The Red Army Air Force in the First Days of Operation Barbarossa

Stationed at one of the many airfields in
the west of the Soviet Union was Viktor Sinaisky. “The night of 21st to 22nd of June [1941]
was quiet. We spent it under canvas, listening to the patter of falling rain. But howling
sirens sounded soon after dawn. ‘Not another alarm?’ we murmured…” Elsewhere, Alexander Khaila had a similar
experience. “It rained heavily during the night of the
21st to 22nd of June [1941], and when the alarm sounded no one wanted to get up, as
everyone thought it was yet another training exercise. “Our entire training process was
a series of alarms and they came almost every Sunday.” Shvarev was in Kaunas with Antonets’s 236th
Aviation Regiment when the Axis launched Operation Barbarossa. “About 4 o’clock in the morning we heard
AA guns firing. There had been rumours about a full-scale training exercise, so at first
we assumed all was well. But we could see Kaunas Airfield and the meat-processing factory
nearby from our house. Suddenly I saw the reflection of flames: ‘Brothers, this is
no exercise: look, a hangar is burning!’” On another airfield was Ivan Gaidaenko. Gaidaenko
had received the Order of the Red Star during the Winter War – where the Soviet Union had
attacked Finland, and lost. This medal was given to him personally by Kalinin, President
of the USSR. “On the 21st of June 1941 I got leave. I
decided to visit a girl I knew in Kexholm before going home to the Ukraine. While I
was packing the alarm sounded. We assumed it was a training alarm and ran to our white
SB planes (they looked like swans to us), warmed up the engines and prepared to take
off. We prepared photo cameras and attached dummy concrete bombs just in case. No one
realized it was a real alarm!” 94% of the bombers that the Soviets were equipped
with in the western border districts were these old Tupolev SB aircraft. Once Gaidaenko
and his comrades had figured out that the war had actually started, they couldn’t
take off. Why? Because their planes were white. They had to repaint them with camouflage colours,
which took a couple of days. Luckily, their airfield was not hit in the first few days
of the war. Meanwhile, instead of taking off without orders
(thus risking reprimands), Sinaisky and his comrades at their airfield pulled their planes
into a nearby forest and camouflaged them. “By the time a German scout plane arrived
there were no signs of an airfield left at all. Apparently this was the reason the Germans
didn’t bomb our airfield, as the measures were taken in good time. Thus the first day
of the war was absolutely quiet for us.” But other airfields were hit. Luftwaffe bombers
struck 76 Soviet airfields on the 22nd of June 1941. 237 of the Southwestern Front’s
planes were destroyed whilst sat on their airfields in the first two days of the war
before they had even had a chance to take off. “We jumped out of the tent – some of our
neighbours had already been killed and wounded. I pulled on my flight overall, took my map
case, and ran towards the hangar. I ordered a technician: ‘Roll out my plane!’ The
3rd Squadron’s duty planes, lined up on the field, were already burning.” 77% of the fighters were old and obsolete
models like the I-15s, I-153s, and I-16s. “The I-15 fighters from the 3rd Squadron
were on duty that morning – we dubbed these planes ‘coffins’ as there were accidents
with them all the time…” In fact, in addition to the 237 aircraft destroyed
on their airfields by the Luftwaffe, the Southwestern Front lost 242 aircraft due to accidents by
the 10th of August 1941. This was the result of either faulty equipment or poor training.
Their total losses for this period were 1,861 aircraft, meaning that had they lost 13% of
their total aircraft through maintenance or training problems alone. Yes, 13% of their
aircraft were lost by their crews just flying the planes – not through enemy action. “A massive increase in the size of the air
force combined with the purges to dilute the number of trained leaders, pilots, administrators,
and mechanics, so that 25 percent of VVS [Red Army Air Force] regiments existed only on
paper. In an atmosphere where a plane crash would result in the commander’s arrest for
sabotage, VVS leaders were very cautious about allowing their pilots to train on the new
aircraft or fly at night. Pilots in the Baltic Special Military District averaged only 15.5
flight hours in the first three months of 1941; their counterparts in Kiev averaged
4 hours. Only 932 of 2,800 pilots had completed transition training to their new aircraft
by 22 June. Many soldiers and airmen were so unfamiliar with the new designs that they
fired on their own aircraft when the war began.” Imagine flying an aircraft for just a few
hours and then being told – ok, now it’s time to get into a dogfight with experienced
Luftwaffe pilots who are flying more up to date aircraft. How well do you think you’d
do? Klimenko’s regiment only had one MiG-1 aircraft.
The only pilot who knew how to fly it went up into the air, approached a German reconnaissance
plane from the rear, but didn’t fire. Then he swooped around and moved in to attack again,
but didn’t fire again. When they landed back at the airfield, the pilot explained
that the trigger didn’t work. It turned out that the trigger had a security frame
over it, and all the pilot had to do was flip it aside before pulling the trigger. But he
didn’t know this because he wasn’t used to the aircraft. However, this was actually better than what
Khaila’s airfield managed. After hearing the alarms go off in the morning and complaining
that their Sunday had been ruined by more training exercises, they were ordered to the
canteen… but weren’t told what was going on. They waited for hours, and it wasn’t
until noon when they heard Molotov’s speech over the radio and realised that they were
