Enter your email address below to sign up to our General newsletter for updates from Osprey Publishing, Osprey Games and our parent company Bloomsbury. Soviet Hurricane Aces of World War 2. Add to Basket. About this Product. Following the destruction wrought on the Red Army Air Forces during the first days of Operation Barbarossa in June , the Soviet Union found itself desperately short of fighter aircraft.
Premier Josef Stalin duly appealed directly to Prime Minister Winston Churchill for replacement aircraft, and in late the British delivered the first of Hurricanes that would be supplied to the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease agreement. Specifically requested by the USSR, the Hurricanes were quickly thrown into action in early - the Soviet Air Forces' most difficult year in their opposition to the Luftwaffe. Virtually all the Hurricanes were issued to Soviet fighter regiments in the northern sector of the front, where pilots were initially trained to fly the aircraft by RAF personnel that had accompanied the early Hawker fighters to the USSR.
The Hurricane proved to be an easy aircraft to master, even for the poorly trained young Soviet pilots, allowing the Red Army to form a large number of new fighter regiments quickly in the polar area. In spite of a relatively poor top speed, and only a modest rate-of-climb, the Hurricane was the mount of at least 17 Soviet aces. Biographical Note.
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The author of many articles, several of his features are now the standard works of reference on air combat on the Soviet-German Northern front. Yuriy Rybin was also the first researcher to impartially describe the combat history of legendary Soviet ace of the Northern Fleet, Boris Safonov, who was the first fighter pilot to be twice awarded the Star of the Hero of Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War. Andrey Yurgenson is one of Russia's premier aviation artists. He has illustrated numerous articles on the history of Russian aviation in Russian and foreign aviation magazines since the early s.
Two days later a group was to travel by tramp steamer to Kandalaksha, thence by train to Vaenga and two parties were to follow by rail, once the line had been repaired. The departure of the ship was delayed for ten days and fears rose that the voyage would be cancelled but eventually Argus sailed, escorted by a cruiser and three destroyers. The rum ration was appreciated and the pilots inspected the new Hurricane Mk IIB fighters, stored below decks minus their wings. The Hurricane pilots thought that the deck was rather short for taking off and took an interest in the two Martlet Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters kept at readiness.
The weather remained unchanged as the carrier turned south for Russia but when the ship reached the departure point, it was dead calm and Argus had to sail in circles until the wind rose sufficiently. The Fleet Air Arm aircrew briefed the pilots, to make sure that they rolled onto the ramp at the end of the flight deck, to get a shove into the air.
To avoid problems with magnetic compasses at that latitude, one of the destroyers would point towards the coast and once three Hurricane pilots had formed a vic , they were to line up along it and keep going until they reached the coast, then turn right for Vaenga, a few miles inland. The first Hurricanes came up on the lift into a grey overcast day and the fight deck began to vibrate as the ship picked up speed into a light headwind and the Hurricane engines were started. Tony Miller, the Squadron leader, went first, hit the ramp as suggested by the navy pilots and got airborne, despite the undercarriage being too damaged to retract.
The other pilots saw that they would have to get airborne without hitting the ramp, because Hurricane undercarriages were not robust enough to use the method. Visibility was good and after about seventy minutes' flying, Vaenga was easy to see, as was the first Hurricane to land, which had come in wheels-up. The men were flown from Keg Ostrov on successive days, the first flight being routine.
On the second day the aircraft was intercepted by German aircraft and had to run for home, fortunate that German aircraft were at the limit of their range and could not pursue; the pilot tried again next day and reached Vaenga. A group of about men sailed on the two destroyers and reached Murmansk in 22 hours but missed a Russian destroyer which was supposed to guide them into port through the minefields; the captain used the Asdic set instead and docked safely.
The men went by boat to Keg Ostrov and found fifteen crates on a mud flat near the hangars. One crate was emptied to accommodate the wireless section and then the men found that some types of specialist tools had been omitted from the maintenance kits but that tropical insulation covers for the engines had been included. A Russian engineer officer improvised airscrew and spark-plug spanners in the airfield workshop and later built proper engine covers, with a trunk underneath for a "hot air lorry" to boost the temperature of the engine.
At p. Due to a lack of lifting gear work stopped soon after and the British were accommodated on a paddleboat that looked like a Mississippi steamer. The main problem in re-assembling the aircraft was a lack of lifting gear for un-crating, jacking-up, lowering onto the undercarriage, adding the wings tail unit, then arming, fuelling and air testing. By the evening of the second day, two Hurricanes had their wings on and as it had begun to rain, no more Hurricanes were unpacked.
The men were split into three groups, to concentrate on fitting wings and tail units of the ones already out. The British worked thirteen-hour days and were surprised by the lavish Russian hospitality compared with the rations at home, which manifested in stomach upsets the grumbleguts ; a doctor was sent up from Llanstephen Castle. By afternoon, five aircraft had been assembled and pushed into the hangar. The Main Party on the troopship were still cooped up but parties going ashore were required to be armed in case the locals took them for Germans. When the final assembly of the first Hurricane was complete on the fifth day, an engine test was run at p.
On the sixth day, three Hurricanes were prepared for air tests, which attracted more dignitaries including admirals of the navy and naval air force. The local military forces and anti-aircraft units were notified and then the Hurricane pilots put on as much of a show as the low cloud base allowed, mainly tight turns and low-level passes.
