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 (1941-1942)

G.V. Kostyrchenko


Ural, Western Siberia, Kazakhstan and Central Asia military economic plan for the IV quarter of 1941 and 1942. The decree that put this plan into effect provided for the accelerated construction of aircraft, aircraft engine and aggregate plants in the interior of the country in order to ensure their commissioning, mainly during the first half of 1942, the Eastern regions were to become the main forge of weapons for the Red Army [12]. The resolutions of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR of September 11, 1941, "On the construction of industrial enterprises in wartime conditions" and of September 13, 1941 "On the construction of residential premises for the evacuated population" were also directed to this task. The decree of September 11, 1941 gave the people's commissariats the right to independently build temporary buildings and equip them with the expectation of a reduced service life for the main and auxiliary workshops. At the same time, it was supposed to combine the regime of austerity of scarce building materials with the practice of widespread use of local cheap materials in construction [12, p. 99-102]. A significant role in restoring the industrial potential of the aviation industry was also played by the GKO decision adopted in November 1941 on the procedure for deploying evacuated aircraft factories in their new locations, according to which, along with other defense facilities, they received a number of advantages when deployed; local Party and Soviet bodies were to provide aircraft factories with all possible assistance in choosing production sites, in providing them with electricity, labor, and in meeting other economic needs. Along with this, the GKO obliged the secretaries of the regional and regional committees of the party to report to him every ten days on the progress of the deployment of aviation production relocated to the east [2, vol. 4, p. 153].

For its part, the NKAP took measures to mobilize all industry resources and create new centers of the aviation industry in the shortest possible time. Everything was also done to increase the intensification of production, which was facilitated by the widespread introduction of a progressive piece-rate wage system and the establishment of bonuses for technologists, raters and craftsmen for reducing the standardized time for manufacturing a unit of product [3, case 23, l. 14-15]. Along with this, in order to somehow compensate for the decline in the production of combat aircraft, the NKAP decided to significantly increase the amount of repair of failed aircraft and thereby extend the period of its combat operation. This decision was extremely timely. As early as the beginning of October 1941, about 2,200 aircraft and 5,570 engines, which were out of order, accumulated in combat air units. And in the units of long-range bomber aviation, which had 504 aircraft in service, by this time 216 aircraft were out of order [3, file 641, l. 5-6]. By the end of 1941, the NKAP sharply increased the number of factory instructional and repair teams of specialists assigned to the air units, and brought their number to 143 teams, which included 870 repairmen. These brigades specialized in carrying out field repairs in the air units of the army [3, d. 736, l. 18 - 19] * With each passing day, repair work was also increased in the front-line aircraft repair shops that arose in the workshops of the evacuated aircraft factories. Only in Moscow by October 20, 1941, 15 such workshops were already operating, restoring aircraft, propellers, radiators, units, various aircraft equipment and weapons. Within a month (until November 19, 1941), they returned to life 70 aircraft, 62 engines, 32 propellers, 164 radiators, 87 gas tanks, disposed of and reused 130 tons of duralumin. All this was done by 4867 workers [3, d. 699, l. 16-21].

The year 1941 was coming to an end, an incredibly difficult year both for the entire national economy and for the aircraft industry. Apparently, due to the fact that the aviation industry was on the solid foundation of a centralized economic system, it managed to avoid disorganization, survive and save most of its production capacity and personnel. And although the evacuation of aircraft factories did not allow them to reach the planned level of production, nevertheless, in the second half of 1941, the industry produced 15,735 aircraft (of which 12,377 were combat) and 28,707 engines, thereby exceeding the same figures for 1940 by 48 and 34% [10]. In the new year of 1942, aircraft manufacturers had to create in the rear a virtually new production and technical base for the industry.

