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 (1941)

G.V. Kostyrchenko


The restructuring of the Soviet national economy, which began from the first days of the Great Patriotic War, was of a comprehensive nature. Massive efforts were made to maximize the use of the military-industrial potential of the country for a sharp increase in the production of weapons and ammunition. Already on the morning of June 22, 1941, at an emergency meeting of the leadership of the People's Commissariat of the Aviation Industry, it was decided for each central office and a separate enterprise to develop proposals providing for speeding up the production of military equipment. By the end of the first day of the war, the NKAP had the following program of priority military mobilization measures: firstly, to significantly accelerate the construction of factories in the east that duplicate the unique border aviation production facilities, and immediately begin organizing branches of aircraft factories there as bases for a possible evacuation of the main production in the future; secondly, to urgently relocate the aircraft factories and related enterprises located in the border area to the interior of the country; thirdly, to reduce to a minimum the volume of experimental design and fundamental research work and to focus on the further improvement of new mass-produced machines and an increase in their output; fourthly, to speed up the search for and creation of substitutes for severely scarce aviation materials [6].

In accordance with the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of June 26, 1941 "On the working hours of workers and employees in wartime," measures were also taken to use reserves in the organization of labor. Mandatory overtime work lasting from 1 to 3 hours per day was introduced at all aircraft factories, which practically meant the transfer of enterprises to a round-the-clock mode of operation, which made it possible to increase the equipment utilization rate by 22–25% [7].

The difficult situation at the front, which developed in the first days of the war, required the further development of the aviation industry to be completely subordinated to the needs of the army, which had already suffered heavy losses in materiel. Only by noon on June 22, 1941, these losses amounted to about 1200 aircraft [8]. Now the situation at the front largely depended on the rate at which the aircraft industry increased the accelerated production of new combat aircraft. Based on this, the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR adopted a resolution on June 27, 1941 on the accelerated construction of new aircraft factories, the transfer of a number of machine-building and machine-tool enterprises to the jurisdiction of the NKAP and the placement of aircraft factories at facilities in other industries. On July 4, 1941, by a GKO resolution for the NKAP enterprises, a mobilization national economic plan was approved for the III quarter of 1941, during which they were to produce 4098 MiG-3, LaGG-3 and Yak-1 fighters under an increased program; 995 Il-2 attack aircraft; 2108 bombers, including 1417 of the Pe-2 type, as well as 12,653 engines. Large capital investments were directed to the aviation industry to expand the construction of enterprises in the regions of the Volga region, the Urals and Western Siberia. For these purposes, 800 million rubles were to be spent [9]. By decision of the NKAP, all unused equipment from enterprises located in the European part of the USSR was sent to the deep regions of the country 13, d. 548, l. 67 - 70; d. 551, l. 81; d. 560, l. 13].

Along with an increase in the productivity of aviation production, measures were taken to use such an important reserve for replenishing aviation combat losses as transferring the repair of aircraft damaged at the front to an industrial basis. Starting from July 27, 1941, technical brigades of the NKAP began to form for the repair and restoration of aircraft in the field and stationary conditions, and special repair and cutting-procurement bases were created at aircraft factories. It was planned by their forces by August 1, 1941, to give the front daily from 125 to 250 repaired aircraft [3, file 613, l. 33-34]. The decision of the NKAP to take control of the fulfillment of plans for the production of spare parts by enterprises was also extremely timely, which contributed to the extension of the terms of combat operation of aircraft. Aircraft factories had to report daily to Deputy People's Commissar P.A. Voronin on the spare parts they produced [3, d. 569, l. 40-41]. To replace the workers who had gone to the front, aircraft builders mastered several specialties and learned to work on various machines. Another measure to compensate for the shortage of labor was the widespread recruitment of women, adolescents, and everyone who wanted to help the Red Army with their labor at aircraft factories. The NKAP issued a number of administrative documents aimed at accelerating the development of mass-produced machines and strengthening mass production. So, in order to reduce the time of factory tests, on June 24, 1941, the NKAP instructed enterprises to stop finishing painting aircraft after they had been flown around [3, file 542, l. 11], a number of directives soon followed to reduce the amount of experimental work in the field of creating new types of aircraft and the direction of the human and material and technical resources released as a result of this into serial production. Among them was the order of the NKAP dated July 3, 1941, according to which, at factories No. 23 and 31, experimental design bureaus became part of serial ones; a similar decision was made in relation to the design bureau of A. A. Borovkov and I. F. Florov at plant number 207. After some time, orders were issued to curtail the construction of experimental aircraft in the design bureau, headed by G. M. N, Belyaev, V.K. Tairov and other aircraft designers [3, file 547, l. 12-13; d. 581, l. 40-41]. At the request of the military, the main efforts of the NKAP were concentrated on mastering the mass production of attack and fighter aircraft, primarily the Il-2 aircraft. Three days after the start of the war, the chief designer S.V. Ilyushin was sent to the Leningrad aircraft factories No. 380 and 381 to organize the mass production of these attack aircraft. The production of high-speed Yak-1 fighters at factories No. 292 and 301 was also increased [3, d. 542, l. 1-7].

