

On that same night 76 crews of the XIX Heavy Bomber Corps flying the 
11-4 struck the rail stations of Harbin and Changchun. During the day of 9 August 
Frontal Aviation initiated combat actions against enemy troops and equipment 
on the battlefield and in enemy areas of concentration, as well as against the rail 
stations and strongpoints of Hailar, Solon, Haishuitang, Wuchaguo, and Hutou, 
shipping on the Sungari River, and enemy airfields at Hailar and Solon. 

Intense air reconnaisssance was conducted from the very first day of the 
operation. It was conducted not only by reconnaissance units and subunits but 
also by up to 30 percent of bomber and ground attack aviation. Air reconnais¬ 
sance was conducted in the sectors and in areas (zones) by visual observation 
and photography. Reconnaissance data were immediately radioed from the 
plane, permitting the Soviet command to react quickly to all changes in the situa¬ 
tion. Air reconnaissance was intense because many targets for which the Soviet 
command had no data in peacetime had to be discovered. Pilots of the 253id 
Ground Attack Air Division (commander Lieutenant Colonel K. T. Tsedrik) 
were especially successful on the first day. They attacked and sank a steamship, 
a barge, three sailboats, and three armored launches. Pilots of the 254th Fighter 
Air Division (commander Colonel N. A. Silayev), employing the “free hunt¬ 
ing” tactic, set a ship afire in the vicinity of Xingchongren and destroyed several 
boats carrying Japanese soldiers. 

Despite unfavorable weather, aviation from the three air armies flew about 
2,000combat sorties during the first day of combat actions. 

When the main forces of the ground troops were committed to the en¬ 
counter, in addition to striking military targets in industrial centers at operational 
depth, the air armies continued to operate at tactical depth—on the battlefield 
and against fortified regions, centers of resistance, and Japanese troops and 
equipment, supporting our advancing troops. 

In these days bomber aviation made a number of strikes against enemy rail 
junctions—Hailar, Harbin, Changchun, and Mudanjiang, against the Hailar and 
Hutou fortified areas, and against shipping on die Sungari River. 

Flying in pairs as “hunters” and in groups of 4 to 12 II—2s, ground attack 
aircraft destroyed enemy troops and equipment on the battlefield with echeloned 
strikes, mainly in the breakthrough sectors in the Sungari, Solon, Hailar, and 
Mudanjiang sectors, i.e., in the principal sectors of the ground troops. 

202 




Destroyed Japanese Aircraft After a Strike by Soviet Aviation. 


Fighter aviation provided direct cover to advancing troops on the battlefield 
and in their areas of concentration. Moreover, fighters were also employed for 
ground attack and reconnaissance missions. They operated in small groups and 
in pairs against enemy troops on highways and dirt roads and against trains at 
stations and sidings, mainly in the sectors of active troop operations near Hailar, 
Solon, Sunwu, Mudanjiang, Hutou, Jiamusi, and Muling, and they performed 
tactical reconnaissance. 

As a rule, 60-70 bombers were assigned for strikes against rail junctions, 
fortified areas, and places where troops were massed. The bombers made con¬ 
centrated attacks against these targets. For example, on 11 August air reconnais¬ 
sance discovered a large massing of enemy troops in the vicinity of Muling. 
More than 60 Pe-2s were assigned the mission of making a concentrated strike 
against these troops. Despite poor weather they reached the target and attacked 
it successfully, dropping their bomb loads precisely on target. As a result the 
enemy suffered significant losses. 

The day before, Pe-2s of the 34th Bomber Air Division, flying as small 
groups (commanded by General M. N. Kalinushkin), flew 120 sorties against 
the Hutou fortified area and made concentrated strikes. Enjoying air support, 
troops of the 35th Army broke Japanese resistance and broke into the city of 
Hutou on that same day.' 4 Ground attack aviation operated effectively. On 12 
August our troops advancing in the Qiqihar sector were halted at Sunwu by in¬ 
tense artillery fire and counterstrikes by enemy troops. Pilots of the 96th Ground 
Attack Air Division (commander Lieutenant Colonel I. A. Kochergin) came to 
their aid. They made several passes at the target, and the Japanese hoisted white 
flags, expressing their readiness to surrender. Accomplishing their missions, 
flight crews displayed valor, bravery, and heroism. Majors. A. Chernykh,com¬ 
mander of the 75th Ground Attack Air Regiment, discovered an enemy armored 

203 


train while flying a “free hunting” mission with flight commander Lieutenant 
Yurchenko at his wing. The lead pilot was hit by antiaircraft fire while attacking 
the target, and the pilot made a forced landing in enemy territory. Landing next 
to him, Yurchenko took his commander aboard his own aircraft and returned to 
their airfield. 15 

Providing direct support to ground troops in bad weather, in the first 3 days 
of the operation aviation inflicted serious manpower and equipment losses on 
the enemy. By its actions it helped our advancing troops successfully penetrate 
enemy defenses and surmount and capture fortified areas, particularly the Man- 
zhouli-Zhalainor, Hailar, Hutou, and Dongning fortified areas, and it supported 
troops from the air as they advanced deep into enemy territory. As a result of 
coordinated strikes from the ground and from the air, in the first day of the offen¬ 
sive Soviet troops advanced from SO to 140 km on the Transbaylutl Front, and 
from 5 to 20 km on the 1st and 2nd Far Eastern fronts. In subsequent days the 
pace of the ground troops' advance was even higher. Stunned by these strikes, 
the Japanese began to withdraw their troops deep into Manchuria, offering resis¬ 
tance mainly in fortified areas and in individual pockets of resistance. The Soviet 
Army Air Force commander with a small operations group from the field staff 
was at the 12th and 9th air army forward control posts, and he directly influenced 
aviation combat actions. In the second phase of the operation, because enemy 
defenses had been penetrated successfully and fortifications had been sur¬ 
mounted throughout the entire tactical depth, the ground troops continued their 
fight with the goal of once and for all crushing the enemy’s pockets of resistance 
and pursuing him. In this period, aviation continued to make bomber and ground 
attack strikes against individual pockets of resistance, strongpoints, and rail 
junctions, preventing the enemy from occupying intermediate lines of defense. 

The 6th Guards Tank Army advanced swiftly. Its activities were continu¬ 
ously supported by aviation of the 248th and 316th ground attack air divisions 
(commanders Colonels I. B. Savel’yev and A. A. Yerokhin) and the 245th 
Fighter Air Division (commander Colonel G. P. Pleshchenko). 

Aviation representatives and forward aviation rear service units moved with 
the tank combat formations, swiftly preparing airfields on which to base aviation 
allocated for cover and support. Operational and tactical coordination organized 
in this manner permitted aviation to render fast and timely assistance to the tank 
formations by striking the enemy wherever the situation required. 

As the 6th Guards Tank Army was crossing the Great Hinggan range, avia¬ 
tion made a number of concentrated strikes against centers of resistance in the 
foothills of this range and bombed large strongpoints and rail stations at Lubei, 
Taonan, and Wangyemiao to clear the way for the tanks. The tank crews ably 
exploited the results of these strikes and, sweeping enemy troops from their way, 
continued to advance quickly to link up with mobile units of die 1st Far Eastern 
Front. On the fourth day of the operation the 6th Guards Tank Army crossed 
the Great Hinggan range and entered the Central Manchurian Plain, having 
covered 450 km in battle. By 14 August, troops of the 39th Army captured Wan- 
204 



1 


The Soviet Army VVS Command Near the Area of 10th Air Army Combat Ac¬ 
tions. Left to Right: P. A. Kolesnikov, N. P. Dagayev, V. N. Bibikov, A. A. 
Novikov, M. N. Kozhevnikov. 

gyemiao and Solon, and the 17th Army and a mechanized cavalry group crushed 
opposing enemy troops and reached the approaches to Kalgan. Aviation also 
helped the tank crews by delivering fuel to them across the Great Hinggan range, 
since the tank divisions were traveling considerably in advance of their supply 
bases in the swift offensive. Transport aviation came to the rescue, delivering 
about 2,000 tons of fuel and 186 tons of ammunition to them by air. On the aver¬ 
age , 90-100 Li-2 transports were used to deliver cargo to 6th Guards Tank Army 
units and formations. 16 

Our infantry also enjoyed active air support. Within the sector of the 1st 
Far Eastern Front the enemy concentrated sizeable forces in the vicinity of 
Mudanjiang in his attempt to prevent our troops from cutting the route of with¬ 
drawal of his troops from Baoqing and Jiamusi. These forces offered stubborn 
resistance, counterattacking several times. Aviation from all branches of the 9th 
Air Army was launched to crush this resistance. During the day large groups of 
bombers and ground attack aircraft made concentrated strikes against enemy 
troops in this area and in the city. The flight crews displayed exceptional bravery 
and an ability to operate under difficult conditions. For example, a group of Pe-2 
bombers (group commander Lieutenant Colonel Plotnikov, commander of the 
59th Bomber Air Regiment) took off to bomb enemy troops at the station and 
in the city of Mudanjiang. On the way to their targets the planes flew into bad 
weather. The ceiling was less than 100 meters. The group commander decided 
to detour the bad weather front on the north and accomplish the combat mission 
at all costs. Descending to 50 meters, the group traveled about 100 km in bad 
weather and reached an area of good weather. Successfully accomplishing its 
mission and inflicting considerable losses on the enemy, the group returned 
safely to its airfield. The battle of Mudanjiang lasted 5 days. The 16th of August 
was the hardest day for the troops of the 1 st Red Banner and 5th armies. Concen¬ 
trating sizable infvitry and tank forces, the enemy made strong counterattacks. 
The 2S2nd Ground Attack Air Division (commander Lieutenant Colonel V. Kh. 

205 




Makarov) was assigned to repel the counterattacks with continuous echeloned 
actions against enemy artillery, tanks, and infantry. It provided decisive assist¬ 
ance to troops in repelling the counterattacks. Enemy attempts at concentrat¬ 
ing troops near Mudanjiang, Hailin, and Ningguta for a counterstrike were also 
foiled, due to concentrated strikes by ground attack planes and bombers from 
the 9th Air Army. The enemy near Mudanjiang was routed due to the joint efforts 
of ground troops and aviation. A massed strike by 108 bombers of the XIX 
Heavy Bomber Air Corps against centers of resistance in the Dongning fortified 
area was highly effective. An inspection of the terrain following its occupation 
by our troops established that four pillboxes, two earth-and-timber emplace¬ 
ments, an ammunition dump, two trenches, and two underground passageways 
had been destroyed by direct hits. After this strike the fortified area was taken 
by our troops, and the Japanese garrison surrendered. Soviet pilots displayed re¬ 
sourcefulness and heroism in the accomplishment of their assigned mission. 

On 14 August a pair of Il-2s (with Lieutenant Garanin in the lead plane) 
was flying a mission to find and attack small scattered enemy groups remaining 
in our rear area and making systematic raids on the Dongning airfield, hindering 
the work of the airbase maintenance battalion preparing the airfield for reception 
of redeployed air units. Unable to find the enemy. Lieutenant Garanin decided 
to land at this airfield and clarify the situation. He ordered his wingman to patrol 
the air against possible attempts by the Japanese to capture his plane while it was 
on the ground, and he landed under enemy fire. Without shutting down his en¬ 
gine Garanin got in touch with the battalion commander, who clarified the situa¬ 
tion. On learning the whereabouts of the targets, he took off. Spotting three 
houses from which the Japanese were shelling the airfield with the greatest inten¬ 
sity, he and his wingman bombed and strafed them. As a result the three houses 
were partially destroyed and burned. Some of the Japanese were killed, and the 
rest scattered. Owing to Lieutenant Garanin’s initiative, boldness, and decisive 
actions the combat mission was accomplished. 

As a result of die joint actions of ground troops and aviation, enemy resis¬ 
tance was broken both in the vicinity of Mudanjiang and at other points, particu¬ 
larly at Kalgan, Sunwu, and Boli. Suffering great losses, the Japanese were 
forced to abandon all these points. 


In the second phase of the operation, aviation had to overcome extremely 
unfavorable meteorological conditions that dramatically restricted its combat ac¬ 
tions. Despite this, aviation continued to support the ground troops as they 
moved forward. 


Successfully completing the first and second phases of the offensive Soviet 
troops continued to pursue the enemy relentlessly deep into Manchuria and on 
the islands. On 18 August the Japanese began abandoning organized resistance 
and surrendering. Only in a few sectors did they continue to offer resistance in 
small isolated groups. 

206 


Because of the swift advance of the ground troops, the long lines of com¬ 
munication, and the lack and poor passability of highways and dirt roads, the 
problem of supplying ammunition, fuel, and food to the troops, including air 
units, became very acute. At the same time, our troops had to quickly capture 
important enemy administrative-political and industrial centers, which required 
extensive assault landing operations. All of this imposed new missions on the 
Soviet Air Force in the third phase of the offensive. A large quantity of ammuni¬ 
tion, food, and fuel had to be airlifted in support of ground troop actions deep 
in the enemy rear area. Small airborne assault parties had to be landed, and, at 
the same time, their actions required combat and logistical support. 

Wide use was made primarily of aviation of the 54th Transport and 21st 
Guards Air Transport divisions by order of the Soviet Army Air Force command¬ 
er to complete these missions. While combat aviation continued to support fron¬ 
tal troops by destroying individual enemy pockets of resistance, transport avia¬ 
tion did a great deal under fighter cover to transfer cargo and land airborne assault 
parties. Airborne assault groups were landed at airfields and in the vicinities of 
Harbin, Jilin, Yangtze, Wonsan (Gensan), Hamhung (Kanko), Pyongyang 
(Heijo), Changchun, Shenyang (Mukden), Talien (Dairen), and Lushun (Port 
Arthur). Additional airborne assault groups were landed several times to rein¬ 
force the main assault landing forces at these places. The airborne assault parties 
were accompanied by specially assigned aviation representatives who main¬ 
tained coordination between aviation and the assault landing parties. 

The landing of the airborne assault groups was supported by actions of com¬ 
bat aviation of the 12th and 9th air armies, and by special air reconnaissance of 
the landing areas. Our fighter and bomber aviation patrolled over the airfields 
at which they landed, ready at any moment to render support from the air to the 
assault landing parties. 

As a result of the defeat of the Kwantung Army, imperialist Japan was de¬ 
prived of a workable number of forces and the means for continuing the war, 
and on 2 September 1945 Japan signed the pact of unconditional surrender. As 
soon as Japan's surrender became known—and be troops usually learn of such 
unforgettable moments before the orders announcing them are issued—countless 
words of joy and congratulations were expressed and salutes were fired from 
guns, machine guns, rifles, and pistols. And who would not rejoice, since not 
only the Great Patriotic War but also World War II had come to a victorious con¬ 
clusion. It was with a feeling of sincere gratitude to the Soviet Union and its 
Armed Forces that the peoples of the entire world were witness to peace on earth, 
which they had longed for with all their souls for 6 long years. 


Despite the quite distinct nature of the theater of military operations and 
the complexity of the assigned missions, capitalizing on the rich experience of 
the war against fascist Germany, the Far East Air Force managed to provide ef¬ 
fective assistance to ground troops in the destruction of the Kwantung Army. 
It flew more than 22,000 sorties. In the hands of the Soviet command, our VVS 

207 


was a powerful and highly maneuverable resource for armed conflict. By its 
strikes against pillboxes and stocks of equipment and troops, it helped the ground 
troops quickly penetrate a fortified zone, it disrupted the work of the lines of 
communication, paralyzed maneuver of enemy reserves, and played a major role 
in repelling enemy counterstrikes and counterattacks. The Soviet Air Force was 
the main agent of reconnaissance and an important resource for landing and 
transporting troops and cargo. During the operation 16,500 soldiers and officers, 
about 2,780 tons of fuel, 563 tons of ammunition, and 1,496 tons of various 
kinds of cargo were transported by air. 17 

A ukase of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet dated 8 September 
1945 awarded a second Gold Star medal to A. A. Novikov. Many of his deputies 
from the VVS field staff; air army commanders; air formation, unit, and subunit 
commanders: flight crews and mechanics; and personnel from staffs, political 
organs, and services were also awarded military orders of the Soviet Union. 

The most important result of the campaign conducted by the Soviet Armed 
Forces in the Far East was the destruction of the Kwantung Army of almost one 
million, the unconditional surrender of Japan, and the liquidation of a center of 
aggression in the East. Our victory in the Far East upset the hopes of tne Japanese 
imperialists for a favorable end to the war in the Pacific and foiled the plans of 
the aggressive circles in the U.S. that were trying to gain a foothold on the Asian 
continent. The victory of the Soviet Armed Forces provided a powerful impetus 
to the national liberation movement in the countries of Asia and created the 
groundwork for the victory of the people’s revolution in China, North Korea, 
and Vietnam. The forces of democracy and progress grew strong on the entire 
Asian continent, and the positions of imperialism and reaction weakened. All 
springboards and military bases created by the Japanese imperialists for an attack 
on the USSR were eliminated, and the security of our Far Eastern borders was 
ensured. The Soviet Army honorably accomplished its mission of liberation in 
the Far East. In the campaign to defeat the Kwantung Army the Soviet Air Force 
obtained valuable experience in organizing and maintaining strategic, opera¬ 
tional, and tactical coordination with ground troops in the difficult conditions 
of the theater of military operations. 