Next day engineers arrived from Moscow to discuss the fuel to be used in the Hurricanes, Soviet aircraft still using octane rather than the octane of the British machines. Henry Broquet worked with the engineers to make the local fuel compatible with the Merlin engine, which led to the development of a tin catalyst which improved combustion efficiency.
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The formation flew over the White Sea, exchanging recognition signals with Russian ships and landed safely at Vaenga, just as the Hurricanes from Argus returned from a sortie. Kuznetsov of the Naval Air Fleet. The airfield was in a bowl surrounded by hillocks and woods and was found to get very very bumpy in wet weather.
The airfield was under occasional attack by the Luftwaffe and Russian soldiers guarded the airfield from positions in the woods around the perimeter. The aircraft hangars were part-buried for camouflage but had been built for the Polikarpov Is and were too narrow for the Hurricanes; Russian workers appeared to widen them, working-non-stop until the enlargement was complete. The bedding was new, the food was ample, though some considered it to be a little greasy and the sanitation was hideous, leading to the British naming the main latrine, directly over a cesspit, "The Kremlin".
Co-operation from the Russians was excellent and Isherwood established rapport with the Soviet commanding general and arranged bomber escort tactics with the local air commanders.
The Arctic autumn was cold but the air was dry, not like the damp cold of England. On 11 September, the first operation was flown, a familiarisation flight to learn the local geography and to test their guns. The pilots studied the Rybachy Peninsula and Murmansk then flew towards the south, to avoid Petsamo to the west. Without the ground radar control available in Britain. The pilots would have to navigate for themselves but there was a pleasing lack of mountains and it was a simple matter to fly north to follow the coast home or west to reach the Kola Inlet. There were a few flurries of snow during the evening but the Russians assured the British that the real winter snows would not begin until late September — early October.
The last Hurricanes to be assembled were still at Keg Ostrov, the engines had to be adjusted to fly on octane fuel and a shortage of sears , necessary to trigger the guns, meant only six per aircraft instead of the twelve usually carried. On 12 September, three Hurricanes of Squadron carried out the inaugural patrol of Wing; in good visibility the Hurricane pilots saw German bombers but were not able to make contact.
The second patrol was flown by two Hurricanes of 81 Squadron, which damaged a Me and later on, Squadron escorted two uneventful Soviet bomber sorties. Midway between Murmansk and the coast, the pilots looked for Russian anti-aircraft fire, to indicate the location of the German aircraft. After a few minutes, the pilots saw flak bursts and saw a formation of a Henschel Hs reconnaissance aircraft with five Messerschmitt Bf E escorts from Petsamo, flying from left to right. Unexpectedly, the Bf s turned away as the Hurricanes attacked.
Three of the Bf s were confirmed shot down and the Henschel, hit in the engine and seen leaving a plume of smoke was recorded as a probable, for a loss of one pilot Sergeant "Nudger" Smith and his Hurricane.
Later in the afternoon, aircraft of Squadron went on patrol and attacked a formation of three German bombers and four Bf s heading for Archangelsk; the Germans saw the Hurricanes, jettisoned their bombs and turned for home before the Hurricanes could attack. Without warning, the Hurricanes were bounced by Bf s, one of which missed a Hurricane, overshot and was promptly shot down, as were three more by other pilots, for no loss.
Hurricane Iib Combat Log : 151 Wing RAF - North Russia 1941
One patrol was flown on 19 September in poor misty weather and next day, two patrols were flown in similar weather. The first real snow fell on 22 September for about ten minutes, leaving a clear sky then began again, leaving the aircraft dispersals and the sand runway full of puddles.
Next morning was fine and 81 Squadron escorted Petlyakov Pe-2 light bombers raiding a target in Norway, the Hurricane pilots finding it necessary to fly very fast to keep up.
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Weather forecasters said that now that the snow had come, the British could expect about six days' decent weather a month. On 25 September, the weather improved in the afternoon and Kuznetsov made his first flight in a Hurricane. Bomber escort missions would continue but in second place to the programme to convert Russian pilots and ground crews to the British fighter. On the same day, 81 Squadron was briefed to escort bombers and dive-bombers who were to attack German ground troops near Petsamo; A Flight would cover the dive-bombers and B Flight the medium bombers.
The flight to the target and the bombing was uneventful but soon after turning for home, B Flight was bounced by six Bf s, three of which were shot down for no loss. The weather on 27 September was very good with some high cloud and 81 Squadron took off again to escort Russian bombers and shot down two more Bf s. On the other side of the airfield, Squadron had flown a similar number of patrols and escort sorties but had not been in action against any German aircraft. Around noon, a Junkers Ju 88 flew over Vaenga and Squadron was scrambled.
The ground was so wet that the pilots needed a lot of throttle to move and two airmen per aircraft hung over the back of the fuselage to keep the tail down. When the Ju 88 appeared, Flight Lieutenant Vic Berg tried to take off before the airmen had alighted from the tail. A road the length of the Rybachy Peninsula to the Gulf of Bothnia on the Baltic Sea ran parallel to the river and the bridge was on the only supply route to the German 2nd and 3rd Mountain divisions.
The water smoke and soil thrown up made it impossible to see if the bridge had been hit. As the aircraft flew home, two of the British pilots put on an exhibition of close formation flying for the Russian bomber crews.