Aviation of Word War II

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Organization of the Red Army Air Force

1941-1945

In June 1941, there were about 57 IAPs in the military districts, of which 21 were in a state of modernization due to the arrival of new types of aircraft. At that time, there were very few attack fighter aviation regiments (ShAP) - only seven, three of which began to receive Il-2 aircraft. However, after the German attack, the number of air regiments of both types began to grow rapidly. On the eve of the start of the implementation of the Barbarossa plan, the available air forces were distributed as follows:

In June 1941, there were about 57 IAPs in the military districts, of which 21 were in a state of modernization due to the arrival of new types of aircraft. At that time, there were very few attack fighter aviation regiments (ShAP) - only seven, three of which began to receive Il-2 aircraft. However, after the German attack, the number of air regiments of both types began to grow rapidly. On the eve of the start of the implementation of the Barbarossa plan, the available air forces were distributed as follows:

Specifications
Military Regions IAD SAD 1 IAP ShAP
Leningradsky 3 4 13 (4) 1
Special Baltic 1 4 8 (3) 2 (1)
Special Western 1 3 12 (5) 2 (1)
Special Kiev 2 5 17 (5) 2 (1)
Odessa - 3 7 (4) -
Total 7 19 57 (21)2 7 (3)

1 - Mixed air divisions.

2 - The numbers in parentheses indicate the number of units being upgraded.

In addition, about 40 IAPs were part of the air defense fighter aviation. These units were deployed to protect large cities - Leningrad, Moscow, Stalingrad, etc. The units played an important role in defending these cities when they were attacked by air, but remained in these regions after the threat of air raids had abated; as a result, their role in subsequent hostilities was significantly reduced when the preponderance in the war had already passed to the side of the Soviet Union, and the invaders began to retreat. They remained subordinate to the Air Defense troops, however, many pilots who served here during the gloomy years of 1941-1942 were subsequently transferred to front-line aviation.

It should be noted that the lack of sophisticated equipment in the air defense system prevented the conduct of air defense fighter aircraft operations. In the first years of the war, there were no radar installations, there were not enough means of centralized control, in addition, there was poor coordination of the actions of air defense batteries. There were simply no means of ensuring combat at night.

The Navy also had its own aviation, given to it in 1938. In fact, each fleet had its own aviation, although there was some exchange of both units and pilots. These air forces and the units that were part of them were designated by the corresponding abbreviations, namely:

Air Force KBF (Red Banner Baltic Fleet) 707
Air Force SF (Northern Fleet) 114
Air Force of the Black Sea Fleet (Black Sea Fleet) 624
Air Force Pacific Fleet (Pacific Fleet)  
Total 1445

Of the 1445 aircraft available, there were 665 fighters. The Northern Fleet Air Force underwent the greatest reinforcement, given their important role in the defense of the northern ports of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk, where most of the Lend-Lease supplies from the USA and Great Britain came; at the same time, the strength of the rest of the air forces of the fleet was significantly reduced, and only towards the end of the war did it approach the level of 1941.

The organization of these units was the same as in other air forces, aircraft of the same types were used, military ranks corresponded to those of the army. However, after 1941 there was no exchange between naval aviation and its other types.

In May 1942, the largest transformation of the structure of front-line and army aviation took place, which was divided into separate air armies (VA). In each of the fronts there were several VAs with aircraft of all types; The VA consisted of five to eight air divisions (AD). This system turned out to be quite flexible and efficient; in the end, the number of VAs reached 18, some of them included up to 13 ADs. During the main offensive operations, the VA were transferred from relatively calm sectors of the front to where the main events took place, and joined the VA operating there.

The initial structure of the formed VA, taking into account fighter aircraft, had the following form:

Air Army Date
Formation
Front IAD
1st May 1942 West 201, 202, 203, 234, 235
2nd May 1942 Bryansk 205, 206, 207
3rd May 1942г. Kalininsky 209, 210, 256
4th May 1942 Southern 216, 217, 229
5th June 1942 North Caucasian 236, 237, 265
6th June 1942 Northwestern 239, 240
7th June 1942 Karelian 258, 259
8th June 1942 Southwestern 206, 220, 235, 268, 269
9th August 1942 Far Eastern 32, 249, 250
10th August 1942 Far Eastern 29
11th August 1942 Far Eastern 96
12th August 1942 Transcaucasian 245, 246
13th November 1942 Leningradsky 275
14th July 1942 Volkhovsky 278, 279
15th July 1942 Bryansk 286
16th August 1942 Reserve Rates 220, 283
17th November 1942 Southwestern 282, 288
18th December 1941 Long range aviation  

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

KBF - Krasnoznamennyy Baltiyskiy Flot - Red Banner Baltic Fleet

PVO - Protivovozdushnaya oborona - Air defense

GUARDS UNITS

Shortly after the start of the Great Patriotic War, some aviation regiments were awarded the title of "Guards" in order to recognize their special merits in combat operations. After that, the personnel of these units received the right to add the word "guard" to their rank and wear a special "guards" patch on their uniforms. This emblem was also often depicted on the fuselages of aircraft.

The rank of guard units in the Red Army was established on September 18, 1941, but only on December 6, this title was actually awarded to six air regiments for the first time (among them four fighter and one assault). This can lead to some confusion, since the word "Guards" was not simply added to the unit number. In practice, each unit awarded the title of "Guards" was assigned a corresponding serial number. As a result, after the start of assigning this rank in December 1941, the following renumbering of the guards aviation regiments took place, which was completely random:

Guards Aviation Regiment Previous issue
1st GIAP 29th IAP
2nd GIAP 526thй IAP
3rd GIAP 155th IAP
4th GIAP 31st PBAP (dive bombers)
5th GIAP 129th IAP
6th GIAP 215th ShAP

During the war, a total of 266 units of the Red Army Air Force, including 84 fighter regiments, received the title of Guards. Only one of them, namely the 26th, accidentally retained the previous number, having received the rank of guards. There were cases when units had the same numbers, operating in different branches of the military: for example, in November 1942, the 27th GvIAP appeared instead of the 123rd IAP PVO, at the same time there was a 27th IAP, which in October 1943 became the 129th GvIAP.

The situation became even more confused when, in January 1942, naval aviation units began to receive the rank of guards, and with their own serial numbers. So, the 2nd and 3rd GvIAP of naval aviation appeared a month after the appearance of the 2nd and 3rd GvIAP of the ground forces!

In 1943, various IADs were also awarded honorary titles of guards and corresponding numbers; numbers were assigned to guard aviation units in chronological order, regardless of type - fighter, assault, bomber, etc .; at the same time, the assignment of numbers also took place in the military branches - first at the level of divisions, and then - corps. Finally, in 1942-1943. and in long-range aviation (ADD), guards units also arose with their own serial numbers.

In fighter aviation, divisions and corps received the following numbers:

Guards Fighter Aviation Divisions Former Air Division Number Number Change Date
1st 220th January 1943
2nd 102nd January 1943
3rd 210th (?) March 1943
4th 274th March 1943
5th 239th March 1943
6th 268th March 1943
7th 209th May 1943
8th 217th May 1943
9th 216th June 1943
10th 210th (?) August 1943
11th 207th August 1943
12th 203th Unknown
13th 294th July 1944
14th 302nd July 1944
22nd 205th October 1944
Guards Fighter Air Corps Former Air Corps Number Number change date
1st 1st March 1943
2nd 7th (PVO) July 1943
3rd 4th July 1943
6th 7th October 1943
Naval Aviation
Guards Fighter Aviation Divisions Former Air Division Number Number Change Date
1th KBF 3rd July 1943