Aviation of Word War II
BB-22 in the Great Patriotic War
The first combat unit to receive Yakovlev's aircraft was the 136th short-range bomber aviation regiment (BBAP). Numerous defects in the BB-22, which required elimination by the factory brigades, greatly affected the course of combat training. The rainy autumn of 1940 gave way to a snowy winter. The regiment, which was part of the 19th air division, was based at the airfields of Berdichev and Nekhvoroshch, literally covered with snow. The lack of funds for rolling the airfield (it was believed that they were not needed in the southern regions of the country) and aircraft skis put the "yaks" on a standstill. The weak point of the machine at the stage of winter operation turned out to be long pipelines stretching to the water radiators through the entire engine nacelle. Immediately after the flights, the water was drained, but a small amount of it still remained at the low points of the pipelines, turning into ice, which damaged the system. Things were no better in the regiment in March-April, when the spring thaw limited the conduct of flights.
When it finally came to intensive study, it turned out that there was practically nothing to fly on. Of the 33 available machines, only eight were suitable "for their intended use." On seventeen "yaks" a lagging of the skin of the lower surface of the wing, blue and warping of plywood, peeling of the canvas on the ailerons were found. The rest required restoration of the paintwork. After only 10 days of storage in the open air on aircraft No. 1040, a commission headed by senior engineer of the 19th air division, military engineer of the 1st rank Stepanov, recorded swelling of the plywood skin on the wing from above, its lagging in the frontal part of the center section and cracks in the putty at the junction of the middle and aft fuselage.
The car managed to fly only 16 hours. It is not difficult to imagine what the state of the equipment was like, standing in the snow and rain all winter. According to the senior engineer of the 136th regiment, 2nd rank military engineer Chertopolohov, Yakovlev's bombers should have been stored exclusively in hangars (which at that time was absolutely unrealistic).
Since the autumn of 1940, Yakovlev's aircraft began to enter the 316th reconnaissance aviation regiment (RAP), which was part of the Air Force of the Kiev Special Military District. Following him, at the beginning of 1941, he began to re-equip the 314th RAP Air Force of the Western Special Military District on "yaks". The next was to be the 312th pan of the Baltic District. The pilots and technicians of this regiment were retrained on the Yak-2 and Yak-4 directly at the plant number 81.
In the actions of the two directorates of the Red Army Air Force, one of which dealt with technical policy, and the other with the staffing of units and combat training, there was a clear inconsistency. Evidence of this is the plan for a major command and staff game planned for mid-1941. According to the scenario developed by the Air Force headquarters, the aviation association of the “red” side was to include 11 regiments armed with Yak-2 (Yak-4) bombers, and another regiment of reconnaissance Yak-2, that is, more than 700 aircraft of this type. The scenario envisaged leaving a relatively small number of obsolete SB bombers in the formation - only three regiments. Thus, according to the plans of the Air Force leadership, at the next stage of rearmament, the Yaks were to become the main front-line bombers!
On June 20, 1941, the 136th bbap had 49 Yak-2s and five Yak-4s (according to the state in five squadrons - 60 aircraft). Of the 58 pilots and 63 navigators, only 36 crews were formed with difficulty - the rest were not ready for combat operations even during the day in simple weather conditions. These were graduates of flight schools in 1940, who, due to the snowy winter and rainy spring, did not get the opportunity to fly even a minimum of hours to pass tests.
The 19th air division, which was on the day of the German attack in the area of Bila Tserkva, on June 22 suffered practically no losses. She was thrown into battle on the morning of June 25 with the next task received the day before from the commander of the Southwestern Front (South-Western Front) General M.P. Kirponos: “...until 6.50 aviation (15th, 16th and 19th air divisions), supporting the attack of the mechanized corps, conducts reconnaissance and determines targets for bombing in the offensive zone of the mechanized corps. From 6.50 to 7.00, the first, most powerful air raid is carried out, followed by successive raids until 8.00 in order to accompany the attack of the mechanized corps ... "
Over the next few days, Yak-2 and Yak-4 bombers, together with SB, Ar-2, Su-2 and Pe-2, in groups of three to six attacked the enemy from low altitudes. On June 28-29, they managed to stop and disperse one of the German tank divisions in the forests near Ostrug. For several days, the offensive of the entire 1st Panzer Group in the direction of Slavuta and Shepetovka was suspended. But at what cost! The 15th and 16th air divisions, which met with intense opposition from German anti-aircraft artillery and aces from the JG 3 Udet fighter squadron, suffered huge losses and practically lost their combat effectiveness. The 136th regiment suffered to a lesser extent, but there were much fewer sorties on its account. The weak development of the Yak-2 and Yak-4 aircraft by the flight and technical staff affected. It also turned out that a serious threat to new, unfamiliar vehicles are their own anti-aircraft gunners and fighters. In two days of fighting, the regiment lost 22 vehicles. It should be noted that among the first were lost all five Yak-4. Hopes for their higher top speed did not materialize.
Note that over the same two days, the 86th bap from the 16th air division lost two Pe-2s out of the three available and twelve SBs out of fifteen. The 52nd and 54th bomber regiments of the 62nd air division lost two Pe-2s and 35 SBs for various reasons. The 48th bap belonging to the 17th air division, one of the first to be re-equipped with the Pe-2 in the spring of 1941, by June 24 had only 22 "pawns"; over the next two days, he lost five more cars. On June 30, the regiment was withdrawn from the combat strength of the South-Western Front Air Force and sent to the rear to receive a new materiel. On this day, the 136th bap still had 28 serviceable "yaks".
In early July, the pilots of the 19th division bore the brunt of the bombing attacks on the advancing enemy troops. The provision of cover fighters was insufficient, and the 19th hell repeated the fate of other formations of the Air Force of the Southwestern Front. The 136th regiment suffered the heaviest losses in July at the end of the first decade, after which it had only three serviceable and four defective bombers. In air battles, five Bf 109 fighters were destroyed, and on the ground, according to the reports of the crews, dozens of enemy tanks and armored vehicles were burning down. During the hostilities, the "yaks" used exclusively the FAB-50 and FAB-100 bombs.
It is curious that one Yak-2 from the “military series” was among the survivors. Since its release, this machine has flown more than 50 hours, and on July 18, as part of the four "yaks", it went on its last mission. Having fallen into continuous cloud cover, the bomber crews could not find a target in the area of Skvir, Ragozno. On the way back, one of the planes went into a tailspin and crashed. Two more cars crashed while landing. After this incident, flights on the Yak-2 in bad weather conditions were banned. On August 4, two of the three remaining "yaks" were shot down by German anti-aircraft artillery in the Dubrovino area. As of August 10, 1941, the regiment had one serviceable Yak-4 and four MiG-3s. Ten days later, the regiment did not have aircraft. Thus ended the combat path of the 136th short-range bomber regiment. The surviving crews were sent to the 507th bbap.
In the table, the column “Brought down by our own” attracts attention. It can be seen that the loss of "yaks" from the impact of the enemy over the specified period amounted to 21 cars, and from their own carelessness and undertraining (taking into account accidents) - 20!
Most of the pilots of the 136th regiment did not have time to make a noticeable number of sorties. Basically, in the flight books there were marks on the completion of four to six tasks, but there were exceptions. So, Lieutenant Gordeev managed to make 77 sorties in a month of active fighting! Some of them were carried out for reconnaissance, since the airfield of the Ichnya airfield, where the regiment was based recently, did not provide take-off with a bomb load due to the insufficient size of the runway. Pilots ironically deciphered the BB as a "Useless Bomber."