Aviation of World War II

Aviation of World War II

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The Aviation Industry of the USSR on the Eve and During the Great Patriotic War

Vasily Alekseenko


First of all, let us dwell on the statement on this issue by our illustrious commander G.K. Zhukov in the book "Memories and reflections". He writes: "According to updated archival data, from January 1, 1939 to June 22, 1941, the Red Army received 17,745 combat aircraft from industry, of which 3,719 aircraft of new types ... fighters Yak-1, MiG-3, LaGG- 3, the Il-2 attack aircraft, the Pe-2 dive bomber and many others - about twenty types in total.

Here the question involuntarily begs: was it right to take the indicated number of aircraft as the initial data for "reflection"? After all, as you know, during this period there were local wars with Japan (Khalkhin-Gol) and Finland, in which Soviet aviation took part and naturally suffered losses in combat aircraft. And besides, for 2.5 years, our aviation, as usual, in the process of combat training, suffered losses of combat aircraft as a result of emergencies - accidents and disasters.

In addition, it is not clear where the figure "about 20 types" of new type aircraft comes from? As you know, on the eve of the war, we had 6-7 new types of aircraft launched into series: MiG-3, Yak-1, LaGG-3, Il-2, Pe-2, Yer-2 and another TB-7 (although the latter began to be created back in 1935).

Probably, modifications of obsolete aircraft were taken for the "new type": I-16 with M-62, I-16 with M-63, I-153 with M-63, Su-2 with M-88 and others, as well as discontinued Yak-2, Yak-4.

In the same book, G.K. Zhukov on page 346, the given number of "more than one and a half thousand aircraft of new types"allegedly "located on the eve of the war in border military districts and fleets", has no confirmation. It contains a link to the "History of the Second World War 1939-1945." volume 4, p.s. 25-26, from where they redirect to a new link:

"Documents and materials of IVI (Institute of Military History of the USSR Ministry of Defense)" indicating the fund, inventory, file, pages. But this document was not found in the IVI archive - it was destroyed on the instructions of the head of the IVI D. Volkogonov (the act of destruction of April 13, 1990).

Unfortunately, even in the Collection: "1941 - the experience of planning and using the Air Force, lessons and conclusions" published in 1989 (based on the military-scientific conference of the leadership of the central apparatus of the Air Force, dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Army and Navy) we find the same as in the new manuscript of the 1st and 2nd volumes of the History of the Great Patriotic War (an exaggeration of the number of combat aircraft on the eve of the war, etc.)

This Collection (pp. 45,46) for the first time in our literature provides data on the total number of aircraft fleet of the aviation group created by the USSR near the western borders by 06/22/1941.

There were 7,133 combat aircraft in the Air Force units of the five border military districts, 1,339 in long-range bomber aviation, and 1,445 in the Navy aviation - a total of about 10 thousand (9917) combat aircraft.

The production and supply of aircraft by the NKAP VVS KA factories in the first half of 1941 is given in    Table 1

And we were interested in the question - how did scientists determine the number of aircraft delivered to combat units on the eve of the war?

Here we meet with a rather simple "cunning", which was used by many historians - "democrats".

Let's understand the essence of this craftiness. Let us take from the Collection a table on deliveries of combat aircraft of a new type by the NKAP plants for 1941 (pp. 60-61) and table No. 1 we cited, also on the deliveries of combat aircraft of a new type by the same NKAP plants for the 1st half of 1941. The data source of both tables is the same - Air Force Ordering Directorate KA - and the tables must be identical. But there is a fundamental difference between them and it consists in the following.

Our table No. 1 indicates how many combat aircraft were accepted by the military acceptance of 1941, including the month of June, and in the table of the Collection a "clarification" was made and it is written: how many were "Actually delivered combat aircraft of a new new type from January to June 30, 1941. "

And between the acceptance of the aircraft by the military representative at the factory and the actual delivery of the aircraft, there is a big difference. Judge for yourself. The aircraft accepted by the military representative (after a flight by a military test pilot with a positive assessment and with the execution of the relevant documents for financial settlement with the plant) is still at the plant, but is considered already handed over to the customer (Air Force). And what is usually understood as the actual delivery of the aircraft? This is when the aircraft has already been accepted by the combat unit and is included in the combat formation.

Therefore, from the date of acceptance of the aircraft at the factory to the date of the actual delivery of the aircraft, a significant time passes. Especially a lot of time is required for the delivery of fighter planes to combat units, which on the eve of the war were mainly shipped disassembled by rail. To do this, the military representative needs to get a certain number of platforms and wagons, send trains to their destination. After the aircraft arrive at the unit, send a team of workers and a factory test pilot there to assemble, eliminate all kinds of defects and fly around the aircraft after assembly. Only after a military pilot has flown over the combat unit and received a positive assessment, the aircraft are accepted by the combat unit and are enlisted in combat formation. All this in practice took a lot of time.

Unfortunately, the high-ranking military commanders of the Air Force participating in the military-scientific conference in question did not pay attention to this; they even neglected the fact that all data on the number of aircraft pertained to the end of the half year of 1941, i.e. by June 30, and not by June 22, 1941, when the war began. In addition, they did not pay attention to the fact that their archival materials contained data on the presence of 449 combat aircraft at the factories of the 1st Main Directorate of the NKAP on June 24, 1941. And in the handwritten materials of the Collection there was information that "... On June 23, 1941, the main aircraft factories of the NKAP had 690 combat aircraft Pe-2, Il-2, Yer-2, MiG-3, LaGG-3 , Yak-1, Su-2 received by military representatives, including 155 MiG-3 aircraft at factory No. 1; 240 LaGG-3 at factories No. 21, 23, 31; 74 Yak-1 at factory No. 292; 98 Il -2 at plant number 18".

In addition, they could not help but know that immediately after the start of the war, special-purpose militia air regiments were formed on the basis of the Air Force Research Institute of the KA from test pilots and the leading engineering and technical staff of the Air Force Research Institute, military acceptance, Air Force instructors, academies, partially factory test pilots and technicians. June 30, 1941 two special-purpose air regiments flew to the front, armed with MiG-3 fighters (S. Suprun, P. Stefanovsky), as well as a regiment of dive bombers on Pe-2 (A. Kabanov), an assault air regiment on Il-2 (I. Malyshev), flying to the front in early July 1941. All aircraft were from the June plan.

At the same time, 740 combat aircraft accepted by the military representatives on July 1, 1941, but not taken out (not sent) to the unit, still remained at the factories. (See table No. 1).

This is absurd when all these aircraft (and there were, of course, more) were considered in combat formation in the Air Force units by June 22, 1941.

Moreover, in the journal "Military Bulletin" No. 9 (35) for 1992 (published in addition to Russian, in 5 more foreign languages), an article was published in which, in addition to the previously indicated figure of 9917 combat aircraft of the Air Force of the Western Districts, long-range aviation and navy, not even 1540 aircraft of a new type are given, opposing the Germans in June 1941, but more than 3000 (1).

By the way, to study the issue of the number of new-type aircraft produced by our industry on the eve of the war, we recommend that you carefully read what is written on page 414 of the 1st volume of the 6-volume History of the Great Patriotic War. It says that "in the first half of 1941, the industry produced: fighters of the new type MiG-3, LaGG-3 and Yak-1 - 1946, Pe-2 bombers - 458 and Il-2 -249 attack aircraft." (i.e. a total of 2653 aircraft). And this is as much as these aircraft were received by military representatives at the NKAP factories during the same period. (See our table number 1, which highlights the number of these aircraft). Reading further, you will find a very important, in our opinion, mention that "... some of the new machines were just beginning to enter service from the factories." Thus, out of 2653 aircraft of a new type accepted by the military representatives in the first half of 1941, only a part entered service.

What part of these aircraft was actually delivered to the combat units of the Air Force?

The ordering Air Force Directorate, according to the reports of which the tables indicated above were compiled, did not deal with this issue. In the Main Directorate of the Air Force there was a Directorate for the formation, recruitment and combat training of the Red Army Air Force, whose competence also included keeping records of the actual delivery of aircraft to combat units. (During the war, this directorate was called the Main Directorate of Education, Formation and Combat Training of the Air Force of the Spacecraft. It was headed by the First Deputy Commander of the Air Force of the Spacecraft, Colonel-General of Aviation A.V. Nikitin). Data from original archival documents signed by General A. Nikitin are given in    Table No. 2 (see previously opened "Tables" page)

In total, in the combat units of the Soviet Air Force by the beginning of the war there were 706 combat aircraft of a new type, on which 1354 pilots were retrained, of which 407 MiG-3 fighters (686 pilots were retrained), Yak-1 - 142 (156), LaGG- 3 - 29 (90); dive bombers Pe-2 - 128 (362), armored attack aircraft Il-2 - O. Including in the Air Force of the Western border districts there were 304 fighters and 73 Pe-2, a total of 377 aircraft of a new type.

Thus, by the beginning of the war, combat aircraft of the new type were not in the combat units of the Air Force of the spacecraft, as "officially" considered, but 706, which is 3.8 times less. And in the five Western border districts there were only 377, and not 1540, as is also "officially" considered, that is, 4 times less, which is only 5.5% of the total number of combat aircraft in these districts (6781 units), and not 20%, as "officially" is considered now.


