Aviation of World War II
MiGs near Moscow
The Headquarters of the Supreme High Command correctly identified the western (Moscow) direction as the main one, where the enemy would resume the offensive. From the deep rear, from the Urals and Siberia, reserves, including aviation reserves, were pulled up to the Western Front. The losses suffered in August - September were made up for by the transfer of new units. Thus, the Air Force of the Western Front (commanded by General F. G. Michugin) in September irretrievably lost more than 100 combat vehicles, including 77 killed in battle or at airfields. Nevertheless, on September 1, the Air Force of the front had 246 aircraft, and on October 1 - 272. Similarly, the Bryansk and Reserve Fronts were strengthened (air force commanders, Generals F.P. Polynin and E.M. Nikolaenko).
As of October 1, 3286 aircraft could be used in the active army, including 1716 - in front-line aviation, this is the Air Force of fronts and armies, although they had different commanders), 697 - in air defense fighter aviation, 472 - in long-range bomber aviation and 401 - in the Navy Air Force. Of this number, 69.5% of the aircraft were combat-ready.
In the Moscow direction in front-line aviation there were 568 aircraft (389 serviceable), and in the 6th Air Defense Fighter Corps (commander - Colonel I.D. Klimov) - 432 (343 serviceable). Since a few days after the start of the battle, the Stavka attracted five DBA air divisions to strike at the German troops, we can talk about the approximate quantitative equality of forces with the enemy on October 1, 1941. Various sources often compare the entire German grouping with serviceable Soviet vehicles or do not take into account fighters Moscow's air defense, which gives the Luftwaffe an advantage of 1.7 - 2.0 times, but such a comparison is incorrect.
1 - 272 aircraft were part of the Western Air Force, 126 - the Reserve Air Force and 170 - the Air Force of the Bryansk Fronts.
2 - Front-line aviation of the Western Front had 28 TB-3 aircraft.
3 - Including about 250 Ju87s.
4 - Including 50 Bf 110.
5 - Taking into account the scouts of the army command.
VVS KA - Voyenno vozdushnyye sily Krasnoy armii - Air Force of the Red Army
IA - Istrebitel'naya aviatsiya - Fighter aviation
PVO - Protivo vozdushnaya oborona - Air Defense
FA - Frontovaya aviatsiya - Front-line aviation
DBA - Dal'ne bombardirovochnaya aviatsiya - Long-range bomber aircraft
IAP - Istrebitel'nyy aviatsionnyy polk - Fighter Aviation Regiment
GIAP - Gvardeyskiy istrebitel'nyy aviatsionnyy polk - Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment
IAD - Itsrebitel'naya aviatsionnaya diviziya - Fighter Aviation Division
IAK - Istrebitel'nyy aviatsionnyy korpus - Fighter Aviation Corps
NKAP - Narodnyy komissariat aviatsionnoy promyshlennosti - People's Commissariat of Aviation Industry
NKVD - Narodnyy komissariat Vnutrennikh del - People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs
Letnab - letnyy nablyudatel' - flight observer
The assertion that mostly obsolete aircraft were used near Moscow is not true. On the contrary, the proportion of the new types of Yak-1, MiG-3, LaGG-3, Pe-2 and Il-2 among the defenders of Moscow was constantly increasing, and the flight crew gained some experience. The command managed to eliminate many of the shortcomings of the first months of the war. For example, the commander of the Air Force of the Western Front, General F. G. Michugin, by his order, subjugated all the air divisions available on the Western Front, removing them from army subordination. Here, for the first time, headquarters began to analyze air battles and analyze enemy tactics. But there were many unresolved problems.
One of them was a high accident rate. Thus, according to the data of the Air Force Headquarters, in two months - August and September 1941 - only in the rear areas of the country there were 121 catastrophes and 114 accidents. As a result, 196 people died and 52 were injured.
The reasons for the flight accidents were different, but one of the main ones was that, despite the harsh requirements of wartime, much in the Red Army Air Force was done "at random".
