Aviation of World War II
Il-4. Combat Use.
For the first time, DB-3 aircraft took part in hostilities in 1939 in China, during the Sino-Japanese War. The USSR provided China with 24 bombers. The aircraft entered service with the 8th Bomber Air Group and the Soviet volunteer unit. Both armed DB-3 units were based in Chengdu, Sichuan province, central China. The aircraft flew quite a few sorties, including two successful raids on the Japanese airfield Hankou, located 1,500 kilometers from Chengdu. The Chinese used the DB-3 until the end of 1943, when spare parts for the aircraft ran out and supplies of American equipment began. There is no information about the losses of Chinese DB-3s.
Soviet DB-3s, both from the Air Force and naval aviation, were actively used during the war with Finland in 1939-1940.The losses in bombers were very serious, the reason for this was a combination of many factors: poor professional training of crews and technical composition, the successful actions of the Finnish air defense, the incompetence of the command staff of the Red Army, the harsh natural and climatic conditions.
On June 22, 1941, in the western military districts of the Soviet Union, ADD regiments had 1122 DB-3 and DB-ZF aircraft, 906 of them were combat-ready. This accounted for 84% of the entire ADD aircraft fleet. Most of the regiments armed with DB-3s were stationed close to the border, which is why they came under the first attack of the Luftwaffe.
The first combat missions were carried out by long-range bombers during the day, without cover for fighters and at targets located in the front line. The losses were enormous, if not monstrous. In one of the regiments transferred to the front in mid-summer 1941, the first combat sortie took place without any losses at all, but in the second one squadron was completely knocked out by German fighters. By order of July 3, the high Soviet command prohibited the use of DB-3 during the day, but the order was not carried out everywhere and not always. At the end of July 1941, only 75 operational DB-3 and DB-3F remained in the four long-range aviation corps.
Most often, the planes carried 100 kg FAB-100 bombs. although the 250-kg FAB-250 and five hundred FAB-500 were also used. Chemical weapons have never been used in combat.
By order of March 5, 1942, ADC was separated from the Air Force into a separate formation. Long-Range Aviation consisted of eight long-range aviation corps with four long-range bomber aviation regiments per corps. The regiment consisted of three squadrons. According to the staff, the corps was supposed to have 108 bombers, 27 aircraft per regiment.
The raids on Berlin in August-September 1941 are widely known. Less well known are the long-range flights that the Il-4 crews performed a year later, in August and September 1942. The planes attacked Konigsberg, Danzig, Berlin, Budapest and Bucharest. The flights lasted 12 hours, the pilots worked at the limit of human strength due to the absence of autopilots on most of the bombers and the aerodynamic features of the aircraft - small reserves of stability. That is, throughout the flight, the pilot literally kept the plane in his arms. Often navigators came to the aid of the pilots, but the second set of controls installed at the navigator was not complete and, in addition, the navigator had to fulfill his direct duties.
Long-distance raids were rare, mostly aircraft delivered night strikes on targets located in the tactical zone, as well as on railway junctions, ports, and airfields.
In addition to bombing, IL-4s were involved in reconnaissance missions, the landing of people and cargo in the deep rear of the enemy, performed the functions of blocking airfields, and suppressed air defense systems. On December 8, 1944, ADD was transformed into the 18th Air Army, which again became part of the Air Force. The apotheosis of the actions of Soviet long-range bombers can be considered the raid of 516 aircraft of the 18th Air Army on Konigsberg on April 7, 1945.
The crews of long-range bomber aviation regiments flew more than 220,000 sorties during the war, but only 13,000 of them can be classified as strategic. During the war years, Soviet aviation lost more than 10,000 bombers, including DB-3 and Il-4.
Transport Variant of IL-4
The partisans made a huge contribution to the victory over Germany. Since 1943, the actions of the partisans were controlled centrally. In the western regions of the Soviet Union, about 1.2 million partisans were active in about 6,200 detachments. During the war, partisans derailed 10,000 locomotives, 110,000 railroad cars, 12,000 bridges, and 65,000 cars.
In May 1942, the Central Headquarters of the Partisan Movement was created in Moscow. The TSSHPD coordinated the actions of partisan detachments, organized the supply of partisans and the evacuation of the wounded to the mainland.
