Aviation of World War II
Pe-3. Combat Use
Various methods of combat use of the Pe-3 were proposed - from loitering in pairs as a kind of observation posts, destroying individual enemy vehicles and immediately calling for reinforcements in the event of the approach of large groups of enemy aircraft, to leading and radio guidance of single-engine fighters. In the latter case, it was easy to see the kinship of the idea with the naval concept of the ship-leader, leading the attack of the "light forces". The naval terminology was adopted in Germany, where such aircraft were called zerstorer ("zersterer" - destroyer), and in Holland, whose aviation specialists put forward the concept of "flying light cruiser".
By order of the Air Force Commander of September 25, 1941, the 95th SBAP was transformed into a Fighter Aviation Regiment (IAP). By the same order, he was included in the 6th Air Defense Fighter Air Corps, which covered Moscow. A few days later, six Pe-3s under the command of Captain A. Zhatkov flew on their first combat mission in a new role of escort fighters. The group covered the transport C-47s of the British military delegation on the route from Vologda to Moscow. Twin-engine fighters repulsed three German attempts to attack the aircraft of the delegation and returned to their airfield without loss.
The account of the combat successes of the Pe-3 was opened on October 3 by the pilot of the 95th IAP, Senior Lieutenant Fortov, who defeated the German Ju 88 bomber. On the same day, another Ju88 was attacked and set on fire by Lieutenant Kulikov. And already on October 5, the first combat loss came to the regiment - the crew of Senior Lieutenant Fortovov did not return from the flight. He, according to the wingman, noticed a single enemy plane, rushed to intercept and disappeared from sight. The circumstances of the death of the aircraft and crew remained unknown.
Since the beginning of October, the aircraft of the 95th IAP began to be involved in striking ground targets. So, on October 4, a squadron of Major A. Sachkov bombed and stormed a large column of German armored vehicles and vehicles. In total, 40 FAB-50 and FAB-100 aerial bombs were dropped, after which the target was fired upon from machine guns. The pilots noted direct hits on tanks and cars, fires broke out in the convoy. On the way back, the squadron caught up with German Bf 109 fighters. In the air battle, each side declared one victory. Another Pe-3 was destroyed while landing by a wounded pilot.
On November 28, the crews of Senior Lieutenant L. Puzanov and Lieutenant V. Streltsov flew to cover the Alexandrov railway junction. They managed to intercept three German Ju88 bombers trying to get to the station using the cloud cover. Having met in the air with Soviet fighters, the Germans rushed scatteringly. Puzanov quickly hit one of the Junkers. Streltsov decisively attacked the second and from the second attack lit the Ju 88 engine. The lieutenant pursued and finished off the enemy plane, but the Pe-3 pilot himself was wounded, and Streltsov's eye was damaged by fragments of glass broken by a Junkers bullet. Using the navigator's tips, the pilot managed to bring the fighter to the airfield and land it. Already on the run, Streltsov lost consciousness.
In November 1941, Major A.V. Zhatkov was appointed commander of the 95th IAP. Under his leadership, in the fall, a ShVAK cannon was installed on several "troikas" in the nose of the fuselage and the ShKAS navigator's machine gun was replaced with a large-caliber BT. Some of the aircraft were equipped with RO-82 jet guns (8 each), and on some, in addition, two more RO-132 were mounted. It was possible to shoot a series of volleys of 2 or 4 rockets. About 10 vehicles were finalized by installing AFA-B aerial cameras on them. Pe-3s carried out intense combat service in the air defense system of Moscow until March 1942. It is curious that the water from the radiators was not drained even on the coldest nights, since the regiment was considered a fighter regiment, and the command “to take off” could arrive at any minute. And yet the main task of the 95th IAP in December-January was the bombing of German troops. During these two months alone, the regiment's planes dropped more than 1,500 bombs on the enemy's heads. In addition, a unit was often recruited for aerial reconnaissance.
By order of the People's Commissar of Defense of March 1, 1942, the 95th IAP was transferred to the Air Force of the Northern Fleet. On March 5, a large group of pilots and navigators of the regiment received orders (including the regiment commander Major A. Zhatkov and his navigator Captain N. Morozov - the Order of Lenin). Two more days later, the regiment flew to the North.
