Home Articles The P-40 in Soviet Aviation

The P-40 in Soviet Aviation

by Valery Romanenko

Tomahawks of the 126 IAP getting ready for another combat mission
Photo kindly presented by www.ipms.ru web site

Dear Readers,

We present another work by Valeriy Romanenko, this time dedicated to the P-40 aircraft in the Soviet Union. This work is prepared for exclusive publication on this site by the author and translated by James F. Gebhardt. Illustrations were kindly provided by Michael Bykov.

This work is based on original archival material meticulously researched by the author.

All material presented here is copyrighted and can not be reprinted and/or duplicated in any form without the written consent of their respective authors.


During World War II, the Soviet Union was actually the second country (after Great Britain) to import the Curtiss P-40 fighter. In all, the USSR received 247 P40C (Tomahawk IIB) and 2,178 P-40E, -K, -L, and -N aircraft from 1941 through 1944, which ranks this type in fourth position (after the P-39, Hurricane, and P-63) among foreign aircraft delivered to the Soviet Union [1]. Deliveries were made by year in the following quantities: 1941-230 Tomahawks and 15 P-40E; 1942-17 Tomahawks and 487 P-40E, E-1, K, and L; 1943-939 P-40E-1, K, L, M, and N; 1944-446 primarily P-40M and N [2].
During the war years the P-40 fighter was included in the inventories of the three basic branches of Soviet aviation: VVS Red Army (VVS KA), VVS Navy (VVS VMF), and PVO (national air defense) aviation, and fought practically on all fronts from the Black Sea to the Barents Sea. It is a little known fact that the Tomahawks and Kittyhawks with red stars participated in all the decisive battles: the battle for Moscow, at Stalingrad, the defense of Leningrad, in the Kuban, at the Kursk bulge, and beyond to the liberation of eastern Prussia. It is true that nowhere (except in the far north) did their numbers achieve a critical level (as a rule, not more than 1-2 regiments in an air army) and therefore they did not have a deciding influence on the outcome of any battle (as did the Airacobra, for example).

The Kittyhawk was considered an “average” aircraft in the Soviet VVS, better than the I-15, I-16, and Hurricane, but not as good as the P-39, Yak, or Lavochkin. Therefore, the typical P-40 regiment started the war with the I-15, I-16, or MiG-3. After losing these airframes in combat, by early 1942 these regiments were being equipped with the P-40C. Gradually (as a result of subsequent losses) these were replaced by the P-40E and -K. Later two paths emerge: If the regiment did not particularly distinguish itself in combat (greater losses and lesser victories), it was transferred to PVO and received the P-40M and -N. If it achieved notable combat success, it became a guards regiment and was rearmed with the P-39, Yak-7 and -9, or La-5. This differentiation practically ceased by the end of 1943, when the Kittyhawk for all practical purposes disappeared from the VVS KA, having been almost completely transferred to PVO and VVS VMF (Northern and Black Sea Fleets only). This is confirmed by the complete absence of the P-40 fighter in the table of organization and equipment (hereafter TOE) of air armies of the fronts on 1 January 1945. In May 1945 there was only one regiment (24 Kittyhawks) on the entire Soviet-German front, and it belonged to the 1st Air Army of the 3d Belorussian Front. Meanwhile, on 1 January 1945 there were 409 Kittyhawks and Tomahawks in PVO, 96 in the VVS of Black Sea Fleet, and approximately 100 in the VVS of Northern Fleet [3].

The first batch of Tomahawks from the USA was sent to the USSR in September 1941. This shipment was purchased for gold and was not part of the Lend-Lease program, the provisions of which were extended to the Soviet Union only on 7 November of that year. The shipment included 20 P-40 of the first series and a single P-40G (serial number 39-221). But by this time the British Tomahawk IIBs were already arriving at Arkhangelsk, having been brought in by the “test” convoy “Dervish” on 31 August 1941 and by single transports. The IIBs differed from the P-40C only in their British machine guns of 7.69mm (.303) caliber and RAF series numbers (series AH, AK, and AN). They were assembled under the watchful eyes of British aviation mechanics on a special wood-covered strip, hastily constructed by GULAG prisoners. The aircraft were test flown and subsequently flown to the 27th Reserve Regiment (ZAP).

Reserve air regiments served a dual function in the Soviet VVS: They were training centers for the transition of air regiments and individual crews to specific types of aircraft (analogous to the German C-Schule), and they also were depots for the distribution of these same types of aircraft to the frontal air regiments to replace losses. A reasoned caution was displayed with the Tomahawks. Despite a critical shortage of fighters, those in charge decided initially to train on these aircraft in the rear.

The 27th ZAP was formed in August 1941 specifically for training on the Tomahawk and Hurricane aircraft and was stationed at Kadnikov airfield (along the Arkhangelsk-Vologda railroad line, 140 km from Vologda). In 1941-42 this regiment was the gateway through which Tomahawks were delivered to VVS KA air regiments. The 126th, 154th, 159th, and 964th Fighter Air Regiments (IAP) and scores of individual crewmen were trained here. The regiment was reformed on 2 November into a 2-squadron composition (TOE 105/177) and on 27 December 1941 it had 15 Tomahawk IIBs (AN974, 978, AK172, 197, 243, 247, 250, 258, 321, 327, 342, 345, 363, 388, and 493), 4 two-seat Yak-7 training aircraft, and 2 UTI-4s. Despite the difficulties of utilizing these aircraft during the winter (malfunctioning engines, generators, and other components were the cause of a number of accidents), the instructors of 27th ZAP considered the Tomahawk a relatively simple aircraft to fly and fully within the grasp of pilots of average qualification. Thanks to its durability it withstood the clumsy landings and even forced belly landings that were unavoidable in the training process. Over the 14 months of its intensive exploitation, only five aircraft (AN974, AK316, 196, 243, and 321) were written off. Beginning in July 1942 the 27th ZAP began training on the Kittyhawk, but on 25 September it was disbanded and all the personnel and aircraft were transferred to the 6th Reserve Air Brigade.

The first regiment to arrive at 27th ZAP for training was the 126th IAP, on 15 September 1941. This regiment had fought in the I-16 and MiG-3 from 22 June and had good combat experience, attested to by the presence in the regiment of two Heroes of the Soviet Union (hereafter HSU)-Senior Lieutenants S. G. Ridnyy (Ukrainian) and V. G. Kamenshchikov received this rank by an order dated 9 August 1941.

The mastering of the American aircraft was complicated by the absence of technical manuals and instructions in the Russian language. The pilots and mechanics had to translate these materials with a dictionary in the evenings, after work at the airfield. The Tomahawk was not complicated to transition to, and by 1 October 1941 the regiment was undertaking training flights. By 12 October the regiment had to return hurriedly to the front. Under the command of Major V. M. Naydenko, the regiment comprised of two squadrons (20 aircraft) flew to Chkalov airfield and began combat duty for the defense of Moscow [4].