The partisan detachments were supplied by air, mainly by Li-2 aircraft. Thus, the aircraft of the 10th Guards Transport Aviation Division threw more than 340,000 partisans and reconnaissance officers behind enemy lines. 52,000 tons of cargo were delivered to the partisans, 44,000 wounded were evacuated back to the mainland.
IL-4 aircraft were also involved in transport, but to a much lesser extent than Li-2 and C-47. Before such flights, a platform was attached to the central ventral pylon of the bomber, on which a variety of goods could be transported, including 45-mm anti-tank guns and motorcycles with a sidecar. The platform with the load was covered with a plywood aerodynamic fairing, which reduced the drag of the load on the external sling. After landing, the fairing was easily removed from the platform.
The UDP-500 container was developed especially for the delivery of goods to the partisans. The bomb-shaped container held up to 500 kg of cargo. The IL-4 on the central pylon could carry three UDP-500 containers.
Specially converted IL-4 aircraft were used to supply partisans in 1943 - 1944. In most cases, flights to the deep rear of the enemy were carried out at night. Flights to the partisans were also carried out by the Il-4 from the long-range bomber regiments of the ADD.
At the beginning of the war, several faulty DB-3F aircraft fell into the hands of the Germans. The planes were abandoned by the retreating Soviet troops at the airfields. The aircraft were previously disabled, but not always successfully. The Germans managed to repair some of the materiel that fell into their hands.
Thanks to the Finns, the Germans had time to familiarize themselves with DB-3 before the start of Operation Barbarossa. The Finns provided the Germans with a captured DB-3M (VP-13) for study and evaluation tests on May 12, 1941. Until mid-September 1941, the aircraft was tested in Rechlin, then the Germans returned it to the Finns.
The components of the faulty DB-3F were also delivered to Germany, to Berlin-Adlershof, for study by specialists from DVL, the German Aviation Research Institute. The study process was not interrupted throughout the war, as the Germans constantly found something new on the downed or captured IL-4.
The only DB-3F was used for flight tests. The Germans were not particularly interested in the aircraft with low flight characteristics and a lot of design flaws. This aircraft was never used for military operations as part of the secret KG-200, which operated captured equipment - B-17 and B-24 bombers.
The Finns bought four Il-4 bombers from the Germans on October 2, 1942. The aircraft were transferred to the Finnish side in Bryansk on October 13, 1942. The bombers were temporarily repainted RLM-04 yellow for a flight to Finland. All four DB-3Fs bore Luftwaffe insignia, crosses were of different sizes on different aircraft, and swastikas did not have a white edging. Finnish registration numbers DF-22 - DF-25 were inscribed on the Stammkennzeichen.
Stammkennzeichen - usually a four-digit code - was always applied to German aircraft during flights when the aircraft were not assigned to any combat unit.
One of these DB-3F (DF-22) crashed on the way to the Sychinskaya airfield on October 14, the M-88 engine failed. The three remaining reached the country of Suomi on October 21.
The DF-24 and DF-25 aircraft were DB-3Fs of early construction with tapered engine hoods. Usually aircraft with tapered hoods were equipped with short carburetor air ducts, but on these airplanes the air ducts were lengthened even before the cars reached the Finns. During the flight, the DF-24 lost its main landing gear niches. New niches have already been installed in Finland.
The DF-23 had large hoods typical of the late Il-4.
All three aircraft underwent refurbishment in Finland. The planes were repainted again. Top - camouflage in black and medium green colors, bottom - light blue. The undersurfaces of the outer wing consoles and the stripe around the fuselage are yellow. Yellow is the color for quickly identifying Axis planes and their allies on the Eastern Front. The first refurbished Il-4 (DF-23) entered the 2nd flight of LeLv-48 on June 5, 1943 - the strategic aviation of Finland was significantly strengthened. The DF-25 entered service on 30 July. September 22 - DF-24. The Finnish Il-4 flew its first combat sortie on the evening of August 20, when one plane struck a partisan base west of Belomorsk. On November 15, 1943, the Il-4 from the 2nd flight of LeLv-48 was transferred to the newly formed 3rd flight of LeLv-46. Il-4s performed bombing flights for Soviet troops in the second half of 1943 in 1944. On May 24, 1944, as a result of a rough landing in Misuvaara, the DF-25's tail fell off. The bomber was out of action for several weeks.