The considerable distance between the sectors in which the troops of the 
three fronts operated, the unstable weather, and the absence of good reference 
points (taiga, desert, mountains) made navigation difficult and demanded ex¬ 
tremely careful preparation by the personnel and implementation of many 
ground support measures; the latter were implemented promptly, and they en¬ 
sured accurate destruction of the targets assigned to aviation. Unification of the 
efforts of three Frontal Aviation air armies and an independent Long-Range Avi¬ 
ation bomber air corps under the sole leadership of the senior air chief—the 
Soviet Army Air Force commander—was a typical feature of the actions of 
Soviet aviation. This commander was present at the command post with the com¬ 
mander in chief of troops in the Far East, and at the air army forward control 
posts. He made prompt refinements in the combat employment of aviation, and, 
208 



through the air army commanders, retargeted air strikes as required by the 
ground troops. The combat actions of Soviet aviation began with massed and 
concentrated strikes against airfields, ports, administrative-political centers, and 
other highly important enemy targets in the rear area. In the early days sizable 
bomber and ground attack aviation resources were directed against rail and motor 
shipments, which resulted in isolation of the area of the encounter from enemy 
reserves. Another unique feature of the aviation actions was allocation of a con¬ 
siderable quantity of forces for air reconnaissance (33 percent of all sorties in 
the 12th Army, 27 percent in the 10th, and 21 percent in the 9th Air Army). 

On the whole, the experiences of the Soviet Air Force in the Far East influ¬ 
enced subsequent development of Air Force operational art and tactics. They re¬ 
main significant today where a number of problems involving the combat em¬ 
ployment of the various aviation branches and elements are concerned. 


Notes 

1. Shtemenko.p. 337. 

2. Archives, f. 132-a,op. 2642,d. 39, 1 155. 

3. Ibid., 1. 161 

4. Liberation Mission, p. 414. 

5. Ibid. ,p. 415. 

6. Ibid. 

7. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhurnal. No. 8, 1975,p. 67. 

8. Patriotic War Short History, p. 543. 

9. Liberation Mission, p 422 

10. Ihid. 

11. Archives, f. .360, op. 515277, d. 1,11. 16-18. 

12. Ibid , 1.23. 

13. Ibid.,f. 349,op. 142201,d. 2, l. 27. 

14. Ibid ,op. 5753, d. 2,1.28. 

15. KryV ya rodiny [Wings of the Motherland), No. 8,1975,p.6. 

16. Archives, f. 360, op. 515277, d. 1, 1.89. 

17. Ibid., f. 349,op. 5753,d. 2,1.47;f. 360.op. 6134.d. 35.1.37. 


209 



Aviation Cadres in the Great Patriotic War 


During the Great Patriotic War the Communist Party constantly devoted at¬ 
tention to training, correctly assigning, and indoctrinating command, political, 
engineering, flying, and technical personnel. The Communist Party, the Su¬ 
preme High Command, the General Staff, and the Air Force Military Council 
understood that the combat capability of all aviation branches and elements de¬ 
pends on the presence of a sufficient number of mature, well-trained supervisory 
personnel devoted to the ideals of communism. The party Central Committee 
constantly kept an eye on the selection and assignment of aviation cadres in the 
general and field grade categories. All appointments of commanders at the air 
division level and above made by the Soviet Army Air Force command and Mili¬ 
tary Council were approved by the CC VKP(b). Military skill, organizational 
capabilities, selfless devotion to the Motherland and to the Communist Party, 
and high moral-combat qualities were the principal criteria by which the indi¬ 
vidual was evaluated in the difficult war years. Members and candidate members 
of the VKP(b) held almost all command positions in the Soviet Air Force by the 
end of the war. The VVS Military Council played an important role in selecting 
and assigning junior officers. In its meetings it often examined the problems of 
training aviation cadres, and it planned concrete, efficient measures. 

During the Great Patriotic War the Communist Party raised and indoctri¬ 
nated a remarkable detachment of air commanders who competently managed 
the combat actions of aviation at the fronts, constantly improved the organization 
of the units, formations, and operational air forces, employed new, more effec¬ 
tive forms and methods of air actions, and did a great deal to develop the VVS 
further. Among them were Air Force commander Chief Marshal of Aviation A. 
A. Novikov, Long-Range Aviation commander Chief Marshal of Aviation A. 
Ye. Golovanov, Soviet Army Air Force and Long-Range Aviation deputy com¬ 
manders Marshals of Aviation G. A. Vorozheykin, F. Ya. Falaleyev, S. A. 
Khudyakov, and N. S. Skripko, and Colonel General of Aviation A. V. Nikitin; 
air army commanders Chief Marshal of Aviation K. A. Vershinin, Marshals of 
Aviation S. A. Krasovskiy, S. I. Rudenko, and V. A. Sudets, and Generals S. 
K. Goryunov, M. M. Gromov, V. N. Zhdanov, I. P. Zhuravlev, N. F. 
Naumenko, F. P. Polynin, N. F. Papivin, S. D. Rybal’chenko, I. M. Sokolov, 
andT. T. Khryukin. 1-2 

The biographies of the air army commanders were all different, and they 
attained posts of leadership in the VVS operational air forces during the Great 
Patriotic War via different roads. Many had even participated in the Civil War 
and fought the interventionists, and they had served in the ground forces previ- 
210 





The Soviet Army VVS Military Council and the Air Army Commanders in 
1945. Right to Left: T. T. Khryukin, K. A.'Vershinin, G. A. Vorozheykin, A. 
A. Novikov. V. N. Zhdanov, S. K. Goryunov, F. Ya. Falaleyev, A. I. Shakhurin, 
S. I. Rudenko. A. K. Repin, N. F. Naumenko, N. S. Shimanov. 

ously. But they were all attracted by aviation, in which they envisioned much 
that was new, interesting, and promising. They understood the ever-increasing 
role of the Soviet Air Force in the defense of the socialist state quite well. One 
common trait was typical of all of them—limitless love for the Motherland and 
devotion to the Communist Party which raised and educated them, and to the 
Soviet people. 

Konstantin Andreyevich Vershinin assumed the post of Southern Front 
VVS commander as a colonel in September 1941, and in May 1942 he took 
charge of the 4th Air Army. During the war the 4th Air Army flew 340,000 com¬ 
bat sorties, destroying and crippling 5,000 enemy planes in air engagements and 
on the ground. The air army’s combat actions were assessed highly by the Com¬ 
munist Party and the Soviet government. The Supreme Commander declared his 
gratitude to its formations for their successful combat actions 42 times; 277 sol¬ 
diers were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union, 17 air units ar d formations 
were reorganized as Guards units, 46 were awarded honorary titles, and 76 
earned orders. 3 

In the postwar years Hero of the Soviet Union K. A. Vershinin held respon¬ 
sible posts in the National Air Defense Forces and in the VVS. For many years, 
until 1968, K. A. Vershinin headed the Soviet Air Force. K. A. Vershinin was 
awarded the rank of chief marshal of aviation in May 1959. 

Stepan Akimovich Krasovskiy began the war as a major general of aviation 
at the post of commander of the 56th Army VVS. In January 1942 he became 

211 




Chief Marshal of Aviation K. A. Ver¬ 
shinin. 


Marshal of Aviation S. I. Rudenko. 


commander of the Bryansk Front VVS, and 4 months later became commander 
of the 2nd Air Army. Between October 1942 and March 1943 S. A. Krasovskiy 
headed the I7th Air Army, after which he assumed command of the 2nd Air 
Army until the end of the war. Pilots of the 2nd Air Army flew about 348,000 
combat sorties, fought in 6,000 air engagements and destroyed 7,000 fascist 
German planes during the war. The air army’s military deeds were mentioned 
37 times in orders of the Supreme Commander. Sixty-five of the air army’s air 
regiments, divisions, and corps were reorganized as Guards units, 12S units and 
formations received honorary titles in honor of liberated cities, and more than 
200 of the army’s fliers were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union; 13 per¬ 
sons were awarded this lofty title twice. 4 In the postwar years Hero of the Soviet 
Union S. A. Krasovskiy served for a long time as chief of the Yu. A. Gagarin 
Air Force Academy and trained hundreds of officers and generals with a higher 
military education for the Soviet Air Force. 

Sergey Ignat’yevich Rudenko began the war on IS July 1941 as commander 
of the 31st Composite Air Division. On 28 September 1942 General S. I. 
Rudenko became commander of the 16th Air Army. During the war the 16th 
Air Army flew 288,000combat sorties. This army's pilots destroyed about 6,000 
fascist German planes in air engagements and on the ground. Two hundred pilots 
and navigators were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union for exemplary 
accomplishment of command assignments at the front in the struggle against the 
fascist German invaders and for the valor and heroism displayed. Distinguished 
16th Air Army formations and units were mentioned 47 times in orders of the 
Supreme Commander. More than 27,000 airmen were awarded orders and med- 
212 




Marshal of Aviation V. A. Sudets. 


Marshal of Aviation S. A 
Krasovskiy. 


als for combat distinction, many formations and units were made Guards units, 
and 64 were awarded honorary titles. 5 During the postwar years Hero of the 
Soviet Union S. I. Rudenko was chief of the Soviet Air Force Main Staff, first 
deputy commander in chief of the Air Force, and chief of the Yu. A. Gagarin 
Air Force Academy. 

Vladimir Aleksandrovich Sudets began the war as commander of the Long- 
Range Bomber Aviation Main Command’s IV Air Corps. Later he commanded 
the Volga Military District VVS, the I Bomber Air Corps, and from March 1943 
until the end of the war the 17th Air Army. During the war the 17th Air Army 
flew more than 200,000 combat sorties and produced such famous aces as Twice 
Heroes of the Soviet Union V. A. Zaytsev, M. V. Kuznetsov, A. I. Koldunov, 
N. M. Skomorokhov, G. F. Sivkov, and others. The army was mentioned 34 
times in orders of the Supreme Commander. 6 During the postwar years Hero of 
the Soviet Union V. A. Sudets occupied important posts in the VVS and in the 
National Air Defense Forces, and he served as chief of the VVS Main Staff and 
commander in chief of the National Air Defense Forces. 7 

General P. F. Zhigarev commanded the 10th Air Army during the war 
against imperialist Japan. In April 1946 Pavel Fedorovich Zhigarev was ap¬ 
pointed first deputy commander in chief of the VVS. Later he assumed command 
of Long-Range Aviation, and from September 1949 to January 1957 he headed 
the Soviet Air Force. 8 

The commanders were given invaluable assistance in managing the troops 
by the staffs of the air armies under the supervision of Generals N. P. Abramov, 

213 




A. N. Alekseyev, I. M. Belov, P. I. 

Brayko, N. P. Dagayev, N, M. Kor¬ 
sakov, F. I. Kachev, N. V. Perminov. 

A, S. Pronin, A, A. Sakovnin, B. F. 

Sveshnikov, N. G. Seleznev, S. P. 

Sinyakov, V. V. Storozhenko, K. 1. 

Tel’nov, A. Z. Ustinov, A. V. 

Stepanov, S. A. Lavrik, V. I. Izotov, 
andN. L. Stepanov. 9 

After the war Nikolay Pavlovich 
Dagayev, Petr Ignat’yevich Brayko, 

Sergey Pavlovich Sinyakov, and Alek¬ 
sandr Zakharovich Ustinov occupied 
executive posts on the Soviet Army Air 
Force Main Staff and did a great deal to 
develop Soviet Air Force operational 
art. 

Chief Marshal of Aviation P. F. 
Victory against enemy troops and Zhigarev. 
aviation depended in many ways on the 

morale of VVS personnel and on purposeful party-political work. It was skill¬ 
fully organized by the unit deputy commanders for political affairs, chiefs of the 
air army political sections, and party and Komsomol organizations. The follow¬ 
ing individuals served as chiefs of the air army political sections—A. I. 
Asulenko. M. A. Butkovskiy, V. I. Vikhrov. Ya. I. Draychuk. P. I. 
Dukhnovskiy. F. I. Zhmulev, M. M. Moskalev, T. I. Muratkin, N. M. Pro- 
tsenko. V. G. Tochilov, G. A. Khudyakov, S. I. Chemousov, D. G. Shan- 
shashvili, N. M. Shcherbina, and others. 

The following air army deputy commanders for political affairs did yeoman 
work in indoctrinating personnel of VVS units, formations, and numbered air 
forces under the guidance of Soviet Army Air Force Military Council members 
Generals P. S. Stepanov, L. G. Rudenko, and N. S. Shimanov: V. I. Alekseyev. 
N. P. Babak, F. F. Verov, A. I. Vikhorev, A. S. Vinogradov, A. F. Vyvolokin. 
A. P. Grubich, G. G. Gur’yanov, A. A. Ivanov, I. G. Litvinenko, S. N. 
Romazanov, A. G. Rytov, V. I. Smirnov, I. I. Sergeyev, M. I. Sulimov, M. 
N. Sukhachev, V. N. Tolmachev, F. N. Khorobrykh, S. K. Fedorov, S. A. 
Pal’yanov, and M. I. Shapovalov. 

In cooperation with commanders and staffs at all levels, the broadly 
branched VVS party-political apparatus worked every day to indoctrinate per¬ 
sonnel in the spirit of Soviet patriotism and proletarian internationalism and to 
nurture high moral-combat qualities and selfless devotion to the Communist 
Party. The historically unprecedented heroism of the Soviet people in the war 
is a manifestation of these qualities. The highest form of heroism and an expres¬ 
sion of high moral qualities was the ram tactic. During the war 404 Soviet fighter 
pilots, 18 ground attack crews, and 6 bomber crews rammed airborne enemy 
214 






targets. 10 Soviet pilots employing the ram tactic destroyed about 500 enemy 
planes in air engagements. Seventeen airmen used the ram tactic twice. A. 
Khlobystov and N. Terekhin used it three times, and B. Kovzan used it four 
times. Among those who rammed enemy craft was the world's only female pilot 
to do so—Komsomol member Ye. Zeienko. 11 Among the winged warriors who 
rammed enemy planes, 95 percent were communists and Komsomol members. 

During the war the commanders of Supreme High Command Reserve air 
corps included F. A. Agal’tsov, V. 1. Aladinskiy, P. P. Arkhangel'skiy. Ye. 
M. Beletskiy, A. S. Blagoveshchenskiy, G. F. Baydukov, M. Kh. Borisenko, 
M. I. Gorlachenko, M. M. Golovnya, S. P. Danilov, F. F. Zherebchenko, G. 
A. Ivanov, A. Z. Karavatskiy, N. P. Kamanin, I. D. Klimov. 1. V. Krupskiy, 
Ye. F. Loginov, M. G. Machin, V. V. Naneyshvili, I. S. Polbin, V. Ye. Ne- 
stertsev, O. V. Tolstikov, B. K. Tokarev, I. L. Turkel', I. D. Podgomyy, Ye. 
Ya. Savitskiy, V. G. Ryazanov, I. P. Skok, B. A. Sidnev. S. V. Slyusarev, V. 
V. Stepichev, A. V. Utin, V. A. Ushakov, A. B. Yumashev, and others. 

Among these, Ye. Ya. Savitskiy, V. G. Ryazanov, and I. S. Polbin were 
awarded the title Hero of the Soviet twice. Yevgeniy Yakovlevich Savitskiy 
came to the front from the Far East in the winter of 1941 as a lieutenant colonel. 
He commended an air regiment, and later a division. At the end of 1943 he was 
awarded the rank of major general of aviation and appointed commander of the 
HI Fighter Air Corps. During the war he personalty flew 216 combat sorties and 
shot down 22 German planet, and under his command pilots of the corps flew 
28,860 combat sorties and de s troyed 1,653 enemy planes. 12 

The Motherland greatly esteemed the bravery and heroism of this valorous 

215 




General N. P. Dagayev. 


General A. Z. Ustinov. 


air commander and his able leadership of the corps. On 11 May 1944 he was 
awarded the lofty title Hero of the Soviet Union, and on 2 June 1945 he was 
awarded this title a second time. In 2 years of the war (from April 1943 to May 
1945) 32 airmen in the corps earned the title Hero of the Soviet Union. 13 Pres¬ 
ently Ye. Ya. Savitskiy is a marshal of aviation. 