at war. They didn’t even take off at all that first day. Elsewhere, Klimenko did take
off though – “I started the engine, jumped in the cockpit,
and took off. I circled the airfield as I didn’t know where to go or what to do! Another
I-16 fighter approached. He dipped his wingtips, indicating: ‘Attention! Follow me!’” Radios were in short supply, as were communications
specialists. Most of those who had radios didn’t know how to use them. It wasn’t
until October of 1942 that the Air Force had radios in half of its fighter aircraft. And
it wasn’t until the end of 1943 that radios were installed in all their aircraft. This
meant that the Soviets had to fight in a close, inflexible fighting formation, without the
means to communicate, or warn each other of approaching enemy aircraft, or coordinate
their actions as a team. Whereas the Germans – armed with radios – could run rings around
them. “Fighters flew three abreast in a fixed
line, easy prey for German pilots, who flew in loose vertical formations, using air-to-air
communications to help each other out. The slow Soviet bombers flew close together at
a set height of 8,000 feet and were shot down like migrating geese.” So, without orders or communications equipment,
and not knowing what to do, Klimenko in his I-16 followed his commander. The two planes
spotted German columns below them and made a few passes, shooting them with their ShKAS
machine guns. Upon his return, Klimenko and his leader were brought before the regiment
commander. “Arrest them. No flights for these two.
Who permitted you to strafe those columns? Do you know what’s going on? I don’t.
Maybe you are responsible for an act of provocation. Maybe those were friendly troops…” It was only when Molotov made his speech at
noon that they went from being classed as “hooligans” to being classed as “heroes”. “We were the only ones from the entire regiment
who fought back at the Fritzes without waiting for orders. But our losses were high – many
planes and hangers were destroyed.” The Spanish Civil War had shown the weaknesses
of the old Soviet fighter aircraft designs like the I-16 and the I-153, which were even
outgunned and out-maneuvered by the German bombers, let alone German fighters. The Finnish
Air Force only had 114 planes during the Winter War, so the Soviet VVS concentrated on helping
the ground troops, meaning that the Soviet pilots had little combat experience by the
time Barbarossa launched, and their aircraft were simply not up for the job. “I engaged the enemy only once in an I-16.
We were a group of three or four planes and we came across a Fiesler ‘Storch’. We
chased him all over the place but couldn’t hit him! One of my machine guns jammed but
eventually we succeeded in shooting him down.” While the VVS took up 40% of the USSR’s
military budget and was able to produce twice as many aircraft compared to German industry
in the June of 1941, the planned replacement of the out-of-date planes wasn’t due to
be finished until the middle of 1942. Worse, they were behind schedule. And even if they
were armed with the newer MiG-1s, MiG-3s, or Il-2 Sturmoviks, 90% of all Soviet fighters
were only armed with machine guns, not heavier guns and cannons like the Luftwaffe aircraft
had. On the first day, Shvarev put on his clothes
and ran to the airfield. The hanger was burning, but they managed to pull out their planes.
There were no commanders, but on their own initiative, they went up into the air in their
MiG-3’s. They attacked a group of He 111 bombers, but just like the I-16s, their machine
guns were prone to jamming, which they did in the heat of the battle. “After this first battle 40 bullet holes
were found in my plane and eight rounds had lodged in my parachute. Can you imagine? A
MiG had a fuel supply system, a water system, and an oil system. I was incredibly lucky
not a single tube was hit.” Shvarev went up two more times that day and
managed to bring down a Heinkel bomber. Only 6 fighters from the regiment survived, with
25 damaged and had to be destroyed when they retreated from the airfield. The rapid expansion of the Soviet air force
in the late 1930s and early 1940s meant that new airfields had to be constructed and old
ones converted to allow the new aircraft to operate on them. In the May of 1941, they
still had to build 592 new airfields in total for the western military districts, of which
480 were planned to have been constructed by the 31st of December 1941. Clearly, most
of these airfields were not built when the Germans attacked. In the meantime, most Soviet
aircraft were deployed or redeployed to temporary airfields, or over-concentrated on the existing
airfields, meaning that they were harder to conceal and more vulnerable to air attack.
After successfully hiding their aircraft in the woods on the first day, Sinaisky and his
I-16s went up on the 23rd of June, and collectively managed to bring down one enemy bomber. “But in the first confrontations with German
bombers our young pilots realized that 7.62mm ShKAS machine guns were of little use: they
fired and fired at the bombers but with no result. To be honest we all became pessimistic.” Many bases were built so close to the border
that they came under artillery attack, and were often overrun very quickly by the advancing
Axis forces. These forward bases just happened to be the best equipped airfields as well,
further straining the shortage of spare parts, and increasing the loss of trained officers
and men. “We flew I-16s against the enemy’s Me
109s. German planes were faster than ours. In theory our I-16s could gain 400-450m during
a turn, while a Messer would gain 700-750m no trouble. And our gunsights consisted of
a simple pipe. What could you see through it? Only the Group Commander had an I-16 fitted