The flight of 20 MiG-3s of the 49th IAP on the route Rasskazovo - Lebedin ended tragically. Only 12 fighters reached their destination on September 13: two were burned out, five were bailed out and required repair, and one was slightly damaged. At the same time, junior lieutenant Medvedev died, and senior lieutenants Zabairov and Mikhin were seriously injured. The investigation showed that on the track one of the groups broke away from the leader - the Pe-2 aircraft, and this was the main cause of non-combat losses. But the regiment managed to gain combat experience and was considered one of the best on the North-Western Front.
One of the directives of the headquarters of the Red Army Air Force noted that “loss of orientation began to take on the character of natural disasters and are the result of laxity, sloppiness and disorganization. It has come to the point that orientation is lost under favorable weather conditions on the simplest routes rich in landmarks, both by single crews and by whole groups.
Analyzing the above cases, on October 3, 1941, Deputy. head of the special department of the NKVD Milshtein concluded: the main reason for the large number of incidents "is the low level of discipline of the flight crew, bordering on air hooliganism." However, the available statistics do not confirm these words. Approximately half of the accidents and disasters occurred due to poor training of the flight crew. The number of undertrained pilots sent to the front at an accelerated pace was especially large in the autumn of 1941.
An unbiased analysis revealed two main problems of Soviet front-line aviation at that time: insufficient discipline of experienced pilots and low training of the rest. Far from all was well in the skies over Moscow. In September 1941, the aviators of the 6th IAC flew 6,620 sorties against enemy reconnaissance and night bombers. It was believed that 11 enemy raids were repelled and only 51 enemy aircraft broke through to the city. However, none of the 80 fighters taking off at night could hit the enemy. According to official reports, ten German scouts were shot down during daylight hours. During the indicated month, six pilots did not return from combat missions in parts of the corps (their fate remained unknown). In addition, there were five accidents, 14 accidents, 40 minor breakdowns, seven cases of loss of orientation ... After examining the places of alleged falls of enemy vehicles, only five out of ten were found. (Five lost scouts are also confirmed by German documents.) Three Ju88s fell after ramming ...
September 22, 1941 Chief of the General Staff of the Red Army, Marshal B.M. Shaposhnikov issued a directive on increasing the efficiency of the use of the Air Force. In particular, it noted such shortcomings as "a large number of sorties without hitting the enemy." So, the fighters covering the bombers very rarely stormed the German troops. Bomber crews fired at the enemy even less often. The directive demanded the reduction of "idle" sorties, the strengthening of the impact on the enemy troops day and night.
Claims were also made against reconnaissance aircraft. The directive required her to "comb the forest shelters with machine-gun fire and bombs". One can hardly agree with such use of reconnaissance aviation. In addition, it must be admitted that in September, front-line intelligence became much more effective. The 38th reconnaissance squadron, which was part of the Western Front, mastered the Pe-2 and MiG-3 with cameras. During the execution of tasks, her aircraft were covered by LaGG-3. The most important information was transmitted by radio, and the results of photographing were deciphered and analyzed. It was possible to timely detect increased activity on the airfields occupied by the Luftwaffe.
The Headquarters was also informed about the preparation of the Wehrmacht for a major offensive. The Supreme Commander at first considered the enemy forces to be exaggerated, and then ordered the Western and Bryansk fronts to mobilize troops to create a tough defense. However, as subsequent events showed, no effective measures were taken.
Sometimes it was as crowded on the ground as it was in the air. The damaged I-16 of Junior Lieutenant Kozlov from the 188th IAP of the 77th Air Division collided with a MiG-3 from the 177th Air Defense IAP, which landed a little earlier, when landing in no man's land. Both pilots were not injured. By the way, one of the features of the battles at the end of October was that the pilots of front-line aviation and air defense aviation were based on the same airfields and often received similar tasks.
