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Soviet Aircraft - Great Patriotic War - Lend Lease

It was important that these planes appeared in the most difficult time for the Soviet air Force. Lend Lease deliveries were made to the USSR during the most difficult period of the war - during the second half of 1942.

Fighters Bell P-39 "Cobra" 4952
Hawker "hurricane" 2952
Bell P-63 "King Cobra" 2400 (2421)
Curtiss P-40 2134
Supermarin "Spitfire" 1338
Cares P-47 "Thunderbolt" 195
North America P-51 "Mustang" 10
Bombers Douglas A-20 Boston 2771
North American B-25 Mitchell 861
Handley-Page "Hampden" 20
Seaplanes Konsolidejt PBN-1 "nomad" 138
Consolidated PBY-6a "Catalina" 48
Vought OS2U "Kingfisher" 20
Scout-spotter Curtiss 0-52 19
Transport planes Douglas C-47 "Dakota" 707
Armstrong Whitworth "Albemarle" 12
Training aircraft North American AT-6 "Texan" 82

Soviet industry had been disrupted by the Nazi invasion. Churchill believed both Britain and the United States should supply them because they shared a common enemy, and because not doing so could have meant fighting a war on British or US soil. Although USA was still not at war with Germany, 11 March 1941 the American Congress adopted the so-called Lend-lease act which envisaged lending or leasing arm and ammunition, provisions and other material to nations in a state of war with the states of the Nazi bloc, thus per definition the prime bene?ficiary was Great Britain. Immediately after the German attack on the Soviet Union 22 June 1941 the British Prime- Minister Churchill promised British assistance to USSR.

American aircraft were delivered to the USSR over three routes: by flight to Fairbanks, Alaska, where they were taken onward by Soviet pilots; by ship to Archangel and Murmansk, while those beleaguered ports were practicable for convoys; and by flight and ship to the Persian Gulf, the only all-year route.

During World War II, the Soviet Union received almost 15,000 U.S.-built aircraft under the lend-lease program. About half of these were delivered by sea via the North Atlantic or were flown across the South Atlantic Ocean to the USSR via North Africa. Each method was difficult. The North Atlantic route was subject to attack by German submarines and aircraft, and the African route suffered from exposure to desert sand, which reduced the life of engines and other aircraft components.

Eventually aircraft deliveries shifted to a more direct course via Alaska to Siberia, the ALSIB route. Almost 8,000 aircraft were ferried over the ALSIB route, usually by Air Transport Command pilots, through Great Falls, Mont., to Fairbanks, Alaska. There, Soviet pilots took over and flew the aircraft to Nome, Alaska, and then to Siberia. Winter ground temperatures of -50 degrees Fahrenheit, the threat of being forced down in remote wilderness, hazardous flying weather, Spartan living conditions and a lack of sufficient hangar space, which sometimes forced mechanics to work outside under cruel winter conditions, made life difficult for personnel assigned to duty along the ALSIB route.

Of the 14,834 American aircraft made available to the Soviet Union under lend-lease, slightly less than one third, or 4,874, were delivered via the Persian Gulf, of which 995 were flown in and 3,879 were shipped.2 Upon arrival these aircraft required refitting or assembly, as well as test flights. The variety of types and models, the complexity of aircraft construction, the need for skilled technical personnel, were special problems increasing the normal difficulties of the Russian-aid program in the Corridor.

“Lend-Lease: Weapon for Victory”, the 1946 book by Lend Lease administrator Edward Stettinius where he claims that the USSR owes the victory in the war to the US program of arms, food, and equipment supplies, was reprinted in Moscow back in 2000. It contains a listing of net US supplies to the Soviet Union: in 1941-1945, they totaled $11b (in terms of the 1945 prices) and included 22,150 aircraft. It has to be taken into account that quantities never reflect the whole picture. For example, timing is also a significant parameter, and, notably, the volumes of the US, British, and Canadian aid peaked in the summer of 1943, that is, after it became clear that the Soviet Union was prevailing.

In 1941-1945, the Soviet industry produced over 122,000 aircraft. Moreover, the Soviet Union's military-industrial output also peaked in 1943-1944, and the figures show that the vast majority of supplies received by the Red Army throughout the war were Soviet-made.

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Page last modified: 20-10-2018 18:44:02 ZULU