Military Review

Air Battle in Kuban

The air battle unfolding in the sky of the Kuban in April-June 1943 became one of the largest air battles of the Second World War and was an integral part of the Soviet offensive in the Caucasus. This battle broke into several episodes and did not stop for more than two months. Both sides escalated aviation presence in the region, so the fight in the air was large-scale and fierce. On some days, up to 50 air battles took place in the sky, involving up to 70 aircraft on each side. One of the main roles in the battle was played by the new generation of Soviet fighters. For the first time in the entire time of World War II, Soviet pilots imposed their will on the Luftwaffe, actively interfered with and opposed the fulfillment by the Germans of their combat missions.

By mid-April 43, the Germans concentrated on the airfields of the Kuban and Crimea the main forces of their 4th air fleet - about 820 aircraft. In addition, they could attract another 200 bombers from airfields in southern Ukraine. A total of 4 air fleets totaled more than 1000 aircraft: 580 bombers, 250 fighters and 220 scouts. The best fighter squadrons of Germany were transferred here to support here: the 3rd Udet, the 51st Melders, the 54th Green Hearts, armed with the latest Me-109 and Fw-190 fighter models. Additionally, one fighter squadron of Slovakia, Croatia and Romania were used at this theater of operations.

The Soviet side also did not sit with folded arms, and already on April 18 began to deploy the 2 th bomber, 3 th fighter and 2 th mixed aircraft corps, as well as the 282 th fighter division, to the 900 aircraft , of which 370 fighters, 170 attack aircraft, 360 bombers of them 195 night. Of these, about 65% of the aircraft were new types: La-5, Yak-1, Yak-7B, British and American B-3 and B-20 bombers, as well as Spitfire and Air Cobra fighters. The concentration of such a number of aircraft in a fairly limited theater of operations predetermined a stubborn and intense struggle for air supremacy.

In total, three air battles took place in the sky of Kuban. The first of these began 17 on April 1943 of the year with an attempt to eliminate the bridgehead in the Myskhako area. In order to drop the 18 paratroopers of the army into the sea, the enemy attracted some 450 bomber and 200 fighter jets to cover. On the Soviet side, around 500 aircraft from them 100 bombers were used to counter the Germans. On this single day, German pilots made about 1000 sorties in the area. On April 20, the enemy again attempted to launch a powerful offensive, but this time the Soviet aviation managed to launch a preemptive strike with 60 bombers and 30 fighter jets half an hour before the offensive, and a few minutes later a new strike by the 100 group of planes, which disrupted the plans of the German command.
Air Battle in Kuban

Then, from April 28 to May 10, an air battle unfolded in the skies over the Crimean stanitsa. The intensity of these battles may be indicated by the fact that during the 3 hours of the onset, German aircraft made more than 1500 sorties.

The last major air battles took place between 26 May and 7 June in the area of ​​the Kiev and Moldavan villages at the breakthrough of the Blue Line of the Germans. For some time the Germans managed to seize superiority in the air, which greatly complicated the lives of the advancing troops. The countermeasure in response was the attack of Soviet aviation on German airfields. From 26 May to 7, June, the Red Army Air Force conducted 845 sorties on the airfields of the Nazis in Anapa, Kerch, Saki, Sarabuz and Taman. In total, during the battles in the sky of the Kuban, Soviet aircraft made about 35 thousands of sorties.


If we evaluate the losses of the parties, then the Soviet archives of the Red Army's air force destroyed the entire German 4 fleet, while the Germans for their part reported on the destruction of 1000 aircraft in air battles and 300 shot down by anti-aircraft fire, i.e. even more than they were in this sector of the front. So, it is possible to determine the losses of the parties only approximately, although the fact that the losses of both sides were enormous is beyond doubt.

Most likely, the losses of the Soviet side were higher, as the Germans paid more attention to the training of their pilots. There is no doubt that from the German side in the Kuban there were the best fighter pilots who flew in pairs since 1939 of the year. Even the young German pilots from the replenishment had a 200 flight hours, and on arrival they had to fly around 100 hours, in the front line, performing aerodrome protection tasks and studying the terrain. The Germans proceeded from the fact that the Russians had more pilots and airplanes, therefore they tried to keep the shots.