The deployment of industrial production capacities in the east took place in a short time and in the harsh winter of 1941-1942. Aircraft builders worked day and night. They erected production shops and workshops, built barracks and dug dugouts for housing. At the same time, it was necessary to deal with the unloading and installation of equipment that continued to arrive. On December 25, 1941, 39,814 units of equipment were transported to the east, of which 28,114 units had already been assembled by that time, and 15,773 units produced industrial products [3, case 32, l. 1-10]. Preference for placement was given to aircraft-building and engine-building enterprises, which were of paramount defense importance. Non-core and auxiliary industries, including aggregate and instrumentation, found themselves in worse conditions. These enterprises had to arrange production in the buildings of clubs, theaters, educational institutions, which were poorly adapted for such purposes, and sometimes simply in the open. So, plant No. 213, which specialized in the creation of precision instruments, was located in the workshops of a meat-packing plant, and instrument-making plant No. 448 had to be content with a long underground tunnel [3, case 33, l. 141]. But despite all the difficulties, the pace of reconstruction of the aviation industry was high. By the end of 1941, out of 180 enterprises that existed before the war, 125 were operating. The remaining 55 enterprises were either mothballed or liquidated [5, d. 32, l. eleven].

The creation of a new aircraft industrial base was unthinkable without building up the capacities of the sectoral construction industry. The construction and installation trusts of the NKAP were supposed to master in 1941 77% more capital investments than in 1940 [13]. In 1941, the construction and installation trusts of the NKAP put into operation 1,600 thousand m2 of industrial space [3, file 815, l. 283]. It was a big achievement.

During the reconstruction of aircraft production, there was an acute shortage of workers. Despite the fact that the workers of the aircraft factories were armored, many of them voluntarily went to the front and it was not easy to replace them. At the end of 1941, at the height of the evacuation, about 110 thousand people continued to work in the industry, and at least 219 thousand more people, including 137 thousand skilled workers, were required to maintain the normal activity of aviation enterprises [10]. The NKAP saw the solution to the personnel problem primarily in strengthening labor discipline, improving the organization of labor, and mobilizing labor reserves. In the implementation of these tasks, he relied on the decrees of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of December 26, 1941 “On the responsibility of workers and employees of military industry enterprises for unauthorized leaving enterprises” and of February 13, 1942 “On the mobilization of able-bodied workers for the wartime period urban population for work in production and construction. The first declared workers of defense facilities mobilized and qualified their unauthorized departure from them as desertion, and the second allowed the NKAP to deploy on a large scale a set of labor necessary for production. Already in February 1942, 5,000 high school students, 500 university and technical school students, 6,000 workers from non-defense industries, 5,000 employees and 1,500 graduates of vocational schools were sent to aircraft factories in Kuibyshev [12]. Later, in April-May 1942, these enterprises received at their disposal another 14 thousand people mobilized in the Chkalovsky, Penza and Kuibyshev regions, as well as 40 thousand workers and students of vocational schools evacuated from besieged Leningrad [14]. Increasingly, female labor began to be used in the aviation industry. In 1942, the proportion of women among workers in the industry increased to 38.3%, and in industrial production personnel - up to 40.9% [3, file 601, l. 61 - 62],

Along with personnel, the NKAP also solved the problem of logistics for aircraft production. All the forces of the central apparatus were thrown into the creation of a new supply system: by the beginning of 1942, the old system, due to the movement of the main centers of the aviation industry to the east and the break in relations with supplier enterprises that occurred in connection with this, actually collapsed and ceased to exist. The GKO Decree of November 21, 1941, “On the Restoration of the Evacuated Aviation Industry Supplier Plants” contained a warning to all people's commissars that they were personally responsible for the speedy resumption of deliveries of products to the aviation industry, all orders of which should henceforth be carried out on a par with orders for tanks and ammunition [3 , d. 601, l. 61-62]. If in the first months of the war the supply of the industry with raw materials, materials and fuel was carried out mainly at the expense of state and mobilization reserves, as well as carry-over stocks of the enterprise and bases of the Glavsnab of the NKAP, then by the end of 1941, due to the depletion of these reserves and stocks, course in search of new sources of supply. In early December 1941, at the suggestion of Glavsnab, an integrated brigade of 35 people, mainly VIAM specialists, was created and sent to Sverdlovsk. She took up placing orders for the aviation industry at the Ural metallurgical and metal-rolling plants and assisted them in mastering the production of new grades and profiles of rolled ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Already in a short time, the brigade managed to establish the production of section steel 38KhMYuA at the metallurgical plant named after. A. K. Serov, and other steels of the aviation assortment - at the Verkh-Isetsky plant [15].