In the flying days of the end of October, Soviet aviators flew 600-700 sorties a day near Moscow, of which about two-thirds were fighters of the 6th Air Corps. The latter were not limited to covering the troops and the capital, but periodically attacked German airfields. One of the most powerful raids was made on October 24 at the Kalinin airfield. According to available data, not only fighters, transport and reconnaissance aircraft were based here, but also bombers that participated in raids on Moscow periodically landed. The most experienced crews of the 208th IAP, led by the regiment commander Major I. Kibirin and navigator F. Kononov, as well as a flight from the 95th IAP (a total of 27 Pe-3 aircraft), which were covered by MiGs from 27 th and 28th Iap.
Surprise was not achieved. Despite the early time of the raid, the enemy, on the outskirts of Kalinin, met the group with strong anti-aircraft artillery fire. The plane of the squadron commander, senior lieutenant A. Krutilin immediately flared up (navigator - L. Teschin). The pilot managed to break through to the airfield and made a fiery ram. The remaining Pe-3s and MiG-3s went on the attack. Soon the German airfield Kalinin-GVF was engulfed in fire. Tankers, cars, planes were on fire. One Bf 109F (often referred to as Xe-113 in reports at the time) was shot down on takeoff and crashed along with the pilot. According to Soviet estimates, the Germans lost at least 30 aircraft at the cost of five Pe-3s, including Kibirin's command vehicle.
Unfortunately, it was not possible to find a reflection of these events in German documents. The following entry appeared in the combat log of JG51 squadron that day: Despite the losses suffered, enemy air raids do not weaken. It is assumed that reserves from Siberia are brought to airfields near Moscow. The quality of these pilots is quite low, as they are almost always possible to surprise attack. They probably got to the front straight from aviation schools, without front-line experience, clumsy in battle and slow in making decisions.
But not all Soviet pilots had a low level of training. Quite a few pilots, especially in the 6th air defense corps of Moscow, acquired a large raid even before the war. They were dangerous opponents for the Luftwaffe crews. In the presentation to the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, Lieutenant I.F. Golubin from the 16th Air Defense Iap marked the battles that he fought at the end of October.
1. There is no data on Soviet losses in these battles.
2. According to German documents, the losses of the Luftwaffe in these areas amounted to four to five aircraft, including the commander of the detachment, Captain H. Schafer, who died on the Bf109E.
3. In total, from October 24 to December 15, I.F. Golubin, presented to the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, shot down, according to official figures, seven Bf 109s, three Ju87s and two more Bf109s in the group.
It must be said that not all victories among the German aces are confirmed by Soviet documents. However, it should be recognized that on October 24, 1941, Major G. Lyuttsov was indeed successful. As can be seen from the reports of the 6th Air Corps, after the sudden attacks of the fascist “hunter”, excellent pilots died in the Tuchkovo area: Lieutenants A.I. Shcherbatykh from the 34th IAP and B.A. Vasiliev from the 11th IAP. At this time, the commander of JG3, Major G. Lyuttsov, who concurrently commanded the JG51 squadron, replacing the wounded Major F. Beck (F. Beckh), moved with his headquarters from Yukhnov to Ruza, which allowed him to be in close proximity to the area of the most violent fights.
On October 27, the weather changed again in the Moscow region. The anticyclone moved from west to east. It was already quite clear on the German side during the day, and it was raining in Moscow and to the east of it, and only by the evening of the next day the clouds rose from 200 m to 2000 m. The Luftwaffe command decided not to miss its chance. But the Germans' calculations did not come true, since for each of their sorties the Red Army Air Force answered with two. In the ensuing air battles, the fighters of the 6th Iak again played a decisive role. They attacked German planes in the area of Kubinka, Naro-Fominsk, Klin ... Over Klin, Captain A.M. Vinokurov from the 171st IAP shot down two Bf109s and one Bf 110, and two victories are confirmed by German documents. Probably, this sortie during the Battle of Moscow was one of the most successful for the pilots of the air corps, since there were no other references to such successes.
