For the entire existence of the domestic fighter aviation the latter fell to a lot of reforms, many of which were conceived in favor of fashionable foreign and domestic theories, high ranks, and sometimes just for the sake of showing off, in other words, demonstrating violent activity. Most of them cost our country enormous resources, and its pilots - life. The article below, written by former BBC Headquarters fighter training inspectors, tells about several little-known stages in the evolution of the theory and practice of combat training of Soviet BBC fighter aircraft, which allowed our fighters to practically reach the moment of the collapse of the great power and its armed forces currently unattainable level of combat training.
Among the absolute majority of lovers stories Aviation and many "large" specialists firmly established the opinion that the practice of maneuver combat began to die in the Soviet BBC with the beginning of the Khrushchev rocketization of the armed forces, which entailed a sharp reduction in their combat personnel and fleet. However, this is not the case. In fairness, it should be noted that during the first post-war decade (after the end of the Second World War), the theory of air combat as a whole changed little. By and large, only fighter speeds of almost two times were taken into account, which led to a larger spatial scale of air battles, but the control of the battle was reduced to bringing the group of fighters to their original position to begin rapprochement in the first attack, after which responsibility from the command post for the result of the battle actually filmed. Only at the end of the battle, the KP turned on again, being responsible for the return of the surviving aircraft to their airfields. Using this method, in particular, the fighter control of the 64th IAK was carried out in Korea, and by the mid-50s it had been brought to logical perfection.
Progress in aviation technology, meanwhile, did not stand still, and in the middle of the 50s, long-range and strategic bombers of the NATO countries began to appear in service with the BBC of the NATO countries weapons (1), which in terms of their altitude and speed characteristics were not only not inferior, but also often surpassed the Soviet fighters of that time. Maximum speeds created by him to replace In-58, In-70 и TSR-2 In general, they were in the range of M = 2-3, and therefore already carried a mortal threat to the countries of the socialist camp. Very significant were the declared characteristics of the flight range of these machines. At the same time, it was obvious that on most of the route to the designated targets, these aircraft would not have fighter cover.
Since the outcome of the future world war, according to the military theorists of that time, was largely determined by which side would be able to inflict more damage in the shortest time with the help of nuclear strikes, the role of front-line fighter aircraft in conquering domination in the sky over the front line in this theory was down. Assault and front-line bomber aircraft, designed to operate near the line of contact, also looked almost unnecessary. At the same time, the role of interceptors increased immeasurably, since even a single bomber that had broken through to a concealed object could cause irreparable damage. Given the nature of the increased threat from the air, the tactics of fighter aviation also developed, in which a maneuverable air battle was supplanted by interception. After all In-47none the more In-52 they were not supposed to cover the fighters all along their way to the designated targets and back, but they themselves didn’t pose any serious danger to the enemy interceptors (2).
However, tactical (and including deck) aircraft remained. Until the discharge of the combat load and the PTB, its planes were very cumbersome, but after the attack of the ground target they could well stand up for themselves, since they were not as powerful as the interceptors both in the characteristics of maneuverability and in firepower. It is for this reason that the term "interception and air combat" appeared in the course of combat training of fighter aviation (KBI IA) after the Korean war. The free air combat of single fighters has been preserved, and the fights of the couple with the pair and the link with the steel link are conducted only with a conditioned maneuver, i.e. the attacker knew how he would behave in the attack! It should also be noted that following the results of the battles in Korea, both “interception with air combat” and “air combat” in any form were withdrawn from the stratospheric range, although they did not fall to the level of extremely small heights.
From 1953, the BBC and Air Defense fighter aviation units began to arrive MiG-17PF, which was optimized only for interception and instrument (on a radar-sight) attack non-maneuvering target during the day in the clouds and at night. In each fighter division deployed near the state border, squadrons of all-weather interceptors were formed, whose crews were on combat duty, maintaining their level of flight training by intensive night flights. Their monotonous life was limited to flights at medium altitudes (where powerful clouds were most often formed) along the route and for interception.