The restructuring of the aircraft industry in the conditions of war would be unthinkable without the observance by the enterprises of the strictest production and planning discipline. Therefore, literally from the very first days of the war, the NKAP began to widely practice new, military-style operational methods and methods of control.

The air raids on Moscow and other industrial centers of the country that began in the first months of the war could not break the clear rhythm of the aircraft factories. All large industrial facilities of the industry were guarded by parts of the air defense forces, and the rest - by voluntary detachments of local air defense. At the beginning of July 1941, the capital's aircraft factories were camouflaged by the camouflage service of the Moscow Council by order of the State Defense Committee. Contributing to strengthening the air defense of the capital, the NKAP sent 150 TsAGI specialists to the army to train anti-aircraft gunners to recognize enemy aircraft in the air by their contours. The protection of the Moscow sky was organized quite reliably, so the capital's aircraft factories, as a rule, worked during air raids. However, the most massive enemy air raids, despite all precautions, sometimes led to serious consequences: people died, material damage was caused to industrial facilities. In this regard, in order to eliminate the consequences of the raids and provide prompt assistance to the Moscow aircraft factories, in August 1941, a restoration battalion was created under the NKAP, which consisted mainly of young workers from factory No. 24.

From the very first days of the war, aircraft design bureaus established close contacts with combatant air units. An important channel for the receipt of information about the combat operation of aircraft by the NKAP was official reports from the Air Force command, air units and formations. For example, in November 1941. The NKAP received a letter from Air Force Commander P.F. Zhigarev, which dealt with the reasons for individual failures in a series of long-range night flights undertaken on TB-7 to bomb Koenigsberg and Berlin. The main of these reasons turned out to be flaws in the M-30 aircraft diesel engines with which the bomber was equipped. Measures were taken to improve the design and operational properties of the M-30 aircraft diesel engine, which was subsequently used in long-range aviation [3, d. 641, l. 76, 77].

Much attention was paid to the study of enemy aircraft, determining its strengths and weaknesses. In October 1941, military pilots managed to block the German Me-109F fighter and force it to land in the Tushin area. After the experts conducted the relevant studies and it was found that this fighter was superior to Soviet aircraft in some characteristics, the GKO instructed them to urgently improve them.

The connections of aircraft manufacturers with the front were not limited to studying the combat experience of using aircraft. Much was also done on their part in order to help military pilots to perfectly study the features of the material part of this or that aircraft, to reveal the complexity of its operation and, at the same time, to assist in carrying out field repairs of aircraft.

From June 25, 1941, at the direction of the NKAP, aircraft factories began to form and send operational and technical groups consisting of operators, installers, minders, armed men and other specialists to combat air units. Each group was given its own repair base. At the same time, much attention was paid to improving the technology of field repair of aircraft, in which the specialists of the Orgaviaprom branch trust were especially successful. Already in the first months of the war, they managed to develop an original method of riveting machines with the help of an “explosion”, which made it possible to significantly reduce the repair time and refuse to dismantle aircraft [3, file 542, l. 20, 21; op. 7, d. 53, l. 87-89].

