Military Review

Closer to the ground ("Time", USA, July 31, July 1944)

Article published 31 July 1944 of the year

The land, on which the Red Army is fighting in central Poland and the Baltic coast, is no longer Russian, as is the sky. But Russians dominate this sky. The Red Army Air Force captured it no less decisively than land forces captured it.

Last week, at the southern forward observation post, Marshal Ivan Konev, a stout man without a hair on his head, instructed his commanders. The delicate aroma of blossoming apple trees poisoned the stench of highly explosive substances and dead bodies. Marshall spoke of new power aviation Of the Red Army and its main function: close, selfless support of the ground forces. At the same time, the units of the attack aircraft flew over the apple trees towards the front in order to smash the German infantry, firing positions and Tanks.

The exhausted, weakening Luftwaffe tried to repel the pressure, but in vain. From Moscow it was reported that in one day 128 German aircraft were shot down. About how aviation paved the way for tanks and infantry Konev, - a separate story.

In Dvinsk alone, nine German echelons were destroyed. The ammunition wagons, ruined by Russian bombs, exploded, spreading fire and destruction. German troops, retreating in the direction of Warsaw, poured lead attack aircraft, medium bombers and fighters, among them - "Air Cobra", "Boston" and armed with Mitchell guns, produced in the United States and controlled by Russian pilots.

Burden and gratitude

There is one person who has more than anyone else the right to rejoice at the news of the triumph of red air power. Rescue and restoration of the Air Force after the German attack destroyed almost all of the aircraft was not the work of one person. But one person put the heaviest burden on his shoulders, and in Russia he receives the lion's share of gratitude. This is the commander of the Red Army Air Force Marshal Alexander Alexandrovich Novikov.

Moscow does not say where Novikov was last week - but, probably, he, as usual, is moving at a furious pace between the airfields, looking at what his pilots live, chatting with them and encouraging them. Had his will, 42-year-old Marshal Novikov himself would undoubtedly have flown combat missions. But this is not permitted by his friend Joseph Stalin. Like other top aviation officials, Novikov is not allowed to risk his life in battle.

Do not pry

A few years before the war, the Kremlin kept all the information relating to its aircraft under such a dense veil of secrecy that foreign observers and even journalists working in the USSR had no idea what the Russians were flying and how they would fly case of war.

Even after the Soviet Union began to receive Lend-Lease American equipment, the Russians remained suspicious and kept their mouths shut. When the Allies began to gain the upper hand, the Russians began to noticeably freer to disclose information. Although, unlike the Americans, they do not inform the public about their newest combat aircraft, the main outlines of the development of Russian aviation have become clear.

Blitzkrieg germ

Unlike political deviations, unorthodox military thinking has never been punished in Russia. In 1930, the Soviet theory of air warfare was characterized by bold ideas. It was the Russian, Amiragov, who was one of the first strategists who declared that a modern war should begin with a concerted strike by tanks and aircraft. The Germans developed the core of their blitzkrieg strategy, but the rest of Europe did not pay much attention to this. The Russians were the first to conduct large-scale experiments with a mass landing of an airborne landing and one of the first with airborne gliders. But it was the Germans who were the first to use this tactic in battle. At some point, the Russian experiments were interrupted.

The Spanish Civil War was a laboratory for both Russia and the Axis countries. The Russians watched the rehearsal of the German Blitzkrieg with both military and political interest; under Guadalajara, their planes defeated Italian tanks, demonstrating for the first time the capabilities of attack aircraft. But their planes are outdated. Soviet designers and manufacturers did not keep up with theorists. By the beginning of the Finnish war, the Russian planes were still damp, and the main work was done by good old artillery.

But the lessons of Spain and Finland were not in vain. The design of the Soviet aircraft was improved, and the plants switched to the production of new types. When this process was in full swing, Hitler attacked the country.

