Aviation of World War II
Yer-2. Combat Use.
At the time of the German attack on the USSR, four aviation corps (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th), the 18th separate air division and the 212th separate air regiment were based in the European part of the country, which were part of the DBA - long-range bomber aviation of the Air Force KA . All these units and formations were armed with DB-3, DB-3F and TB-3 aircraft, the only exception was the 14th tbap, which had a squadron of TB-7. In total, the grouping consisted of 1088 long-range and heavy bombers. A month later (including replenishment) there were only 841 of them left, and a month later - 502. Terrible statistics inexorably testified to the loss of half of the combat strength of the DBA in just two months of hostilities!
(To be precise, even more: in the first month of the war, according to the report of the DBA Directorate, the losses of long-range bomber aircraft amounted to 625 aircraft, in the second - 178. It should be noted that for the specified period 156 DB-3 were transferred to combat units from schools, the 1st reserve aviation brigade, the Lipetsk courses and the Air Force Research Institute, and 87 vehicles came from the 5th ak, stationed in Khabarovsk (from its composition the 4th and 22nd dbap (long-range bomber regiment) were transferred to the West) Deliveries from aircraft factory No. 126 did not exceed 80 DB-3F.If we rely on the data on the combat composition of the Air Force KA dated July 29, 1941, signed by the Air Force Chief of Staff Colonel Ruhle, then the losses look even more significant, since on this day in the composition The DBA had only 377 bombers left, of which only 170 were serviceable!)
For the start of the war, a characteristic feature was the desire of everyone - from an ordinary machine operator or a pilot to a people's commissar - to urgently do something that could quickly and effectively influence the course of hostilities, "break the back of brutal fascism", as they said then. One of the crazes of the times was the formation of OSNAZ air units - a special purpose, staffed by the best pilots and armed with the most modern aircraft. The bet was made on the fact that these, selected, most literate and skillful would be able to quickly seize the initiative and pour the "cowardly pirates of Goering" on the first number. From the test pilots of the Air Force Research Institute, a number of fighter, assault and front-line bomber regiments were formed, but for flights on long-range bombers, the “bison” pilots from the Civil Air Fleet and the Main Northern Sea Route turned out to be more suitable. Having flown hundreds of thousands of kilometers in difficult weather conditions, having learned to use radio navigation systems, these pilots had no combat experience, so they were “diluted” with qualified personnel from long-range bomber aviation. In this way, from a thin layer of the "cream" of the Soviet Air Force and civil air fleet in June-August 1941, four "special" regiments were formed, designed to perform unusual tasks: the 412th and 413th on TB-7 and 420- th and 421st on Yer-2 aircraft.
The leaders, who were preparing in the first place, were the 412th (later the 432nd) air regiment of Colonel V.I. Lebedev and the 420th air regiment of Colonel N.I. Novodranov. The unusual nature of these parts was also manifested in the attention given to them by Stalin. On June 29, one of the incredibly busy days, he found time for a personal meeting with Lebedev and Novodranov, and then received the commander of the 81st Air Division, which was being formed at an accelerated pace, brigade commander M.V. Vodopyanov. All four new OSNAZ long-range bomber regiments were included in this division. From the moment of its creation, the formation was considered special: its commander reported directly to the commander of the Air Force P.F. Zhigarev, and the tasks for the division, at least at first, were set by Stalin himself. The 81st hell can be considered to a certain extent the embryo of the ADD - Long-Range Aviation, created in March 1942 and representing, in essence, a new type of armed forces.
The first problem faced by the command of the division and regiments was the fastest preparation of equipment and flight personnel for night combat flights at maximum range. The regiments were based in the rear - the 412th and 420th in Kazan (at different airfields), and the 421st - in Rostov-on-Don. The last air unit was headed by Lieutenant Colonel A.G. Gusev, former inspector of the Red Army Air Force Bomber Aviation for piloting technique. During the formation of the 420th Air Regiment, one combined squadron from the former 100th dbap entered it, and the other two squadrons were equipped with pilots and navigators from the Civil Air Fleet. In the 421st regiment, almost all pilots had a long flight experience in civil aviation, and the navigators came from the Poltava Improvement School, where they trained for the positions of at least squadron navigators. According to the memoirs of the head of the aerial photographic service of the regiment S.A. Krylov, one of the “bison” navigators even became a crew commander, since he had the rank of lieutenant colonel, and his pilot wore only lieutenant “kubari” in his buttonholes. Most of the pilots mobilized from the Civil Air Fleet, although they had tremendous experience, received primary officer ranks. According to staff No. 015/131, each regiment had 149 officers and 183 sergeants and privates. The gunners-radio operators were taken mostly from the Civil Air Fleet, had a raid on the lines for five to six years and could receive 60-70 telegraph signs per minute in the air. Some of them took part in the Soviet-Finnish war of 1939-1940. The air riflemen had the least experience in special regiments, but they were intensively prepared and trained for at least a month before being thrown into battle. As of August 4, the regiments had: 420th - 32 aircraft, and 421st - 28 vehicles. At the preparation stage, a large part of the equipment was lost in accidents and disasters, as well as for other reasons. For example, “On July 24, 1941, when performing an acceptance flight at plant No. 18 in the area of the Rossosh airfield, the Yer-2 aircraft head. No. 705 was attacked twice and fired upon by the I-16 fighter. After the second attack, the plane caught fire. Pilot Major Rykov and chief engineer of the Air Force Research Institute, military engineer 2nd rank Kokorin jumped with parachutes. Flight operator Safonov and flight engineer Seregin died, - the senior military representative of the plant reported. - Reason: inconsistency with air defense. The application for the flight and permission were. The NKVD is dealing with the matter.” But the real scourge of the serial "Erov" turned out to be fires that suddenly arose in flight. For this reason, only in the 420th ap before September 1, three cars were lost. The factory brigade, which was in the regiment, categorically rejected the guilt of the enterprise, but the facts stubbornly testified to the contrary.
The most likely cause of the fires was a leak in the fuel lines in the engine nacelles. Gasoline was not just leaking from the connections - on some machines, flammable liquid almost gushed out. So, on the plane No. 201, representatives of the chief designer, lead engineer T.K. fuel tints. The presence of a leak (to a lesser extent) was also recorded on the machine of the head. No. 101. The specified defect during a long flight was bound to lead to a fire of the aircraft.
The situation turned out to be close to catastrophic. In addition, plant No. 18 supplied low-quality exhaust gas collectors to the Era. Their joints were poorly fitted to the cylinder blocks, and the copper-asbestos gaskets periodically burned through. In addition, it quickly became clear that the collectors had burnt welding on the flanges, and therefore, after two or three hours of operation under vibration conditions, they gave cracks through which hot exhaust gases entered the engine nacelle. Subsequently, in his book, one of the pilots of the 420th Air Regiment, Twice Hero of the Soviet Union A.I. Molodchiy, recalled another reason for the Yer-2 fires: it turns out that the drainage pipes of the gasoline system were brought under the engine hoods due to a design error.
