September 8, 1941 units of the Wehrmacht occupied Shlisselburg, thereby blocking the land approaches to Leningrad. From the north, Leningrad was blocked by the Finnish army. Inside the ring created by the German and Finnish troops were the city of Leningrad with a population of 2,5 million people, its suburbs with a population of 340 thousand people, almost all of the Baltic forces fleet, the bulk of the troops of the Leningrad Front - i.e., more than 500 thousand troops of the army and navy. Thus began the blockade of the northern capital, which lasted 872 days - one of the most tragic pages in stories Great Patriotic War.
Being surrounded, Leningrad almost lost communication with the rest of the world. It was possible to get into the city only along Lake Ladoga, with the coast of which Leningrad was connected by a branch of the railway. The blockade immediately struck the residents of Leningrad. Although the city was never in the hands of the Nazis, famine began in it, diseases began to spread. In turn, the Luftwaffe planes carried out daily and weekly raids on Leningrad, bombarding not only government buildings, the location of military units, industrial, transport and social infrastructure facilities, but also residential buildings.
The locals resisted heroically. The people of Leningrad, from small to large, despite the famine, illness and corresponding well-being, defended their native city. They were on duty on the roofs of houses in the calculations of the Ministry of Defense, patrolled the streets, tried to dismantle the rubble of buildings destroyed by the bombings and at the same time continued to carry out their daily activities - work, study, raise children and help parents. Since most of the young men were in the army, the burden fell on the shoulders of women and old people, adolescents and people with disabilities, as well as those in Leningrad who had a “reservation” and therefore did not go to the front.
A lot of stories are connected with the siege of Leningrad, which have long turned into folk legends, for example, about imported wagons of cats that destroyed rats that bred in the besieged city. Another wonderful story is no less famous - about the secret operation of Soviet pilots, which caused many problems to the command of the Nazi aviation.
In October, 1941, the anti-aircraft gunners managed to incite German fighter Me-109. His pilot was unable to drive the car to the location of the German troops from the villages on the outskirts of Leningrad. The destroyed fighter was immediately surrounded by Soviet soldiers and curious Leningraders. Quite by chance at that moment Alexander Dmitrievich Petrov passed by - a Soviet chemist, a professor at the Leningrad Red Banner Institute of Chemical Technology. Seeing that fuel is leaking from the punched tank of a German fighter, Alexander Dmitrievich decided to find out what the Luftwaffe was using to fill his planes. He collected a bottle of fuel and took it to work - to the chemical laboratory.
Here it is necessary to say a little about Alexander Dmitrievich Petrov himself. By the time the Great Patriotic War began, he was already 46 years old, and behind the shoulders of a famous chemist was an interesting and diverse life. After graduating from a real school in 1913, Alexander Petrov entered the Pavlovsk Junker School, and after graduating from him in 1916, he was sent to the army. Petrov served as an ensign in Orenburg in a reserve infantry regiment, then from February to October 1917 studied at the Petrograd Higher Military Chemical School. After the revolution, Petrov served as head of the gas squad. In 1922, Alexander Petrov graduated from Petrograd University, and three years later he joined the Chemical Association of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Alexander Dmitrievich studied under the legendary Soviet chemist Alexei Evgrafovich Favorsky. In 1910, Alexey Favorsky received the rank of State Councilor, which corresponded to the rank of Army Major General, and in the Soviet Union was also repeatedly awarded for his outstanding scientific achievements. So Alexander Dmitrievich Petrov had a worthy teacher. At that time, the Soviet government greatly appreciated young and promising scientists. In 1931-1932 Petrov led the Leningrad Shale Institute, in 1935, received a doctorate in chemical sciences without a thesis defense, and then received the title of professor.
Typing in a bottle of fuel German aircraft, Alexander Dmitrievich Petrov brought it to the laboratory and conducted all the necessary analyzes. He managed to find out that the fuel is significantly inferior to the Soviet - for example, it freezes much faster at low temperatures. This was enough for Petrov - not only a chemist, but also a former military man, to understand what needs to be done. He went to the reception to the Deputy Commander of the Air Force of the Leningrad Front. The meeting turned out to be fruitful - the general delved into all the arguments of the scientist and ordered several more samples of German aviation fuel to be delivered. Their analysis confirmed the results of the previous one. It became clear that with the onset of cold weather, German aircraft would not be able to act on the same scale.
Meanwhile, the weather was getting colder. Time for a raid on the bases of German aviation in the Gatchina area and Siversky airfield was the most suitable. The scouts delivered pictures of German bases to the headquarters. Soon, Soviet aircraft hit the airfields where the enemy's air forces were stationed.
Of course, the story of the fuel looks fantastic. Many appreciate it unambiguously as a “bike”, even if it is beautiful, and even plausible (due to the use of the name of the chemist Petrov). But the story of the defeat of German aviation at airfields in the vicinity of Leningrad is absolutely true. And this brilliant operation can be called one of the significant victories of Soviet aviation in the first year of the war.
The raid on German airfields, assigned to 6 on November 1941, was assigned to the 125-th High-Speed Bomber Aviation Regiment, commanded by Major Vladimir Alexandrovich Sandalov. Soviet bombers from the 125 regiment operated under the cover of fighters. They were accompanied by machines 15 th Fighter Aviation Regiment named F.E. Dzerzhinsky, commanded by Major Vladimir Lukich Bobrik. Why did you choose the day of November 6? Most likely, it was not the frosts that played a role here, but the desire of the Air Force command of the Leningrad Front to prevent the city from being bombarded the next day - November 7, on the anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.