Ally winter

Germany’s attack in June 1941 caught the Red Army air force off guard. A huge number of red planes were destroyed on the ground. In the air, the Germans outnumbered the Russians in numbers, weapons and equipment. Unequal battles continued right through to winter, when a lull began on the fronts. The landing gear of the Russian aircraft made it easy to install skis instead of wheels, and their vehicles knew how to keep the engines and oil from freezing. In the conditions of winter, the Germans could only wallow bitterly. That year, the Russian winter killed more German planes than Russian aviation.

By the time the unfavorable warm weather returned, American and British aircraft began to arrive under Lend-Lease. But the Allied convoys heading to Murmansk suffered terrible losses from Luftwaffe planes operating from Norway and Finland. Much of the Lend-Lease shipments had to be redirected along a long route through the Persian Gulf. The Russians did not give up. They dismantled the aircraft factories that were in the way of the Wehrmacht, transported from to the rear and reassembled them there.

At Stalingrad, the Germans still had superiority in the air. But Stalingrad was a turning point in the war, including in the air. The Russians were getting more and more aircraft from their factories and lend-lease. The design of the aircraft and the training of pilots were constantly improved. The American and British Air Forces began to smash the Luftwaffe in their factories and in the air. When the great counterattack rolled westward, it was possible to say that the Russians achieved equality in the air.

'To hell with unnecessary trinkets'

For this, Joseph Stalin had to thank four people. Major Generals and Heroes of Socialist Labor, designers Sergey Ilyushin and Alexander Yakovlev, people's commissar of the aviation industry Alexei Shakhurin and Marshal Alexander Novikov. Novikov told Ilyushin and Yakovlev what kind of planes he needed, two designers created them on their drawing boards, Shahurin built them.

At the time of the Nazi attack, Novikov was the chief of staff of the Red Army Air Force responsible for planning. He was responsible for the salvation of aviation from destruction. In essence, Novikov said: “Make fighters for us. Improve current models and build them as soon as possible. To hell with unnecessary trinkets. To hell with all the extra details. We need airplanes that can fly and shoot. We have pilots. Those with insufficient training will complete their education in combat. Losses will be big, but we have people, and so we will work. ” In the field of view of Joseph Stalin, Novikov first came to 1939 at a meeting where they discussed ways and means of strengthening red air power. Novikov, who had recently been transferred to aviation from the infantry, was brought to the meeting by Marshal Semyon Timoshenko, who called him 'Shurik'. Resolute speeches and reasonable ideas of the young man impressed Stalin, and they became friends. In 1942, Mr. Shurik replaced General Yakov Smushkevich as Commander of the Air Force; The following year he was promoted to marshall, becoming the first red aviator to receive this rank. Today he is the Chief Air Marshal.

Closer to the ground ("Time", USA, July 31, July 1944)

Quick payback

Russia had a certain number of heavy bombers in the hangars, and even more advanced were on the drawing boards. At the beginning of 1943, several test raids were made on East Prussia and Ploiesti. However, Novikov abandoned the idea of ​​creating powerful long-range aviation. Development of aircraft and necessary equipment, as well as training crews navigation, radio communications and bombing would be overwhelming work.

Russia was in a hurry, the situation was desperate. She needed a plane for quick payoffs - fighters to fight enemy bombers and attack aircraft in order to smash tanks, infantry and all the other small targets. Novikov decided that the main task of aviation will be tight support for ground forces. There was no time for anything else.

The most famous combat aircraft of Russia, which is its most significant contribution to the tactics of air support, is the 'Sturmovik' + Ilyushin. He is armed with cannons, machine guns, rockets and bombs in different, but always powerful combinations. Not very fast and not super-maneuverable, it has solid armor to protect against machine-gun fire. It is most effective at heights in 150 feet or below - it is almost impossible to knock out large-caliber anti-aircraft guns. To protect against enemy fighters, attack aircraft fly accompanied by their fighters. The attackers, acting in concert with powerful Russian artillery, played a huge role in defeating the Germans.