From the first day of the war, armed with SB aircraft, the 208th sabp was in the thick of the battles. The intensity of the fighting turned out to be so great that by the end of July the six-squadron regiment (one of the squadrons, after the start of the war, was staffed with commanders from the command and navigational staff academy) had lost 55 aircraft and 38 crews. In accordance with the order of the Air Force Commander of August 4, 1941, three, but reduced two-squadron composition (20 aircraft per regiment) were created on the basis of the regiment. One of them, which retained its former name, proceeded to retrain for Pe-3 fighters.
Since October 15, the 208th sbap under the command of Major Kolomeitsev began to conduct hostilities as part of the 6th IAC. The regiment's task was mainly to cover railway stations and places of loading and unloading of troops in the Moscow region. In addition, he was involved in bombing assault strikes. In just three months of fighting, the aircraft of the 208th sbap (its name did not change, unlike the 95th regiment) made 683 sorties, destroying (according to crew reports) 34 tanks, 212 vehicles, 6 railway echelons and 33 enemy aircraft. Own irrecoverable losses amounted to 10 Pe-3, 12 pilots and 9 navigators were killed in the battles. For participation in the defense of Moscow, the regiment received gratitude from the commander of the Western Front, General of the Army G.K. Zhukov.
Due to the acute shortage of Pe-3 aircraft (Moscow aircraft plant number 39 was evacuated to Irkutsk and temporarily stopped the production of twin-engine fighters), the commander of the 6th air corps, Colonel A.I. th iap. On January 19, 1942, the 208th sap departed from the front to retrain for Il-2 attack aircraft.
Armed initially with SB bombers, the 40th SBAP, which fought from the first day of the war, began rearmament on the Pe-2 and Pe-3 in September 1941. In the same month, the regiment underwent a reorganization, separating from its composition "40-A" sbap, later 511th bbap. In the period from 22 to 24 September, the planes of the 40th sap launched a series of massive strikes on the Staraya Rusa railway junction and put it out of action for a week. Three regiment sorties on September 27 and 28 to bomb the Roslavl station suspended the movement of German echelons for two to three days. Among the regiment's most notable successes, it is worth noting the destroyed bridge across the Ugra River in the Yukhnov area (squadron commander Captain A.G. Rogov received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for him) and the damaged bridge across the Volga in the Kalinin region, which made it difficult for German tank formations to maneuver. The price paid by the regiment also turned out to be considerable: on October 6, 1941, 5 Pe-3 crews did not return to their airfields; on October 8, squadron commander A.G. Rogov, and four days later - the second squadron commander, captain V.B. Malofeev.
During the battle of Moscow, the regiment, armed mainly with Pe-3, was used for bombing and reconnaissance. He performed 365 sorties and dropped 218 tons of bombs on the enemy. On December 15, 1941, the regiment was transformed from a high-speed bomber regiment into a reconnaissance aviation regiment of the Main Command of the Red Army (April 40 of the SC SC), and later it received a more familiar name - the 40th long-range reconnaissance aviation regiment (drap). The crews underwent retraining without leaving the battle. Now they became the "eyes" of the Supreme Command Headquarters and conducted strategic reconnaissance on a wide front from the foothills of the Caucasus to Kalinin.
The regiment's planes regularly appeared over the largest German airfields Seshcha, Olsufyevo, Bryansk and Orel, and monitored the movement of train trains in the depths of the occupied territory. During the preparation of the operation to encircle the 6th German army in the Stalingrad area, the regiment took part in photographing the defensive positions of German, Romanian and Italian troops, as a result of which a single photo map of the entire area was developed, intended for the top military leadership.
The regiment's personnel made a number of modifications on their vehicles in order to increase their defenses and flight range. So, on the fuselages of the "pawns" they mounted a pair of RO-82 rocket guns for backward firing. Part of the Pe-3 was equipped with swinging installations for aerial cameras AFA-1, and additional gas tanks were placed in the tail section of the engine nacelles in place of the bomb compartments. As of January 1, 1943, the regiment had 11 Pe-3 aircraft, which accounted for 38% of the combat strength. Subsequently, the share of A-20B Boston aircraft in the regiment gradually began to increase, and the number of Pe-3s decreased to three or four units.
