Aviation of World War II
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The Aviation Industry of the USSR on the Eve and During the Great Patriotic War (1939-1945)
PRE-WAR YEARS (1939 — 1941)
At the end of the 1930s, when fascist Germany and the countries allied with it were completing preparations for a new war, the Soviet Union could not remain in the role of a passive observer and was forced to seriously take care of strengthening its defense capability. The country's leadership paid priority attention to the consolidation and modernization of the defense industry. At the same time, priority was given to the development of the aircraft industry.
In the structure of the Personnel Department of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks, a department of the aviation industry was formed. G. M. Malenkov, Secretary of the Central Committee and Head of the Personnel Department of the Central Committee, was appointed responsible in the leadership of the Central Committee for the production of aircraft and aircraft engines. A little earlier, a radical reorganization of the state system of aviation industry management began. In March 1938, the Defense Committee (KO) under the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR formed the Aviation Council, an advisory body for the construction of military and civil aviation and aeronautics . And on January 11, 1939, the People's Commissariat for the Defense Industry (NKOP) was divided into four independent people's commissariats, among which was the People's Commissariat for the aviation industry. On January 21, 1939, the main departments, departments, enterprises and educational institutions were transferred to it from the NKOP.
To unite the creative efforts of designers, sum up their activities and determine the main tasks in the field of creating new combat aircraft, a representative meeting was called, assembled by the Central Committee of the Party in February 1939 in the Kremlin. The meeting was attended by leaders of the party and government, water aircraft designers, scientists, pilots, senior officials of the NKAP and the Air Force. It was about the need for further significant expansion and renewal of the production, technical and scientific and experimental base of the industry, about accelerating the development of new combat aircraft and mastering their mass production. This was followed by a series of meetings at the Central Committee of the Party, at which concrete and practical questions of the development of military aviation were discussed. As a result, a number of important decisions emerged. It was planned to provide the aviation industry with significant material and labor resources, modernize and significantly expand aviation production, as well as speed up work on the creation of new aircraft. aircraft factories and control their fulfillment of planned targets .
To eliminate the disproportion between the capacities of the aircraft and engine factories of the NKAP, a decree was sent by the CO under the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR dated June 11, 1939, in pursuance of which the construction of seven new and a radical renewal of the same number of existing aircraft engine enterprises and TsIAM was launched [3, 4] .
Extremely important for the development of the aviation industry was the resolution of the CO under the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR of September 17, 1939, which obliged the People's Commissariat by July 1, 1941 to complete the construction and reconstruction of a total of 18 aircraft factories and thereby increase the capacity of domestic aircraft manufacturing by more than 1.5 times. In addition, it was planned to begin the immediate design and selection of sites for the construction of another 9 new aircraft construction facilities, which were mainly supposed to be located in the interior of the country. Later, in the same year, a similar decision was made to expand and modernize the aircraft and propeller production. In total, in 1939, the reconstruction covered 31 objects of the industry [5, 6]. The main volume of construction and installation work was to be carried out by the People's Commissariat of the USSR. The People's Commissariat for Foreign Trade was instructed to purchase forge-and-press and metal-cutting equipment for the amount of 14 million rubles .
Other large-scale measures aimed at the accelerated development of the aviation industry were also undertaken. The Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks and the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR ordered the secretaries of the regional party committees and chairmen of the executive committees to personally monitor the progress of orders for aircraft factories, to provide them with all possible support in the implementation of production programs .
The attention of the country's leadership to the needs of aircraft production gave certain positive results. For example, the capital's aviation industry developed at a faster pace. Thus, if the total increase in industrial production in Moscow and the region in 1939 compared to 1938 was 18.8%, then the production of the aviation industry increased by 44.6% [1, p. 211].
The Soviet Union also helped other countries in creating the production and technical base of aviation. On August 11, 1939, the People's Commissariat of Civil Aviation and the authorized Chinese government signed a protocol on the construction of aircraft assembly plant No. 600, 40 km from Urumqi. The construction of the first stage of the plant was completed on September 1, 1940, and the final commissioning was in February 1941. By September 1, 1941, 111 I-16 aircraft were assembled at this enterprise .