As part of the 6th Air Corps, the 126th IAP flew 666 combat sorties to cover the forces of Kalinin and West Fronts and 318 combat sorties for the defense of Moscow in the period from 25 October 1941 to 25 April 1942. During this effort the regiment downed 29 enemy aircraft at a cost of four of their own aircraft and two pilots. The most intensive period was the first month-685 sorties and 17 kills. But later the regiment was plagued by a continuous series of accidents. The Tomahawk IIB was completely unsuitable for use in the Russian winter. The oil, hydraulic fluid, and antifreeze all froze in temperatures that reached -38° C.

On 38 occasions radiators burst due to freezing temperatures. To provide for repairs all the silver forks had to be confiscated in neighboring villages to be used for soldering. Tires cracked and batteries burst; generators frequently broke and engines seized up. Because the 126th IAP was the first “happy owner” of the Tomahawks, it fell to that unit’s maintenance personnel to attempt to rectify this “avalanche” of defects, albeit with the assistance of specialists from the VVS Scientific Research Institute. The generators and tires were changed out for Soviet-produced items and the hydraulic fluid, engine oil, and cooling systems were modified with special petcocks through which the fluids could be completely drained at night. But by the time these specialists had learned how to deal with all the defects, a large portion of the aircraft were already combat incapable. There was a total lack of spare parts and engines (no spare engines had been sent) and even cartridges for the British and American machine guns. Only nine aircraft were in flyable condition by mid-January 1942 [5].

Despite these problems, active combat continued. In January some 198 aircraft sorties were flown (334 flying hours) and 11 aerial engagements were conducted, in which 5 Bf-109s, 1 Ju-88, and 1 He-111 were shot down [6]. These statistics reveal a surprising fact – it turns out that the Tomahawk was fully capable of successful air combat with a Bf-109. The reports of pilots about the circumstances of the engagements confirm this fact. On 18 January 1942, Lieutenants S. V. Levin and I. P. Levsha (in pair) fought an engagement with 7 Bf-109s and shot down two of them without loss. On 22 January a flight of three aircraft led by Lieutenant E. E. Lozov engaged 13 enemy aircraft and shot down two Bf-109Es, again without loss. Altogether in January two Tomahawks were lost-one shot down by German antiaircraft artillery and only one by Messerschmitts.

However, the Tomahawk was a frequent target of friendly fire – an unfamiliar aircraft engaged in the heat of battle by both Soviet fighters and antiaircraft artillery. This normally resulted in scores of bullet holes and apologies, but around New Years Day Soviet PVO outdid itself: five I-16s, and later antiaircraft gunners, attacked the Tomahawk AN507 of Junior Lieutenant P. G. Maz. He made a forced landing, resulting in heavy damage to the engine, and the aircraft was sent off for repairs.

But the primary source of losses was mechanical failures. Practically not a single combat sortie was flown without some kind of problem. It was a common practice to land with a dead engine. Not all of these flights were completed successfully. On 17 February 1942, one of the best pilots of the regiment, HSU Senior Lieutenant S. G. Ridnyy (Tomahawk AK325) suffered an engine failure on takeoff and was killed in crash. Despite this abundance of accidents and incidents, the general impression of the pilots of 126th IAP regarding this aircraft remained good. The Tomahawk had qualities that were lacking in aircraft of Soviet production.

During the creation of Soviet fighter planes, the priority was to obtain high speed and maneuverability, and all other qualities were considered to be of secondary importance. In the P-40, special attention had been paid to such “lesser qualities” as firepower of armaments (a one-second salvo of its guns was 1.5 times heavier than that of a MiG-3), protection (38mm frontal armored glass, seat-back armor), durability of the airframe (even during forced landings pilots normally were uninjured), comfort (precise, reliable radio communications, good vision from the cockpit with clear canopy glass and a reliable canopy jettison mechanism [7], and a comfortable cabin), and great (up to 1100 km) flight range. Therefore despite its deficiencies in speed and maneuverability, its sluggishness even in climbs (in this basic characteristic it fell behind the Bf-109, Yaks, and LaGGs), in the hands of experienced aerial warriors this aircraft turned out to be a threatening weapon. A special set of “group tactics” was developed for its use, in which an insufficiency of aircraft was compensated for by good coordination within flights and echelonment by altitude [8]. Therefore a majority of the victories in the 126th IAP were group victories: HSU S. G. Ridnyy (AN965)-9 personal plus 17 in group; HSU V. G. Kamenshchikov-7 + 10; and regiment commander V. M. Naydenko-5 + 11 [9]. Twelve pilots became aces (five or more victories), and 31 pilots of the regiment were awarded orders and medals for the battle for Moscow.

Tomahawk II (AH965) of the 126 IAP flown by Lt. S.G. Ridnyi, Moscow area, December 1941
Photo CSAKFD via author

The 126th IAP was re-equipped with the P-40E in May 1942. Located in the deep rear after the Germans’ retreat, it combined its training on the Kittyhawk with its air defense mission of Moscow and environs in the quiet situation until the end of August. At the end of August it was also tasked to provide escort to government aircraft flying along the route from Moscow to Arzamas to Kuybyshev [10].

Subsequently the regiment was transferred to a more dangerous sector of the front-near Stalingrad. The 126th IAP, formed on TOE 015/174, but having a total of 18 aircraft (NN 818-821, 830, 841, 842, 844, 979, 1014, 1018, 1027-32, and 1104 [11]) and 50 percent of its maintenance personnel strength, arrived at the 268th Fighter Air Division (IAD) on 28 August and was stationed at the Solodovka airfield.

The intensity of the aerial combat here was so fierce that even the experienced and well-trained regiment was burned up like a match in this hell in just a week. It was not so bad at first – on 29 August the pilots shot down a Bf-109, Ju-88, and FW-189 at the cost of a single P-40E; on 30 August-5 Bf-109Fs and 5 He-111s with the loss of 3 P-40Es; on the 31st-10 Bf-109Fs, 1 He-111, and 1 Ju-87 for 2 destroyed and 2 damaged P-40Es. But the crossover came on 5 September – it cost 4 Kittyhawks (two destroyed in combat and two in a mid-air collision) for 2 Bf-109Fs and 1 Ju-88. The regiment commander, Major V. M. Naydenko, was shot down and seriously wounded on this day. The four surviving aircraft were assigned to combat patrol over their own airfield.

The regiment flew a total of 194 aircraft sorties by 13 September 1942, all of which (rare occasion!) were combat sorties that involved engagement with the enemy. The greater share (163 combat sorties) was to escort Il-2 Shturmoviks. The pilots of 126 IAP conducted 29 group and 24 individual aerial engagements in which 36 enemy aircraft were destroyed (23 Bf-109F, 6 He-111, 3 Ju-88, 1 Bf-110, 1 Ju-87, 1 Hs-123, and 1 FW-189). The regiment lost 13 aircraft, 7 pilots did not return from combat missions, and 5 were wounded. After withdrawal to the rear on 18 September 1942, 126 IAP was re-equipped with the La-5 and subsequently fought only in Soviet-manufactured aircraft.