The decisive offensive of the Red Army in Karelia began on June 9, 1944. In the summer of 1944, the Finnish Il-4s continued to strike at the advancing Soviet units. One Il-4 (DF-24) was badly damaged at the Misuvaara airfield on June 17, 1944. It was taken to repair shops, but was never repaired. The last combat sortie of the aircraft of the 3rd flight LeLv-46 against the Red Army performed on August 8, 1944 - a single Il-4 struck the railway station.
The truce between Finland and the USSR was signed on September 4, 1944. The Finns turned their bayonets against their yesterday's ally, Germany. The Lapland War, as it is called in Suomi, began. Fierce large-scale battles unfolded in the north of the country - in Lapland. On the surviving Il-4s, the yellow colors of the Axis countries were painted over. The first combat sortie against the Germans took place on October 2, 1944 - the Il-4 was bombed by German troops near Rovaniemi. On January 3, 1945, DF-25 made an emergency landing on the surface of a frozen lake. Sliding on the ice, the plane crashed into a tree on the shore. There was no point in restoring the plane. Finnish Il-4s flew nine combat missions against the Germans, making a significant contribution to the liberation of the country from the German invaders.
Only one of the four Il-4 received by the Finns survived until the end of the war. This aircraft, DF-23, was transferred to the storage base on February 23, 1945; the Finns had a flight time of 169 hours. On April 1, 1945, new identification marks of the Finnish Air Force were introduced - white-light-blue - white cockades. New markings were also painted on the DF-23, but this Il-4 never rose into the sky.
Improvement of the Il-4T torpedo bomber was carried out in parallel with the improvement of the bomber throughout the entire cycle of mass production.
Many Il-4Ts were equipped with RPK-2 direction finders, antennas were mounted in fairings in front of the canopies of torpedo bombers' cabins. On the Il-4 bomber, the RPK-2 antenna was installed in the lower front part of the fuselage. Some of the aircraft, instead of the RPK-2, received the RPK-10 with a frame antenna without a fairing. On the port side, a second Venturi tube was installed on the torpedo bombers.
The view of torpedo bombers' navigators at some of the vehicles has been improved by installing additional large windows on both sides of the cockpit.
One 45-cm torpedo was suspended under the fuselage on a T-18 pylon, instead of a torpedo, it was possible to suspend sea mines.
The first combat mission in the Great Patriotic War was carried out by the crews of the 2nd mine-torpedo aviation regiment of the Black Sea Fleet on June 25, 1941. The planes struck the Romanian port of Constanta with conventional bombs, the damage was insignificant. On August 8, 1941, seven Il-4Ts from the 2nd mine-torpedo aviation regiment bombed Bucharest. The fighting on the Black Sea ended in August 1944.
The 1st mine-torpedo aviation regiment of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet received the first Il-4T aircraft in August 1941. These torpedo bombers were the first Soviet aircraft to bomb Berlin. Until the spring of 1942, the crews of the 1st mine and torpedo regiment mainly bombed the enemy, although flights were carried out to mine the approaches to the Finnish ports of Helsinki and Kotka, as well as Tallinn. The first sorties with a torpedo attack were carried out in mid-1942. During the summer of 1941, torpedo bombers of the 1st regiment in 81 sorties launched 17 enemy ships and ships to the bottom. In 1943, the regiment carried out 93 torpedo attacks, sinking 43 German ships.
The Northern Fleet Air Force received the first Il-4Ts in September 1941. At first, torpedo bombers bombed enemy airfields, but on July 29, 1942, the aircraft of the 2nd Guards Mixed Aviation Regiment sank the transport in Porsanger Fjord.
The IL-4T torpedo bombers performed the last sorties in the Far East during the war with Japan. The hostilities began on August 8, 1945, two years after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima by the Americans. Red Army troops invaded Manchuria and Korea, which were occupied by the Japanese Kwantung Army. Aircraft of the 19th Long-Range Aviation Corps and the Pacific Fleet Air Force performed 157 combat missions to bomb and drop torpedoes. Il-4T from the 4th mine and torpedo regiment bombed the Korean port of Racine on August 9. On the night of August 10, 76 Il-4Ts attacked Changchun and Harbin in Manchuria. There were practically no Japanese fighters in the sky, so bombers and torpedo bombers operated both at night and during the day. During the 25 days of the war with Japan, Il4T torpedo bombers from the 19th distant aviation corps sank 15 enemy floating assets with torpedo attacks.