The main brake in the development of our aircraft industry was the low quality of aircraft engines (and the fact that the future war is a war, first of all, of engines, was known for a long time).

Aircraft engine building, as you know, is the most science-intensive and high-tech branch of mechanical engineering. It required special high-strength and heat-resistant steels and alloys, as well as high-precision metalworking machine tools. Unfortunately, at that time we did not have all this in full measure.

In order to speed up the way out of this situation, a number of licensed engines were purchased abroad in 1935 for their production at the newly built aircraft engine factories.

In Rybinsk (factory No. 26), with the help of the French company Hispano-Suiza, a liquid-cooled motor was produced, which we called M-100 (its modifications are M-100A, M-103, M-104, M-105. ..)

In Perm (factory No. 19), with the help of the American company Wright, an air-cooled motor M-25 (M-62, M-63, M-82 ...) was produced.

In Zaporozhye (factory No. 29), with the help of another French company, Gnome-Ron, an air-cooled engine was produced - M-85 (M-86, M-87, M-88A, M-88 ...).

In Moscow (factory No. 24), only one liquid-cooled engine was produced for combat aircraft - M-34 (AM-34R, RN, FRN, AM-35, AM-35A ...) designed by A.A. Mikulin.

Unfortunately, the measures taken by the country's leadership to launch and master the mass production of modern aircraft engines for that time did not radically improve the state of affairs in aircraft engine building. Our aircraft designers designed experimental aircraft for engines that practically did not exist yet (they were either under development on drawing boards, or in pilot production, and at best - in a small series, but not yet fully tested).
    Here are some examples. Armored attack aircraft BSh (IL-2)* designed by S.V. Ilyushin was first designed for the AM-34FRN engine (1937-1938), the power of which turned out to be insufficient, then the project was finalized and the aircraft was built for the more powerful AM-35 engine (1939-1940), which, due to design flaws from production was filmed; then it was decided to install an even more powerful and high-altitude AM-35A engine on the aircraft (end of 1940); but it was unsuitable for a "flying tank" (as the IL-2 was called). And only by decision of the KO (Defense Committee under the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR), adopted in early January 1941, the Il-2 aircraft was put into mass production with a more powerful, but with a much lower altitude (suitable for an attack aircraft), the AM-38 engine, which was still on bench tests (it was built on the basis of the AM-35A engine).

The first production aircraft Il-2 was accepted by the military representative at the plant number 18 only on March 21, 1941. State tests at the Air Force Research Institute of the serial Il-2 aircraft, the production of factory No. 18, were not completed by the beginning of the war. 6 2 aircraft were sent for testing and 8 for retraining of the flight crew).

Experienced fighter I-301, developed by designers V.P. Gorbunov, S.A. Lavochkin and M.I. Gudkov (later received the name - LaGG-1, LaGG-3) passed state tests at the Air Force Research Institute in June 1940. For a number of reasons, it did not pass the test and was returned to plant No. 301 for further testing and elimination of deficiencies. The aircraft was put into production in November 1940. During factory tests in early January 1941, the aircraft crashed due to an engine failure in flight (it was wrecked and beyond repair). It should be noted that the M-105P motors, designed by V. Klimov, broke down and were replaced: one earlier in factory tests, the other in state tests.

The first production aircraft LaGG-3 was accepted by the military representative at the plant number 21 only on February 24, 1941.9 State tests of the LaGG-3 aircraft of the first series were completed only a few days before the start of the war. The tests revealed a large number of significant design, production and operational defects. (Therefore, there were few of these aircraft in the combat units of the Air Force - only 29 units).

Other combat aircraft of a new type were in a similar situation, which, in order not to tire the reader, we will not write about.

However, I would like to briefly add some information on aircraft engines, which, in our opinion, deserve some attention.

During factory tests on three prototype I-200 (MiG-1) aircraft in the period March-August 1940, failed AM-35 engines were changed 7 times. At state tests of 2 I-200 aircraft in early September In 1940, the engine also failed, and at the beginning of March 1941, a catastrophe occurred during factory tests: the most experienced test pilot A. Yekatov crashed on a MiG-3 aircraft.Experts considered the cause of the disaster to be the destruction of the engine supercharger.

The I-200, as you know, was put into production in May 1940 at a time when only factory tests of prototype aircraft were still being carried out and the AM-35A engine installed on the aircraft had not yet undergone bench tests.

In May 1941. (a month before the start of the war) flight tests of 10 MiG-3 aircraft (Lyubertsy) were terminated due to unsatisfactory operation of the engines, serious defects were identified that were unsafe for flights.

It was no better with the M-105P engines on the I-26 (Yak-1) fighters. During factory testing of the 1st prototype in the spring of 1940, it failed and 5 engines were replaced.

Due to short deliveries of engines, the plan for the production of I-26 (Yak-1) fighter aircraft in 1940 was disrupted by one of the leading factories of the NKAP No. 292 (Saratov). Instead of 100 fighters, the plant produced only 16.

Serious defects were identified at aircraft engine plant No. 26 (Rybinsk), which produces M-105P engines for the Yak-1 (as well as for the LaGG-3, Pe-2 and the first Er-2 series): destruction of the main bearings, breakage reduction gears in the system associated with the propeller, block cracks and others, as a result of which the plant even temporarily stopped the production of motors.

A similar situation was with the M-88 engine.

Therefore, it is no coincidence that none of the engines installed on the new type of combat aircraft before the start of the war passed special 50-hour tests in flight - the engines worked unreliably.

In connection with such a disastrous situation with engines, only in 1940, the issue of our aircraft engine building was discussed 6 times in the Defense Committee. (I.V. Stalin took part in all meetings of the CO, at one of which he declared that the leading industry is the motor industry and all attention should be paid to it).

* December 9, 1940 combat aircraft of a new type received new names (codes): BSh-2 - Il-2; I-301 (designed by Lavochkin, Gorbunov, Gudkov) - LaGG-1, LaGG-3; I-200 (Mikoyan and Gurevich) - MiG-1, MiG-3; I-26 (Yakovlev) - Yak-1; peak. bomber PB "100" (Petlyakov) - Pe-2; far bomber DB-240 (Yermolaev) - Er-2; near bomber BB-1 (Dry) - Su-2; near bombers BB-22 (Yakovlev) - Yak-2, Yak-4, etc.


On the eve of the war, various improvements were continuously carried out on combat aircraft of a new type to eliminate the identified design, production and operational shortcomings and defects. Therefore, it was difficult to prepare these aircraft for the much-needed tests - operational tests and tests for their combat use, during which cases of emergencies would be excluded.

And the combat units of the Air Force were in dire need of appropriate instructions for new aircraft.

Only on the eve of the war, on June 20, 1941, an order was issued by the Air Force Research Institute, which required by August 1, 1941 to complete operational tests and tests for combat use both in daytime and at night for all combat aircraft of the new type. In addition, based on the test results, by the same date (1.8.41), it was required to develop and submit for approval for further distribution to combat units the following instructions:

a) on the technique of piloting these aircraft both day and night, at all altitudes up to the working ceiling of the aircraft;

b) for combat use in day and night conditions (bombing from level flight and dive, air combat at all altitudes up to the practical ceiling of the aircraft);

c) for the operation of the aircraft, engine, weapons and special equipment.

But these tests were not carried out - the war began.

Thus, our combat pilots started the war on unfinished aircraft of a new type, not having the necessary knowledge and skills for combat use and their operation in the air.


In addition, the new type of aircraft did not have reliable radio communications, and the MiG-3, Yak-1, LaGT-3 fighter aircraft essentially did not have it at all. If some of them had radio stations (they were installed at the factory on one of the 15 aircraft), then the pilots could not use them because of the large radio interference created by the engine ignition system and other aircraft sources.

And on the first 1000 Yak-1 aircraft, radio stations were not installed at all by the factory.

In addition to the unsatisfactory situation with radio communications, Soviet aviation had a very low level of ground support for aircraft navigation (AIA), and for fighter aircraft these means did not exist at all.

The absence of special radio equipment on our aircraft, and on Earth special means of ground support for aircraft navigation, significantly limited the tactical and combat capabilities of the Soviet Air Force, especially fighter aircraft: the maneuvering of groups of aircraft, their concentration in the right directions, the search for targets, excluded the organized conduct of group air fighting (there was no communication between the crews and control from the ground), there was no communication with the ground forces, for which aviation should provide advancement, etc. etc.

In addition, it made it extremely difficult for the flight crew to restore orientation and go to their airfield in order to avoid forced landings that entail aircraft crashes and disasters.

Such a difficult situation in our radio special equipment with special ground equipment has developed due to the fact that our ralmotechnical industry on the eve of the war was still in its infancy, and it could not provide Soviet aviation with all the necessary special products.

It should be borne in mind that the production of products of the radio engineering industry, in our opinion, is also science-intensive and technologically complex. We are still far behind in this branch of industry.


Now let's see what the situation was with the military aviation of our enemy - Germany.

When tested at the Air Force Research Institute in 1940. The Bf 109E fighter, purchased in Germany along with other aircraft, was noted for the reliable operation of the DB 601 engine installed on it. It was recommended to our industry for introduction into mass production. It was proposed to introduce into production equipment for direct fuel injection into the engine cylinders (pump, injectors, etc.), an automatic switch-on for a supercharger, an automatic switch for afterburner to be installed on domestic engines.