The same aircraft (on the background) as above in provisonal winter camouflage
Photo CSAKFD via author

The second regiment in the Soviet VVS to enter combat in the Tomahawk was the 154th IAP. It arrived at the 27th ZAP on 20 September 1941 and, having trained and reformed on TOE 015/284 (two squadrons of 20 aircraft), it left for Leningrad Front (Podborov airfield) under the command of Battalion Commissar A. A. Matveyev on 26 November 1941. The 159th IAP was joined to it in December. Both regiments were assigned to the Eastern Operational Group, which provided cover to the “air bridge” at besieged Leningrad. PS-84 transports (license-built American Douglas DC-3, renamed the Li-2 from 7 September 1943) were hauling provisions and other cargoes into the city that had been surrounded and cut off by the Germans. On the return legs they brought out women, children, old people, and wounded. People were being loaded onto the aircraft within sight of the fighter pilots, relying upon them for protection. Therefore the battles along the route were exceptionally fierce. The fighters defended the transports to the very limit of their capability, even including the use of aerial ramming against German fighters [12]. The fighters performed great feats, such as on 17 December, when 5 Tomahawks repelled an attack on a PS-84 by 9 Bf-109Fs over Lake Ladoga. During this engagement the leader, Captain P. A. Pokryshev (subsequently a Twice HSU) shot down one of them. On this same day, squadron commander P. A. Pilyutov, single-handedly escorting 9 PS-84s, not only fended off the attacks of 6 Bf-109Fs but also shot down two of them (although he himself was also shot down). On 23 January 1942, P. A. Pilyutov shot down a Bf-109F with tail number “19” after a hard-fought 30-minute engagement. The German pilot, who was taken prisoner, reported that he had a score of 59 victories [13].

Because of the relatively moderate intensity of combat actions in the winter of 1941-42, the losses in 154th and 159th IAPs were not great. Therefore the re-equipping of both regiments with P-40Es that was begun in March 1942 occurred gradually and both regiments remained at the front: damaged and destroyed Tomahawks were simply replaced. For example, on 12 March 1942 the 154th IAP had seven Tomahawks and seven Kittyhawks. An additional five Tomahawks were parked without engines. But by May the picture had changed – almost all aircraft had expended their engine hours.

Because there were no spare Allison engines, and the fighters were in great demand, the regiment commander Major A. A. Matveyev, suggested that Soviet-manufactured engines M-105P and M-105R be installed in the P-40Es. More than 40 fighters were duly modified at the 1st Aviation Repair Base of 13th Air Army (at the same time several single-seaters were converted into two-seaters. Naturally, the installation of a less powerful engine resulted in a diminution of the fighter’s performance. The maximum speed of a P-40E with the M-105P engine and VISh-61P propeller was reduced by 12 kmh (from 477 to 465 kmh). Therefore the modified fighters were quickly transferred to another regiment (196th IAP).

The 154th IAP fought in the P-40E until November 1942. In the spring of that year it primarily carried out its PVO missions. By summer it was adding sorties for ground attack and bombing. The normal ordnance was a single FAB-250 bomb hung on the centerline under the fuselage. The greatest losses (six Kittyhawks [14]) occurred in September. For its combat successes, the regiment was designated the 29th Guards IAP on 22 November 1942, and was re-equipped with the Yak-7b beginning in December.

The P-40 was most broadly and intensely engaged in combat in the Far North. They began to arrive there beginning in January 1942, when the ice-free port of Murmansk began to assume the role as the “northern gateway” for lend-lease convoys. Because shipments of Soviet-produced aircraft to the Far North was complicated by a series of factors [15], this locale was in a unique position of having Soviet VVS aircraft requirements fulfilled by the Western allies. Significant part (in the winter of 1942 up to 95 percent) of British and American aircraft arriving at Murmansk port were assigned to VVS, PVO, and naval aviation units operating in this theater [16].

P-40s were delivered to Murmansk by the following schedule: 11 January 1942 (convoy PQ-7)-4 aircraft; 20 January (PQ-8)-15; 10 February (PQ-9) – 2; 12 March (PQ-12) – 44; and the total for 1942 was 272 Tomahawks and Kittyhawks. 108 P-40s arrived in 1943 with convoys SW-52, -54, and -55. The last Kittyhawks (111 aircraft) were delivered to Murmansk between 29 February and 5 April 1944 by convoys SW-56, -57, and -58 [17].

The first regiment in the north to receive Tomahawks was 147th IAP. Because the combat in this zone was of a positional nature, transition training was conducted in the operational zone. The regiment continued to fight in its I-153s and trained on the Tomahawk IIB and Hurricane IIB during breaks in combat. The first Tomahawks arrived in early December 1941 (AK295, 296, and 318) and transition training was completed by the end of January 1942. By mid-April the regiment was fighting in two types of fighters, with flights I and III in II Squadron equipped with two Tomahawks and two Hurricanes.

The regiment became the 20th Guards IAP on 1 April 1942 and was reformed on the new TOE 015/134. By 1 May it had given up its Hurricanes and added to its on-hand Tomahawk IIBs (AK170, 180, 194, 202, 205, 263, 267, 306, 339, 344, 473, and 483) a number of P-40Es (583, 586, 600, 664, 787, 789, 796, 810 – 814, 823, 824, 849, 860, 1101, and 1108 )[18]. Despite the good flying characteristics of the Tomahawk, the transition to it did not occur without incident. Two aircraft were destroyed in December: AK318 caught fire in the air and AK296 was destroyed in a spin. The first combat loss in the north was AK295, which was shot down in aerial combat on 1 February 1942.

On the whole, because of their durability and flight range, the pilots liked both the Tomahawk and the Kittyhawk. The strength of its 5-longeron wing became legendary after an aerial engagement on 8 April 1942 [19]. On this day, flight commander Lieutenant Aleksey Khlobystov rammed German aircraft two times in a single engagement. He cut off the tail assembly of one Messerschmitt in an overtaking maneuver and severed a portion of the wing of a second Messerschmitt. Both times he struck the enemy aircraft with the same right wing panel. Both Messerschmitts went down and the Tomahawk landed safely at its airfield, where it was repaired without any particular difficulty. Its pilot, who did not suffer even a scratch, was recommended for the HSU rank and received the monetary bonus of 2000 rubles for two destroyed enemy fighters.

