I am embarking on the long journey of writing and publishing a book about the Soviet Air Force (Военно-воздушные силы, VVS) during the Great Patriotic War, an often overlooked aspect of an increasingly forgotten war here in the West. The Soviet Union undoubtedly bore the brunt of the war against Germany, and the importance of all parts of the Soviet military, including the VVS, cannot be downplayed.
While many in the West undoubtedly have a vague familiarity with the battles on the eastern front, the sheer magnitude of this war is an astoundingly little-know fact. The estimate of some 27 million Soviet deaths in World War Two, both civilian and military, is a testament to this, compared to 450,000 for the UK and 420,000 for the US.
I have to stress that in no way am I attempting to downplay the contribution by the United States and the United Kingdom to the defeat of Nazi Germany. In fact, quite the opposite. The allied landing in Italy in 1943 diverted Germany’s increasingly scarce military hardware and personnel from the eastern front, enabling the Red Army to go on the offensive and, perhaps more significantly, the Combined Bomber Offensive forced the German military to scatter thousands of anti-aircraft crews throughout the Reich, keeping these soldiers far from the Eastern Front.
Another often overlooked, and no less significant, contribution by the western allies was what FDR called the Arsenal of Democracy. The US and the UK provided the Soviet army with the tools it needed to gain air superiority over the Kuban in 1943, and hold out against the last German offensive in Kursk several months later.
By sending large quantities of P-39s, P-40s, and Spitfires, the Western allies gave Soviet pilots the tools they needed to go toe to toe with the Luftwaffe and win.
The lend-lease programs also gave Soviet engineers the time they needed to develop effective aircraft of their own in large numbers, culminating in the Yak-9 and La-5; fighters that many pilots considered to be equal, if not superior, to their German counterparts (BF-109 and FW-190).
This blog will be a hodgepodge of information pertaining to the air war on the eastern front. By updating this site and providing new information, not only do I help to advance my research, but I hope to shed new light for aviation and war bird enthusiasts in the West.
Ideas and viewpoints are fluid, and if you disagree with anything that I write, please let me know. I would love to discuss it with you. I will stumble my way through many parts, and I appreciate any comments, criticisms, corrections, or answers.