As a result, Yer-2 burned like candles, even never meeting with the enemy. While identifying the causes and methods of dealing with this scourge, it turned out that there are ... foreign objects inside the superchargers of the motors. From the shaking, the screws came out, fastening the mesh in the supercharger air intake channel and designed just to prevent all kinds of debris from entering the motor. Due to the mistake of the technologists, the screws simply forgot to lock. In addition, other “details” were found inside the supercharger diffusers: a two-kopeck coin, fragments of drills and even a wrench. Several engines required repair, and almost all aircraft needed factory refinement.
Another serious nuisance was defects in the landing gear and landing flaps retracting system. At least two aircraft in the 421st Aviation Regiment suffered landing accidents due to folding undercarriage legs during the run. The technical staff did not have time to calmly master the complex machine, in the design of which there were so many “beans”. The war was on, the Soviet troops were retreating along the entire front, and it was time for the Eram to go into battle.
For Distant Targets
As you know, on the night of August 8, 1941, Berlin was bombed by naval pilots of Colonel E.N. Preobrazhensky on DB-3 aircraft.
On August 9, Colonel Novodranov received a preliminary combat order from the commander of the 81st Air Division, M.V. Vodopyanov. The task was of the highest category of complexity. It was necessary to transfer the Yer-2 group to the Pushkin jump airfield near Leningrad and from there to strike at the capital of the Third Reich. Simultaneously with the Yeras, the TB-7 heavy bombers of Colonel V.I. Lebedev were also aiming at Berlin. Captain A.G. Stepanov, deputy commander of the regiment, was appointed commander of the "operational group" of the 420th air regiment, and captain Brusnitsyn was appointed his deputy. It follows from the report of the latter that on August 10, “upon arriving in Pushkin, the personnel were assembled to give instructions to unload the planes and hang bombs on 7 FAB-100s. Flight commanders and navigators were assembled to work out the mission.
8 15.00 a combat order was received to fly out to the target Berlin ... The flight order was set as follows. The first link takes off TB-7, followed by the Yer-2 link at 20.30 under the command of Captain Stepanov, followed by the TB-7 link at 20.45 and at 21.00 the Yer-2 link under the command of Captain Brusnitsyn, followed by the next link TB-7. Behind the TB-7 link, a pair of Yer-2s take off under the command of junior lieutenant Molodchy ... "
A.I. Molodchiy's book states that 16 Yer-2 planes from the 420th Air Regiment. However, in the opinion of the authors, the cited report of Captain Brusnitsyn, presented to the chief of staff of Hell 81 the day after the events described, deserves more confidence.
On that evening, events did not develop at all as planned by the commander of the Red Army Air Force, Lieutenant General of Aviation Zhigarev, who was present at the departure airfield. During takeoff, the TB-7 of Major KP Egorov crashed, in which both right engines failed at once. Yer-2 of junior lieutenant A.I. Molodchey, having run the entire unpaved strip, failed to get off the ground, demolished the chassis in a ditch and miraculously did not explode on its own bombs. Major Tyagunin's heavy vehicle from the 432nd ap was hit by his anti-aircraft guns over the mouth of the Luga in the Vysu region, only part of the crew managed to leave the flaming bomber.
Only six TB-7s and three Yer-2s flew to Berlin. Captain Brusnitsyn, the leader of the second trio of Yer-2, after takeoff, walked around the airfield for an hour, waiting for the followers, but after the TB-7 crash and the Yer-2 accident, General Zhigarev forbade the remaining aircraft from taking off. On Brusnitsyn's plane, when landing in the dark, the landing gear broke, and the vehicle lay on the wing. From the board of the bombers rushing towards Berlin, there were reports that they were attacked by I-16 and I-153 fighters (the latter for some reason "red") and fired upon by their anti-aircraft artillery. Despite the conditional signals (green missiles) given by the bomber crews, the donkeys and the seagull continued to fire at their own. The reason for the misunderstanding was that the fighters belonged to "another department" - the aviation of the Baltic Fleet. The bomber gunners were forced to return fire and drive away the excessively zealous hawks.
Troika Yer-2 captain A.G.Stepanov continued to fly to the target. It got dark, multi-layered clouds appeared, and after passing the zone where the link was subjected to heavy fire from its own anti-aircraft artillery, the small group broke up. Here, over the black desert of the Baltic, the deputy squadron commander, Lieutenant V.M. Malinin, and the flight commander, Lieutenant B.A. Kubyshko, saw Captain Stepanov's Yer-2 for the last time. He did not return from the mission and the place of death of the crew of the yellow "two" remained unknown. Judging by the radio message received at the departure airfield, Stepanov nevertheless bombed the main target.
The crews of Malinin and Kubyshko also flew to Berlin and dropped bombs on the "lair of the beast." On the way back, Lieutenant Kubyshko's plane was mistakenly attacked by Soviet fighters and shot down. The crew members left the burning car with parachutes and subsequently returned to their regiment. Early in the morning, a lone Yer-2 of Lieutenant Malinin landed at the Pushkin airfield. So, the 420th dbap OSNAZ did not start its combat path very successfully. Nevertheless, following the results of the raid on the capital of the Reich, the crew commanders Stepanov (posthumously), Malinin and Kubyshko received the Order of the Red Banner, and the navigators captains Zh.S. Sagdiev and G.N. Fedorovsky - Order of the Red Star.
In addition, according to the results of the raid of the 81st Air Division on Berlin, the order of the People's Commissar of Defense No. 0071 of August 17, 1941 was issued. It assessed the work of the division command, the flight and technical staff of the regiments. It was noted, in particular, that "the flight crew, despite the lengthy preparation for the flight, did not fully master the material part of the engine and weapons (this concerned the crews of TB-7 to the greatest extent. - Approx. Aut.)". Vodopyanov was removed from command of the division as having failed in his duties, but for his personal courage (he drove one of the cars on a mission and visited the “lair of the beast”) he received gratitude. Stalin ordered the Military Council of the Air Force to pay special attention to the preparation and condition of the 81st hell, “replenishing its shelves with TB-7 ships with AM-35 and AM-35A engines, Yer-2 aircraft with AM-37 engines and DB-3 aircraft with outboard tanks, meaning the use of the division for systematic attacks on military targets deep behind enemy lines.