The Comissar (politycal officer) of the 20th GIAP greets A. Khlobystov after his successful return from a sortie during which he ramed two enemy aircraft. Note the wing damage. The picture is dated 8 April 1942, Murmashi airfiled, Karelian Front
Photo CSAKFD via author

Aleksey Khlobystov executed a third ramming maneuver on 14 May 1942, which concluded with a prolonged stay in the hospital. He pointed his No. 812 Kittyhawk at a Messerschmitt that was attempting to engage him head-on. Khlobystov was saved by luck-during the ensuing collision he was ejected from his aircraft [20]. Aleksey Khlobystov fought in the P-40 until the end. On 13 December 1943, in Kittyhawk No. 1134, he was pursuing a German reconnaissance aircraft along with his wingman, Lieutenant Kalegaev (No. 1167). He was shot down by the German rear gunner over enemy territory. Neither pilot returned to the regiment.

The 20th Guards IAP fought in the P-40 longer than any other regiment in the VVS-until the end of 1943, after which it received the P-39N Airacobra. The overall results for 1942-43 have not been preserved and only losses are known: 38 P-40s of various models in 1942 and 26 in 1943, of which 14 were lost in accidents and crashes [21], 35 lost in aerial engagements, 3 to antiaircraft artillery, and 1 in airfield bombing. Judging by the recorded results of individual engagements, the Germans suffered at least as many losses to the P-40 as they inflicted.

From information gathered from interrogations of shot down German pilots from II and II/JG 5 (A. Jakobi, H. Bodo, K. Philipp, and W. Schumacher), it was learned that they considered the Tomahawk to be a serious enemy (they placed only the Bf-109F and the Airacobra above it). The relatively limited success of Soviet pilots was due primarily to their adherence to defensive tactics and insufficiently decisive attacks.

The second regiment in the Far North to receive the Kittyhawk was the 19th Guards IAP. After receiving guards designation on 4 April 1942, it was taken some 100 km to the rear area to Afrikanda airfield, where it gave up its LaGG-3s and began to transition to the Airacobra I and Kittyhawk I (P-40E) on 25 April. The assembly and study of the new aircraft were conducted simultaneously using documentation that was only in the English language. By 15 May, all the flight crews (22 pilots) had successfully completed transition and after reforming on TOE 015/174 (three squadrons), they rejoined their unit without a single accident, incident, or breakdown.

The regiment resumed combat actions on 17 May 1942 from Shonguy airfield with 10 Kittyhawks (II Squadron, nos. 1009, 1010, 1013, 1019, 1023, 1025, 1026, 1088, 1090, and 1094) and 16 Airacobras (I and III squadrons). The regiment’s pilots demonstrated a high level of activity and aggressiveness in combat because it was formed around a core of experienced aces: Captains P. S. Kutakhov (subsequently Twice HSU, Chief Marshal of Aviation, and Commander-in-Chief of VVS USSR), HSU I. V. Bochkov, I. D. Gaydaenko, and others. It is true that these pilots flew Airacobras, but their example compelled the Kittyhawk pilots to fly competitively. Normally during the repelling of air raids on Murmansk (this comprised 60 percent of all combat sorties) the Airacobras attempted to engage the escorting enemy fighters and the less maneuverable Kittyhawks engaged the bombers.

However the Soviet units did not arrive at this distribution of effort right away and therefore on 28 May immediately lost two P-40Es (1019 and 1026). A battle with Messerschmitts on 1 June 1942 that occurred during the escort of SB bombers was more successful. Six German fighters were shot down with the loss of two Kittyhawks and one Airacobra. On 14 August the commander of 2d Squadron, Major A. Novoshilov, and his wingman Lieutenant Barsukov destroyed an amphibious airplane on the water and shot down two Bf-110s without loss.

The 19th Guards IAP fought in the P-40 and P-39 until the autumn of 1943, and was subsequently re-equipped entirely with P-39Ns and -Qs. Separate statistics were not maintained for the Kittyhawk, so we are able to make judgments regarding its combat success only by general indicators. From 22 June 1941 through 31 December 1943, 7541 combat sorties were flown (5,410 hours). German losses claimed were 56 Bf-109E, 43 Bf-109F, 15 Bf-109G, 30 Bf-110, 7 Ju-88, 9 Ju-87, 1 He-111, 2 Do-215, 5 Hs-126, and 1 Fi-156. Soviet losses amounted to 86 aircraft and 46 pilots (of these, 13 Kittyhawks were shot down in aerial combat, 2 lost to antiaircraft fires, and 1 in an accident, for a total of 16). Of the 128 aircraft received, 30 were Kittyhawks. The greatest P-40 losses occurred in 1942-11 aircraft. The last P-40K (no. 1572), converted into a two-seater, flew as a trainer until 2 September 1944. It is interesting that the 19th Guards IAP enjoyed the lowest percentage of non-combat losses (accidents and crashes due to materiel failure) of the P-40 in Soviet VVS-fourteen times lower than, for example, in the neighboring 20th Guards IAP.

The P-40 fought in the Karelian Front also in the 152d and 760th IAP. The primary mission of these regiments was to protect the Kirov railroad line, along which lend-lease cargoes were moved from Murmansk into the central regions of the USSR. The Germans actively bombed this rail line all the way into the summer of 1944. There were 26 raids (total of 126 enemy aircraft) in January-February 1944 and 95 raids (total of 374 aircraft) in March-April. Both regiments received the Kittyhawk in the summer of 1943. The 152d IAP had aircraft numbers 426, 429, 569, 609, 640, 644, 699, and the two-seater trainers 873 and 883 on 1 June 1943; the 760th IAP had numbers 752, 806, 1117, 1139, and trainers 828 and 831. Continuing also to fight in the Hurricane and LaGG-3, the regiments gradually were re-equipped with the P-40. By 1 January 1944 the Kittyhawk had become the primary type: in the 152d IAP – 23 Kittyhawks, 5 Tomahawks (discarded by guards regiments), and 13 Hurricanes; in the 760th IAP – 12 P-40Es and 11 LaGG-3s. These regiments were the last in the Soviet VVS to receive the P-40, but fought in them longer than all others – until 1 November 1944, the date of the conclusion of combat activities in the Far North.

P-40E of the 29 IAP of the Karelian Front during 1943
Photo CSAKFD via author

These regiments did not achieve notable successes. The pilots employed primarily defensive tactics and normally were satisfied with simply driving the German aircraft away from the targets and installations they were protecting. Losses were also minimal: three P-40Es in combat and three in accidents in the 152d IAP and three Kittyhawks in combat in the 760th IAP to November 1944. It is interesting that losses of Hurricanes and LaGG-3s were twice as great during this same period. Beginning in 1944, the 760th IAP was engaged solely in escorting Il-2 Shturmoviks, and the Kittyhawk was well suited for this role. Their great range permitted them to escort the shturmoviks along their entire flight route and their maneuverability was fully adequate to provide basic protection. Assaults by FW-190As and Bf-109Gs concluded, as a rule, with a score of 0:0, nothing lost and nothing gained.