During the Great Patriotic War, Vasiliy Georgiyevich Ryazanov com¬ 
manded die I Guards Ground Attack Air Corps. The corps became famous during 
the war for its accurate, powerful bombing and ground strikes against the enemy. 
The corps’ pilots flew 58,270 combat sorties during the war. V. G. Ryazanov 
was one of the first to organize control of ground attack aviation combat actions 
from the forward command posts of a combined arms and a tank army, that is, 
he employed a new method of control of ground attack aviation over the 
battlefield. Ninety-four airmen in the corps were awarded the title Hero of the 
Soviet Union, and seven of them were awarded the title twice. For outstanding 
combat service to the Motherland General F. G. Ryazanov was awarded the title 
Hero of the Soviet Union on 22 February 1944, and on 18 June 1945 he was 
awarded the second Gold Star medal. 14 

Ivan Semenovich Polbin, commander of the VI Guards Bomber Air Corps 
(the II Guards until 1944), was a talented leader, innovator, and fearless pilot. 
In March 1943 Colonel I. S. Polbin, who was promoted to major general of avia¬ 
tion on 20 October, was appointed commander of an air corps. Various innova¬ 
tions in the employment of the Pe~2 dive bomber are associated with his ac¬ 
tivities at the front. I. S. Polbin was the first in bomber aviation to employ sniper 
dive bomber strikes against small targets, and he taught this method to the regi¬ 
ments and divisions under his command. On 23 November 1942 this valorous 
216 




Marshal of Aviation Ye. Ya. Marshal of Aviation A. I. Pokryshkin. 

Savitskiy. 


pilot and famous commander was awarded the lofty title Hero of the Soviet 
Union. On 6 April 1945 he was awarded his second Gold Star medal posthu¬ 
mously. 15 

Among division commanders who had begun their war career as flight, 
squadron, and regiment commanders we can name V. I. Davidkov, M. P. Noga, 
S. I. Nichiporenko, V. A. Sandalov, P. I. Kryukov, F. P. Kotlyar, A. I. Po¬ 
kryshkin, and many others. Air division commanders K. A. Katichev, V. V. 
Smirnov, V. V. Zelentsov, I. D. Antoshkin, F. 1. Dobysh, and many others 
proved themselves to be seasoned leaders of combat actions. 

The air regiment commanders were the leading figures in the VVS. Success 
and accomplishment of all combat missions depended on their organizational 
capabilities, flying skills, bravery, great exactingness, and fatherly concemn for 
subordinates. 

P. S. Kutakhov, I. I. Pstygo, P. F. Chupikov, L. L. Shestakov, I. I. 
Kleshchev, P. A. Pokryshev, M. S. Tokarev, I. P. Motomyy, A. P. Morozov, 
B. N, Yeremin, S. D. Luganskiy, Ye. D. Bershanskaya, and many others proved 
themselves to be remarkable air regiment commanders. 

In the postwar years many of them continued to serve in the Soviet Army, 
through their experience and knowledge promoting development and growth of 
our Armed Forces. 


During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 Hero of the Soviet Union 

217 


General V. G. Ryazanov. 


Generali. S. Polbin. 


Pavel Stepanovich Kutakhov commanded an air squadron and a fighter regi¬ 
ment. In the difficult weather and terrain of the North he personally flew 367 
sorties, fought in 79 air engagements, and shot down 14 enemy planes; he shot 
down 28 in group battles. Under his command the 20th Fighter Air Regiment 
effectively accomplished many combat missions while covering troops and 
targets in the front’s rear services, flew many thousands of sorties, and shot down 
many enemy planes. After the war P. S. Kutakhov graduated from the General 
Staff Academy and continuously held command assignments. In March 1969 he 
took charge of the Soviet Air Force, and in November 1972 was awarded the 
high rank of chief marshal of aviation. 

During the war Ivan Ivanovich Pstygo commanded a flight and an air squad¬ 
ron, and between December 1943 and the end of the war he commanded the 
893rd Ground Attack Air Regiment. He flew 95 sorties. In April 1975 he was 
awarded the high rank of marshal of aviation, and he is presently deputy com¬ 
mander in chief of the Soviet Army Air Force. 

Hero of the Soviet Union Pavel Fedorovich Chupikov during the war com¬ 
manded the 19th Fighter Air Regiment, which participated in almost all the 
largest operations of the third period of the war; it was re-formed as the 176th 
Guards Regiment and awarded the Order of Aleksandr Nevskiy. During the war 
the regiment’s pilots flew about 9,000 sorties, fought in 750 air engagements, 
and destroyed 445 enemy planes. P. F. Chupikov himself flew about 400 sorties, 
and he shot down 14 enemy planes in 77 aerial duels and 6 planes in group air 
engagements. Presently P. F. Chupikov is a colonel general of aviation. 

Hero of the Soviet Union I. I. Kleshchev commanded the 434th Fighter 


218 


% ^ 


4 


Chief Marshal of Aviation P, S. 
Kutakhov. 


Marshal of Aviation A. N. Yefimov. 


Regiment, which distinguished itself in the battle of Stalingrad. In the period 
from June to August 1942 the regiment destroyed 90 planes in air engagements, 
and from 14 September to 2 October 1942 the regiment’s pilots flew 611 sorties, 
participated in 48 air engagements, and shot down 82 enemy planes. In late fall 
1942 Major I. I. Kleshchev died tragically while flying in bad weather. 

Air squadron and flight commanders made up the most numerous detach¬ 
ment of command personnel in the Air Force. They were the direct indoctrinators 
of the pilots, technicians, and mechanics, and they always led their subordinates 
into battle. 

Hero of the Soviet Union Ivan Mikhaylovich Moroz served as deputy com¬ 
mander for political affairs of an air squadron and an air regiment and in the war 
served as chief of the political section of an air division. He is presently a colonel 
general of aviation, a member of the Military Council and is chief of staff of 
the political Department of the VVS. Hero of the Soviet Union Aleksandr Pe¬ 
trovich Silant’yev, as flight commander and deputy commander of an interceptor 
squadron, heroically fought the enemy, proved himself in many engagements, 
and flew 359 sorties. In February 1976 he was awarded the high rank of marshal 
of aviation and today heads the VVS Main Staff. Hero of the Soviet Union Va¬ 
siliy Vasil’yevich Reshetnikov commanded an air squadron of Long-Range 
Aviation’s 19th Guards Air Regiment in 1943. During the war he flew 307 sor¬ 
ties in the 11-4. Presently V. V. Reshetnikov is a colonel general of aviation 
and heads a powerful aviation component—long-range missile-equipped avia¬ 
tion. 16 

Squadron commanders who earned fame in the war include Thrice Hero of 

219 


General I. M. Moroz. 


Marshal of Aviation A. P. Silant’yev. 


the Soviet Union I. N. Kozhedub and Twice Hero of the Soviet Union N. M. 
Skomorokhov, A. N. Yefimov, A. Ya. Brandis, and 1. F. Pavlov. During the 
war, fighter pilot Ivan Nikitovich Kozhedub flew 326 sorties. participated in 120 
air engagements, and personally shot down 62 enemy planes. 17 Presently I. N. 
Kozhedub is a colonel general of aviation. N. M. Skomorokhov flew 605 sorties, 
fought in 130 air engagements, and shot down 46 fascist planes. 18 Today he is 
a colonel general of aviation. 

Ground attack pilot Aleksandr Nikolayevich Yefimov joined a ground at¬ 
tack air regiment of the Western Front in August 1942 after graduating from a 
military pilot school. AN. Yefimov took off for his first sortie from one of Mos¬ 
cow’s suburban airfields, and in 1943 he became famous at the Kursk salient 
as a fearless ground attack pilot and an outstanding master of ground attack tac¬ 
tics against enemy troops. He flew his last sortie, the 222nd, on 8 May 1945. 19 
In 1975 he was awarded the high rank of marshal of aviation, and he is presently 
first deputy commander in chief of the Soviet Army Air Force. 

Prompt and successful accomplishment of combat assignments depends on 
the selfless work of VVS engineers and mechanics. This titanic work was per¬ 
formed under the direction of VVS Chief Engineer A. K. Repin and air army 
engineers A. V. Ageyev, I. I. Bondarenko, A. V. Vinokurov, Z. A. Ioffe, V. 
N. Koblikov. K. P. Moiseyev, I. V. Markov, P. A. Nevinnyy, N. I. Plotnikov, 
I. P. Osipenko, P. V. Rodimov, A. G. Rudenko, V. I. Rebrov, A. V. Shepelev, 
and others. 20 

An enormous amount of work was done during the war by personnel of 
VVS rear services units and institutions headed by Generals N. A. Sokolov- 
220 


General I N. Kozhedub. 


General N. M. Skomorokhov. 


Sokolenok, M. P. Konstantinov, F. I. Zharov, L. G. Rudenko, N. G. Lovtsov, 
V. N. Uspenskiy, P. V. Korotayev, 1. Kh. Lyubimov, P. P. Voronov, V. N. 
Vlasov, A. S. Kirillov, P. G. Kazakov, A. I. Mezintsev, F. P. Mal’tsev, N. M. 
Stepanov, P. M. Stupin, P. M. Taranenko, S. N. Gnipenko. V. I. Ryabtsev, 
and others. 21 Under the guidance of Generals L. G. Ratgauz and A. P. Popov, 
and the chiefs of the air army medical services, Soviet Air Force medical person¬ 
nel saved the lives of thousands of pilots, navigators, radio operators, and 
mechanics. 

The Motherland highly esteemed the military services of its winged sons 
and daughters. More than 200,000 were awarded orders and medals. The Hero 
of the Soviet Union title was awarded to 2,420. Sixty-five pilots were awaided 
this lofty title twice. This included six famous Long-Range Aviation pilots A. 
I. Molodchiy, V. N. Osipov, P. A. Taran, Ye. P. Fedorov, V. V. Sen’ko, and 
S. I. Kretov. Air warriors A. I. Pokryshkin and I. N. Kozhedub, known through¬ 
out the world, earned the title three times. This high award—the title Hero of 
the Soviet Union—was awarded to 29 Soviet female military pilots, including 
A. L. Zubkova, Ye. A. Nikulina, Ye. 1. Nosal’, Ye. M. Rudneva, O. A. San- 
firova, N. N. Fedutenko, and M. P. Chechneva. 

During the war 288 aviation formations, units, and subunits in Frontal and 
Long-Range Aviation became Guards units, 897 were awarded combat orders, 
and 708 were given honorary titles. Those VVS formations and units which had 
excelled in battle most often were mentioned 319 times in orders issued by the 
Supreme Commander. 22 






Notes 


1. IstoriyaSSSR. No. 3, 1975,p. 44 

2. Ibid. 

3. 4-ya voidushnaya armiya v Velikoy Otechestvennoy voyne [The 4th Army in the Great Patri¬ 
otic War) (Moscow, 1968), p. 9. 

4. 2-ya vozdushnava armiya v boyakh za Rodinu [The 2nd Air Army in Battles for the Motherland] 
(Moscow, 1965), p. 29. S. A. Krasoviskiy was promoted to marshal of aviation in 1959. 

5. The 16th Air Army, pp. 5,391. S. I. Rudenko was promoted to marshal of aviation in 1955. 

6. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhumal. No. 9, 1972, p. 71. 

7. V. A. Sudets was promoted to marshal of aviation in 1955. 

8. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhumal, No. 12, 1970, p. 44. P. F. Zhigarev was promoted to marshal 
of aviation in 1953, and tochief marshal of aviation in 1955. 

9. IstoriyaSSSR. No. 3, p. 44. 

10. Pravda, 29 October 1974. 

11. Krasnaya zvezda, 20 January 1976. 

12. Twice Heroes, p 184. 

13. Lyudi bessmertnogo podviga [Men of the Immortal Feat,], Book 2 (Moscow, 1965),p.254. 

14. Twice Heroes, p. 182. 

15. Ibid..p. 164. 

16. Krasnaya zvezda, 20 March 1976. 

17. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhurnal. No. 5, 1975, p. 116. 

18. Twice Heroes, p. 194. 

19. Ibid..p.78. 

20. SAF in World War //. p. 421. 

21. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhumal, No. 5,1973, p. 35. 

22. SAF in World War II, pp. 447-48; USSR Aviation andCosmonautics. pp. 229-30. 


222 


Conclusion 


The Great Patriotic War ended with the Soviet Union’s historic victory. It 
was achieved by the Soviet people and their Armed Forces under the guidance 
of the Communist Party. “Our glorious Communist Party was the great leader, 
organizer, and military commander of the Soviet people in this war. Our party 
directed all of its organizational genius, the entire power of the strong alliance 
of the peoples of the USSR, all of the people’s energy accumulated over the 
years, persistence, endurance, and powerful will toward a single goal—the de¬ 
feat of fascism. ” 1 

The war demonstrated the advantages of the economic and political organi¬ 
zation of socialist society, and of its ideology. 

The Soviet Union was able to withstand an attack by superior enemy forces, 
switch its economy to a war footing in very difficult conditions, and create the 
material base that ensured a subsequent victory. During the war our army was 
supplied the latest equipment, superior to the enemy’s in many respects. Evi¬ 
dence of this can be found in the armament production indices for the USSR and 
Germany for all types of armament. In regard to aviation equipment, in the 
period from 1 July 1941 to 30 June 1945 Soviet war industry produced 108,028 
combat aircraft, while in 1941 -1944 Germany produced 78,900. 2 

New types of planes—the Mig-3, Yak-3, Yak-9, La-5, and La-7 fighters, 
the 11-2 and 11-10 ground attack aircraft, and the Tu-2, Pe-2, and Pe-8 bombers— 
were created by labor collectives headed by outstanding Soviet aircraft desig¬ 
ners—N. A. Tupolev, N. N. Polikarpov. S. V. Ilyushin, A. S. Yakovlev, S. 
A. Lavochkin, V. M. Petlyakov, A. I. Mikoyan, P. O. Sukhoy, A. A. Mikulin, 
A. D. Shvetsov, V. Ya. Klimov, and others. Most of these aircraft were not only 
as good in combat qualities as the best planes of German aviation, they even sur¬ 
passed them in terms of some indices. Beginning in 1942 and until the end of 
the war the power of the Soviet Air Force grew continuously. While there were 
1,540 planes of the new types in the army in the field at the beginning of war, 
there were 2,495 of them in December 1941, 3,160 in May 1942, 3,088 in 
November 1942, 8,290 in July 1943, 8,500 in January 1944, 11,800 in June 
1944, and 14,500 combat aircraft in January 1945. 3 At the same time, fascist 
German aviation forces decreased continuously following the battle of Stalin¬ 
grad. In November 1942 the Hitlerites had 3,500 new combat aircraft on the 
Soviet-German front, in July 1943 they had 2,980, in June 1944 they had 2,800, 
and in January 1945 they had 1,960 aircraft. 4 


223 


Concurrent with the Soviet Air Force quantitative growth, the ratio between 
old and new types of aircraft changed. As early as 1 November 1942 only one- 
third of the VVS aircraft were of the old types. They were mainly in Long-Range 
Aviation, night bomber aviation, holding fronts, and training units. In 1943 the 
Soviet Air Force received the modernized La-5 fighters equipped with the more 
powerful ASh-82FN engines; in speed and rate of climb they were superior to 
all the German fighters, even the latest FW-190. In that same year, 1943, series 
production of new Yak-9 fighters with a range of 1,500 km was started. The avia¬ 
tion industry began to produce 11-2 ground attack aircraft with two cockpits, one 
for the pilot and one for the gunner, which improved its capability of defending 
itself against attacks by enemy fighters. All II-2s were armed with 23- and 37- 
mm cannon. New, more powerful M-105PF engines and additior al fuel tanks 
were installed on the Pe-2 bombers for the fronts, and the 7,62-mm machine guns 
were replaced by 12.7-mm heavy machine guns. In 1944 air units and formations 
of our army in the field were armed with new Yak-3 and La-7 fighters and an 
improved Yak-9, 11-10 ground attack aircraft, and the modernized Yer-2 long- 
range bomber. All of the new planes were outfitted with on-board RSI-4 and 
RSI-6 radios in fighter and ground attack aviation, with RSB-3bis radios in 
bomber aviation, and with the RSR-2bis in reconnaissance aviation. 

Bombs underwent improvement. New PTAB-2.5-1.5 hollow-charge anti¬ 
tank bombs were put into production in the spring of 1943 and used for the first 
time in the battle of Kursk. High explosive bombs weighing 1,000, 2,000, and 
5,000 kg were designed, put into series production, and employed successfully 
to destroy fortified objectives. 

Redut and Pegmatit radar sets entered the VVS inventory in increasing 
quantities. From year to year the quality of RAF, RAT, and RSB ground radio 
stations improved and their production increased. 

By January 1944 the Soviet Air Force had accumulated a reserve of fighters 
capable of replenishing losses and fully supplying new air units and formations 
and those put in the reserves. Because of this it became possible to rearm the 
fighter aviation of the Far Eastern and Transbaykal fronts, whose air units still 
had obsolete aircraft. 5 The presence of new Air Force equipment in the Far East 
sector increased dramatically in 1944-1945. 