Tests of the DB 601 engin e, in addition, showed that it consumes less fuel than our engines, and is more economical. For one horsepower of power when operating in a comparable mode, it consumes less fuel than our M-105 and AM-35A, respectively, by 25.5 and 28.5 percent.

In addition, as a result of testing at the Air Force Research Institute of all combat aircraft purchased in Germany (Bf 109E, Bf 110, Ju 88, Do 215), it was noted that a German aircraft cannot be imagined without a radio station, a radio compass, without equipment for blind landing and a whole a number of equipment that ensures its combat use.

For example. Even in peacetime, the radio beacon and radio direction-finding service of Germany had a well-developed network of airfield radio stations, radio beacons, radio direction finders, light beacons and airfields equipped for night flights and daytime flights in difficult weather conditions - blind landing equipment.

Air transfer lines were especially carefully equipped.

The entire complex network of radio stations, radio direction finders, drive stations and light beacons has always been widely and easily used by the Luftwaffe flight personnel during transfers and sorties. So, during the war, during raids on Moscow, the radio beacons of Orsha and Warsaw were used. Radio waves and call signs changed 2-3 times a day.

A characteristic feature of the designs of German aircraft was that during the design and construction, much attention was paid to maximizing the ease of operation of the aircraft in the field and the convenience for the flight crew to perform combat missions.

To this end, the design of the aircraft was provided with a number of machines that facilitate the work of the pilot, for example:

1) when the air brakes are opened on the Ju 88 dive bomber, the aircraft automatically enters a dive, while the device that limits overloads when exiting a dive is also automatically turned on;

2) when dropping bombs from a dive, the aircraft automatically exits the dive;

3) when the flaps are extended for landing, the stabilizer setting angle is automatically changed and both ailerons acting as flaps are deflected down;

4) on takeoff exactly after 1 minute, the afterburner of the motor is automatically turned on;

5) on climb, after reaching a certain height, the 2nd speed of the supercharger is automatically switched on;

6) the temperature regime of the motor is automatically regulated;

7) the mixture quality and suction pressure are automatically adjusted depending on the air density (flight altitude);

8) the planes are equipped with a course machine, blind landing equipment, etc.

In addition, all German aircraft in service with the Air Force differ sharply from domestic ones in their large margins of stability in flight, which also significantly increases flight safety, aircraft survivability and simplifies the piloting technique and mastering by low-skilled combat pilots.

Returning to the tests at the Air Force Research Institute of the German Bf 109E fighter, we note that its flight data, as you know, were practically the same as those of our MiG-3, LaGG-3, Yak-1 fighters.

However, there were reasons to assume that for the impending war, the Germans would create a new modification of the Messerschmitt fighter based on the Bf 109E. Our guess is based on experience. Back in the summer of 1938, the German Bf 109B fighter with a Jumo 210 engine was undergoing state tests at the Air Force Research Institute (the aircraft was delivered from Spain).

In conclusion, based on the test results of the Bf 109B, it was written: "It is possible to install engines of greater power on the aircraft and, consequently, increase its tactical flight data."

And so it happened: after the Me-109B, its modification Me-109E was created with a more powerful DB-601 engine and some improvement in the aerodynamics of the aircraft. As a result, its maximum speed at an altitude of 3000 m increased by almost 100 km / h.* And before the attack on the Soviet Union, the Germans carried out a further modification of the Bf 109E, increasing the engine power and further improving aerodynamics, received the Bf 109F fighter , whose maximum speed increased by 40 km / h compared to the Bf 109E and its other flight and tactical data improved.

In terms of maximum speed, the Bf 109F surpassed our new type fighters (MiG-3, LaGG-3, Yak-1) by 36-69 km / h and had a number of other advantages, especially in automating aircraft control and power plant and, as noted earlier, in radio special equipment.

* Here and below, the speed is indicated for an altitude of 3000m.


First, I would like to briefly recall some provisions on military aviation.

Combat aviation in those years was intended to assist the advancement of ground troops (or hold the line of defense). Bombers and attack aircraft clear the way for ground troops, or provide assistance to defending troops. If in the airspace above the battlefield the aviation of one of the belligerents gains dominance, that is, does not allow the aviation of the other belligerent to carry out combat missions of interacting with its ground forces, then the side that has won air supremacy will receive a clear advantage. Everyone knows this.

What kind of aviation performs mainly the task of gaining air supremacy? Of course, fighter aircraft!

Looking ahead, we note the following: The experience of the Great Patriotic War, especially the first and part of the second periods, showed that we suffered failures mainly due to the technical backwardness of our fighter aviation, which had a significant impact on the actions in the operations of the ground forces. In the early days, the Luftwaffe won strategic (along the entire length of the front) air supremacy and held it until the Battle of Kursk.

Therefore, we will take into account mainly fighter aircraft.

By the beginning of the war, we had 304 new-type fighters in the five western border districts, which were under development and undertested. In addition, 3156 obsolete fighters: the so-called "maneuverable" fighters I-15, I-153 "Chaika" and "high-speed" fighters - I-16. On obsolete fighters, as well as on new types of fighters, there was essentially no radio communication. (And one, as you know, is not a warrior in the field). The maximum speed of the Me-109F is higher than the speed of the I-153 fighter with the M-63 engine (standard 1940) by 162 km / h, and compared to the speed of the I-16 fighter with the M-63 engine (standard 1940) by 123 km/h

According to German data, the air force (Luftwaffe) concentrated 1233 fighters against us, of which: Me-109F - 593, Me-109E - 423 and Me-110 - 217 units. In total, combat aircraft of the new type - 2604 units. In addition, there were about 1000 obsolete aircraft from Hungary, Romania and Finland.

From the above data, it can be seen that the Luftwaffe had complete superiority over the Red Army Air Force, especially in fighter aircraft.

These facts indicate that the decision of our government and the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (JV Stalin) to delay the start of the war with Nazi Germany as far as possible was correct. We desperately needed time to fine-tune, test and master the mass production of new types of combat aircraft.

On the first day of the war, as is well known, as a result of a surprise attack by enemy aircraft at airfields, 800 of our aircraft and 400 in the air were destroyed. In the Western border districts, only a part of the combat aircraft was of a new type. The main burden of the fight against Luftwaffe aircraft fell on the obsolete I-15, I-16, I-153 fighters.

In the early days, fascist aviation won strategic air supremacy. In the heavy defensive battles of the Red Army during the period of its retreat, Soviet aviation suffered heavy losses. But even in such difficult conditions, Soviet pilots delivered tangible blows to enemy aircraft. So, in the first 6 months of the war, according to the archival data of the FRG, German aviation in all theaters of operations lost 4643 combat aircraft, of which 3827 aircraft were on our front (82.4% of all losses), which exceeds the number of combat aircraft issued by Germany for the same period.

Our losses were more significant.

During the same period, the Soviet Air Force lost 20159 aircraft; of which: 16,620 combat aircraft, which is 2.4 times more than the number of combat aircraft sent to the front by the NKAP factories (without Po-2).

The fact that the Soviet Air Force inflicted tangible damage on the vaunted Luftwaffe aviation speaks of the high moral and combat qualities and sufficient flight and tactical training of the flight personnel and their commanders.

As for the heavy losses of our aviation, this should be understandable: the vast majority of aircraft were of an obsolete type, which could not counteract the Luftwaffe fighter aircraft.

For ease of comparison and reflection, we present tables of aircraft production in Germany and the USSR during the war years    (Tables 3 and 4).

It should be noted that many pilots of combat units did not know about the appearance of the Me-109F fighter at the front, which significantly strengthened the Luftwaffe fighter aircraft. They mistook any "Messer" for the Me-109E, known to them from tests at the Air Force Research Institute. Only some test pilots from air regiments armed with MiG-3 fighters and who previously flew the Me-109E and MiG-3 at the Air Force Research Institute in 1940. when testing these aircraft, they noticed that some "Messers" easily escaped from under attack, quickly occupying advantageous positions to attack our aircraft. Test pilot K. Gruzdev, who previously flew at the Air Force Research Institute on the Me-109E and MiG-3 in 1940, in order to recommend how best to organize an air battle with such a "Messer", made an article in the newspaper "Stalin's Sokol" "from March 15, 1942: "How to conduct an air battle with the Messerschmitt-115" He recommended vertical maneuver and the use of fighter height separation.

Subsequently, it turned out that the conditionally named "Messer" -115 was a Me-109F, captured at the Tushino airfield during an emergency landing of a German pilot. After the repair, the Me-109F was tested at the Air Force Research Institute, which ended in April 1942.

But back to the front. In combat units, in connection with the combat operations of the Me-109F fighter, an extremely difficult situation has developed in our fighter aviation. In October 1941, the MiG-3 fighter was discontinued, on which great hopes were pinned. In the series, its flight data decreased, in addition, the power of small arms turned out to be low: one machine gun of 12.7 mm caliber and two machine guns of 7.62 mm caliber. Yes, and his AM-35A engine did not work quite reliably: there were failures leading to accidents and disasters (especially after the first repair).

As for the Yak-1 and LaGG-3 fighters, as you know, they were also inferior to the Me-109F.