The training of pilots for the specific conditions of northern theater flight operations was provided by 9th Separate Training Mixed Air Regiment (OUTSAP). Among the types of aircraft always available here were 2 – 3 two-seater Kittyhawks (for example, nos. 825 and 856). Each combat regiment also had two 2-seaters: nos. 840 and 853 in the 258th SAD (the parent air division of the 19th and 20th Guards IAP), nos. 873 and 883 in 152d IAP, and nos. 828 and 831 in the 760th IAP (on 1 June 1943). According to documents of the 7th Air Army of the Karelian Front, the number of P-40s in its units consisted of 87 Kittyhawks and 9 Tomahawks on 1 July 1943 (peak number) to 64 and 5 respectively on 1 March 1944, with a subsequent tendency toward reduction.

After the disbanding of 27th ZAP, the training of pilots for the P-40 was handed off to the 6th ZAB, which comprised the 14th and 22d ZAP. It was formed in May 1942 as the center for transition training on foreign fighter aircraft and based in the city Ivanovo, approximately 90 kilometers from the Arkhangelsk-Moscow rail line. Aircraft were delivered here in crates from Arkhangelsk and Murmansk ports. The crates were unpacked and inventoried, and the aircraft were assembled, test flown, and sent to frontline units. The 14th ZAP trained one air regiment in 1942 (46th IAP by 3 December 1942, 32 pilots with a total of 858 flight hours), the 22d ZAP three regiments (28th Guards, 10th, and 436th IAP with 20, 32, and 32 pilots respectively, with flight hour totals of 240, 437, and 920 respectively). 190 P-40C and P-40E aircraft were received and assembled, of which 177 were sent to the front.

In August and September 1942, a new type of Soviet aviation unit was formed here – a fighter ferry regiment (PIAP). Five such regiments (1 – 5 PIAP, which comprised the 1st Ferry Air Division) were assigned along the at that time secret route that led from Fairbanks, Alaska across the Bering Strait and all of Siberia to Soviet Krasnoyarsk. P-40, P-39, and P-63 fighters were ferried along this 6,306-km route to the USSR from 1942 – 1945. One squadron in each PIAP specialized in the Kittyhawk, and in 1942 the 14th ZAP trained 61 pilots for these squadrons.

It was in fact the Kittyhawk that first began flights along this route, named by President Roosevelt of the USA the ALSIB route (Alaska-Siberia). The first group of seven P-40Ks launched from Fairbanks on 7 October 1942 and landed at Krasnoyarsk on 16 November [22]. Two aircraft were lost during the flight-a Kittyhawk and the group-leading A-20 Boston. Unfortunately, the P-40K also turned out to be absolutely unsuitable for flights in severe weather conditions: its oil system froze and its radiator burst. Therefore use of the ALSIB route for the P-40 was curtailed after just 48 aircraft were delivered.

Sr. Lt. N.F. Kuznetsov after successful sortie in his P-40K. He became HSU on 1 May, 1943. Based on the style of the national insignia this machine most likely came via ALSIB.
Photo CSAKFD via author


Color profile of N.F. Kuznetsov’s P-40K
(C) Michael Bykov

Training on the P-40 was suspended in 6th ZAB by the summer of 1943. The 14th ZAP trained only the 191st IAP (32 pilots by 28 February, 122 flight hours); the 22d ZAP the 238th and 191st IAP (second time) by 15 March 1943; and 34 individual crews (apparently for new PIAP). Some 94 P-40E and P-40K aircraft were assembled and test flown, and then 80 of them were sent to the front in 1943 and 6 in 1944.

Kittyhawks nos. 1146, 1400, 1455, 1469, 1640, 1780, 1830, 1989, 2010, and 2036 were used for training in 1942-43. On 25 October 1943, nos. 1569, 1796, 1817, and 1842 were assigned to 14th ZAP. The 6th ZAB was one of the best-equipped training bases in the Soviet VVS. Pilots trained here practiced not only takeoffs and landings but also gunnery at both air and ground targets, solo and group flight and tactics. Therefore the majority of units that were trained here achieved success at the front and became guards units. Thus, 436th and 46th IAP, for combat on the Northwest Front (flying the P-40) were reformed in March 1943 as the 67th and 68th Guards IAP; the 10th IAP was reformed as the 69th Guards IAP and re-equipped with Airacobras. Many foreign units also passed through training here – the Normandie squadron, 1st Czechoslovakian IAP, and others.

In connection with the cessation of deliveries of the P-40 from the north in 1943 and the absence of ALSIB deliveries, the center for Kittyhawk training was transferred to the south, where deliveries were beginning through the territory of Iran. The southern lend-lease route began to operate in June 1942, but Kittyhawks were received from this source only in November. The fighters were unloaded in crates at the port Abadan (or nearby Basra), where they were assembled and test flown. Then the specially formed 6th PIAP ferried them into the USSR with one intermediate landing in Teheran. Despite the somewhat difficult route (a distance of 1450 km and two mountain ranges), losses were minimal in 1942 – one Airacobra of 2,386 ferried P-39s and P-40s.

All aircraft were delivered to the 25th ZAP on Soviet territory (Adzhi-Kabul, Azerbaydzhan [near Baku]). This regiment was formed on 30 October 1941 for training in the LaGG-3, and with the opening of the southern route was re-profiled for foreign fighters. The training in the Kittyhawk began here on 19 November 1942 when the first three P-40Es arrived in the regiment (nos. 1533, 1547, and 1548 [23]). Almost immediately (23 November 1942) they were assigned to the 45th IAP for training. Because of a lack of sufficient numbers of aircraft of a single type, the regiment was trained in two types: Airacobras and Kittyhawks. The instructors and students were in training almost simultaneously, but in a wholly serious manner. 32 pilots completed 671 hours of training, including 1,682 landings, 155 training aerial engagements, 112 passes at ground and 98 at air targets, and 134 routine cross-country and 113 instrument flights.

The regiment returned to combat duty on 16 February 1943, flying from the Krasnodar airfield (Kuban area). It was equipped with 10 P-39D-2, 11 P-39K-1, and 9 P-40E-1 (serials from 41-36941 to -36944, from 41-36947 to -36950, and no. 1773). This regiment distinguished itself in the famed “Battle over the Kuban” (“Blue Line” in German parlance), destroying 118 German aircraft in two months with relatively modest losses (7 Airacobras shot down in combat and 8 damaged; 1 P-40E shot down and one damaged in an accident)[24]. The low loss rate for the Kittyhawk can be explained by their quite limited employment. Combat experience showed that they were already incapable of contesting with the Bf-109G (especially with the ace pilots of JG 3, JG 51, JG 52, and JG 54). All the summaries regarding the P-40E have a pessimistic tone (insufficient speed and maneuverability, high weight, weak engine), and the conclusions are the same: the aircraft was suitable only for PVO aviation.