The mass production of electric-welded pipes was organized in the country, replacing solid-rolled pipes, instead of pressing, rolling was used in the manufacture of aluminum bars and wire rod for riveting wire, and other progressive technological processes were mastered. The production of products necessary for the aircraft industry was launched at such large enterprises of the metallurgical and chemical industries as Kuznetsky, Guryevsky, Nizhny Tagil, Sinarsky, Zlatoustovsky, Muslyumovsky and others (only at 18 plants) [3, case 33, l. 134 - 135; 36, l. 71;, - 75]. These positive results were largely due to the government decree on quarterly bonuses to NKAP supplier plants within 2% of the cost of the products and semi-finished products shipped by them [15], and the fact that the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks established strict control over the fulfillment of orders for the aviation industry at the enterprises of the Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, Gorky, Stalingrad and Molotov regions, on February 20, 1942, obliging the first secretaries of the relevant regional committees to send their responsible workers to disadvantaged supply plants and provide support to these enterprises with material and human resources [16].

In the future, the reconstruction of aviation production more and more went beyond the departmental framework. Many industries took part in this process, including metallurgical, chemical, rubber, automotive, electrical and others. Substitutes for expensive and scarce materials were developed; aircraft factories switched to self-supply, organizing on their own the production of everything necessary for production; the regime of strict economy of raw materials, materials, fuel became the norm.

Aircraft manufacturers tried to work with full dedication and by all means increase the production of military aircraft. Plant No. 18 produced an average of 3 Il-2s per day in December 1941, 6-7 vehicles in January 1942, and in August 1942 the plant reached the pre-evacuation level of production of attack aircraft. Plant No. 1 also significantly increased its productivity, but for this it had to stop assembling MiG-3 fighters and completely switch to the production of Il-2 [5, d. 33, p. 17].

Long-range aviation, which suffered serious losses in the first months of the war, urgently needed to replenish its aircraft fleet. In this regard, great hopes were pinned on plant No. 23, organized in December 1941 on the site of a large Moscow aircraft manufacturing enterprise evacuated to Kazan. Already in 1942, plant No. 23 gave the front 110 Il-4 aircraft [5, d. 33, l. 86].

Everything was done to recreate the production and technical bases of other aircraft manufacturing enterprises. In order to raise the interest of the factory workers in the speedy delivery of finished products to the customer, the NKAP on March 25, 1942 introduced additional bonuses for mechanics, mechanics, test pilots and other workers responsible for the flight and final fine-tuning of machines. The size of the bonuses depended on the timing of the delivery of aircraft ready for combat to the military representatives and their number. Already by May 1942, plants No. 22, 31, 39 and 84 reached the level of pre-evacuation capacity [5, d. 33, l. 17]. This ensured the supply of thousands of new fighters, attack aircraft and bombers to the front.

The engine-building enterprises of the industry were also restoring their production potential at full speed. From January 1942, they began to produce their first products and gradually, one after another, reached the level of the highest indicators of 1941: plant No. 29 - in February, No. 24 - in May, No. 16 and 154 - in July and plant No. 26 - in August 1942 [5, d. 33, l. 205]. The existing aggregate, instrumentation, metallurgical and other aviation enterprises returned to operation: on November 20, 1942, plant No. 33 produced the first batch of carburetors at the new site, in December of the same year, plant No. 469 fully completed its monthly task, and plant No. 20 restored production at the beginning of 1942, having successfully completed the program of the 1st quarter of 1942 [5, d. 33, l. 70, 207].

