Aviation of World War II

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Organization of the Red Army Air Force


From March 1932, in accordance with the strategic and operational-tactical designation of the Red Army Air Force (Workers 'and Peasants' Red Army), they were divided into military, army and front-line aviation. In November 1940, the aviation of the High Command, or long-range bomber aviation (DBA), stood out separately.

The Aviation of the High Command was intended to carry out independent air operations to deliver bombing strikes on targets deep behind enemy lines and consisted of aviation corps and separate divisions. Its designations were successively changed from AGK to ADD (long-range aviation) from March 1942, and then to the 18th Air Army from December 1944 until the end of the war.

The military aviation consisted of separate squadrons, one for each rifle, mechanized and cavalry corps. The squadrons were armed with light aircraft for reconnaissance, communications and artillery fire adjustment. Probably, at the beginning of the war, the squadrons were withdrawn from the corps, but from April 1943 they began to appear again, when an aviation communication link - 3 aircraft was included in the mechanized corps. From the end of January 1943, the communications aviation regiment (on Po-2 aircraft) was part of the tank army, sometimes, however, it was not a regiment, but an air squadron.

Army aviation consisted of separate mixed air formations (air divisions) that were part of combined arms armies, as a rule, one air formation per army.

In May 1942, with the formation of the air armies, which united the air forces of the fronts and the air forces of the armies, one mixed air regiment remained in the combined arms army. In November of the same year, it was replaced by a light aircraft regiment for aerial reconnaissance and communications. In the first half of 1943, the mixed aviation regiment was replaced by a communications squadron consisting of 12 Po-2 aircraft.

Frontal aviation was part of the military districts, consisted of units and formations of various branches of aviation, and acted in accordance with the plans of the district (front). Existed until November 1942.

Aircraft were also owned by educational institutions of the Air Force, Navy, Civil Air Fleet, flying clubs of Osoaviakhim, the NKVD and border troops.

In accordance with the tasks, flight tactical data and weapons, military aviation was divided into fighter, bomber, assault and reconnaissance. By the beginning of the war, bomber aviation was represented by short-range (front) and long-range bomber aviation.

Since October 1941, with the advent of night light bomber regiments, front-line bomber aviation began to be divided into day and night.

Link. The primary division of the Red Army Air Force. For all types of military aviation, the link included three aircraft, but in September-November 1942, in fighter aviation, they switched to a link of two pairs, i.e., four aircraft. By the end of 1943, a four-aircraft link was also introduced in attack aviation.

Squadron. The main tactical unit of domestic aviation until 1922. The number of aircraft in the detachment varied and depended on the type of aviation. From September 16, 1924, the fighter aviation detachment consisted of three units (9 aircraft), reconnaissance light bomber of two units (6 aircraft). The detachment of heavy bombers had 3 aircraft. In May 1925, aviation detachments of 6, 8 and 12 aircraft were introduced into the staff of rifle corps, intended for close reconnaissance and maintenance of artillery. With the transition to a regimental organization, aviation detachments remained in the military transport aviation and aviation of the Navy.

Squadron. Since September 16, 1924, the squadron consisted of two or three detachments. Fighter squadron - of three detachments of three links each. In total, the squadron had 46 aircraft, of which 12 were spares.

The light bomber and reconnaissance squadrons included three squadrons of two units each and consisted of 31 aircraft, of which 12 were spares. The heavy bomber squadron consisted of two squadrons of 3 aircraft. Only 6 planes.

In 1938, it was decided to change the structure and number of aircraft squadrons.

The bomber aviation squadron consisted of four units of 3 aircraft (12 aircraft). Assault squadron - from three combat units and one reserve (12 aircraft). The fighter squadron consisted of 15 aircraft and consisted of five units.

The experience of the war and heavy losses caused the need for new changes. On August 10, 1941, by order of the air force squadron commander, 10 aircraft were determined in assault, bomber and fighter aircraft (three links and the commander's aircraft). Ten days later, on August 20, a new order followed for units receiving new types of aircraft "like Il-2, Pe-2, Yak-1, etc." The squadron at the same time consisted of 9 aircraft, i.e., three full links.