Another unit that received Pe-3 fighters in the fall of 1941 was the 9th bbap. He started the war at the Panevezys airfield in the Baltic States. In just 4 days of fighting, as a result of repeated attacks by German aviation on the home base and attacks by German fighters in the air, the regiment lost almost all of its SB bombers, after which it was put into reserve. In July-August, the personnel of the unit underwent retraining for Pe-2 dive bombers. At the same time, the regiment moved to a new state (20 aircraft and crews), separating from its composition the regiment "9-A" (later the 723rd bbap). In September 1941, the 9th bbap received long-range Pe-3 fighters, but its name has not changed. In the period from October 1941 to February 1942, the unit was based at the Central Aerodrome in Moscow. The regiment was commanded by Major V. Lukin.
Most of the sorties in October-November 1941, the aircraft of the 9th bbap performed bomb-assault strikes on the advancing German troops. Another important task was to cover the sections of the Moscow-Zagorsk and Moscow-Dmitrov railway. During the period from October 1941 to February 1942, the regiment's crews reported 11 shot down enemy aircraft, including six Bf 109s. During the same 5 months, long-range fighters of the 9th bbap made 130 reconnaissance sorties.
At the end of November 1941, the regiment was subordinated directly to the General Staff of the Air Force of the spacecraft and assigned to it the performance of special tasks. The most important of them was the leadership of the groups of fighters and attack aircraft sent to the front, whose pilots had insufficient navigational training. More than two thousand combat aircraft of various types literally "led by the hand" to the front-line airfields based on the "pawns" from the 9th bbap.
The most trained crews of the regiment were involved in solving another particularly important task - escorting government aircraft. In less than three months, the regiment made 95 sorties for this purpose. Not all of them ended well. The winter was early, and the flights often took place in difficult weather conditions. On November 21, 1941, the regiment commander, Major Lukin, who personally led the six Pe-3s, accompanied the C-47 aircraft, on which Marshal S.M. Timoshenko and a member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) N.S. Khrushchev. In conditions of strong clouds, the planes were in a dense group. Once again jumping out of the cloud, Lukin saw the tail of the guarded Douglas straight ahead and turned to the left. As a result of a sharp maneuver, his plane collided with the car of the follower and crashed. Lukin and his navigator were killed, the crew of the second plane escaped by parachute.
At the end of December 1941, the twin-engine Pe-3 fighters from the 9th bbap were modified: a ShVAK cannon was installed in the nose of the fuselage, and a large-caliber BT machine gun was installed on the navigator's turret. Almost all the work was carried out independently by the personnel of the aviation engineering service of the regiment, and the regiment entered the new 1942 with significantly greater capabilities.
During the flight to lead on July 5, 1942, a squadron of LaGG-3 fighters, the Pe-3 aircraft of Captain K. Danilkin was attacked by 14 German fighters near Voronezh. The battle broke out in the area of the landing airfield, when the LaGG-3 fighters had practically no fuel left, and inexperienced newcomers piloted them, which put our group at a disadvantage. The German pilots focused all their attention on the leader plane, deciding that there was some important person on board. Navigator K. Manturov from a turret machine gun shot quite accurately, hitting two "Messers". Danilkin hit another with bursts of bow launcher when their Pe-3 was already on fire. The navigator's machine gun fell silent, after which the German fighters shot the car at point-blank range; Captain Danilkin's plane exploded in the air. It turned out to be the only Pe-3 lost by the 9th bbap in an air battle during its 8 months at the front. Two more "pawns" were shot down by anti-aircraft artillery, one did not return from a combat mission, and the fifth vehicle was lost during an enemy air raid on the Grabtsevo airfield. In accidents and disasters, the regiment lost four more Pe-3s.