with a collimator sight. My friend Valya Firsov, from Orel, was killed in those early battles.” Making matters worse, air regiments also should
have had 3 airfields each. Instead, many regiments shared one airfield with another regiment.
The overcrowded airfields prevented the planes from taking off quickly, helping to explain
why so many planes were hit on the ground on the first day. “I didn’t get to fly a MiG-3 though – they’d
all been destroyed on the ground. They gave me an old I-16 with a finger-thick layer of
paint on it. This plane was armed with ShKAS machine guns: but they couldn’t fire more
than two bursts without jamming from overheating.” Thick paint wasn’t much protection against
bombs and bullets. Over 1,200 Soviet planes were lost on the first morning of the war.
The Northwestern Front’s operational report on the 22nd of June 1941 said that 56 of its
planes were shot down that day, and 32 were destroyed on the airfields themselves. By
the 26th of June, Kopets reported he had lost somewhere in the region of 80% of his equipment. Command and control was impossible since communications had completely collapsed. The system in place relied heavily on telephone cables, which were destroyed or overrun in the opening phases,
and the Luftwaffe was causing chaos at the remaining Soviet airfields not yet taken.
Every front had suffered a similar fate, and it’s no wonder Kopets decided to commit suicide fearing Stalin’s wrath. What little remained of the VVS tried to help
their ground troops in any way that they could. One day, a heavy KV tank got stuck in a swamp.
Gaidaenko and his team were ordered to destroy it from the air. “Can you imagine? We were ordered to destroy
this tank with 7.62mm ShKAS machine guns! They should have known better! Well, we flew
to the tank and fired at it. But what was the point of all this?” In the early post-war narratives of WW2, authors
stated that the Luftwaffe had around 2,000 aircraft deployed in the East against the
colossal 20,662 planes that the Red Army Air Force had at the time – the largest air force
in history. Yet somehow they were victorious. This is then used by some racists as proof
that the German Aryan supermen were far superior to the ‘Judeo-Bolshevik’ ‘Asiatic savage’. And, because the Luftwaffe had a total of
about 5,670 planes in the June of 1941, and because just 2,000 were deployed in the East,
this meant that only 35% of the Luftwaffe was in support of the largest land invasion
in history. The conclusion that some come to from this percentage is that the Wehrmacht
couldn’t deploy everything it had to the East because of Britain, and thus if only
they’d been able to deploy their full might against the Russians, then victory would have
been assured. The reality is that the Luftwaffe deployed
3,904 planes in the East for Barbarossa, which is 69% of the total aircraft strength. That’s
a little bit higher than 35%. In addition, and often forgotten, there was an extra 1,025
aircraft belonging to the Axis Allied armies, bringing the total Axis air force strength
to about 4,929. And while the Soviets did have 20,662 aircraft,
this was the total number of aircraft deployed throughout the entire USSR, not just those
fighting on the Axis-Soviet Front. But even then, 5,103 of these aircraft were not actually
combat aircraft. Meaning the total was 15,559, not 20,662. Then, only about 9,912 of these
were deployed in European Russia. “Thus the disparity in aircraft between
the Axis and Soviet air forces declines from 1:4 (or 1:10 if counting all Russian aircraft)
to a more accurate 1:2 (or 1:4). This illustrates that not only did the Luftwaffe concentrate
a larger number of aircraft for Barbarossa, but also that its numerical odds versus its
Russian adversary were considerably less daunting than have usually been claimed.” And that’s just the face-value numbers.
On the 22nd of June 1941, 12.9% (919 machines) of the aircraft in the western border districts
were not operational. Of the remaining aircraft, they only had 5,937 trained crews available
to man them. The new model planes may as well not have been there because they only had
208 crews who knew how to fly them. Since these planes can’t fly themselves, having
an abundance of aircraft is meaningless without the crews. When the crew numbers are factored
in, it’s 4,929 Axis aircraft vs 5,937 Soviet aircraft. A ratio that’s 1:1.2. Far more
even. And as we have seen, most of the Soviet aircraft
were older designs, were poorly armed and poorly armoured, were slower than the German
aircraft, were overcrowded on their airfields, had no radios (unlike the Germans), were completely
surprised, nobody knew there was a war going on, they had no orders, weren’t even at
their posts in a lot of cases, were struck by bombers in the first morning – losing hundreds
of planes on the airfields before they even had a chance to take off, and the Red Army
Air Force was in the middle of an expansion and reforming process to update their aircraft
and formations. Why? Because the Soviet government had not expected to fight until the summer
of 1942, which is why it risked expanding and reforming the air force (and the army)
when it did. This fantastical idea that the Soviet Union
was going to strike first against the National Socialist Third Reich in 1941, and that’s
why the Wehrmacht had to go East when it did, simply doesn’t hold up. The Red Army and
her Air Force were not prepared for war, which is why they were caught completely off guard,
and is why the Luftwaffe gained total air superiority in the first week, and then retained
it until late-1942. It wasn’t until the summer of 1943 that the Red Army Air Force
had recovered enough to dominate the skies. This was only possible because of a massive
increase in Soviet aircraft production, a huge reorganization and training effort, and
an influx of Lend Lease equipment in terms of both aircraft and radios.

