Immediately: this is not a myth. This is the most история, in which the crews of Soviet bombers flew in their skies in the sky above the Berezina River at the very beginning of World War II. This is a legend.
Probably, many readers remember this episode, which Konstantin Simonov described in his book (and then in the film), “The Living and the Dead”.
When the main character Sintsov goes to Bobruisk and finds out that the crossing across the Berezina is busy, three TB-3s fly over him. Then they bomb the crossing, bomb explosions are heard, the bombers fly back, and they are shot down by German fighters.
The picked up pilot, who escaped with a parachute, angrily says that they were sent in the afternoon for bombing without escort of fighters.
This story happened on June 30, 1941. That's just it was not about three or even six TB-3s. Everything was much more tragic.
Konstantin Simonov, a former witness, was not a specialist. The front-line correspondent is excusable. But he saw that they shot down not only TB-3, but also aircraft of other models. The pilots who were picked up by the truck in which Simonov was traveling were from the DB-3 crew.
Just writing about such a rout as the Germans arranged in the sky above Bobruisk would hardly have raised a hand even at Simonov. After all, in black for bomber aviation On June 30, 52 crews of long-range and heavy bombers were shot down in the Berezina area.
This is without taking into account the lost front-line SB, Yak-4 and Su-2, which also took part in the raids on the crossings.
In fact, three regiments of bombers were lost 80%. And then the question arises: who is to blame for what happened?
In general, any state of emergency has a full name. This is an axiom, unless it comes to natural phenomena.
To begin with about TB-3. It is clear and understandable to anyone who is not even very knowledgeable in aviation matters that only an incompetent fool or a traitor can send these vehicles to bomb during the day and without fighter cover.
Or you can remove “or”, because this man was a traitor to the pilots.
I present to you the commander of the Western Front - Hero of the Soviet Union, Army General Dmitry Pavlov.
On July 22, 1941, he was sentenced by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR “for cowardice, unauthorized abandonment of strategic points without the permission of the high command, collapse of command and control, inaction of the authorities” to capital punishment and executed. He was buried at the NKVD training ground near Moscow. In 1957, he was posthumously rehabilitated and reinstated in a military rank.
I will not comment on these details, I gave it only for understanding the big picture.
It was the front commander Pavlov who gave (by the way, through the head of the commander of the 3rd air corps Skripko and the commander of the 52nd long-range bomber division Tupikov) the order to the commanders of 3 dbap Zaryansky and 212 dbap Golovanov to strike at the crossings on the Berezina River.
The Zaryansky’s regiment already had a plan of missions for bombing at night, but Pavlov canceled it by his order. There was nothing to do, and Zaryansky sent six TB-3 aircraft in the afternoon.
The question immediately arises: why was there no fighter cover?
First one. In the troops, and aviation is no exception, on the sixth day of the war there was a complete mess in terms of control. Telephone communications were constantly disrupted due to the actions of both German aviation bombing airfields and sabotage groups that clearly violated the communication lines.
The second one. This flight was not agreed with the commanders of the fighter units and formations. As our generals commanded in those days, we generally have an idea. “At any cost” and stuff like that. It is possible that tank general General Pavlov did not bother with issues such as fighter cover for bombers, so fighter commanders might not have been given such an order.
The third. Even if the order was given, it is necessary that the fighters urgently have at their disposal refueling, loaded planes and pilots ready to fly out for escort. Also a tricky question.
Since the 3rd dbap was planning a night flight, the planes, of course, were ready. Like the crews.
I don’t know with what stone in the heart Zaryansky sent his crews during the day, I don’t know with what thoughts the pilots got into the cabs of their cars, but six TB-3s flew to the target.
TB-3. The maximum speed with M-17F engines at an altitude of 3000 m was 200 km / h, and even less at the ground - 170 km / h. The maximum rate of climb is 75 meters per minute. Turn - 139 seconds.