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

GKO - Gosudarstvennyy Komitet Oborony - State Defense Committee

Thus, the aviation industry was born almost anew. Most of the industry's enterprises, simultaneously with increasing output, carried out large-scale capital construction and technical reconstruction. In the second quarter of 1942 alone, 390 million rubles were allocated for capital construction, including 65 million rubles for the restoration of enterprises [3, file 749, l. 60-61]. Creating new workshops and entire factories in a matter of months, aircraft manufacturers not only increased the production of military aircraft every day, but also mastered the production of other military products (shells, machine guns and even tanks).

The winter victories of the Red Army made it possible to proceed first with a partial, and later with a complete re-evacuation of the research institutes of the NKAP. The GKO resolution, issued on January 24, 1942, provided for the restoration of large wind tunnels and TsAGI laboratories on the old sites within a year. For this, the NKAP was instructed to return from Novosibirsk and Kazan the necessary number of evacuated specialists and equipment of this institute within 15 days [3, file 730, l. 26-27]. He resumed his activities in the capital and CIAM (after April 15, 1942, he sent 400 of his specialists from Ufa to Moscow). And in the summer of the same year, VIAM returned to the capital from Kuibyshev [3, d. 741, l. 62].

Returning departmental research organizations to the old experimental bases and thereby concentrating the forces and capabilities of branch science, the NKAP directed in 1942 its potential to perform tasks related to improving the flight data and combat effectiveness of military aircraft. These tasks found their concrete reflection in the consolidated work plan of the institutes for the first half of 1942, approved by the GKO. At the same time, the volume of fundamental scientific developments was reduced to a minimum [3, d. 741, l. 90-92].

Concentrating the main attention on the problems of serial production, branch science made a significant contribution in 1942 to their practical solution, and this was the merit of all institutes of the aircraft industry. From July 1942, control tests of mass-produced aircraft began to be carried out at the Flight Research Institute to ensure the identity of serial aircraft to their prototypes. Significant reserves for increasing the speed of combat aircraft were also identified in the course of experimental work that took place at TsAGI.

VIAM specialists also provided great and effective assistance to serial production. They developed a new technology for stamping steel crankcases for the M-82 engine, which made it possible to save up to 240 kg of aluminum on each engine, created new solders that replaced scarce tin, camouflage aircraft paint of the "Night" type with a reflection coefficient of 3 - 4% and carried out a number of other interesting developments [3, d. 37, l. 98].

One of the main areas of research activity of aviation institutes during the war years was the study of foreign aircraft technology with the aim of practical use of advanced foreign experience and achievements in Soviet aircraft construction. In March 1942, a permanent exposition was opened in the showroom of the Bureau of New Technology at TsAGI, which presented the latest domestic and Anglo-American aircraft, as well as captured samples of German military aircraft.

By the end of 1942, the re-evacuation of research institutes of the aviation industry was basically completed. By this time, their most important experimental facilities were put into operation. The departmental network of research institutes has also expanded. On December 15, 1942, the Institute of Aircraft Equipment was established [3, d. 754, l. 208].

The main aircraft design bureaus also returned to Moscow. In 1942, their teams were mainly engaged in the refinement and improvement of serial machines. The Design Bureau of S.V. Ilyushin, which, upon returning from the Kuibyshev evacuation in May 1942, received the production base of plant No. 240, concentrated its efforts on creating a two-seat version of the Il-2. Already in July 1942, the two-seat vehicle successfully passed state tests, and in October of the same year it was put into mass production at factories No. 1, 18 and 30 [3, file 754, l. 181]. In the Design Bureau, which was led by S.A. Lavochkin, work was in full swing to improve the LaGG-3 fighter. Soon, a new La-5 fighter was created on its basis. The construction of La-5 helped overcome the disproportion in production, largely eliminate the shortage of water-cooled engines and give new life to air-cooled engines. In April 1942, the La-5 fighter successfully passed state tests and soon began to enter combat air units stationed in the Stalingrad region. For 18 days of combat operation, La-5s destroyed 20 and knocked out 10 enemy aircraft. The new aircraft successfully withstood the best German aircraft of the same class, the Me-109F, and according to some reports even surpassed it [3, file 886, l. 175-192].