As in the pre-war years, our fighter aviation again found itself in the position of "lagging behind - catching up", as when the Me-109E, which appeared in Spain, left behind our high-speed, by that time, I-16 fighter. By 1940 our industry has created a new type of fighter and this gap has been eliminated to some extent.

True, our armored attack aircraft Il-2, the Pe-2 dive bomber, which began to be mass-produced from the first months of 1942. the Tu-2 dive bomber had complete superiority over the Luftwaffe aircraft of this type, and the Il-2 aircraft had no analogue in the world aircraft industry.


Let's return to the position of the front-line units of our aviation, where new very serious problems have arisen: a large number of out-of-service aircraft, when there was an urgent need for combat aircraft.

In this regard, at the end of March 1942, at a meeting of the Military Council of the Air Force of the SC on the issue of the state of repair of aircraft and engines, the decision was written: "If decisive measures are not taken to repair aircraft and, mainly, engines, - this will lead the aircraft-motor fleet to a catastrophic situation."

For the repair of aircraft and engines in combat units and in the repair bodies of the Air Force, there were practically no spare parts, materials, spare engines, propellers and other units.

In a letter from the Chief Engineer of the Air Force, General I.F. Petrov, sent on behalf of the Military Council to the Chairman of the GKO (State Defense Committee) I.V. Stalin,38 in particular, it was noted that on March 25, 1942, there were 36.7% of defective aircraft at the front and in the air defense of the country. By all types of repairs in the Air Force, an average of 5500-6000 aircraft and 2500-3000 engines were restored per month. At the same time, up to 5500-6000 aircraft and 3500-4000 engines were being repaired per month.

As a result, defective aircraft and engines in the amount of 4,500 aircraft and 7,500-8,000 engines passed from month to month and essentially did not participate in hostilities.

(In the aircraft fleet of the Air Force, there were 30 types of different aircraft, which made their repair and operation extremely difficult).

In the future, decisive measures were taken on all issues raised in the letter of the Chief Engineer and in the resolution of the Military Council of the Air Force of the Spacecraft. GKO resolutions established quarterly tasks for the aviation industry for the supply of spare parts, various materials, tools, aircraft engines, wheels, sets for aircraft and engines, and other spare units to the Air Force. In the system of the Chief Engineer of the Air Force, a new Directorate for Field Repair was organized and in February 1943, the GKO Decree set the task of having no more than 10-15% of new-type aircraft in repair in units and formations of the active Air Armies.

As a result of the measures taken, the state of affairs with the state of the material part of the Air Force improved markedly in the future. By the beginning of 1945, the percentage of defective aircraft had dropped to 8.40


As for the problem associated with improving the tactical flight data of our fighters, it turned out to be more complex, requiring a lot of time and a large amount of research and development work and, consequently, significant material costs.

At first, it was decided to improve the flight data of the serial LaGG-3, Yak-1 and Yak-7 fighters to increase the power of the engines installed on them by boosting.

As a result of joint air forces of the KA and NKAP control tests in June 194241, it was found that the LaGG-3, Yak-1 and Yak-7 aircraft with forced M-105PF engines, according to flight data, practically approached the Bf 109F and their serial production began in June 1942.

In addition, in April-May 1942, joint tests of the KA Air Force and NKAP42 of a modified LaGG-3 aircraft with a more powerful M-82 air-cooled engine (factory No. 21, chief designer S. Lavochkin) were carried out. The aircraft was recommended for serial production and began to be mass-produced from July 1942. Control tests of the serial aircraft, which received the name first LaGG-5, and then La-5, showed that its maximum speed is almost equal to the speed of the Bf 109F.

However, our fighter aircraft did not stay in this position for long.

In the air battles near Stalingrad, the Germans got new modified Bf 109G-2 fighters with more powerful DB605A / 1 engines and with significantly enhanced small arms and cannon armament in options: 3 cannons of 20 mm caliber and 2 machine guns of 7.92 mm caliber ( on an attack aircraft) and 1 cannon of 20 mm caliber and 2 machine guns of 7.92 mm caliber (on cover).

These fighters had complete superiority over our Yak-1, Yak-7, LaGG-3 with uprated M-105PF engines and the KA La-5 with M-82, which entered service with the Air Force, both in maximum speed and vertical maneuver, so and in terms of fire power (5-point Bf 109G-2).

Enemy fighters had a great advantage in choosing the most advantageous position for attack, they pinned down the numerically superior group of our fighters in a smaller group.

The flight personnel of combat units armed with Yak-1 and Yak-7 fighters believed that for a successful outcome of the air battle near Stalingrad, it was necessary to have two Yak fighters for each German fighter.

Thus, the Luftwaffe fighter aviation again went ahead, and ours, unfortunately, again found itself in the "lagging behind - catching up" position.

This was also confirmed during tests at the Air Force Research Institute in January-June 1943 of two Me-109G-2 aircraft repaired after evacuation from forced landings near Stalingrad.

In order to correct such a difficult situation with the fighter aircraft of the Air Force of the Spacecraft, many very important decisions were made by the decisions of the State Defense Committee and, first of all, the decision to increase the production of fighter aircraft by our industry.

In October 1942, by a decree of the State Defense Committee and, accordingly, by order of the NKAP47, the production of fighters was increased by reducing the production of Il-2 attack aircraft and Tu-2 dive bombers. At plant No. 381 (N.-Tagil) the production of Il-2 was stopped and the La-5 fighter was put into series, and at plant No. 166 (Irkutsk) the production of Tu-2 was stopped (later it was built at plant No. 23) and launched in a series of fighter Yak-9 (modification Yak-7). In addition, earlier, in August 1942. at plant number 99 (Ulan-Ude), the production of the LaGG-5 (La-5) fighter was organized.

According to the decisions of the GKO, at the same time, work was launched on a broad front to further improve our fighters, their flight and tactical data, through aerodynamic improvements on the recommendations of TsAGI (aircraft Yak-1, LaGG-3, La-5, Il-2 and Pe- 2 life-size blown in a large TsAGI wind tunnel), reducing the flight weight (mass) of fighters. On the La-5 aircraft, the forced engines M-82F and M-82FN (forced with direct fuel injection into the cylinders) were installed. By the end of 1943, all fighters were equipped with movable parts of the cockpit lights with emergency reset (before that, the pilots flew with open lights), since the pilot could not open the moving parts at high speed, and besides, the lantern lost transparency due to hit engine oil on it. And when the cockpit canopy is open, the speed of the aircraft decreases. In addition, the retracting kinematics of the tail wheel was improved, which became retractable in flight, which also gave some increase in speed. Numerous other works were carried out to improve flight performance, especially La-5 aircraft, but they did not give the required results. Our fighters were inferior to enemy fighters.


As you know, this problem was radically solved only in 1944, when fighters were put into mass production and began to be produced from April-May:

La-7 - modification of La-5 with M-82FN with a significant improvement in aerodynamics according to the recommendations of TsAGI and with a lower flight weight (mass), but with a serial ASh-82FN engine;*

Yak-3 - modification of the Yak-1 with M-105PF with smaller wing dimensions and lower flight weight (mass), with the VK-105PF2 engine (additionally forced);

Yak-9U - modification of the Yak-9 with M-105PF with a more powerful engine of the new modification VK-107A.

The Soviet Air Force finally received fighter planes, which, in terms of their flight and tactical data, not only reached, but also surpassed all new types of German fighters. However, at altitudes of more than 5300-5500 m, they were inferior to the German ones.

However, it should be noted that a difficult situation has developed with the testing and introduction into mass production of the new La-7, Yak-3 and Yak-9U fighters.

So, during state tests at the Air Force Research Institute of the La-5 standard aircraft of 194450 (later called La-7), only 9 out of 44 flights were made. The tests were terminated due to an accident in flight of the ASh-82FN engine and destruction during landing of the power element of the tail section of the fuselage. During the tests, it was possible to determine only some flight data. Weapons (three 20 mm guns) were not tested. However, the aircraft showed high speed (680 km / h at an altitude of 6250 m), was put into mass production and began to be produced with the usual, like on the La-5, armament - 2 20 mm caliber guns.

During state tests at the Air Force Research Institute of the Yak-9U aircraft with VK-107A, 2 motors were replaced (they threw out a lot of oil). When climbing more than 6000 m, the oil pressure in the engine fell below the minimum allowable, which significantly reduced the reliability of its operation and did not allow flight.

In addition, the temperature regime of the motor went beyond the maximum allowable limits. (Under such conditions, a maximum speed of 700 km / h was obtained at an altitude of 5500 m).

In the conclusion on the state tests of the Yak-9U aircraft, it was written that "a large number of serious defects, especially in the propeller-motor group, do not allow normal operation of the aircraft over the entire altitude range." For the fastest fine-tuning of the aircraft and its commissioning into operation, it was considered necessary to urgently conduct military and operational state tests in reserve air regiments and at the factories of the NKAP.

However, the aircraft had already been put into mass production before the factory and state tests.

On control tests of the Yak-9U production aircraft with VK-107A at the Air Force Research Institute, flight data were determined in accordance with the order of the NKAP at low engine operating modes and with increased opening of the dampers of the water-oil radiators (to maintain the permissible limits of the engine temperature regime in flight). At the same time, of course, the maximum speed of the aircraft decreased significantly. It became the same as on the Yak-3 fighter with the VK-105PF2 engine (646 km / h).

