|Soviet Air Forces|
|Военно-воздушные силы СССР|
Voyenno-vozdushnye sily SSSR
|Founded||24 May 1918|
|Disbanded||14 February 1992|
|Country|| Russian SFSR (1918–1922)|
Soviet Union (1922–1991)
|Size||10,101 aircraft (1973) 7,859 aircraft (1990)|
|Part of||Soviet Armed Forces|
|March||"March of the Pilots"|
|Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Air Forces||See list|
|Attack||Su-22, Su-24, Su-25, MiG-27|
|Bomber||Tu-16, Tu-22, Tu-95, Tu-160|
|Fighter||MiG-15, MiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-25, MiG-29, Su-27, MiG-31|
|Helicopter||Mi-2, Mi-8, Mi-17, Mi-14|
|Transport||Il-76, An-12, An-22, An-124|
The Soviet Air Forces (Russian:Военно-воздушные силы, tr. Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily (VVS), literally "Military Air Forces") were one of the air forces of the Soviet Union. The other was the Soviet Air Defence Forces. The Air Forces were formed from components of the Imperial Russian Air Service in 1917, and faced their greatest test during World War II. The groups were also involved in the Korean War, and dissolved along with the Soviet Union itself in 1991–92. Former Soviet Air Forces' assets were subsequently divided into several air forces of former Soviet republics, including the new Russian Air Force. "March of the Pilots" was its song.
The All-Russia Collegium for Direction of the Air Forces of the Old Army (translation is uncertain) was formed on 20 December 1917. This was a Bolshevik aerial headquarters initially led by Konstantin Akashev. Along with a general postwar military reorganisation, the collegium was reconstituted as the "Workers' and Peasants' Red Air Fleet" (Glavvozduhflot), established on 24 May 1918 and given the top-level departmental status of "Main Directorate".
It became the Directorate of the USSR Air Forces on 28 March 1924, and then the Directorate of the Workers-Peasants Red Army Air Forces on 1 January 1925. Gradually its influence on aircraft design became greater. From its earliest days, the force mimicked ground forces' organization especially in the 1930s, by which time it was made up of air armies, aviation corps, aviation divisions, and aviation regiments (composed of air squadrons, flights, and fireteams, respectively).[ citation needed ]
|Soviet Armed Forces|
|Ranks of the Soviet Military|
|History of the Soviet Military|
After the creation of the Soviet state many efforts were made in order to modernize and expand aircraft production, led by its charismatic and energetic commander, General Yakov Alksnis, an eventual victim of Joseph Stalin's Great Purge. [ citation needed ]Domestic aircraft production increased significantly in the early 1930s and towards the end of the decade, the Soviet Air Force was able to introduce Polikarpov I-15 and I-16 fighters and Tupolev SB and SB-bis and DB-3 bombers.
|Historical Air Forces of Russia|
Emperor's Military Air Fleet (1909–1917)
Workers and Peasants Red Air Fleet (1918–1991)
Military Air Forces of the USSR (1918–1991)
Aviation of the Military Maritime Fleet (1918–1991)
Anti-Air Defence Troops (1948–1991)
Strategic Rocket Forces (1959–1991)
One of the first major tests for the VVS came in 1936 with the Spanish Civil War, in which the latest Soviet and German aircraft designs were employed against each other in fierce air-to-air combat. At first, the I-16 proved superior to any Luftwaffe fighters, and managed to achieve local air superiority wherever they were employed. However, the Soviets refused to supply the plane in adequate numbers, and their aerial victories were soon squandered because of their limited use. Later, Bf 109s delivered to Franco's Spanish Nationalist air forces secured air superiority for the Nationalists, one they would never relinquish. The defeats in Spain coincided with the arrival of Stalin's Great Purge of the ranks of the officer corps and senior military leadership, which severely affected the combat capabilities of the rapidly expanding Soviet Air Forces. Newly promoted officers lacked flying and command experience, while older commanders, witnessing the fate of General Alksnis and others, lacked initiative, frequently referring minor decisions to Moscow for approval, and insisting that their pilots strictly comply with standardized and predictable procedures for both aerial attack and defence.[ citation needed ]
On 19 November 1939, VVS headquarters was again titled the Main Directorate of the Red Army Air Forces under the WPRA HQ.
Between 1933 and 1938, the Soviet government planned and funded missions to break numerous world aviation records. Not only did aviation records and achievements become demonstrations of the USSR's technological progress, they also served as legitimization of the socialist system. With each new success, Soviet press trumpeted victories for socialism, popularizing the mythology of aviation culture with the masses. Furthermore, Soviet media idolized record-breaking pilots, exalting them not only as role models for Soviet society, but also as symbols of progress towards the socialist-utopian future.
The early 1930s saw a shift in ideological focus away from collectivist propaganda and towards "positive heroism."Instead of glorifying socialist collectivism as a means of societal advancement, the Soviet Communist Party began uplifting individuals who committed heroic actions that advanced the cause of socialism. In the case of aviation, the government began glorifying people who utilized aviation technology as opposed to glorifying the technology itself. Pilots such as Valery Chkalov, Georgy Baydukov, Alexander Belyakov, and Mikhail Gromov—as well as many others—were raised to the status of heroes for their piloting skills and achievements.