Armament. 8 machine guns DA caliber 7,62 mm. Twin open installation in the nose, two Tur-5 turrets rolling from side to side behind the trailing edge of the wing, also with coaxial machine guns YES and two retractable B-2 towers under the wing, each of which had one YES on the kingpin. On early-release aircraft, single YES were at all points. Power machine guns from disks of 63 rounds. All paired units had a stock of 24 disks, wing arrays - of 14 disks.
It is clear that against the possessed Messerschmitt armor with cannons and machine guns with tape power it was like a Mosin rifle against MG-34.
TB-3 flew out at 16:15 and crawled to the crossing by 18:00. They bombed, and then German fighters returned, who had torn apart DB-3 from 212 dbap two hours earlier, which had also been bombed without fighter cover.
DB-3. The maximum speed at an altitude of 439 km / h, at the ground 345 km / h. Defensive armament - three machine guns ShKAS 7,62 mm.
Plus 200 km / h and ShKAS instead of completely useless rattles Degtyarev. But even this did not save the crews that were shot down by the Messerschmitts.
But the TB-3 had no chance at all.
Six TB-3s, which were led by the crews, took part in the departure:
- Captain George Prygunov;
- Captain Mikhail Krasiev;
- Senior Lieutenant Mikhail Glagolev;
- Senior Lieutenant Tikhon Pozhidaev;
- Lieutenant Arsen Khachaturov;
- Lieutenant Alexander Tyrin.
These people did everything they could. We got to the crossing. Despite the air defense fire, they made TWO approaches to the target, dropping bombs. And they went back. It was at the departure that they were intercepted by German fighters.
I already gave the picture, you can only estimate that you can make an arrow with a Degtyarev machine gun and disks against an airplane flying at a speed of 300 km / h more and firing two MG-17s, each of which has 1000 rounds in the ribbon. And no need to recharge. I’m not even talking about MG-FF.
In 4 minutes, four of the six TB-3s were set on fire. The ships of Pozhidaev, Tyrin and Khachaturov were shot down, some of the crews escaped by parachute. Prygunov was able to bring TB-3 to the territory where the Soviet troops were, and then went on an emergency landing. TB-3 Krasieva suffered numerous injuries, but reached his aerodrome, but didn’t get any damage to TB-3 Glagolev and calmly sat down at his airfield. Lucky.
However, you should not assume that such a mess reigned everywhere. No, on the contrary. Where the big bosses did not meddle with their incompetent orders, everything was completely different. Yes, in some places the losses were huge. But most of them were due to the fact that people and equipment were thrown into the battle thoughtlessly, for outright death. If the use occurred wisely, then there were no such catastrophic losses.
An example is the combat report of the commander 3 Tbap from 1.07.1941/30.06/01.07. It reports that in total on the night of 55 to 29 3 flights were made by forces of 23 TB-4 regiments. 2 aircraft returned to their airfield, 3 - shot down, XNUMX - boarded an emergency landing. That is, those who were used correctly did not suffer such losses. At night, the slow-moving TB proved to be quite suitable for work.
But on June 30, 1941, something incomprehensible and tragic was happening in the sky of the Western Front. In addition to the already mentioned 212 and 3 heavy bombardment regiments, Baltic aviation was also thrown into an air meat grinder fleet.
Again it was time to show the next "hero."
Commander of the Baltic Fleet, Admiral Vladimir Filippovich Tributs. He was not subjected to reprisals, he lived to old age, as a whole, life was a success.
But on June 30, Admiral Tributs sent three regiments of naval aviation to the Dvinsk / Daugavpils region (330 km north of Bobruisk) with an unbroken hand.
- 1st mine torpedo regiment;
- 57th bomber aviation regiment;
- 73 bomber regiment.
The crews of these regiments were supposed to bomb two bridges across the Zapadnaya Dvina River, captured by operational Mr. Manstein. Who at the headquarters of the fleet remembered the sea regiments that were engaged in the laying of mines, which had almost no losses, is now impossible to say. But the show has begun. Tributs gave the order.
A very interesting situation developed: the KBF Air Force headquarters were in Tallinn, the 73rd BAP in Pärnu, the 57th BAP, 1 mtap and the headquarters of the 8th Brigade, which included all these regiments - near Leningrad.
