Aviation of World War II

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PBN-1 "Nomad" in the USSR

In the second half of the war, Soviet seaplane aviation was going through a severe crisis. On June 22, 1941, the naval forces had 859 seaplanes, and on June 1, 1944, 588 of them had already been lost. The greatest damage occurred to the three western fleets. So, in January 1944, only 15 flying boats survived on the Black Sea, not a single one in the Baltic. The heavy losses of the first years of the war were practically not compensated by the industry. Throughout the war, Soviet factories produced only 39 Che-2 and KOR-2 (Be-4) aircraft. Another 141 aircraft were received from aviation schools and civil aviation (mainly of the MBR-2 type).

The quality composition of the hydroaviation also did not meet the requirements of the time. The overwhelming majority were obsolete MBR-2, low-speed, weakly armed, with insufficient range and bomb load. The more modern KOR-2 was designed as a catapult reconnaissance aircraft for large warships and was also not suitable for many missions. There were only a few twin-engine Che-2 and GST in service.

At the same time, with the transition of the Soviet armed forces to a strategic offensive, the fleet's needs for modern seaplanes, capable of successfully solving the tasks of anti-submarine defense, long-range reconnaissance, rescue and landing operations, have sharply increased. Unable to provide seaplane with domestic equipment, they had to turn to the allies for help. Until 1944, seaplanes from England and the United States were not delivered to our country.

A natural candidate for deliveries to the USSR was the Consolidated 28 flying boat, already well known to our pilots, by that time better known under the name "Catalina", which was given to her by the British.

The first attempt to obtain Catalina for the Soviet fleet was made in 1942. Then they wanted to achieve the provision by the Americans of 60 amphibious aircraft of the PBY-5A modification for the needs of the Northern and Pacific fleets. But unsuccessful.

After the liberation of Taganrog from the Germans, the People's Commissar of the Navy, Admiral N.G. Kuznetsov, made a proposal to the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks to resume production of seaplanes at the local aircraft plant. Using the help of Consolidated, it was possible to start producing a modern modification of the Catalina. They wanted to get equipment for the destroyed enterprise under Lend-Lease. The restoration of the plant began, but already in October 1944, the decision was changed in favor of the future Be-6, which promised higher flight performance LL-143.

However, attempts to obtain seaplanes from the United States continued. The modifications produced in 1943 - 1944 were already significantly different from the prototype of our GTS. The motors became more powerful, the armament was stronger, the sliding hatches on the sides gave way to drop-shaped blisters, and the equipment was significantly improved. For a long time, the main variant was PBY-5 and its amphibious counterpart, PBY-5A. From February 1943, the Nzevel Aircraft Factory (NAF) in Philadelphia began building the PBN-1 Nomad. It was these machines that the Americans ultimately proposed to the USSR. As a result, almost all flying boats of this modification (118 out of 138) ended up in our country.

For the first time, the obligations of the allies to provide flying boats were included in the IV supply protocol. A little later, another 50 seaplanes were included in "Appendix III", which covered supplies for the war in the Pacific. For the same purposes, on May 28, 1944, the Soviet government requested another 80 vehicles. This application was also approved.

By June 16, 1944, 24 boats out of 25 arrived in the Soviet Union. One "Nomad", Lieutenant Colonel NV Romanov, on board which were Vasilyev and flag navigator Mossepan, disappeared without a trace. Until June 28, Soviet and British aircraft searched for this car, but to no avail.

The second batch of PBN-1 was sent to the Pacific Fleet.

On October 28, the first PBN-1 arrived in Sevastopol. Four "Nomads" for polar aviation were also driven along the same route; distillation was supervised by I.P. Mazuruk.

Almost immediately after entering the unit, American seaplanes were included in combat work. The stable and "warning" vehicle was easily and quickly mastered by the crews.

In the Northern Fleet, the 118th reconnaissance regiment received American boats (by September 1, 1944, it had 8 PBN-1), in the Air Force of the White Sea Flotilla, the 44th, 53rd and 54th mixed air regiments got several cars, 20th Separate Marine Reconnaissance Squadron. The aircraft carried out anti-submarine patrols and ice reconnaissance. Some of the PBN-1s received from the USA had radars, which significantly increased the search efficiency. They were armed with PLAB-100 bombs dropped by parachute.

To combat submarines during the Great Patriotic War, they tried to use almost all types of aircraft available in the fleet of the Navy Air Force: Il-4 and MBR-2, Bostons and Kittyhawks, Pe-3 and Il-2 ... All of them showed themselves unsatisfactory - sometimes poor visibility, sometimes too high speed (PLAB-100 parachutes are torn), sometimes too small radius of action. And only PBN-1 pleased everyone - its large crew had a good view, a fairly wide range of operating speeds, powerful weapons, a durable glider, the ability to land on the high seas, if necessary, equipment significantly superior in level to domestic ones.