In May 1937, Stalin charged pilots Chkalov, Baydukov, and Belyakov with the mission to navigate the first transpolar flight in history. On 20 June 1937, the aviators landed their ANT-25 in Vancouver, Washington. A month later, Stalin ordered the departure of a second crew to push the boundaries of modern aviation technology even further. In July 1937 Mikhail Gromov, along with his crew Sergei Danilin and Andrei Yumashev, completed the same journey over the North Pole and continuing on to Southern California , creating a new record for the longest nonstop flight.
The public reaction to the transpolar flights was euphoric. The media called the pilots "Bolshevik knights of culture and progress."Soviet citizens celebrated Aviation Day on 18 August with as much zeal as they celebrated the October Revolution anniversary. Literature including poems, short stories, and novels emerged celebrating the feats of the aviator-celebrities. Feature films like Victory, Tales of Heroic Aviators, and Valery Chkalov reinforced the "positive hero" imagery, celebrating the aviators' individuality within the context of a socialist government.
Soviet propaganda, newspaper articles, and other forms of media sought to connect Soviet citizens to relevant themes from daily life. For aviation, Stalin's propagandists drew on Russian folklore. Examples increased dramatically following the successes of the transpolar flights by Chkalov and Gromov in 1937. Aviators were referred to symbolically as sokoly (falcons), orly (eagles),or bogatyry (warriors). Newspapers told traditional Russian narratives ( skazki ) of fliers conquering time and space (prostranstvo), overcoming barriers and completing their missions in triumph. Even the story of each aviator suggests roots in old Russian storytelling and narratives—virtuous heroes striving to reach an end goal, encountering and conquering any obstacles in their path. By using folklore rhetoric, Stalin and Soviet propagandists connected aviation achievements to Russian heritage, making aviation seem more accessible to the Soviet population. Furthermore, the narratives emphasize the aviators' selflessness and devotion to a higher socialist ideal, pointing to Soviet leaders as inspirers and role models.
Paternalism was also a theme that Soviet propagandists exploited in aviation culture. The media presented Stalin as an example and inspiration, a father figure and role model to the most prominent Soviet pilots of the period.When recounting stories of meetings between Stalin and Chkalov, for example, Soviet newspapers spoke of Stalin's paternalism towards the young pilot. The paternal metaphor was completed with the addition of a maternal figure—Russia, the motherland, who had produced "father" Stalin's heroic sons such as Chkalov.
The use of familial metaphors not only evoked traditional hereditary pride and historic Russian patriotism, they boosted Stalin's image as a benevolent leader. Most importantly, paternalism served to promote the message of individual subordination to authority.Through his paternal relationships with Soviet pilots, Stalin developed an "ethos of deference and obedience" for Soviet society to emulate.
The successful achievements in Soviet aviation also came during the worst days of the Great Purge. The transpolar flights in summer 1937 occurred following the arrest and execution of a large body of the Red Army officer corps.Fifteen of sixteen total army commanders were executed; more than three-fourths of the VVS senior officers were arrested, executed, or relieved of duty. News coverage of the arrests was relatively little compared to treatment of aviation exploits, deflecting attention away from the arrests.
Some practical combat experience had been gained in participating in the Spanish Civil War, and against Japan in the Far East. Shortly before the start of war with Germany a Soviet Volunteer Group was sent to China to train the pilots from the Republic of China Air Force for the continuing war with the Japanese. However, these experiences proved of little use in the Winter War against Finland in 1939, where scores of inexperienced Soviet bomber and fighter pilots were shot down by a relatively small number of Finnish Air Force (FAF) pilots. The VVS soon learned established Soviet air defence procedures derived from the Spanish Civil War, such as forming defensive circles when attacked, did not work well against the Finns, who employed dive-and-zoom tactics to shoot down their Soviet opponents in great numbers. The effects of the Great Purge undoubtedly played a role in the slow reaction of the VVS and its command to the new realities of air combat. The Soviet Air Force as well as the Soviet aircraft industry would eventually learn from these combat experiences, though not before the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.[ citation needed ]
On 1 January 1941, six months prior to Operation Barbarossa, the Air Forces of the Soviet Red Army had 363,900 serving personnel, accounting for 8.65% of all military force personnel of the Soviet Union.
The first three Air Armies, designated Air Armies of Special Purpose, were created between 1936 and 1938.On 5 November 1940 these were reformed as the Long Range Bombardment Aviation of the High Command of the Red Army (until February 1942) due to lack of combat performance during the conflict with Finland.