A difficult situation has developed with the Yak-9U aircraft with VK-107A. After launching it into a series, the VK-107A engine did not withstand 50-hour flight tests due to serious defects. And during flight tests of the Yak-3, Yak-9U, Pe-2 aircraft with VK-107A engines, 15 failed engines were removed from the aircraft (destruction of bearings, gas breakthrough through the seal and other defects).

On military tests of the Yak-9U in combat conditions (October 1944 - January 1945), serious defects in the VK-107A engine were also revealed. In addition, in February 1945, the Yak-9U aircraft with VK-107A was unsatisfactorily tested at the Air Force Research Institute.53

Here it should be said that there was also an attempt to put into mass production the Yak-3 with the VK-107A engine. However, during its state tests at the Air Force Research Institute, the motor, due to overheating of water and oil, failed (4 motors were replaced). Under such conditions, it was possible to obtain the maximum record speed of the aircraft - 720 km / h. But the aircraft was not produced in the series during the war years, although a lot of effort and money was spent on fine-tuning it.

A difficult situation also developed with the La-7 aircraft with the ASh-82FN engine.

Control tests of the aircraft of the head series and serial aircraft at the Air Force Research Institute in August-September 1944. were unsatisfactory due to lack of speed, high temperature in the cockpit (+55°C) and high temperature conditions of the engines during climb.

During the military tests of the La-7 in combat conditions at the front (September-October 1944), in the conclusion based on their results, it was noted that the ASh-82FN engines did not work reliably, the high temperature in the cockpit and its poor ventilation were confirmed, which made it extremely difficult the work of the pilot, as well as insufficient power of small arms fire (2 guns of 20 mm caliber were installed on the aircraft).

In connection with the introduction into mass production in 1944. aircraft of new modifications in combat units by the end of the war, more and more defects were revealed every month (and this is natural, new technology takes time to fine-tune).

There was, as it were, a layering of new defects on previously identified, but not yet eliminated. Therefore, by the end of the war in front-line aviation (as of May 1, 1945), the number of defective aircraft increased to 17.8%. 37 %).

Despite the shortcomings and defects, our La-7 and Yak-3 fighters passed military tests for combat use. They showed superiority over enemy fighters Bf 109G-2 and Fw 190 of all modifications according to flight and tactical data.

* April 8, 1944 aircraft engines received new names. They were given the names of the chief designers: M-105PF and M-107A respectively named VK-105PF and BK-W7A (Vladimir Klimov); M-82FN - ASh-82FN (Arkady Shvetsov); M-ZOB - ACH-ZOB (Alexander Cheromsky).


Air battles have shown that La-7 and Yak-3 aircraft can fight enemy fighters with great success, even if the latter have a numerical superiority. Our pilots on the La-7 and Yak-3 made some changes to the practice of air combat: there was no need for the covering (fettering) group to be in excess of the strike group (in the "whatnot"), since the La-7 and Yak-3 aircraft in the case necessary, they manage to quickly gain the required height and take an advantageous position for an attack. Combat flights on aircraft, as a rule, took place in pairs (in a flight of 4 aircraft - 2 pairs) with a total number of 2 to 12 aircraft.*

As you know, Soviet aviation won strategic air supremacy even before the appearance of the La-7, Yak-3 and Yak-9U fighters, superior to the Luftwaffe fighters.

The turning point in the struggle for strategic air supremacy for our aviation began with the counteroffensive of the Soviet troops near Stalingrad, then it was strengthened in air battles in the Kuban and finally completed on the Kursk Bulge in the summer of 1943.

In all operations, the fighter aviation of the Soviet Air Force was superior in number to the German one: near Moscow by 3 times, near Stalingrad - by 1.8 and near Kursk - during the offensive operation in the Orel direction by 3.5, in Belgorod-Kharkov - by 1.9 times.

Readers with little knowledge of aviation, or readers with prejudice, may say that our aviation has gained strategic air supremacy by numbers, not skill. It's a delusion. You can win by numbers in fisticuffs, hand-to-hand bayonet fights, etc.

And how to destroy a German fighter, which, having chosen a good position and moment, rapidly attacks, shoots down our plane, leaves with impunity in a combat turn with a climb, since our other pilot could not overtake him? And he, stroke, again, choosing a target, repeats the attack.

Therefore, from the first days of the war, the command and flight personnel of the Soviet Air Force had to master the art of controlling aviation, especially fighter aviation in air combat. This task was facilitated by the fact that before the war some part of the commanding staff had completed advanced training courses for Air Force command personnel (Lipetsk), where they studied those put into action as early as January 1940. combat regulations: fighter and bomber aviation (BUIA-40 and BUBA-40), which basically already outlined all the main tactical methods of aviation combat work in the expected war (vertical maneuver, separation in height, rapid high-speed strikes due to loss of altitude, division of groups of fighters into attack and covering (fettering), dive bombing, control of aircraft by radio from command posts of ground troops, etc. etc.). That is, basically everything that was further developed during the Great Patriotic War.

In the initial period of the war, when our fighters practically did not have radio communications, the pilots on the ground, before taking off, agreed on separation in altitude, who would be in the shock and who in the covering groups, the place and time of the meeting, the order of exit from the battle, etc. d.

Unfortunately, when performing combat missions, the agreements of the pilots on the ground and in the air were often violated. Visual communication between the crews at such distances, even in clear weather, was clearly not enough, the interaction of fighter groups did not work.

However, even in such conditions, Soviet aviation (mainly fighter) in the period from May 1 to November 30, 1942. inflicted losses on the Luftwaffe on our front in 7410 aircraft (70.3% of the losses in all theaters of operations), which exceeded production by 11%, that is, they were irreplaceable.

Here it should be noted that in the spring of 1942, radical changes were made to the organizational structure of the Air Force of the Spacecraft. All aviation of the combined arms armies and the front were reduced to one operational formation - the Air Army, which was subordinate to the Commander of the Front. This made it possible to centralize the control of all forces of the front's aviation, using them where the situation required.

In addition, as a result of the growth in aircraft production and the beginning of the introduction of radio communications, to increase mobility and strengthen the air armies, in August 1942, the formation of the reserve corps of the Supreme High Command (RVGK) began.


Experience was accumulated by the flight and command personnel of the Soviet aviation. New ways of dealing with German fighters were found - radio communications improved and already near Stalingrad, they began to be more widely used: separation, vertical mavevr. division of groups of fighters into strike and covering (fettering), flights in pairs, control of aircraft from ground guidance points by radio.

But in the air battles in the Kuban, our fighter aircraft have not yet been able to gain air supremacy. On the Kursk Bulge in air battles, work continued on the flight of pairs of fighters and all new methods of fighting were widely used. After the transition of our ground forces to the counteroffensive, radio communications were actively used to control the combat formations of Soviet aviation from ground command posts for guidance, as well as communications between aircraft crews. And Soviet aviation won strategic air supremacy.

By the end of 1943. our radio engineering industry was able to provide the Air Force, in addition to conventional transmitting and receiving radio stations, with special radio detection installations (radar) for Redut and Pegmatit (RUS-2) aircraft, which provided invaluable assistance to command and flight personnel in the management and combat use of aviation, especially fighter. (Unfortunately, there were still few such installations at that time).

And in 1944, as already noted, our industry began to produce La-7, Yak-3 and Yak-9U fighters, surpassing the best examples of Luftwaffe fighters at combat altitudes.

Thus, the strategic air supremacy of the Soviet Air Force was finally won.

For comparison and reflection, we attach data on the dispatch of combat aircraft (by type) by the NKAP VVS KA factories during the war years and the losses of combat aircraft of the VVS KA in 1944 (table 5 and table 6).

As follows from the tables: the number of combat aircraft sent by the NKAP factories to the Air Force units was almost 3 times higher than the losses of combat aircraft of all types of front-line aviation without wear and tear, including obsolete and imported aircraft. (Recall that during the 6 months of the war in 1941, on the contrary, the losses of our combat aircraft exceeded by 2.4 times the number of combat aircraft of a new type sent by the NKAP factories to the Air Force units).

1944 was a turning point in the strategy of the Luftwaffe on the Soviet-German front.

The German command disbanded several bomber squadrons, the flight crew of which was sent for retraining to replenish the fighter squadrons. Some aviation schools and rear service units were also disbanded, the materiel of which was transferred to replenish combat flying units, and personnel, mainly non-commissioned officers and privates of all specialties, were sent to replenish ground units.

The measures to disband some aviation schools and bomber squadrons show that the German command did not expect to strengthen its bomber aircraft in the future, completely abandoned the offensive strategy and sought to keep the active units of the Air Force fully staffed and even have some reserve, especially in fighter aircraft, which is means of a defensive strategy.

The main reasons for this change in strategy, in our opinion, are the absolute air dominance of Soviet aviation, the successful advance of Soviet ground forces on the Soviet-German front, and, as a result, the success of the Allied Air Force and ground forces in other theaters of military operations, in including the opening of the long-awaited 2nd Front in Europe.

In the second half of 1944, the German command significantly increased the cover of ground forces by fighter aircraft and air reconnaissance.