During the war the level flight speed of Soviet aircraft increased by 35-40 
percent, the maneuvering qualities of fighters improved significantly, machine 
guns and cannons were made more powerful, and the bomb load, flying altitude, 
and range of bombers increased. Owing to introduction of heavy machine guns 
and aircraft cannon, the weight of a 1-second salvo from a Soviet fighter in¬ 
creased by a factor of 2.1, while that from a ground attack plane increased by 
a factor of 3.1. Quantitative and qualitative growth of aviation equipment and 
the combat experience acquired permitted the Soviet command to fundamentally 
alter the organizational structure of Frontal Aviation and Long-Range Aviation. 
In May-November 1942, 13 frontal air armies were created on the Soviet-Ger¬ 
man front to replace the front and combined arms army VVS. In 1942 another 
224 





four air armies were formed in the Far East. Creation of air armies—operational 
numbered air forces—was a new direction in Soviet Air Force organizational de¬ 
velopment. The front command was not capable of massing the efforts of all avi¬ 
ation resources in the main sectors of operations of the ground troops, and the 
Stavka and the Soviet Army Air Force command could use the forces of several 
air armies on adjacent fronts to support major operational missions in a single 
strategic sector, and to place them under the centralized control of a single senior 
air chief. 

Swift growth in aircraft construction solved the problem of creating major 
air reserves—RVGK air corps and independent air divisions. By the end of 1943 
there were 18 air corps operating on the fronts, and the Stavka Reserve contained 
two air corps. In all during the war the RVGK contained 30 homogeneous air 
corps and 27 independent air divisions. 6 RVGK air corps and divisions were a 
powerful resource in the hands of the Stavka with which to reinforce frontal air 
armies. The number of combat aircraft available changed dramatically whenever 
air corps were called in for reinforcement. During major operations the planes 
contributed by RVGK air corps and divisions numerically made up from SO to 
SS percent of all frontal aviation. In Much 1942 Long-Range Bomber Aviation 
was reorganized as Long-Range Aviation and subordinated to the Stavka. In 
May-July 1943 the corps level was reinstated in Long-Range Aviation. Eight air 
corps of two divisions each were created from the independent air divisions. In 
December 1944 Long-Range Aviation was converted into the single 18th Air 
Army directly subordinate to the Soviet Army Air Force commander. The 
evolved organizational structure of Frontal Aviation and Long-Range Aviation 
proved its worth completely during the war, demonstrated its viability, and made 
it possible to increase the maneuverability of formations and units, mass forces 
in the most important sectors, and maintain efficient coordination with the troops 
and stable centralized control over aviation allocated in all the most important 
operations. 

Management of the Air Force improved during the war. At the strategic 
level the Air Force was directed by the Stavka through the General Staff and the 
Soviet Army Air Force command. The actions of air armies and Long-Range 
Aviation in the strategic operations of groups of fronts were coordinated by 
Stavka aviation representatives. They ensured the necessary centralization of 
control, concentration of aviation efforts on the most important missions, prompt 
maneuver of air formations, and their great effectiveness in the course of opera¬ 
tions. The Soviet Army Air Force command, Military Council, and staff did 
yeoman work in the Great Patriotic War in directing the air force combat actions; 
in improving the organizational structure of operational numbered air forces, for¬ 
mations, and units; in maintaining coordination with the ground forces and the 
Navy; in training air reserves; and in ensuring prompt supply of aviation equip¬ 
ment, managing construction of airfields, training and retraining flight crews and 
mechanics, and in synthesizing and implementing the combat experience of all 
aviation elements and branches. 

During the Great Patriotic War the Sov ; et Air Force flew about 4 million 

225 



sorties. The Supreme Commander gave a high assessment to the Air Force ac¬ 
tions in Order No. SI dated 19 August 1945: "Our aviation honorably fulfilled 
its duty to the Motherland in the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet people against 
fascist Germany. The glorious falcons of our Fatherland destroyed the vaunted 
German aviation in savage air encounters, thus permitting the Red Army free¬ 
dom of action and sparing the people of our country enemy aerial bombardment. 
Together with the entire Red Army they inflicted crushing blows on the enemy, 
destroying his manpower and equipment. The able actions of our valorous avia¬ 
tion constantly promoted the success of the ground troops and helped us to 
achieve final destruction of the enemy. ” 7 

What instructive lessons still valid today does the experience of the Soviet 
Air Force in operations of the Great Patriotic War provide? 

Chief Marshal of Aviation P. S. Kutakhov, the VVS commander in chief, 
said the following in this regard at a scholarly conference dedicated to the 2Sth 
anniversary of the victory over fascist Germany: ‘it is with natural pride that 
we survey the path we have taken and the great achievements of the Soviet Air 
Force. The rich experience of VVS operational-strategic employment in the 
Great Patriotic War has not lost its value today, especially the experience of 
achieving air supremacy for development of strategic operations in the theaters 
of military operations and in the war as a whole. Extensive maneuvering of air 
groupings and the massing of aviation resources in the most important sectors 
of ground forces operations, as well as in independent missions continues to be 
the most important principle of the operational and strategic use of all aviation 
elements and branches. ” 8 

First, the Great Patriotic War subjected our theoretical views on the opera¬ 
tional-strategic employment of the Air Force in different types of ground forces, 
naval, and independent air operations to a hard, merciless test. And Soviet mili¬ 
tary science and Soviet military art passed this test with honor. True, not all 
premises were faultless at the beginning of the war, especially those pertaining 
to the organizational structure of Frontal Aviation, to creation of large air re¬ 
serves, and to organization of command and control of combined aviation re¬ 
sources in the main sectors of the ground force actions. Nevertheless, for the 
most part the predictions and fundamental premises of Soviet military art regard¬ 
ing VVS employment in wartime were confirmed in the war. Evidence of this 
can be found in the remarkable Soviet Air Force victories in the air over fascist 
German aviation in the battles of Moscow and Stalingrad, in the Kuban’ and at 
the Kursk salient, and in the strategic air supremacy it achieved along the entire 
Soviet-German front in summer 1943. And no matter how bourgeois falsifiers 
of history try to belittle the role of the Soviet Air Force in the defeat of German 
aviation, they will never be able to deny the fact that of all planes lost by the 
German Air Force and Germany’s satellites in the entire war, three-fourths were 
destroyed on the Soviet-German front, and 57,000 of them were shot out of the 
air and burned on the ground by Soviet pilots. 9 

Attainment of strategic air supremacy by the Soviet Air Force created favor- 


226 


able conditions for the ground forces and Navy in conduct of major strategic of¬ 
fensive operations by groups of fronts simultaneously in several sectors, and it 
meant that the Air Force could now mass its forces more decisively and engage 
in continuous offensive actions. On the other hand, enemy aviation went on the 
defensive, no longer able to seriously influence the development of German 
ground operations until the end of the war. Fascist German aviation’s loss of stra¬ 
tegic air supremacy and its switch to defensive actions also had a direct effect 
on the change of the ratio of its aviation branches, increasing aircraft losses and 
reducing the number of sorties flown in 1944-1945. Whereas at the beginning 
of the war bombers made up 57.8 percent of the German Air Force and fighters 
made up 31.2 percent, at the end of 1944 the proportion of German bombers 
decreased by a factor of 4 while that of fighters increased by a factor of more 
than 2, reaching 68 percent. 10 The losses suffered by enemy aviation increased, 
while those of Soviet aviation decreased. On the average, for every plane we 
lost, 32 sorties were flown in 1941,72 were flown in 1943, and 165 sorties were 
flown in 1945. For every plane lost, the enemy flew 25.5 sorties in 1942, 22.5 
in 1943, and only 11 sorties in 1945. From year to year the Soviet Air Force 
increased its monthly average of sorties, while that of the German Air Force de¬ 
creased. Whereas in 1942 Hitlerite aviation flew about 41,000 sorties on the 
Soviet-German front on a monthly average, in 1943 it flew 39,300, and in 1945 
it flew a little more than 15,500, that is, fewer sorties by a factor of 2.6. 11 The 
war also fully confirmed the fundamental premise of prewar Soviet military art 
that there were two forms of struggle for air supremacy—the daily fight against 
fascist German aviation within the framework of frontal defensive and offensive 
operations of the ground troops, and VVS air operations to destroy enemy air 
groupings. In this case the VVS conducted air operations in support of the entire 
armed conflict (in the Kuban’ in April 1943 and in the central sector of the 
Soviet-German front between 6 and 8 May and from 8 to 10 June 1943), and 
the aviation resources of one to three adjacent fronts flew in support of just one 
front (strategic sector) as was the case, for example, in June 1941 in actions 
against airfields in Finland and northern Norway, in October and November 
1941 in the Moscow sector, and in October 1942 in the Stalingrad sector. On 
the whole the VVS air operations were an effective way to achieve operational 
and strategic air supremacy. An average of three to five sorties were flown in 
an operation for every enemy plane destroyed. In this case the greatest success 
was enjoyed in the first massed surprise strikes simultaneously against many air¬ 
fields on a broad front. Subsequent strikes were less effective. Enemy losses de¬ 
creased, while our VVS losses grew. During the war a close relationship and 
mutual dependence emerged between strategic and operational air supremacy. 
Phased attainment of operational air supremacy in the most important sectors of 
the ground troops led to victory on a strategic scale along the entire Soviet-Ger¬ 
man front. In turn, given strategic air supremacy, it was easier to achieve and 
maintain operational air supremacy. Still, strategic air supremacy was no 
guarantee that the enemy would not achieve operational air supremacy for a short 
period, as was the case, for example, in the Belorussian and Lvov-Sandomierz 
operations. Thus after strategic air supremacy is attained, the Air Force faces 
die mission of maintaining this supremacy and, in certain sectors, fighting a sav¬ 
age battle for operational air supremacy. That is why the struggle for air suprem- 

227 



acy in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 was one of the most important mis¬ 
sions of the Soviet Air Force, and its attainment was a most important factor 
in securing the success of the entire armed conflict. It was an objective necessity 
from the moment that military activities began until the last days of the war. 

Second, many premises of our prewar manuals, regulations, and theoretical 
viewpoints on joint actions of the Soviet Air Force and ground troops found their 
practical reflection in the Great Patriotic War, and concurrently new, improved 
forms and methods of action arose in the various aviation elements and branches. 
The Soviet Air Force flew 46.5 percent of its sorties in support of ground troops 
in offensive and defensive operations. 12 Aviation cleared the way for infantry 
and tanks and assisted them in quickly penetrating defenses, swiftly pursuing 
the enemy, encircling and annihilating his groupings, making assault crossings 
over rivers, and seizing and holding important beachheads. During the war 
Soviet Air Force operational art was enriched by a new form of frontal aviation 
combat employment in joint actions with ground troops; this came to be called 
the “air offensive. ” It was bom in 1942 because of the need for providing a con¬ 
tinuous air accompaniment to advancing troops. Initially an air offensive was 
limited to supporting penetration of the main defense zone by the frontal troops. 
Beginning with summer 1943, that is, after the Soviet Air Force attained strate¬ 
gic air supremacy, the air offensive began to be waged to the entire depth of the 
frontal offensive operation, and, in terms of its scale and the forces allocated, 
it acquired an operational nature. In terms of the missions, the air offensive broke 
down into aerial preparation for the attack and air support (or accompaniment) 
of frontal troops. 

The air offensive enjoyed further development in the third period of the war, 
and it was reflected in the Manual on Penetration of Static Defenses and the Man¬ 
ual on Penetrating Fortified Areas published in 1944. In this case there was an 
increase in the extent to which the aviation efforts were massed in relation to 
its most important missions. While in the offensive operations of the second 
period of the war 70-75 percent of all air army resources were concentrated in 
the sectors of the main thrusts, in the third period of the war the figure climbed 
to 90-95 percent, that is, 1,500-2,500 Soviet aircraft (Lvov-Sandomierz, Vis- 
tula-Oder, and Berlin operations). 13 

This success was promoted in many ways by the brilliant decision of the 
Soviet command to create a large air reserve that took the form of air corps and 
independent air divisions. Maneuvering them, the Stavka and the VVS com¬ 
mand created a superiority of forces, which altered the situation in the air in our 
favor within a short time. Some 1,200 of our planes participated in the counterof¬ 
fensive at Moscow, 1,400 fought at Stalingrad, 5,300 participated in the coun¬ 
teroffensive at Kursk, more than 6,000 participated in the Belorussian operation, 
and 7,500combat aircraft fought in the Berlin operation. 

During the war, methods were found for employing Frontal Aviation to sup¬ 
port commitment of mechanized cavalry groups and tank armies to an encounter 
(or a breakthrough), and their actions in operational depth. Commitment of 
228 



mechanized cavalry groups and tank armies to the encounter was supported by 
the main forces of Frontal Aviation (or the air army), while one or two ground 
attack air divisions and sometimes a ground attack air corps were assigned the 
mission of providing direct support to these formations during their actions in 
depth. In a number of cases commitment of a tank army to an encounter was 
preceded by short but powerful aerial preparation with the goal of suppressing 
and annihilating pockets of resistance, strongpoints, and antitank defenses (the 
Orel, Belorussian, and Lvov-Sandomierz operations). Ground attack aviation 
began accompanying the tank army from the moment it was committed to the 
encounter, and remaining with it until the army accomplished its mission. When 
the tank army reached operational depth, the air army concentrated its efforts 
against approaching enemy reserves and, when the enemy was withdrawing, 
against retreating troops. 

The tank army was covered from the air during the time of its commitment 
to the encounter in accordance with the overall plan for covering the frontal 
troops. When the tank army was operating apart from the combined arms armies, 
specially assigned fighter air divisions provided air cover. An average of up to 
two fighter air divisions were allocated to cover a tank army. Cover was provided 
by groups of fighters patrolling over the area of tank army actions and at the im¬ 
mediate approaches to this area. 

Special attention should be given to aviation’s actions in encirclement oper¬ 
ations by the ground troops. In the counteroffensive at Stalingrad and in the Kor- 
sun’-Shevchenkovskiy, lasi-Kishinev, Belorussian, Berlin, and other operations 
the Soviet Air Force acquired experience in organizing and conducting multi- 
zonal ring air blockades, in flexibly maneuvering the resources of numbered air 
forces and formations to repel enemy counterblows on the outer and inner fronts 
of encirclement, and in massed employment of aviation to wipe out surrounded 
groupings. Isolation of large encircled enemy groupings from the air was a new 
form of V VS operational employment. The war experience persuasively demon¬ 
strated that the encirclement operation cannot be considered complete if the 
enemy is able to supply his troops by air with everything necessary and thus help 
to maintain a sound ring defense' and to possibly penetrate the ring of encircle¬ 
ment. The air blockade, meanwhile, deprived the enemy of this possibility and 
created favorable conditions for our ground troops, who could swiftly destroy 
the surrounded grouping. 


Successful performance of an air blockade depended on the following basic 
conditions: operational air supremacy in the given sector of the front; allocation 
of the necessary quantity of forces from the various aviation branches and from 
PVO resources to counter transport aviation; organization of clear-cut, continu¬ 
ous coordination between the numbered air forces, formations, and units of the 
various branches of aviation and the various services of the Armed Forces 
(Ground Forces, Air Force, National Air Defense Forces); creation of a single 
VNOS system; and centralization of command and control of ail forces carrying 
out the air blockade. 