The 511th bbap was formed in mid-September 1941 on the basis of the 40th bbap, which was split in half. Captain A. Babanov was appointed commander of the regiment. In September, the 511th bbap was equipped with two dozen brand new Pe-3s, and on October 10, it began combat work as part of the Air Force of the Western Front. In the course of repelling the German offensive on Moscow, and later in the counteroffensive, the regiment was used mainly to deliver bomb-assault strikes. Based at the airfield in Noginsk, the 511th bbap flew more than 320 sorties in three months and, according to crew reports, destroyed over 30 tanks, 8 aircraft at airfields, 4 train trains and up to 30 guns. The Germans missed more than 200 vehicles with property, ammunition and personnel.
But the losses were significant: by May 1942, only 7 vehicles remained in service, of which only 4 were serviceable. On March 16 and 18, the crews of Lieutenant G. Potapochkin and L. Drevyatnikov were shot down after completing a combat mission in the area of their airfield by a German "hunter" - a Bf110C fighter. Subsequently, the 511th bbap was re-equipped with Pe-2 reconnaissance aircraft and transformed into a separate reconnaissance aviation regiment (orap).
At the end of October 1941, another air unit armed with long-range Pe-3 fighters began operations on the Western Front. It was the 54th Red Banner High-Speed Bomber Regiment. As for a number of other regiments, this was the second appearance of the 54th squadron on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War. On June 22, 1941, the regiment was based at an airfield in the Vilnius region and, in a sudden attack by German aviation, lost more than half of its vehicles on the ground. By July 14, in fierce air battles, almost all the remaining SB were killed, after which the regiment was withdrawn from combat, received new equipment and underwent retraining for flights on the Pe-3.
During the Moscow defensive and counter-offensive operations, the regiment under the command of Major Skibo made about 400 sorties, destroying the enemy in the areas of Klin, Solnechnogorsk, Istra and Volokolamsk. According to combat reports, during this period, the regiment destroyed 33 tanks, up to 780 vehicles, 35 wagons, 2 ammunition depots. In air battles, 6 enemy aircraft were shot down. Own losses amounted to 11 aircraft. On January 18, 1942, four Pe-3s from the 54th SBAP attacked the Velskaya airfield. 16 bombs of 100 kg caliber were dropped on the parking lot of German aircraft. On departure from the target, the four were attacked by He 113 aircraft (in fact, Bf 109F from JG51). The navigators' fire knocked out one enemy plane, and the second, not calculating the maneuver, crashed into the tail of the leading Pe-3 captain Karabutov and lost its wing. The heavily damaged Pe-3 still made it to the airfield in Tula, and the German pilot was captured.
The aircraft of the 511th bbap and 54th sbap, unlike the machines of the 9th bbap and the 95th iap, apparently, were not refined and were not re-equipped with cannons. This can be judged by the type of ammunition used. In mid-January 1942, the 54th sap was based in the Kaluga area. Their airfield was opened by German reconnaissance aircraft and raided on 27 January. The unit suffered the most serious damage on the night of February 2, when about two dozen Bf 110 heavy fighters with muffled engines unexpectedly approached the airfield. In the morning the raid was repeated, and the next evening the airfield was bombed by several Ju 88. As a result, 7 aircraft were lost, 3 of which burned down. After this blow, the regiment was left almost without aircraft. The surviving vehicles were transferred to the 511th bbap in mid-February, and the personnel of the 54th air regiment were transferred to the reserve. In May 1942, the remaining crews went to the 9th Reserve Aviation Regiment, where they underwent retraining and subsequently flew on Pe-2 aircraft.
In addition to the above-mentioned units, Pe-3 aircraft entered service with the 1st, 2nd, and 4th aviation regiments of reconnaissance aircraft of the Main Command of the Spacecraft, the 65th Aviation Regiment of the Navy, as well as some separate reconnaissance air squadrons.
The first serial Pe-Zbis (20 units) entered service with the 9th bbap in June 1942. Then came the turn of the 2nd, 4th and 40th separate distant reconnaissance regiments. Several aircraft were received by the 9th reconnaissance squadron, and later - by the 1st and 39th air regiments of the KA Air Force. In responses from the front, many pilots considered the Pe-Zbis to be a more valuable and useful machine than the standard Pe-2. In naval aviation, the largest number of Pe-Zbis (no more than a dozen) were transferred to the 65th Aviation Regiment.
A.N. Medvedev, D.B. Khazanov