However, despite some progress in the aircraft industry as a whole, the growth rate of aircraft production lagged behind the planned indicators, the industry's enterprises switched too slowly to the production of new aircraft. The funds invested in the aircraft industry did not give the desired results. This situation became apparent when, in the early 1940s. as a result of the inspection carried out by the commission of the Central Committee of the party, serious omissions were revealed in the work of the NKAP and the industry as a whole. The annual plan for the production of serial products was not fulfilled. The production of combat aircraft amounted to 84%, and engines - 84.1% of the planned level [3, d. 344, l. 1-54]. The state of the pilot-experimental base of experimental aircraft construction was also recognized as unsatisfactory. Of the 14 wind tunnels, only 5 were operational; there were no installations for testing engines in flight conditions at high altitudes. It was stated that, focusing on the production of mostly obsolete aircraft, the NKAP was unable to mobilize the teams of 31 aircraft and 5 engine design bureaus to carry out responsible tasks for the creation of new combat aircraft. The dangerous qualitative lag of the Soviet aircraft industry from the level of production in fascist Germany was growing. At a time when new machines were being mass-produced there, which were used to wage aggressive wars in Europe, Soviet aviation did not have modern types of aircraft in service at all. Soviet pilots mainly flew on machines designed in 1934-1935: I-15, I-16 fighters and SB bombers. Despite the fact that these machines were significantly inferior in terms of their flight tactical data and armament to the new German aircraft, their slightly improved modifications continued to be produced in large quantities at aircraft factories [1, file 345, l. 1-87]. Naturally, the shortcomings in the technical equipment of our aviation could not but manifest themselves during the military campaigns of 1939-1940. in the Far East and in Finland.
The development of aircraft engine building was also unsatisfactory. In a note from the head of the Air Force Ya. V. Smushkevich and the military commissar of the Air Force F. A. Agaltsov to the Political Directorate of the Red Army (May 1940), it was emphasized that the main brake on the development of our aircraft is the engine and the backwardness in this regard from the advanced capitalist countries is very great, M-63, M-88, M-105 motors are still unreliable and have a large number of defects [1, p. 212-213].
The leadership of the country and the army, although belatedly, but began to realize the whole drama of the situation in the aircraft industry *. On January 26, 1940, a decree of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR and the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks was issued, which in many ways became a milestone in the development of the Soviet aircraft industry. He is given a more intense production rhythm, material and labor resources have been used more intensively. In February 1940, the Defense Committee increased the semi-annual program for the production of combat aircraft and aircraft engines by almost 40%. It was allowed to use overtime work up to 3.5 hours per day per employee, and in some cases work on weekends. Production workers and engineering and technical workers at a number of factories during 1940 were exempted from regular conscriptions for army service, all military training and mobilization [1, d. 221, l. 140 - 143, 170],
At the same time, the staff of the industry management was strengthened. A. I. Shakhurin, who had previously worked as a party organizer of the Central Committee at a large aircraft factory, and then first secretary of the Yaroslavl and Gorky regional party committees, was appointed to the post of people's commissar of the aviation industry. The well-known aircraft designer A.S. Yakovlev became his deputy for experimental aircraft construction. Subsequently, such authoritative aircraft production commanders as P. V. Dementyev, who took over the leadership of serial enterprises, and P. A. Voronin, who at the same time became the head of the main department responsible for the serial production of fighters, were appointed to the posts of deputy people's commissars.
At the direction of the Central Committee of the Party, assistance to the enterprises of the aviation industry from many branches of the national economy has significantly increased. Deliveries of raw materials, fuel, materials, components to aircraft factories began to be carried out as a matter of priority along with urgent military orders. The course of deliveries and the implementation of aviation orders was subject to strict control by the Defense Committee. And in December 1940, the Central Committee of the Party and the government ordered the NKPS to carry out the transportation of goods for the NKAP and its allies within no more than a day and warned the people's commissars that they were personally responsible to the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks and the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR for compliance with the schedules for the supply of materials and products for aircraft factories [3, d. 221, l. 177; 339, l. 5-6].