In 1944, compared with 1943, the use of Fw 190 aircraft increased sharply due to a decrease in the use of Ju 87, Ju 88, He 111 and Fw 189, especially Ju 87 and Fw 189, The number of Fw 190 sorties in 1944. increased from month to month. This suggests that the German command turned the Fw 190 fighter into a multi-purpose aircraft that acts as a fighter, attack aircraft, light bomber and short-range reconnaissance aircraft. It was produced in 20 modifications. Fighter aircraft production in Germany in 1944. reached a maximum - 23805 aircraft, due to the release of the Fw 190 and a decrease in the production level of some bombers (see table No. 3).

In the Soviet Union, in connection with the absolute gain of strategic air supremacy by aviation and a significant reduction in losses, the production of combat aircraft, starting from October 1944, began to exceed their needs. This created a large reserve of aircraft, especially fighters. A situation arose when the question arose of a significant reduction (even termination) of the production of combat aircraft and the deployment of the development and production of only prototype aircraft.

Departure of aircraft by the NKAP factories during the war years of the Red Army Air Force is given in    Table 5

* The basis of a formation flight of fighter aviation is a flight that previously consisted of 3 aircraft, and then of 4 or two pairs.


It seems expedient to consider the issue of lend-lease deliveries by our allies of aircraft and spare engines for Soviet aviation.

During the war period, we received 9091 fighter aircraft under Lend-Lease and sent 7808 aircraft to combat units, which is 13.3% of all fighters produced for the Soviet Air Force during this period by the NKAP factories, and 2763 bombers and sent 2295 aircraft , which, respectively, is 16% (excluding Po-2 light night bombers).

Bombers North American B-25 "Mitchell" and Douglas A-20 "Boston" of various modifications after some additional equipment (increase in fuel supply, installation of our weapons) were successfully used in long-range aviation and in parts of the Air Force of the spacecraft.

As for fighters, the P-39 "Aerocobra" aircraft of various modifications was used more successfully, of which in 1942-1943. 25 air regiments were formed and sent to the front, and from the British Hurricanes in 1941-1942. - 29 air regiments, which accounted for 4.2 and 5.2%, respectively, of all fighter regiments formed during the war.

Unfortunately, even on the "Aircobra", on which our illustrious ace A. Pokryshkin successfully shot down enemy aircraft in air battles in the Kuban, there were shortcomings and defects. During its flight tests at the Air Force Research Institute, there were accidents, as a result of which test pilots died: Lieutenant Colonel K. Gruzdev, who shot down 17 enemy aircraft at the front, Colonel A. Avtonomov and Lieutenant Colonel K. Ovchinnikov. In addition, during operation in combat units in 1943. there was a high percentage of defective Airacobra aircraft - up to 17.5.

And on the P-63 "Kingcobra" aircraft, we carried out a lot of various repair and finishing work (after their arrival), they did not participate in hostilities.

In the last period of the war, when Soviet aviation was equipped in sufficient quantities with domestic fighters with higher tactical flight data, fighters supplied under Lend-Lease were essentially no longer needed (most of them arrived in 1944) . Therefore, a large number of them were transferred to the air defense of the country, where they were not used as interceptors either.

The number of imported aircraft received and sent to the Soviet units is given in    Table 8-9.

By the end of the war, 6,262 aircraft remained in the reserve and in the air defense units, the Air Force of the Navy and the Air Force of the Spacecraft.

We received 7,104 spare aircraft engines under Lend-Lease for the entire period of deliveries, which is 14.4% of the engines produced for combat aircraft in 1944 alone.

From the given data it is clear that the aircraft supplied under Lend-Lease "did not make the weather", but in difficult times they nevertheless provided some assistance to Soviet aviation.

For comparison and reflection, we present some information and tables 7-9 on this and other issues.

Soviet aviation had numerical superiority over Luftwaffe aviation: on January 1, 1942 - 1.8 times, on July 1, 1943 - 3.6, on January 1, 1945 - 9.3 times. But already on May 1, 1945, due to the fact that the German command for the defense of the remaining territory concentrated almost all of its aviation - 2900 aircraft, the numerical superiority of Soviet aviation decreased to 5.

By that time, we had 14,607 combat aircraft in front-line aviation without obsolete types and Po-2 light night bombers.


On the eve of the war, on June 22, 1941, there were 30,184 pilots. Combat losses of pilots during the war - 27600 people and non-combat - 3994, a total of 31594 people. Pilots trained during the war - 44093 people.

The combat losses of pilots include: fighters - 11874, attack aircraft - 7837, bombers - 6613, reconnaissance aircraft - 587 and auxiliary aviation - 689 people.


Returning to the main topic, we consider it expedient to cite a very important, in our opinion, comprehensive indicator. This is the combat survivability of Soviet aircraft, which is determined by the number of sorties per combat loss of one aircraft.    Table 10

A significant increase in the combat survivability of our aircraft during the war is the result of many factors, and above all: the ever-increasing supply of combat aircraft by the NKAP factories to the Soviet Air Force with a continuous increase in their combat qualities; continuous improvement of the flight personnel and their high morale; command staff mastering the operational art of directing the combat operations of Soviet aviation and improving new methods of air combat with the skillful use of all available radio equipment. And in the last analysis, the undivided conquest of strategic air supremacy by Soviet aviation.

It seems that it will be interesting for readers to familiarize themselves with the attached    Table 11

Attention is drawn to the distribution of imported aircraft between front-line aviation and the rear.

So, from among all imported fighters - 3395 aircraft, which were on May 1, 1945. in our Air Force (without air defense), there were 934 aircraft at the front, that is, 27.5%, and in relation to all front-line aviation fighters - 12.8%; imported bombers, respectively, 1461 and 943 aircraft, which is 64.5%, and in relation to the number of front-line aviation bombers (excluding night bombers Po-2 and old types) - 23.2%. And in the rear:

- from among all imported fighters there were 69.6%, and in relation to all fighters located in the rear - 26.1%;

- out of all imported bombers there were 27.7%, and in relation to all imported bombers located in the rear (without our old types) - 14.5%.

Thus, the relative number of imported bombers at the front (23.2%) is 1.8 times greater than the relative number of imported fighters (12.8%). In the rear, of course, the opposite is true: imported fighters (26.1%) outnumber imported bombers (14.5%) by 1.8 times.

These data once again confirm the earlier assessment by the Soviet Air Force command of imported aircraft.


On the eve of the war, our country still lagged behind Germany in terms of economic, scientific and technological development.

This required from our industry, in comparison with the German industry, a large additional expenditure of effort, money and time for research and development, the construction of prototypes of new types of combat aircraft, their testing and refinement, as well as restructuring production at aircraft factories, training of personnel and mastering the production of these aircraft, retraining of personnel of Air Force units, etc.

And if we take into account the fact that during the war the number of fighter aircraft of the Soviet Air Force significantly exceeded the number of Luftwaffe fighters, as we said earlier, then our additional expenditure of manpower and materiel will increase even more. (In addition to aircraft, engines, weapons, equipment, additional airfields, repair facilities, various warehouses, access roads, production and transportation of ammunition, fuel and lubricants, spare engines, propellers and other units, training and maintenance of a larger number of Air Force personnel were needed. etc.).

These losses with colossal material and human losses caused by the war, the economy of the Soviet Union withstood. The Soviet people won.

G.K. said well about the root cause of the victory. Zhukov in the book "Memoirs and Reflections": "Developed industry, the collective farm system, universal literacy, the unity and cohesion of nations, the material and spiritual system of the socialist state, the highest patriotism of the people. The leadership of the Leninist party, ready to merge the front and rear into one, is was a powerful basis for the defense of a gigantic country, the root cause of the grandiose victory that we won in the fight against fascism."

Falsification of History

Recently, the number of publications with various "versions" and deliberate distortion of historical facts relating to the state of our aviation on the eve of the war has increased significantly.

In the pre-war years, the Government took all sorts of measures to strengthen the defense capability of the war, as a result of heroic work, the Soviet people created an economic, scientific and technical basis for the future Victory.

In 1931, at the conference of the industrial industry of business executives, I.V. Stalin set the task: "We are 50-100 years behind the capitalist system. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we will do this or we will be crushed, which dictates our obligations to the workers and peasants of the USSR."

Unfortunately, to do everything necessary in such a short historical period (10 years) to repel the fascist aggression in June 1941. country could not.

For example, we could not provide our military aviation with the necessary quantity and quality of combat aircraft. And on the eve of the war, we had very few aircraft with the necessary combat qualities (of a new type) and, moreover. they were still in the process of completion and testing. In the combat formation of Soviet aviation, the overwhelming majority were obsolete old-type aircraft.

Recall that the Decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU of August 13, 1987 provided for the creation of a new 10-volume work "The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet people." D.Volkogonov took an active part in the preparation of the 1st and 2nd volumes. As a result of the review (late 1990 - early 1991), the manuscript was not recommended for publication, since it clearly showed the desire of the authors to exaggerate our capabilities in the defense of the country, distorted historical facts related to the ongoing activities of the Government and the Party to create new means of armed struggle, discrediting our army, etc.