Free air combat looked like this: a couple came to the air combat zone, opened at the command of the leader, and from the back-to-back position, the pilots proceeded to maneuvering in space, trying to go to each other's tail. But this was not enough. To win in a free battle, it was necessary to execute a “test” queue of onboard weapons for the “enemy”.
Air battles between couples and fighter units were organized somewhat differently and began with the alternate entry of "opponents" into the air combat zone. The search was carried out visually. The first one who saw silently occupied the initial position for the attack and after that warned his opponent on the radio: “Attack!”. At this command, hit by a steam or a link performed mostly simple aerobatic exercises without opening the group. At this battle ended, and the "opponents" returned to the airfield.
The line queuing was determined by a photo camera gun (PCF) film, in which the number of frames corresponded to the duration of pressing the combat button (which was approximately equal to or slightly more than 1,5 seconds), the lead angle was set, and the range of distances was within effective shooting. Simultaneously with the grid of the sight, the clock face was synchronously projected onto the film, which allowed analyzing the “battle” to understand which of the opponents was the first to execute the “test” line.
The damage to the way of organizing combat between pairs and links was already obvious to a certain extent. The military theorists (both domestic and foreign) chose not to think about more complex battles between squadrons (especially in the conditions of the numerical superiority of the enemy).
For the sake of justice, it is worth noting that the speed characteristics of fighters that have increased since the end of the Second World War in 1,5 — 2 have proportionally pushed the boundaries of air combat. As a result, the introduction of a large number of fighters into battle, simultaneously performing the same combat mission, was associated with the use of a significant amount of airspace, and its borders went beyond the review of the unit commander who controlled the air situation on board his aircraft. Therefore, two men participated in controlling the actions of large fighter groups - the crew’s calculation, “reading” the situation in the combat area on the radar screen, and the formation commander (unit), who visually controlled the actions of the crews in the air battle sites that were tied by the opposing sides.
But if during a war after the beginning of a rapprochement, the battle was divided into pockets of combat links, couples and single crews, then in peaceful post-war years, to ensure safety from collisions and gross errors in piloting techniques, large groups were limited to consecutive attacks at a predetermined time and with predetermined frontiers. At the tactical flight exercises (LTU), great attention was still paid to the organization of military operations and command and control. However, the situation that was developing on the initiative of the commanders of the units and the pairs, repeatedly confounded the senior commanders who often simply did not have time to give the correct, well-established tactical situation at that time, an order. A delay of even a few seconds (not to mention the minutes) was “death like” (often without any quotes!). If such events developed before the eyes of the authorities, the defendants (regardless of the results achieved by them during the training battle) were ruthlessly punished.
As a result, test flights and LUT began to be assessed only for the quality of the photo-shots in terms of the sum of the results achieved by their participants, without taking into account the assessment for timeliness and accuracy at the place of impact for the enemy. Outlined in this situation, the tendency to improve the accuracy of aiming using a gyroscopic sight, combined with the desire of senior flight crews to hide from their subordinates their inability to conduct free air combat, predetermined the focus of combat training on a single air combat (duel). It was summed up and quite a solid theoretical base, and, retrospectively evaluating its main provisions, we have to admit that it really did have quite a certain common sense, and it was completely impossible to question it half a century ago. The theory was based on "three whales".
First, it was assumed that over time, the mass of nuclear weapons (bombs) would be significantly reduced, which would make it possible to use smaller planes (than strategic bombers) for their delivery to the target, and also tactical fighters in perspective.
Secondly, it was believed that progress in the field of aircraft construction would create such engines and types of fuel, which, over time, the range of modern strategic bombers at that time would have combat vehicles of “lighter” classes, which would allow the latter not to fear encounters with enemy interceptors and on occasion, successfully confront them.