100 Replies to “The Red Army Air Force in the First Days of Operation Barbarossa”

  1. This is the first time I’ve done a specific video on the air war. What do you think? Want me to do more? Or should I “stick to tanks”?

    Still not sure on a date with Stalingrad, but the map is almost done so I will let you know. If you like Stalingrad, you should check out and subscribe to Anton Joly's YouTube channel – "Stalingrad Battle Data". Link:


    Drabkin, A. "The Red Air Force at War: Barbarossa and the Retreat to Moscow." Pen&Sword, Kindle 2007.

    Glantz, D. “Stumbling Colossus: The Red Army on the Eve of World War.” University Press of Kansas, 1998.

    Glantz, D. “Colossus Reborn: The Red Army at War, 1941-1943.” University Press of Kansas, 2005.

    Glantz, D. & House, J. “When Titan’s Clashed.” University Press of Kansas, 2015.

    Overy, R. “Russia’s War.” Penguin Group, 1999.

    Hayward, J. “Stopped at Stalingrad: The Luftwaffe and Hitler’s Defeat in the East 1942-1943.” University Press of Kansas, 1998.

    Hill, A. "British Lend Lease Aid and the Soviet War Effort, June 1941 June 1942." Article from The Journal of Military History,Vol. 71, No. 3 (Jul., 2007), pp. 773-808.

    Liedtke, G. “Enduring the Whirlwind: The German Army and the Russo-German War 1941-1943.” Helion & Company LTD, 2016.

    Suvorov, V. "Icebreaker. Who Started the Second World War?" PL UK Publishing, Kindle 2012. (this book is not recommending reading)

    van Tuyll, H. "Feeding the Bear: American Aid to the Soviet Union, 1941-1945." Greenwood Press, 1989.

    A full list of all my WW2 and related books can be found here

    Thanks for watching!

  2. Average 15 hours for a pilot in the first 3 months of Barbarossa?? That's absolutely bonkers.

    RAF fighter pilots averaged between 200 hours before they were actually given an opportunity to participate in combat (in 1940). Later in the war, in 1943-1945, that number would slowly rise up to over 300 flight hours.

    For American pilots, the numbers were almost identical. Early in the war American pilots completed training at around 200 hours, and as the war went on, would graduate training with 300-350 hours.

