Taran - the last weapon

At the beginning of World War II in the Soviet Union, a poster with the slogan "Taran - weapon heroes. On it, the Soviet plane with its propeller demolished the tail of a German bomber. To create the poster of the artist Voloshin inspired the heroic deed of Victor Talalikhin, a junior lieutenant of the Red Army. It was he who 70 years ago on a single-engine fighter "I-16" in such a way at night from 7 to 8 August shot down a twin-engine "Heinkel-111".

Not first, but most famous

Victor Talalikhin is not the first Soviet pilot to commit a night ram. He was ahead of his brother-soldier Peter Yeremeyev, a senior lieutenant of the Red Army. On the night of July 29 over the village of Golovino (this is the Moscow region) on the MiG-3, he attacked Heinkel-111. He fired the entire ammunition at him, but the German aircraft continued to move to the capital with six tons of high-explosive bombs. Then a brave Soviet pilot makes a ram - the enemy machine falls to the ground, the pilot himself successfully lands on a parachute.

The Luftwaffe - the air forces of Nazi Germany - made their first major raid on Moscow on the night of July 22. About 200 bombers participated in this operation, then bombing of the capital continued almost every night. By the beginning of August, the Soviet command calculated losses both from the German side and from its own. The conclusion was as follows: almost one to one. Having learned about such statistics, the Soviet command changed the cool attitude to the ram to the warm one. And just then Victor Talalikhin made a night ram. Soviet propaganda began to extol this way of fighting and the heroic act of the pilot. But, despite the beautiful and spirit-lifting articles in the press, a ram in the air was probably one of the most ineffective ways of fighting. After it, both planes "died", and in 40% of cases, the "author" of the air ram died.

Ace with one eye

Hero of the USSR Viktor Talalikhin died in an air battle near Podolsk on October 27 1941. He destroyed the 6 aircraft. His example of heroism had a strong effect on the "Stalin falcons", who began to commit the ram several times. And one pilot - four!

For Boris Kovzan, who was born in the town of Shakhty, Rostov Region, by October 29 and 1941 there were two excellent air victories. Then he returned from a combat mission, he ran out of ammo. He accidentally spotted a German plane and rammed it. Tumbling, the German went to the ground, and Boris Kovzan flew to his airfield.

22 February 1942, Kovzan, the senior lieutenant, similarly destroyed a German bomber, and a month later a fighter. In both cases, he successfully landed on a damaged aircraft. But he was less lucky with the fourth ram: August 13, 1942, Boris Kovzan, the captain and Hero of the USSR, was seriously wounded - a bullet hit his eye. Having collected all the forces, the captain rammed another fascist plane - both cars fell apart. The pilot lost consciousness and with a six-kilometer height with a parachute, which did not fully open, fell into a swamp. He was incredibly lucky - he survived! Broke only arm, leg and several ribs.

This event did not prevent to pursue a fighter career. One-eyed ace continued to fight with the Germans and shot down 28 Nazi aircraft. After the war, Boris Kovzan entered the Air Force Academy, graduated in 1954, and in 1958 he retired. This great man died 31 August 1985 of the year.

In total, during the years of the Great Patriotic War, Soviet pilots made more than 600 rams, of which two-thirds accounted for 1941 and 1942 years. The command of the Luftwaffe even issued a decree that forbade close approach to Soviet aircraft.

The Fuhrer's Suiciders

When air rams lost popularity among Soviet pilots, he acquired it from German pilots. Colonel Hans-Joachim Herrmann became the main ideologue of ramming tactics in Germany. He proposed a plan: to destroy the Allied four-engined bomber near 400-500 in one night. He came to the conclusion that the British and Americans were supposed to delay the raids on the country for a while, for several weeks, after this operation. This time, in the opinion of the colonel, would be enough to re-equip the Reich air defense system with the latest Messerschmitt-262 fighter jets.

Green youths who have just graduated from flight schools, with inspiration agreed to take part in this operation. During the day, about two thousand volunteers gathered. Almost everyone wanted to take revenge on the British and Americans for the deaths of their relatives, from whose bombs in fascist Germany almost everyone died relatives. But with the material part of the operation, serious problems arose: 150 of lightweight Messerschmitt-109 was received for the operation only in April of 1945. For a deadly attack, these planes had to rise to an altitude of 12 thousands of meters and, descending at high speed, ram the bombers. It was necessary to aim at the tail end with the fuselage or the wing with the fuselage. Pilot odds to survive were rated at 50%.

7 April 1945 has come, as they say, the moment of truth. To reflect the 8 air raid of the US Air Force, 180 suicide pilots took off in northern Germany. From the first minutes the operation did not go according to plan. Many inexperienced young pilots got lost in the air, could not find an enemy, and even with difficulty returned to their airfields. Others were shot down by American fighter jets or the Flying Fortress air gunners. Only 23 ram was committed by German pilots, destroying 8 American bombers. Only the 53 German pilots returned home. Attempts to repeat the operation Germany has not taken.

"Divine wind"

Experts came to the conclusion that ramming tactics is ineffective. But you need to pay attention to one thing: it is the plane that rams. For example, on the Soviet-German front, a twin-engine bomber, which cost only three or four times more expensive than a fighter. Or ... an aircraft carrier. To such an idea (ramming aircraft carriers) came in Japan when they lost the war to the Americans. Until that time, there had never been a kamikaze in the Imperial Air Force. And only October 21 1944, the first kamikaze rammed the British cruiser "Australia". Then the 29 officers and the 64 sailor died.

The Japanese command used inexperienced pilots as a kamikaze. If the pilot did not find the enemy, then returned to the base. Some kamikazes even made 4-5 departures before they died. The US Navy in 1944-1945 lost four aircraft carriers, three of which were sunk by kamikazes. After the end of the war, a couple of thousand failed kamikazes survived.

By the way, 10 December 1941, the American captain Kelly made the first ram on the Pacific theater of hostilities. Then he sent his “Flying Fortress” to the Japanese battleship “Haruna”.

Interestingly, the word "kamikaze" translates as "divine wind." So called the typhoon, which in the 13 century sunk the fleet of the Mongol Khan Kublai, who wanted to seize Japan.
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