At the beginning of 1940, the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR instructed the State Planning Committee of the USSR to study the issue of strengthening the aviation industry by transferring non-defense enterprises to it [3, d. 221, l. 150]. The NKAP, as an interested party, took an active part in the fulfillment of this instruction. The leadership of the People's Commissariat instructed the heads of central departments and directors of factories to select enterprises that could be used for the needs of aviation production. This was followed by a widespread survey by representatives of the NKAP of dozens of different enterprises and their transfer to the system of the aviation industry. At the end of 1940, representatives of the NKAP L. S. Gordin, M. T. Zelenoe, I. S. Panferov received from the Air Force of the Baltic Special Military District the aircraft workshops of the disbanded Lithuanian Army in Kaunas, on the basis of which plant No. 465 soon arose. However, basically such plants, factories and workshops were transferred that belonged to agricultural engineering, local, light, food industries of the national economy. Most of them were of little use for the production of aviation products. Therefore, they had to be radically reconstructed immediately after the registration of acceptance certificates. During 1940, only the aircraft-building and engine-building heads of the People's Commissariat accepted 11 and 7 production units from other departments, respectively, and in total about 60 enterprises joined the NKAP system during this period. By the end of 1940, the number of aircraft factories increased by 75% against 1937 [5, d. 33, l. 7, 198; f. 14, op. 2, d. 623, l. 29-32].
Along with the expansion of the scale of aviation production, the number of workers employed in it rapidly increased. In 1940, 30,000 highly skilled workers were transferred to the NKAP factories from other branches of the national economy, and 4,000 young engineers and technicians were sent from educational institutions to the industry. At a meeting of the Board of the Commissariat in April 1940, it was decided to increase the number of Stakhanov schools at the factories, significantly expand the contingent of students in departmental schools of the FZO, and organize regular technical training for workers everywhere [3, file 244, l. 166].
June 26, 1940 was issued a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR "On the transition to an eight-hour working day and a seven-day working week and the prohibition of unauthorized departure of workers and employees from enterprises and institutions." This inherently very cruel law, when a worker could be sued for several delays to work or absenteeism, was designed to secure personnel in production, which, often without normal working and living conditions, constantly faced the problem of colossal labor turnover. Thus, at the leading aircraft manufacturing plant No. 21, where 10,534 people were hired from January 1, 1938 to June 1, 1939, 7,776 people quit during the same period, including 4,537 production workers. The next day after the publication of the decree, the People's Commissar issued an order for an increase due to the increase in the working time of shift production rates and a proportional reduction in prices for work performed.
In August 1940, large aircraft and engine factories, on the initiative of the NKAP, began to work according to a daily production schedule. The introduction of the daily schedule made it possible, to some extent, to overcome the storm, which had previously been in a fever at the end of each month, and to establish a more or less uniform and rhythmic production process. The dispatch service of the People's Commissariat was also strengthened, establishing effective control over the implementation of the daily schedule. Just a month after the transition to the new system of work, the output indicators at plants No. 1, 24, 26, 135 increased significantly [3, d. 2775, l. 153]. By the beginning of 1941. all the aircraft and engine factories of the industry were already working according to the daily schedule [3, d. 286, l. 10-13; d. 245, l. 66].
In addition, production facilities and civilian enterprises are attracted to help the industry. In order to check mobilization readiness, they were entrusted with the production of small trial series of aircraft, aircraft engines and other aircraft.
The efforts made, organizational and material, gave positive results. In the second quarter of 1940, compared with the second quarter of 1939, the production of combat aircraft increased by 75.5%, and of engines by 45.5% [3, file 221, l. 106-115]. In the future, the growth rate of aviation production increased even more. For the second half of 1940, an increased program for the production of military aircraft was approved. It was planned to produce 5,000 combat aircraft and 10,694 engines [3, d. 221, l. 116].
The increase in the production of serial products took place against the backdrop of a wide deployment of work on the construction of new experimental machines. From year to year, the number of aircraft design bureaus has steadily increased. In 1935 there were 8 of them, in 1936 - 14, in 1937 - 24, in 1938 - 26 and, finally, in 1939 - 30. At the same time, the total number of design engineers working in the design bureau , increased in 1936-1939. from 1370 to 3166 people In 1939, aircraft design bureaus had production bases at plants No. 1, 18, 21, 22, 31, 39, 115, 156 [3, d. 20, l. 255, 256]. In 1940, 492 million rubles were allocated for research and development work in the field of aircraft construction [3, file 2775, l. 73).