    The Luftwaffe was an opposite story throughout the war. In 1941 the average new pilot had about 200 flight hours, but eventually reduced to only about 100 in 1944-1945.

    For Soviet pilots to be going into the air with only 15 hours (and that's just an average, I'm sure there were some with less than 10), flying 1933 polikarpov biplanes without proper radio and instruments against far superior Luftwaffe tactics, pilots, and technolgy… it just boggles my mind. I'm sure the luftwaffe had a solid portion of pilots with 700+ plus hours on their side.

  3. About russian air war, there is an war autobiography of Alexander Pokryshkin, one of the finest russian pilot during the war (three times Hero of the Soviet Union), who is worth to read, even if, sadly, it exists only a french translation from it, sold only in DDR during the 70'. It's a really fun reading since he was kinda… "rash", and got yelled a lot from the bolchevik administration, and almost got purged because of his dispute with his chiefs about how he has to fly and fight. Oh, and his first shot of the war was against a russian bomber he mistook with a german one, but shhh, they just had to do an emergency landing and almost died… Shit happens 😀

    Sadly, it only exist a french translation from the russian original version, I dont think it exists an english translation since the french one was made for the french children who were sent to pioner/red scout campement in DDR by parents from the french communist party

  4. Great video! For anyone interested in the MiG-3, I wrote up some interesting bits of the history while reviewing a model I built of the type, which you can find here:

  5. Congrats on bothering to put subtitles in your videos
    Also good idea with the white bar that has the source for that part of the video

  6. National Spirit: State Of Chock

    Air superiority mission efficiency -25%

    Aircraft: attack-30% defense -40%

    Will be removed: July 22nd 1941

    If you're one of the approximately 5 people on earth that gets the reference, congratulations. If not, I apologize for bleeding your eyes out.

  7. 26:45 this still does not neuter the intention/capability of the soviet union under Stalin was set out and preparing to go on an invasion into the WHOLE of europe (after nazi germany..roll on into France (LOTS on communists) and Italy (also LOST of communists) as "saviours " for a new ideal society…) in 1942…
    Stalin, as indeed the whole world EXPECTED the nazi germans to slugg it out in France for another year or two…that is 1940-1941-1942….

  8. TIK Dude your channel and you are a breath of fresh air. Finally a WW2 buff that talks about the things that no one talks about in an educated manner. Nice not to see another rehash of “anti it’s the nazis” history channel. You Just state facts. Subbed.

  9. Well Suvorov claims that the Soviet plan was to achieve air superiority not in the air, but on the ground and in economics.

    He says that the Idea was that a massive wave of soviet bombers and fighters will destroy most of the German airforce on the ground, during a series of surprise raids conducted as a part of a swift backstab against the Germans, the same would have been done by a sudden advance of the ground forces and artillery attacks on the German airfields using mass numbers and shock, basically what the Germans did to the Russians or what the Israelis did to the Arabs during the six-day war.

    In addition the plan was that the initial strike would cripple German's Oil production(the Oil problem was covered by TIK btw), and even if the Germans will be able to resist at start – eventually their airforce will be useless.

    And even if the soviets will suffer great losses in the Air at start, eventually their huge air-force(constantly increased by USSR's enormous production capacity) will be able to absorb these big losses without losing functionality.

    In general Suvorov claims that the Soviet plan was to make air-combat insignificant.

  10. Hi. This is good, but largely repeats the Soviet narrative of "peaceful Soviet Union – not ready for war [because we are so peaceful and shit unicorn poo] – our airforce destroyed in the first two days [this old chestnut I am happy to say you managed to avoid]". The alternative hypothesis which has been advocated in the last 20 years [by Mark Solonin first and foremost] is that just like with the huge piles of tanks, artillery and millions of tonnes of other war materiel, the majority of the airforce was not lost in combat but essentially abandoned in the chaotic rout to the east or "rebasing" as it was called with reference to the airforce. Essentially the bulk of the Soviet army and Red Air Force deserted. Unfortunatelly his books have not been translated into English but have a look at these slides in English for an overall summary of his thesis.

  11. So with all the excuses besides. Poor training, poor equipment, poor moral, poor doctrine and poor leadership lead the poor performance of the VVS. So what is left when talking about military superiority?

    You do carry this extreme a little far. The Russian military was in shambles at the beginning. They where for the most part fighting alone. It was not until a year later did Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa, India, New Zealand, The Free French, African colonies, and the USA got into the actual fight (at the time the Britain ruled a 1/4 of the land mass on earth).

