Military Review

Fight in the sky over the Urals

Eight anti-aircraft missiles were launched during the destruction of the Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft.

Fight in the sky over the Urals
Today, few people know that the fate of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the war could comprehend any of the cities of the USSR, including Moscow. In the United States, a plan was developed under the name Dropshot, which included nuclear strikes against large industrial centers of the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, the airspace of our country was plied with impunity by American reconnaissance aircraft. Alas, they flew at high altitude, where the Soviet interceptors could not reach them at that time. It is not known how events would develop, do not find the USSR a worthy response to atomic blackmail ... The measures taken included the creation in the shortest possible time of the latest anti-aircraft missile for those times weapons Air Defense - C-75 ADMS, which 1 of May 1960 of the year suppressed F. Powers reconnaissance flight. The real events that took place then in the sky over the Sverdlovsk region and on the Ural land for a long time were not subject to the slightest publicity. And some details of the drama played out became known only recently.


On that day, the American Lockheed U-2 aircraft flew early from the Pakistani airfield in the Peshawar region early in the morning. The car was piloted by Senior Lieutenant Francis Harry Powers. In 5 hours 36 minutes high altitude reconnaissance crossed the USSR border in the Kirovabad region (now the city of Pyanj, Tajikistan). The flight route lay over Soviet secret objects located from the Pamirs to the Kola Peninsula. Lockheed U-2 was supposed to reveal the air defense grouping, as well as take pictures of the nuclear industry enterprises located in the Chelyabinsk region.

Initially, a spy plane was attempted to intercept with the help of the Su-9, the newest for that time domestic anti-aircraft fighter. Captain I. Mentiukov was instructed to overtake the plane from the factory airfield in Novosibirsk to the airfield in the city of Baranavichy, making an intermediate landing at the airfield Koltsovo near Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg). The task was not a combat one, and there were no air-to-air missiles on the Su-9 (guns at the time were not installed on interceptors). The flight was planned at medium altitudes, so the pilot did not have a pressure helmet and a high-altitude compensating suit.

Despite this, the pilot Mentyukov received an order to ram a spy plane. Su-9 could climb only 17-19 thousand meters. To destroy the airspace violator, it was necessary to accelerate the fighter and "jump" to the 20-kilometer altitude. However, due to an error in hovering, the Su-9 "emerged" ahead of Powers' car. For a new attempt at a ram it was necessary to make a U-turn, which, due to the thin air at 20-kilometer altitude, the interceptor could not make. In addition, the high speed of the Su-9 interfered: it significantly exceeded the speed of the U-2. Yes, and fuel in the plane remained only for landing, and not to go to the second round.

In this situation, the command of the country's Air Defense Forces decided to destroy Lockheed U-2 with the help of the C-75 anti-aircraft missile systems deployed near Sverdlovsk. But the situation was complicated by the lack of time, since the goal was already leaving the affected area.

An order to open fire received a division commanded by Major M. Voronov. Shooting was conducted in pursuit. Of the three missiles that the Start command went through, only one missile system came off the launchers. According to the official version of the installation, they stood at the prohibition angle (Lockheed U-2 was on the same line as the antenna post cockpit and launchers), as a result of which the rocket after launch could damage the SNR antennas. According to the unofficial version, because of the excitement, the guidance officer forgot to unlock the “Start” button.

Starting only one rocket instead of three (as required by the Rules of Shooting) saved the American pilot's life. The rocket destroyed the wing, tail assembly and the engine of the reconnaissance aircraft, after which it began to fall from a 20-kilometer height, tumbling. Powers managed to leave the car, rolling over the side of the cabin.


After the landing, the Americans were detained by the locals (at first, however, they took him for a Soviet cosmonaut). He did not use the ampoule with poison, as required by the CIA instruction, but preferred to surrender. Francis Harry Powers was convicted of espionage, and then exchanged for Soviet intelligence officer Rudolf Abel (William Fisher), who was arrested in the United States and sentenced to 32 years in prison.