In March 1940, the government decided to significantly expand the scale of experimental work on the creation of new fighters and connect additional design forces to them [3, d. 298, l. 65; d. 299, l. eighteen]. By the Decree of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR and the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks of April 8, 1940, the procedure for testing prototypes was changed, which should have accelerated the pace of construction of new fighters, attack aircraft and bombers. Three copies of one or another prototype aircraft began to undergo tests at once. One machine was put on static tests, and the second and third, after blowing in a wind tunnel, were presented for flight tests to factory and military pilots. Factory trials, for which the People's Commissariat was responsible, were limited to two months for fighters and two and a half months for bombers**.
The level of flight test work in the industry has increased markedly, especially after the Central Committee of the Party demanded that the People's Commissariat submit to it weekly reports on the results of testing military aircraft, and the NKAP organized a flight technical group (chief M.M. Gromov), which became inspect the flight test units of aircraft factories. The entire scientific and methodological side of flight test work in the industry was headed by the Flight Research Institute, established in the spring of 1940. The Institute immediately began to be equipped with advanced experimental equipment and the latest laboratory test facilities. By the spring of 1941, he was able to fully develop his activities, in particular, he began to develop scientific methods for testing new aircraft and safety standards during testing; he also controlled the compliance of serial machines with their reference prototypes and performed a number of other functions [3, d. 193, l. 140; 523, l. 78]. Organizational support was also given to the work to promote best practices in the design of new aircraft: in early 1940, the Bureau of New Technology was formed at TsAGI, which took control of the publication of the fundamental work, the Guide for Designers. It is significant that one of the winners of the Stalin Prize of the first degree for 1941 was the leading scientist of TsAGI, Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences S. A. Khristianovich, who theoretically established the main patterns of changes in the aerodynamic characteristics of an aircraft wing during the transition to flight at high speeds [3, d. 708, l. 291-298].
Significant funds allocated for the development of domestic aviation, the efforts of the central administration of the industry, as well as the courage and devotion to their duty of test pilots - all this made it possible to achieve significant progress in the development of experimental aircraft construction in a relatively short period of time. The creation of new aircraft was carried out at a rapid pace, which is confirmed by the data [3, d. 708, l. 291 -298] given in Table 1.
* People's Commissar of Defense S.K. Timoshenko and Chief of the General Staff B.M. Shaposhnikov, reporting July 13, 1940. in the Politburo that some European capitalist states had militarized the management of the aviation industry, even offered to transfer our aircraft factories to martial law.
** For the sake of objectivity, it should be noted that these "volitional" deadlines were often violated.
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NKAP - Narodnyy Komissariat Aviatsionnoy promyshlennosti - People's Commissariat of Aviation Industry
GKO - Gosudarstvennyy Komitet Oborony - State Defense Committee
Experimental machines built in 1940, in terms of their flight tactical and combat qualities, approached the aircraft of the best foreign brands, and some even surpassed them. The recognition of the merits of the chief designers - the creators of new combat aircraft was the introduction in December 1940 of a new designation system for winged vehicles, which is still used today: Yak-1, MiG-1, MiG-3, LaGG-3, Pe-2, Il-2 etc. Under these names they soon had to fight. On December 7, 1940, the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR and the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks approved a program for the production of new aircraft for 1941.
Aircraft builders owed their achievements to a large extent to aircraft engine builders, who designed, manufactured and introduced more and more advanced and powerful engines into mass production. In 1940, 90 million rubles were allocated for the development of new aircraft engines [3, d. 314, l. 65]. According to generalized data, the Soviet aircraft engine industry, which gave in six years from 1934 to 1939. an increase in engine power of no more than 5 - 9%, which was lower than foreign rates, managed for 1940 - 1941. increase this figure by 25% [3, d. 892, l. 56].