Thirdly, the flight crews of the fighter units needed to maintain a sufficiently high level of flight skills, and practicing the techniques of individual air combat contributed in the best possible way to this.
As it is not difficult to notice, the first assumption was fully confirmed with time, the obviousness of the third one was never in doubt, but the second one was only partially fulfilled (3). It is clear that at that time the validity of such expectations was not in doubt. But here the reactive epoch that began has left its unique imprint.
Co shooting in aerial combat by the middle of the 50-x was also far from all right. The “troublemakers” turned out to be, on the one hand, the increased speed characteristics of 1 generation combat jets compared to their screw counterparts from the Second World War, and on the other, the increased strength of the airframe designed for higher speeds and overloads. In addition, the most important systems (management in the first place) began to duplicate. His share in reducing the vulnerability of aircraft introduced and a new type of fuel - aviation kerosene. The latter caught on much more difficult than high-octane gasoline, and at high altitudes (over 10 km), in a rarefied atmosphere, jet fuel flowing out of a punched tank could not be set on fire at all!
As a result, as evidenced by the experience of the recently ended Korean War, the range of actual fire on tactical aircraft did not increase, thanks to the increased effectiveness of sighting devices and the power of small arms and guns (4), but even decreased somewhat (especially in the confrontation of fighters), to level 200 — 300 m.
And it came into conflict with the security measures for the firing range established by the Fighter Aviation Training Course: firing from a range of less than 200 to the pilots was prohibited. The semi-automatic gyroscopic sight of the ASP-15, which stood on the MiG-17 and MiG-3, had its own characteristics of generating data for firing. The moving reticle of the sight at short distances did not deviate during the maneuver of the fighter, and in the process of aiming at distances over 300 m, it reacted to the slightest change in roll or overload, and therefore it was very difficult to keep it on target. A paradox arose: the sight provided data for the shooting of a skilled shooter and "prevented" the fighter from firing. Thus, in order to get a scoring queue, the goal was to either not maneuver or perform smooth maneuvers with a constant angular speed, which, of course, was not even mentioned in real combat.
It is clear that in these conditions the process of aiming and shooting at an air target from a directively entered distance of more than 300 m was very difficult, and therefore experienced pilots, especially those who had passed through the war, preferred to approach the enemy closer. Three times Hero of the Soviet Union I.N. Kozhedub bluntly said that “in order to guarantee the defeat of the enemy and on jet fighters one must approach one hundred meters ...”
Meanwhile, the number of veterans who had combat experience (including the wars in Korea) in the BBC naturally decreased from year to year, and new strategic approaches and realities dictated their logic of developments. Meanwhile, the regular flights of American and British reconnaissance aircraft over the Soviet Union, which began very hard, were reflected both in the fighting spirit of the aircrew and in the approaches to the design of combat vehicles. The lack of sufficiently powerful jet engines forced the launch of another round of struggle to reduce the mass of fighters, which the breathing system did not allow the probable enemy to climb to the operational ceiling. More alarming information came through the GRU channels: the agents reported that the crews of American bombers were flying over the Soviet Union with dimensional and weight mock-ups of nuclear bombs.
It is clear that if the enemy bombers strike with nuclear bombs on the cities of the USSR, then there will not be any special sense to conduct air battles with NATO fighters over Germany and Hungary. As a result, as in the years of the Great Patriotic War, everything of secondary importance flew overboard from the Soviet fighters, without which it was possible to do without intercepting high-altitude targets. It was necessary to part even with a part of armament and ammunition, not to mention instruments and armor.
After the next revision of the weight, the watch was removed, and the C-13 photo-cinema-pistol, which was stationed on the MiG-17, was replaced by the FKP-2. When firing, he did not photograph the position of the target relative to the axis of the aircraft and its weapon, but the position of the target and the reticle of the sight. But most importantly, he did not have a watch. The “test” film could be made immediately after the landing gear was cleaned or when the group was assembled and did not suffer when building tricky maneuvers in a training battle.