In the middle of 1943, in fighter aviation, they returned to the composition of a squadron of 10 aircraft, two links and a pair (commander and his wingman).

At the end of 1943, the squadrons of fighter and attack aircraft switched to a three-section structure and consisted of 12 aircraft. The bomber squadron consisted of 10 aircraft, three flights and the aircraft of the squadron commander. The communications squadron consisted of four flights of 12 aircraft.

VVS KA - Voyenno vozdushnyye Sily Krasnoy Armii - Air Force of the Red Army

AP - Aviatsionnyy polk - Aviation Regiment

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

SAD - Smeshannaya aviadiviziya - Mixed air division

ShAP - Shturmovoy avia polk - Attack Aircrat Regiment

ShAD - Shturmovaya avia diviziya - Attack Aircrat Division, (includes several regiments)

VA - Vozdushnaya armiya - Air Armie

AON - Aviatsiya Osobogo naznacheniya - Special Purpose Aviation

Air Regiment. In the USSR, aviation regiments were first formed in 1938. The status of the air regiment is a military unit.

The short-range bomber regiment consisted of five squadrons and two aircraft under the control of the regiment (62 combat aircraft), the long-range bomber regiment consisted of three or four squadrons and two aircraft under the control of the regiment (38-42 combat aircraft). The fighter regiment included four to five squadrons and two regiment control aircraft (63-77 combat aircraft). The assault aviation regiment consisted of five squadrons and was armed with 61 combat, 5 training and 1 communications aircraft.

In the battles in July-August 1941. there were problems in controlling a large number of aircraft in regiments and divisions, and the bulkiness of these units and formations made it difficult to disperse aircraft at airfields and made it easier for the enemy to destroy them on the ground. On August 10-12, a new organization of short-range bomber, attack and fighter air regiments was adopted.

The short-range bomber regiment now consisted of three squadrons of mixed composition - two bomber, one fighter squadron and 2 bombers in the control of the regiment, a total of 32 aircraft.

The assault aviation regiment also of mixed composition consisted of 33 aircraft (two squadrons of Il-2 aircraft, a flight of Su-2 aircraft, one squadron of fighters). The fighter regiment was to consist of three squadrons and two regimental command and control aircraft, for a total of 32 aircraft.

Due to large losses and difficulties in replenishing the aircraft fleet, especially with new types of aircraft, the organization was revised again. From August 20, 1941, aviation regiments, which were armed with new types of aircraft (Pe-2, Il-2, Yak-1, etc.), and later most of the other regiments, began to be formed homogeneous, consisting of two squadrons and two aircraft in the control of the regiment, a total of 20 aircraft.

By the spring of 1943, many aviation regiments consisted of three squadrons. The fighter aviation regiment consisted of three squadrons of 9 aircraft and 4-5 aircraft under the control of the regiment, a total of 31-32 aircraft.

In the middle of 1943, the fighter regiment had 34 aircraft in three squadrons of 10 fighters and 4 aircraft each in the regiment's control.

At the end of 1943, the bomber regiments consisted of three squadrons and two aircraft in command of the regiment (32 combat aircraft). The assault aviation regiment consisted of three squadrons and four aircraft under the control of the regiment (40 combat aircraft), the fighter regiment consisted of three squadrons and 4 aircraft under the control of the regiment (40 combat aircraft). In addition, each air regiment had 1 communications aircraft and 1 dual-control aircraft (where there was a need for such an aircraft). In the aviation of the Navy, mixed air regiments met both in 1942 and 1943.

Air Brigade. The main tactical unit of the Red Army Air Force until 1938-1940. The first air brigades began to form in 1927 and consisted of three or four squadrons. There were bomber, assault, fighter air brigades. Abolished in 1938-1940. in connection with the transition to the regimental organization, they remained in the Navy and training units. The air brigades of the Navy consisted of two air regiments.