The assault strikes of the Soviet soldiers did not weaken either. Pilots of the 120th IAP and the 65th Cap took off five times in the short daylight hours of the 27th, inflicting considerable damage on the enemy. The operational reports of the Air Force of the Moscow Military District sparingly testified:
08.00 - 5 I-153s, 5 MiG-3s and 6 Il-2s attacked infantry west of Serpukhov;
08.52 - 3 I-153s, 3 MiG-3s and 5 Il-2s attacked tanks in the Spass area;
10.20 - 6 I-153s, 3 MiG-3s and 3 Il-2s stormed the convoy going to Serpukhov;
15h - 10 I-153s and 3 MiG-3s attacked a concentration of tanks south of Volokolamsk;
17.10 - 11 I-153s, 7 MiG-3s and 5 Il-2s stormed the road west of Serpukhov.
The most productive was the second flight. The attack caught German tankers while refueling. Soviet pilots considered destroyed at least a dozen T-III tanks. A few days later, the commander of the Air Force of the MVO, N.A. Sbytov, who became a major general, introduced the commander of the 65th cap, Major A.N. Vitruk, and the squadron commander of the same regiment, Lieutenant G.T. Nevkipely, to the rank of Heroes of the Soviet Union. The award material noted the merits of the regiment and one of its squadrons, although it was indicated that Vitruk made 21, and Nevkipely 29 sorties. Subsequently, the author did not have to meet submissions to the highest degree of distinction of the USSR for several people on one award sheet.
A fierce battle over the suburbs of Moscow broke out on October 29th. More than 600 flights were made by the crews of the 2nd Air Fleet, of which 429 were attack aircraft. Night raid on Moscow with 59 bombers was the most powerful this month. Although the Soviet Information Bureau reported that 39 German aircraft were shot down during the day, and then specified that there were 47 of them, the results were not in our favor. The Germans admitted the loss of 12 vehicles, while the Red Army Air Force - at least 22, of which 16 belonged to the 6th Air Corps. Air defense units lost three pilots dead and eight who did not return from combat missions. Most aircraft from both sides fell in the southwestern defense sector. Particularly heavy losses were suffered by the 171st and 423rd IAP.
The latter was overtaken by a raid of the "hundreds" at the time of relocation to the airfield Volintsevo, north of Tula. Well-trained pilots died over the airfield: junior lieutenants V.I. Dovgiy, A. Denisenko, N.G. Zabolotny, each of which managed to defeat the enemy. Air Group II/SKG210 paid for its success with the loss of one crew. Apparently, it was not the superiority of the Bf 110 over the MiG-3 at low altitude. The result of the battle was affected by the suddenness of the attack. If the German aces J.Lutter (J.Lutter), G.Tonne (G.Tonne), G.Kucha (H.Kutscha) managed to conduct hundreds of battles (the first two received the "Knight's Crosses" in early October 1941), then Soviet pilots, due to the specifics of working in the air defense system, almost for the first time met with enemy fighters. It can be assumed that this is the main reason for the heavy losses of the 6th Air Corps in the October battles. It was during the October days that the heroes of the summer battles for the capital died: B.A. Vasiliev, P.V. Eremeev and V.V. Talalikhin. Those who were lucky enough to get out of many fights became much more dangerous opponents for the Luftwaffe crews.
The struggle on the outskirts of Moscow abounded in many unpredictable moments. On October 31, 1941, the Soviet Information Bureau reported: “In one of the sections of the Kalinin direction, a long-range battery under the command of Lieutenant Belikov defeated an enemy airfield, destroying 14 enemy aircraft”. The effectiveness of the fire raid is confirmed by German documents: on October 30, at the Kalinin airfield, 160 km from Moscow, 8 Bf109 of group II / JG52 and 3 Hs126 of detachment 2 (H) / 23 were seriously damaged, and two Messerschmitts were completely destroyed. According to the memoirs of non-commissioned officer K.Warmbold (K.Warmbold) from the JG52 squadron, the losses from the artillery raid even amounted to 17 aircraft, mainly from the II (Sch) / LG2 air group.
At first, MiGs were little used as attack aircraft. Indeed, armament of three machine guns could not be considered lethal, and rockets on the MiG-3 began to be installed later than on other new types of fighters. Truly, these machines showed their best side in the destruction of enemy manpower and equipment in the battle of Moscow.