The Air Force was hit hard by the Red Army purges in 1941.[ citation needed ]
1930s Soviet aviation also had a particular impact on the USSR's military failures in the beginning of World War II. By 1938, the Soviet Union had the largest air force in the world, but Soviet aeronautical design distinctly lagged behind Western technological advances. [ citation needed ]Instead of focusing on developing tactical aircraft, the Soviets engineers developed heavy bomber planes only good for long distance—in other words, planes that would be used for record-breaking flights like those of Chkalov's. The Soviet government's focus on showy stunts and phenomenal record-breaking missions drained resources needed for Soviet defense. When Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, it quickly became apparent that the Soviet Air Force was not prepared for war. Poor planning and lack of organization left planes sitting on the tarmac at airbases, allowing the Luftwaffe to destroy 4,000 Soviet planes within the first week. The disorganized Soviet defenses and technologically deficient aircraft were no match for the Luftwaffe.
At the outbreak of World War II, the Soviet military was not yet at a level of readiness suitable for winning a war: Joseph Stalin had said in 1931 Soviet industry was "50 to 100 years behind"the Western powers. By the end of the war, Soviet annual aircraft production had risen sharply, reaching 40,241 in 1944. Some 157,261 machines were produced during the Great Patriotic War, 125,655 being of combat types.
One of the main reasons for the large aircraft losses in the initial period of war with Germany was not the lack of modern tactics, but the lack of experienced pilots and ground support crews, the destruction of many aircraft on the runways due to command failure to disperse them, and the rapid advance of Heer troops, forcing the Soviet pilots on the defensive during Operation Barbarossa, while being confronted with more modern German designs.In the first few days of the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Luftwaffe destroyed some 2,000 Soviet aircraft, most on the ground, at a loss of only 35 (of which 15 were non-combat-related).
The principal VVS aircraft during World War II were the Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik armored ground attack monoplane and the series of AS Yakovlev OKB-115 designed single-engined fighters, beginning with the Yak-1 and its successors.The Il-2 became (at 36,183 built) the most produced military aircraft of all time, with the four main versions of Yak fighters (the Yak-1, −3, −7 and −9) being slightly more numerous, at a total of 36,716 among them. These two main types together accounted for about half the strength of the VVS for most of the Great Patriotic War. The Yak-1 was a modern 1940 design and had room for development, unlike the mature 1935-origin Messerschmitt Bf 109. The Yak-9 brought the VVS to parity with the Luftwaffe and eventually allowed it to gain the upper hand, until in 1944, many Luftwaffe pilots deliberately avoided combat with the last and best variant, the out-of-sequence numbered Yak-3. The other main VVS types were Lavochkin fighters (mainly the La-5), the Petlyakov Pe-2 twin engined attack-bombers, and a basic but functional and versatile medium bomber, the Ilyushin Il-4.
The 31st Bomber Aviation Regiment, equipped with Pe-2s and commanded by Colonel Fyodor Ivanovich Dobysh, was one of the first Guards bomber units in the Air Forces – the 4th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment (ru:4-й гвардейский пикирующий бомбардировочный авиационный полк).The title was conferred on the regiment for its actions on the Leningrad Front in November–December 1941 during defensive operations and the Soviet counterattack near Tikhvin.
Alone among World War II combatants, the Soviet Air Force initiated a program to bring women with existing flying training into combat air groups. Marina Raskova, one of very few women in the VVS prior to the war, used her influence with Stalin to form three all-female air regiments: the 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment, the 587th Bomber Aviation Regiment, and the 588th Night Bomber Aviation Regiment (a.k.a. the Night Witches .) Women flew aircraft so heavy that sometimes two of them were required to haul back on the joystick on takeoff.
Due to their achievements in battle, the latter two air force units were honored by being renamed Guards units. Beyond the three official regiments, individual Soviet women sometimes served alongside airmen in otherwise all-male groups.Women pilots, navigators, gunners, mechanics, armament specialists and other female ground personnel made up more than 3,000 fighting members of the VVS. Women pilots flew 24,000 sorties. From this effort came the world's only two female fighter aces: Lydia Litvyak and Katya Budanova.
While there were scores of Red Army divisions on the ground formed from specific Soviet republics, there appears to have been very few aviation regiments formed from nationalities, among them being the 1st Latvian Night Aviation Regiment.
Chief Marshal of Aviation Alexander Novikov led the VVS from 1942 to the end of the war, and was credited with introducing several innovations and weapons systems. For the last year of the war German military and civilians retreating towards Berlin were hounded by the presence of "low flying aircraft" strafing and bombing them, an activity in which even the ancient Polikarpov Po-2, a much produced flight training (uchebnyy) biplane of 1920s design, took part. However, this was but a small measure of the experience the Wehrmacht were receiving due to the sophistication and superiority of the Red Air Force. In one strategic operation alone, the Yassy-Kishinev Strategic Offensive, the 5th and 17th Air Armys and the Black Sea Fleet Naval Aviation aircraft achieved a 3.3 to 1 superiority in aircraft over Luftflotte 4 and the Royal Romanian Air Force, allowing almost complete freedom from air harassment for the ground troops of the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts.