At the brigade headquarters there was a telephone connection with the 73rd regiment, and with the 1st and 57th there was no. There was no connection even between the headquarters of the KBF Air Force and the command of the 8th Naval Aviation Brigade. According to the memoirs, orders from the headquarters of the Air Force were transferred to where they could be received (for example, to the headquarters of the 61st air brigade), and from there they were transferred by messenger to the 8th air brigade.
And it was expected that instead of a coordinated strike by forces of more than 100 bombers, separate strikes of three regiments were obtained. Which, quite expectedly, the German fighters beat as they wanted.
The most unpleasant thing is that the bombers again flew unaccompanied. Yes, KBF fighters could not provide cover on a range, but in the area of Daugavpils fighter aircraft of the Western front operated. However, according to reports, the issue of fighter cover was not raised at all.
As a result, bombers were thrown at targets located at different distances from the aerodromes of air regiments: 300 km for the 73rd regiment and about 450 km for the 1st and 57th regiments.
So, the crews of naval regiments flew to bomb the bridges on the Western Dvina without cover, scattered forces of individual squadrons.
The excellent organization led you to understand what result.
The reconnaissance was carried out and, according to its results, the planes of the 30rd regiment went on target early in the morning of June 73. The first to reach the target were 6 SB bombers, of which the Germans shot down 5. This happened around 8:30 in the morning.
Around the same time, the crews of the 57th air regiment went into battle. Two DB-3s started, which carried out reconnaissance of the situation at the bridges, dropped bombs and transmitted information on the radio.
True, no one received the radiograms, and 15 DB-3 and DB-3F bombers took off on a mission. Captains Khrolenko and Suitcases commanded the groups.
At the same time, two SB groups from the 73rd regiment approached the area. These were 5 vehicles driven by the senior lieutenant of Kosov, and 6 vehicles of Captain Ivanov. Kosov acted very carefully and brought all the cars back without loss.
Then the Germans lifted all the fighters they could into the air, and about 30 Messerschmitts appeared in the sky above Dvinsk.
Of the 9 DB-3F groups of Captain Khrolenko’s group, 4 cars were shot down, and the rest were damaged. The survivors managed to hide in the clouds.
A group of SB bombers of the 73rd regiment under the command of Captain Ivanov, out of 6 vehicles, lost 4.
One of the crews of this group, the plane of junior lieutenant Pyotr Pavlovich Ponomarev, after he was shot down, repeated the deed of Gastello, having made a fire ram of German troops on the highway. For a very long time the crew was reported missing and has not been awarded to this day.
Today, when the fate of the crew of junior lieutenant Ponomarev is established, it would be reasonable to note the heroic deed. Even after 80 years.
A group of 8 Ar-2 captain Syromyatnikov from the 73rd regiment approached the crossings. The planes worked from a height of 1400 meters, but worked inaccurate because of a decent height. The Germans did not notice this group, and it safely left for the airfield.
But two SBs of the same 73 regiment, half an hour after the Ar-2 attack were discovered, and the planes were shot down.
By 13 o’clock to the targets approached take off at about 11:00 from airfields near Leningrad aircraft of the 1st mtap. DB-3 and DB-3F of this regiment went into the squadron system, and before departure the captain of the 8th air brigade, captain Ermolaev told the pilots that there were no German fighters over the target. In general, Ermolaev lied. Enemy fighters over Dvinsk were and were waiting for the next wave of Soviet bombers.
The 1st mine torpedo-borne regiment flew in four groups:
- 6 DB-3 of Captain Grechishnikov;
- 9 DB-3A of captain Chelnokov;
- 9 DB-3F captain Plotkin;
- 8 DB-3F of captain Davydov flew off half an hour late.
Having approached the goal, our pilots found that the Germans were waiting for them. A uniform battle began in the air, as a result of which 6 of 4 planes of Captain Grechishnikov’s group were shot down, 9 of 4 planes of Captain Chelnokov were shot down, and 9 of 6 planes of Captain Plotkin.
Total - 14 out of 24.