The reality strongly diverged from the plans of Joseph Vissarionovich. During the remaining months of 1941, the aircraft and crews of the 81st Hell more often had to strike not at the deep rear of the enemy, but at cities and railway stations with original Russian names. As for the 420th ap, only six “long-range” sorties were made. On the night of August 28 and September 1, 1941, the crews of Captain Khorpyakov, Senior Lieutenant Klimenko and Lieutenant Polezhaev attacked Koenigsberg from the Ramenskoye airfield near Moscow. They all returned safely to their airfield. There were no other long-range flights, that is, for the main purpose of the Yer-2, were carried out. The acute need for front-line bombers forced all forces, including long-range bomber aircraft, to be thrown into the fight against the advancing motorized units of the enemy. On August 17, 1941, the former commander of the 212th ap A.E. was appointed the new commander of the 81st air division. Golovanov, who at the same time received the rank of "colonel". (Just two months later, on October 25, 1941, he became a major general in aviation.)
In the Summer and Autumn of 1941
According to the official data of the People's Commissariat of the Aviation Industry, the assembly and delivery of the last "Erovs" in the air unit was carried out by plant No. 18 in July 1941, however, the reports of the plant itself indicate that six aircraft were transferred to the Air Force in August, and three more in September. The seventy-first, "overplanned" Yer-2 remained at the plant until the end of October, and its further fate is unknown. Perhaps he suffered on September 19, 1941, when a lone He.111 bombed the territory of the Voronezh aircraft plant in broad daylight, dropping 16 50-kg SC50 land mines, which ended up in different workshops. But the greatest damage was caused by the 1000-kg SC1000 dropped by the same crew, which ended up in the stamping shop. Most of the bombs were planted by the Germans for mining, they were defused, but some detonated on impact.
06 The assessment of Yer-2 by the members of the flight crews at that time can be judged from the report of the commissar of the 420th ap senior political instructor Dokalenko to the member of the Military Council of the Air Force of the Spacecraft Corps, corps commissar Stepanov. “The flight crew expresses a certain mood regarding the reliability of the materiel,” the political instructor noted with concern. “Pilots and navigators say that it would be good to transfer them to another type of aviation.” Such sad thoughts became widespread in the regiment due to the inability of the factory brigades and the technical staff of the unit to eliminate the causes of fires. As of August 13, five cases of spontaneous combustion of aircraft in the air were recorded in the 420th regiment, while ten crew members died and received burns. “Similar troubles occurred in the 421st ap, where the crew completely burned down with the plane,” Dokalenko said.
On August 7, 1941, in the area of the Rostov-on-Don airfield, the Yer-2 manager crashed. No. 1850904 Senior Lieutenant N.I. Martynov from the 421st Aviation Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Gusev. This happened just two days after receiving it from factory #18. According to eyewitnesses, during the flight, the aircraft with running engines went into a descent and crashed into the ground with the entire crew; the cause of the emergency could not be determined. But in other cases, she lay on the surface. So, on August 5, on the plane of the squadron commandYer-2 of senior lieutenant Kondratiev (manufacturer No. 1851005), the hydraulic system tube burst, and the chassis did not want to be released. The emergency exhaust system also failed - it fell off the roller and the cable jammed. I had to put the car "on its belly", which led to the need to replace the propellers, motors and struts of the main landing gear, not to mention the skin and frame of the engine nacelles. The rupture of the hydraulic system pipes turned out to be the thirtieth (!) Since the start of operation of the Ep-2 in the 421st regiment, in other words, such incidents occurred almost daily.
A serious problem, the significance of which no one could underestimate after the catastrophic losses of parts of the DBA in the first month of the war, was the insufficient defense capability of the aircraft. The effective firing range of ShKAS machine guns did not exceed 200 m, and their low destructive qualities when operating on enemy all-metal fighters caused bitter definitions in the style of “peas” or “humane weapons” from pilots. On July 25, 1941, Major General I.F. Petrov, head of the Main Directorate of the Air Force of the KA, sent a letter to People's Commissar Shakhurin on the issue of strengthening the fire protection of serial Yer-2s. In particular, he suggested:
"1. Install a twin ShKAS on the upper middle turret instead of one ShKAS machine gun, for which instruct factory No. 32 to urgently manufacture the necessary parts (fangs and heads) and mount the twins on aircraft. In the future, the previously installed large-caliber installation TAT on the Yer-2 aircraft will be restored ...
2. Replace the ShKAS bow mount with a large-caliber mount designed by KB-3 of plant No. 32 (Chief Designer Toropov)...
3. To protect the crew, install aft armor in the fuselage and an armor plate on the MV-3 turret, similar to the DB-3F aircraft ... "
Shakhurin immediately agreed to all these activities and entrusted their implementation to Yermolaev. And on August 5, the people's commissar of the aviation industry issued order No. 799, in which he set the tasks for the accelerated revision of the Yer-2 to the directors of the factories: Shenkman - in terms of eliminating defects in the design of the aircraft, heads of the "weapons" factories Sokolov, Krupnov and Mirgorov - in terms of weapons. The deadlines were tough - "by August 10, by August 20 ..." - but enterprises overloaded with military orders could not keep up with the avalanche of guidelines.
Only at the beginning of September, at the NIP AV (scientific test site for aviation weapons), which was located in Noginsk, the Yer-2 aircraft with new rifle installations developed by plant No. 32 entered the test. Heavy BT machine guns were mounted at all firing points (with belt feed in the bow and hatch mounts and with magazine feed on the upper turret). Despite the shortcomings found, the developed designs were recommended for serial production. But the recommendation of NIP AV could not be fully implemented, since plant No. 32 was heavily loaded with tasks for large-scale machines. By the beginning of October, only 50% of the Yer-2 aircraft in combat units were replaced with top gun turrets with TAT turrets with BT machine guns, while magazine food, which was especially often criticized (Too much time was spent replacing a magazine with a capacity of only 38 rounds - up to 50-60 s.), preserved. In addition, work was carried out to install additional armor for all crew members using the backlog left at factory No. 18 after the completion of the production of DB-3F. In particular, the shooters' workplaces were covered with standard armored backs from the Ilyushin bomber, and later they began to mount a solid armored frame from a 15-mm sheet behind their cockpit. In the interests of maintaining centering, the oxygen tanks had to be moved forward.
Back on August 6, 1941, the leading engineer of the Air Force Research Institute, military engineer of the 2nd rank N.K. Kokorin, in a memorandum to the command of the institute, drew attention to the need to reduce the length of the takeoff run and the takeoff distance of the Yer-2. He proposed to improve the insufficient power supply of the aircraft by forcing the M-105 engines in terms of boost (increasing it from 965 to 1025 mm Hg) and rotational speed (from 2600 to 2700 rpm). We remind the reader that later it was by boosting the M-105 by supercharging that plant No. 26 managed to significantly increase its power near the ground and at low altitudes (options M-105PF and M-105RF), but in 1941 Kokorin's proposal remained unrealized.