Practically at all enterprises of the industry, the development of mass production of new aircraft has begun. This process, due to the lack of time allotted for the readjustment of production, as well as the weakness of the production and technical base, lack of capacity and low organization of labor at a number of enterprises, was fraught with many difficulties. Particularly serious consequences were the failure of factories to comply with technological requirements, which inevitably led to the emergence of mass production defects. The scale of the marriage expanded significantly towards the end of 1940 - during the period of the most intensive development of the production of new aircraft models. Day by day the situation became more and more serious. Then, at the direction of I.V. Stalin, the People's Commissariat prepared a draft order, which forbade, under the threat of prosecution, to violate technology, make changes to the design of products and redo drawings without the consent of the People's Commissar and the chief designer. The project was reported to I. V. Stalin, who significantly improved it and made an addition that qualified the violation of technological discipline as "... a crime that harms the state and undermines the country's defense ..." [3, case 327, l. four].
An equally important direction in the activities of the NKAP was the management of sectoral capital construction. The total volume of capital investments in the aircraft industry in 1940 amounted to 1 billion 670 million rubles [3, d. 1314, l. 193]. By special order of the Central Committee of the Party, the construction of aircraft factories was equated with nationwide construction projects and taken under the control of the leading party bodies in the regions, territories and union republics. The evaluation of their activities now depended largely on how well they helped the aviation industry.
The construction of industrial facilities of the industry has gained a wide scope. By the end of 1940, the first workshops of eight new aircraft factories were laid down, sites were selected, and technical designs and general estimates for the construction of three engine factories were approved. The aviation metallurgy also increased its capacities. It was decided to build three rolling mills in the Urals, the Middle Volga and Western Siberia. The newly built and reconstructed aircraft factories were equipped with advanced and high-performance equipment manufactured both in the USSR and abroad [3, d. 197, l. 219-229].
By decision of the government, the NKAP was granted the right to independently negotiate with American firms. In the United States, an authorized NKAP appeared under the Soviet joint-stock company Amtorg, who became a link in the trade and economic relations of the domestic aviation industry with the American side. In October 1939, NKAP specialists went on long business trips to the factories of the Italian aviation companies Savoia Marchetti, Isotta Fraschini, and Caproni.
After the conclusion of the Soviet-German non-aggression pact, delegations of Soviet aviation specialists were sent to Germany to establish business contacts with German firms. At the factories "Messerschmitt", "Junkers", "Heinkel" and others, they got acquainted with the latest military aircraft, aircraft engines and instruments and purchased the most interesting samples. Between the end of 1939 and 1940, 36 different aircraft were acquired from Germany; at the Brown Boveri and Junkers factories, experimental installations were ordered for testing engines at high altitudes, and an agreement was concluded with the Bosch company on technical assistance in mastering the production of injection equipment, new types of aircraft magnetos and piston rings for aircraft engines for a total the amount of 6 million marks. Other trade contracts were also signed [3, d. 193, l. 148]. In contrast to the Soviet Union, which stood for honest and mutually beneficial economic cooperation, the Nazi leadership used the intensification of Soviet-German trade to cover up preparations for aggression. At the end of 1940, the notorious “Plan Barbarossa” was approved, and the fascist military machine carried out the last preparations for striking the USSR.
Economic cooperation with Germany, as well as the Soviet-Finnish war that began at the end of 1939, could not but have a negative impact on the trade and technical relations of the USSR with the democratic countries of the West. On December 29, 1939, People's Commissar M. M. Kaganovich informed I. V. Stalin that American aviation companies had imposed a "moral embargo" on the supply of advanced equipment and technology to Soviet aircraft factories. In particular, Curtiss, Valti, Lockheed and some others canceled their contracts with the Soviet side [3, d. 187, l. 205].
Realizing that things were heading for war, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks at the end of 1940 set the task of dramatically increasing the daily assembly of new combat aircraft and demanded that the directors of aircraft factories daily report to the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks on the number of engines and aircraft. They had to send their cipher telegrams to the Central Committee of the party to I. V. Stalin, to the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR to V. M. Molotov and to the NKAP to A. I. Shakhurin. By this time, large enterprises of the industry were connected to the government telephone system (HF), which contributed to an increase in the level of information and management efficiency. For its part, the NKAP undertook to increase the daily output of new machines to fifty by June 1941. In the deep regions of the country, the construction of enterprises that duplicated the unique aviation production facilities located in the western and central regions of the USSR became more active [3, d. 193, l. 139].