But история Downed and left without a pilot, the Lockheed U-2 did not end there. When the unmanaged vehicle reached a height of ten kilometers, it entered the affected area of ​​another missile division commanded by Captain N. Sheludko. The C-75 SAM system was recently adopted for use, and the calculations did not have enough experience to determine with the indicators whether the target was hit or not.

The rocketeers decided that there was a target on the screens, which put passive interference. Therefore, the division of Captain Sheludko opened fire. A falling spy plane and the wreckage of the first rocket overtook three more missiles. Thus, a total of four missiles were fired (one after the division of Major M. Voronov, and three more - by the division of Captain N. Sheludko in the wreckage).

In addition, due to the lack of interaction with the fighter aviation Two MiG-19 planes were fired upon, which, contrary to the “Carpet” command (the command to immediately land all military and civilian planes), raised an American intelligence officer to intercept.

The duty couple MiG-19 took off from the airfield Bolshoe Savino (Perm region). At the airfield Koltsovo planes boarded for refueling. However, on the personal order of the commander of the fighter aviation of the country's Air Defense Forces, Marshal of the Air Force E. Savitsky, MiG took off again. The commander really wanted the violator to be shot down by his subordinates, and not by the anti-aircraft missile forces. Despite the fact that MiG-19 interceptors could not climb 20 km above the ground (their ceiling limit was 15 000 m), the pilots were assigned a combat mission: to destroy an American reconnaissance aircraft. To do this, they, just as before the Su-9, had to literally “jump” at a high speed to the height of 17 km, have time to aim and launch missiles at Lockheed U-2.

At that time there was a rule: when the defendant was called "friend or foe", the slave should be turned off on the slave's car. This was done in order not to overload the screen of the indicators of ground-based radars with unnecessary information. At maximum height in the rarefied air, MiG vapor could not stay in tight formation - the slave fighter had lagged behind.

In pursuit of the MiG goal, they entered the zone of destruction of the division commanded by Major A. Shugaev. The defendant worked for the lead captain Aivazian, and he was identified as “his own”. The plane driven by senior lieutenant S. Safronov with the defendant turned off was mistaken for an enemy, fired three rockets and shot down. Senior Lieutenant Safronov died.

Thus, a total of seven missiles were fired on the Lockheed U-2 and two MiGs. Another (eighth) rocket fired an anti-aircraft missile division of a neighboring regiment commanded by Colonel F. Savinov. It happened after the captain Mentyukov on his Su-9 flew into the launch area through negligence. Fortunately, the pilot managed to quickly assess the situation and went beyond the limits of the distant zone of destruction of the division.

According to the official version, the cause of the Su-9 shelling was the untimely change of the identification codes of "friend or foe." The high-altitude interceptor was on the Koltsovo airfield temporarily and the corresponding command was not brought to it. In this regard, after the Soviet fighter again rose into the air, its respondent did not respond to the PTB request. As for the C-75 SAM, then the first modifications of the complex did not establish a ground-based radio interrogator (NRZ).

Another reason for the confusion that has arisen in the sky over the Urals is explained by the so-called manual mode of air combat control. At that time, the command post (CP) of the 4-th separate air defense army was not equipped with the automated control system Air-1, which was only recently adopted. When working in the “manual mode”, the time lag of the passage of information about the air situation from the radar company to the army command post was 3-5 minutes.

The first research doctrine, at which the issues of close cooperation between the three arms of the country's anti-aircraft defense forces - ZRV, RTV and IA, were worked out, was only held in August 1959, and according to its results, the Vozdukh-1 ACS only began to flow into the border districts.

The tactical and technical characteristics of the Lockheed U-2 aircraft (year of creation - 1956) were also of considerable importance. It was specifically designed for exploration from the stratosphere. The engine installed on the car allowed it to fly for a long time at an altitude of 20-24 km with a speed of 600-750 km / h. The aircraft had a very low reflecting surface for those times, which made it difficult to observe it on the radar indicators. Thanks to all this, the Americans since 1956 have been able to carry out espionage flights with impunity, including in the districts of Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, the Baikonur test site, over other particularly important cities and objects of the USSR.