Yakovlev fighters (of which the Yak-9 was declassified last) are usually considered the best in Russia. Due to the shortage of materials and production difficulties, both the Yaki and the attack aircraft are made partly of wood. Despite such a primitive, it is reliable aircraft: in addition, the 'Yak' is easy and quickly gaining height. He cannot be called an aerodynamic handsome, unlike the German FW-190 or the American Mustang, but the Germans treat the Yaks and their frantic pilots with great respect.

Another series of good Russian fighters was created by Simon Lavochkin. In 1942, Ilyushin, Yakovlev and Lavochkin received 30 000 dollars for the award and the title of the “creators of Stalinist aviation”.

Russian pilots with incredible warmth refer to the American fighters 'Air Cobra' company 'Bell'. Kobrushek, as they affectionately call this aircraft, has more than 4000. Criticism, which Kobrushek was subjected to in the United States for the fact that they could not fly at high altitude, did not embarrass the Russians. Like any other tactical force, the Russians conduct most of the air combat at a height below 15 000 feet. Virtually all the luckiest red aces fly on 'Aircobra'. Colonel Alexander Pokryshkin, the Alliance's leading ace, who recently shot down his 59 Nazi, defeated Bell's fighter 48.

These people are not joking

The vast majority of pilots are simple village guys. They fly confidently and brightly. Compared to American pilots, they seem older and larger. They have little youthful enthusiasm, they do not consider themselves handsome. Study and ideological treatment made them serious people doing serious work. They are not reckless in the sense of a conscious game of danger, but, unlike the American pilots, they are not surrounded by so many security measures and means.

In fact, their attitude towards danger is such that it should be avoided, but not if you are in a hurry or absorbed in something else. Some observers say they fly on their planes "just as the Cossacks gallop." It seems that they can perform any number of tasks without apparent fatigue. Few of them have heard of such ailments of capricious pilots as psychoneuroses.

Their morale is high - today is even higher than ever. Alexandra Novikova is valued and respected. Marshal visits the units so often that most pilots have seen him at least from afar.

Cards on the table

Americans who have met with Novikov speak of him as a 'delightful man'. This is a real Russian handsome man with soft features and a short haircut. He, a man who does not know cunning, is annoyed by someone else's cunning; He likes to lay out cards on the table, as far as the strictness of Soviet politics allows. When Novikov is in Moscow, his working day usually begins at noon, and ends not earlier than midnight. He spends every free minute reading books on the air war from his large library.

Portraits Novikov adorn the country's airports from Kharkov to Almaty, but his name rarely appears in Soviet newspapers. Like other high-ranking red figures, he protects his privacy. He loves society and feasts; when he has time, he appears at parties with his blond wife and drinks do dna vodka. The form sits on it flawlessly.

Sufficient evidence

In addition to all its other virtues, Novikov is a diplomat. Some of his most capable employees, whose talents he could use at home, Novikov sent to Washington to exert mild but constant pressure to increase the supply of aircraft to Russia under lend-lease. Currently, several thousand pieces of equipment are sent annually from the US Air Force Base to Great Falls, Montana, from where the aircraft are being distilled to Russia via Alaska and Siberia. It is assumed that the USSR produces about 30 000 aircraft per year. These figures, in contrast to the declining production volumes in Germany, serve as sufficient evidence that the Red Army air forces (with substantial material and combat - in the skies of Europe - help from the allies) won the war in the air. If it were lost, Russia would have lost the war itself.
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in

  1. ed65b
    ed65b 15 June 2013 09: 05
    Good article. Without too much pathos and when comparing their aces in favor of Russian pilots. How much journalism about Russia has changed for the worse after the war.
  2. cartridge
    cartridge 15 June 2013 09: 17
    The land, on which the Red Army is fighting in central Poland and the Baltic coast, is no longer Russian, as is the sky. But Russians dominate this sky. The Red Army Air Force captured it no less decisively than land forces captured it.