From the Soviet side, along with the aces such as: A. I. Pokryshkin, A. F. Klubov, G. G. Golubev, V. I. Fadeev, graduates of flight schools with a minimum amount of flight as well as pilots who arrived from the Far East participated or other remote districts with no combat experience. But even despite this, the approximate losses of the fighter pilots from Germany were 75 people, and taking into account allies about 135, which is half of the total number of 4 air fighters available at the beginning of the battle.

Faces of battle

Alexander Pokryshkin (6.03.1913 - 13.11.1985) - the second most effective pilot of the countries of the Anti-Hitler coalition, three times the hero of the Soviet Union. According to official data, he personally shot down the 59 aircraft, most likely, shot down an order of magnitude more, since the 1941 victory of the year, burned out along with the regiment's archives, as well as the enemy machines, which Pokryshkin wrote down on his followers, stimulating them in this way, dropped out of the standings.

"Air Cobra" Pokryshkina

In the sky of the Kuban Pokryshkin shot down according to official data 16 enemy aircraft. At this time, our illustrious ace flew on the American Air Cobra. Here are some of his outstanding performance fights. So April 12 over the village of Crimean Pokryshkin knocks down the X-NUMX of the Me-4 fighter, later that day he also shot down the 109 of the aircraft, bringing the number of vehicles brought down the day before 3, stories Soviet aviation was only one such case. A few days later, Pokryshkin knocks down the 3 Ju-87, and on April X, in the 28, the Aircobra fighters accelerate three nines of the Ju-8 dive bombers, personally destroying 87 from them.

The merits of Pokryshkin in the battle in the Kuban were highly appreciated, and on April 24 he received his first title of Hero of the Soviet Union, and in June he was promoted to the rank of Major. In addition to the Soviet awards in the same 1943, Pokryshkin was awarded the American Medal for Distinguished Service.

In most fights, Pokryshkin first tried to knock the leader down; he took this experience out of 1941-42 fights. Thus, often at the beginning of the battle it was possible to demoralize the enemy. Some historians attribute to him the creation of a new technique of air combat, which went down in history as the “Kuban bookcase”.

Erich hartman (19.04.1922 - 20.09.1993) is the most productive German pilot, is considered the most efficient fighter pilot in the history of aviation. Hartman won the 352 air victories 345 of which occur on Soviet aircraft, for his small stature and youthful appearance he received the nickname “Bubi” - baby. He was awarded the Knight's Cross with diamonds, only 27 people in the Reich had a similar award.

The battle over the Kuban Hartman was only a novice pilot, by the end of April 1943, he had 8 victories in his account, and he became the lead pair. The exact number of planes shot down by a pilot in the Kuban is not known, but on 7 July 1943, his account was already 21 victory. It was in Kuban that a young pilot, who at that time was a little bit over 20, began to hone his air combat skills, which were more than repaid in the future.

Hartman's Me-109

Throughout the war, Hartman flew exclusively on the Me-109 G fighter jets and adhered to a well-defined tactic - hitting from ambushes. According to Hartman, he never cared about the problems of air combat, he tried to avoid fights with fighters whenever possible. Hartman climbed as high as possible and, if possible, attacked the enemy from the side of the sun, in 90% of cases the enemy did not even understand what had happened. The pilot was guided by a well-defined formula of air combat and honed it throughout the war. His most important achievement Hartman believed that during the war he did not lose a single slave.

Hartman’s merits were also appreciated in the Soviet Union, where after the war he received 25 years of camps for damaging the Soviet economy during the war years. After serving in the Soviet camps for almost 10 years, in 1955, Hartman returned to his homeland.
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  1. Denzel13
    Denzel13 April 26 2012 00: 58
    Another author of the article, having read Toliver and Constable, or their retellers like Zefirov.

    Just like that for an example:
    24.08.1944/290/296 (you understand in what state at that time the situation was in the air and who dictated the conditions to whom) - Hartman flew in the morning to hunt and on his return reported that he no longer had 5, but 11 downed aircraft. That his follower apparently confirmed under oath, or rather signed in a special form. Then he had lunch and flew again. This flight was monitored by radio communications and our "superhero" did not disappoint. He said 2 more victories in the second sortie on the radio. 1944 shot down in 52 sorties in 24.08.1944 !. He returned - flowers to him, etc. etc., but there is such a fact - in the JG-39 combat log it is worth that on XNUMX/XNUMX/XNUMX Hartman shot down one P-XNUMX. One! All!
    Still have questions about Hartman?
    There is something to continue.