The Il-4T torpedo bombers continued to be in service with the mine-torpedo aviation regiments of naval aviation until 1952, until they were replaced by the Il-28 jet.
Roman Larintsev, Alexander Zablotsky
The Russian and Soviet navies have always attached great importance to both mine weapons and their carriers, which, even during the First World War, included naval aircraft, which by the beginning of World War II became one of the main strike forces of the fleet. The topic of the use of mines by naval aviation during the war, one way or another, is touched upon in many books and articles. But the question of how effective it was and what real losses our opponents suffered from mines from the air remains open to this day. Therefore, the authors tried to answer it by comparing the published materials about the war at sea of the opposing sides.
Northern Fleet. Laying mines from the air began in the North much later than in other fleets. One of the reasons for this was the absence at first in the NF Air Force of aircraft suitable for this task.
Directive of the NK of the Navy dated February 13, 1942, No. NSh / 58, the fleets were instructed to pay special attention to the use of mine and torpedo aircraft for their intended purpose. The Northern Fleet was tasked with systematic mine laying in the Magereysund Strait, at the ports of Hammerfest and Kirkenes. By the same directive of the Federation Council, three DB-3f were allocated for the purpose of setting mines.
However, it can be assumed that the SF command had its own negative view of the possibility of mine laying from the air. Indirectly, this is evidenced by the directive of the People's Commissar of 24.02.42 No. 2939 that followed soon after. Nevertheless, having started mine laying under pressure from above, the fleet headquarters followed Moscow's instructions in a very original way: mines were placed as if in such a way as to prove the ineffectiveness of their use (the "turtle" pace of setting, the lack of massing in place, the use of bright polar nights). So the only group setting (five aircraft of the 6th mine-torpedo squadron of the 2nd Guards mixed AP) on June 15 was immediately recorded by German observation posts. But it was not without benefit. The Germans trawled the Magerøysund Strait for two days - however, unsuccessfully. The enemy assumed the presence of urgency devices, but, most likely, the matter was simpler - the mines did not stand on a given depression.
But the sluggish mine war still brought almost fully confirmed combat success. The mines placed on March 29 at the entrance to Petsamo-fjord killed the M5608 minesweeper (his death on mines set on January 21 by MO boats is still less likely).
For the entire next year, 1943, the aviation of the Northern Fleet deployed two (!) AMG mines (one setting on February 20). Any reasonable explanation for this fact is difficult to find.
Some revival of mine-barrage operations was observed in 1944. In total, the Il-4 was placed on German communications 91 AMG-1 mines, plus about a dozen more were accidentally dropped into Lake Sredne-Vaengskoe (a very high percentage!). No reliably recorded losses were found on these mines. True, the French historian Claude Yuan attributes the death of two warships - the patrol ship Nki24 and the minesweeper R304 - to the air mines. However, the time and place of their detonation clearly testifies in favor of boat launches.
In total, during the war, the Northern Fleet Air Force fielded 111 mines, of which the enemy considers 35 to have been destroyed.
The Red Banner Baltic Fleet. The Red Banner Baltic Fleet was the only one whose aviation had experience in laying mines in real combat conditions of the Soviet-Finnish war. He, like the Black Sea Fleet, was assigned the task of setting an air mine at 14 o'clock on June 23, 1941 by directive of the NK Navy No. nsh / 150. It was ordered to use the outdated MAV-1 to demonstrate the clogging of the fairways, and "for hidden installations with the aim of inflicting losses - AMG-1". In fulfillment of these instructions, DB-3 from the 3rd squadron of 1 MTAP already placed the first mines in the Finnish skerries on 28 June. In the same place, mines were mainly placed later, not counting one-time installations near Vindava and at the mouth of the Western Dvina (aircraft from the 4th and 5th squadrons of the same regiment also participated in the missions). In addition to MAV and AMG, 10 non-contact domestic MIRAB were used. It seems that these are the only MIRAB, exposed from the air during the entire war. In 1941, a total of 108 minutes were spent.