This is not to say that our bombers played the role of replenishing the accounts of the Luftwaffe aces. Five Messerschmitts out of 30 in the sky above Dvinsk were shot down by our crews.
During these battles, a unique event occurred in the history of aviation. The crew of junior lieutenant Pyotr Stepanovich Igashov made a double ram. Firstly, there is evidence that one of the five enemy fighters shot down on that one was hit by the gunner of this crew.
Then the ignited DB-3F Igashova rammed a German fighter, gaining altitude and standing in front of the nose of a damaged bomber. After that, the plane went into a dive and crashed into the thick of German troops, having also committed a "fire" ram.
None of the four crew members jumped. We decided to go with the commander to the end.
Sadly, while Captain Gastello received the posthumous title of Hero of the Soviet Union, the crew of Junior Lieutenant Igashov was forgotten for a long 25 years. And only in 1965, on the eve of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Victory, the rewarding of the crew commander of junior lieutenant Pyotr Stepanovich Igashov, navigator of the junior lieutenant Dmitry Grigoryevich Parfenov, the arrow-radio operator of the junior lieutenant Alexander Mitrofanovich Khokhlachev, the gunner of the Red Navy Vasily Voenyamenovich Novinovichovich Novinovichovich Novinovichovich Novinovichovich Novinovichovich Novinovichovich posthumously.
Justice triumphed in 1995, when the crew was posthumously awarded the title of Heroes of Russia.
The crew commander Pyotr Igashov remained alive during this ram. He was captured by the Germans and then, in October 1941, shot by the Gestapo.
The last group of bombers, Captain Davydov, was lucky. Having developed fuel, the fighters began to return to the airfields, so the group lost only one plane.
What the Germans could not do, they simply decided to finish ours. And a brilliant decision was made at headquarters: “We can repeat it.” And the surviving crews were ordered to fly out again ...
True, there really was no one to do this. The returning planes were in such a state for the most part that they could not even talk about any sorties.
The second time flied Captain Syromyatnikov Ar-2 from the 73rd regiment, bombed without loss for the first time. They carried out the second bombing around 19:30 with seven aircraft and again did not lose a single vehicle. This squadron turned out to be the ONLY one that did not lose a single crew that rainy day.
But before Syromyatnikov’s raid, the 57th BAP sent 8 SB planes flying in the morning for other missions to Dvinsk under the command of Captain Rubtsov and 6 DB-3F Captain Efremov.
In fact, that was all the three regiments were able to scrape together after the first raid. And these crews did not fly to Dvinsk.
Captain Rubtsov failed the mission. The group lost orientation and scattered. Two planes landed in Staraya Russa, six reached the target, where they came under air defense fire. Not a single plane came back. One car with a damaged motor sat on a forced one, five were shot down over the target.
Captain Efremov, approaching the goal last, performed a miracle. He turned east and went from where the Germans did not expect him. The Germans were able to shoot down only one aircraft out of six. The rest were able to successfully bomb and return.
As a result, the crossing was destroyed. For three whole days. After which the Germans pulled up the engineering units and restored it.
The Baltic Fleet bombers lost 34 cars downed, and all returnees were in varying degrees of damage. In fact, by the end of the day on June 30, all three bomber regiments ceased to exist. Plus two heavy bomber regiments near Bobruisk.
There was nothing to fly on. Some of the aircraft were recoverable, but the main problem was that experienced crews were lost.
The 73rd regiment was assigned to re-equip Pe-2, the 57th regiment was re-equipped with IL-2.
1 mtap understaffed DB-3F, remaining on the fly. Eugene Preobrazhensky was appointed commander. Under his command from the island of Saaremaa, on the night of August 7-8, 1941, 15 DB-3F, led by Preobrazhensky, will take off and bomb Berlin.
15 crews are all that they could scrape together after the Dvina meat grinder. A difficult task: take off at night, fly to Berlin and return back. Now, after reading this material, let this moment not surprise anyone. There was no one to fly. And all thanks to the frank short-sightedness and lack of professionalism of our generals and admirals.
It is not always pleasant to read such materials. Not very nice to write. But this is our story. As she is.
Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in the battles for our freedom!