The disappearance of such a seemingly insignificant element of instrumentation equipment as a clock led to the rapid erosion of the practice of air combat, moreover, both among the interceptor pilots from the air defense fighter aviation and the front-line fighters.
Relaxation touched the requirements for the training of the pilot, submitted for assignment of class qualifications. Preparing to conduct air combat was implied as part of its readiness to perform the tasks of destroying the enemy in the group up to the link inclusive, and to confirm the 2 and 1 classes it was enough to be able to perform interceptions in adverse weather conditions at night. A control check on the combat use of a pilot presented to a class was also carried out according to his ability to perform interception on a rating not lower than “good”, and not free air combat. The combat training level of pilots submitted for assignment of class qualifications declined very quickly and very significantly.
In particular, the 3 class was awarded with the ability to intercept high-altitude targets during the day in simple weather conditions (PMU) as part of a pair and a link, and to get the 2, it was also necessary to be able to fly at the set minimum during the day in difficult weather conditions (SMU), and also carry out the interception of a single aircraft at dusk, which was introduced since 1958 in the practice of combat fighters. At the same time, the target could be detected using the SIV-52 infrared reticle, which fixed the dark silhouette on a light background.
The rigor and pedantry in the evaluation of flight training were supported legally and financially. In 1950, a class qualification was introduced for the entire flight crew of the Armed Forces of the USSR. Note that the system of material incentives for cool pilots was somewhat different from the existing one. So, the 1-class pilot was given an early military rank one step higher (up to and including lieutenant colonel). During the day and at night 2 was additionally paid for the raid in one minute of the raid and one ruble for the same raid in simple weather conditions at night. For 200 flying hours in adverse weather conditions, the pilots were awarded the Order of the Red Star, and for 400 - the Order of Lenin! The qualification of the 1 class pilot was made only after a personal check by the BBC central staff inspector in a joint combat aircraft in a close formation from takeoff to landing as a slave of the weather checked at night in the clouds with the established weather or training combat vehicle. For example, he took on a class in 1950 in the GSVG, Colonel E.V. Sukhorukov. At the end of 50, no one was shocked by this (now almost unthinkable) fact: the commander of the fighter regiment was a pilot of the 2 class, and the deputy commander of the squadron was 1. Such an order existed until July 1959, when with the introduction of near-navigation radio systems, the requirements for flight proficiency were significantly reduced, and they stopped paying for flights in the “complex”, pre-ranked and presented to government awards.
(1) For example, the American B-47 "Stratojet" and B-52 "Superfortress, as well as the British" Victor "," Valiant "and" Volcano ".
(2) Although B-52 could carry guided missiles for self-defense, the use of this variant of the combat load during the war in Southeast Asia was not practiced. The effectiveness of the cannon stern was also very low in the attacks of the BBC DRV interceptors. Although in various publications of a promotional nature it is stated that several “MiGs” shot down by arrows of the “Stratospheric Fortresses”, the archived data of the opposing side do not confirm any of these episodes. In fact, the main and most effective means of protection for strategic bombers are airborne EW facilities, and with group actions, their effectiveness is greatly enhanced by the divisions of jamming and anti-aircraft defense planes.
(3) Although the distillation range of modern tactical aircraft allows them, with several refueling, to cover many thousands of kilometers of space and theoretically strike almost anywhere in the world, serious technical limitations of the crews are imposed on these technical capabilities. As a result, the combat range of machines of this class does not exceed 1500 km.
(4) An analysis by the American experts of the efficiency of the F-86A airborne armament, which consisted of six large-caliber Browning machine guns, showed that the Saber was almost 3 times as accurate as the Mustangs of the last modifications that had ... the same six large-caliber "Braunigov", throwing as in the years of World War II to 3,5 kg of metal per second. The armament of the MiG-15 and MiG-17 were considered by some specialists to be redundant. Indeed, the second weight of the volley of these fighters was 10,5 kg.