Like any person who is fond of aviation, at one time I read a lot of books dedicated to famous Soviet pilots. Each of us on the shelves of personal libraries are the memoirs of many of our legendary pilots, when reading which they involuntarily took our breath away from what they had done, and our hearts were filled with sincere joy for the fact that they are your fellow tribesmen. Hero pilots who fought on the fronts of World War II were especially proud. The names of Pokryshkin, Vorozheykin, Sultan Amet-Khan and many other Soviet aces became a legend, a symbol of invincibility.
And then, like a bolt from the blue, a time that was known all over came, an avalanche of other information fell upon our heads, which almost buried our idols under us, and with them all the heroic history Soviet Aviation. Everything that came to hand was subjected to ostracism: pilots, airplanes, tactics, industry, number of victories, etc. All those who are not lazy, threw their stone in this garden, not caring about the evidence.
Of particular interest representatives of the writing brethren focused on the initial period of the war, during which our aircraft survived difficult times. An uncountable number of ideas, thoughts, statements and conclusions were made concerning the causes of heavy defeats in the air battles of the first year of the war. However, to me personally, who read various materials on this subject, it constantly seemed that the authors were not sufficiently convincing in their statements, often exaggerated the situation, and put wrong accents. In the end, I wanted to listen to the opinions of the participants themselves. I thought, what if we give the floor to our illustrious combat pilots, famous commanders and specialists in the field of aviation? We will not “load” them with a discussion of the global problems of confrontation between the Red Army Air Force and the Luftwaffe, and ask them “simple” questions: how were you taught in flight schools and aviation units? How do you assess the tactical and flight training of our fighter pilots at the beginning of the war?
And now we take some books from the shelf (as practice has shown, we don’t need much) and read them ...
The legendary pilot M. Gromov, versed in the flight case, argued that "only after three to five years of constant practice, one can consider himself a real pilot." In confirmation of his words, he gives an impressive picture of the work of a fighter pilot during an air battle: “The complex of objects that are subject to his attention is extremely high: he must watch the enemy, not letting him out of sight for a single second, keep the situation in touch with with your planes and interact with them, listen to commands, monitor fuel, instrument readings, etc. And all this - with the consciousness of the danger threatening him, requiring constant internal mobilization readiness. ... The pilot must be ready for any surprise. Nothing should surprise him. ” Comments are superfluous.
A.V. Talking about the battles at Khalkhin Gol, Vorozheikin recalled the words of a downed Japanese pilot: “I know that you let out weak pilots from military schools. To become a full-fledged fighter, you need to serve at least two or three years in the front, and here you have more than half of the second year of service. ” The prisoner told the truth about the military schools. At that time, the cadets with firing and air battles only got to know each other, and they flew in schools on old planes, so the pilot needed to master a new plane after school, to study its possibilities in a training fight. ” So, we have an averaged time reference for the formation of a full-fledged fighter - at least three years of intensive training in the front line.
People's Commissar of the aviation industry A.I. Shahurin, discussing the training of pilots in the front-line units and the problems of mastering new aircraft before the war, writes: “By the beginning of 1941, when aviation units began to be replenished with new aircraft, there was concern about their development. The mood of the pilots is very different. Some were happy ... Others found these planes more complex, not as maneuverable as the old ones, they considered them too strict in control. It was all true. New combat vehicles were not given immediately. In addition, in the pre-war years, in an effort to achieve trouble-free operation in units, in aerobatic training, aerobatics were less and less used. Few trained in difficult conditions at night. If we add to this that the flight crew in some parts more than half consisted of young people, then it becomes clear why the development of new technology in some places came with a “scratch” and some people expressed distrust of it. It was more familiar to fly on old planes. ”
People's Commissar knew what he was talking about.