As with many Allied countries in World War II, the Soviet Union received Western aircraft through Lend-Lease, mostly Bell P-39 Airacobras, Bell P-63 Kingcobras, Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawks, Douglas A-20 Havocs, Hawker Hurricanes, and North American B-25 Mitchells. Some of these aircraft arrived in the Soviet Union in time to participate in the Battle of Moscow, and in particular with the PVO or Soviet Air Defence Forces.Soviet fliers in P-39s scored the highest individual kill totals of any ever to fly a U.S. aircraft. Two air regiments were equipped with Spitfire Mk.Vbs in early 1943 but immediately experienced unrelenting losses due to friendly fire as the British aircraft looked too much like the German Bf 109. Lend-Lease aircraft from the U.S. and UK accounted for nearly 12% of total Soviet air power.
The greatest Soviet fighter ace of World War II was Ivan Nikitovich Kozhedub, who scored 62 victories from 6 July 1943 to 16 April 1945,the top score for any Allied fighter pilot of World War II.
This section includes a list of general references, but it remains largely unverified because it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations . (July 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
In 1945–46, the WPKA Army Air Forces became the Soviet Air Forces once again. Its capabilities increased. The force became one of the best services of the Soviet Armed Forces due to the various types of aircraft being flown and their capabilities and the strength and training of its pilots, and its air defense arm became an independent component of the armed forces in 1949, reaching full-fledged force status in 1954.[ citation needed ]
The 64th Fighter Aviation Corps (ru:64-й истребительный авиационный корпус) fought in the Korean War.[ citation needed ]
During the Cold War, the Soviet Air Force was rearmed, strengthened and modern air doctrines were introduced. At its peak in 1980, it could deploy approximately 10,000 aircraft, making it the world's largest air force of the time.
In 1977 the VVS and the Soviet Air Defense Forces were re-organised in the Baltic states and the Leningrad Oblast, as a trial run for the larger re-organisation in 1980 covering the whole country. [ citation needed ]All fighter units in the PVO were transferred to the VVS, the Air Defence Forces only retaining the anti-aircraft missile units and radar units. The 6th independent Air Defense Army was disbanded, and the 15th Air Army became the VVS Baltic Military District.
Though the experiment was then applied countrywide in 1980, it was reversed in 1986, but then most of the Air Defense Forces's command and control duties and assets became part of the Air Force, as well as several educational and training institutions.[ citation needed ]
According to a 1980 Time Magazine article citing analysts from RAND Corporation, allegedly Soviet non-Slavs, including Jews, Armenians, and Asians were generally barred from senior ranks and from joining elite or strategic positions in the Air Force, Strategic Rocket Forces, and the Soviet Navy because of doubts regarding the loyalty of ethnic minorities. RAND analyst S. Enders Wimbush said, "Soldiers are clearly recruited in a way that reflects the worries of society. The average Russian citizen and Soviet decision maker have questions about the allegiance of the non-Slav, especially the Central Asian."
During the Cold War the VVS was divided into three main branches (equivalent to commands in Western air forces): Long Range Aviation (Dal'naya Aviatsiya – DA ), focused on long-range bombers; Frontal Aviation (Frontovaya Aviatsiya – FA), focused on battlefield air defence, close air support, and interdiction; and Military Transport Aviation (Voenno-Transportnaya Aviatsiya – VTA), which controlled all transport aircraft. The Soviet Air Defence Forces (Voyska protivovozdushnoy oborony or Voyska PVO), which focused on air defence and interceptor aircraft, was then a separate and distinct service within the Soviet military organisation.[ citation needed ]
Yet another independent service was the Soviet Navy's air arm, the Soviet Naval Aviation (Aviatsiya Voenno Morskogo Flota – "AV-MF"), under the Navy Headquarters.[ citation needed ]
The official day of VVS was the Soviet Air Fleet Day, that often featured notable air shows meant to display Soviet air power advancements through the years, held in Moscow's Tushino airfield.[ citation needed ]
In the 1980s the Soviet Union acknowledged the development of the Advanced Tactical Fighter in the US and began the development of an equivalent fighter.[ citation needed ]
Two programs were initiated, one of which was proposed to directly confront the United States' then-projected Advanced Tactical Fighter (that was to lead to the development of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and the Northrop YF-23). This future fighter was designated as Mnogofounksionalni Frontovoi Istrebitel (MFI) (Multifunctional Frontline Fighter) and designed as a heavy multirole aircraft, with air-supremacy utmost in the minds of the designers.[ citation needed ]
In response to the American Boeing X-32/Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) projects, Russia began the LFI program, which would develop a fighter reminiscent of the X-32/F-35 with a single engine, without the capabilities of a true multirole aircraft.[ citation needed ] The LFI (Lyogkiy Frontovoy Istrebitel, Light Frontline Fighter) project was intended to develop a lightweight fighter with respectable air-to-ground capabilities. Yakovlev proposed the Yak-43, an upgraded Yakolev Yak-41 with a stealthier design and more powerful engines. After neglecting the MFI competition, Sukhoi decided to submit a design for the LFI called the S-37 (unrelated to the heavyweight forward-swept wing fighter). This S-37 resembled the Gripen in that it had canard foreplanes, a delta wing and one engine. Mikoyan entered the MiG 4.12. MiG could not afford to develop both the MFI and LFI, so their LFI entry was eventually withdrawn. Developed into Mikoyan LMFS.