On September 24, 1941, the NKAP issued an order to equip fifty MiG-3s with six jet guns under the wings by the beginning of October. From October 4 to October 16 (when the evacuation began), six vehicles were equipped with PCs daily. According to the reports of military representatives, Factory No. 1 installed about 180 (and according to factory materials - 217) sets of jet guns for fighters. Soon, the equipment of the MiG-3 with six or eight RSs also began to be carried out in front-line conditions.
According to N.N. Shtuchkin, in his 120th IAP in September, eight missile guns were mounted under the wings of the MiGs, modeled on the installations on the I-153. Before use, the engineers checked the correct suspension of the shells. Once, for an unknown reason, a spontaneous launch occurred (fortunately, there were no casualties or destruction), which demonstrated to the entire flight crew the enormous capabilities of the new weapon.
As you know, the first assault strikes against the breaking through enemy were dated October 2, 1941, when the aviators of the 6th Army Corps began to attack the enemy in the area of the city of Bely. A few days later, even more intense raids followed on the Yukhnov enemy grouping that had broken through our front. At the same time, the main types of aircraft participating in the bombing strikes were the I-16, I-153 and Pe-3.
A different situation was observed in November. Many MiG pilots began to actively use jet weapons, which expanded the combat capabilities of fighters. Thus, the aviators of the Air Force of the Western Front used up about the same amount of RS-82 shells in 30 days as in the entire previous wartime. From the reports of the 28th IAP it followed that during the last autumn month of 1941, the crews released 549 PCs. and only two FAB-25s were dropped. Their colleagues from the 27th IAP these days effectively used rockets not only on ground, but also on air targets.
As noted in one of the reports, the head of the fighter department of the Air Force Research Institute, military engineer 1st rank V.N. Frolov, “The installation of six RO-82 guns on the MiG-3 turned out to be very effective, since it made it possible to correct the unsatisfactory armament of the fighter. Bomb weapons on them (as well as other types of fighters) are used to a limited extent, due to low accuracy; very often firing rockets replaces the dropping of bombs.”
Over the last three days of November 1941, units of the 6th Army Aviation Corps carried out 370 sorties (of which about 100 were on MiG-3s) against mechanized enemy units advancing from Solnechnogorsk to Khorugvino and Litvinovo (bypassing the capital from the north). According to the reports of the crews, 77 tanks, 263 vehicles with cargo and infantry, 18 covered wagons, 13 guns were destroyed and damaged by raids, and several thousand soldiers and officers of the Wehrmacht were dispersed.
No less intense actions took place in the first days of the counter-offensive of the Red Army near Moscow. MiGs inflicted especially many troubles on the enemy with rocket fire in the areas of Krasnaya Polyana, Bely Rast, Kochergino, Kamenka (Dmitrov direction). According to the headquarters of the 6th air defense regiment, on December 5, despite the frosty weather with haze, and in some places with a snowstorm, the formation completed 481 sorties, of which 99 were aimed at defeating enemy ground forces.
The most effective were the strikes inflicted in the first days of the counteroffensive. On December 10 and 11 alone, fighters of the 6th IAC of all types carried out 300 sorties to attack the retreating columns of the enemy near the Rumyantsevo and Novo-Petrovskoye stations (along the Volokolamsk direction). Usually, as part of units or larger units, MiGs swept over roads clogged with enemy equipment. The once coherent system of the German military air defense was demoralized as a result of an unexpected turn of events for the Germans and became unable to cover the regrouping and withdrawal of ground troops. The losses of our fighters in those days were insignificant.
In the winter months of 1941-1942. when attacking the enemy, the actions of mixed groups of aircraft became typical. At the same time, the MiG-3, as a rule, went first at speeds close to maximum. Their tasks included tying up Messerschmitt patrols in battle and diverting anti-aircraft artillery fire. Sometimes, before the approach of groups of bombers and MiG attack aircraft, volleys of rockets hit the detected enemy firing points.
