Valeriy Romanenko ©
Translated by James F. Gebhardt ©
The P-40 in Soviet Aviation
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
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
Tomahawks of the 126 IAP getting ready for
another combat mission
Photo kindly presented by www.ipms.ru web site
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 .
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
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 .
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
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
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
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 ,
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 .
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 .
Twelve pilots became aces (five or more victories), and 31 pilots of
the regiment were awarded orders and medals for the battle for
Tomahawk II (AH965) of the 126 IAP flown by
Lt. S.G. Ridnyi, Moscow area, December 1941
Photo CSAKFD via authorr
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 .
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 )
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
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
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 .
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 .
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 )
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 ,
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 .
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
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 ).
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 .
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
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 .
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 ,
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.
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
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
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
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
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 .
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
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 ).
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). 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 .
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 
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
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 .
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
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 .
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 .
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 .
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 .
Its commander was the famous Soviet naval ace HSU Lieutenant Colonel
Boris Safonov .
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 ),
and the last 10 (1093, 1098, 1102, 1110 - 1116 )
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 .
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 .
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).
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
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 .
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 .
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.
"Soviet Aviation in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945 in Numbers and
 An additional 291 Kittyhawks are counted as
"received in other departments in 1941-44".
 "Soviet Aviation in the Great Patriotic War
1941-1945 in Numbers and Facts".
 Type IIB Tomahawks, including AN965, 966, 971,
and 977; AK252, 257, 264, 325, and 341; and AN469, 471, 488, and
 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.
 Here and subsequently, data has been taken
from archival materials of the regiments without comparison with the
reports of losses from the German side.
 At one of his conferences in 1942, Stalin
personally instructed that plexiglass for Soviet aircraft be made
"like the Tomahawk".
 Analogous tactics were developed in the RAF
and VVS KA for the Hurricane fighter.
 Total scores from 22 June 1941, because data
regarding victories with the P-40 alone is not available.
 Government activities and foreign
representations had been evacuated from Moscow to Kuybyshev in 1941.
 Obviously these are factory numbers because
they do not correspond to either USAF or RAF serial numbers.
 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.
 Apparently this was Hauptmann Franz Eckerle,
commander of I/JG 54, though the date and place do not coincide in
Soviet and German sources.
 Numbers 809, 842, 863, 311, and 1134.
 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.
 The number of foreign fighter aircraft, for
example, reached 80 percent of the total in 1942-43.
 All data are taken from registrations at the
port, without consideration for losses at sea.
 These are factory numbers, not USAF or RAF
 Normally, aircraft being built at this time
had a one- or two-longeron wing.
 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.
 The causes are basically the same as in the
 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.
 When converted from factory numbers into
serials, these should correspond to 41-24943, -24958, and -24959.
 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]
 "Soviet Aviation in the Great Patriotic War
1941-1945 in Numbers and Facts".
 This number includes 20 Tomahawks.
 "Soviet Aviation in the Great Patriotic War
1941-1945 in Numbers and Facts".
 This attack for all intents and purposes put
an end to the shuttle raids of American bombers on Germany.
 "Soviet Aviation in the Great Patriotic War
1941-1945 in Numbers and Facts".
 As a rule, transports were not lost within
the zone patrolled by fighter aviation.
 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.
 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
 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.
 Factory numbers, not USAF or RAF serial
 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
 Only four of 17 P-40Es were operational on 1
 These figures taken from regiment archival
records, without confirmation in German records.
 This method had been employed for some time
by the A-20 Bostons in the Northern Fleet Torpedo Bomber squadrons.