Russia would later change the designation of the LFI project to LFS, making it a multirole aircraft with emphasis on ground attack capability. During the 1990s the Russian military cancelled the LFS projects and continued with the MFI project, with minimal funding, believing that it was more important than the production of a light fighter aircraft. No advanced fighter successor to the Su-27 and MiG-29 family has entered service. Sukhoi won the latest PAK FA competition in 2002; the aircraft's first flight took place on 29 January 2010.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1992 the aircraft and personnel of the Soviet VVS were divided among the newly independent states. Russia received the plurality of these forces, approximately 40% of the aircraft and 65% of the manpower, with these forming the basis for the new Russian Air Force.
The Soviet Air Force's aviation assets were organised into four types of forces (sing. вид авиации) - Long Range Aviation, Frontal Aviation, Military Transport Aviation and Army Aviation (which would transfer to the Ground Forces in case of war). Pilot training establishments were integrated into the Air Armies of the Frontal Aviation.
|Type of aviation||Aviation arm||Higher command echelons||Notes|
|Long Range Aviation (дальная авиация)||a single arm||Air Armies of the Supreme Military Command Reserve (Strategic Purpose) (ВА РГК (СН)) under the Air Force Main Staff.||Included: |
|Frontal Aviation (фронтовая авиация)||Fighter aviation (истребительная авиация)||Provided air cover of the ground forces and escort to own aviation assets. Secondary tasks included ground attack with unguided ordnance, air reconnaissance and tactical nuclear strike. In the late 1980s its types of aircraft included the Su-27S, the MiG-29 and the MiG-23MLD.|
|Bomber aviation (бомбардировочная авиация)||Main mission was penetration of enemy air defences and precision strikes against enemy targets in operational depth. Secondary tasks included close air support, aerial reconnaissance and tactical nuclear strike. In the late 1980s its air regiments flew the Su-24 and the upgraded Su-24M with a handful (no more than 20) of the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses-specialised Su-24MP variant.|
|Fighter-bomber aviation (истребительно-бомбардировочная авиация)||Main mission was penetration of enemy air defences and precision strikes against enemy targets in tactical depth. Secondary tasks included close air support, aerial reconnaissance and tactical nuclear strike. In the late 1980s its air regiments flew the MiG-27 and (in limited numbers) the Su-17M.|
|Ground attack aviation (штурмовая авиация)||Main mission was battlefield close air support and destruction of armored targets from low and extra low altitude. Its air regiments flew the Su-25.|
|Reconnaissance aviation (разведывательная авиация)||The reconnaissance aviation included two types of units: |
|Transport aviation (транспортная авиация)||The Military Transport Aviation provided strategic airlift and airborne dropping capabilities to the Soviet military. The transport aviation provided tactical airlift capabilities, liaison and medevac assets. It included Composite Air Regiments and Composite air Squadrons flying mostly An-26 aircraft and Mi-8 helicopters.|
|Special Aviation (специальная авиация)||Main units in this category included electronic warfare and intelligence aircraft, based on modified airliners, EW and ELINT helicopters and aerial command posts, based mostly on the Mi-8 and UAV reconnaissance squadrons.|
|Military transport aviation (Военно-транспортная авиация)||a single arm||Military Transport Aviation HQ under the Air Force Main Staff.|
|Army aviation (армейская авиация)||a single arm||Attached to the Air Armies in peace time. To transfer to the Ground Forces in case of war. At the end of 1990 right before the collapse of the USSR the Army Aviation was transferred to the Ground Forces and became one of their branches.|
|Operationaly subordinated to the Main Staff of the Air Forces|
|Units directly subordinated to the Main Staff of the Air Forces (Части центрального подчинения Главного штаба ВВС)||See Directly subordinated to the AF Main Staff section below.||Moscow, RSFSR|
|Military Transport Aviation Command (Командование военнотранспортной авиации)||Moscow, RSFSR||Belonged to the Military Transport Aviation.|
|Aviation of the Reserve of the Supreme Military Command (Авиация Резерва Главного Командования)||30th Smolenskaya Red Banner Air Army of Strategic Purpose (30-я Смоленская краснознаменная воздушная армия стратегического назначения)||Irkutsk, RSFSR||Belonged to the Long Range Aviation.|
|37th Air Army of Strategic Purpose (37-я воздушная армия стратегического назначения)||Moscow, RSFSR||Belonged to the Long Range Aviation.|
|46th Air Army of Strategic Purpose (46-я воздушная армия стратегического назначения)||Smolensk, RSFSR||Belonged to the Long Range Aviation.|
|4th Air Army of Operational Purpose (4-я воздушная армия оперативного назначения)||Legnica, Polish People's Republic||Belonged to the Frontal Aviation. Under Air Forces HQ in peace time. To transfer to Supreme Command of the Western Strategic Direction control in wartime.|
|24th Air Army of Operational Purpose (24-я воздушная армия оперативного назначения)||Vinnitsa, Ukrainian SSR||Belonged to the Frontal Aviation. Under Air Forces HQ in peace time. To transfer to Supreme Command of the South-Western Strategic Direction control in wartime. Based in the Kiev Military District in peace time, which lead to the KMD's own 17th Red Banner Air Army (17-я краснознаменная воздушная армия) being made up of training units in peace time.|
|Operationally subordinated to the Military Districts and the Groups of Forces|
|High Command of the Forces of the Western Strategic Direction (Главное командование войск Западного направления) - HQ in Legnica, Polish People's Republic|
|directly subordinated||(transferred from Air Force HQ in wartime):|
4th Air Army of Operational Purpose (4-я воздушная армия оперативного назначения)
|Legnica, Polish People's Republic|
|Western Group of Forces (Западная группа войск)||16th Red Banner Air Army||Wünsdorf (suburb of Zossen), German Democratic Republic||The Western Group of Forces is the new designation of the recently renamed Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, based in the German Democratic Republic.|
|Central Group of Forces (Центральная группа войск)||No Air Army.|
(131st Mixed Air Division)
|Milovice, Czechoslovak People's Republic||Central Group of Forces were based in the Czechoslovak People's Republic.|
|Northern Group of Forces (Северная группа войск)||No Air Army.|
(4th AIr Army of Operational Purpose was based in the Northern Group of Forces's AOR.)