229 



The Air Force also successfully accomplished its air reconnaissance mis¬ 
sion, using special air reconnaissance regiments and all branches of aviation. By 
revealing the enemy’s troop groupings, ships, and aviation, his system of de¬ 
fenses, the movement of reserves, and the locations of headquarters and control 
posts in a timely manner, air reconnaissance provided invaluable assistance to 
the Soviet command in determining enemy intent and achieving more purposeful 
use of troops and aviation to defeat him. Frontal Aviation flew more than 11 per¬ 
cent of its total sorties in the performance of this mission. During the war an 
area equal to 6.5 million square kilometers was photographed; this was 1 million 
square kilometers more than the area of the European USSR. 14 

Third, relying on acquired experience, Soviet military art flexibly and pur¬ 
posefully solved the problem of using Long-Range Aviation in the war. In the 
first period of the war DBA (ADD)* and naval aviation formations made only 
isolated strikes against the centers of Romania’s petroleum industry and against 
military targets in Berlin, Koenigsberg, Danzig, Tilsit, and other German cities. 
But independent air operations began to be conducted (for example, against mili¬ 
tary targets in Budapest in September 1944, or against the enemy’s operational 
shipping in 1943 and 1944) when Long-Range Aviation had grown quantita¬ 
tively and qualitatively. These operations were conducted under Stavka direction 
and were characterized by relatively large scope. Strategic bombers made 
massed and concentrated strikes during an operation at night, while the air opera¬ 
tion itself lasted several days (3 or 4). Long-Range Aviation directed its main 
efforts, meanwhile, at destroying fascist German troop groupings in the offensive 
and defensive operations of the ground troops. This satisfied the requirements 
of the situation and the nature of the armed conflict. During the war Long-Range 
Aviation formations flew 40.4 percent of their sorties with the goal of destroying 
troops and combat equipment on the battlefield, 9.6 percent againsi airfields, and 
30.6 percent against railroad targets and reserves in the frontal rear area. 15 Long- 
Range Aviation was also used successfully to support partisans in the enemy rear 
area. During the war frontal long-range air and Civil Air Fleet units flew more 
than 109,000 sorties in the enemy rear area. Long-Range Aviation and Civil Air 
Fleet units carried 17,000 tons of ammunition, armament, food, and medicine. 
They furnished round trips to more than 83,000 persons fighting in partisan de¬ 
tachments. 16 

Fourth, the problems of coordination had a special place in the offensive 
and defensive operations of one front and a group of fronts. In terms of its scale 
and nature, it can be broken down into strategic, operational, and tactical. Strate¬ 
gic coordination meant coordination of WS efforts with the ground troops in 
the interests of achieving success in the strategic operations of groups of fronts 


'{DBA — Dal'nebombardirovochnaya aviauiya (Long-Range Bomber Aviation); ADD — Aviat- 
siya dal’nego deystviya (Long-Range Aviation). The latter if the present Soviet designation for this 
branch of the Soviet Air Force—US. Ed.] 

230 







and in campaigns. Strategic offensive operations conducted by groups of fronts 
were the principal and decisive form of actions of our Armed Forces in strategic 
sectors. Strategic coordination was organized during the war by the Stavka. The 
latter defined and assigned tl^e missions to the fronts and the Air Force and appor¬ 
tioned VVS resources to the various sectors so as to achieve maximum strategic 
results. 

Operational coordination by VVS numbered air forces with the ground field 
forces and the Navy entailed coordination of their efforts in place, time, and mis¬ 
sions so as to achieve the greatest results in jointly conducted operations. Coordi¬ 
nation of aviation with troops of the combined arms (or tank) armies was or¬ 
ganized by the front commander. He assigned the general missions for aviation, 
determined the forces required, spelled out the manner of supporting and cover¬ 
ing troops in different phases of the operation, tasked combined arms (or tank) 
armies to capture (hold, restore, repair) enemy airfields, and indicated the basic 
sectors and targets for air reconnaissance to the air army. Tactical coordination 
of aviation with units and formations of the front (or army) was expressed as 
coordination of actions in place, goals, and time. It was attained through meticu¬ 
lous planning, deployment of the control posts of air commanders close to those 
of combined arms commanders, organization of the work of aircraft guidance 
radio stations located near the front line, and prompt and clear demarcation of 
the front line. The working out of problems of tactical coordination of aviation 
with ground units and formations was a great achievement of Soviet military art. 

Fifth, the problem of controlling aviation was solved successfully in the 
Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. Frontal Aviation’s air armies, operational 
numbered air forces consisting of several dozen air formations and independent 
units, were found to be viable. They permitted commanders to control all avia¬ 
tion at their disposal centrally, and they fully satisfied the requirements for close 
coordination with operational ground troop field forces and formations. 

The air army had a branching command and control system consisting of 
command, forward, and auxiliary control posts, operational groups, and aviation 
representatives in ground field forces and formations. 

In strategic operations conducted by groups of fronts, coordination between 
Frontal Aviation air armies and Long-Range Aviation formations was success¬ 
fully achieved by the Soviet Army Air Force commander or his deputies, who 
as Stavka representatives went out to the operating army with small operational 
groups of die VVS staff. This method of directing operational VVS numbered 
air forces and formations during military actions fully proved its worth. It had 
to be developed and refined, giving consideration to the importance of the time 
factor in control when assigning missions, monitoring their execution, and col¬ 
lecting information, all of which required extensive automation and mechaniza¬ 
tion of the main elements of control. “The most typical features of Air Force 
operational-strategic employment in the concluding period of the war,” said 
Chief Marshal of Aviation P. S. Kutakhov, "were rigid centralization of control 
of numbered air forces, close coordination with advancing troops, naval forces, 

231 


and PVO troops, and concentration of aviation resources in the most important 
sectors.” 17 


The combat experience gained by the Soviet Air Force in the Great Patriotic 
War has not been fully studied yet. It must be studied further, and it must be 
considered under modem conditions, especially in regard to organizing and con¬ 
ducting the battle for strategic air supremacy, massing the efforts of aviation in 
the main ground force sectors, organizing WS coordination with the ground 
forces and the Navy, and with the senior air chief controlling several numbered 
airforces. 

Marshal of the Soviet Union A. A. Grechko pointed out the following in 
his concluding remarks at a scholarly conference dedicated to the 30th anniver¬ 
sary of the victory of the Soviet people and their Armed Forces in the Great Pa¬ 
triotic War of 1941-1945: “To the Soviet Armed Forces, the war was the great¬ 
est school of combat experience, experience that has become our priceless 
possession, and a national treasure. This experience was gained with the blood 
of Soviet soldiers and through the efforts of all the people, and we have no right 
to lose it or forget it. It retains its significance even today in many ways, and 
it is a dependable foundation for developing military theory and improving troop 
combat and political training. Creative assimilation of the experience of the 
Great Patriotic War takes into account the present logistical base of the Soviet 
Armed Forces and their qualitative growth makes it possible to develop military 
affairs better and more rapidly, to foresee the nature of a future war, and to en¬ 
hance the combat might of the army and navy. ” 18 

Thegrim years of the Great Patriotic War fully confirmed V. I. Lenin’s bril- 
liant conclusions concerning the decisive role of the Communist Pai y's leader¬ 
ship in achieving victory both in die rear area and at the front. The Central Com¬ 
mittee was the party’s battle staff. At the fronts and in the rear area and in terri¬ 
tory temporarily occupied by the enemy, the communist Party played the role 
of a single fighting, mobilizing, and guiding force. By personal example and 
with words of inspiration, communists strengthened the morale of ail the Soviet 
people and led them to acts of heroism in battle and in labor. In the postwar era, 
the Communist Party of the Soviet Union is unswervingly following Lenin’s 
course. 


“All these years,” said CPSU Central Committee General Secretary L. I. 
Brezhnev at the 25th CPSU Congress, "the party has devoted proper attention 
to strengthening our country’s defense capabilities and improving the Armed 
Forces. We can now report to the congress that we have done a great deal in 
this area. The Armed Forces have more modern weapons and combat equipment, 
and the quality of combat training and the ideological maturity of the personnel 
have risen. In general, comrades, the Soviet people can be assured that the fruits 
of their creative labor we being protected reliably. Nor should anyone doubt that 
our party will do everything to see that the glorious Armed Forces of the Soviet 
Union will continue to have all of the resources they need for their important 
232 



mission—guarding the peaceful labor of the Soviet people and serving as the bul¬ 
wark of universal peace. ’ ’ 19 

CPSU Central Committee Politburo member, USSR Minister of Defense 
Marshal of the Soviet Union D. F. Ustinov gave the following assessment of 
Soviet airmen and modem military aviation in Order No. 172 dated IS August 
1976, dedicated to the celebration of USSR Air Force Day: “. . . The USSR 
Air Force has traveled a great heroic path. In the terrible years of the trials of 
war, courageous airmen displayed unshakable steadfastness and great skill, 
bravery, and valor in battles for the liberty and independence of the socialist 
Fatherland. Thanks to the constant concern of the Communist Party and the 
Soviet government, the aviation of the Armed Forces is presently outfitted with 
modem combat equipment and weapons, and it is manned by well-trained per¬ 
sonnel indoctrinated in the spirit of selfless devotion to communism. As with 
all troops of the Armed Forces, military airmen are persistently working on the 
tasks assigned to them by the 25th CPSU Congress. They unanimously approve 
and fully support the Leninist domestic and foreign policy of the Communist 
Party and vigilantly and reliably protect the gains of socialism . . . ” 20 


Notes 

1 . L. I. Brezhnev, Leninskim kursom. Rechi istafi [Following Lenin’s Course: Speeches and Arti¬ 
cles], I. (Moscow, 1970), p. 129. 

2. Patriotic War Short History, p. 571. 

3. Ibid, p.579. 

4. Ibid. 

5. Archives, f. 35. op. 11250, d. 101,1. 1. 

6. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhuntal, No. 10,1976, p. 32. 

7. J. V. Stalin, O Velikoy Otechestvennoy voyne Sovetskogo Soyuza [The Great Patriotic War of 
the Soviet Union] (Moscow, 1953), p. 201. 

8. Vsemimo-istoricheskaya pobeda sovetskogo naroda 1941-1945 gg.[The World-Historic Vic¬ 
tory of the Soviet People in 1941-1945], (Moscow, 1971), p. 49. 

9. Ibid.,p.45. 

10. SAFinWorldWarll.pp 26,440 

11. Ibid.,p.440. 

12. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhurnai. No. 11,1969, p. 20. 

13. Ibid ,No. 11,1971,pp. 17-18. 

14. SAP in World War II, p. 443. 

15. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhurnai. No. 11,1971,p. 20. 

16. SAF in World War II. p.444. 

17. Velikaya pobeda sovetskogo naroda 1941-1945 gg. [The Great Victory of the Soviet People 
in 1941-1945](Moscow, 1976),p 244. 

18. Krasnayazveida, 19April 1975. 

19. L. I. Brezhnev, Otchet Tsentral'nogo Komiteta KPSS i ocherednyye zadachi panii v obiasti 
vnutrenney i vneshney politiki. Dokiad XXV s'yetdu KPSS 24 fevratya 1976 g. (Report of the 
CPSU Central Committee and the Party’s Current Tasks in Domestic and Foreign Policy. Report 
to the 23thCPSU Congress, 24 February 1976] (Moscow, 1976), p. 100. 

20. Krasnaya zvezda, 15 August 1976. 


233 



Appendix 


Soviet Army Air Force Leadership in the Great Patriotic War, 
1941-1945 


Post 

Rank, Last name, initials 

Time at post 

Chief, VVS Main 
Directorate, as of 29 June 
1941 VVS Commander, 
USSR Deputy People’s 
Commissar of Defense 

VVS Command 
Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Zhigarev, P, F. 

Colonel General of 

Aviation, as of 17 March 

1943 Marshal of-Aviation, 
as of 21 February 1944 

Chief Marshal of Aviation 
Novikov, A, A. 

22 June (94f-ll April 1942 

11 April 1942-end of war 

Deputy Chief, VVS Main 
Directorate for Political 
Affairs, as of 29 June 1941 
member of the VVS 

Military Council 

Corps Commissar, as of 1 

October 1941 Army 
Commissar 2d Rank 
Stepanov, P, S. j 

1 

29 June 1941-8 August 1942 

i 

i 

j 

Lieutenant General of i 

Aviation, as of 4 February 
1944 Colonel General of 
Aviation, Shimanov, N. S. 

1 17 March 1943-end of war 

i 

• 

VVS Chief of Staff 

: 

Major General of Aviation 

1 Volodin, P. S, 

22 June 1941-29 June 1941 

i 

! 

Major General of Aviation 
Vorozheykin, G, A. 

August 1941 -April 1942 


| Major General of Aviation 

j Khudyakov. S. A. 

April 1942-July 1942 


i 

1 Colonel General of Avia¬ 
tion Falaleyev, F. Ya. 

t 

July 1942-May 1943 

m 


i 

] Colonel General of Avia¬ 
tion, as of 19 August 1944 
Marsha) of Aviation 
Khudyakov, S. A. 

May 1943-end of war 


234 







Post 


Rank, Last name, initials 


Time at post 


Long-Range Aviation 
Commander 


Deputy Commander for 
Political Affairs 


Chief of Staff 


1st Air Army 
Commander 


Major General of Aviation, 
as of 1942 Lieutenant 
General of Aviation, as of 
' 1943 Colonel General of 

| Aviation, then Marshal of 
Aviation, as of 19 August 
1944 Chief Marshal of 
Aviation Golovanov. A. 

Ye. 

Divisional Commissar, as 
of 6 December 1942 Major 
General of Aviation, as of 
18 September 1943 
Lieutenant General of 
! Aviation, as of 19 August 
1944 Colonel General of 
Aviation Gur’yanov, G. G. 

I 

Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Shevelev, M. I. 

Lieutenant Genera] of 
Aviation Perminov, N. V. 


Air Army Command 


Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Kutsevalov, T. F. 

Major General of Aviation, 
as of 17 March 1943 Lieu¬ 
tenant General of Aviation 
Khudyakov, S. A. 

Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Gromov, M. M. 

Colonel General of Avia¬ 
tion Khryukin, T. T. 


5 March 1942-6 December 1944 

21 March 1942-6 December 1944 

5 March 1942-June 1944 

July 1944-6 December 1944 

5 May 1942-17 July 1942 
17 July 1942-26 May 1943 

26 May 1943-2 July 1944 

2 July 1944-end of war 


235 


Pott 


Rank, Last name, initials 


Time at post 


Military Commissar, as of 

9 October 1942 Deputy 
Commander for Political 
Affairs 

Brigade Commissar, as of 

20 December 1942 Colonel, 
as of 9 April 1943 Major 
General of Aviation 
Litvinenko, 1. G. 

5 May 1942-23 March 1945 


Major General of Aviation 
Chernyshev, 1. T. 

23 March 1945-end of war 

Chief of Staff 

Colonel, as of March 1943 
Major General of Aviation 
Pronin, A. S. 

5 May 1942-9 August 1944 


Major General of Aviation 
Belov,!. M. 

12 February 1945-end of war 

2nd Air Army 



Commander 

Major General of Aviation 
Krasovskiy. S. A. 

5 May 1942-4 July 1942 


Colonel, as of 17 October 
1942 Major General of 
Aviation Smirnov. K. N. 

4 July 1942-26 March 1943 


Lieutenant General of 
Aviation, as of 4 February 
1944 Colonel General of 
Aviation Krasovskiy. S. A. 

26 March 1943-end of war 

Deputy Commander for 
Political Affairs 

; Brigade Commissar, as of 

20 December 1942 Major 
General of Aviation 
Romazanov, S, N. 

5 May 1942-end of war 

Chief of Staff 

Colonel Stepanov, N, L. 

7 May 1942-9 August 1942 


Colonel Brayko, P. 1. 

9 August 1942-9 October 1942 


Colonel Stepanov, N. L. 

9 October 1942-9 April 1943 


Major General of Aviation 
Kachev, F. I. 

9 April 1943-9 August 1943 


Major General of Aviation 
Tel'nov, K. I. 

10 August 1943-9 August 1944 

1 


Major General of Aviation 
Pronin, A. S. 

9 August 1944-end of war 


236 



Post 

Rank, Last nam*. initials 

Time at post 

3rd Air Army 



Commander 

Major General of Aviation 
Gromov. M. M 

5 May 1942-26 May 1943 


Major General of Aviation, 
as of 28 September 1943 
Lieutenant General of 
Aviation, as of 19 August 
1944 Colonel General of 
Aviation Papivm. N. F 

26 May 1943-end of war 

Deputy Commander for 
Political Affairs 

Regimental Commissar, as 
of 20 December 1942. 
Colonel, as of 23 

November 1943 Major 
General of Aviation Rabak. 

N. P. 

5 May 1942-end of war 

Chief of Staff 

Major General of Aviation, 
as of August 1944, Lieu¬ 
tenant General of Aviation 
Dagayev. N. P. 

5 May 1952-end of war 

4th Air Army 



Commander 

Major General of Aviation 
Vershinin. K.. A. 

7 May 1942-8 September 1942 


Major General of Aviation 
Naumenko, N. F. 

8 September 1942-1 May 1943 


Lieutenant General of 
Aviation, as of 24 October 
1943 Colonel General of 
Aviation Vershinin, K. A. 

1 May 1943-end of war 

Deputy Commander for 
Political Affairs 

Divisional Commissar, as 
of 20 December 1942 1 

Major General of Aviation 
Alekseyev, V. 1. 

7 May 1942-14 April 1943 


Major General of Aviation, 
as of 19 August 1944 Lieu¬ 
tenant General of Aviation 
Verov. F. F. 

14 April 1943-end of war 

Chief of Staff 

Major General of Aviation 
Ustinov, A. Z, 

7 May 1942-11 July 1944 


Major General of Aviation 
Alekseyev, A. N. 

11 July 1944-end of war 


237 



Post 


Rank, Last name, initials 


Time at post 


5th Air Army 



Commander 

Lieutenant General of 
Aviation, as of 25 March 

1944 Colonel General of 
Aviation Goryunov. S. K. 

3 June 1942-end of war 

Deputy Commander for 
Political Affairs 

Brigade Commissar, as of 

5 December 1942 Colonel 
Grubich, A. P. 

3 June 1942-14 April 1943 


Major General of Aviation 
Alekseyev, V. I. 