The effectiveness of patrolling has changed accordingly. For one discovered submarine, the North Sea MBR-2 had 170 sorties, and the PBN-1 had only 40. The appearance of new seaplanes made it possible to inspect those areas that the MBR-2 simply “did not reach”.

On August 12, the planes of M.I. Kozlov (from the polar aviation) and S.M. Rubaia met a German submarine at about. White. Ruban, who had no bombs on board, began a fire duel: he fired at the submarine with machine guns, she answered him with a gun. The crews of V.A. Gurichev and S.V. Sokol arrived to the rescue. The boat sank, but depth charges were dropped on it. An oil slick spread across the water ... This was the first successful attack by the Soviet Nomads.

On September 5, by joint efforts, a flying boat, a T-116 minesweeper and a BO-206 hunter at about. S. Kirov sank the submarine U-362. On October 24, in a similar way, when escorting the DB-9 convoy, the pilots of the Air Force of the White Sea Flotilla (MBR-2 and PBN-1), along with the same T-116 and

hunter BO-209 let another enemy go to the bottom. In April 1945, the "Nomad" of the 118th regiment, while escorting a convoy, independently destroyed a German submarine, hitting it with depth charges. On January 1, 1945, the Northern Fleet possessed the PBN-1 family in the 118th regiment. Another 18 American boats were in the 44th, 53rd, 54th regiments and the 20th squadron of the Air Force of the White Sea Flotilla. The Severomors continued to search for German submarines after the victory over Germany. In total, the crews of the PBN-1 of the Northern Fleet and the White Sea Flotilla made 340 sorties during the war.

The first PBN-1 appeared in the Baltic in August 1944. It was one of the vehicles that arrived across the north. Soon, another one was added to it. American flying boats were transferred to the 29th separate ASW squadron, previously equipped with a mixture of IL-2 and Be-4. Finally, the number of "Nomads" in the squadron reached six. The PBN-1 functions in this part were all the same - hunting for submarines, but rescue operations were also added, the search for pilots shot down over the sea. Seaplanes provided safety net for all major raids on German ports. So, on April 22, the pilot of a torpedo bomber shot down east of the Hela lighthouse was rescued. In March 1945, the squadron was disbanded, but three new ones were created - the 15th, 16th and 17th, armed only with PBN-1 (a total of 11 machines).

In the Black Sea Fleet, the 18th squadron was the first to master the "Nomads" since June 1944. The first combat flight took place on July 7: the crews of the pilots Koval and Kakaurov went on reconnaissance. The squadron was split into two groups based in Odessa and Sevastopol. The main areas of their work were long-range reconnaissance over the sea, anti-submarine patrolling and rescue operations. So, on August 19, Captain Koval, having sat on a wave of 4 points, saved the pilot of the downed fighter, on the same day, Captain Kakaurov picked up another pilot. On August 20, Major Melnikov rescued the entire Pe-2 crew of Lieutenant Ogorodnikov, Captain Knyazev, the crew of another Pe-2, Lieutenant Chelenko, and incidentally shot down a flying fighter boat that was attacking him. The next day Kakaurov himself attacked an enemy seaplane and knocked it out; the case was completed by the security fighters. One of the crew members of the German car was pulled out of the water by the "Nomad" of Captain Sedov.

Later, the 11th and 82nd squadrons received PBN-1, but the war on the Black Sea was already over. On August 29, 1944, Captain Knyazev sat down in the port of Constanta with a group of Major General Zhelanov, which was supposed to ensure the surrender of the property of former confederates seized by the Romanians. On the same day, Knyazev brought the envoys to Sulin. On September 8, flying boats landed troops in Varna. One PBN-1 and one GTS unloaded 60 men from the 393rd Marine Battalion. The landing in Burgas was larger: five flying boats were delivered from Constanta by 92 marines from the 384th battalion. After the loss of bases in Bulgaria and Romania, the German fleet practically ceased operations in this basin. Nevertheless, the Black Sea aviators can boast of an outstanding combat episode: Lieutenant Panichkin managed to knock out two Kriegsmarine submarines at once with one bomb attack, which were forced to surrender as a result.

In total, by May 9, 1945, the three western fleets received a total of 107 PBN-1, which was 73% of the total composition of their seaplane. Not a single aircraft was shot down by the enemy, but nine aircraft are considered lost for non-combat reasons.


  • "Americans" in Russia / V.R. Kotelnikov /