UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Soviet Aircraft - Great Patriotic War

In the face of growing international tension, the most urgent measures were needed to overcome this lag. Under the government's decision, measures were taken to accelerate the development of new aircraft, especially fighter jets, and new OKBs were created from young specialists. In 1940, 30,000 highly skilled workers from other industries were transferred to the aviation industry.

The increase in armament (heavy machine guns and light cannons) on the aircraft was the result of increased speeds, in which the time for bombardment of an enemy aircraft was drastically reduced, as well as the appearance of stronger metal aircraft structures, armored protection of the pilot and protector fuel tanks. Protecting the tanks, as well as the practice of filling them with inert gases, have become one of the means to increase the survivability of the aircraft. The structure of the tanks included a rubber layer that expanded when the tank broke and prevented the fuel from leaking and igniting it. In addition, the Soviet military doctrine gave preference to aircraft cannons as an effective means of combating bombers and enemy ground targets. The first case of the use of Soviet 20-mm guns SHVAK was recorded in the conflict on the Khalkhin-Gol River in the summer of 1939.

For a long time, the Soviet Union was betting on a powerful attack on the territory of the aggressor with the help of bomber aviation. In 1937, the bomber was the most common type of aircraft in the Air Force of the Red Army. Of the 8,139 aircraft in service, the fighters were only 2,255, bombers - 2443.

In quantitative terms, the new type of aircraft was less than 5% of the existing fleet of vehicles, in addition, not all of them met the requirements of the time. Thus, for example, the BB-1 (Su-2) near-bomber, adopted in June 1940, was withdrawn in April 1942, the total number of vehicles produced was 877. The nearer bomber BB-22 (Yak-2 / Yak-4) was withdrawn from production in April 1941, the total number of vehicles produced was about 200 copies. The total number of built Ar-2 dive bombers was 71, while the heavy bombers TB-7 (Pe-8) - 93. In the combat units at the beginning of the war there were only 407 MiG-3 fighters, 142 Yak-1 fighters, 29 LaGG-3 fighters, 128 Pe-2 dive bombers, etc.

Thus, the main part of the aircraft fleet of the Air Force of the Red Army at the beginning of the war consisted of the following types of vehicles: 3552 I-16 fighters, 2898 I-153, 748 I-15, 362 attack aircraft (I-15bis, I-153, D-6 ), 4,607 medium bombers, 1,622 long-range bombers, DB-3 and DB-ZF and 516 TB-3 vehicles, 560 reconnaissance vehicles (P-5, P-10, PZ), etc. Although the produced types of aircraft were improved and modernized In general, they corresponded to the level of requirements of the mid-1930s, that is, when SB, DB-3, I-15 and I-16 were designed and started to be built. On the western frontier of the USSR, there were 9260 combat aircraft at the beginning of the war.

With the outbreak of the Great Patirotic War, the Soviet leadership threw all its forces into strengthening the fighter aircraft. Unfortunately, Soviet aircraft builders still lagged behind Britain, Germany and the United States in the development and production of aircraft engines. High-quality motor-building requires special steel and alloys, as well as high-precision metalworking machines and production culture, which the USSR industry at that time had not yet fully had. The problem of creating a new fighter was acute.

In 1940, three new fighters entered the arsenal of the Soviet Air Force: Yak-1, LaGG-3 and MiG-3. All of them were single-speed high-speed monoplanes with engines of water cooling. Yak-1 Alexander Yakovlev was the easiest and had a mixed design. The fuselage consisted of welded chromansile pipes with duralumin (and behind the cab - with linen) plating. For economy, the wing was made non-removable, which created problems during transportation. LaGG-3 Lavochkin, Gorbunov and Gudkov, quite tenacious and in the first series heavily armed, turned out to be heavier due to the use of delta-wood instead of deficit duralumin, which adversely affected the speed and maneuverability of the fighter. On it, as well as on the Yak-1, stood the engine M-105P (deep modernization of the engine M-100 or licensed French engine Hispano-Suiza 12Y). More powerful engines with water cooling at that time did not exist in the USSR.