But after 1991, D. Volkogonov, who managed to change everything he could - the party, the ranks of a soldier and a scientist - became an adviser to the President of the Russian Federation and from the height of this position predetermined the direction of the content of the 2nd (1994) and 3 th (1995) volumes of the "Military Encyclopedia", as a result of which this edition can hardly be considered historical due to obvious falsification.

Unfortunately, the same can be said about the "amended" 10th edition of "Memoirs and Reflections" by G.K. Zhukov, published in 3 volumes in 1990. "Additions" were made after the death of the author, and they are such that they raise doubts - could Georgy Konstantinovich himself write them?

We would like to dwell a little on some aviation moments, using documentary archival data.

First at this moment.

On page 351 of the 1st volume of "Memoirs ..." in the "supplement" it is written: "Since the summer of 1940, especially after the war with Finland, the party and government paid great attention to the armed forces and the defense of the country , but the economic capabilities of the country did not allow in the short pre-war year to fully ensure the ongoing organizational measures for the armed forces ... The question legitimately arises: could it not be possible to start carrying out these measures much earlier? Of course, it is possible and necessary, but the Stalinist leadership mistakenly believed that We still have enough time..."

And in the "supplement" on page 315 of the 2nd volume, in addition, it says: "Partially taken measures to eliminate the identified shortcomings in the country's defense in 1940 and at the beginning of 1941 were somewhat belated. Especially this refers to the deployment of the military industry for the mass production of the latest models of military equipment ... As a result, in the pre-war years, the troops did not receive the necessary military equipment ... to give it to the troops not when the "guns started talking", but long before the war. i>

Or maybe it was really possible to build aircraft equivalent to the German ones, "long before the war"?

1937 is "long before the war". In December of this year, the head of the Red Army Air Force A.D. Loktionov signed a plan for the pilot construction of aircraft for 1938 to Soviet aircraft designers and industry, which provided for the development of new aircraft of various classes and purposes with deadlines for presentation for state tests from August to December 1938. Among them should have been: maneuverable and high-speed fighters with engines air cooling; high-speed fighter with a liquid-cooled motor gun; long-range reconnaissance, he is also a multi-seat fighter; high-speed short-range bomber; attack aircraft, it is also a short-range bomber; artillery spotter and military reconnaissance. Bombers: long-range, heavy and stratospheric; transport landing, etc.

None of the planned aircraft went into series production. But the tactical flight data that Loktionov asked aircraft designers for designing for 1938 significantly exceeded those that were asked by him for experimental aircraft later in the plans for 1939 and even for aircraft that were tested in 1940-1941.

Indeed, in order to launch a modern aircraft into a series, one desire is not enough, even if this is the desire of Marshal Zhukov.

Aircraft are built not only by aircraft factories, but by the entire industry of the country. To create a modern aircraft, it is necessary to develop metallurgy, chemistry, machine tool building, and radio electronics. It is not enough to build appropriate factories; we need qualified personnel, both workers and designers with technologists. And you cannot create personnel in a day, it takes decades for personnel to gain the necessary professional experience. But all this was only being created at that time.

Yes, and in the design of the aircraft, a lot depends on the general designer, but not everything. We need hundreds and thousands of designers who will carefully think through every detail, every screw of the aircraft, since a lot depends on this.

Let's say this is the case. When in 1940 we tested German combat aircraft, which our Government purchased from the Germans for loans taken from them, we noticed that the Germans carefully sealed every hatch, every opening with rubber. At first it seemed pointless to us, and only then did we realize that the air flows inside the aircraft take power from the engine and reduce the speed of the aircraft.

And in our country, no one thought about it, because there was simply no one to think at that time. According to the memoirs of the aircraft designer A. S. Yakovlev, only at the Messerschmitt company more designers worked than in all the design bureaus of the USSR.

But the pressurization of aircraft is still a trifle. The most difficult and decisive was, as already written, the situation with aircraft engines. The lag in engine building was the scourge of our aviation, and we will give a few more facts.

Fulfilling Loktionov's plan, the outstanding aircraft designer N.N. Polikarpov created a high-speed I-180 fighter with an M-88 engine and handed it over for factory tests on December 1, 1938, and on December 15, an outstanding Soviet pilot Valery Chkalov crashed during a test flight on this aircraft while landing.

As later confirmed by the official tests of the M-88 motor on the machine in May 1939, it "does not have pickup from idle gas with its different thermal state" That is, when the motor control lever is quickly moved from idle (low speed) to an increase in speed (when gas was given), regardless of the temperature regime, the M-88 engine stopped. It seems to us that such a phenomenon occurred on the engine of the I-180 aircraft, when it was necessary to increase the speed to clarify the landing site, the engine stalled - a disaster occurred.

Only in January 1940, the M-88 engine was adopted by the Soviet Air Force and launched into large-scale mass production. Moreover, it is still insufficiently finished.

Recall (we already wrote about this) that back in 1937, the famous aircraft designer S.V. Ilyushin began designing the armored attack aircraft BSh-2 (IL-2), and the aircraft was put into mass production only at the beginning of 1941. The reason for the delay was that there was no engine suitable for an aircraft of this type.

And in 1939. there were no noticeable improvements, and this year the decision of the KO of 04/26/1939 on the introduction of new modified engines into mass production and on the creation of more powerful engines for new experimental aircraft, our industry was not able to fulfill.

So, in the OTB (special technical bureau) of the NKVD, a group of imprisoned designers led by the famous aircraft designer A.N. Tupolev in 1939, the design of a front-line dive bomber began, which later received the name "103", then Tu-2.

The preliminary design of the aircraft was developed with two M-120 engines. According to the said decision of the CO, the M-120 motor was to be transferred to bench tests by November 1, 1939. However, these tests were carried out only in August 1941, and their motor could not stand it due to serious design flaws (destruction of the main connecting rod, bushings, supercharger gears and other defects). The motor needed a lot of finishing work.

Due to the unavailability of the M-120 engine (designer V. Klimov), the design was finalized in advance and the construction of an experimental aircraft "103" with two AM-37 engines (designer A. Mikulin) was carried out in advance. The aircraft with these engines was tested in the first half of 1941. and was put into production on the eve of the war by the Decree of the CO and the order of the NKAP dated June 17, 1941. But the aircraft was mass-produced with two M-82 engines, then ASh-82FN, since by this time the AM-37 engine still required special modifications for the Tu aircraft -2.

The unfortunate situation with engines had an impact on heavy bombers.

According to the tactical and technical requirements for the TB-7 long-range bomber aircraft with 4 M-34FRN engines, which were approved by the head of the Air Force Directorate of the Red Army Ya.I. Alksnis in January 1935, it was planned to design and build this aircraft in TsAGI in 2 versions: in normal and high-altitude. For each option, the corresponding flight tactical characteristics were set. The aircraft was designed and built in a high-altitude version with 4 M-34FRN engines and a central pressurization station - a central pressurization unit (ATsN-2), driven by an M-100 aircraft engine. ACN-2 was intended to increase the altitude of the engines (saving their power to high altitudes).

Joint testing of two experimental aircraft TB-7, designed and built by the team of designers V.M. Petlyakov under the general supervision of A.N. Tupolev, were carried out from 1937 to January 1939. Tests of the first prototype TB-7 in 1937. showed that the high speeds of the aircraft at altitudes of 8000-10000 meters, close to the ceiling of fighters, made it less vulnerable, and in terms of the power of bomber weapons, it was at the level of the world's best high-speed bombers of that time. The aircraft was recommended for the construction of an experimental series and for adoption by the Air Force with the elimination of all design, production and operational defects identified during testing.

Unfortunately, further tests of the aircraft and a large amount of finishing work have shown that the industry cannot eliminate an extremely serious defect in engines - a drop in oil pressure at an altitude of more than 6000 meters below the permissible limit. In this regard, the pointlessness of continuing work on fine-tuning systems that increase the altitude of the aircraft to 8000-10000 meters (including the installation of significantly lighter and more compact TK-1 turbochargers on engines, instead of a heavy and bulky "compressor station" on board, became obvious.

As a result: work on the creation of a power plant for a high-altitude aircraft TB-7, for which a lot of effort, money and time was spent, did not give a positive result and were terminated by the Decree of the CO in early 1940. During this period, all work on high-altitude version of the TB-7 aircraft (a total of 2 prototype aircraft were produced). Aircraft TB-7 (Pe-8), according to the Decree of the KO of May 25, 1940, were built in small series in the usual low-altitude version with various engines (A significant part of them were produced with AM-35A engines, on which the oil pressure also dropped below the permissible limit at altitudes over 7000 m.)

A similar situation has developed with other combat aircraft of a new type, prototypes of which, according to the orders of the CO, began to be created in 1939 and even in 1940. (prototypes Yak-1, LaGG-3, MiG-3, Pe-2, Er-2). Drafts of aircraft began to be developed in 1939 under the same engines, more powerful and high-altitude, which were modifications of existing engines (M-106, M-105TK-2 / AM-37). and because of their unavailability, they were built, tested and put into series with other engines, also undertested and incompletely mastered in mass production (M-105, AM-35A and others). As a result, the Soviet Air Force had what they had by the beginning of the war (we talked about this in detail earlier).

How can one conclude from this mournful list of facts that Stalin could, but did not want to, have modern aircraft "long before the war"?! No one except Stalin wanted them so much, but, as they say, even if you take nine pregnant women at once, you still won’t get a child in a month.