The needs of the active army became the main guideline in the development of aviation science during the war period. Thus, VIAM scientists saw their main task in the creation of new cheap materials, which were to replace scarce and expensive metals in the first place. Of great importance for speeding up aircraft production was the development of a technology for the mass production of delta wood and its introduction at a number of industrial enterprises as early as October 1941. Intensive searches were carried out by VIAM scientists in the field of aviation metallurgy. As a result, a new aluminum alloy was obtained with extended limits of permissible impurities and consisting mainly of recycled materials. This made it possible to organize the remelting of disabled captured and Soviet aircraft on a large scale and thereby make up for the lack of metal for aircraft construction [3, op. 7, d. 17, l. 337; op. 1, d. 558, l. 22 - 24; d. 561, l. 21].

In August 1941, the State Defense Committee decided to create the second in the USSR research base for experimental aircraft construction. It soon began to be built in Western Siberia. It was based on the T-103 wind tunnel and other experimental installations dismantled in TsAGI near Moscow [3, d. 573, l. 98].

The achievements of branch science were adopted by the developers of new aviation technology. The design team headed by A. A. Mikulin achieved serious success. In July 1941, state tests of the new AM-38 engine, which was intended for the Il-2 attack aircraft, were successfully completed, and at the same time, the service life of the AM-35A engine was increased to 200 hours. In 1941, 133.23 million rubles were spent on experimental engine building. In 1941, aviation propeller construction also experienced significant progress: more advanced automatic propellers AV-5 and VISH-61 began to be installed on combat aircraft [3, d. 559, l. 42; d. 892, l.7 - 57] .

Compared with the first half of 1941, the average monthly production of combat vehicles doubled. In the last ten days of September 1941, up to 100 aircraft per day were delivered to the front. Given that the aviation industry not only met, but also significantly exceeded the mobilization plan for the third quarter, the State Defense Committee approved an increased program for the production of combat engines and aircraft for the last four months of the year [16].

Aviation industry enterprises provided the front not only with aircraft, many of them from the very first days of the war mastered the production of other defense products: mortars, ammunition, weapons, etc.

But the sphere of activity of the NKAP was not limited to the management of the aircraft industry. As part of the negotiations between representatives of the allied powers, which began in Moscow on September 29, 1941, the leaders of the People's Commissariat took an active part in the development of an agreement on the supply of Anglo-American aircraft to the USSR. A concrete discussion of questions about deliveries was carried out by an international commission, the Soviet part of which was headed by A. I. Shakhurin. In total, three meetings of this commission took place, at which it was possible to agree on the following: from October 1941 to June 1942, the Allies were to supply 300 fighters and 100 bombers to the USSR every month, although the Soviet delegation insisted on the inverse proportion - 300 bombers and 100 fighters [3, d. 487, l. 1-212]. Until the end of 1941, the USSR received only 750 aircraft instead of the promised 1200, and even then, mostly obsolete designs, for example, such fighters as the Hurricane and Tomahawk [11]. The condition of the aircraft after a long transportation left much to be desired. Over the entire period of the first agreement, the United States fulfilled its obligations for the supply of bombers by only 29.7% and fighters by 30.9% [11]. Difficulties arose with the operation of foreign aircraft. At one of the aircraft factories, they had to dismantle the weapons installed on them and replace them with Soviet ones.

In the first months of the war, despite the difficult military-strategic situation due to the forced retreat of the Soviet troops, much was done. The disorganization of aircraft production was not allowed, and on the basis of the mobilization of its resources, a sharp increase in the production of military aircraft, vital to the front, was achieved.

NKAP - Narodnyy Komissariat Aviatsionnoy promyshlennosti - People's Commissariat of Aviation Industry

GKO - Gosudarstvennyy Komitet Oborony - State Defense Committee


The development of enemy offensive operations in the autumn of 1941 posed a real threat to Moscow. Taking into account the threatening nature of the military-strategic situation, the State Defense Committee launched the mobilization of all forces and means at its disposal to protect the capital and took urgent measures to save its industrial potential, export material and cultural values, as well as the population. On October 10, 1941, he adopted an evacuation order. From that moment, the relocation of industry took on a massive character and entered the most dramatic period. In fact, the main production and technical base of the aircraft industry moved to the east, which before the war provided 3/4 of the entire production of the industry [2, vol. 4, p. 150].