    I recall the words from a good drill song: "Let the enemies remember this - We do not threaten, but say: We have passed, passed half the world with you. If necessary, we will repeat it."
  3. Rider
    Rider 15 June 2013 10: 17
    it would be nice to post this article in the Well York Times.

    maybe then there would be no such comments:
    “I don’t understand why Russia helps terrorists?”
    March 27, 2003
    “It's hard for me to think about how ungrateful you Russians are to the United States. We have helped you a lot in recent years. We have extended a hand of friendship to your government and people. We have given countless dollars to your government, businessmen, churches and just people. ”
    “I don’t understand why Germany, France, Iraq, Canada, Mexico and now Russia decided to help terrorists.”
    "America is the greatest country on earth"
    Ben Richardson

    “Maybe I slept a lesson in history that there was some kind of war in St. Petersburg”
    March 25, 2003
    “When the war is over, you can run different stories about how it was unfair to attack the weak country of Iraq. You can chat anything. But other nations must understand that we have an all-consuming military superiority in the world. And we see evidence of US triumph throughout the world. ”
    “I was in St. Petersburg in 1997 and was shocked by the huge cold buildings. Stalinist style, don't you call it that? Ugly. Seeing on the walls traces of destruction from bullets and bombs, I asked the guide where it came from. She said: “Traces of the war” I was surprised: what kind of war? I lived in London at one time, but there were no such signs of destruction. So what happened in St. Petersburg? Maybe I overslept a history lesson? I asked for clarification. She confirmed that we are talking about the second world war. But this does not hold water anymore - 50 years later, after the United States saved Russia from Hitler, they could not even clear the city. ”

    “You must not be biased towards the country that saved you from fascism”
    March 24, 2003
    “You should not be so biased towards a country that saved you from Nazi leadership in World War II and that constantly helps you.”
    “It is well known that Russia wants to get Iraqi oil, and this is precisely the reason that Russia is against the war.”
    “Communism in Russia died thanks to America, and it cost us dearly”
    "LeaderOf XMI"


    but they will not publish it.
  4. pensioner
    pensioner 15 June 2013 10: 31
    Unlike political biases, unorthodox military thinking has never been punished in Russia.

    That's when I read imported works on social sciences, I always break my brain. How would I understand what the author wanted to say, but did not understand why SO? You’re straight through the heaps of adornment phrases and words - parasites, terms from completely heterogeneous areas, fancifully (just like a musk ox) connected by the author into one whole. Until you reach the end of the phrase, you will forget where you started.
    1. Mikhail3
      Mikhail3 15 June 2013 11: 03
      To catch the attention of readers. Even then it was difficult for Americans to read such a long article, and there was no sex or blood in it. Understand, the journalist did not expect the reader to master the whole phrase. He just put a few bright, memorable spots into it. Specifically, this is because all their press sucked the "repression" for a long time. You look - something will settle in the reader's memory ...
      You are waiting for information from the article. In vain, the local journalists immediately learned not to tell but to influence. National American sport - stirring the brains of a layman with a spoon ...
      1. pensioner
        pensioner 15 June 2013 14: 02
        Thank you Michael !. somehow did not think about it. So that? Immediately into the ballot box their press or still fish out?
  5. pensioner
    pensioner 15 June 2013 10: 33
    That year, Russian winter killed more German aircraft than Russian aircraft.