At the beginning of 1941, after the military experts had made the final selection for service of the best models from the new aircraft proposed by the designers, the Politburo, in order not to scatter forces and means, ordered to stop a number of development work on aircraft that were considered less promising and did not interest customers [3, file 525, l. 42-44]. Since that time, the assembly of aircraft of old designs has stopped almost everywhere. At plant number 1, instead of the I-153 Chaika and BB-22 aircraft, they began to produce MiG-1 fighters. At factories No. 21 and 153, instead of the I-16 fighter, new LaGG-3 machines. Since October 1940, the Yak-1 has been mass-produced at plant No. 292. The unique Il-2 attack aircraft, which became famous during the war years as an unsurpassed battlefield weapon, was also transferred to mass production. Its production was mastered at the new Leningrad Plant No. 381 and at Plant No. 18, where, in connection with this, part of the Design Bureau of S. V. Ilyushin was temporarily transferred [3, file 327, l. 28; d. 199, l. 168]. Chief Designer V. M. Petlyakov was instructed to organize the production of Pe-2 bombers at factories No. 22, 39 and 450, and the design bureau of S. A. Lavochkin was relocated to the head plant for the production of LaGG-3 fighters, plant No. 21. At this enterprise, as well as at factories No. 23, 31 and 153, an intensive assembly of LaGGs was launched. MiG-3 fighters also began to be produced in mass quantities, Pe-8, Yer-2 and Su-2 bombers went into series. All of them were to form the basis of the armament of the Soviet air force in a future war [3, d. 199, l. 203, 205].
By the summer of 1941, much had been accomplished. In the two years since the creation of the NKAP, the aviation industry has made a powerful leap in development, dramatically increased its production capacity, largely reorganized and technically re-equipped most of its enterprises, and most of its enterprises were reconstructed and they were mastering new combat products on a wide front. In the east of the country, the foundation was laid for a powerful production and technical base for the aircraft industry, which significantly strengthened the industry-wide industrial potential and made it possible to ensure an expanded reproduction of military aviation during the war. Essentially, the aviation industry has been relegated to working conditions close to those of the military. All new large airlines were put into operation. If in 1939 the industry had 17 serial aircraft manufacturing plants, in 1940 - 21, then by June 1941. their number increased to 24, of which 15 produced fighter and light-engine aircraft, and 9 - bomber and attack aircraft. Aviation engines on the eve of the war were produced at 7 serial enterprises against 5 in 1939; 10 factories produced aircraft and 13 - motor units; 17 factories - aircraft devices; 6 - rolled products and other metal products. In total, by the beginning of the war, the aviation industry included over 100 enterprises [5, d. 33, l. 13, 198].
As of January 1, 1941, only at the aircraft and engine factories of the industry, the number of workers was 174,361. Most of them were highly qualified and had the skills to work at a highly mechanized enterprise. These factories had 26,711 pieces of metal-cutting equipment, 22,019 thousand square meters. meters of production space. By that time, 466.4 thousand people worked in the industry [3, d. 1314, l. 192].
In the beginning of 1941, the aviation industry continued to develop dynamically, increasing the production of new military aircraft, which is confirmed by the data given in Table. 2 .
Before the war, aircraft factories were already producing more than 50 aircraft per day.
But not all tasks were solved, not all problems were dealt with in time. On March 6, 1941, the Collegium of the People's Commissariat noted that, although the Main Experimental Aircraft Directorate as a whole complied with the decision of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR and the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks dated January 26, 1940, the deadlines for state tests of some aircraft are being reduced. At another meeting, the board criticized the work of the Main Experimental and Motor Directorate, which did not provide timely refinement of the M-107, M-89, M-90, AM-37 and other engines, and also delayed their transfer to mass production. The work on powerful engines MB-100, M-250, M-300 proceeded at a slow pace; it was necessary to postpone to a later date the state tests of the AM-38 engine, in which the aircraft industry was in dire need; practically without the help of the state, on the enthusiasm of scientists and designers, fundamentally new gas turbine and jet engines were developed [3, file 509, l. fourteen; 505, l. 64; d. 530, l. thirty; d. 508, l. fifty].