In 1942, Yak-7B fighters began to enter the active army. In the same year, a team of designers led by A.S. Yakovlev launched another modification into serial production - the Yak-9 fighter [13].

By July 1942, the number of Soviet aircraft at the front increased by more than 1.3 times compared to January. However, new cars accounted for only 47% of the entire aircraft fleet. New bombers were especially lacking, their share did not exceed 10% of the quantitative composition of bomber aircraft [17]. This happened to a certain extent because, in the process of creating new aircraft, it was not possible to avoid mistakes and ill-conceived steps. Great difficulties arose with the launch of the new Tu-2 bomber, which was much needed by the army, at Omsk plant No. 166. At the beginning of the war, most of the arrested designers were evacuated to Omsk, who continued to develop new aircraft here in the conditions of a prison design bureau. True, in 1942-1944. many of them were released, but not all. For example, R. L. Bartini was imprisoned until 1948.

According to the GKO decree of October 10, 1942, all work on the production of the new Tu-2 front-line bomber was curtailed. And although this machine passed from September 13 to October 28 military tests on the Kalinin Front with an excellent rating, the NKAP could not achieve the cancellation of this ill-conceived decision. However, at his insistence, the equipment, fixtures and technical documentation for the Tu-2 were preserved at plant No. 166, and from the available backlog it was possible to assemble 10 bombers by the end of 1942 [3, file 799, l. 34 - 36; 6].

In step with the aircraft builders were the creators of aircraft engines. At the beginning of 1942, a group of designers, on the initiative of A. A. Mikulin, designed, calculated and manufactured a prototype of the new AM-38F engine in a short time. Under the leadership of V. Ya. Klimov, work was carried out at plant No. 26 to create the M-105PF engine. This motor has successfully passed lengthy bench tests, having accumulated 179 hours and thus far exceeded the resource designed for it. According to the report of the designer V. Ya. Klimov and the director of plant No. 26 V.P. Balandina, Chairman of the State Committee for Defense approved the 150-hour standard service life of the M-105PF and authorized its mass production [3, case 33, l. one]. But just like in aircraft building, the progress made in the field of aircraft engine building was the result of hard work and those designers who continued to create in the conditions of the prison regime. The most important and promising developments were carried out by them in the “sharashka”, organized during the evacuation, in the fall of 1941 at the Kazan plant No. 16. Here, under the leadership of V.P. Glushko, who was sentenced back in 1939 to eight years in labor camps, a liquid-propellant jet engine RD-1 was created, which, as an accelerator, began to be tested on Pe-2 bombers manufactured right there in Kazan. A significant contribution to the development activities of this team was made by B. S. Stechkin and S. P. Korolev. The latter was transferred from Omsk in the fall of 1942. He and V.P. Glushko, at the behest of the Beria apparatus, were forced to remain in the position of prisoners for a long time, and only on July 27, 1944, a decree was issued by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on their early release with the removal of a criminal record [ eighteen].

In 1942, the NKAP actively contributed to the development of new modifications of combat engines. In June, a permanent expert commission was formed to review projects and technical data on new and modernized engines and units for them, and in August, in order to strengthen technical assistance to the front and organize the exchange of experience in combat operation of engines designed by V. Ya. Klimov, the NKAP convened a conference on their quality. Later, similar conferences were held for motors of other designs [3, d. 35, l. 52]. Aircraft and engine factories set up technical rooms and classes for the Air Force flight crew to study new aircraft. The enterprises also began to train cadets of aircraft mechanics schools. In 1942, 750 cadets were able to gain practical skills in the operation and repair of aircraft, as well as study their design in detail at 83 aircraft factories. The main result of the collective work of scientists, designers and workers in the aviation industry in 1942 was the development of mass production of 14 new types of aircraft, including 5 fighters, 6 bombers, 1 attack aircraft and 2 transport aircraft. During this time, 10 modifications of motors were introduced into the series [5, d. 33, l. 102].