Preparations for the possible transfer of aircraft factories inland were carried out by the NKAP in advance. As early as July 5, 1941, by decision of the government, the management of the redeployment of industry production capacities was entrusted directly to A.I. Shakhurin, and the specific solution of all related issues was entrusted to his deputies P.V. Dementiev and A.I. 550, l. 53]. A few days later, rules were developed for the evacuation of goods and their protection in transit, and the positions of authorized NKAP for evacuation and organization of production at a new location were introduced.

As the front line moved east, the NKAP carried out a complete or partial evacuation of its enterprises. Objects located in the front line were subject to complete evacuation, and partial - in the rear areas adjacent to it. In the course of partial relocation, at first auxiliary and non-used equipment, raw materials, materials and documentation were sent, as well as workers engaged in auxiliary work, large families of workers and employees, departmental preschool institutions. Thanks to such a phased evacuation system, the rhythm of production was maintained, and the production of combat aircraft took place according to a daily schedule, the task for which was not reduced even for the period of redeployment. In addition, aircraft factories were given the opportunity to organize their branches in the rear in advance, which subsequently served as bases for accommodating the main production and personnel [3, d. 580, l. 30-42]. First of all, enterprises with unique production, which produced products vital for the entire industry, were exported to the east. So, in August 1941, two factories sent to the Urals the production of unique devices and a thin-walled radiator tube UT-36, and from factory No. 25; d. 575, l. 25-27]. The evacuation took on a group character after July 20, 1941, when a GKO decree was issued on the immediate transfer of 11 aircraft factories located in the western regions of the USSR to the safe zone. The relocation of these, and subsequently other enterprises, was organized in such a way that their production continued until the last moment [2, vol. 4, p. 137]. So, the workers of the Zaporozhye aircraft factories No. 29 and 457 began to dismantle the equipment and load it into wagons in September 1941. At this time, the enemy managed to capture the right bank of the Dnieper, occupied the suburbs and began artillery and mortar shelling of factory territories. Loading and export of property did not stop for a minute. Risking their lives, under unrelenting enemy fire, the workers installed machine tools, backlogs of parts, bedside tables with tools on the platforms, and put other material assets into the cars. The dismantling of the factory equipment was carried out in 4 days, and its removal within 11 days. Almost 3,000 wagons with people and valuable industrial property were sent to Omsk [3, d. 569, l. four; 6, p. 123]. At the same time, the evacuation of Leningrad enterprises began.

In late September - early October 1941, numerous echelons of aircraft factories from Taganrog, Kharkov, Kaluga, Moscow and other cities of central Russia and Ukraine stretched to the east. A particularly dramatic situation developed in Taganrog. The advancing enemy subjected the city to ruthless artillery fire, and a provocative rumor spread among the population that the ships intended for evacuation had been sunk. However, the workers of the aircraft factory No. 31 named after. Dimitrov did not panic. Within three days they dismantled the equipment and took it to Tbilisi in seven days [3, file 575, fol. 25-27].

The NKAP worked hard during these months. In the Volga region, Siberia, Central Asia, Transcaucasia and the Urals, he looked for new locations for evacuated factories, which were usually located on the sites of objects related to them in terms of production, or on the territory of mothballed new buildings. And when there was no such possibility, the NKAP selected other enterprises and organizations that were suitable for the deployment of aircraft production on their basis.

The most difficult test for the NKAP was the evacuation of the Moscow aircraft factories. Taking into account their importance for the defense of the country, the Evacuation Council ordered the mass relocation of the capital's aviation industry to begin on October 8, 1941, i.e., much earlier than enterprises in other industries [3, file 590, l. 61]. On the same day, the NKAP put into effect the "Guidelines for carrying out loading and unloading operations during the evacuation." For each plant, a schedule for its relocation was approved, a plan for the production of products for the period of evacuation, and terms were set for the deployment and start-up of production at a new location. All this was controlled mainly with the help of telegraph reports, which sent the directors of the factories to the center every five days.