    And according to the accounts of German "experts", there are such considerations. I strongly advise you to read the book by Y. Mukhin "Aces and Propaganda" on this matter. If we discard the excessive, in my subjective opinion, politicization, then very interesting facts remain:
    1) Once on the Eastern Front, the German "experts" began to increase the astronomical accounts of the downed Red Army planes.
    2) Having fallen to the Western front after the Eastern Front, the same experts very sharply lost activity, bringing down 10-20 times less in a longer period of time.
    From the foregoing, the conclusion suggests itself that the Anglo-American pilots were better prepared and it was harder for the Germans to shoot them down.
    But fact No. 3 - the best ace of the Allies, excluding the Red Army, had 38 shot down (remember how many aces we had shot down more than 40), and in quantitative terms the Allied pilots who shot down more than 5 aircraft of the Axis were more than 10 times less than in the Red Army .
    You can also correlate the losses on the Eastern Front among the Germans and on the Western. Often the Germans, according to their accounts, "destroyed" more than there was in any sector of the front of our aircraft. Take, for example, the air battle over the Blue Line in the Kuban in 1943. This is because how could a German pilot fill out reporting forms for 9-10 American bombers shot down in one battle in the sky over Berlin, when everyone saw how many of them actually fell, also taking into account the strongest anti-aircraft cover? The Eastern Front is another matter - who will check how many downed Soviet planes fell, especially behind the front line?
    And fact No. 4 - German pilots were given a cross on the Eastern Front for shooting down, at different times of the war, from 50 to 150 aircraft, and on the West they received a similar award for 10-15 aircraft (which, incidentally, corresponded to our GSS). Here again, you can apply the above fact number 3 regarding the pilots of the Allies. In general, on the Western Front, with postscript was more difficult, because in sight. And then the system of points, and not guaranteed destroyed aircraft, did its job there too.

    Yes, by the way, there were errors with the numbers on the number of aircraft on both sides, and based not even on our sources, carefully study the issue before writing this. Here is a people who like to test certain considerations.
  2. proExe
    proExe April 15 2013 23: 06
    [quote = Denzel13]
    Another author of the article, having read Toliver and Constable, or their retellers like Zefirov.

    Just like that for an example:
    Still have questions about Hartman?
    There is something to continue.