Air Group. Temporary formation under a single command. On July 21, 1941, the creation of full-time reserve aviation groups (RAG) began, which were subordinate to the Headquarters of the Supreme High Command and were intended to solve independent tasks and to help the air forces of the fronts. The air group included from four to five air regiments (60-100 aircraft).

In the fall of 1941, temporary (non-regular) aviation reserve groups were created from front-line aviation units and newly formed air regiments. From March to May 1942, ten strike aviation groups (UAG) were created with a mixed composition of three to eight air regiments, including heavy bombers.

The air groups operated until the beginning of June 1942 and later as hydroaviation units of the Navy and transport aviation.

Air Division. The first were formed in the second half of 1940, the Air Force command tried to take into account the “alien” experience of the Second World War in Europe and “their own” war with Finland. The division became the main tactical unit of the Red Army Air Force. As a rule, an air division consisted of three or four regiments, in some five or six air regiments, and consisted of up to 350 aircraft. There were homogeneous (bomber, fighter) and mixed (fighter-assault and fighter-bomber) air divisions during the war, until about 1943 there were mixed divisions consisting of assault and bomber regiments. In July 1941, it was considered expedient to gradually move to the organization of a two-regiment structure, but at the same time there were air divisions of three, four and five air regiments.

In May-June 1942, assault air divisions were created, consisting of two to four assault air regiments (numbering up to 80 aircraft), and night short-range bomber air divisions. At the end of 1943, most air divisions switched to a three-regiment structure (from 100 to 120 aircraft).

Air Corps. The formation of aviation corps began in the USSR as early as 1933, when two to four brigades of long-range bomber aviation received DBA corps. In November 1940, two air divisions were part of the DBA corps. At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, one long-range escort fighter aviation division was formed in each DBA corps. In June-August 1941, the DBA corps were disbanded, and on April 30, 1943 they were organized again. They included two air divisions. In August-September 1942, the formation of the air corps of the reserve of the Supreme High Command began. Homogeneous and mixed air corps of two or more divisional composition were created. There were from 120 to 270 aircraft in the corps. Mixed air corps included two fighter and one attack or bomber air divisions. In the future, the organization of mixed air corps was abandoned, and some of the existing ones were transferred to homogeneous ones. In 1941, the formation of air defense fighter aviation corps began, consisting of two or three fighter air divisions.

Army. In January 1936, on the basis of aviation brigades of heavy bombers stationed in the European part of the USSR, a special aviation army (AON-1) was created. March 15, 1937 AON-2 was formed in the Far East. Later, AON-3 was formed in the North Caucasian Military District. Initially, the staff structure and composition of the AON were not the same. It was not until April 1937 that a unified organization was established, which included two heavy bomber, one light bomber and one fighter air brigade.

Reported directly to the General Command. On November 5, 1940, shortly after the war by Finland, the GA was abolished as having not justified itself in a combat situation.

On May 5, 1942, by order of the NPO of the USSR, the 1st Air Army was created, uniting the army and front-line aviation of the Western Front, the army included two fighter air divisions (four fighter air regiments each), two mixed air divisions (each had two fighter air regiments , two assault and one bomber air regiment), a training air regiment, a long-range reconnaissance air squadron, communications squadrons and a night short-range bomber air regiment.

During 1942, all other air forces of the active fronts were reorganized into Air Armies. (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th Air Armies). In December 1944, the ADD units were consolidated into the air army, which received the designation 18 VA.

On July 1, 1942, the formation of two fighter and one bomber aviation armies began. It was assumed that each would include three to five air divisions and number 200-300 aircraft. In practice, only the 1st Fighter Aviation Army was created and took part in the hostilities.

Serious shortcomings in the organizational structure of the aviation army and the practice of military operations have shown that it is not advisable to have an air and aviation armies in the same front. The choice was made in favor of the air army as the highest form of operational association. Instead of aviation armies, reserve and strike aviation groups, it was decided to create aviation corps and separate aviation divisions of the RVGK (Reserve of the Supreme High Command).


  • Stalin's Falcons /Walter Schwabedissen/