It is true that initially the pilots attempted to improve its flight characteristics, primarily by using “war emergency power” during battle. They did this intuitively – if Soviet engines at maximum power roared like beasts, then the Allison only changed its tone slightly and everything seemed normal. The payment came due quickly, however. At “war emergency power” (all of 10 minutes with the Allison engine) the engine quickly wore out and the power fell off markedly. As a result (according to reports from the regiment engineer), over a period of a month the maximum speed of the Kittyhawks did not exceed 350 – 400 kmh. The regiment got rid of them at the first opportunity – on 27 April 1943 they were transferred to 16th Guards IAP (four serviceable aircraft with pilots). This regiment was fighting in Airacobras, and therefore the P-40E pilots gradually transitioned to them. The Kittyhawks were actively employed only in March and April, and in August were handed off to PVO.

This episode was the end of the employment of the Kittyhawk in VVS on the southern sector of the Soviet-German front. In 1943 the 25th ZAP trained only one regiment in the P-40 (268th IAP, 32 pilots) for PVO, six unassigned pilots, and 10 pilots for the 45th IAP, for a total of 48 pilots. With the departure of the 268th IAP (15 July 1943), 25th ZAP ceased the training of pilots for the P-40. However the regiment was involved in preparation and distribution of the aircraft itself for an additional two months. This preparation included detailed technical inspections and test flight of arriving aircraft, repair when necessary (some arriving aircraft were not new), removal of some radio equipment, the frequencies of which were not compatible with those in Soviet use, test-firing of armaments, and sometimes the painting of red stars over the top of the American white stars (this was normally done in Abadan). The most typical deficiency that was discovered in the preparation process was corrosion in the weapons (normally found on previously used aircraft after their shipment by sea). A total of 225 P-40E, K, L, and M models were thus prepared and transferred to combat regiments (primarily PVO and VVS VMF) in 1943.

In the fall of 1943 this function was handed off to the 11th ZAP, situated in the nearby town of Kirovabad. The P-40M-10 began to arrive here in August, and the P-40N-1 in November. In October 1944 the 11th ZAP began to receive the most modern model of the Kittyhawk delivered to the USSR, the P-40N-30.

The shipment of P-40s to the USSR was halted in December 1944. Altogether 2,425 aircraft of all models (except the F) were delivered in 1941-44. Combat losses of the VVS (not counting PVO and VMF aviation) were 224 aircraft of this type [25].

In addition to its primary designation as a fighter, some P-40 types were employed in Soviet VVS in untraditional roles. For example, three aircraft (nos. 835, 1115, and 1121) in 6th Separate Artillery Adjustment Air Squadron (OKAE) and four in the 12th OKAE were employed to adjust artillery fire. In the 30th Reconnaissance Air Regiment of the VVS Black Sea Fleet, an entire squadron of Kittyhawks was employed as photo reconnaissance aircraft. Cameras were installed in the tail portion of the aircraft for systematic photography of terrain. And at the 1st Aviation Repair Base of Leningrad Front, a small group of two-seat P-40Ks were reconfigured as two-seat photo reconnaissance platforms. All armaments were removed and auxiliary fuel cells were installed their place. Attempts to improve the armaments of the Kittyhawk so that they could be employed as shturmoviks are also well known. Rockets were frequently mounted, two RS-82 under each wing, in 1942.

An official opinion regarding the Kittyhawk in the Soviet VVS can be found in the “Summary of combat activities of the 4th Air Army for April 1943”: “In its flight and tactical characteristics, the Kittyhawk fighter lags behind the Airacobra and Bf-109F and G. It is capable of successful combat with the Bf-109 in horizontal maneuver but is inferior in vertical maneuver. It can successfully accomplish the mission to intercept bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. Pilots have developed the opinion that the Kittyhawk can be a good aircraft for the following missions: provide cover for our own ground forces, escort bombers, and conduct reconnaissance.”

As the P-40 was phased out of the VVS, its role in PVO aviation was enlarged. In accordance with orders of 24 November 1941 and 22 January 1942, PVO fighter aviation was removed from subordination to the VVS and became an independent structure. As more aircraft became available, separate squadrons were combined into regiments and regiments into air divisions and corps of PVO. In early 1943 the 1st Fighter Army of PVO was formed. If on 5 December 1941 there were 1,059 aircraft [26] in all of PVO aviation, then by 1 June 1943 this number had increased to 3,043.

The first 20 Tomahawks appeared in the 6th Air Corps (AK) of PVO (around Moscow) in October 1941. Subsequently, in the spring of 1942, the 104th IAD of PVO, which provided air cover of Arkhangelsk, and the 148th IAD of PVO (Vologda) received 22 and 20 aircraft respectively. The 6th AK and 7th AK (Leningrad) received P-40Es, 12 and 21 aircraft respectively.

The employment of the Tomahawk and Kittyhawk in the PVO role grew continuously both in numbers and in geographical distribution. The 768th IAP (122d IAD PVO) began combat air patrols over Murmansk in April 1942, the 481st IAP PVO over Baku in November, 102d IAD PVO over Stalingrad, and the total number of P-40Es reached 70 and Tomahawks 33.

By 1 July 1943, some 70 Tomahawks and 181 Kittyhawks were assigned to PVO aviation units. Six months later, by 1 January 1944, Kittyhawks were being assigned to every single PVO corps. Their number had doubled to 357 aircraft. The maximum number of P-40s in PVO service peaked at 745 on 1 June 1944, but for a number of reasons (primarily dissatisfaction with the type) the number began to drop. By the end of the war, 409 P-40s remained in PVO service [27].

There were diverse opinions on the P-40 in PVO service. Initially their comfort, reliable communications, powerful armaments, and excellent range (which permitted prolonged loitering over protected targets) were valued. But annoying deficiencies were exposed in the process of exploitation. In the first place, it was its low service ceiling and rate of climb. Later it was the complete absence of instruments for night intercepts. There were no special instruments for guidance by a ground radar station, not even a lighting system. The landing light was retractable and could only be lowered at minimal speeds. Therefore, a number of misfortunes were associated with the use of the P-40 by Soviet PVO. In 1943, for example, they were unable to intercept German high-altitude Ju-88R reconnaissance over Moscow (a number of Spitfire IXs were immediately requested from England). In the spring and fall of 1944, He-111s from Fliegerkorps IV bombed Soviet lines of communication in Ukraine and Belorussia at night practically unhindered.

But the greatest disaster, that had enormous international resonance and struck a powerful blow to the prestige of the USSR, occurred on 22 June 1944. Some 180 He-111s from KG 53 and KG 55 conducted a night bombing raid on Poltava, the US strategic bomber base in the Ukraine, destroying 44 B17G Flying Fortresses and damaging 25 others [28]. The 6 Kittyhawks and 6 Yak-9s of 310th IAD PVO that were covering the base network did not detect a single bomber in the dark, moonless night. The bombers escaped unpunished. After this event the career of the Kittyhawk in Soviet PVO went into decline.

