Aviation of World War II
Lancasters with red stars
During the Great Patriotic War, Soviet aviation was in dire need of the supply of heavy bombers. The factories, overloaded with the production of tactical aircraft, could not provide the Air Force with any significant fleet of multi-engine aircraft. The Pe-8, for example, built in 1941-1944, was produced in only 93 copies.
Very few such vehicles came to us through official channels from the allies. A number of such aircraft, however, were in service with our Air Force after the war: British and American-made bombers from among those restored after forced landings or interned in the Far East. Among them were aircraft of the Avro Lancaster type. The history of their appearance in our country is as follows.
In September 1944, the Soviet and British commands launched the joint Operation Paravan against the German battleship Tirpitz, which was defending itself in Altenfjord on the coast of Norway. The battleship had previously been damaged several times, but continued to remain a potential danger on the route of northern convoys from England to the Soviet Union. During the operation, 38 Lancasters, 2 transport Liberators and one Mosquito reconnaissance aircraft were sent to the Yagodnik airfield in the Arkhangelsk region.
The unit was equipped with Lancasters, specially adapted to carry super-heavy bombs weighing 12,000 pounds (5,450 kg). Externally, they differed from standard ones in having a recessed “pot-bellied” bomb bay and the absence of an upper turret.
From 6 a.m. on September 12, British planes began landing at the airfields of the Arkhangelsk hub. For various reasons, 10 bombers made emergency landings in Onega, Belomorsk, Kegostrov, Molotovsk (Severodvinsk) and simply in the tundra, and 7 of them were damaged. On September 15, 27 Lancasters bombed the Tirpitz (although it still remained afloat) and from the 16th to the 28th of the same month, all serviceable vehicles returned to their bases in Great Britain.
There were 6 damaged Lancasters left on Soviet soil, 4 of them were examined for restoration, and the 2 least damaged ones were delivered to Kegostrov. There, in the workshops of the Air Force of the White Sea Military Flotilla, under the leadership of Chief Engineer Kiryanov, they began to repair and remodel them: the weapons were removed, the nose was replaced, etc.
One of the machines, with the number “01”, went to the 16th transport detachment (trao), where it was operated from the end of January 1945. The aircraft commander was V. Sh. Evdokimov, the navigator was V. Ya. Andreev. The air squadron, although called a transport squadron, was used mainly for escorting convoys, ice reconnaissance, and patrolling. And the Lancaster, having a long range, also flew on such missions. In August 1945, this vehicle was sent to the Pacific Ocean, but it was stuck in Krasnoyarsk due to a lack of fuel. While we were waiting for gasoline, the war with Japan ended. In the summer of 1946, this Lancaster was transported to Riga, to the Aviation Technical School, as a visual aid. His further fate is unknown.
The second restored Lancaster, with the number “02”, ended up in the 70th separate transport regiment (squad) of the Northern Fleet Air Force. The commander of this vehicle was I. I. Dubenets. After the disbandment of the 16th Motrap in 1946, both aircraft were briefly together with the 70th Motrap. After the war, "02" was crashed while landing at the airfield in Izmailovo, Moscow. The bomber rolled off the airfield, broke the landing gear and mutilated the nose. They did not restore it again.