The use of jet boosters, at that time called "reactors", with which the experimental TB-3 flew back in 1936, could be a fundamental way to improve the take-off properties of the Yer-2. On October 8, 1941, the head of the Air Force Research Institute, Brigadier Fedorov, reported to General Petrov about the completion of preliminary studies at the Research Institute-3 of the People's Commissariat of Ammunition, where the appearance of accelerators was being worked out to facilitate the take-off of the Yer-2 2M-105. In particular, two versions of the accelerator were proposed: liquid (fuel components - kerosene and nitric acid) with a thrust of 2250 kg and solid propellant (a package of six rockets) with a thrust of 3500 kg. In the first case, the duration of the accelerator was 12 s, in the second - only 6 s, but even this was enough to reduce the takeoff run of a bomber with a maximum takeoff weight of 14,000 kg to 600 m.
Other ideas were worked out. Like most domestic bombers, on the eve of the war, the Yer-2 was equipped with the so-called "neutral gas system", which included several cylinders with nitrogen or carbon dioxide and pipelines for supplying gas to gas tanks. As was known, gasoline vapors in the free space above the fuel posed a great threat to the bomber if a bullet hit them: often the tank simply exploded. By filling the tank with non-combustible gases, they sought to reduce the fire hazard of aircraft, which was confirmed by practice. However, soon the engineering and technical personnel of the units had to deal with the banal lack of nitrogen at the airfields. Then the idea was put forward to replace the deficit with what is always at hand: the exhaust gases of engines with a high content of CO2. It was only necessary to pre-cool them. By the way, another problem was also solved: the air heated in the heat exchangers could be supplied to the aircraft cabin, significantly improving the life of the crew, because in winter at an altitude of 6,000 m the temperature often dropped below - 50 °C.
In the summer of 1941, after the start of mass production of powerful AM-38 engines, the Ermolaevites began designing another version of the machine. In order to ensure the altitude required for a long-range bomber (recall that the altitude limit of the AM-38 with a single-speed supercharger was only 1650 m), it was supposed to equip the engines with TK-3 turbochargers. The head of TsIAM, Kashirin, received an instruction from the people's commissar of the aviation industry: by November 7 (a very characteristic touch), 1941, to ensure the start of flight tests of the Yer-2 2AM-38 with the TK-3.
However, all plans for the further improvement of Yer-2 were crossed out by the decision to evacuate plant No. 240 to Kazan, which began on October 9, 1941. complete mismanagement. In addition to him, several more aviation enterprises were transferred to Kazan on the territory of aircraft factory No. 124, including the huge Moscow aircraft factory No. 22. In the "fight of giants" for production facilities, equipment and housing, the Yermolaevites had no chance. Most of the plant's employees were placed on a concrete floor in the building of the Chatky cinema, which was a large empty barn.
There was an unfriendly attitude towards the evacuees from the local population - the Tatars. The unfortunate migrants were “ripped off like sticky pieces” by local market dealers and apartment owners, where many moved to after taking a sip of the charms of life in Chatky. In winter conditions, when the tram stopped due to snow drifts, the workers had to travel on foot, making a journey of 10-15 km in one direction. Under the current conditions, it was no longer up to the creation of new versions of the bomber - an inherently terrible struggle for physical survival came to the fore for all employees of the plant and design bureau.
“Weary, painful idleness, chaos, anarchy set in,” recalled A.K. Aronov. “The saddest thing is that the team began to disintegrate, everyone tried to get settled, whoever was in what they liked, everyone was hanging out in the markets ...” In fact, for six months the plant was completely “unsettled”, only one small group of workers continued to engage in state tests of Yer -2 2AM-37 in Sverdlovsk, and the other - to repair the Era arriving in Kazan, which required restoration after emergency landings.
DBA - Dal'ne bombardirovochnaya aviatsiya - Long-range bomber aviation
VVS KA - Voyenno vozdushnyye Sily Krasnoy Armii - Air Force of the Red Army
AP - Aviatsionnyy polk - Aviation Regiment
BAP - Bombardirovochnyy avia polk - Bomber Aviation Regiment
AP DD - Aviatsionnyy polk Dal'nego Deystviya - Long Range Aviation Regiment
AK DD - Aviatsionnyy korpus dal'nego deystviya - Long Range Air Corps
ADD - Aviadiviziya Dal'nego deystviya - Long-Range Aviation Division
The Fate of the First Yers
In the second half of August 1941, the 420th Air Regiment moved to the Moscow Military District at the Kirzhach airfield. From here, in September, the crews made 12 night sorties to Vitebsk and eight sorties to Roslavl. On September 1, the Gusev 421st Regiment flew to the Undol airfield, and exactly a week later they also joined combat work. The situation forced the Era to be used both at night and during the day as front-line bombers, which inevitably led to heavy losses. However, considerable damage was also done to the enemy. In September, strikes were made against targets in the areas of Demyansk, Orsha, Vitebsk, Gomel, Spas-Demensk, Smolensk, Baranovichi and Orel. On the night of September 15, when returning from a combat mission, Captain F.F. Magpies. The cause of the disaster was the failure of the bomb drop system. Some of them did not want to separate from the aircraft over the target. I didn’t want to bring dangerous “guests” to my airfield, so the navigator suggested dumping them emergencyly into the river. In two runs, unsuccessful attempts were made to send the hovering FAB-100s overboard, and on the third attempt, apparently due to the folding of the windmill with the doors of the bomb bay open, one of the bombs exploded. All crew members, with the exception of the commander, who was thrown out of the cockpit by the blast wave, died.
A daytime raid on the Staraya Rusa railway junction, carried out on September 23, was marked by great success. On this day, five Yer-2s from the 421st ap, accompanied by a group of Pe-3s from the 40th sbap (in September 1941, this regiment of long-range fighters was temporarily transferred to the operational subordination of the 81st hell) bombed so effectively along the station tracks that the enemy echelons were forced to look for other routes to the east for at least three days. By the way, the “pawns” also bombed the enemy, because the engine nacelle bomb bays for a pair of FAB-100s were preserved when the aircraft was converted into a “hawk”. A month later, for this and a number of subsequent sorties, the leader of the Pe-3 group, Captain A.G. Rogov received the Gold Star of a Hero.
With the aggravation of the situation in the Moscow direction, more and more aircraft began to go into battle during the day, striking at mechanized enemy units on the roads, bombarding railway stations and bridges. Under these conditions, German fighters turned out to be the main threat to long-range bombers performing combat missions unusual for them. This is how the famous pilot A.I. described one of his sorties. Molodchiy, the only one of the Yer-2 pilots who was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union in 1941:
“... we're flying in close formation. Our bomber is clamped in a vice by two fascist fighters with crosses on the wings and fuselage. The Me-109s came so close that it seemed that even the gaps between the wings of our aircraft were almost non-existent.