To increase the survivability of the Lockheed U-2 was equipped with an automatic equipment for setting active interference "Ranger", which operated in the X-band. However, due to the error of American intelligence, the Ranger equipment had a different frequency range from the C-75 air defense system (6 and 10 centimeters in the H-range) and therefore did not affect the operation of the SNR and the missile.


Distinguished during the destruction of the American spy plane officers were awarded the Order of the Red Banner. Among them are the commanders of the anti-aircraft missile battalions M. Voronov and N. Sheludko, as well as the pilot, senior lieutenant S. Safronov (posthumously). The decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on awarding senior lieutenant Safronov was not published, all information about the shot down Soviet aircraft was classified as “Secret” for many years.

Of course, the military-political leadership of the USSR drew the appropriate conclusions from all that had happened. The specialists of the Soviet defense industry studied the wreckage of the newest American aircraft, after which our defense industry made a powerful leap: new aircraft engines were developed, the production of traveling-wave tubes began, and high-tech materials appeared.

Following the results of actions of air defense units to destroy the Lockheed U-2 in accordance with the order of the Chief of the Air Defense Forces with 6 of 19 September 1960 years created anti-aircraft missile barrier of 55 battalions of S-75 length 1340 km from Stalingrad to Orsk and Sary-Shagan. By the beginning of 1962, according to the decision of the military council of the country's Air Defense Forces, a second anti-aircraft missile line from Krasnovodsk to Ayaguz with a length of 2875 km was formed. In addition, there is a Riga-Kaliningrad-Kaunas line within the 20 C-75 and 25 divisions of the C-125 divisions, as well as the 48 divisions at the turn along the Black Sea coast: Poti-Kerch-Evpatoria-Odessa.

Such were the requirements and laws of the Cold War. Recall in this regard that in 1962, the United States possessed five thousand nuclear weapons, and the USSR - 300. In the United States, there were 229 intercontinental ballistic missiles, and in the Soviet Union - only 44 (of which only 20 ICBMs were on duty). The US Air Force was armed with 1,5 thousands of bombers capable of delivering nuclear weapons, and the Soviet Air Force - no more than 150 aircraft of this type.

The tense situation of that time is best described by the expressions of the first secretary of the CPSU Central Committee N. S. Khrushchev: “If you“ Dodge ”, then we’ll give you that!” (Referring to the spy plane U-2, from the first letter of which and there was a “hoot”), as well as the phrase he said in New York at the UN General Assembly. Speaking there, Nikita Sergeevich threatened: "We will show you the goddamn mother!" It was about 50-megaton hydrogen bomb, which our developers informally called "kuzkina mother." True, they say, translators could not then accurately convey the meaning of this mysterious expression of the Soviet leader.
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  1. Sergebor
    Sergebor 10 November 2011 14: 40
    The story is not completely convoluted. Legasov did not mark on the map the 5th rifle detachment (p. Poldnevaya), which was the first to shoot U-2 after catching at 8.46 Powers' route was drawn incorrectly, as was Mentiukov’s route. Legasov’s scheme is at least refuted by the fact that the wreckage fell in a completely different place - shortly before Kosulino and Povarni, Samsonov for some reason drags Savinov .... Savinov commanded the 19th Air Defense Corps, and the reconnaissance squad, which allegedly fired on the SU-9 had nothing to do with the corps. And they could not fire at the SU-9 - it was landing and was at an altitude of 3-5 thousand meters. Voronov himself, personally (talking on the phone) said that he didn’t shoot after him, but he was persistently credited with this. But the 5th Zrdn, not marked on the diagram, shot exactly after one missile ..... Тут все подробности попытки разобраться в этом деле.....
    SAVA555.IVANOV 18 February 2012 19: 39
    One plane made so much noise !!!! What will happen with a massive non-nuclear strike !! ???
    1. Wankiller
      Wankiller 19 January 2013 17: 34
      Quote: SAVA555.IVANOV
      One plane made so much noise
      this is what is called practice when you are looking for the best option .... and for that, you have used all means ... and which one will be the best, you need to bet on that ...
  3. YaMZ-238
    YaMZ-238 29 June 2015 16: 03
    Interesting article!