The effectiveness of these performances is unclear. The Germans themselves rank among the losses on aircraft mines the death of the M3131 minesweeper on July 23 at the mouth of the Western Dvina. Unfortunately, on the same obstacle its own TFR "Tucha" was blown up. In addition, it was previously believed that the transport "Leontes" (338 brt), which died at Vindava on July 29, was blown up by TMV mines fielded by German torpedo boats. The data on the placement of MIRAB mines by our aircraft in this area allow, not without reason, to reconsider this point of view.
It should be noted that in all respects the mine-barrage operations of our aviation in the Baltic in 1941 differed for the better in comparison with other fleets. However, the scale of this activity made it possible to hope only for occasional successes and was hardly capable of seriously hampering the use of skerry channels by the enemy. Especially when you consider that almost half of the mines delivered consisted of obsolete MAV.
1942 began with the directive of the People's Commissar of the Navy N.G. Kuznetsov on mining ice fairways in the Abo-Aland skerries and the Gulf of Finland (the AMG-1 mine, dropped from a height of 200 meters, freely pierced 80-centimeter ice). However, the operation lasted only two nights, on March 7 and 8, when six AMG-1s were deployed near Helsinki. Perhaps the reason for the curtailment of the productions was the tragic incident in the first flight. On the morning of March 7, when five aircraft of the 1st GMTAP returned home (four aircraft were destroyers, one was allocated to distract air defense), two DB-3f collided in the air. One crew was killed, the pilot and the radio operator were saved from the second car (although only the first was able to return to service).
Further performances were continued from the end of May already in clear water. In total, until August 27, the crews of the 1st GMTAP fielded 94 mines, including 46 British non-contact A.MKIV mines. There is no reliable information about the losses on these mines. Again, the number of mines laid did not correspond to the vastness of the setting area.
The next year brought both qualitative and quantitative changes in the mine-protection activity of aviation. First, the number of planted mines increased sharply (448 pieces). Secondly, the overwhelming number of mines (318) were English non-contact A.MxI / IV. Thirdly, for the first time mines were placed in the Tallinn Bay (the first setting was on the morning of February 21, although there were opportunities for this earlier).
It should be noted that the Germans promptly reacted to the increasing mine danger. The air defense cruiser "Thetis", equipped with radar, arrived in Tallinn to counter destroyer aircraft, and a network of PMO (mine defense) posts was deployed in the bay. A detachment of the 2nd squadron of the 1st group of minesweepers (2 Staffel, Minensuchgruppe 1) was transferred to the eastern Baltic on Ju-52MS aircraft, which are very effective in trawling non-contact induction mines. Therefore, thanks to the measures taken, the Germans managed to keep the losses on mines within reasonable limits.
The Swiss historian Jürg Meister writes about three medium and three small German ships killed by aircraft mines in 1943. Our studies give slightly different results. We consider it possible to include the following losses as fully confirmed ones: Bungsberg transport (1504 brt, died in Tallinn on March 25), SKA ORe35 (killed off Aegna on May 27), BDB F193 (damaged on October 21 near Tallinn). The tug "Simson" (341 brt) was probably killed by aircraft mines on April 14 north of the island. Aegna. In addition, two Finnish ships were damaged: on September 13 the floating base "Sisu" and on January 10, 1944 the steamer "Dione" (570 brt). The latter, although in 1944, was blown up by a mine of the previous year's production. It is curious that the place where the "Dione" was detonated was previously worn 14 tacks.
The new year 1944 began for the destroyer planes of the Baltic on February 14, when two non-contact AMD-500, which had just been put into service, were delivered to the port of Tallinn A-20G. Gradually, the area of staging shifted to the west, following the advance of the Red Army. 86 mines were placed in the Gulf of Riga, 159 more near Libava and Vindava. The intensified mining of the Tallinn Bay looks strange (112 mines in July - September). It is not surprising that after the liberation of Estonia from the Germans, a difficult mine situation did not allow full use of this important base practically until the end of the war. The old AMGs were almost never used, most of the 650 mines exhibited in 1944 were non-contact (including those first used in September, the domestic AMD-1000 and the English A.Mk V).