- Flying on the right shows something, - air gunner Vasiliev reports.
“Show him, too,” Panfilov intervenes.
At first I pretended not to understand. He repeated his gestures. Shoot, they say, will not, because we are already kaput. Sasha Panfilov could not resist and showed him an impressive figure in response.
And here is the navigator's report:
— Goal ahead, what shall we do?
- Bomb, - I answer in the affirmative. — We will bomb, Seryozha.
— Then turn right three degrees. I trusted. To our surprise, the fighters did the same.
A few more indescribably long seconds and our bombs hit the target.
And then the enemy fighters realized their mistake. But in order to open fire, they need to take their starting position. And then the anti-aircraft artillery started working. They have something - their own or others in the air. After all, the bombs are falling.
Taking advantage of this, I abruptly removed the gas, laid a steep, unacceptable slide for a bomber, and flew to the ground like a stone. This happened unexpectedly not only for the fascist pilots, but also for the crew. And the main goal was achieved. The fighters have lost us. And we switched to strafing flight. And now, “licking” every ravine, every bush, we flew, almost catching the ground with propellers. Safely passed the front line, the crew rejoiced. Another victory for us! None of the fourteen bombs we dropped went beyond the railway junction.”
But the meeting with the "messers" did not always end so well. On October 6, nine Yer-2s from the 421st regiment under the command of Captain Andreev bombed an enemy column on the Vikhlyaevo-Yukhnov highway. Two crews did not return back: the group commander (tail number - white "1") and Lieutenant Zhiltsov (blue "1"). The Germans also had a hard time: according to the report of the regiment, the arrows of the white "eight" Balobuto and Pshenichny shot down the Messerschmitt, another enemy fighter was brought down by Sergeant Pavlovich from the crew of the blue "four". The weather was cloudless, therefore, as stated in combat reports, the fall of burning enemy aircraft was observed by many (The authors could not find information confirming this success in German sources. It is possible that German fighters received damage of varying severity and left the battle.). On October 10 and 11, the crews of the 420th regiment bombed the Roslavl railway junction, achieving direct hits on trains and station structures. On October 14, the Yer-2 troika (one of the aircraft was piloted by Molodchiy) attacked a large German convoy on the Mikulino-Kalinin road. Freed from the bombs, the planes descended and fired at the enemy with machine guns. A dozen trucks were left to burn out on the roadside.
The most difficult day for the 421st Regiment appeared to be October 18th. Recall that in mid-October, rapidly advancing, the advanced German units managed to capture intact several strategically important bridges across the Volga in the Kalinin region. To thwart the further advance of the enemy, to destroy bridges from the air - all the aviation regiments that were at hand at the command of the Air Force of the Western Front received such a task. Even four-engine TB-7 bombers, flying on missions during the day, without fighter cover, went into action. The Gusev regiment received a similar task. In cloudy weather, at 12:45, a pair of Morozov (blue "2") and Gaivoronsky (tail - "star") took off. Having approached the target unnoticed, the crews dropped bombs - four FAB-250s and two FAB-100s, but both missed. On the combat course, the aircraft were fired upon by anti-aircraft artillery, and then attacked by Messerschmitts, as a result of which both caught fire and fell into the forest. The shooter of one of the vehicles died, the rest of the crew members subsequently returned to the regiment. According to their reports, the Germans also lost one fighter.
But the combat mission had to be completed at any cost. At 15:07, three aircraft had already left for the target: Balenko (white "4"), Buzovir (yellow "6") and Tyklin (white "8"). The link exactly repeated the fate of the Morozov-Gaivoronsky pair: they missed the bridge, fired anti-aircraft guns, all the planes on the way back were shot down by enemy fighters, the surviving crew members reported the destruction of one Bf109. Balenko's plane landed on fire on the surface of the Moscow Sea and, they say, even stayed on the water for some time, allowing the crew to get out of the vehicle. The third and last attempt to bomb the bridge that day was made by a pair of Tikhonov (yellow "3") - Tryapitsyna (yellow "8"), who took off at 16:24. The weather deteriorated noticeably, the sky was covered with clouds, which, on the one hand, provided stealth, and on the other, made it difficult to aim. Both crews failed to hit the target, the nearest breaks lay with a flight of 15-20 m from the bridge. Hiding in the clouds, Tikhonov's plane avoided attacks by enemy fighters, and Tryapitsyn had to fight off a single Bf109. The regiment's opponents in the October battles were apparently III/JG51 pilots. In any case, the commander of this particular group, Hauptmann R. Leppla, reported on the battle on October 10 with "huge Russian twin-engine bombers with a wing shape reminiscent of Ju.87." True, on that day the Germans did not report the downed.
October turned out to be the last month of operation of Yer-2 in the 420th air regiment. Having made 154 combat sorties (Six sorties in August, 81 in September and 67 in October), the regiment suffered serious losses, losing 30 machines out of its 40 available. They were categorized as follows : 11 aircraft were lost in sorties (four were shot down by fighters, two by anti-aircraft artillery, five did not return from the mission) and 19 bombers were lost in accidents (15 cases) and disasters (four cases). 11 pilots, eight navigators, nine radio gunners and 13 air gunners were killed. The crews dropped about 200 tons of bombs on the enemy and reported the destruction of three enemy fighters. From November 5, the Novodranovsky regiment began to transfer the remaining materiel to the 421st Ap. In December, on the basis of the 420th and 212th air regiments, a new one was formed - the 748th (subsequently transformed into the 2nd Guards Ap DD, and then into the 37th Guards Bap). He received the DB-3F bombers.
In the Gusev regiment, things were going a little better. As of October 16, there were 20 aircraft in its combat strength, of which 14 were operational. 10 days after the events described above, on October 18, the unit had 14 vehicles, including nine serviceable ones. On October 28, the Yer-2 pilot Kondratiev (blue "9"), after bombing a target in the Kaluga region, was attacked by three enemy fighters: one Bf109 and two Bf 110. As a result of several attacks, the bomber received 58 holes, two crew members were injured, and all the pilot brought the vehicle to his airfield. According to the reports of the shooters, one of the attacking Bf 110s was shot down by a well-aimed burst of Sergeant Sankevich. More often than others in the 421st regiment, captains I.F. Galinsky flew on combat missions in October (11 sorties on the blue "3") and I.T. Shcherbatenko (nine sorties, aircraft with a yellow "1").