Certain results of the counteroffensive near Moscow were summed up on March 4, 1942, when nine pilots of the 6th IAK were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Seven of them (senior lieutenant I.N. Zabolotny and lieutenants I.P. Shumilov and I.F. Golubin - all from the 16th IAP, junior lieutenant V.N. Matakov from the 27th IAP, senior lieutenant A. G Lukyanov from the 34th, and then the 487th IAP, senior lieutenants E.M. Gorbatyuk and I.M. Kholodov - both from the 28th IAP) fought on the MiG-3.
The fields near Moscow were indeed littered with destroyed or simply abandoned equipment of the hastily retreating enemy. Our aviation, including numerous units on the MiG-3, has made a significant contribution to the success of the ground forces. According to the headquarters of the Air Defense Forces, by the end of 1941, pilots of the 6th IAC destroyed 311 tanks, up to 3,000 vehicles, 58 armored vehicles, 16 gas tanks, 650 wagons with cargo; podashgen fire 50 batteries, 175 anti-aircraft machine-gun points; scattered and partially destroyed at least 15,000 German soldiers and officers.
It is necessary to note the important role of MiG reconnaissance aircraft. They first entered combat on the Western Front on 4 August. By this time, the command of various levels realized the importance of promptly obtaining objective data about the enemy. Neglect in the prewar years to the development of reconnaissance aviation had the most detrimental effect on the course of operations on the ground and in the air.
At the same time, the staffs noted that the quality of the fulfillment of the assigned tasks remained low. Our crews managed to open only the largest columns of the enemy, but they did not know how to establish their composition and belonging. There was a shortage of specially trained crews and aircraft equipped with photographic equipment, especially new types.
Therefore, when July 3 A.I. Mikoyan reported to A.I. Shakhurin about the completion of the initiative work on equipping one MiG-3 with an AFA-I camera for planned shooting, this work was considered very important. On the same day, the order of the NKAP No. 608 was issued with the note “Urgent!”, Instructing, in particular, Mikoyan to equip three more fighters in the version of a short-range photo reconnaissance by July 5.
In the first weeks of the war, photo reconnaissance, unfortunately, was conducted on a case-by-case basis. The situation on the Western Front changed for the better after the creation of the 38th reconnaissance aviation squadron (rae) in Monino. The unit consisted of 4 MiG-3s, 4 Pe-2s (all equipped with photographic equipment) and 6 LaGG-3s, which served as cover. The crews were recruited among the employees of the Air Force Research Institute, who managed to gain combat experience in the first days of the war as part of the 430th cap. The squadron was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel N.I. Malyshev.
The reconnaissance squadron began combat operations from the Novoe Selo airfield (13 km north of Vyazma). First of all, reconnaissance was carried out along the roads. The crews, along with visual observation, photographed the moving columns, which gave good results. On the other hand, it was difficult to determine the accumulation of troops in settlements, forests and battle formations on the battlefield.
The enemy did everything to prevent our crews from completing the mission. On August 6, on the third day of hostilities, two Pe-2 crews were killed in an air battle. On August 18, Captain V.D. took off on a MiG-3 with a camera to reconnoiter enemy railway transportation. Kozul, who led the units of the MiG-3 and LaGG-3 fighters in the squadron. A single reconnaissance fighter was attacked by Messers, and the pilot did not return to the airfield. Only later did it become known: Kozulya was shot down and only after 42 months of captivity and a four-month check in the Soviet camp returned home.
During September 1941, air reconnaissance was carried out most fully. Our aviators were able to warn the ground command of the enemy's actions. In particular, the crews of the 38th Rae were able to accurately determine the areas of concentration of German strike groups on the eve of Operation Typhoon. That's just completely the information obtained with such difficulty, our command failed to use.
Soon, the lack of replenishment in reconnaissance aircraft led to a noticeable decrease in the combat capability of the squadron. It is curious that in many cases the MiGs replaced the U-2, which successfully completed missions in difficult weather conditions and at night. The 38th Rae was finally brought out for reorganization in January 1942. During combat work, 13 pilots were killed or went missing (three of them on the MiG-3), 7 letnabs and 5 shooters.