  12. Do you think with the number of air fields in forward areas tends to prove that the eventual plan was an attack on German territory? An airfield that close to the border would never be of much use for defense!
    All those semitrained pilots wasted, tanks without ammunition and lubricants, soldiers without ammunition. None of the services had adequate communications, supply, intelligence, inflexible orders that left some units holding only to be surrounded and annihilated, others left to panic and flee. The common man who was just a number to their socialist overlords!

  13. Its a very good video. More would be nice, but the Battlestorm videos are best. Though i dont think many historians agree that Finland won the winter war. If you read about the last days for the finns, and the desperate attempts to get a armistice, i think you also would agree with them TIK.

  14. Even later in the war with the Russians with better planes and out numbering the Germans the Germans shot down more planes % wise.
    The Russians were not smart fighters, how else does the (winning side) lose 5 million more troops than the (losing side) after the war was over?

  15. Well, i'm not any wehraboo but to be more objective that statistic about unoperational planes should be also given to luftwaffe. They have some problems with maintaining planes expecially becouse of constantly war on the west and some amount of plains was in repairs longer or shorter and they was on the unit lists. PS Sorry if i do any english grammar mistakes.

  16. Was fun until 21:35… do you really have to bring up some stupid current politics into it? Can't it just be a normal history video?

  17. There is one big advantage to all of those aircraft that the Soviets had without any crews. When fighting on the defensive any crew that bails out immediately becomes available again if you have a plane to put them in. Likewise planes blown up on the ground usually don't involve injuries to the crew. So while the Soviets couldn't have more planes in the air then they had crews, the extra aircraft could go a long way to making up combat losses and offering a second ride for pilots who's aircraft were down for maintenance. Not as good as an aircraft with a properly trained crew, but still substantially better than nothing.

  18. Finnish Air Force was also able to keep up air superiority during the whole duration of attack phase in Karelia (with 550 planes). Main bomber was Bristol Blenheim and main fighter plane Brwester Buffalo. I don't know if its telling, but it really suprised me.

  19. The numbers in the film are not at all in line with the reported gains from German side. The Gains – several 1000 – the first day – Göring let the destroyed airplanes count and got even more.

  20. What planes ended making it off the ground were quickly dealt with by the German fighter pilots. German fighter pilots were known to shoot down 40 to over 300 planes single handedly on the eastern front

  21. So what was a composition of the Luftwaffe, you tend to go into great detail about the VVS issues and actual numbers but then just give "3900 Luftwaffe planes" and no composition on single engine fighters, zerstorers (twin engine fighters aka BF 110) scout planes, transport planes , and bombers…also what was their initial "day one" operational strength.

    A cynic in me would call those some hefty mental gymnastics.

    Also lay off with the memes and stupid politically motivated comments not contributing anything to the actual topic. Those are just as annoying as those Hollywood actors virtue signaling.

  22. 4:05 Official russian/soviet sources mentions about 66 (not 76) soviet airfields (14% of soviet airfields in Western Military Districts) targeted by Luftwaffe on 22 of June. First wave of a german strike targeted 31airfields using 637 bombers and 231 fighters rest being attacked in following waves.
    – Myth of inexperienced soviet pilots. Almost all of Western Military District officer staff had a lot of experience gained during the Spanish Civil War, Battle of Lake Khasan, Battles of Khalkhin Gol and Finnish Winter War. It was a four years of fighting under the skies of Spain, China, Mongolia and Finland. Only during the Finnish Winter War soviet forces conducted 84.000 sorties. On the outbreak of Barbarossa over 3000 russian pilots had combat experience [G. Korniuchin, Sovietskije istriebitieli w Wielikoy Otiecestwinnoy woynie], of course not all of them served in Western Military District area. There was 686 pilot who had conversion training for Mig-3 and 156 for Yak-1 [W.Alieksiejenko, Sovietskije VVS nakanunie i w gody Wielikoy…] before June 22, this training lasted 3 month (from April) which is a long time for such a conversion (compared ie. to French 3 week conversion for Hawk and D520 in 1940). First Mig-3 started to arrive to Western Military District in first half of January 1941, that's half a year before Barbarossa. On there are a lot of russian pilot memoirs, they trained a lot on those new planes, test pilots were redirected to units to share their experience, training flights on Mig-1 started on autumn 1940. In April 1941 there was a lot of trainings of night flights, turnfighting, shooting etc.