The third and most massive type of the new Soviet fighter was the MiG-3. The aircraft was designed as a high-altitude fighter-interceptor, on which the AM-35 engine, equipped with a supercharger, was installed. In the prewar years, there was a theory that air battles would be fought at high altitudes. The reality turned out to be somewhat different, and the main air battles of the Great Patriotic War took place at altitudes of up to 4,500 meters. For this reason, the MiG-3, which demonstrated a record speed of 640 km / h at an altitude of more than 7,000 meters, proved to be a very mediocre car off the ground.

The main types of armament of Soviet fighters in the Second World War were 7.62 mm ShKAS machine guns and supplemented or replaced 20-mm ShVAK cannons and 12.7 mm UBS guns, less often 23 mm VJ guns, 37 mm NS and even 45 -mm NS. Almost always the armament of Soviet fighters was synchronized, that is, fired through a rotating screw or installed in the collapse of the engine's cylinders and fired through the hollow shaft of the propeller.

Beginning in 1942, Soviet fighter aircraft adopted in 1940 are replaced by their improved modifications, with which Soviet pilots will later manage to gain air superiority and win the war. LaGG-3 spawned a family of La-5, La-5F, La-5FN and La-7, the main difference from which were the more powerful two-row air-cooled engines M-82, M-82F and M-82FN. All of them conducted their pedigree from the licensed American engine Wright R-1820-F3. Yak-1 was followed by more advanced Yak-7, Yak-3 and Yak-9. The Yak-3 modification with the VK-108 engine (one prototype) became the fastest Soviet piston fighter, showing a speed of 745 km / h on the tests.

The maximum power of fighters in all countries during the war years has increased by an average of almost twofold. First of all, this was achieved due to two factors: increasing engine power and improving aerodynamics. The second factor was more important, as the increase in power caused an increase in weight and fuel consumption. The improvement of form was much more profitable. The problem was that by the beginning of the Second World War, the external form of aircraft, designed for a speed of 500-600 km / h, was approaching perfection. Therefore, small aerodynamic improvements, which consisted in eliminating or improving the shape of small parts projecting into the flow, improved internal sealing of the airframe, etc., became very important. In themselves, individual improvements led to a minimal effect.

Careful improvement of the serial aircraft often gave a greater result than the development of a new machine. The improvements made in 1942 on the La-5 fighter had the following effect: due to the improvement of the internal sealing (hood, firewall, etc.), the speed of the car increased by 12.1 km / h, external sealing (seams of the hood, sashes and t etc.) - at 11.7 km / h, closing the chassis niches - at 6.2 km / h, improving the shape of the cockpit's lantern - by 2.7 km / h, reducing the slots on the controls - by 2.3 km / h; in total it was possible to achieve an increase in speed by 35 km / h.

In 1941, Soviet bomber aviation was considered one of the most numerous in the world. The main types of aircraft were twin-engine SB (4607 units) and DB-3F (1622 units). During the war, the most massive bomber was the front-line dive Pe-2 of Vladimir Petlyakov. Initially it was designed as a twin-engine high-altitude fighter "100" with a sealed cabin and engine turbochargers, but after acquaintance of Soviet specialists with German aircraft engineering it was revealed on the eve of the war that long-range high-altitude bombers were not equipped with the Luftwaffe. The Hermocabin and turbocompressors were removed, the bomb-bay was equipped in the fuselage and the defensive armament was strengthened. To increase combat survivability, hydraulic systems on the Pe-2 were replaced by a variety of electrical equipment. Pe-2 had automatically deflected grilles to facilitate the withdrawal of the machine from the dive. Unfortunately, the dive-out machine on the serial machines was not set, due to the complexity of its production. The small size and good aerodynamics allowed the bomber to reach speeds of up to 540 km / h.