On October 22, 1941, the most distinguished air force crews of the spacecraft, including pilots and navigators of the 420th and 421st air regiments, received military orders. Among the best, awarded the orders of Lenin, were named captain I.F. Galinsky, lieutenants A.A. Balenko, N.A. Miroshnikov and N.P. Tyklin. At the same time, junior lieutenant A.I., deputy squadron commander, received his first star of the Hero of the Soviet Union. Young, and regiment commander N.I. Novodranov was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.
November for the 421st ap turned out to be noticeably less stressful: only 43 sorties and one loss - during takeoff due to engine failure, pilot Boyko was forced to land the commander's Yer-2 "on his stomach" (tail mark - "star" , the second one with this notation). The bombers flew at full range at night, targeting Koenigsberg, Danzig, Tilsit and Warsaw. The engines of many machines had almost completely exhausted their resource, which worsened the already not brilliant take-off properties, and then there were snow drifts ... the regiment's report, "the pilot continued the mission, because he believed that the most difficult thing - takeoff - had already been done." Judging by the war diary, in the first half of December the regiment rested and put equipment in order. On all aircraft, the installation of TAT rifle turrets with BT machine guns was completed to replace the ineffective MV-3 with ShKAS.
Probably at this time there was a redistribution of bombers between squadrons and their "renumbering". In the future, aircraft with blue and white numbers on the keels began to be mentioned noticeably more often, but the yellow “5” remained alone, but red ones with the numbers “5” and “7” appeared (most likely from the Novodranov regiment). At the same time, a reorganization took place in the DBA: the 81st division was disbanded, the TB-7 air regiment was made separate (with the assignment of a new number - 746), and the Gusevsky regiment, which received the number 747, was included in the newly created 3rd hell under the command of Golovanov. At the end of the year, the unit had up to 20 bombers in combat formation, including 13-15 serviceable ones. Two cars were undergoing refurbishment: one in Salsk, the other in Ramenskoye. The last days of 1941 were marked by high combat activity: on December 28, 29 and 30, the entire regiment flew out to strike at the accumulation of tanks and manpower in the Istra region.
( The regiment's raid in 1941 is distributed as follows: 81 sorties in September, 135 in October, 43 in November and 36 in December.)
On January 20, 1942, the Yer-2 four attacked the headquarters of the enemy unit, located in the former NKVD sanatorium in the town of Borok, 20 km west of Smolensk. The crews of lieutenants Gaivoronsky and Linev distinguished themselves by accurately dropping FAB-100 bombs from a height of 150 m. The shooters said that two or three bombs had hit the sanatorium building, and, according to their estimates, hardly anyone could have survived in it. But the regiment also suffered losses: on January 15, as a result of an attack by enemy fighters, one of the machines was severely damaged, on January 31, the Yer-2 pilot Eremenko died, and on February 17, the blue “8” pilot Gorokhov did not return from a raid on Smolensk. Having relocated to Kratovo, the 747th AP switched to night attacks on the airfields of Orsha, Smolensk, Bryansk, Vitebsk, Novo-Dugino and on the railway junctions of Minsk, Gomel, Bryansk. At the same time, he conducted night reconnaissance in the near and far rear of the enemy. Head of the aerial photography service of the regiment S.A. Krylov was able to successfully convert a "normal" AFA-B daytime camera into a night one, which contributed to a noticeable reduction in losses.
(The alteration made it possible to take photographs from a height of 4000 m at a given resolution, while the standard night aerial camera NAFA-1 required photography from a height of 2000 m. The Germans knew about this feature, and, having seen the flashes of FOTABs, they could confidently predict the height of the photo reconnaissance flight, which is important for accurate shooting at him.)
In March 1942, in connection with the institutionalization of the Long-Range Aviation, an analysis was made of the effectiveness of the combat use of long-range bombers in the first eight months of the war. In the message of military engineer 1st rank Markov, in particular, it was noted: “a long-range bomber must be night. Hence the requirements for ease of piloting (especially takeoff and landing), as well as the availability of the necessary special equipment.
The DB-3F is not well adapted for this purpose, the Yer-2 is better, but it turns on takeoff, which was not noticed during the tests. A long-range bomber should have two pilots, since with a flight duration of about 10 hours it is difficult to cope alone, and the Ep-2 does not even have an autopilot. (DB-3F at that time also did not have an autopilot. According to V.V. Reshetnikov, many crews of Ilyushin bombers died due to overwork of pilots during combat missions. The aircraft had insufficient longitudinal stability and the pilot, having dozed off for several seconds under the lulling roar of engines, waking up could no longer have time to bring the plane that had fallen into the horizon.) During night flights there was not a single air battle ... In daytime conditions, there were cases when a well-armed long-range bomber (Yer- 2) shot down two enemy aircraft in one sortie ... In terms of combat load, the Yer-2 also surpassed the DB-3F. The latter usually took 1000 kg of bombs, and Yer-2 - up to 1500 kg ..."
Thus, the general conclusion was made in favor of the Ermolaev bomber. However, the surviving Yer-2 aircraft increasingly failed due to intensive operation and lack of spare parts. The number of serviceable vehicles in the 747th ap DD, withdrawn from the 3rd hell and becoming separate, in the spring of 1942 usually did not exceed six to eight units, and there was no need to wait for the replenishment of the Yerami. At the same time, the excess of highly qualified "horseless" crews was felt in the regiment.
On the last day of May, due to an absurd mistake by anti-aircraft gunners covering the Kratovo airfield, an Yer-2 blue “1” was shot down during landing. The crew of pilot Kalinin died. The following month, for the first time in six months, the regiment was replenished with equipment: four B-25 bombers received under Lend-Lease were handed over to it. These cars did not have tail numbers. They were used mainly as scouts in the interests of the ADD headquarters. More often than others, pilots Chernomorets and Viskovskiy flew on overseas planes on missions. Both pilots in July-August made several flights on "Era" with unusual red tail numbers (perhaps these were Yer-2 with AM-35A, received after repairs from the Yermolaev's plant).
In August 1942, the 747th AP had a chance to participate in defensive battles in the Stalingrad direction for a short time. One day, the red "7" of the pilot Viskovskiy was attacked by a Bf 109 flight. Shooter Abdulin from the upper installation managed to knock out two enemy fighters, but the "Yer" was also heavily damaged during a forced landing. In the future, a vehicle with this number did not participate in hostilities. As of August 4, 1942, only ten Yer-2s remained in the unit. By the end of the year, their number had decreased to eight, and by the beginning of April 1943, to six. At the last stage, only cars with blue tail numbers "2", "3", "4", "5", "8" and "9" remained in service. On April 8, 1943, a trio of Yer-2 2M-105s completed their last sortie. In the same month, the surviving Yermolaev bombers were transferred to the Chelyabinsk school of navigators of the ADD, and the regiment began rearmament on the Il-4. (June 26, 1943, the 747th Air Regiment was reorganized into the 22nd Guards and re-equipped with B-25 Mitchell bombers.) The leadership also changed: on July 17, 1943, a veteran took command of the regiment parts of Major I.F. Galinsky.
