Military Review

Soviet radio operators in the Chinese war


For China, the restoration of diplomatic relations with our country at the end of 1932, interrupted by the Kuomintang government in 1929, was of great importance. After that, the Soviet government immediately raised the issue of concluding a Soviet-Chinese non-aggression pact, which in those conditions was supposed not only to consolidate China’s international position, but also promote further development of ties with the Soviet Union. However, the Kuomintang government, which pursued a policy of “appeasing the aggressor,” did not really strive to improve relations with the USSR, and refused to sign such a pact. And only the Japanese attack on China in July 1937 had forced Chiang Kai-shek to change his policy. 21 August 1937 The non-aggression pact was signed. The Soviet Union helped China, who fought for independence. At the request of the Chinese side, in the autumn of 1937, the government of our country sent military advisers and specialists to China, and in December - volunteer pilots. Without waiting for the agreement on granting China the first Soviet loan, our country began to provide it with material assistance as well. It was decided to deliver military vehicles, weapons, ammunition, medicines and fuel for the Chinese army by motor vehicles and airplanes, since at the beginning of the war Japan completely blocked the Chinese coast.

In order to provide transportation, it was necessary to organize radio communication on the auto and air routes used to transport cargo to China. This case was entrusted to the deputy head of the 13 department Ivan Nikolayevich Artemyev. This decision was due to the fact that it had at its disposal a fairly powerful radio center, a stock of necessary radio stations, and also the personnel of radio operators. The department started the task immediately after receiving the order. Particular attention was paid to the selection of highly skilled radio operators who, outside their Homeland, would be able to quickly equip the necessary communications centers and ensure the deployment of radio stations on certain sections of routes.

The highway, originating in Alma-Ata, went through the city of Dzharkend, then, at the border crossing point of Khorgos, it entered the territory of China and then through the settlements of the Chinese provinces of Xinjiang, Gansu left for the central and southern provinces. Aviation The route intended for flights of transport and distillation of combat aircraft also began in Alma-Ata and ran through the cities of Kuldzha, Guchen, Hami, Anxi, Lanzhou and then to the center and south of China. The chief of communications on both routes was the commander of a separate radio division of the NPO, Major Ivan Gerasimovich Danilov, who had experience in organizing communications with Spain. October 18, 1937 Danilov with a group of radio operators flew from Moscow to Alma-Ata. They were supposed to deploy radio stations primarily in those points of the airway where airfields were created necessary for refueling military and transport aircraft.

At first, the radio specialists installed the transmitter at the Alma-Ata radio center and tested the radio station during communication sessions with Moscow and Urumqi, where our radio center was already available. Then, on all other aircraft and vehicle bases of the routes, subordinates of Major Danilov installed low-power radio stations served by specially trained radio operators. Therefore, the management and headquarters of the routes, which controlled the deliveries of our military cargoes to China, were able to effectively manage the process of their transportation. With the help of the main radio station in Alma-Ata, continuous communication with the bases on the highways was maintained, at any time it was possible to establish where the convoys or airplanes are located, change the timing and speed of movement of goods, set additional tasks and monitor their implementation. Over time, the increase in the supply of weapons and military equipment led to the fact that the deployed communication system could no longer fully meet the increased requirements. There was an urgent need for its development. We needed new radio centers and radio stations at intermediate aerodromes and car bases, as well as a radio network for transmitting meteorological information to aerodromes and the crew of each aircraft flying along the air route. For this, radio stations were additionally installed in Shiho, Jinho, at the airfields of Urumqi, Hami and at the motor depot of Pichan. Radio centers of the routes in Almaty, Urumqi and Lanzhou provided communication not only in China, but also with Moscow.

Soviet radio operators in the Chinese war

The Alma-Ata radio center was served by 5 radio specialists, who made radio contact with correspondents on a strictly scheduled time, at a specific time for the session. However, additional sessions were very often appointed, which was connected with the current operational situation either on the tracks or in the combat contact zone. As a result, the radio center worked around the clock, the exchange of radiograms was quite large.

Almost all the radio specialists of the site in Alma-Ata were then sent to radio centers and radio stations, which were deployed in the territory of our country and China, where they were quite successfully solving their tasks. For example, in 1940, at a border point near the village of Burundai, a radio station was deployed to provide communication with the Gulja airfield and transport aircraft during their flight along the air route. The head of the radio station was appointed the former employee of the hub in Almaty, A. P. Stretovich, who worked continuously for 12-14 hours per day. The radio center in Urumqi was created on the tracks before anyone else. He provided communication with Moscow, radio centers in Almaty and Lanzhou, as well as radio stations in the Xinjiang region.

It should be noted that in China, Soviet radio operators felt the respect and support of the local population. The Chinese provided them with all possible assistance in deploying radio stations and individual communications centers. They responded to any request, trying to at least alleviate the hard work of our communications workers. For example, when an 1939-watt transmitter was installed at a radio node in Xami in Hami, and its antennas were required to build masts, building material and labor were provided without delay.

Under difficult conditions, the personnel of the radio center in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu Province, had to work. The site worked around the clock, as it provided daily radio communication with 15 correspondents (among whom were military advisers who were directly in the active hostilities zone), with Soviet representatives in the Special District of China, with the main military adviser at Chiang Kai-shek’s headquarters, radio hubs , as well as with Moscow. In addition, the radio center maintained radio contact with the Soviet office in Ulan Bator. Radio traffic was huge, more than 12 thousand groups were transmitted per day, with most of the radiograms going in transit.

Regular Japanese bombing of the city threatened to destroy the radio center. Therefore, after the warning about the next air raid, part of the personnel had to be sent along with the equipment to shelters specially equipped in the mountains. The remaining radio operators with extraordinary exposure, despite the bombing, provided radio communications, maintaining strict order.