Formed in August 1940 in Mogilev, the 125 th aviation regiment met the start of the war in Belarus and managed to participate in fierce air battles. Of the 60 aircraft that the regiment had at the beginning of the war, only 7 aircraft remained in the ranks after the fighting in the Belarusian sky. The regiment was transferred to Kazan, and then, on September 7, 1941, was transferred to Leningrad. By this time, the regiment included 2 squadrons and 20 Pe-2 aircraft.
Vladimir Sandalov, the regiment commander and experienced pilot, was 35 years old. A native of St. Petersburg, Sandalov was left without a father early and was brought up in Gatchina at the orphan's institute, and then at the 2 10th grade labor school, from which he graduated in 1924 and got a woodworking job at the Siversky plant. An active young guy was noticed in the Komsomol and soon was entrusted with the leadership of the department in the Komsomol City Committee of the Komsomol, but soon it was time to go to military service.
In 1926, Sandalov entered the Leningrad Military Theoretical Pilot School, from which he graduated in 1927. In 1929, he graduated from the Orenburg school of air combat, after which he began his service in the 55 heavy bomber aviation squadron. In 1939, the pilot graduated from the Higher Courses of Advanced Command, then participated in the Soviet-Finnish War 1939-1940. In June, 1940 Mr. Sandalov was appointed commander of the 9 Bomber Aviation Regiment and Head of the Riga Air Navigation Division, in June 1941 was transferred to the 128 Bomber Aviation Regiment near Vitebsk, where he met the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. Then Major Sandalov headed the 125 th Aviation Regiment. By this time he was the most experienced pilot of the Soviet bomber aircraft - fifteen years of experience in the Air Force, and all this time it was in the bomber squadrons and regiments.
During the first month of the fighting near Leningrad, the pilots of the 125 regiment destroyed 89 enemy aircraft. The November 6 raid was a disaster for the German air units that participated in the bombing of Leningrad. Airplanes placed on Siversky and Krasnogvardeysk airfields were subjected to mass bombing. The pilots of Sandalov burned seventy enemy aircraft. After such a powerful attack, the Nazis could not organize a massive bombing of Leningrad on the holiday of November 7 on 1941. Sandalov himself, elevated to the rank of lieutenant colonel, made 1941 47 sorties by November. Aviation Marshal Alexander Alexandrovich Novikov, in his memoirs "In the skies of Leningrad", describes those days. Novikov himself at that time, in the rank of lieutenant-general of aviation, commanded the air force of the Leningrad front and was, of course, a direct participant in the events. Novikov recalled Major Sandalov as a strong-willed person with a remarkable character who enjoyed great prestige among his subordinates, was strict but fair and ready to help in the most critical situations. There was nothing surprising in the fact that it was he who Novikov ordered the command of the raid on the German positions.
From a height of two and a half thousand meters, regiment bombers struck German planes that were at the airfield. At the same time assault planes hit the German anti-aircraft batteries, the fighters with machine guns fired at the airfields and the U-88 and Me-109 that were on them. As a result of Soviet air raids, the 1 th Luftwaffe air fleet, commanded by Colonel-General Alfred Keller, was almost deprived of the opportunity to conduct full-fledged hostilities. Only after a while did the Luftwaffe establish a supply of better fuel adapted to the harsh winters of the Russian North-West. Only by April, 1942, did Hitler’s aviation resume the regular massive bombardment of Leningrad and its environs.
Lt. Col. Sandalov's pilots heroically defended Leningrad. 6 June 1942, the commander of the 125 Aviation Regiment received the highest award - the title Hero of the Soviet Union with the award of the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star Medal (No. 582). Then Sandalov commanded the 285-th bomber aviation division, then transformed into the 5-th bomber aviation division. After the battles for Stalingrad, the division became Guards, and by the time the war ended, Major General Sandalov had 133 combat sorties only in person. He participated in the Victory Parade on Red Square. Until 1959, Major General Vladimir Sandalov continued to serve in Soviet military aviation, and after retirement he lived in Leningrad until his death in 1980.
Alexander Novikov, who commanded during the events described by the Air Force of the Leningrad Front, became Deputy People's Commissar for Aviation of the USSR in 1942, and in 1943-1946. commanded the Soviet Air Force. In 1943, Novikov was the first in the USSR to receive the rank of Air Marshal, and in 1944, the Chief Air Marshal. As it is known, there was a tragic moment in his fate after the war. The celebrated marshal in 1946 was arrested and convicted of the so-called. "Aviation case". In conclusion, Novikov stayed until 1952 of the year, having stayed even a year above the given term of five years in prison. After rehabilitation, in 1953, Novikov was reinstated in military rank and appointed commander of long-range aviation — deputy commander-in-chief of the USSR Air Force. In 1956, the 55-year-old Chief Air Marshal went to the reserve and since August 1956 has been in charge of the Higher Aviation School of the Civil Fleet.
As for Aleksandr Dmitrievich Petrov, a brilliant scientist and chemist, to whom popular rumor attributes such a significant role in defeating German aviation near Leningrad, from 1946 until the end of his life he headed the department of petrochemical synthesis of the Moscow Institute of Chemical Technology. DI Mendeleev, and since 1947, also the laboratory of the Institute of Organic Chemistry of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Alexander Dmitrievich Petrov died in 1964, at the age of 68.