14 April 1943-18 January 1944 


Colonel, as of 20 April 

1944 Major General of 
Aviation Smirnov, V. 1. 

18 January 1944-end of war 

Chief of Staff 

Major General of Aviatjon 
Sinyakov, S. P. 

3 June 1942-1 July 1943 


Major General of Aviation, 
as of 13 September 1944 
Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Seleznev. N. G. 

1 July 1943-end of war 

6th Air Army 



Commander 

Major General of Aviation 
Kondratyuk, D. F. 

5 June 1942-8 January 1943 


Major General of Aviation, 
as of 28 May 1943 Lieu¬ 
tenant General of Aviation 
Polynin, F. P. 

8 January 1943-27 September 1944 

Deputy Commander for 
Political Affairs 

Brigade Commissar, as of 

5 December 1942 Colonel 
Mashnin. 1, V. 

6 June 1942-12 October 1942 


Brigade Commisar, as of 

5 December 1942 

Colonel, as of 29 May 

1944 Major General of 
Aviation Vyvolokin, A.F. 

19 October 1942-17 September 1944 

Chief of Staff 

Colonel, as of 30 April 

1943 Major General of 
Aviation Storozhenko. 

V. V. 

5 June 1942-2 July 1944 


Major General of Aviation 
Kotel'nikov, P. L. 

2 July 1944-27 September 1944 

238 







Post 


Rank, Last name, initials 


Time at post 


7th Air Army 

Commander 

Deputy Commander for 
Politcal Affairs 


Chief of Staff 


8th Air Army 

Commander 


Deputy Commander for 
Political Affairs 


Chief of Staff 


Lieutenant General of 
Aviation, as of November 
1944 Colonel General of 
Aviation Sokolov. 1, M. 


Brigade Commissar, as of 
20 December 1942 Major 
General of Aviation 
Khorobrykh. F. N. 

Colonel, as of 2 November 
1944 Major General of 
Aviation Sergeyev. I. I. 

Colonel Belov. 1. M. 

Colonel Sveshnikov. B. F. 

Major General of Aviation 
Belov, I. M. 

Major General of Aviation 
Stepanov. A. V. 


10 November 1942-28 June 1945 


25 November 1942-3 July 1943 


3 July 1943-14 November 1944 

< 10 November 1942-2 February 1943 

2 February 1943-22 June 1944 
22 June 1944-12 February 1945 

12 February 1945-28 June 1945 


Major General of Aviation, 
as of March 1943 Lieu¬ 
tenant General of Aviation 
Khryukin. T. T. 

Lieutenant Genera! of 
Aviation Zhdanov, V. N. 

Brigade Commissar, as of 
20 December 1942 Major 
General of Aviation 
Vikhorev, A. 1 

Colonel, as of 16 May 1944 
Major General of Aviation 
Rytov, A. G. 

Major General of Aviation 
Shkurin, Ya. S. 

Colonel Seleznev. N. G. 

Colonel Belov, I. M. 

Major General of Aviation 
Izotov, V. I. 


15 May 1942-2 July 1944 

2 August 1944-end of war 
9 June 1942-3 March 1944 

3 March 1944-end of war 

7 June 1942-17 August 1942 

18 August 1942-3 February 1943 
3 February 1943-6 June 1944 

6 June 1944-end of war 


239 



Post 

Rank, Last name, initials 

Time at post 

9th Air Army 



Commander 

1 

Major General of Aviation 
Senatorov, A. S. 

27 July 1942-18 September 1944 


Major General of Aviation 
Vinogradov, V. A. 

18 September 1944-28 June 1945 


Colonel General of Avia¬ 
tion Sokolov, I. M. 

28 June 1945-end of war 

Deputy Commander for 
Political Affairs 

Senior Battalion 

Commissar, as of 20 
December 1942 Colonel 
Kolotil'shchikov, N, M. 

27 July 1942-26 Apnl 1945 


Major General of Aviation 
Khorobrykh, F, N. 

26 April 1945-3 September 1945 

Chief of Staff 

Colonel, as of March 1943 
Major General of Aviation 
Isayev, S. N. 

27 July 1942-28 June 1945 


Major General of Aviation 
Stepanov. A. V. 

28 June 1945-end of war 

i 

10th Air Army 


i 

Commander 

Colonel, as of 17 October 
1942 Major General of 
Aviation Vinogradov, 

V. A. 

! 27 July 1942-16 September 1944 

i 


Colonel, as of 8 September 
1945 Major General of 
Aviation Slobozhan. 

D. Ya. 

16 September 1944-19 May 1945 


Colonel General of Avia¬ 
tion Zhigarev, P. F. 

19 May 1945-end of war 

Deputy Commander for 
Political Affairs 

Regimental Commissar, as 
of 20 December 1942 

Colonel Mel’nik, M. V. 

27 July 1942-16 December 1944 


Colonel Fedorov. S. K. 

16 December 1944-end of war 

Chief of Staff 

Major General of Aviation 
Petrov, N. A. 

5 August 1942-13 January 1943 


Colonel Pyneyev, N. K. 

13 January 1943-21 March 1945 


240 


Colonel, as of 3 February 
1943 Major General of 
Aviation Lavrik. S, A. 


21 March 1945-end of war 





Post 

Rank, Last name, initials 

Time st post 

11th Air Army 



Commander 

Colonel, as of 17 October 

1942 Major General of 
Aviation Bibikov, V. N. 

27 July 1942-22 January 1945 

Deputy Commander for 
Political Affairs 

Senior Battalion 

Commissar, as of 20 
December 1942 Colonel 
Fedorov, S. K. 

27 July 1942-16 December 1944 

Chief of Sta.‘ f 

Colonel Volgin. A. Ya. 

25 July 1942-31 July 1944 


Colonel Kozyrev. S. M. 

31 July 1944-22 January 1945 

12th Air Arms 



Commander 

1 leutenant General of 
Asiation Kutsevalov. T F. 

27 July 1942-25 June 1945 


Marshal of Aviation 
Khudyakos. S A 

25 June 1945-end of war 

Deputy Commander 'or 
Political Affairs 

Brigade Commissar, as of 

20 December 1942. 

Colonel, as of 11 July 1945 
Major General of Aviation 
Pal’yanov. S A 

25 July 1942-end of war 

Chief of Staff 

Major General of Aviation 
C'hmurak. I 1. 

27 July 1942-19 April 1943 


Major General of Aviation 
Terent’yev, 1. 1. 

19 April 1943-6 September 1943 


Major General of Aviation 
Kozlov, D. S. 

6 September 1943-25 June 1945 


Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Seleznev. N. G. 

25 June 1945-end of war 

13th Air Army 



Commander 

Lieutenant General of 
Aviation, as of 11 

November 1944 Colonel 
General of Aviation 
Rybal'chenko. S. D. 

20 November 1942-end of war 

Deputy Commander for 
Political Affairs 

Brigade Commissar, as of / 

6 December 1942 Major 
General of Aviation 

Ivanov, A A, 

25 November 1942-1 March 1943 


Colonel Sulimov. M. 1. 

16 March 1943-end of war 


241 






Post 


Rank, Last name, initials 


Time at post 


Chief of Staff 


14th Air Army 
Commander 


Deputy Commander for 
Political Affairs 


Chief of Staff 


Colonel, as of 4 February 13 November 1942-10 July 1944 
1944 Major General of 
Aviation Alekseyev. A. N. 

Major General of Aviation 10 July 1944-21 March 1945 
Lavrik. S. A. 


Major General of Aviation. 27 July 1942-end of war 
as of April 1943 Lieutenant 
General of Aviation 
Zhuravlev, I. P. 


Brigade Commissar, as of 
5 December 1942 Colonel 
Gorskiy, 1. M. 

Colonel Shapovalov, M. 1. 

Colonel Marunov, 1. S. 

Colonel Abramov. N. P. 


27 July 1942-8 December 1942 

8 December 1942-26 November 1944 
27 July 1942-January 1943 
January 1943-end of war 


15th Air Army- 
Commander 


Deputy Commander for 
Political Affairs 


Chief of Staff 


16th Air Army 
Commander 


Major General of Aviation 
Pyatykhin, 1. G. 

Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Naumenko, N. F. 

Regimental Commissar, as 
of 5 December 1942 
Colonel, as of 19 January 
1944 Major General of 
Aviation Sukhachev, M, N. 

Colonel Semenov, I. S. 

Major General of Aviation 
Sakovmn. A. A 


Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Stepanov. P S. 

Lieutenant General of 
Aviation, as of May 1944 
Colonel General of 
Aviation Rudenko. S. I 


22 July 1942-May 1943 
May 1943-end of war 
17 July 1942-end of war 

22 July 1942-23 August 1942 
24 August 1942-end of war 

8 August 1942-28 September 1942 
28 September 1942-end of war 


242 


Post 


Rank, Last name, initials 


Time at post 


Deputy Commander for 
Political Affairs 

Regimental Commissar, 
as of 5 December 19*2 
Colonel, as of 1 May 1943 
Major General of Avia¬ 
tion Vinogradov. A S 

17 September 1942-end of war 

Chief of Staff 

Colonel, as of 7 August 

1943 Major General of 
Aviation Belov. N. G. 

5 August 1942-30 October 1942 


Major General of Aviation 
Kosykh, M. M. 

30 October 1942-15 April 1943 


Major General of Aviation, 
as of August 1944 Lieu¬ 
tenant General of Aviation 
Brayko, P. I. 

15 April 1943-end of war 

17th Air Army 



Commander 

Major General of Aviation, 
as of 20 December 1942 
Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Krasovskiy, S. A. 

15 November 1942-26 March 1943 


Lieutenant General of 
Aviation, as of March 1944 
Colonel General of 

Aviation Sudets, V. A. 

26 March 1943-end of war 

Deputy Commander for 
Political Affairs 

Brigade Commissar, as of 

5 December 1942 Colonel, 
as of 1 May 1943 Major 
General of Aviation j 

Tolmachev, V. N. 

i 

25 November 1942-end of war 

Chief of Staff 

Colonel Tel’nov, K, I. 

November 1942-February 1943 


Colonel, as of 17 March 

1943 Major General of 
Aviation Seleznev, N. G. 

February 1943-July 1943 


Major General of Aviation, 
as of 19 April 1945 Lieu¬ 
tenant General of Aviation 
Korsakov, N. M. 

July 1943-end of war 

18th Air Army 



Commander 

Chief Marshal of Aviation 
Golovanov, A. Ye. 

6 December 1944-end of war 


243 





Post 

Rank, Last name, initials 

Time at post 

Deputy Commander for 

Colonel General of Avia- 

6 December 1944-end of war 

Political Affairs 

tion Gur'yanov, G. G. 


Chief of Staff 

Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Perminov, N. V. 

6 December 1944-end of war 


Stavka Reserve Air Corps Commanders 
Fighter Air Corps 

1 Fighter AirCorps, Major General of Aviation, 10 September 1942-end of war 

reorganized 18 March as of 17 March 1943 Lieu- 

1943 as I Guards tenant General of Aviation 

Fighter Corps Beletskiy, Ye. M. 


II Fighter Air Corps Major General of Aviation, 10 October 1942-10 February 1945 

as of 30 April 1943 Lieu¬ 
tenant General of Aviation 
Blagoveshchenskiy, A. S. 

Major General of Aviation 11 February 1945-end of war 
Zabaluyev, V. M. 

III Fighter Air Corps Major General of Aviation. 10 December 1942-end of war 

as of 11 May 1944 Lieu¬ 
tenant General of Aviation 
Savitskiy. Ye. Ya. 

I 

IV Fighter Air Corps, Major General of Aviation. 6 December 1942-end of war 

reorganized 2 July 1944 as of 13 September 1944 

as HI Guards Fighter Lieutenant General of 

Corps Aviation Podgomyy, l. D. j 

V Fighter Air Corps Major General of Aviation 15 February 1943-26 June 1943 

Klimov, I. D. 

j 

Major General of Aviation j 27 June 1943-27 August 1944 
Galunov, D. P. 

Colonel, as of 20 April 28 August 1944-end of war 

1945 Major General of 
Aviation Machin, M. G. 

VI Fighter Air Corps Major General of Aviation 19 February 1943-29 June 1943 

Yumashev, A. B. 

Major General of Aviation 10 July 1943-28 May 1944 
Yerlykin, Ye, Ye. 

Major General of’Aviation 29 May 1944-end of war 
I Dzusov, I. M. 


244 





Post 


Rank, Last name, initials 


Time at post 


VII Fighter Air Corps, Major General of Aviation 23 June 1943-end of war 

reorganized 27 October Utin. A. V. 

1944 as VI Guards Fighter 
Corps, 

VIII Fighter Air Corps Major General of Aviation 24 June 1943-13 June 1944 

Zherebchenko, F. F. 

Lieutenant General of 16 June 1944-end of war 

Aviation Osipenko, A. S. 

X Fighter Air Corps Colonel, as of 7 August 13 July 1943-end of war 

1943 Major General of 
Aviation Golovnya, M. M. 

XI Fighter Air Corps Major General of Aviation I February 1944-end of war 

Ivanov, G. A. 

XIII Fighter Air Corps Major General of Aviation 29 December 1943-end of war 

Sidnev, B. A. 

XIV Fighter Air Corps Major General of Aviation 28 September 1944-end of war 

Danilov, S. P. 

Composite Air Corps 

I Composite Air Corps, Major General of Aviation 23 October 1942-12 May 1944 

reorganized 28 September Shevchenko, V. I, 

1944 as IX Ground Attack 

Corps Major General of Aviation 13 May 1944-12 June 1944 

Zlatotsvetov, A. Ye. 

Major General of Aviation 13 June 1944-4 July 1944 
Rubanov, S. U. 

Colonel Ivolgin, V. I. 5 July 1944-22 July 1944 

Major General of Aviation 23 July 1944-11 August 1944 
Vinogradov, V. A. 

Major General of Aviation 12 August 1944-28 September 1944 
Krupskiy, I. V, 

II Composite Air Corps, Major General of Aviation I November 1942-13 July 1943 

reorganized 13 July 1943 as Yeremenko, I. T. 

X Fighter Corps 

III Composite Air Corps, Colonel, as of 10 10 October 1942-29 June 1944 

reorganized 24 August 1943 November 1942 Major 

as I Guards Composite, General of Aviation, as 

and 28 September 1944 as of 4 February 1944 
II Guards Ground Attack Lieutenant General of 
Corps Aviation Aladinskiy, V. 1. 


245 





Post 


Rank, Last name, initials 


Time at post 



Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Zlatotsvetov, 

A. Ye. 

30 June 1944-26 August 1944 

' 


Major General of Aviation 
Slyusarev, S. V. 

27 August 1944-12 October 1944 



Major General of Aviation 
Ivanov, A. A. 

13 October 1944-22 October 1944 



Major General of Aviation 
Slyusarev, S. V. 

4 November 1944-end of war 


IV Composite Air Corps, 
reorganized 22 June 1943 
as VIII Fighter Corps 

Major General of Aviation 
Zherebchenko, F. F. 

19 February 1943-22 June 1943 


V Composite Air Corps, 
reorganized 23 June 1943 
as VII Fighter Corps 

Major General of Aviation 
Slyusarev, S. V. 

8 March 1943-23 June 1943 


VI Composite Air Corps, 
reorganized 28 September 
1944 as V Bomber Corps 

Major General of Aviation 
Antoshkin, 1. D. 

Colonel, as of 19 August 

1944 Major General of 
Aviation Borisenko. 

M. Kh 

5 March 1943-2 May 1944 

3 May 1944-28 September 1944 


VII Composite Air Corps, 
reorganized 31 December 

1943 as IV Bomber Corps 

Colonel, as of 17 March 

1943 Major General of 
Aviation Arkhangel'skiy, 

P. P. 

15 February 1943-31 December 1943 


VIII Composite Air Corps, 
reorganized 21 July 1943 as 

V Ground Attack Corps 

Major General of Aviation 
Kamanin, N. P. 

15 February 1943-21 July 1943 


IX Composite Air Corps, 
reorganized 29 September 
1944 as X Ground Attack 
Corps 

Major General of Aviation, 
as of 2 August 1944 Lieu¬ 
tenant General c Aviation 
Tolstikov, O. V. 

15 February 1943-29 September 1944 


X Composite Air Corps, 
reorganized 21 July 1943 
as VII Ground Attack 

Corps 

Major General of Aviation 
Filin, V. M. 

9 March 1943-21 July 1943 


XI Composite Air Corps, 
reorganized 28 September 
1944 as XIV Fighter Corps 

Major General of Aviation 
Danilov. S. P. 

24 July 1942-28 September 1944 


XVIII Composite Air 

Corps 

246 

Colonel Nyukhtilin, V. F. 

