Military Review

Thunderstorm "air samurai"

Thunderstorm "air samurai"

Near Beijing, at the famous Lugouqiao Bridge, where the Second Sino-Japanese War began on July 7, 1937, the exposition "The Great Victory and historical contribution".

It presents over a thousand unique photographs of the times of the war, almost three thousand items, as well as audio and video materials. The exhibition is dedicated to the resistance of the Chinese people to the Japanese invasion, with special attention paid to the role of the Chinese Communist Party in the war years.

The exhibition also contains materials on the participation of Soviet pilots in the war in China. Russian Ambassador to the People's Republic of China Andrei Denisov, who visited the exhibition, was particularly interested in this section. He also expressed gratitude to Chinese historians who have preserved unique testimonies of Russian-Chinese friendship for posterity.

Today, few people remember this, but the Soviet pilots made a great contribution to the resistance of the Japanese troops in China, especially in the first, most difficult years of the war. There, Vladimir Kokkinaki, Stepan Suprun, Fedor Polynin, Grigory Thor and many other Soviet pilots who became legends fought aviation.

"Sword of Justice"

Military assistance from the USSR to the Chinese Republic began with the 1937 year. It was preceded by a meeting of the Kuomintang party leader Chiang Kai-shek with the extraordinary envoy of the Soviet Union at the end of December 1936. Then the Chinese side asked the diplomat to convey to Moscow that 20 divisions are being formed in China to fight the Japanese, who need help. It was about sending Soviet military experts and advisers to China.

Before leaving China, the Soviet pilots managed to prepare Chinese pilots for themselves. According to the memoirs of the same Fedor Polynin, who organized the flight school in China back in 1933, the students were very diligent and talented.
The USSR responded vividly to this request, especially since relations with China at that time were good for Moscow. Even earlier, approximately from the beginning of the 1936 of the year, the Soviet Union began to help China by supplying military equipment through a system of barter credits, that is, in exchange for tea, minerals, raw materials for medicines, and leather.

As a result, in the USSR 1937-40 put 1285 aircraft, among them 777 fighters I-15bis and I-16, 408 bombers DB-3, SB-2, TB-3 and 100 training machines. Also, bombs and ammunition for aircraft came to China from the Soviet Union, as well as air defense equipment: anti-aircraft guns, searchlights, and sound absorbers.

Opening of the thematic exhibition "Great Victory and Historical Contribution". A member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Liu Yunshan, announced the exhibition open.

But the main thing - to support China in the war with Japan arrived 447 people of the flight crew from the USSR. The unit was staffed by volunteers on the basis of the flight brigade of the Academy. NOT. Zhukovsky. The experience of sending volunteers for help abroad from Moscow had already been by that time - Soviet pilots fought in Spain, including, by the way, brigade commander Gregory Thor, who arrived later in China.

From the Soviet Union, the military was transferred in October - November 1937 of the year on the route Alma-Ata - Lanzhou - Hankou. The flight of heavily loaded vehicles took place over the desert regions of northwestern China, where there were only a few number of landing sites capable of receiving Soviet aircraft, especially bombers with full ammunition and additional crews.

And on November 21 of the same year, the first battle of our air group on seven I-16 fighters with Japanese pilots took place in the sky over Nanking (at that time - the capital of the Republic of China). Despite the lack of experience, Soviet pilots shot down two Japanese A5M fighters and one bomber.

The conditions were extremely difficult. Japanese aircraft dominated the air, the ratio was the average 5-7 of the Imperial Air Force planes per Soviet. Therefore, the pilots had to make 5-6 sorties a day. And the forces were not at all equal - a group of 5-6 of our machines acted against 20-30 Japanese fighters, who covered a squadron of 40-50 bombers.

But, despite the numerical superiority, volunteers from the USSR were able to achieve some success. "The Soviet pilots who arrived in China at the end of 1937 of the year contributed to a dramatic change in the situation. The Chinese people had not only a reliable shield in the air, but also a smashing sword," participant of those events, Colonel-General Fedor Polynin wrote in his memoirs. (At the time of the events described, he was the captain and led the second group of SB bombers sent by the Soviet Union to help China.)