|Northern Group of Forces were based in the Polish People's Republic.|
|Belarussian Military District(Белорусский военный округ)||26th Red Banner Air Army (26-я краснознаменная воздушная армия)||Minsk, Belarus SSR||On 15 June 1992, by decree No. 05 of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Belarus, the 26th Air Army headquarters became the command of the Air Forces of the Republic of Belarus.|
|Carpathian Military District (Прикарпатский военный округ)||14th Red Banner Air Army||Lviv, Ukrainian SSR|
|(Naval forces operationally attached):|
Twice awarded the Red Banner Baltic Fleet (Дважды КраснознамённыйБалтийский флот)
|Air Forces of the Baltic Fleet |
(ВВС Балтийского флота)
|Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblast, RSFSR||Belonged to the Naval Aviation.|
|(Air Defence forces operationally attached):||2nd Separate Air Defence Army (2-я отдельная армия ПВО)||Minsk, Belarus SSR||Belonged to the Air Defence Forces.|
|High Command of the Forces of the South-Western Strategic Direction (Главное командование войск Западного направления) - HQ in Chișinău, Moldavian SSR|
|directly subordinated||(transferred from Air Force HQ in wartime):|
24th Air Army of Operational Purpose (24-я воздушная армия оперативного назначения)
|Vinnitsa, Ukrainian SSR|
| Southern Group of Forces |
(Южная группа войск)
|36th Red Banner Air Army||Debrecen, Hungarian People's Republic||The Southern Group of Forces were based in the Hungarian People's Republic.|
| Kiev Military District |
(Киевский военный округ)
|17th Red Banner Air Army||Kiev, Ukrainian SSR||Consisted of Air Force higher schools.|
| Odessa Military District |
(Одесский военный округ)
|5th Red Banner Air Army||Odessa, Ukrainian SSR|
|(Naval forces operationally attached):||Air Forces of the Black Sea Fleet |
(ВВС Черноморского флота)
|Sevastopol, Ukrainian SSR||Belonged to the Naval Aviation.|
|High Command of the Forces of the Southern Strategic Direction (Главное командование войск Западного направления) - HQ in Baku, Azerbaijan SSR|
| North Caucasus Military District |
(Северо-Кавказский военный округ)
|Air Forces of the North Caucasus Military District (ВВС Северо-Кавказского военного округа)|
| Transcaucasus Military District |
(Закавказский военный округ)
|34th Air Army||Tbilisi, Georgian SSR|
| Turkestan Military District |
(Туркестанский военный округ)
|73rd Air Army||Alma Ata, Kazakh SSR||Until June 1, 1989 the TMD's air army was the 49th Air Army (HQ in Tashkent, Uzbekistan SSR). The 73rd Air Army controlled the Air Force assets of the Central Asian Military District. On June 1, 1989 the CAMD was disbanded and integrated back into the TMD. The two air armies were therefore also integrated, with the new command retaining the designation of the 73rd.|
|High Command of the Forces of the Far East (Главное командование войск Дальнего Востока) - HQ in Ulan-Ude, RSFSR|
|Far Eastern Military District (Дальневосточный военный округ)||1st Red Banner Air Army (1-я краснознаменная воздушная армия)||Khabarovsk, RSFSR|
|Transbaikal Military District (Забайкальский военный округ)||23rd Red Banner Air Army||Chita, RSFSR|
|(Naval forces operationally attached):||Air Forces of the Pacific Fleet |
(ВВС Тихоокеанского флота)
|Vladivostok, RSFSR||Belonged to the Naval Aviation.|
|internal military districts|
| Moscow Military District |
|Air Forces of the Moscow Military District (ВВС Московского военного округа)||Formerly the 78th Air Army.|
| Leningrad Military District |
|76th Red Banner Air Army||Leningrad, RSFSR|
| Baltic Military District |
|15th Air Army||Riga, Latvian SSR|
| Volga-Ural Military District |
(Приволжско-Уральский военный округ)
|Air Forces of the Volga-Ural Military District (ВВС Приволжско-Уральского военного округа)||Sverdlovsk (present-day Yekaterinburg), RSFSR||The Volga Military District and the Ural Military District were merged on September 1, 1989 into the Volga-Ural Military District. Due to their remoteness from the front lines in a possible armed conflict, the two military district were tasked with mainly with training (including pilot training for the Air Forces). For that reason the newly unified military district held 1st place by total aircraft quantity of all the military districts and groups of forces (1735 units), but this changed to 16th place if only combat aircraft were taken into consideration.|
| Siberian Military District |
(Сибирский военный округ)
|Air Forces of the SIberian District (ВВС Сибирского военного округа)||Due to its remoteness from the front lines in a possible armed conflict, the SMD were tasked with mainly with training (including pilot training for the Air Forces). For that reason the military district held the median 9th place by total aircraft quantity of all the military districts and groups of forces, but this changed to dead-last 19th place if only combat aircraft were taken into consideration.|