One should also dwell on repressions in general and on the cry of "historians" that rushes from the pages of the "democratic" press about that. that supposedly the repressions ruined the "color" of the Red Army and left it without commanders. Similar "historians" "supplemented" the mentioned edition of Zhukov's book: "On the eve of the war, the Red Army had almost no commanders of regiments and divisions with an academic education. In addition, many of them did not even graduate from military schools, and most of them were trained in the scope of courses for command personnel "

First. This maxim sounds pretty stupid in relation to Marshal Zhukov himself.

Secondly, the defeats at the very beginning of the war, which Zhukov himself, by the way, commanded, he explains by the fact that his subordinates, they say, did not serve in the army for 100 years and did not graduate from 10 academies. They were illiterate. The literate were repressed, only ignoramuses remained. And let's remember how things were with the officer cadres of our enemies.

We must remind the Volkogonovs and other "historians" that after the First World War and until the mid-1930s, only 4,000 officers served in the German army. After Hitler began to expand the army to military strength, officers from the reserve began to be drafted into it, who ended their service almost 20 years ago, and began to be promoted to sergeant majors and non-commissioned officers. That is, by the beginning of the war, the length of service in officer positions for the vast majority of German officers was within 5-7 years. If the quality of an officer is considered his length of service in the army and the end of some special educational institution, then the German officers on these formal grounds were much worse than the commanders of the Red Army.    In Table 12, according to the archives of the Main Directorate of Personnel of the Red Army, a description of the command is given.

As can be seen from these data, in the Red Army, even battalion commanders by 94% had a secondary or higher education. And in terms of length of service: half of the regiment commanders, 82% of division commanders and 96% of brigade commanders have served in the army for more than 20 years. Even among battalion commanders, those who served in the army for less than 10 years were less than 10%. Are these the results of "repressions"? By the way, during the repressions for the pre-war five years, military tribunals (and only they considered such cases) were convicted of counter-revolutionary crimes - 2218 commanders of the Red Army, and in 1937 206 thousand people of the commanding staff served in the Red Army.

Yes, Blucher, Tukhachevsky, Yegorov, Yakir and other conspirators in the Civil War commanded fronts and armies, and therefore can be considered people with great military experience. But in France, Marshal Paten, Generalissimo Gamelin already in the First World War commanded armies and were heroes. This did not prevent them in 1940 from surrendering to the weaker Germans in almost 2 weeks.

And of the 19 field marshals of Hitler's ground forces in the First World War, no one had a rank higher than a major. A. Rommel graduated from World War I as a captain as a company commander. He began World War II in 1939 as the commander of the Führer's personal guard battalion, in January 1941 he became a major general, and already in June 1942, having literally skipped three general ranks, he became a field marshal. Moreover, Rommel in the West is considered one of the best commanders of Nazi Germany, along with E. Manstein, who also graduated from the First World War as a captain, but about whom, even dissatisfied with his generals, Hitler later said: “Perhaps Manstein is the best brains that only produced the General Staff Corps."

So what kind of officers did Zhukov lack?

And what is Stalin and repressions to blame for? Linking the defeat of the Red Army with any pre-war repressions in it, from the point of view of scientific truth, is completely meaningless. But in the course of these repressions there were really and innocent victims. Therefore, today it is important to understand why this happened so that this does not happen again in the future. But to understand this, the "Volkogonovs" just do nothing, they carefully try to hide the true reasons for the pre-war repressions.

In the article "Military Personnel" in the "Military Encyclopedia" on repressions in aviation, the Volkogonovites write: "The entire senior staff was updated several times in the Air Force during 1938-1941. Following Alksnis, who was repressed in 1938 ., successive Air Force chiefs A. D. Loktionov, Ya. V. Smushkevich, P. V. Rychagov were repressed. All three were shot in October 1941 as spies and enemies of the people. Only P. F. Zhigarev, who became commander of the Air Force in June 1941, managed to avoid the common fate " (vol. 3, p. 444).

And in the "supplement" to "Memoirs ...", where Zhukov highly appreciates the speech of the head of the Main Directorate of the Red Army Air Force P.V. Rychagov at a meeting at the NPO in December 1940, adds: "The tragic death of this talented and courageous general during the years of Stalin's personality cult was a great loss for us. Shortly after the meeting, he was shot" (vol. 1, p. 289).

First, let's clarify. P.V. Rychagov was relieved of his post as head of the Main Directorate of the Air Force of the KA on April 12, 1941 and sent to study at the Academy of the General Staff. He was arrested 2.5 months later, on June 24, 1941, that is, not only not after the meeting in December 1940, but also not as the head of the Main Directorate of the Air Force.

But we should be interested in something else - why Zhukov remembered Rychagov, but is silent about Ya.V. Smushkeviche? Indeed, unlike Rychagov, twice Hero of the Soviet Union Ya.V. Smushkevich was not just an official acquaintance of G.K. Zhukov, he was not only a Hero for the war in Spain, but also a Hero for the battle at Khalkhin Gol, that is, he was Zhukov's combat ally. Why does he care so much?

The fact is that after checking the results of the "cleansing" of the army in 1937-1938. about 12,000 previously dismissed commanders were reinstated in its ranks. After that, it was decided that not a single serviceman could be arrested by the NKVD unless his superior agreed to this. That is, the NKVD investigators had to first convince the chief that the suspected enemy of the people, and arrest the subordinate, only after receiving the signature-consent of the chief.

So, the immediate supervisor Ya.V. Smushkevich was G.K. Zhukov, since Smushkevich from August 1940 until his arrest on June 7, 1941. was Assistant Chief of Staff. And from January 1941, Georgy Konstantinovich was the Chief of the General Staff. So he laments about the innocent Rychagov, but keeps quiet about Smushkevich, with whom Rychagov went through the same case.

In one case, the head of the Air Force Research Institute, Major General A.I. Filin, who was arrested on May 23, 1941, and shot on February 23, 1942 by A.I. Filin was my commander and teacher, and I will never believe that he was an enemy of the people. But you need to understand what happened then.

The war was approaching, and the Soviet Air Force had very few good aircraft. Of course, they were looking for reasons why the country spends so much effort, but there is no result. And then there is the pressure on the Air Force Research Institute of aircraft designers, who tried to push their unfinished aircraft into service with the Red Army. These machines were accepted or rejected by the chiefs of the Main Directorate of the Air Force of the spacecraft, and we directly studied them - the Air Force Research Institute. And we could give a negative opinion on a car that has excellent flight data on paper, but there are a lot of shortcomings. But in order to understand the reason why we refused, we need to understand this, to delve into the details. On the other hand, we could accept a machine that seemed worse on paper, but industry could master it, and its shortcomings could be eliminated. Again - who will understand this, except for specialists?

Naturally, by accepting some planes and rejecting others, the Air Force Research Institute made a lot of interested enemies, including among aircraft designers, who easily distorted the matter so that the Air Force leaders, allegedly, deliberately put bad cars into service and did not let the good ones through, that is, they were enemies of the people.

Since the spring of 1941, a commission worked at the Air Force Research Institute, which painstakingly collected dirt on the leadership of the institute, through them - on the leaders of the Air Force. This commission prevented us from working for several months. But that the commission is a trifle, which is entrusted with writing a paper, so it tries. After all, until this paper is signed by the highest ranks of the Red Army, it will remain a piece of paper.

But when the higher ranks and bosses sign and approve the paper, turning it into an accusatory document, they are also obliged to delve into the text, not to sign a sweeping accusation against their comrades. That is how it should be. It seems that when the People's Commissar of Defense and others signed the order for our Air Force Research Institute, they trusted their subordinates - members of the commission and did not delve into the technical details.

And what could the NKVD and the tribunal do after that, if all the top leaders of the People's Commissariat of Defense, and, apparently, a number of aircraft designers, asserted with their signatures that Rychagov, Smushkevich and Filin were enemies? Let them go?

What could Stalin do? Drop everything and, not believing the leadership of the NGOs, go to the airfields yourself, look at and compare the results of test flights, find out for yourself whether or not it is technically possible to eliminate certain defects in aircraft engines, etc. etc.?

There are brilliant pages in the history of our aviation, there are tragic ones, but there are also dirty ones. And these dirty pages also need to be dealt with so as not to repeat them in the future.

Let's do it again. The lag of our country in terms of scientific and technological development compared to Germany forced us to produce more military aviation equipment, which caused additional (compared to Germany) material costs for the construction of new aircraft factories, airfields, air towns, various warehouses and access roads, production and transportation large quantities of ammunition, fuel and lubricants, as well as the training and maintenance of a larger number of flight technical and maintenance personnel of the Air Force, etc. etc.

But at the same time, we consider it necessary to note that the decisions of the CO under the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR, in which I.V. Stalin, about the launch of all new types of combat aircraft in a mass series on the eve of the war, without waiting for the end of the full range of tests and tests of engines, significantly reduced the time for mastering them in production, were the only correct ones. This stemmed from the need to speed up preparations for war.

In this work, we have tried to touch upon only those issues from the history of Soviet aviation that, in our opinion, are not sufficiently covered or completely unnoticed in previously published publications.


  • Aviation and Cosmonautics / # 4, 2000