The relocation of the NKAP began on October 14, when an instruction from the State Defense Committee was sent to it to urgently send people and property to Saratov. To ensure the continuity of production activities at all costs - this was the main requirement for the evacuated enterprises. The release of products was to continue until the last echelon was sent and not stop until the equipment sent on a priority basis was launched at the new site. According to this scheme, the evacuation of plant No. 1 also took place. They decided, without stopping the production of the Il-2 attack aircraft, which was very necessary for the front, to first withdraw the production of MiG-3 fighters. At the same time, the start of their assembly at a new site in Kuibyshev should have coincided in time with the final curtailment of the Ilov production in Moscow [3, file 591, l. 7-8].

By the end of October 1941, the capital's aircraft factories managed to send 38,428 workers and employees to the east, as well as 10,791 wagons with industrial equipment. However, for the complete evacuation of Moscow enterprises, about 7,000 more wagons were required [3, d. 641, l. 43-44]. By this time, the relocation of the main research organizations of the industry was being completed. TsAGI was already on its way to Novosibirsk; the Flight Research Institute was set up in the Volga region, and on the site left by it in the Moscow region, work was in full swing on mining scientific and experimental facilities and laboratories that could not be taken out [3, file 641, l. 51].

In total, 85% of aviation enterprises were evacuated, simultaneously with which hundreds of plants and factories of other sectors of the national economy were relocated to the interior of the country. From July to November 1941, a total of 498 industrial facilities were evacuated from Moscow and the Moscow region alone [10]. The whole country was on wheels. Echelons loaded with equipment and transporting thousands of workers and employees had to travel long distances to reach new locations. The routes of movement of aircraft factories were not close either. They reached up to 5 thousand km and sometimes it took up to 4 months to overcome them. It is not surprising that in the course of such colossal work, which took place in the difficult conditions of the war, it was impossible to avoid disruption of plans, unexpected difficulties and unforeseen situations. But almost always, and not least thanks to the effective and prompt intervention of the NKAP, complex problems found their solution. By the beginning of November 1941, all industrial enterprises of the industry were sent from Moscow. Only bulky forging and pressing equipment and a part of non-deficient materials remained unexported. Now it's the turn of industry-specific educational institutions. The Moscow Aviation Institute left for Alma-Ata, and the Moscow Aviation Technology Institute for Kazan. They went to the deep rear and the capital's aviation technical schools. At the final stage, the evacuation proceeded more smoothly and in an organized manner.

The Chairman of the State Defense Committee regularly received the most important operational information from the NCAP, including on the progress of the relocation of industry capacities. The completion of the relocation of aircraft production to the interior of the country was then given exceptional importance. The fact is that starting from October 1941, the production of combat aircraft began to decline rapidly. As a result, only 627 machines were manufactured in November, or 3.6 times less than in September, and in December the plan for the production of aircraft was only 38.8% fulfilled and engines - 23.6%; during this month, aircraft factories gave the front the smallest number of aircraft for the entire period of the war - only 600 aircraft [2, vol. 4,. With. 150]. At the end of 1941 only two factories No. 21 and 292 remained the main suppliers of fighter aircraft, and only factory No. 19 of the engine-building enterprises, and even they had to overcome great difficulties in order to maintain normal operation [5, d. 33, l. 167].

After a decisive counter-offensive of the Red Army near Moscow, the Evacuation Council adopted on December 11, 1941. decision to stop the export of enterprises from the capital. By this time, 277,504 industry workers and members of their families, 26,711 pieces of various equipment had been sent from Moscow to the rear. In total, from July to December 1941, more than 100 aviation enterprises were relocated to the east [3, file 641, l. 138 - 139]. At the end of the evacuation, the task of recreating aviation production in the deep regions of the country and organizing the mass production of combat aircraft there became paramount.

Central Sectoral Governing Bodies of the Aircraft Industry in the Period 1918-1946.