"The Second Coming" Yer-2
Deployment of mass production of Yer-2 with ACH-ZOB diesel engines led to the creation of new aviation units that were supposed to operate this technique. In accordance with GKO Decree No. 5384 of March 13, 1944, the formation of regiments began in several ADD corps. The understanding that the aircraft would certainly require refinement, as well as the lack of the required number of bombers to equip all air units in the spring of 1944, caused an unusual decision - not to rearm the existing regiments engaged in combat work, but to form completely new ones. All seven deployed air regiments, by the will of the Orgmobu Board of the Spacecraft, for some reason received previously unused "three hundredth" numbers (by this time, the Air Force and the ADD already had "nine hundredth" and even "thousandth" regiments!).
In April 1944, under the control of the 1st Guards Air Corps DD, the formation of the 326th Air Regiment DD began on Yer-2 aircraft.
According to the state No. 015/419, each regiment was to have 208 officers, 233 sergeants and foremen, 32 Yer-2 aircraft and one U-2. The former deputy commander of the 17th Guards was appointed commander of the 326th regiment. ap DD Lieutenant Colonel P.P. Markov. Manning was carried out mainly at the expense of the 1st and 6th guards air divisions of the DD. The right pilots came from the ADD schools, the junior technical staff from the Chelyabinsk Military Aviation School, the 27th Zab and the Izhevsk Aviation School. In December 1944, during the reorganization of the ADD into the 18th Air Army, the 326th Infantry Division became part of the 16th Guards Stalingrad Bomber Aviation Division.
The 330th AP DD (commander - Major I.U. Petrunya) became the second regiment on Yer-2 aircraft in the 1st Guards Air Corps DD. Its formation was started back in March 1944 at the 8th AP DD, from where all the commanders arrived, starting from the commanders and above, later the regiment was transferred to the 48th Riga Air Division DD. In April 1944, the leadership of the engineering and technical service of the newly formed Yer-2 regiments was training at the plant No. 500 in Tushino, where they studied the design and operating rules of diesel engines. Deputy regimental commanders for IAS and squadron engineers were involved in the training camp. In June-September, retraining of pilots was organized at the Astafyevo airfield - two or three people from each unit, mainly regiment commanders, their deputies for flight training, and sometimes one of the commanders. Subsequently, it was they who had to "put on the wing" the rest of the flight crew, who arrived in the Yer-2 unit. As of January 1, 1945 in the 1st Guards. the tank had 12 Yer-2s (as well as 285 Il-4s and 17 B-25s). Until the end of the war, both regiments did not have time to fully staff and complete training, so they did not take part in hostilities.
At the beginning of 1945, the only full-blooded division armed with Yer-2 bombers was formed as part of the 2nd Guards Bryansk Bomber Air Corps. In accordance with the decision of the command of the Air Force of the spacecraft, it became the primary "consumer" of the products of plant No. 39 and was rapidly recruited. By order of the commander of the 18th VA, Air Chief Marshal A.E. Golovanov dated January 5, 1945, it was prescribed:
"1. In order to improve the training of personnel and the leadership of the Yer-2 air regiments, I order:
- 18th Guards. bad to re-equip on Yer-2 consisting of: 327, 329 and 332 bap on Yer-2 and 328 bap as a reserve, for which:
a). 327 bap should be excluded from the 2nd Guards Bomber Sevastopol Aviation Division and introduced into the 18th Guards. bad. Base airfield - Boryspil. The deadline for the start of combat work is April 15, 1945.
b). 329 bap 18 guards. bad relocate to Uman. The deadline for the start of combat work is March 15, 1945.
c). 332 bap should be excluded from the 13th Guards Bomber Dnepropetrovsk Aviation Division and introduced into the 18th Guards. bad. The deadline for the start of combat work is May 15, 1945.
d). 328 bap should be excluded from the 7th Guards Bomber Sevastopol Aviation Division and introduced into the 18th Guards. bad as a backup. Base airfield - Bila Tserkva. The deadline for the start of combat work is June 1, 1945 ...
2. Management 18gv. bad to relocate to Belaya Tserkov...”
The formation of the 327th AP DD began in March 1944 at the Boryspil airfield. The regiment was completed from the flight and technical staff of the 2nd and 8th guards air divisions of the DD, the 4th guards air corps of the DD, the 27th officer division of the ADD, and the right pilots arrived from the Novosibirsk and Ivanovo flying schools of the ADD. The first regiment commander was Lieutenant Colonel V.G. Chernichenko. In the period from June to September 1944, Chernichenko, together with his deputy major N.G. Zyuzin, underwent retraining on Yer-2 in Astafyevo, after which they transferred two bombers to the regiment.
The 328th AP DD was formed in April 1944 at the Popelnya airfield (Kiev region) as part of the 7th Guards Air Division DD (3rd Guards AP DD). The commanding staff of the regiment was taken from the 9th and 21st AP DD (squadron commanders and above), the rest of the personnel - from the schools and colleges of the ADD. Major I.M. Tabibishev was appointed commander of the regiment, but on July 27, in one of the training flights in Astafyevo, he died in a plane crash. His place was taken by Guards Major G.E. Podoba. In August 1944 the regiment moved to Belaya Tserkov.
The main personnel for the formation of the 329th AP DD were taken from the 2nd Guards. AK DD, mainly from the 8th and 19th Guards Aviation Regiments. Commander of the Guards Regiment Lieutenant Colonel A.T. Kholod, together with the Deputy Hero of the Soviet Union, Major F.N. Rogulsky were retrained in Astafyevo and in September 1944 they also overtook the first two Yer-2s to the Priluki airfield, where the regiment was temporarily based. In October, the 329th AP DD flew to Boryspil. and in March 1945 - to Belaya Tserkov, where he continued retraining. The regiment was significantly replenished with experienced personnel when pilots from the 5th tank were transferred to it in the second half of January.
The 332nd AP DD began its formation in April 1944 as part of the 3rd Guards Air Division DD. The main leading cadres were taken from the 10th and 20th Guards. ap DD, and the commander of the unit was Lieutenant Colonel A.P. Mityanin. In September, having completed retraining in Astafyevo, the commander overtook the first Yer-2 to the regiment's location, the second vehicle arrived in early October. Here, squadron commanders (two of them had the titles of Heroes of the Soviet Union - Captain V.I. Alin and Captain A.A. Plokhov) and flight commanders began to master the machine, and in December ordinary ship commanders began flying - junior lieutenants, just arrived from ADD schools.