Omissions in the field of experimental aircraft construction had serious consequences. Most factories fulfilled the plan for the production of new combat aircraft in the first quarter of 1941 by only one third. In addition (the forced launch of new aircraft into mass production led to an increase in cases of its failure due to various malfunctions. In total, 11.5% of aircraft had factory defects and imperfections [3, file 521, l. 13, 15 ].
We had to face great difficulties in capital construction. In the first quarter of 1941, the plan for the construction of industrial facilities of the NKAP was completed by the People's Commissariat of Construction only by 48.4% [3, file 533, l. 37 - 46; 335, l. 5, 6]. In addition, on October 17, 1940, just 8 months before the start of the war, the government made a deeply erroneous decision to organize the production of combat aircraft and aircraft engines in Belarus, according to which in Minsk and Mogilev, that is, in the immediate vicinity of the border with Nazi Germany, work began on the construction of large aviation enterprises.
By the beginning of the war, the aviation industry, despite the rapidity and dynamism of its development, especially in 1940 - the first half of 1941, had not yet fully formed into a well-coordinated and highly productive defense industry. She, like the Soviet economy as a whole, was not fully prepared for war. Being in the process of rapid growth, technical reconstruction and organizational development, by June 1941 the aircraft industry could not achieve stability in fulfilling plans for the production of new equipment and, in fact, had only just begun to master its mass production. And although the Soviet aviation industry produced 10,565 aircraft in 1940 against 10,247 German aircraft, and in the first half of 1941 another 5,858 aircraft, and its production capacity by the summer of 1941 was 1.5 times higher than the capacity of German aircraft factories, most of aircraft produced in the prewar years were fighters and bombers of obsolete designs . It took at least a few more months to launch the mass production of new combat vehicles, not to mention the time needed to re-equip the material part of combat aircraft units and to retrain their flight personnel accordingly. By the beginning of the war, the aircraft fleet of the Soviet Air Force consisted of 82.7% of obsolete, worn-out and dilapidated aircraft. In the air units stationed in the western regions of the country, by June 22, 1941, there were only 1,540 aircraft of the latest designs against 4,980 aircraft that supported the aggressor's armies.
Why did the aviation industry meet the war not fully prepared for it? It seems that, firstly, although significant investments were directed to its development, this development took place in the conditions of peaceful construction, while the German aviation industry was transferred to a military footing as early as 1939 and since that time it has had constantly increasing forces and means not only their own country, but also the states of conquered Europe. Secondly, despite the fact that the aviation industry in the USSR was separated into an independent industry at the beginning of 1939 and after that, it seemed that it could count on a comprehensive-purpose technical modernization of its production facilities, however, such a large-scale unfolded only in 1940 ., when, after the Finnish campaign in the winter of 1939-1940. the need to restructure the military-material base became obvious. Thirdly, they were late in drawing lessons from the experience of the Spanish Civil War. Played a negative role and shirk in setting priorities in the development of aircraft construction. At first, proceeding from the offensive "air warfare" concept that dominated the Soviet military strategy in the 1930s, preference was given to the construction of heavy bomber aircraft. Then the situation changed dramatically. At the end of the 1930s, work on strategic aviation was largely curtailed and all forces were concentrated on the construction of new front-line aircraft. However, the aviation industry, being under the pressure of the command-bureaucratic system, was in no hurry to transfer its capacities to the serial production of improved fighters and attack aircraft; it was more convenient for her to “fulfill the plan” at the expense of well-mastered, but obsolete machines, and new aircraft equipment began to be mass-produced only in the spring of 1941. The re-equipment of combatant aviation units and the development of new aircraft by the flight crew had to be carried out mainly already in the course of hostilities;
A large share of the blame for the unpreparedness of the aviation industry for war lies with Stalin and his entourage. They are primarily responsible for organizing mass and unjustified repressions in the 1930s against leading aircraft designers, scientists, commanders and workers in aircraft production, as well as the command and specialists of the country's Air Force. The cruel reprisal against personnel weakened the intellectual potential of the industry, to a certain extent upset the mechanism of its management and led to a decrease in the level of planning, technological and labor discipline. With the outbreak of war, all this could not but complicate the restructuring of the aircraft industry in accordance with the requirements of the emergency. And, of course, the industry could quickly and better organize the supply of the front with new combat aircraft if it did not have to overcome the consequences of the deformations of the pre-war period.| >>