    PS. Excuse my imperfect English

  23. Well, 13% is not that much.
    AmericanF4u corsair loses in WWII:
    By aerial combat: 189

    By enemy ground and shipboard anti-aircraft fire: 349

    Operational losses during combat missions: 230

    Operational losses during non-combat flights: 692

    Destroyed aboard ships or on the ground: 164

  24. then how could they effectively fought Japanese in khalkin goal?? or spanish civil war? or winter war in finland or polish war ? i am clueless

  25. Hi TIK, one minor mistake by either you or your scource. It's the I-16 that was named ''coffin'' (lately in the war Lagg-3 will take over this nickname), not the I-15. I-16 was very unstable in flight and required a loot of concentration/experience from it's pilot.

  26. keep doing the air war over the soviet union because it is a little know element of the great patriotic war. the air battles over stalingrad and kursk are a start… thanks for the video.

  27. Excellent research & communication of the data & anecdotes TIK ! (as usual.)

    To answer your question: While you already have your hands full with your massive Stalingrad project, it would be great if you explored the airwar again (down the road).

    e.g. We already know that the Germans started out being superior to the Western Allies & Soviets in combined-arms warfare, and it certainly was crucially important in their conquest of the western parts of continental Europe. It would be interesting to find out how their combined-arms tactical strategies evolved from what they did in France to their strategies in 1941/42 & how well their tactical strategies worked during that period.

    e.g. Also, I am curious if the Germans' lack of fuel, logistics, repairs, spare parts, weather, etc. were as much of a hindrance to the Luftwaffe in 1941/42 as it was for the ground forces?

    e.g. Furthermore, for both the Soviets & Axis, tank-busting became an important part of the air war, so it's evolution & impact intrgues me.

    e.g. Last, details re: how the Soviets took control of the skies during 1943 & began to implement combined-arms warfare, plus the impact of the 'new Soviet airforce' would be greatly appreciated.

    …BUT only after you've given yourself a well-deserved break after researching & producing what will be an epic Battlestorm series about Stalingrad. 🙂

  28. Waiting for the new Battle Storm. take as long as you need the best thing come to those who wait ^^.
    Yer dude do more air war stuff ^^
    Grandad, Squadron leader "Butch" Baker flew in 44 Rhodesia squadron. So air war is right up my street.

  29. If the Germans would have not attacked in 1941 and in summer 1942 the Red Army would have been ready what would have happened then? Would have Stalin send the Red Army to "help" the people in eastern Europe to "free" them from their "capitalist suppressors"?

  30. Good video but I have one complaint to make:
    The I-15, I-153 and I-16 were surely outdated and no real match for modern Luftwaffe planes but they were surely not outmaneuvered. Their maneuverability was their only strength when fighting the Germans.

  31. I enthousiasticly posted a link to this video on a WW2 flight simulator game’s Facebook page and someone pointed out that the picture at the start is an I15 of the Spanish Republican Airforce.
    I think he is right…….although maybe splitting hairs a bit.

  32. Two more articles you may like (book links included in articles):

  33. Hello, TIK.

    I don`t know if you`ll see this, but I think you should get in touch with one of the best modern russian historians – Evgeny Norin – – his work with russian sources is currently the best. And i think it will really help your content to become evene better.

  34. Good and interesting video. Small criticism: At the end of the video you are ensuring only the operational fully crewed combat aircraft are counted on the Soviet side (5937 planes). I agree that this is the correct approach, however as long as you don't indicate whether you used the same approach regarding the 4920 planes on the Axis side you are not making a reasonable comparison..

  35. You conclude that given the Soviet airforce situation there was no Soviet intended attack on Germany. But how do you the assess the fact that the modern airfield were in range of Germn artillery directly at the border ? Wouldn' t this be a clear indication of an offensive allocation of troops ?

  36. Great video! But I would advise you to be careful with generalizing individual Soviet pilot experiences into a "big picture". VVS despite all odds did a decent job of damage limitation. Together with ground troops they forced all Luftwaffe to focus on the front line, while relocating intact factories to Urals which started on day 1, which eventually decided the outcome of the war. And destroying those factories was a priority task for luftwaffe.

    Furthermore, I-16 was not a bad fighter. Upon its introduction in late 30s it was the world's fastest and most agile fighter, and was thus mass produced. As the pilots say if you could fly I-16 you could fly anything. it was only 50km/h slower that Messerschmitts while remaining more maneuverable.