It was especially difficult to ensure the work of those points of the routes where one person served the radio station. So, radio operator I.A. Ugarov was on the airfield of Suzhou without a substitute for more than six months. The radio program (schedule) was very tense. He had to sit at the receiver from 8 hours of the morning to 8 hours of the evening, and sometimes all night. In addition, a lot of effort had to be made to keep the radio equipment, chargers, batteries, small-sized power plants in good condition. And so for six long months ... Subsequently, for this selfless work of I.A. Ugarov was awarded the Order of the Red Star. In similar conditions, A.N. Nikiforov, A.S. Sharing and other radio operators.

There were other difficulties. The fact is that the air and road routes went through the provinces of Xinjiang and Gansu through dry semi-desert and desert areas, including the Gobi Desert. Sand storms raged from spring to autumn on the stretch from our border to Lanzhou. And then the radio conditions deteriorated sharply: electric charges appeared in the receiving antennas, which created strong interference. The reception time of even short radiograms increased 5-10 times as compared to normal. It should be noted that sandstorms sometimes raged 3-5 days, and this, naturally, had a negative impact on the operation of the entire communication system.

In order to provide radio reception in conditions of sandstorms, Almaty radio operators in Alma-Ata suggested using specially made indoor antennas for radio receivers. In a short time, all radio stations were equipped with these devices, and interference during sandstorms significantly reduced. Radio has become more reliable. Later, indoor antennas were successfully used for transmitters, as outdoor antennas were often disabled by Japanese saboteurs.

With the arrival of the deputy head of the Soviet side for aviation, Colonel F.P. Polynina all the work of the aviation service has risen to a higher level. Aerodromes were staffed by meteorological experts. A number of activities were carried out on the radio line: additional radio stations were deployed at aerodromes; the aviation radio network was developed and introduced. The latter provided the transmission of meteorological data from any airfield of the route to Alma-Ata and to other aerodromes, as well as two-way communication between airplanes and airfields, and made it possible to manage transport aircraft more effectively. It is quite clear that without reliable radio communications and meteorological support, it would be impossible to solve aviation control issues. In organizing an aviation radio network, the communications chief of the leadership staff and his assistants had to work hard. The problem was that the heterogeneity of the radio equipment, which had the radio nodes of the route, and the one that was mounted on the airplanes TB-3, DS-3, PS-9, DB-ZF, LI-2 and others, did not give an opportunity without additional measures to pair the radio channels. To solve this problem, the rules of radio exchange between aircraft and aerodrome radio stations were developed, which included signals of an international code in limited quantities, besides, the main and spare radio waves most suitable for communication were selected.

Large flows of incoming and transit radiograms dictated the need for a constant increase in transmission speed. However, even with highly qualified radio specialists, it was only 120-130 characters per minute. This was due to technical imperfections key. On the initiative of a member of the commission of non-profit organizations L.V. At the Alma-Ata radio center, Dolgov was set instead of the usual, manually made two-sided key, the use of which allowed, after a short training session, to increase the transmission speed to 130-150 characters per minute. According to the drawings of the radio center in the workshops of the Almaty railway station, 150 keys were produced, which were delivered to all radio stations. As a result, the transmission rate of radiograms has increased dramatically. It is interesting to note that when the Great Patriotic War began, many radio operators, heading into the army, took bilateral keys with them, successfully worked for them and trained their subordinates.

On the territory of China, radio operators of radio stations and radio centers received messages from our broadcast radio stations, recorded them and reported to commanders and commissars. The latter, in turn, spoke at the bases of the routes with information, messages and conversations before soldiers, sergeants, officers and officers of the Soviet Army.

The Soviet radio operators ensured not only the normal functioning of the auto and air routes, along which military cargo was delivered to China, but also provided assistance to the main military advisers in establishing communication with Moscow. Soviet telecom operators made a worthy contribution in assisting China in the difficult times for it to fight the Japanese invaders.

Boltunov M. Achilles heel intelligence. M .: Gaia, 1999. C. 52-56.
Boltunov Mikhail - The Invisible weapon Gru. M .: Olma-Press, 2002. C. 74-78.
Artemyev I. Soviet radio operators in China. // Militaryhistorical magazine. 1981. No. 1. S. 43-46.
Chudodeev Yu. Klimov A. et al. On Chinese soil. Memories of Soviet volunteers 1929-1940's. M .: Science, 1977. C. 233-235
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  1. qwert
    qwert 11 January 2016 07: 40
    It turns out that the radio operators arrive on the hot with the very first military advisers. And only then tankers, pilots, special forces
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 11 January 2016 08: 11
    Thanks, very interesting..!
  3. Leader
    Leader 11 January 2016 13: 12
    I wonder why in the future in the Red Army / USSR Armed Forces was used only a one-way key?
    I saw bilateral only in pictures.
  4. Colonel
    Colonel 11 January 2016 13: 22
    transmission speed up to 130-150 characters per minute

    26-30 groups per minute, on a regular key ??? If true, take off my hat.
    1. uizik
      uizik 11 January 2016 19: 42
      I don’t remember, but for grade 3, about 105-115 characters on an ordinary key. Reception on radio interception 130 is a working norm, or even more. There are much more masters. On "ST-5" to "dead" in the 3rd grade 95 characters per minute. OSNAZ GRU 1976.
      1. Colonel
        Colonel 11 January 2016 20: 20
        3rd class is reception, key transmission 14-16 groups / min. those. 70-80 characters, well, a certain amount of the 24th task. Reception of 26 groups / min (130 characters) is quite real, but transmission with an ordinary key at this speed ??? The extreme achievement "radiotelegraphist of the 1st class", became a "master" in another specialty wink