The situation was aggravated by the fact that before the war, the norms of the annual raid were reduced. G.N. Zakharov writes: “And so it wasn’t very much to fly, and then there was an order to cut the norms to a minimum. As soon as these norms were cut, the percentage of accidents jumped in all parts. ”
The notorious Commissar of Defense order to transfer Air Force personnel to the barracks position added fuel to the fire. B.N. Eremin recalls: “Everyone who served less than 4 years, was equated to enlisted. Pilots and technicians experienced this order. The mood was idle, depressed. Flight work was reduced, the restructuring took almost all the remaining months of peaceful life ... "
The Great Patriotic War broke out. What did we have? A.I. In his memoirs, Pokryshkin writes that before the war, flight schools prepared pilots for obsolete programs. “For years, in winter and summer, in any weather, we were taught to go to the“ T ”with the gas removed and put the car at the exact sign, within a few meters. Pulling up on the motor was considered a gross violation of the instruction. Even aerobatics and shooting - the most important thing for a fighter - retreated into the background before this element of the flight. ... The new recruitment arrived in aviation from schools that trained young pilots according to the old, long-established program, for such machines as the “seagull”, I-16. Arriving at the front, the pilot immediately got into an almost new world for him; tactical skills acquired at school were clearly insufficient compared to what war demanded. ”
He agrees with him A.V. Vorozheikin: “In schools, the take-off and landing were mainly judged by the training of instructors and cadets: after all, the greatest number of incidents occurred during take-off and landing. Therefore, to other elements of piloting in schools approached condescendingly. There was even a saying: “It takes off well, let's see how it sits” ... Schools didn’t work out such elements of piloting as rapid coups, low-altitude pilotage and other techniques that required the pilot to will, to accurately calculate all of his movements, accompanied by large overloads . ... For example, I didn’t do more than two turns (corkscrew) on the I-16, and very few people knew that the character of the car’s rotation changed abruptly from the third round: the plane was steeper, almost upright drooping nose to the ground, spinning much faster, from the wings cutting through the air, there were unpleasantly hissing sounds. ... In short, our young recruitment had to be retrained. And most importantly - instill a sense of independence in flight, as required by air combat. "
VC. Babich writes: “Analysis of the air battles conducted by our pilots in December 1941, January, February 1942 showed that it was necessary to resolutely strengthen the combat skills of aviators, starting with their training on the ground. It was necessary to improve the use of airborne and ground-based radio equipment, to constantly study the air and ground enemy, his frequently changing tactics, to persevere in mastering the new methods of combat.
The training level of the aircrew arriving at the front at the end of 1942 did not change much. He is vividly illustrated by A.I. Shakhurin (Battle of Stalingrad, Saratov Aviation Plant). “We are sending aircraft under our own power to the nearest military airfield. On the U-2 plane I am flying to this airfield, I want to see with my own eyes who we are handing the planes to.
I do not see lieutenants among the pilots, only sergeants. I ask:
- What raid do you have on combat aircraft?
- One and a half to two hours, and then most often on old aircraft, rarely anyone flying new ones.
I ask the commanders:
- How will the development of a new material part take place?
- The theory was explained to them during their studies, they were also introduced to the features of the aircraft, but here we give one or two flights and then to Stalingrad. Time does not wait. Hmmm, from this episode, I was cold on the skin!
Questions about the level of training of pilots? There is? Then we go further and see what B.N. writes about this. Eremin: “For many young pilots who began to fight at Stalingrad, the first combat sortie often became the last. The Hitlerite aces did not forgive even the slightest mistake, and did not leave time to acquire a combat uniform. ” The impressive result of the battles near Stalingrad is brought by S.V. Gribanov: “For December 1942, there were two pilots left in the 434-IAP — deputy. com regiment and commissioner ... "
Little has changed in the issue of training in the combat skills of the pilots in the subsequent years of the war. A.V. Vorozheikin: “During the war, our courses were engaged in the preparation of masters of air combat, but the front showed that they did not prepare as they should. The main weakness of the courses was that little attention was paid to aerial shooting. ... They were trained in the old manner, as in the twenties, when the fighter's maximum speed did not exceed 200-280 km / h. The canvas cone, which the pilots called "sausage", was fired only with barrage, aiming not at the target itself, but at the pre-empted point, hoping that the "sausage" would jump at the cannon line itself. ... With the growth of fighter speeds, the emergence of large-caliber machine guns and guns, the removal of the aiming point was so large that the cone began to go out of sight of the pilot. In addition, the luminous trail in front of the enemy’s nose warned the enemy about the danger, he took a counter-maneuver, the attack failed. ” IN AND. Voronov supports this idea: “In order to shoot down in aerial combat, one must be able to shoot. The trouble is that we are poorly trained in shooting at aerial targets. Therefore, it seems that the Messers are invulnerable ...