In December 1944, in connection with the reorganization of the ADD, all of its combat regiments changed their names - from "ap DD" to ordinary "bap", while the number of "ordinary" (non-guards) units was preserved. It turned out to be more difficult with the guards air regiments, air divisions and air corps of the DD - after all, the Air Force had their "twins" with the same numbers. The Air Force command made the following decision: the numbering of the ADD guards air corps was retained, and the corresponding Air Force formations received new serial numbers. But all the guards regiments and divisions of the ADD had to change the numbering.
At the beginning of 1945, the 3rd Guards Bomber Air Corps (former 7th Airborne Division) had one more air regiment armed with Yer-2 aircraft - the 333rd BAP. Until mid-March, the regiment was headed by Lieutenant Colonel M.A. Arkatov, and later - Guard Major P.M. Zasorin. Since in 1944 this air unit received only three bombers, and in April 1945 there were no serviceable Eras in it, it is obvious that it did not have time to become combat ready and did not participate in hostilities. It should be noted that in December 1944, when the regiment was transferred to the 3rd Guards. the tank, the former "owner" - the command of the 6th air corps - withdrew all the trained technicians and mechanics, leaving the 333rd bap with practically no Eru specialists. In July 1945, the regiment, by order of the commander of the 18th VA, was transferred to the 48th bad. By the end of 1945, it had six Yer-2 and Li-2 bombers.
Thus, on the eve of the reorganization, the ADD had seven understaffed Yer-2 air regiments. In addition, Air Chief Marshal A.E. Golovanov prepared a plan to re-equip five more Il-4 air regiments with Yer-2 aircraft during 1945. According to the ADD command, at the end of 1944, even taking into account the revealed defects, the Ermolaev's bomber had a noticeable advantage over the Il. Probably, twelve regiments of Yer-2 were to form the basis of the formation that was supposed to be formed - the 9th ak DD. However, these plans of A.E. Golovanov were not destined to come true.
In April 1945, two regiments of Yer-2 - the 327th and 329th air regiments took part in the hostilities. Both regiments made their first sortie on April 7, 1945. On this day, the most trained crews took part in a daytime massive raid by Soviet long-range bomber aviation on Koenigsberg. The chief of staff of the division, Lieutenant Colonel Dubyago, recalled: “The flight along the route took place in favorable conditions to Brest, we did not see a single aircraft. Along the Brest pass, planes of our Yer-2 group began to appear on the right and left. Almost to the very target, at a short distance from us, plane No. 53 was flying, and behind us was No. 49. At first, we occasionally overtook IL-4 aircraft of other formations, and as we approached the target, they began to appear more and more often and in large numbers ...
In the area of the target itself, we observed a colorful picture. The city of Koenigsberg was already engulfed in flames of fires. A cloud of black smoke shrouded many quarters. More and more groups of aircraft entered the target - Il-4, Li-2 and B-25. The flight altitude of the bombers did not exceed 3000 m, and above them, approximately 3500 - 4000 m, 20-30 La fighters patrolled. Anti-aircraft artillery fired - weak, approximately two-battery composition of guns, subsequently this fire also ceased. We were over the target for 10 minutes, during which time about 100 aircraft dropped bombs on Koenigsberg before our eyes. New waves of bombers kept coming and going. It seems to me that 500-600 bombers took part in the attack on Koenigsberg on April 7, 1945. The whole city was on fire, the smoke of fires spread to the south up to 10 km. Some bombers (especially the B-25s) dropped almost to a strafing flight and fired at the target with machine guns ... "
For the completed combat mission, the personnel involved in the attack on Koenigsberg received gratitude from the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. Already on April 9, Koenigsberg fell. A.E. Golovanov enthusiastically recalled this massive daytime strike, unusual for long-range bombers, in his post-war notes. deeds wiped off the face of the earth ... "
Subsequently, the crews of the 327th and 329th regiments flew to the bombing of the Seelow Heights and Berlin. In total, they made 14 and 61 combat sorties, respectively. Combat losses were small: one plane was hit by anti-aircraft guns and made an emergency landing on its territory, the second crashed during takeoff due to shelling by a group of Bandera. Four more vehicles were damaged by anti-aircraft artillery fire. All other air regiments Yer-2 from the 18th Guards. bad and other formations of the 18th VA did not take part in the hostilities during the Great Patriotic War. Of course, the role of Yer-2 "second edition" in the war should be recognized as purely symbolic. For comparison: in March 1945 alone, the formations of the 18th VA made 5126 combat sorties (of which 1864 on the Il-4, 1846 on the B-25, 1224 on the Li-2 and 192 on the A-20G).
According to the reviews of the flight and technical staff of the regiments, “the material part of the Yer-2 aircraft proved to be reliable and easy to operate, but it had a number of design flaws ...” turned out to be unreliable, mainly for production reasons ... ”There were also great efforts on the controls, poor brake performance, uneven fuel production from the tanks, a tendency to turn on takeoff and a long takeoff run.
Yer-2 accident rate in combat units was quite high. So, in the 330th bap in the first three months of 1945, there were six accidents (and there were eight cars in total in the regiment). True, a considerable share of the blame lay with poorly trained pilots. For example, Guards Junior Lieutenant Skorokhodov on March 3, during landing, leveled the plane high (No. 7043908), due to which one of the landing gear was broken, and on May 23 he did not keep the vehicle (No. 7093918) on the run. As a result, an involuntary turn occurred, the bomber flew into a ditch, demolished the landing gear and tore off the engine nacelle. Engine failures also contributed: on March 27, 1945, junior lieutenant Shavyrin had to land the vehicle on the forest immediately after takeoff. There were incidents with more experienced pilots. For example, on November 30, 1944, the commander of the 326th AP DD, Lieutenant Colonel P.P. Markov, got into an accident, on whose plane (factory No. 7113916, tail mark - “star”), the wheel chamber burst during the run. The commander Alina from the 332nd ap DD was also unlucky: on October 19, 1944, he had to be forced to land the bomber (serial number 7023906) “on his stomach” due to the failure of one of the engines.
However, "Er" was by no means the only aircraft in the ADD, for which an engine failure on takeoff meant at least an accident. The same thing happened with the Li-2, whose engines often suddenly failed after 20-30 hours of flying. But in general, the attitude of the crews to the vehicle was quite benevolent. I liked that there were two pilots, which means less fatigue on long flights. I liked the powerful defensive armament, the large bomb load, the strength and solidity of the structure. The navigator A.A. Chernigovsky, who flew the Erakh, recalled: “The machine, as a rule, spared the crew in the event of an emergency landing, even if it was made on a forest. They saved the very engines, due to the failure of which the plane fell, because the blow fell primarily on them. In addition, diesel Yer-2 almost never burned - kerosene ignited much worse than gasoline.