    Who would doubt that...
    1. smile
      smile 15 June 2013 13: 43
      Exactly !!! The second phrase, which jarred, was the statement that the Jacob's aerodynamics were worse than the Fockewulfs (whom the Anglo-Saxons called "the flying butcher"). One gets the impression that the author did not see both planes ... and, nevertheless, the article surprises with a kind and unbiased attitude.
      1. pensioner
        pensioner 15 June 2013 13: 55
        Smile! The mood is kind of positive. But between the lines it is read (at least to me) that they crushed the mass. Russian flew on the irons. And since they got indecently irons, the normal pilots and planes failed to prove themselves. Winter again ... i.e. under the wrapper of a benevolent attitude, old myths from Goebbels are crammed. The reception is famous. But maybe I'm too biased. Yes, and I can’t say that I read it very carefully ...
        1. smile
          smile 15 June 2013 14: 23
          Yes, I agree with you on all 100 ... they have it crammed into the subcortex, they, with rare exceptions, simply are not able to do it differently ... and whoever is able - they simply will not write, for fear of total obstruction of the local ruminants. are not biased, but this journalist, in my opinion, wrote so not out of harm — he just can not do otherwise — in his head clogged with stereotypes, there is no room for understanding the real state of things ... nevertheless, he is clearly experiencing for us good feelings, for he understands who really bears the main burdens of war and saves the planet ... and for this I am grateful to him.
          1. pensioner
            pensioner 15 June 2013 14: 44
            Well, if this is true, then on his part such an article is an act. Indeed, imported articles are rarely found in such a favorable tone. I’ll go and put the Author + (the 14th plus is mine!).
        2. chehywed
          chehywed 15 June 2013 14: 33
          Yeah, and even after take-off and before landing, a "specially trained person" changed skis to wheels and vice versa.
      2. Corsair
        Corsair 16 June 2013 08: 42
        Yakovlev's fighters (of which the Yak-9 was the last to be declassified) are generally considered the best in Russia. Due to the scarcity of materials and production difficulties, both the Yaks and the stormtroopers are made partly of wood. Despite this primitiveness, these are reliable aircraft: in addition, the Yak is lightweight and gains altitude quickly. Him can not be called aerodynamic handsome, unlike the German FW-190 or the American Mustang, but the Germans have great respect for the Yaks and their raging pilots.

        Obviously, the author was ignorant of the subject matter. But there are no comrades for the taste and color ...
        Many, let's say, do not like the design of some PURE American cars ...
  6. pinecone
    pinecone 15 June 2013 13: 48
    After the US entered the war, the American press was given specific instructions to praise the Red Army and its commanders. It is enough to say that in one of the articles of the same Time magazine in 1942. it was said that General Zhukov was fluent in four foreign languages. At the same time, the simplicity of Soviet military equipment was constantly emphasized, which made it quite easy to master its semi-literate village peasants, the vast territory of the country, the unpretentiousness of its population, etc.
    Russian sacrifice and heroism, along with the industrial power of America and its perfectly equipped armed forces, were the leitmotif of American propaganda as a whole, although ill-hidden hostility and hatred of everything Soviet and Russian nevertheless erupted.
    In relation to the British, the general mood of the press went through two stages. At first, their steadfastness and adamance to the threat of Hitler's invasion was glorified, and after the German attack on the USSR and the subsequent entry into the United States war, he began to differ in a certain irony and condescension. As an example, we can mention the frequent mention in the press of the inability of the Royal Air Force bombing aircraft to strike at enemy targets in the daytime. On this occasion, Churchill once considered it necessary to personally appeal to Roosevelt with a request to keep American journalists from such statements.
    1. pensioner
      pensioner 15 June 2013 13: 58
      And these people do not allow us to poke our nose (teach freedom of the press ...)?
    2. Blackgrifon
      Blackgrifon 15 June 2013 21: 25
      Quote: pinecone
      Royal Air Force bomber inability to strike enemy targets in the daytime.

      And then, they are only able to fight with a peaceful people.