Why, flying good cars, we could not always use their high LTD in a fight? The conclusion was that: apart from good cars and trained pilots, one must be able to tactically and correctly apply the technique and weapon in battle, taking into account the technique and tactics of the enemy. In our actions, we clearly looked at the elements of underestimation and a simplified approach to the choice of tactics, the templates for constructing battle formations, lacked cunning ... "
About the tactics written by many masters of air combat. In this regard, we are interested in their assessment of the first half of the war. It is the initial stage of the war that makes it possible to see in a pure form the tactical baggage of the opposing sides. In the course of hostilities, counter diffusion of tactical ideas takes place, so differences in approaches to air combat are quickly eroded and leveled.
Weak tactical flight training of our pilots in the initial period of the war, indicated by G.V. Zimin, instinctively forced them to stay closer to each other. "Our pilots feel more confident in the" heap. So, in a "bunch", and started the fight, and already further - someone how it goes. Two or three pairs of Germans could easily unleash our “heap”, and, taking advantage of the unsystematic nature of its construction, knock them down. ”
“A comparative analysis of the capabilities of the warring parties shows,” says V.K. Babich, - that in the first period of the war the well-known air combat formula "height - speed - maneuver - fire" could not be born and be realized: the necessary material base was missing. For the enemy were three of the four components of this formula. Even a very brave and experienced pilot could not go to the vertical if his plane gained less height for more time than the enemy. And-16 groups were kept too tight, because increasing the intervals and distances with low fire led to a violation of mutual support. "
K.A. Vershinin in his book quotes the letter of the commander of the IAD A.V. Borman, dated 1943 in spring: “I came to the conclusion that it is necessary to radically change the methods of defensive combat used since the first days of the war. Today they have become a great evil. We need to let the pilots feel their power in a pair. Need a fracture. Regiment commanders should begin the transition to a new one. Fearing losses, they now send a group of 8-12 airplanes to any mission and do not give initiative to leading couples. The commanders of the groups, in turn, fearing the loss of the aircraft from sight, drive in a tight order, linking this to the freedom of maneuver. The outdated form of defensive combat on I-16 and I-153 aircraft is still used in some parts. ” Behind two years of war, and the couple has not yet become a standard tactical structure. In the course of the notorious "defensive circle." The commanders of the lower and middle managers are inactive and hunted down by higher authorities.
An interesting idea about the evolution of tactical ideas is expressed by GN. Zakharov. “Even later, after fighting, gaining experience in battles, we naturally came to understand the tactics of modern air combat by the standards of those. At first, the pilots didn’t even take into account such tactical elements as entering the attack from the side of the sun. ” General Zakharov (in 1938, the flight commander, senior lieutenant, and in 1939, the district air force commander!) Forgot to mention that this “natural way” was covered with the bodies of a huge number of our pilots, whom he could not teach “even tactical elements” . However, did he himself know these "elements"?
As soon as we remembered here about Zakharov’s fantastic career, it would be appropriate to briefly list some of the data on this topic, which S. V.V. Gribanov: “A.K. In 1938, Sedov was a senior lieutenant, squadron commander, and a year later he was already a brigade commander, chief of the Chief Flight Inspectorate of the Red Army Air Force. Vs Holzunov in 1936, the captain, the commander of the squadron, and in 1937 - the commander of the army of special purpose. A.A. In 1936, Gubenko was a senior lieutenant, flight commander, and in 1938, he was a colonel and deputy commander of the District Air Force. G.P. Kravchenko was the captain in 1937, and in 1941 he was lieutenant-general, commander of the district air force. " This writes and VS Shumikhin: “Many of the commanders put forward did not have time to acquire (before the war) the necessary command experience. By the middle of 1941, 43% commanders of all degrees were in positions less than six months, 65% - less than a year. More than 91% of aviation commanders commanded them for less than six months. In 1940 at the age of 29, the Red Army Air Force was headed by Lieutenant-General Aviation P.V. Levers. Marshal A.A. Novikov wrote that, although Rychagov had considerable combat experience and probably was a promising military leader, yet the lack of military education and experience in leadership positions made it hardly advisable to appoint him to such a responsible post. ” These are the "strategists" commanding the country's aviation at the most crucial moment of its history, what kind of "sunset attack from the sun"! ..