    Yes there is an entry in the magazine sorties and victories JG52 24.08.1944/XNUMX/XNUMX
    24.08.44 Ltn. Manfred Eberwein 1./JG 52 Yak-9 £11: at 336 m. 3.200 Film C. 11.00/II Anerk: Nr. 2035
    24.08.44 Ltn. Anton Resch 3./JG 52 Il-2 mH £ 11: at 442 m. 500 Film C. 11.10/II Anerk: Nr. 2035
    24.08.44 Ltn. Franz Schall 3./JG 52 Yak-9 £11: at 418 m. 500 Film C. 11.12/II Anerk: Nr. 2035
    24.08.44 Ltn. Franz Schall 3./JG 52 Il-2 mH £ 11: at 755 m. 400 Film C. 14.25/II Anerk: Nr. 2035
    24.08.44 Ltn. Anton Resch 3./JG 52 Il-2 mH £ 11: at 753 m. 500 Film C. 14.26/II Anerk: Nr. 2035
    24.08.44 Ltn. Franz Schall 3./JG 52 Il-2 mH £ 11: at 764 m. 500 Film C. 14.27/II Anerk: Nr. 2035
    24.08.44 Ltn. Anton Resch 3./JG 52 Il-2 mH £ 11: at 723 m. 400 Film C. 14.28/II Anerk: Nr. 2035
    24.08.44/1/52 Fw. Adolf Nehrig 2./JG 11 Il-333 mH £ 500: at 15.16 m. 2035 Film C. 414/II Anerk: Nr. XNUMX
    24.08.44/52/2 Hpm. Adolf Borchers Stab I./JG 11 Il-442 mH £ 700: at 15.24 m. 2035 Film C. 145/II Anerk: Nr. XNUMX
    24.08.44/1/52 Fw. Adolf Nehrig 2./JG 11 Il-415 mH £ 600: at 15.26 m. 2035 Film C. 415/II Anerk: Nr. XNUMX
    24.08.44 Ltn. Manfred Eberwein 1./JG 52 Yak-9 £11: at 415 m. 1.000 Film C. 16.36/II Anerk: Nr. 2035
    24.08.44 Ltn. Manfred Eberwein 1./JG 52 Yak-9 £11: at 277 m. 1.500 Film C. 16.53/II Anerk: Nr. 2035
    24.08.44/5/52 Uffz. Wilhelm Maßen 7./JG 87 Yak-822 £2.000: at 08.27 m. 2035 Film C. 832/II Anerk: Nr. XNUMX
    24.08.44/9/52 Erich Hartmann 11./JG 416 LaGG £ 2.000: at 13.18 m. 2035 Film C. 962/II Anerk: Nr. XNUMX
    24.08.44/9/52 Erich Hartmann 11./JG 417 LaGG £ 1.500: at 13.15 m. 2035 Film C. 961/II Anerk: Nr. XNUMX
    24.08.44/9/52 Erich Hartmann 11./JG 421 LaGG £ 1.200: at 13.19 m. 2035 Film C. 963/II Anerk: Nr. XNUMX
    24.08.44/9/52 Erich Hartmann 11./JG 427 LaGG £ 1.500: at 13.25 m. 2035 Film C. 964/II Anerk: Nr. XNUMX
    24.08.44/9/52 Erich Hartmann 11./JG 419 LaGG £ 1.000: at 13.27 m. 2035 Film C. 965/II Anerk: Nr. XNUMX
    24.08.44/9/52 Erich Hartmann 5./JG 11 LaGG-335 £ 1.500: at 16.00 m. 2035 Film C. 1064/II Anerk: Nr. XNUMX
    24.08.44/9/52 Erich Hartmann 5./JG 11 LaGG-363 £ 1.200: at 16.03 m. 2035 Film C. 1065/II Anerk: Nr. XNUMX
    24.08.44/9/52 Erich Hartmann 11./JG 422 LaGG £ 16.20: no height 2035 Film C. 1068/II Anerk: Nr. XNUMX
    24.08.44/52/2 Hpm. Diethelm Eichel-Streiber Stab III./JG 27 Il-636 mH £ 400: at 16.17 m. 2035 Film C. 186/II Anerk: Nr. XNUMX
    24.08.44/9/52 Erich Hartmann 11./JG 441 Airacobra £ 1.000: at 16.10 m. 2035 Film C. 1067/II Anerk: Nr. XNUMX
    24.08.44/9/52 Erich Hartmann 11./JG 447 Airacobra £ 1.200: at 16.06 m. 2035 Film C. 1066/II Anerk: Nr. XNUMX
    24.08.44/9/52 Erich Hartmann 11./JG 443 Airacobra £ 3.000: at 13.40 m. 2035 Film C. 966/II Anerk: Nr. XNUMX
    24.08.44 Ltn. Karl Munz 1./JG 52 Yak-9 £11: at 419 m. 500 Film C. 16.42/II Anerk: Nr. 2035
    Total Hartman 11

    Now, as I understand it, all this happened during the Sandomierz operation, in order to confirm or dispel the myth of the invincible JG 52, help me find the loss log of the 8th Air Army or individual IAPs on 24.08.1944/1/11, but for now it turns out that Hartman shot down 11 aircraft in XNUMX day, moreover, not Aerocobra, XNUMX AeroCobra is recorded in his flight book, which does not look like German meticulousness.

    What say ???
  3. Alex
    Alex 18 June 2014 16: 01
    Yes, all these German posts are crap, everyone has already known everything for so long. It is a pity that the author wrote the last chapter, without it everything would have been prettier: Pokryshkin is a hero and an ace, and there is nothing to say about this; Hartman and his ilk were just jackals who were engaged in trivial deception (from 1943 the free hunt did not bring any mind-blowing results, there was an antidote and pilots).
  4. Sanya Rus
    Sanya Rus 17 November 2015 14: 24
    "... Alexander Pokryshkin (6.03.1913/13.11.1985/59 - 590/XNUMX/XNUMX) - the second most effective pilot of the countries of the Anti-Hitler coalition, three times hero of the Soviet Union. According to official data, he personally shot down XNUMX aircraft, most likely, shot down an order of magnitude more ..." you bent the author, an order of magnitude more that means XNUMX aircraft, A. Pokryshkin is an outstanding fighter pilot, but there are no words to write this, they will laugh at us, we have to be more truthful, I think there were about a hundred shot down from A. Pokryshkin, and this is a lot, given the level of German pilots and equipment.