In addition, the 34th Mixed Aviation Corps (ru:34-й смешанный авиационный корпус), later re-designated to the Air Forces of the 40th Army, supported the 40th Army in Afghanistan during the Soviet–Afghan War. Its HQ was in Kabul, Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, co-located with the HQ of the 40th Army itself.
Several formations and flying units were directly subordinated to the Air Forces Main Staff (Главный штаб ВВС).They provided air transport for high-ranking government and military officials, flight testing or support to other research and development fields.
Units directly subordinated to the Main Staff (Структуры центрального (Главкомату ВВС) подчинения):
The Soviet Military Transport Aviation had the following structure in the end of the 1980s:
Military Transport Aviation Command (Командование военнотранспортной авиации), Moscow, RSFSR
Independent air defense component of the Soviet Armed Forces under Headquarters, Voyska PVO (Soviet Air Defence Forces).
A Krasnaya Zvezda military schools list of 17 January 1980 included 24 Air Forces schools.Nine Higher Aviation Schools of Pilots were reported (including the Borisoglebsk Higher Military Aviation School of Pilots at Borisoglebsk), two navigator schools (including the Chelyabinsk Higher Military Aviation School of Navigators/50th Anniversary of the Komsomols), the Khar'kov Higher Military Aviation Command School of Signals, five three-year technical secondary schools, six Air Force engineering schools (including the Kiev Higher Military Aviation Engineering School), and the Kurgan Higher Military-Political Aviation School.
In 1988, schools included:
There is also a list of Soviet Air Force bases listing the various air bases of the force.
The Russian Airborne Forces or VDV is a separate troops branch of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. First formed before World War II, the force undertook two significant airborne operations and a number of smaller jumps during the war and for many years after 1945 was the largest airborne force in the world. The force was split after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, losing divisions to Belarus and Ukraine, and has been reduced in size.
The Petlyakov Pe-8 was a Soviet heavy bomber designed before World War II, and the only four-engine bomber the USSR built during the war. Produced in limited numbers, it was used to bomb Berlin in August 1941. It was also used for so-called "morale raids" designed to raise the spirit of the Soviet people by exposing Axis vulnerabilities. Its primary mission, however, was to attack German airfields, rail yards and other rear-area facilities at night, although one was used to fly the People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov from Moscow to the United States in 1942.
The Russian Air Force is a branch of the Russian Aerospace Forces, the latter being formed on 1 August 2015 with the merging of the Russian Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces. The modern Russian Air Force was originally established on 7 May 1992 following Boris Yeltsin's creation of the Ministry of Defence; however, the Russian Federation's air force can trace its lineage and traditions back to the Imperial Russian Air Service (1912–1917) and the Soviet Air Forces (1918–1991).
The Petlyakov Pe-3 was the long-range heavy fighter version of the successful Petlyakov Pe-2 high-speed dive bomber used by the Soviet Union during World War II.
The Russian Naval Aviation is the air arm of the Russian Navy, having superseded Soviet Naval Aviation. The Russian Navy is divided into four fleets and one flotilla: Northern Fleet, Pacific Fleet, Baltic Fleet, Black Sea Fleet, and Caspian Flotilla.
The Special Purpose Command was a formation of the Russian Air Force, the strongest among the tactical aviation and anti-aircraft groupings. Its zone of responsibility amounted to 1.3 million km², taking in 40 million people, as well as the country's capital, Moscow. On July 1, 2009 it was superseded by the Aerospace Defense Operational Strategic Command.
The Siberian Military District was a Military district of the Russian Ground Forces. The district was originally formed as a military district of the Russian Empire in 1864. In 1924 it was reformed in the Red Army. After the end of World War II the district was split into the Western and Eastern Siberian Military Districts. In 1956 the district was reformed. In 2010 it was divided between the two newly formed Central and Eastern Military Districts.