There is conflicting evidence of the effectiveness of mine laying this year.
Jurg Meister attributes as many as 9 warships and 12 transports to Soviet aviation mines. Another well-known West German historian, Jürgen Rover, gives much more modest figures: two vehicles with a tonnage of 8034 grt in October and two in November (3410 grt). The authors do not yet have the opportunity to give fully documented information about the losses of the German fleet on mines in 1944-45. It is known that on July 19, at the mouth of the Western Dvina, a dredger was killed by a mine. In addition, according to our colleague S.V. Bogatyrev from Lviv, in the Libava area, the transports "Schiffbek" (2159 brt, November 7) and "Gerda Vith" (1312 brt, November 29) were killed, and two more were damaged in a mine explosion: "Warte" (4921 brt, 1 November) and "MemeUand" (6236 brt, November 27). We think that we will not be very sinning against the truth if we assume that only seven or eight ships were blown up on mines put up by the Red Banner Baltic Fleet Air Force.
In the last military campaign in the Baltic, the aviation deployed 288, exclusively non-contact mines. In addition to the coast of Courland, mines were placed in the area of the Danzig Bay and Memel. For comparison, let us point out that British aviation delivered over three thousand mines in January-March 1945 mainly in the Pomeranian Bay (the naval aviation of all our fleets, during the entire war, put about 2400 mines). Thanks to this massing, the German mine defense was unable to provide escort even for individual large ships and especially important convoys. Our successes turned out to be much more modest. The death of the transport "Henry Lutgens" (1141 brt) on January 29 near Vindava, the minesweepers M3137 on March 12 and M3138 on March 23, and the transport "Steinburg" (1319 brt) on January 17, all at Libava were documented. However, it should be noted that the absence of many German documents in the last months of the war, as well as the impossibility of identifying a specific carrier during staging in the Danzig Bay area, will hardly allow us to ever get a reliable picture of the effectiveness of the use of mines by aviation in 1945.
There is one more nuance, which for some reason has not been noted by historians. On the one hand, the use of non-contact mines was undoubtedly a step forward in the development of mine weapons in our Navy. But on the other hand, the fact that only induction fuses were used in domestic mines allowed the enemy to use a highly productive means of struggle against them - minesweepers Ju 52 / 3m g4e / MS. And it is still unknown what was more dangerous in those conditions: a non-contact AMD, for the destruction of which it was enough to fly over it, even ten times, or the "good old" AMG-1, which had to be detected and hit at each specific point. It cannot be said that the command of the Navy did not understand this, but the AMD-2-500 and AMD-2-1000 mines with a two-channel fuse (induction-acoustic) were never put into service until the end of the war.
Black Sea Fleet. Staging in the Black Sea theater of operations began almost immediately after the start of the war. On June 30, 1941, four DB-3 2 MTAP mines deployed AMG-1 mines near Tulcha. Then mines were placed in the Georgievsky arm of the Danube, near the capes of Media and Tuzla. In total, 15 minutes of AMG were consumed and one could hardly expect a significant result from these performances. True, in July the Romanian tug "Helidon" died in the Tulchinsky arm, but, most likely, this loss was due to the armored boats of the Danube flotilla.
The following year, air operations resumed at the end of May, when, in two nights, off the northern coast of the Sea of Azov, 5 MTAP aircraft deployed 25 AMG mines. Then mines were placed near Sevastopol, Mariupol, Genichesk, Kamysh-Burun, Feodosia and Kerch. A total of 46 mines were delivered in 1942, including British non-contact mines. In June-August, in the Mariupol region, several explosions on non-contact mines were noted, but it is more likely that these floating crafts were killed when the surface ships of the Azov flotilla were deployed. Most likely, the death of two boats of the Croatian Naval Legion at Genichesk on September 6th should be attributed to the aviation account, although the Germans themselves claim that they became victims of their own barrage. It is also possible that the tugboat "Forsch", damaged on March 28, 1943, near the receiving buoy of Sevastopol, was blown up by the A.MKIV mine, exhibited by a group of 36 MTAP aircraft on July 5 of the previous year.
Now let's move on to the events of 1943. Prior to this, the mine-laying operations of the Black Sea Fleet Air Force were similar to the actions of other fleets: a small scale with minimal success.