The Kittyhawks were used relatively successfully in the 9th Air Corps of PVO at Kiev in 1944 as an illumination aircraft. They mounted six under-wing pylons on it and hung six SAB-100 illumination bombs, which were then dropped some 2000-3000 meters above the formation of the attacking bombers, illuminating them for Soviet-made attacking fighters. This tactic led to a significant reduction in the activity level of He-111s and He-177s.

There were other successes. On one occasion over the Volga steppe, a Kittyhawks detected and shot down a German four-engined aircraft that was transporting a special commission to Japan to investigate the activities of the legendary Soviet spy Richard Sorge. After the encounter forced the landing of the German aircraft, several high-level Gestapo personnel were taken into captivity.

After a number of mishaps in 1944, the Kittyhawks was superceded by more modern types of fighters: Spitfire IX, P-39Q, P-47D-25, and Soviet Yak-9 and La-7, though the later models P-40M-10 and P-40N-30 continued to serve until 1947 – 49.

Altogether during the war years, PVO Kittyhawks shot down 255 German aircraft, which comprised 6.5 percent of the total [29].

Naval (VMF) aviation was the third principal user of the P-40. The naval career of the Kittyhawk (only the Kittyhawk was used by the VMF-though the first P-40Es were mistakenly called Tomahawks) can readily be divided into three periods: “euphoria” (April-May 1942), “cooling off” (June 1942-July 1943), and “renaissance” (after July 1943). Each period had its own distinct characteristics. It began with the heightened initial interest in the missions that were new to naval aviation – reception of and provision of air coverage to Allied convoys. Here the primary factor was range-the farther out to sea the fighters could meet the convoys, the less would be convoy losses to German bombers and torpedo bombers [30]. The maximum range of the P-40 was 1100 km.

The 2d Guards Mixed Air Regiment (SAP) was considered to be the best unit in Northern Fleet aviation [31]. Its commander was the famous Soviet naval ace HSU Lieutenant Colonel Boris Safonov [32]. He was not only the first HSU in the fleet (awarded on 15 September 1941), but also one of four pilots who was awarded (19 September 1942) the high British decoration Distinguished Flying Cross for combat successes (including in the Hurricane).It was a given that the Kittyhawk would be sent to this unit.

B.F. Safonov, commander of the 2 GSAP VVS SF (Guards Mixed Air Regiment of the Northern Fleet Air Forces)
in the cockpit of his P-40E. May 1942, Vayenga airfileld
Photo via author

The first two P-40Es arrived in April 1942 (no. 775 and a second unknown aircraft). An additional 12 arrived in May (nos. 956, 958, 984, 990, 1000-1007 [33]), and the last 10 (1093, 1098, 1102, 1110 – 1116 [34]) in June, a total of 24 aircraft. Combat employment of these aircraft commenced almost immediately, though initially (as was normal) problems arose with the engines. Safonov was the first in the Northern Fleet to obtain a victory with the Kittyhawk – on 17 May he shot down a Ju-88 (confirmed by materials in the Bundesarchiv – Militararchiv in Koblenz). But on 30 May Safonov did not return from a combat sortie in coverage of convoy PQ-16 [35]. The circumstances of his death were not noted in the heat of battle, and the most likely cause is believed to be engine failure. Along with some poor flight characteristics that were exposed during the employment of this aircraft, Safonov’s death served to shake the confidence of the unit’s pilots in the Kittyhawk. By autumn 1942 this aircraft was being relegated to secondary missions and the regiment was re-equipped in August with the Airacobra I. The P-40E more or less actively fought here until the end of 1942, and after that was simply accounted for in the regiment, though parked on the apron without engines [36]. Thus, on 1 May 1943 there were still 9 P-40Es assigned to the 2d Guards SAP (nos. 751, 958, 984, 1001, 1007, 1098, 1115, and 1112), of which only the last had an engine.

A.A. Kovalenko of the 2 GSAP VVS SF. He was awarded DFC on 19 March 1942 and HSU on 14 June 1942
Photo via author

Combat losses of the Kittyhawk were not great-two in May 1942, another three by the end of the year, and four until July 1943, for a total of nine aircraft. Non-combat losses were three aircraft. The unit’s successes with the aircraft were modest (though not comparable with the Airacobra): from 29 June to 15 December 1942-9 Bf-109 and 6 Ju-88. The best results (from 1 June 1942 to 1 January 1943) were obtained by Senior Sergeant Bokiy (five victories), senior sergeant Klimov (4), Senior Lieutenant Sokolov (3), and Captain Alagurov (3).

Subsequently Soviet naval aviation did not receive any more Kittyhawks until the spring of 1943, despite the existence of grandiose plans (on 5 September 1941, the command of VMF VVS prepared an order for 500 P-40s and 100 P-38s).

Kittyhawks were assigned to the Northern Fleet again in mid-September 1943. Initially they were “dumped” on 255th IAP (11 P-40Es to supplement the on-hand 20 Airacobras). But later it was decided to send them only to units armed with already old equipment. Thus by mid-October the 78th IAP, which had fought in Hurricanes since 1941, received all the P-40Es from 2d Guards SAP and 255th IAP. To raise combat spirits, an additional 13 P-40M-10s and 1 P-40K-15 were sent here on 3 November, and the regiment began combat duty at the end of the year. Pilots of the regiment achieved high results not only in aerial combat but also as masters of ground attack until the conclusion of combat actions in the Far North (1 November 1944). Fighting in the P-40M-10 (the remaining aircraft were apparently immediately stricken from accounts as worn out), these pilots shot down 44 German aircraft: 1 Ju-88, 1 BV-138, 1 Bf-110, 4 FW-190, and 37 Bf-109 [37]. During attacks on the Norwegian port of Kirkenes in October 1944, they carried more ordnance than the Il-2: they hung an FAB-500 under the fuselage (or a combination of an FAB-250 under the fuselage plus 2 FAB-100s under the wings). They were the first fighters in the Northern Fleet to use the mast-top bombing method, in which a bomb dropped from low altitude ricocheted off the water and struck the side of the target vessel [38]. Group of Captain V. P. Strelnikov sank two barges and six cutters in this manner in one day – 11 October 1944.

Subsequently in the Northern Fleet the Kittyhawk was assigned only to units that had earlier flown in old aircraft types. The 27th IAP, which had earlier flown the Hurricane and I-153, received the Kittyhawk in December 1943, and the 53d and 54th Air Regiments of White Sea Flotilla in October 1944. These two regiments continued to fly the P-40s right alongside the Hurricane, I-15, I-153, MBR-2, and PBN-1 Catalina.

In September 1943, three P-40M-10 (serials 43-5974, -5968, and -5952) were utilized in the 118th Separate Air Reconnaissance Regiment for the conduct of deep reconnaissance. Kittyhawks were being reconfigured into two-seat light bombers in fleet repair shops in June 1944.