The process of restoring the industry's production capacity was proceeding at a rapid pace. Starting from January 1942, the production of aircraft has been steadily increasing. Already in May 1942, 3.6 times more aircraft were built than in December 1941, and in July 1942, 1.3 times more than the year before. If in the first quarter of 1942 the average monthly production of combat aircraft was 1.1 thousand vehicles, then in the second quarter it was already about 1.7 thousand aircraft. In total, in the first half of 1942, 9744 aircraft were produced, of which 8268 were combat modifications [17], and most of these aircraft were produced in the interior of the country. The share of military products of aircraft factories in the Urals, the Volga region, Siberia and Central Asia in the all-Union production of the NKAP increased from 6.6% in June 1941 to 77.3% by June 1942 [13].

Thus, the reconstruction of the production and technical potential of the aircraft industry was basically completed by the beginning of the second half of 1942, which had a significant impact on the course of the war. The Western historian G. Feuchter subsequently recognized the exceptional importance of the rapid revival of aircraft production: “The fact that under such conditions the Soviet Union managed not only to relocate its industry, but also to establish mass production of aircraft in a short time, should be attributed to the greatest technical achievements of the period of the Second World War » [2, v. 4, p. 158].

As 1942 came to an end, the aviation industry turned into a well-coordinated, steadily developing branch of the country's military economy. From month to month, its indicators for the production of aircraft grew (Table 3) [2, v. 6, p. 343].

Table 3

Number of aircraft produced
Month 1942 total of which combat
VII 2,224 1,835
VIII 2,492 2,098
IX 2,672 2,286
X 2,839 2,462
XI 2,634 2,268
XII 2,831 2,464
Total for 1942 25,436 21,681

In December 1942, the production of aircraft increased 4.7 times, and engines - 5.4 times compared to December 1941. Moreover, the share of fighters and especially attack aircraft in the total production of aircraft increased significantly compared to previous years [5, case 33 , l. 102].

In 1942, 38,002 aircraft engines were produced, or 33% more than in 1941. [5, d. 33, l. 187]. Despite the forced relocation of more than 3/4 of all production capacities and the huge costs of their subsequent deployment in the deep regions of the country, the 1942 plan was fully implemented in terms of the main indicators. In 1942, the number of people working in the industry reached 610.3 thousand people. The production capacity of the aircraft industry also increased: for metal-cutting machine tools - by 21.4 thousand units, for forging and pressing equipment - by 600 units. The indicators of June 1941 were exceeded: in terms of the number of employees - by 31%, in terms of machine tools - by 89.4%, in terms of forging and pressing equipment - by 88.8%. Thus, the technical equipment of labor was significantly increased and the possibilities for extensive development were expanded [13].

In 1942, only 12,950 combat aircraft were produced in Germany. In addition, the German aircraft industry lagged far behind the Soviet one in terms of the efficiency of the use of basic material resources. In 1942, the USSR produced more aircraft than in Germany: for 1 million tons of smelted steel - 4.4 times, for 1 billion kW / h of electricity generated - 4.3 times, for 1 thousand. machine tools - 8.1 times [19].

The Soviet aircraft industry in a short time not only restored aircraft production, but also achieved its significant rise. She approached 1943, possessing a powerful production and technical potential, completely rebuilt and coordinated in accordance with the needs of wartime, and also capable of satisfying all the needs of the front. This prepared the necessary prerequisites for the capture by Soviet aviation in 1943 of strategic air supremacy.

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