18 December 1944-end of war 





.. —-——— 





Pott 


1 Ground Attack Air 
Corps, reorganized 
5 February 1944 as 

I Guards Ground Attack 
Corps 

II Ground Attack Air 
Corps, reorganized 27 
October 1944 as 111 Guards 
Ground Attack Corps 


111 Ground Attack Air 
Corps 


IV Ground Attack Air 
Corps 


V Ground Attack Air 
Corps 


VI Ground Attack Air 
Corps 

VII Ground Attack Air 
Corps 


VIII Ground Attack Air 
Corps 


IX Ground Attack Air 
Corps 


Rank, Last name, initials 

Ground Attack Air Corps 

Major Genera! of Aviation, 
as of 17 March 1943 Lieu- J 
tenant General of Aviation I 
Ryazanov, V. G. 

Colonel, as of 17 March 

1943 Major General of 
Aviation, as of 11 May 

1944 Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Stepichev, V. V. 

Colonel, as of 17 March 
1943 Major General of 
Aviation Gorlachenko, 

M 1. 

Major General of Aviation, 
as of 19 August 1944 Lieu- i 
tenant General of Aviation 
Baydukov. G. F. 

Major General of Aviation, 
as of 20 April 1945 Lieu¬ 
tenant General of Aviation 
Kamanin. N, P. 

Major General of Aviation 
Tokarev, B. K. 

Major General of Aviation, 
as of 16 May 1944 Lieu¬ 
tenant General of Aviation 
Filin, V. M, 

Major General of Aviation, 
as of 11 May 1944 Lieu¬ 
tenant General of Aviation 
Naneyshvili, V, V. 

Major General of Aviation 
Kotel'nikov, M. V. 

Major General of Aviation 
Rubanov, S. U. 

Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Naneyshvili, V. V, 

Major General of Aviation 
Krupskiy, I. V. I 


Time at post 

10 September 1942-end of war 

10 October 1942-end of war 

6 December 1942-end of war 

1 January 1944-end of war 

21 July 1943-end of war 

30 December 1943-end of war 

21 July 1943-end of war 

15 April 1944-6 January 1945 

7 January 1945-3 April 1945 

4 April 1945-29 April 1945 
30 April 1945-end of war 

28 September 1944-end of war 


247 





Pott 


X Ground Attack Air 
Corps 


I Bomber Air Corps, 
reorganized 5 February 
1944 as II Guards and 26 
December 1944 as VI 
Guards Bomber Corps 


II Bomber Air Corps, 
reorganized 3 September 
1943 as I Guards Bomber 
and 26 December 1944 as V 
Guards Bomber Corps 


III Bomber Air Corps 


IV Bomber Air Corps 


V Bomber Air Corps 


VI Bomber Air Corps 


VII Bomber Air Corps 


Rank, Last name, initials 


Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Tolstikov, O. V. 

Bomber Air Corps 

Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Sudets, V. A. 

Colonel, as of 20 October 
1943 Major general of 
Aviation Polbin, I. S. 

Major General of Aviation 
Kachev, F. I. 

Colonel Nikishin, D. T. 

Major General of Aviation 
Turkel’, 1. L. 

I 

Major General of Aviation, | 
as of 28 September 1943 j 
Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Ushakov, V. A. 

Major General of Aviation 
Karavatskiy, A. Z. 

Major General of Aviation 
Arkhangel'skiy, P. P. 

Major General of Aviation 
Borisenko, M. Kh. 

Major General of Aviation, 
as of 13 March 1944 Lieu¬ 
tenant General of Aviation 
Tupikov. G. N. 

Colonel, as of 20 April 
1945 Major General of 
Aviation Skok, I. P., 

Lieutenant General of 
Aviation Ushakov, V, A, l 


Time at post 

29 September 1944-end of war 

lOSeptember 1942-31 March 1943 

I April 1943-11 February 1945 

12 February 1945-13 March 1945 

14 March 1945-end of war 
10 October 1942-6 February 1943 

7 February 1943-16 April 1945 

9 November 1942-end of war 

31 December 1943-end of war 

28 September 1944-end of war 

1 May 1943-15 March 1945 

16 March 1945-end of war 

16 April 1945-end of war 


248 






Index of Personalities* 


Abramov. N. P.,213.242 
At anas'yev. M. V.. 15 
Agai'tsov, F. A., 161.215 
Agavelyan.S.D,, 165 
Ageyev. A. V.. 220 
Ageyev. B. A..45.52 
ACtovskiy, V . 1 .56.178 
Aladinskiy. V. 1 .42,95.215.245 
Albert. M.. 180 
Aleksandrov, S. S . 177 
Aleksandrovich. V. I., 191 
Alekseyenko, V. A., 180 
Atekseyev. A N.. 174.214.237,242 
A lekseyev. V. 1.. 214.237.238 
Alelyukhin. A. V .94 
Algazin. A.S .32 
Amet-Khan. Sultan. 94 
Anderson. F. 166 
Andre, J . 180 

Andrianov. N.F .23. 110. 181,196 

Andrianov. V I.. 143 

Antonov, A. I.. 153, 179 

Antoshkin, I D , 134, 217, 246 

Arkhangel skiy. A. A . 13 

Arkhangel'skiy. P P., 42, 191,215, 246. 248 

Artem yev, P A . 57 

Artem yev. V. I . 23. 56 

Artemenko.T.M . 15 

Asulenko, A. I .214 

Ascyev. P N . 15 

Astakhov, F. A . 36, 72 

Azovtsev. N N , 3 

Babak.N.P ,214.237 

Babenko. A D.. 168 

Bagramyan.1 Kh., 153 

Bakhircv. B. S.. 158 

Bakhtin. 1 P . 99 

Ban'kovskiy,G. D., 15 

Baranov. M D ,94 

Batov. PI., 162 

Baturin, V. Ye . 52 

Baydukov. G F 155.215.247 

Beletskiy, Ye. M . 75-76.182. 191,215.244 

Belichenko, P P .56 

Belishev. M A . 21 


Beloborodov, A P.. 178 

Belov. I M . 174. 177. 214. 236. 239 

Belov. N G .243 

Belyayev. A P .56 

Berezin. M Ye.. 127 

Berkal’. Yu. M.,63 

Bershanskaya, Ye D . 157. 217 

Bibikov.V N .205.241 

Bibikov. Ya. L .. 57 

Bitskiy. B V .92 

Blagoveshchcnskiy. A S .76.215.244 

Bobkov.M V .162 

Bogdan. V M .71 

Bogdanov . A 1.23 

Bogdanov.S I . 183 

Bogdanov .V M . 98 

Boldyrev. 1 V .70 

Bolotnikov . A S . 15.70.86 

Bondarenko. I 1.22(1 

Borisenko. M Kh . 52. 176. 179. 215. 246. 
248 

Borman, A. V . Ill 
Boyko. I. U . 35 
Brandis. A. Ya . 220 

Brayko. P. I . 159, 17o,214.215.236.243 
Brezhnev. L I . I. 63. 102. 112. 142. 189. 

223.232 
Burak. K T., 7o 
Burdenyuk.A A . 42 
Burtsev, A N . 21 
Butelin. LG. 35 
Butkovskiy. M A . 214 
Buyanov. V. N . 189 
Buyanskiy.N N.. 108 

Chalik.Ye S..23 
Chanpafov. VP, 150 
Chechneva. M. P.,221 
Chernousov. S I.. 214 
Chemyakhovskiy, I D.. 175 
Chernykh. S. A . 203 
Chernyshev. I T . 174.236 
Chmurak, 1.1,241 
Chugunov, A.I.. 15 
Chupikov.P. F.. 155. 217. 218 
Chuykov. V. 1., 184 


•/There were several discrepancies in the original Russian index, mistaken page references, non¬ 
existent material on page referred to, contradictions in the individual's initials or the spelling of his 
last name between the index and the text. Where there was a sound basis for correction, the error 
has been remedied, but in the extremely few instances where there was no way to determine the 
correct entry or reference the mistake in the Russian original has been allowed to stand as found— 
L' S Ed | 


249 






Dagayev. N. P., 59. 70, 196. 205. 214. 216, 
237 

Danilov, A. S.. 35 
Danilov, S.P., 110.215,245,246 
Dankevich, P. B., 188 
Davidkov, V. I., 217 
Delfino. Louis, 165 
Demidov, A. A , 53 
Denisov, S. P . 21 
Dmitriyev, V. A., 23 
Dobrodetskiy, A. V., 143 
Dobysh, F. I.,63,217 
Doerr, H., 101 
Doroshenko, A. G., 56 
Draychuk, Ya. I., 214 
Drozdov, A. G., 70 
Drozdov, 1.1 ,34 
Duboshin, A. M , 22 
Dukhnovskiy, P. I,, 214 
Duprat, L., 140 
Durand, A., 140 
Dzusov.I.M . 173, 191,244 

Eaker, 1 . 167 

Fadeyev .V.I, 114. 116 
Falaleyev, F Ya.. 44, 84, 128. 144. 154, 157, 
158, 162. 165, 174.210,211,234 
Fatkulin. F M , 63 
Fedorenko. Ya.. N . 96 
Fedorov, F G., 56 
Fedorov, I. L . 155 
Fedorov. S. K , 198.214,240,241 
Fedorov, Ye P . 221 
Fcdutcnko. N. N..22I 
Filatov. D. S , 56 
Filin. V. M.. 246.247 
Finogenov, M. S.. 182 
Fokin. V. V.. 196 
Fominykh. A. Ya., 111 
Frunze. M. V . 14 

Gagarin. Yu. A , 212 
Galichev, A . B . 56 
Galunov, D P..42. 134, 244 
Garanin, 206 
Gastello. N.F .42.94 
Georgiyev, I. V.,92. 108, 139 
Get'man. S G.. 63 
Gillcr.l. M . 155 
Glazunov. G 1 .70 
Glinka, B.B.. 114. 116 
Glinka. D B ,114. 116 
Gmpenko. S. N . 221 
Goering. H . 9 
Golovachev. P. Ya..94 


Golovanov, A. Ye . 50, 52,61,69, 72. 87,92. 
96. 101, 131. 156, 167. 179, 182. 190.210, 
235.243 

Golovnya, M.M., 141,215, 245 
Golubev. G. G., 116 
Golubev, V . M . 94 
Gorbatsevich', L. A . 22, 56 
Gorbatyuk, Ye. M . 63 
Gorbunov. V. P . 13 
Goreglyad, L. I.. 173 
Gorlachenko. M. I . 215. 247 
Gorovets. A. K.. 143 
Gorskiy. I M.. 196 
Gorskiy. I. M.. 242 

Goryunov. S.K . 21. 103. 109. 126. 149.210. 
211.238 

Grachev. V G . 175 

Grechishnikov. V. A .51 

Grechko. A A . 110. 112. 114.232 

Grechko. S . N .. 15 

GrendaF.D D .23.56 

Grigor yev. P. G . 82 

Gromov. MM.. 103.153,210. 235. 237 

Grubich. A P .214.238 

Guderian. H.. 47.48.53 

Gudimov. S M . 35 

Gudkov. M 1. 13 

Gulyayev. N. D . 143 

Gur yanov. G. G.. 72. 2’ ‘. 235. 244 

Gurevich. M. I . 13 

Gusev .K.M.,21 

Gvozdkov. G. K .56.90. 155 

Haider. F. 7 

ll'vushin. S V.. 223 
Ioffe. Z A . 220 
Ionov.A P.20.36 
Ionov. P P .32. 155 
Isayev. S N.. 240 
Ishchenko. N.N..56 
Isupov. A F . 15 
Ivanov.A A . 214.241.246 
Ivanov,G A . 177.215.245 
Ivanov. I I . 34.35 
Ivanov.S P . 196,201 
Ivanov,V P . 34 
Ivashutin. P. I . 15 
Ivolgin. VI. 245 
Izotov. M. 1.14 
Izotov. V. 1 .22. 214.239 
Izvolov, V. I .70 

Jeschonnek. H . 9 

Kachev.F.l.214.236.248 


250 


Kalinin, A. A. ,42 
Kalinin. P. A . 171 
Kalinushkin, M. N., 168. 203 
Kamanin, N.P.. 141,215,246.247 
Kanokotin. V. P , 15 

Karavatskiy. A. Z.. 134. 172, 191.215,248 

Karpovich. D.K.. 23,56 

Karpuk.M.N ,71.82 

Karyagin, A. A., 15 

Katichev.K A..42.217 

Katrieh.A. N.,63 

Katukov. M. Ye., 183 

Kazakov. P. G . 221 

Kazima, A I , 180 

Kharitonov. P. T..43 

Khatminskiy. F S.. 177 

Khlobystov. A, 215 

Khmelevskiy, N. G.. 72 

Khokhlov. P I . 51 

Khorobrykh, F N.. 197,214.239. 240 
Khramchenkov. A. V., 15 
Khripin. V. V . 27 
Khrulev. A. V.. 153 

Khryukin. T. T . 89. 95. 104. 150. 153. 174. 

177. 180.210.211,235.239 
Khudyakov.G. A., 214 
Khudyakov.S. A .20,71, 103, 128. 129. 141. 

164, 165, 197,200.210,234.235.241 
Kirillov. A. S .115.221 
Kleshchev, 1.1..86,94.217,218 
Klimov, I D , 215. 244 
Klimov. V. Ya., 223 
Klubov, A. F , 116 
Koblikov. V. N., 220 
Kochergin. I. A.. 203 
Kokarev.D. V..3S 
Kolesnikov, 1.1.. 166 
Kolesnikov. P. A.. 181. 196.205 
Kolotil’shchikov. N. M , 240 
Komarov.G. L. 134. 191 
Kondratyuk, D. F.. 238 
Konev. I S . 54. 150. 186 
Konstantinov. M. P . 56. 221 
Kopets, I. I.. 20 
Kopylov.G. I..71 
Korets. L., 101 
Korneyev, N. V, 21 
Korol'kov.G.T ,56 
Korotayev.P. V..23. 155.221 
Korotkov. P.F.. 70, 85.196 
Korsakov, N. M.. 214.243 
Kostenko, A T., 166 
Kosykh. M.M..94, 243 
Kotel'nikov. M V.,247 
Kotel'nikov. P.L.. 238 
Kotlyar.F. P..2I7 


Kovalev, S. K.. 166 

Kovalev, S. P., 108 

Kovalev,T. Ye., 155 

Kovalev, V. Ye.,63 

Kovzan, B. I., 57,215 

Kozhedub. I. N.. 143,190.220.221 

Kozhevnikov, M. N.. hi, 15, 56, 69. 82. 110. 