  • December 1918 - Main Directorate of United Aircraft Industrial Plants (Glavkoavia) of the Supreme Economic Council of the RSFSR
  • December - Glavkoavia of the Council of the Military Industry under the Extraordinary Plenipotentiary of the Council of Workers' and Peasants' Defense for the supply of the Red Army and Navy
  • March 1921 — Glavkoavia Council of the Military Industry of the Supreme Economic Council of the RSFSR
  • June 1921 - Department 5 of the Technical and Production Directorate of the Main Directorate of the Military Industry of the Supreme Economic Council of the RSFSR
  • January 1925 - Aviatrust of the Main Directorate of the Metal Industry of the Supreme Economic Council of the USSR
  • March 1930 - All-Union Aviation Association (VAO) of the Aviatrust of the Main Directorate of the Metal Industry of the Supreme Economic Council of the USSR
  • April 1930 - VAO of the Main Directorate of the Metal Industry of the Supreme Economic Council of the USSR
  • June 1930 - VAO of the People's Commissar of the USSR
  • February 1931 - VAO VSNKh of the USSR
  • December 1931 - Main Directorate of the Aviation Industry of the Supreme Council of National Economy of the USSR
  • January 1932 — Main Directorate of the Aviation Industry of the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry of the USSR
  • December 1936 - First Main Directorate of the People's Commissariat of Defense Industry
  • January 1939 - People's Commissariat for Aviation Industry (NKAP)
  • March 1946 - Ministry of Aviation Industry (MAP)

Table 9

Type Plant's No Number of aircraft built by year Total
1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945
Yak-1 47 2 8,720
292 16 1,212 3,474 2,720 1,128
301 48 120
Yak-3 31 498 462 4,560
292 1682 1918
Yak-7 21 5 6,399
82 215 640 465
153 21 2,211 2,656
301 186
Yak-9 82 373 444 15,470
153 59 1,761 5,858 3,559
166 732 1,600 1,084
LaGG-3 21 1659 1924 6,528
23 (Len) 65
31 474 782 1,065 229
153 265 65
La-5 21 1107 4619 3503 10,003
La-5FN 31 22 5
99 184 102
381 240 221
La-7 212 1558 2799 5,905
993 40 210
381 638 660
MiG-3 1 120* 3100 22 3,272
155 30
Pe-3 22 19 228
Pe-3bis 39 196 13
Type Plant's No 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 Total
Attack Aircraft and Bombers
Il-2 1 5 2,991 4,257 3,719 957 36,163
18 1,510 3,942 4,702 4,014 931
30 1,053 2,234 3,377 2,201
381 276 243
IL-10 1 1121 2,556
18 1435
ДБ-3 18 555 808 328 6119
DB-3F 23 (Moskva) 110 257
39 279 198 44 53 698 118
IL-4 126 125 100 385 695 613 588 485
Su-2 135 110 635 40 877
207 3 89
Pe-2 22 1120 1937 2423 2944 1634 11,202
22 1,120 1,937 2,423 2,944 1,634
39 1 303 587 5
124 104
22 22 29 5 79**
124 23
Yer-2 18 71 462
39 2 148 241
Tu-2 23 (Moskva) 378 742 1,216
166 79 1
Type Plant's No 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 Total
Transport and training aircraft
LI-2 (PS-84, DC-3) 84 6 51 237 423 618 626 458 2,419
Sche-2 47 222 285 507
UT-2 23 (Len) 254 383 5 5,963
47 10 165 550 427
116 99 539 702 746 845
168 12 207 309 407
301 276
447 27
UT-3 81 1 12
301 11
Yak-6 47 25 224 381
464 2 48
471 1 81
U-2 (Po-2) 23 1584 472 17,410
387 50 1245 2225 2733 3045 2155
464 71 736 557
471 53 657 417
494 18 270 695 427
Be-4 228 6 44
447 20 18

* This is the total number of MiGs produced, of which only 20 were actually MiG-3s, and the rest were MiG-1s.

** According to OKB A. N. Tupolev, TB-7 (Pe-8) aircraft, in addition to the first two prototypes, 91 copies were produced, including: 18 aircraft - in 1939 - 1940, 17 aircraft - in 1941, 20 - in 1942, 18 - in 1943 and 18 - in 1944 (Materials for the 100th anniversary of the birth of A. N. Tupolev. Collection. A. N. Tupolev Museum, Inv. No. 2755). - Approx. ed.

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Marth 6, 2014

Thus, in the years 1939-1945 in the USSR was built:
Fighters - 52,085
Attack aircraft and bombers - 58,674
Transport and training aircraft - 26,736