Smolensk North Airport is a decommissioned military airbase in Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located 4 km north of the city of Smolensk. It is now used as Smolensk's sole airport for civil and military flights. It has a remote revetment area with 8 pads and a Yakovlev factory at the southeast side of the airfield, the Smolensk Aviation Plant.
The Byelorussian Military District was a military district of the Soviet Armed Forces. Originally formed just before the World War I as the Minsk Military District out of the remnants of the Vilno Military District and the Warsaw Military District, it was headed by the Russian General Eugen Alexander Ernst Rausch von Traubenberg.
With the outbreak of the Russian Civil War it was reorganized into the Western Front and in April 1924 it was renamed to the Western Military District. In October 1926 it was redesignated the Belorussian Military District, with its staff in Smolensk. And in July 1940 it was renamed the Western Special Military District. It covered the territory of the Byelorussian SSR and the western part of the RSFSR.
The 16th Red Banner Air Army was the most important formation of the Special Purpose Command. Initially formed during the Second World War as a part of the Soviet Air Force, it was from its 2002 reformation to its 2009 disbandment the tactical air force component of the Moscow Military District. The 16th Air Army took part in the Battle of Berlin with 28 Aviation divisions and 7 Separate aviation regiments, and was located with the GSFG in East Germany until 1994. Withdrawn to Kubinka in that year, the army was disbanded and reformed as a corps in 1998. From 1949 to 1968, it was designated as the 24th Air Army.
Military Transport Aviation Command was a major component of the former Soviet Air Forces, active from the Cold War period, through the dissolution of the Soviet Union, to 1998–1999. In 1999–2009 it was reduced in status to the 61st Air Army of the Supreme High Command. The 61st Air Army itself was initially formed on 10 January 1949 by renaming the 3rd Air Army. In 2009 the 61st Air Army was renamed the Command of Military Transport Aviation. Its headquarters is located in Moscow.
The 5th Army of VVS and PVO was the Russian Air Force's smallest Air Army, with the headquarters located in Yekaterinburg. Its zone of responsibility was the Volga-Ural Military District, on the border between Europe and Asia. The commanding officer of the 5th Air Army was from May 2006, Lieutenant-General Vadim Volkovitskiy.
The 6th Red Banner Leningrad Army of Air and Air Defence Forces is an Air Army of the Russian Air Force.
Leonid Illarionovich Ivanov was a Soviet Air Force senior lieutenant and posthumous Hero of the Soviet Union. Ivanov was posthumously awarded the title for reportedly shooting down two German aircraft in the first days after Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II, and being killed in a ramming attack (taran) while defending his airfield from a raid.
The 55th Mixed Aviation Division was an Aviation Division of the Soviet Air Forces during World War II.
The 95th Fighter Aviation Division was a fighter aviation division of the Soviet Air Forces. The division was originally formed in 1949 as the 95th Mixed Aviation Division and became a fighter aviation division in 1954. It was disbanded in 1988 and was based in Shchuchyn from 1960.
Boris Dmitrievich Kabishev was a Soviet Air Defence Forces (PVO) Lieutenant general and Hero of the Soviet Union. Kabishev flew the Ilyushin Il-2 in combat from July 1943, making 112 sorties and shooting down an enemy aircraft. For these actions he received the title Hero of the Soviet Union. After the war Kabishev held command positions in the Soviet Air Force and graduated from the Air Force Academy and Military Academy of the General Staff. After graduation from the Military Academy of the General Staff, Kabishev led the 3rd Air Defense Corps and 11th Air Defence Army, as well as advising the Polish Country Air Defence Force. Before retirement in 1980, Kabishev served as the deputy commander of the PVO for combat training. After retirement, Kabishev lived in Moscow and worked at the USSR State Committee for Hydrometeorology.
The 54th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment was an aviation regiment of the Soviet Air Forces during World War II and the Cold War, which became part of the Soviet Air Defense Forces and the Russian Air Force.
The 761st Fighter Aviation Regiment was a fighter regiment (IAP) of the Soviet Air Force during World War II that became part of the Soviet Air Defense Force (PVO) during the Cold War as the 761st Fighter Aviation Regiment PVO. Converted to the 761st Training Aviation Regiment in 1965, it became part of the Russian Air Force after the Dissolution of the Soviet Union and was disbanded in 2009 as a result of military reforms, but reformed by 2017.
Varlam Urdia was a Soviet bomber and fighter pilot of Georgian origin who took part in numerous bombing campaigns and aerial dogfight battles against the German Luftwaffe during the World War II. By piloting PS-84 and Ilyushin Il-2 ground attack fighter aircraft he took an active part in the bombing raids of German positions on the Voronezh Front, during the Operation Barbarossa and in aerial battles on the Caucasus front. For his service in 1942-43, Colonel Urdia was awarded twice with the Order of the Patriotic War 1st Class and in 1944 with the Order of the Red Banner for extraordinary heroism and courage demonstrated on the battlefield.
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