131, 159, 178, 181, 1%, 200,205 
Kozlov, A. 1.70 
Kozlov, US. 241 
Kozyrev, S. M., 241 

Krasovskiy, S. A.. 94, 101. 104, 126, 130, 
151. 170, 182. 186, 190. 211-12. 213. 
236. 243 

Kravchenko .AS., 15.70 
Kravchenko.G. P.,46,59 
Kretov.S. I., 221 
Krolenko, N. I..46.165 
Krupenin. 1. V.. 133 

Krupskiy.]. V.. 134. 171. 191,215.245.247 

Kryukov,N. V.,51 

Kryukov,P.1.,217 

Kuchma, P M . 177 

Kudryavtsev. N. F . 15 

Kungurtsev. Ye. M.. 180 

Kunikov.Ts. L.. 108 

Kutakhov. P. S., iv. 144. 217. 218. 219. 226. 
231 

Kutsevalov. T. F . 36.235.241 
Kuz'min. I.M.. 23,56. 149 
Kuz’min. N. P.,15 
Kuznetsov. A A , 41 
Kuznetsov. M. V., 213 
Kuznetsov,N G.. 110. 196 

Lakhomn. V. 1 ,51 

Lapchinskiy. A N . 27 

Larionov. I A . 127 

Laskin. N. A . 20 

I^veykm, 1 P . 189 

Lavochkin. S A . 13.223 

Lavnk.S A . 198.214.240.242 

Lavnk.S P .21 

Lavnnenkov. V D.. 94 

Lebedev.S S .110 

Lebedev, V I , 139. 168 

Lefevre, M.. 140, 180 

Lclyushenko. D D., 183, 187 

Lemcshko. P. N .. 198 

Lenin, V I . 18.232 

Uselidze.K N . 110.112 

Levandovich.S. D.. 166 

Littolff. A . 140 

Litvinenko. L G.,! 74,214, 236 

Loginov. Ye. F . 52. 108.139.168.191,215 

Loktionov. A. F ,63 


251 



Lovtsov. N.G.221 
Luchkin. F S . 181 
Luganskiy. S . D .94. 143. 217 
Lugovoy, V. I.. 56 
Lyubimov.I Kh.,221 

Machin. M. G.. 215,244 
Makarov. V Kh . 206 
Makarov. V.N., 94 
Maksimov. M. L. 15 
Mal'tsev. A. N.. 82. 110 
Mal'tsev. F. P . 221 
Malenkov. G. M., 87 
Malinovskiy, N. A., 189 
Malinovskiy. P. L, 27 
Malinovskiy, R Ya., 144 
Malygin. V. I., 51 
Mares'yev. A. P.. 143 
Markov. I. V.. 72, 220 
Marunov, I. S , 242 
Mashnin, I. V., 238 
Maslennikov, I. I.. Ill 
Matisov. A. F, 15 
Mcl’nik. M. V..240 
Mellenthin, F., 134 
Metelkin.N P..63 
Mezhemnov. S. A., 27 
Mezintsev, A. L, 221 
Miehugin. F. G., 21,36 
Mikoyan. A L, 13. 223 
Mikulin. A. A.. 223 
Mitenkov. A. I., 54 
Moiseyev. K. P., 220 
Moiseyev. Ye. G . 70 
Moklyak, A. I..35 
Molodchiy. A L.63.221 
Moroz, I. M .219.220 
Morozov. A P, 217 
Moskalev. M M., 214 
Motomyy. I. P..94. 217 
Mozhayskiy. A. F.. 15 
Muratkin.T. L, 214 
Myasishchev, V. M.. 13 
Myl nikov.G. M . 180 

Naneyshvili, V. V.. 215,247 
Naumenko, N. F., 21, 36, 44, 103, 109, 210, 
211,237.242 
Nekrasov, A. L, 20,41 
Nesterov, P. N., 35 

Nestertsev, V. Ye., 108,139,168,191,215 
Nevinnyy, P. A., 220 
Nichiporenko. S.!.. 142,217 
Nikishev, D. N., 23 
Nikishin, D. T., 191,248 


Nikitin. A. V.. 3, 29, 56. 128, 164, 165, 166. 
167,178,210 

Nikolayenko, Ye M.. 21,47,61 
Nikulina. Ye. A., 221 
Noga.M. P, 217 
NosaT, Ye. I..221 

Novikov, A. A., 20, 36,41.44,68-69,70,81, 
86. 87 . 90. 92-93 . 96, 97, 98, 101, 102, 
103, 109-11. 112-13. 116-17, 128, 129, 
130, 131, 148. 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 
154, 156-57, 158, 159, 175, 176, 178, 180, 
184. 186, 190. 196, 200, 201, 205, 208. 
210,211,234 
Novikov. V. A.. 15 
Novoselov, V. K., 189 
Nudel’man, A. E., 127 
Nyukhtilin, V. F.. 246 

Obukhovskiy. L.. 94 
Ol'shvanger. A Ya.. 15. 23 
Orkin.M.M , 15 

Osipenko. A. S . 155. 162-63, 245 
Osipenko, I P . 220 
Osipov, 1.1 .82 
Osipov. V.N .221 
Ostroumov. N. N . 15. 70 

Pal'yanov. S. A.. 197.214.241 
Panfilov, Ye. M., 35 
Panyushkin. F. Ya . 70.85 
Papivin. N. F.. 153. 177.210,237 
Parshin.G. M.. 180 
Pavlov. I F .220 
Peresypkin, I T., 153 
Perminov, A. R., 166. 167 
Perminov, N. V . 214. 235.244 
Peskov. P.!.. 189 
Pestov, S. A., 15 
Petain.6 

Petlyakov, V. M.. 13. 223 

Petrov.I.F..46,47.48,59.61 

Petrov. N. A ., 240 

Petukhov, 1.1..72 

Pikulin. V. M., 56,85 

Pimenov. I. V.. 70 

Pisarskiy. B. R..42 

Platonov. N. Ye.. 3 

Pleshakov, A. S.. 15 

Pleshchenko. G P., 199,204 

Plotkin, M. N..51 

Plotnikov. 205 

Plotnikov. N. L. 220 

Plotnikov. Yu. V , 3 

Podgomyy, I. D . 76,99, 135,215,244 

Podol'skiy. A. L, 15 


Pogrebov. B. A , 47 
Pokryshev. P. A.,217 

Pokryshkin, A. 1.. 114, 116, 173. 191, 217, 
221 

Polbin, I. S., 86,94, 137,216,218,248 • 

Polikarpov, N. N., 223 

Poluektov, P. N . 56 

Polynin, F P. 42,47,53, 103. 210, 238 

Pomerantsev, Z. M., 14, 18 

Ponomarenko, P. K.. 160 

Popkov, A. P . 70 

Popov,A. P.. 221 

Poshekhontsev, V. P.,23. 56 

Potapov, I. P ,23 

Pouyade, Pierre,140, 165 

Poype, R. de la. 180 

Preobrazhenskiy. Ye. N , 50,51 

Presnyakov,M. A.,94 

Prokhorov, A N., 180 

Prokudin, A. G , 56 

Pronin, AS.. 170,214,236 

Proskurov,I.l.,22 

Protsenko, N. M., 214 

Prussakov.G. K., 15 

Prutkov, S. D., 177 

Pshenyanik.G. A., 3, 15 

Pstygo, 1.1., 217,218 

Ptukhin, Yc.S.,20,36 

Puntus, 1. G.,95 

Pushkin, A 1., 182 

Pyatykhin, I. G., 104, 242 

Pyneyev, N. K., 240 

Pyshnov, V. S., 15 

Radetskiy, N. A., 162 

Ratanov, P. V., 71 

Ratgauz, L. G., 221 

Rebrov, V. 1 .220 

Rechkalov.G. A., 114, 116 

Repin, A. K , 128,211,220 

Reshetnikov, V. V., 219 

Reyno, L. D.,63 

Rodimov, P. V , 220 

Rogal'skiy, A. A., 94 

Rogov, A G., 63 

Rogoznyy.Z, Z., 141 

Rokossovskiy, K. K., 153, 158 

Romazanov.S. N.,94, 170,214.236 

Roosevelt, Elliott, 166 

Roosevelt, F., 166 

Rotmistrov, P. A , 137 

Rubanov, S. U..245,247 

Rudakov, B. A , 34 

Rudenko. A. G.. 220 

Rudenko, L.G.. 57. 71. 128,214.221 


Rudenko. S. I..69. 86, 87.98, 101, 126. 153. 
155. 156, 159. 170. 182. 186, 190. 211, 
212-13,242 
Rudneva. Ye. M , 221 
Rukhle. I N ,45.47.53 
Ryabtsev, P. S., 35 
Ryabtsev. V 1 .221 

Ryazanov, V G . 75. 135. 137, 186, 191,215. 
216.218,247 

Rybal'chenko. S. D.. 103,210, 241 
Rybalko.P. S.. 183 
Rybkin.L.G., 151 
Rychagov. P. V.. 23,28 
Rykhlin.N. V . 113 
Rytov. A. G . 214,239 

Sakovnin, A. A.. 214, 242 
Samokhin, M. I.. 175 
Sandalov, V. A ,217 
Sanfirova.O. A . 221 
Savel'yev, I. B., 199, 204 
Savitskiy. Ye. Ya.. 76, 110, 171, 173, 191, 
215-16,217,244 
Savkin.I. Ye . 70-71 
Sbytov, N. A., 21,54 
Schetchikov.G. S.. 168. 191 
Seleznev. N. G . 95. 197, 200. 214, 238, 239, 
241,243 

Selivanov. I. P . 82 
Semenchikov, V. I., 3 
Semenishin, V. G., 114, 116 
Semenov, A. F , 242 
Semenov. 1.1., 155 
Semenyuk,Z. V.,94 
Semeyko, N. 1., 180 
Sen'ko.V. V.,221 
Senatorov, A. S., 240 
Sergeyev, A. V.. 32 
Sergeyev, 1.1 .214,239 
Shakhurin, A. I.. 13. 128.211 
Shanshashvili. D. G.. 214 
Shapovalov, M. I., 214,242 
Shatskiy, A. S..56 
Shavrov, 35 
Shchelkin, V. A., 196 
Shchelkunov. V. I.,51 
Shchepankov, N. F , 166 
Shcherbakov, M. V.,45,56,59,70 
Shcherbina, N. M., 214 
Shelukhin, P. S , 36 
Shemborskiy, V. B., 56.70 
Shepelev, A. V., 220 
Shesterin, F. I., 3 
Shestakov, L. L..94, 217 
Shevchenko, A. T., 15 


253 


Shevchenko, V. I.,95, 177,245 
Shevelev.M, 1,72,235 
Shikin.l.V., 1% 

Shimanov. N. S., 3. 67. 121, 128, 178, 211. 

214,234 

Shinkarenko, F. I ., 177 

Shishov, V. A , 63 

Shkurin. Ya. S..21.239 

Shnyrev, G. M , 71 

Shpak.A.F.,63 

Shpital’nyy, B. G., 127 

Shcemenko, S. M., 110, 153. 195 

Shumikhin. V. S., 3 

Shurakhov, I. V .. 165 

Shvetsov, A. D., 223 

Sidnev.B. A . 173.191,215.245 

Silayev, N. A., 202 

Silanl'yev. A. P., 219, 220 

Sinyakov. S. P , 20.214.215,238 

Sitkin.M. A.. 171 

Sivkov.G. F , 213 

Skok.I. P . 182, 191.195,215,248 

Skomorokhov. N. M . 213. 220, 221 

Skorobogatyy.G. N.,42 

Skripko. N.S . 22. 72,80, 87, 101, 110. 165. 

167,210 

Slobozhan.D. Ya.,240 

Slyusarcv, S. V., 186. 191.215,246 

Smirnov,K.N.,22,94, 101,104.236 

Smirnov, L. I.. 196 

Smirnov, L. M., 181 

Smirnov, M. D., 15, 18. 149 

Smirnov. N. F., 116 

Smirnov, V. I., 214, 238 

Smirnov, V. V..42, 217 

Sokolov, G. M., 15 

Sokolov. I. M.. 197,210, 239,240 

Sokolov, N. A., 149 

Sokolov, V. 1 ,72 

Sokolov, V. Ye., 3 

Sokolov-Sokolenok, N. N., 52,220 

Sokoloverov, A. I., 56 

Spirin.l. I\, 15, 19 

Stalin, J.V., 43,48,62, 102. 121,226 

Stalin, VJ., 19! 

Stepanenko, I. N.,94 
Stepanov, A. V., 214,239.240 
Stepanov, N. L.,94, 214,236 
Stepanov. N. M., 221 

Stepanov, P. S.. 3, 22, 23, 43, 47, 54, 56. 58. 

81.82,83,87, 128.214,234,242 
Stepichev, V. V.,215, 247 
Sterligov, B, V., 155, 196.200 
Storozhenko. V. V . 23,56,70,214, 238 
Strelkov, N. A., 56 


Stroganov, K A..166 
Stupin, P. M.,221 

Sudets, V. A.. 22, 75. 126, 130, 144, 150, 
210,213,243,248 
Sukhachev, M. N., 214, 242 
Sukharyabov, V. V., 171 
Sukhoy. P.O.. 13,223 
Sulimov, M. 1, 214,241 
Suprun, S. P., 42 
Suranov, A. S.. 127 
Sveshnikov, B. F.. 214,239 
Sychev. S.V. 56 


Tairov, V. G.. 56 
Talalikhin. V. V.,63 
Talanin.I. M..72 
Taran, P. A , 221 
Taranenko, P. M . 221 
Tayurskiy, A. 1 .36 
Tel’nov. K. 1 .94. 214,236,243 
Telegin, K. F.. 184 
Teplinskiy. B. L.. 23 
Terekhin. N., 215 
Terent'yev, 1.1., 241 
Tikhonov.M. D., 15.70 
Tikhonov. V.G.,51 
Timokhovich.l. V.,92.108. 119 
Timoshenko, S. K .28.34,43,49 
Tochilov. V. G., 214 
Tokarev.B.K.. 191.215.247 
Tokarev. MS.. 143,217 
Tolmachev. V. N.. 94,214.243 
Tolstikov.O. V., 215.246.248 
Trifonov. N. K., 55 
Tsedrik, K. T.. 202 
Tsykin, A D , 51 
Tulasne.J.. 140 

Tupikov.G. N.,92. 108. 110. 191,248 
Tupolev, A. N.. 13,223 
Turkel'. I. L.,95, 155,215.248 
Turykin.G. P., 161 
Tyurev, S. A . 82 

Usatyy.F. I..41 
Ushakov,S. F..72 

Ushakov. V. A.. 110. 158, 176. 179. 196.215, 
248 

Uspenskiy, V.N., 155, 196.200,221 
Ustinov, A. Z . 21.36.214.216.237 
Ustinov, D. F . 233 
Utin.A V., 187. 191.215,245 

Vanyushin, A F . 21 
Vasil'yev. A. A.. 70 


254 



Vasilyevskiy, A M.. 80, 87,96, 97, 117, 129, 
144, 149, 153. 154, 158. 160, 175, 176, 
178. 1%. 201 
Vatutin. N.F.. 93. 150 
Vedenin, I, P., 94 
Veliko-lvanenko. Yu. A . 56 
Verov. F.F , 174,214.237 
Vershinin, K. A.. 109. 111. 153. 156. 174, 
182,210,211.212,237 
Vikhorev. A. 1 .95.214, 239 
Vikhrov, V. I . 214 

Vinogradov, A. S . 86,94, 170, 214, 243 

Vinogradov.G. V , 70,86 

Vinogradov, N. S.. 158 

Vinogradov, V. A . 240, 245 

Vinokurov, A. V., 56, 220 

Vitruk. A N., 134. 142, 164 

Vladimirov, S. V.. 143 

Vlasov, A. M., 23,56 

Vlasov, V. N., 221 

Vodop’yanov, M. V., 50 

Volgin, A. Ya , 241 

Volkov, N. A.. 108. 139. 198 

Volodin, P S . 23, 234 

Vorob'yev, M. P.. 153 

Voronov, N. N , 46. 153 

Voronov. P P . 221 

Voro/heykin, A. V., 189 

Vorozheykin, G. A., 46, 51-52. 56, 58, 71, 

92, 93, 103, 128. 129. 130. 141, 162. 165. 

210,211.234 
Vyvolokin, A. F , 214, 238 

Yakovlev, A. S., 13,223 
Yakovlev, N. D., 153 
Yefimov. A. N., 143.219.220 
Yefremov, A. Ya , 51 
Yefremov, I. S., 113 
Yefremov, V. S..94 
Yeremenko, A. 1., 47,93 


Yeremenko, I. T, 95, 110.245 
Yeremin, B. N . 217 
Yerlykin, f o. Ye., 133,244 
Yermachenkov, V. V.,41,109 
Yerokhin, A. A., 199,204 
Yudakov, A. P.. 63 
Yumashev. A. G.. 215, 244 
Yurchenko. 204 
Yukhanov, D P . 107. 139 


Zabaluyev, V. M . 244 

Zaklepa, K. P.. 177 

Zaytsev, V. A.. 213 

Zazulinskiy. I. P .94 

Zdorovtsev. S, 1,43 

Zelenko, Ye. .215 

Zelentsov. V. V , 217 

Zemlyanskiy, V. V.,94 

Zhadov,A. S . 137 

Zharov. F. I.. 221 

Zhat'kov. A. V.. 15 

Zhdanov. 1.1. 196 

Zhdanov. V.N.,90. 210.211.239 

Zherebchenko. F. F . 215. 245.246 

Zhigarev, P. F.. 22.23.37,43, 56, 57, 58,60, 

128. 198.213.214.234.240 
Zhil'tsev. N. P., 177, 178 
Zhmulev.F. I..2I4 

Zhukov. G. K . 54. 57.60. 61.64. 89.93. 96. 

109-110. 111. 129. 133. 149. 153. 154. 

156-57.158.159.184 
Zhukov.M P .43 
Zhukovskiy, N. Ye.. 14, 15.71.84 
Zhuravlev. I. P., 69, 103,210,242 
Zhuravlev, N. A . 15, 70. 84, 85, 102, 165. 

166. 169 

Zimin.G. V., 182 
Zlatotsvetov. A. Ye , 245.246 
Zubkova,A. L . 221 


255 



SOVIET MILITARY THOUGHT Series 


1. The Offensive 

2. Marxism-Leninism on War and Army 

3. Scientific-Technical Progress and 
The Revolution in Military Affairs 

4. The Basic Principles of Operational Art and 
Tactics 

5. The Philosophical Heritage of V. 1. Lenin and 
Problems of Contemporary War 

6. Concept, Algorithm, Decision 

7. Military Pedagogy 

8. Military Psychology 

9. Dictionary of Basic Military Terms 

10. Civil Defense 

11. Selected Soviet Military Writings: 1970-1975 

12. The Armed Forces of the Soviet State 

13. The Officer’s Handbook 

14. The People, the Army, the Commander 

15. Long-Range Missile-Equipped 

16. Forecasting in Military Affairs