1943 brought dramatic changes, and the Black Sea men surpassed in efficiency all the efforts made by the Soviet Navy in this area in the two previous years of the war.
The first blow to the enemy's communications was struck in February-March. By this time, the 17th German army was cut off on the Taman Peninsula and the 380,000-strong grouping demanded 1000 tons of various cargoes every day. The Kerch Strait became the main supply line. It was here that in the spring of 1943 the efforts of the Black Sea Fleet's destroyer aviation were concentrated. During February-May, 78 mines were delivered in the strait (approximately equal parts of anchor AMG and bottom A.MKP /). The enemy suffered the main losses until mid-March (at this time the peak of the setting falls), when three high-speed landing barges, two ferries of the "ZiebeL" type and a sapper landing boat were blown up (it was on ships of this type that the bulk of the traffic was carried out). The Germans were forced to abandon free navigation in the strait, to switch to the movement of convoys from 2-4 BDBs guarded by electromagnetic minesweepers. In the strait, Ju 52 / 3m g4e / MS from the 3rd squadron of the 1st group of minesweepers (3 Staffel Minensuchgruppe 1), based in Varna (on February 28, three machines), were involved. Part of the BDB was used as mobile mine defense posts. However, despite this, the ships died even on carefully controlled fairways (for example, BDB F136).
In total, we can confidently talk about seven ships and vessels that were blown up by aircraft mines in the Kerch Strait. Another lighter was also allegedly a victim of aerial performances.
In May, Soviet aviation shifted its efforts to another area and began mining the Danube. Gradually, the mine threat spread to an almost 500-kilometer section of the enemy's most important communications. Although the efforts of the Romanian river flotilla, German interrupters and Ju 52 / 3m g4e / MS aircraft were focused on the fight against mines, it was not possible to eliminate the threat until the end of the year, traffic on the river was interrupted several times for up to two weeks. By December, seven ships have died on the Danube and two have been damaged.
In addition to the Danube, the Dnieper (in November, the bottom AMD-500 was used for the first time in the Dnieper estuary) and the Dniester estuary became the objects of performances. On these obstacles, the enemy suffered the rest of the losses this year - four units in the Dnepro-Bug estuary and the MT-P tanker in the Dnestrovsky.
In total, 22 warships and transport vessels were blown up on 282 mines set in 1943, which is, excluding the Forsch tug, only 12.8 mines for detonation.
Such a high efficiency cannot be explained by the weakness of the enemy's navy in the Black Sea. The technical means of dealing with mines were the same as, for example, in the Baltic. Here, probably, the correct choice of places of performances played a role: on rivers and in narrows. This, on the one hand, made it easier to determine the location during setting, on the other, it artificially increased the density of the barrier, increasing the likelihood of an explosion.
An interesting fact. Aviation mines damaged not only the Kriegsmarine but also the Luftwaffe. On May 13, trawling north of Kerch, when a blown-out bottom mine was detonated, the minesweeper Ju 52 / 3m gAe / MS (serial number 3399) was killed, and on July 3, during takeoff or taxiing in Sevastopol, a seaplane BV 138C-1 (serial number 310069, board code DM + DI) from Z. / SAGr 125. So, it would be fair to consider the efficiency of the 1943 staging even higher.
In 1944, the Black Sea Fleet planes delivered even more 357 mines, mainly AMD-500. Most of the mines were placed near Constanta (172), for example, on the night of March 15, the full complement of mines was put by 5 GMTAP, and in the Danube Delta. In April, 28 mines were dropped in the Sevastopol region. However, the losses were significantly lower than in the previous year. We are aware of only four reliable cases of explosions on aircraft mines: on April 17 the lighter "Dordogne" (1485 brt) and on June 18 the anti-submarine ship UJ316, both in the Sulina area, on June 21 a tug in the Kiliyskiy arm and on August 30 a barge on the lower Danube. It should be noted that this year the Soviet aviation laid mines only in the Danube delta area, not extending the laying to the rest of the river.
Thus, in 1941-44, the Black Sea Fleet Air Force put 700 mines on enemy communications, which blew up 25-29 ships and ships. The effectiveness of the use of mine weapons was quite high and amounted to about 26 minutes for detonation, against 111 minutes in the North and about 80 in the Baltic.