      Historical case:
      In Greece, when the front collapsed and the Germans began to rush to the ports, a city that was defended by a group of at least a regiment defended the Wehrmacht. The British commander was asked by the commander how much he could hold on. The officer’s response is 2 hours.
      After 2 hours, the British honestly surrendered to the German battalion.
  7. Igarr
    Igarr 15 June 2013 18: 05
    Hi guys ...
    You are all too spoiled - .. "serious work, serious approach, ideological attitudes ..". The article says about this - in the RUSSIAN language, American thinking and ... a bored presentation of the material.
    Not so much in American psychology. And the fact that they are so accustomed from the very beginning ... printing.
    Advertising, advertising, advertising .... do not sell - you will not get rich.
    how to get a farmer to buy a newspaper? Yes, giving "fried" material is simple, farmer-style, but it is furious. And it is obligatory - to emphasize that only here ... the very thing, and the rest is bullshit.
    And, Soviet readers are accustomed to treating the printed word very thoughtfully. Let me emphasize - precisely - the Soviet ones. Under the tsar too ... there was enough rattle - any writer about that time has "pearls" of literature of that time. Yes, even remember the film - "the man from Boulevard des Capucines", as Filozov (Mister Sekand) accompanied his demonstrations.
    As if now we have a MASS of schoolchildren who have mastered "War and Peace", or "Quiet Don". Or at least "Dead Souls". Also accustomed to crackling. It's a pity of course.
    So the article for American style is exceptionally good.
    And even, in fact, good. It is forgivable for Amers not to know that LaGG called him that - "Varnished ... "it doesn't matter further. But LaGGy really was varnished. With piano varnish.
    It's just that they, the dark ones, do not know how OURS - polished plywood.
    It turned out Rus-Plywood ... exhausting the German infantry .. to the green devils in the eyes.
    Glory to our aviation!
  8. Corsair
    Corsair 16 June 2013 08: 23
    In 1946, the marshal was unjustifiably accused of involvement in the so-called "aviation case" - a fabricated process for the alleged lagging behind the post-war USSR in the Air Force. Was sentenced to 5 years, + a year overtime.
    In 1953, his and other cases in this process were reviewed, with the subsequent rehabilitation of the convicted ...
    According to the testimony of the repressed, the main interest during the investigation was to obtain facts related to the activities of Marshal Zhukov in connection with the upcoming campaign to compromise him:
    Later, Novikov wrote: “They arrested him in the case of the Air Force, and questioned about something else ... I was a tool in their hands in order to discredit some prominent figures of the Soviet state by creating false testimonies. It became clear to me much later. Questions about the state of the Air Force were just a screen ... "
    After his release, the marshal held key posts in the USSR Air Force, and with 1956 he was appointed head of the Higher School of Civil Aviation of the USSR ...
    1. Snoop
      Snoop 18 June 2013 05: 37
      Come on for the lag. For the backlog in jet aircraft, Stalin proposed that Shakhurin and Novikov be removed from their posts. There was even an offer to them to find successors. By the way, Yakovlev took an active part in the defeat of Shakhurin and Novikov.
      Well, then Abakumov's report followed that during the war the leaders of the aviation industry produced "raw" products and, in collusion with the Air Force command, with the tacit consent of the Party Central Committee workers who oversaw the supply of equipment to the Air Force, smuggled defective aircraft into the Red Army's armament. From November 1942 to February 1946, there were more than 45 thousand non-departures of aircraft on a combat mission, 756 accidents and 305 accidents due to material malfunctions. By the way, Stalin did not particularly believe the report and ordered an additional check. Abakumov later provided materials on the Yak-9U and Il-2. The Yak-9U, when it was launched into series, did not pick up the speed required for combat use. Its wings had such low strength that it happened to fall off during flight overloads. Abakumov's people revealed a similar "covering up of shortcomings" in relation to the Yak-3 fighter. 40 percent of these aircraft entering the Air Force experienced accidents due to scuffing of the upper wing skin at high speeds. On the Il-2 aircraft that entered the Air Force in 1942-1943, the fragility of the wing skin was also discovered. In addition, due to the violation of production technology, the butt joints "gave slack". There were cases when IL-2's wings fell off in the air and disasters occurred, accompanied by the death of pilots. After reviewing the additional materials, Stalin issued an arrest warrant.