    I-153s (Chayka-Seagull) were obviously outdated, but it was them who ruled the skies over Caucasus in 1942 when the tide of war first changed (before Stalingrad). Low speed maneuverability made them unsurpassed "mountain bombers", in conditions the Messers would never fly, without eventually crashing into rocks.

  37. Also Ivan Kopets probably deserved a bullet, and that would have nothing to do with ShTalin. Btw.. word kopets (or kapets) in Russian is a socially acceptable euphemism for "clusterfuck" or "ultimate fuck up". Collective unconscious at work obviously.)))

  38. 5:33 Ive read that I-15 and I-16 planes were dangerous to pilot, just like the Gee Bee racing plane that it was based off. So in some part it was a deign flaw of this short plane, not the state of the red airforce.

  39. The Soviet Union in 1941 seems like such a paper tiger. How bad must German Intelligence have been if they believed they believed they could win this thing? Or were they aware of the numbers but also the critical deficiencies in doctrine, support equipment and training?

  40. Overuse of alarms leads to the opposite of the desired effect. Like the boy who cried 'Wolf!' the experience gets old, the mind becomes inured to the cacophony, and your troops cease to react in a desired manner.

  41. Please don't say "VVS". It sounds weird. VVS is an abbreviation for "Voenno Vozdushnie Sily" which can be precisely translated as "Air Force". You don't Royal AF or United States AF, right?

  42. Also, June 22 was, I think, the day after Midsummer. Which the Russians celebrate with vigour. It is like Christmas or Thanksgiving, but in the summer, and with booze. Lots of it. So if it really was the day after Midsummer, anybody of importance was away at his summer cottage, and everybody else was either hungover, or still drunk. Perfect time to strike.

  43. AWESOME! This is the first time somebody takes the time to explain to me why the VVS took so heavy loses in the begining of the war! I would LOVE if you stick up to this subjet. Im kinda tired of tanks…Even in the Internet is hard to find a beliavable source on numbers. And it gets darker when it comes to soviet aircrafts. I was about to make a post about wich was the soviet fighter with the best kill ratio on my FB group… But i had to drop that idea since i found literally NOTHING in the net. Lagg 3, La 5, La 7, mig 3, Yak 3, 7 or 9… P-40, hurricane, spitfire, aircobra or kingcobra… Nothing. Did the soviets counts targets destroyed on the ground as an air kill? Nothing. Who was in charge of form new tactics? Where the new pilots were trained by the time of the battle of stalingrad started? If most of the fight took place below 6000mts, where the new Yakovlev and Lavochkin airplanes became stronger, why the Luftwaffe didn't send their machines higher than that? NOTHING AT ALL! Please TIK! You are my only hope!!!!

  44. #Question

    Hello, I have a question.
    My hypotese is that aviation has decisive for victory or defeat role in WW2. Who wins skies wins all.

    What's your opinion – its true or not?

  45. I that that you could have taken a look at the effect of the escorted allied bomber formations on German fighter strength and how that factored into the Soviets gaining air superiority.

  46. TIK – apologist for Stalin. Dear oh dear, anyone suggesting that in 1941 the Luftwaffe was a superior outfit is labelled a “racist”, the act of a partisan speaker – blackening the views of any one in disagreement, the video is not unbiased history, more ideological rant.

  47. Here we go again! This English twit is continuing with the tired myth that the Soviet Union military was not prepared for war against Germany, hence their huge losses. Wrong! The Russian army was prepared since they had already fought in Finland, poland, Romania and the Japanese in Manchuria before Barbarossa began. Get with it and come up with something original instead of the same old misinformation you pseudo-historian!

  48. The full force of the German military would have helped to Germany be successful..
    But Italy needing help in Africa and Churchill never surrender held Germany back

  49. It is not a matter of if you or us want to do air war. Air battle was an integral part of Eastern Front, you must do it. If I may, I suggest books by Christer Bergstrom, He is the Glantz of Air War. He has the distinction of starting with writing air wars and then to ground war. He is like Glantz, he works with primary sources, is not afraid of destroying propaganda myths with proof and lists both German and Russian atrocities as he goes along. You'll like him. I especially recommend "Operation Barbarossa 1941 Hitler Against Stalin" where he connects Russians stopping Germans or Germans advancing to the fire brigade movements of Luftwaffe, destroys the "Russian Hordes" myth by pointing out Russians were badly outnumbered when they beat and almost routed Army Group Center in the Moscow Counter offensive, (but they owned the air since Hitler moved Luftwaffe to South to support). Anyhow, nice work keep them coming.

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