Among the shortcomings of the Pe-2 inherited from its "exterminating" prototype, it is worth noting the narrow fuselage, because of which bombs were not placed bombs weighing more than 100 kg - they had to be placed on an external suspension. The normal bomb load was only 600 kg, and the range of flight did not exceed 1300 kilometers. The small size and good aerodynamics allowed the bomber to reach speeds of up to 540 km / h.

The Tu-2 dive bomber, adopted in 1942, was originally created as a bomber and had a more sophisticated design. According to the scheme and the maximum speed, it was close to the Pe-2, however its flight range and bomb load were twice as high. Tu-2 could carry large-caliber bombs in the fuselage, had more powerful small arms.

Although before 1950 only 2331 Tu-2 units were built, until the end of the war, only 764 aircraft arrived at the front. The bomber showed himself well in combat conditions. But the main classes of aircraft in the Soviet Air Force were fighter jets and ground-attack planes. The first won superiority in the air, the latter supported the troops on the ground, where the outcome of the war was decided. In the 1930s, the Soviet Union provided for the use of two types of attack aircraft: light - to destroy columns, staffs and artillery batteries - and a heavy two-engine - to fight enemy tanks. In reality, the only Soviet mass specialized aircraft-attack aircraft in 1941-1945 was the Il-2 - the most numerous combat aircraft in history. The industry of the USSR produced more than 36,000 of these machines. One of the difficulties of creating an attack plane was that there were no air cooling engines in the USSR, the power of which would give the attack aircraft the acceptable flight characteristics. Therefore, Ilyushin was forced to design a ground attack aircraft for the AM-35 water-cooled engine, the most powerful of the Soviet aircraft industry. But the engine, vulnerable to bullets and fragments, required additional protection.

To minimize the weight of the structure, Ilyushin decided to abandon the hinged armor of the aircraft, which his predecessors used. The armored box, which protected the crew and important units, simultaneously perceived loads from the engine and the lift of the wing. As a result, the armored front fuselage length of about 5.5 meters replaced the usual design. Stamped armor plates of double curvature with a thickness of 4 to 8 mm, gave the fuselage a streamlined shape that, first, improved aerodynamics, and secondly, caused ricochetization of the bullets and shell fragments that fell into it, which increased the protection of the aircraft. The total weight of armor was about 700 kilograms.

After replacing the high-altitude AM-35 AM-38, which had a large power near the ground, the aircraft was taken to mass production. It had a top speed of 416 km / h. The one flew faster (450 km / h), but without a side-arrow, which protected the tail from the attacks of the fighters, suffered heavy losses. The standard set of weapons for the two-seater variant included two 20-mm ShVAK cannons or 23 mm VJ (sometimes 37 mm NS), two 7.62 mm ShKAS machine guns on the wings, one 12.7 mm UBT machine gun in the rear cockpit, 400 kilograms of bombs in the inner compartments in the center wing and 4-8 unguided missiles of 82 or 132 mm caliber under the wings.

In 1941-1945, a total of 96,520 airplanes of all types were produced in the USSR, of which 50 687 fighters, 33 930 attack aircraft, 11 903 bombers, and 11 918 PO-2 aircraft. From American and German machines, Soviet aircraft were distinguished by the simplicity of design and manufacturing technology. Throughout the Second World War, Soviet aircraft used wood extensively.

However, in the conditions of a great war, the evacuation of Soviet industry to the east and the acute shortage of aluminum, instruments and a number of other materials, motors and equipment, this proved to be an important advantage and facilitated the mass production of aviation equipment. In addition, Soviet aircraft were often built behind the hands of low-skilled workers: women and adolescents - and at the same time they were quite accessible to young pilots who had received accelerated training. Soviet aircraft designers were able to develop models of aircraft technology, which was not inferior to foreign models, and Soviet industry was able to establish their output in the required quantity. But since 1945, mass military production gave way to the creation of experimental aircraft. The era of jet aviation began.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 10-04-2019 12:04:58 ZULU