Shortly after arrival, our pilots began to show the wonders of skill in aerial combat. So, in February 1938 of the year they shot down Japanese aircraft in a battle over the city of Wuhan 12. For this, the Chinese, inclined to beautiful names, called the squadron "the sword of justice."

Soviet aviation greatly helped the Kuomintang units in their struggle against the Japanese. Under the leadership of the same Fyodor Polynin, in February 1938 of the year, a raid was launched on Taiwan, occupied by Japanese troops. As a result of the attack, a large part of the Air Force base near Taipei was destroyed, in particular, 40 aircraft and a three-year fuel reserve. The bombing of the Japanese ships on the Yangtze River was also successful. During the fighting in China, Soviet aircraft sent a Japanese ship to the bottom of the 92, including one aircraft carrier.

However, after the Kuomintang government in 1939-40 stopped the allowance of its 8 and 4 armies headed by the Communists, the USSR began to reduce military aid to China. And in 1941, it stopped altogether, after which our pilots were called back home. Contacts resumed only in 1945 year, after the defeat of the Kwantung Army by Soviet troops.

Chinese aces

But before leaving China, the Soviet pilots managed to prepare Chinese pilots to replace them. According to the memoirs of the same Fedor Polynin, who organized the flight school in China back in 1933, the students were very diligent and talented.

"With a sin in half, the general scored the right number of candidates for pilots, and they began their studies," recalls a veteran of the battles in China. "It was hard for the students, and for the teachers it was even harder."

Many aircraft cadets have never seen. Studying the elementary fundamentals of aerodynamics, they could not understand how this propeller could “screw” itself into the air and pull such a heavy machine behind them. In addition, none of us spoke Chinese, and the listeners did not understand Russian at all. It was then that the skills of practical demonstration acquired at the Academy were very useful to us.

However, the Chinese, albeit slowly, but still making their first academic achievements. The day came when they were allowed to drive the plane. With what enthusiasm and delight they did it! A ride on the fast-winged car, the cadets gathered in a circle and began to discuss something loudly, waving their hands vigorously.

We were amazed at the diligence of our students. They sat on the ground for hours without stirring, and listened to the lecture, forgetting about lunch and rest. They especially liked the practical exercises. They treated the car as a living being, literally idolizing it. We established friendly relations with the Chinese. They understood that the Soviet people provide disinterested help to their homeland. "

As a result of the efforts of the Chinese side to prepare their pilots, as well as thanks to Soviet assistance to the beginning of the war with Japan, the Chinese troops had their own aircraft. In conditions of constant hostilities, their skill was improved, and in 1943-44, the Chinese Republic Air Force was already a formidable force. It was then that the names of the Chinese aces pilots Liu Cuigang, Liu Zheshen, Wang Guifu, Yuan Baokan, and many others became known.

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  1. VohaAhov
    VohaAhov 6 September 2015 10: 00
    During the fighting in China, Soviet aircraft sent 92 Japanese ships to the bottom, including one aircraft carrier.

    I wonder what kind of Japanese aircraft carrier sank the Soviet pilots?
    1. Penetrator
      Penetrator 6 September 2015 10: 54
      In 1938, an auxiliary aircraft carrier was sunk on the Yangtze River. Some crap converted from a cargo steamer to an aircraft jack.
  2. samurai way
    samurai way 6 September 2015 18: 25
    And why not make a joint film about our pilots. The Chinese have very good historical films. Ps. That's just so that the director was not Mikhalkov ...
    1. Kilo-11
      Kilo-11 7 September 2015 06: 23
      And not Bondarchuk.
  3. Reptiloid
    Reptiloid 6 September 2015 21: 01
    Forgotten, silent pages of history. Thanks a lot for the article.
    Quote: samuraiway
    And why not make a joint film about our pilots. The Chinese have very good historical films. Ps. That's just so that the director was not Mikhalkov ...

    I would be glad to such a film. Not against Mikhalkov, but that the film would be color.
  4. serverny
    serverny 7 September 2015 02: 03
    When bombing the air base in Taiwan, it seems that some kind of admiral / general was hurt.

    When I read the phrase "in 1938, Soviet aviation bombed Taiwan" for the first time six months ago, I realized how little we know about World War II :)