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On the Establishment of the Concept of Sortie for Fighters
No. 0685 of September 9, 1942
Facts on the Kalinin, Western, Stalingrad, South-Eastern and other fronts have established that our fighter aviation, as a rule, operates very poorly and very often does not fulfill its combat missions. Our fighters not only do not engage in combat with enemy fighters, but avoid attacking bombers. When carrying out the task of covering attack aircraft and bombers, our fighters, even with a quantitative superiority over enemy fighters, evade combat, walk to the side and allow our attack aircraft and bombers to be shot down with impunity.
By order of the People's Commissar of Defense No. 0299, monetary rewards and government awards for combat sorties with the performance of a combat mission are provided for flight personnel as an incentive. This order in the aviation units is perverted at the fronts.
A sortie is incorrectly considered to be any flight on the battlefield, regardless of whether or not the fighters have completed the combat mission assigned to them. Such an incorrect notion of a sortie does not educate our fighters in the spirit of an active attack on enemy aircraft and makes it possible for individual dodgers and cowards to receive monetary rewards and government awards on a par with honest and brave pilots.
In order to eliminate such injustice and in order to encourage only honest pilots, and to identify dodgers and cowards, expel them from the ranks of our fighters and punish them, I ORDER:
1. To consider as a sortie for fighters only such a sortie, in which the fighters had a meeting with an air enemy and conducted an air battle with him, and when performing the task of covering attack aircraft and bombers, consider as a sortie for fighters only such a sortie, in which attack aircraft and bombers, when performing a combat mission, had no losses from attacks by enemy fighters.
2. Only those enemy aircraft that are confirmed by photographs or ground surveillance reports are counted as downed aircraft for pilots.
3. From now on, payment for sorties and submissions to the government award will be made strictly guided by paragraphs 1 and 2 of this order.
4. Fighter pilots who evade combat with an air enemy should be brought to justice and transferred to penal units - to the infantry.
5. Order to announce to all fighters on receipt.
People's Commissar of Defense I. STALIN