The Kittyhawk began to appear in the Black Sea Fleet in April 1943. Because the VVS of this fleet was considered somewhat secondary, replenishment of its air regiments was accomplished last here, and its aircraft were of various types, old and worn out. For example, by the spring of 1943, in two regiments – the 7th and 62d IAP, there were fighters of seven types: MiG-3, Yak-1, Yak-7, LaGG-3, I-16, I-153, and I-15, with from three to eleven machines of each type. It was precisely to these units, and also the 30th Air Reconnaissance Regiment, that the newest models of the Kittyhawk, P-39K-10, and P-39M-10 that were arriving from Iran via the southern route were assigned. The 65th IAP, whose re-equipping was begun in September 1943, was already receiving the P-40N-1 by November, and the P-40N-5 in December. Before the summer of 1943 deliveries were accomplished through the 25th ZAP and later the 11th ZAP.

The Black Sea Fleet Kittyhawks made a good showing in combat, but on the whole as ground attack aircraft and PVO fighters. The most famous operations in which they participated were flights against the Romanian port Constanza, disruption of the evacuation of German forces from Crimea in 1944, and air cover for the Yalta Conference of the main Allied leaders (Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill) in February 1945.

The number of Kittyhawks in the Black Sea Fleet rose steadily from 19 in May 1943 to 42 on 1 December 1943. Combat losses in 1943 were minimal-3 aircraft. The maximum number of P-40s was on 1 January 1945-103 aircraft, after which it was reduced to 89 on 10 May 1945.

Altogether the VVS VMF USSR received 360 P-40s of all models from 1941-1945, and lost 66 in combat (18 percent), the lowest loss percentage among fighters of all types.

In conclusion, one fact should be noted: three Twice HSU (of 27) in Soviet aviation fought in the Kittyhawk: B. F. Safonov, P. A. Pokryshev (22 personal victories and 7 in group), and M. V. Kuznetsov (22 + 6). Pokryshev and Kuznetsov flew the Kittyhawk for more than a year. Many pilots became aces and HSU while flying the P-40, achieving good combat scores. A number of regiments gained their guards status while flying the P-40. On the whole this aircraft fought well, though the conceptual errors that were built into it significantly reduced the sphere of its effective employment.

[1] “Soviet Aviation in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945 in Numbers and Facts”.
[2] An additional 291 Kittyhawks are counted as “received in other departments in 1941-44”.
[3] “Soviet Aviation in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945 in Numbers and Facts”.
[4] Type IIB Tomahawks, including AN965, 966, 971, and 977; AK252, 257, 264, 325, and 341; and AN469, 471, 488, and 507).
[5] It is interesting that, thanks to the skillful mechanic A. I. Lunev, one of the Tomahawks had flown 90 sorties by 15 January 1942 without a single incident.
[6] Here and subsequently, data has been taken from archival materials of the regiments without comparison with the reports of losses from the German side.
[7] At one of his conferences in 1942, Stalin personally instructed that plexiglass for Soviet aircraft be made “like the Tomahawk”.
[8] Analogous tactics were developed in the RAF and VVS KA for the Hurricane fighter.
[9] Total scores from 22 June 1941, because data regarding victories with the P-40 alone is not available.
[10] Government activities and foreign representations had been evacuated from Moscow to Kuybyshev in 1941.
[11] Obviously these are factory numbers because they do not correspond to either USAF or RAF serial numbers.
[12] The first ramming incident in a Tomahawk was conducted against a bomber on 20 January 1941 by Captain A. V. Chirkov, a pilot in 154th IAP, in which he downed a He-111.
[13] Apparently this was Hauptmann Franz Eckerle, commander of I/JG 54, though the date and place do not coincide in Soviet and German sources.
[14] Numbers 809, 842, 863, 311, and 1134.
[15] German and Finnish forces on more than one occasion in 1941-42 severed the single rail line, the Luftwaffe constantly bombed it, and the airfield network was poorly developed.
[16] The number of foreign fighter aircraft, for example, reached 80 percent of the total in 1942-43.
[17] All data are taken from registrations at the port, without consideration for losses at sea.
[18] These are factory numbers, not USAF or RAF serial numbers.
[19] Normally, aircraft being built at this time had a one- or two-longeron wing.
[20] It is interesting that on 23 September 1944, the commander-in-chief of the VVS KA issued a special order in which he recommended against ramming and pointed out the necessity of employing this tactic only in exceptional circumstances.
[21] The causes are basically the same as in the 126th IAP.
[22] At Krasnoyarsk these fighters were assigned to the 45th ZAP and were flown to the Stalingrad area (another 4500 km). All were P-40K-1 models, serials 42-46174, -46191, -46193, -46201, -46265, and -46267.
[23] When converted from factory numbers into serials, these should correspond to 41-24943, -24958, and -24959.
[24] These were the best results in the theater, leading to the re-equipping of the regiment with new model Airacobra P-39L, -M, and -N models on 10 May and its designation as 100th Guards IAP on 18 June 1943. [This regiment was assigned to the 9th Guards Fighter Division, later commanded by Colonel Aleksandr Pokryshkin, and fought in that division in the P-39 until the end of the war. JG]
[25] “Soviet Aviation in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945 in Numbers and Facts”.
[26] This number includes 20 Tomahawks.
[27] “Soviet Aviation in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945 in Numbers and Facts”.
[28] This attack for all intents and purposes put an end to the shuttle raids of American bombers on Germany.
[29] “Soviet Aviation in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945 in Numbers and Facts”.
[30] As a rule, transports were not lost within the zone patrolled by fighter aviation.
[31] In May 1942, this composite regiment was flying four types of fighters as well as SB bombers, and DB-3 torpedo bombers, and had a total of six squadrons on it’s strength.
[32] In the year from May 1941 to May 1942, Safonov rose in rank from senior lieutenant to lieutenant colonel, from commander of a squadron to commander of a regiment (from 20 March 1942).
[33] The American delegation that arrived with convoy PQ-15 gave one of them to Boris Safonov and another to the commander-in-chief of Northern Fleet VVS, Major General A. A. Kuznetsov.
[34] Factory numbers, not USAF or RAF serial numbers.
[35] At the time of his death he had 20 personal kills and 6 shared (according to his flight log), for which he was posthumously awarded the rank Twice HSU on 14 June 1942. Modern archival research (Yu. Rybin) supports only 8 confirmed downed aircraft.
[36] Only four of 17 P-40Es were operational on 1 November 1942.
[37] These figures taken from regiment archival records, without confirmation in German records.
[38] This method had been employed for some time by the A-20 Bostons in the Northern Fleet Torpedo Bomber squadrons. JG

Translated by James F. Gebhardt ©

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A Tale of Two (or Three) Kitties | Rambles in the Air 14.12.2020 - 00:29

[…] There is a fascinating article written in 2019 by Valery Romanenko entitled The P-40 in Soviet Aviation https://lend-lease.net/articles-en/the-p-40-in-soviet-aviation/. […]

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