The tasks of the Soviet Air force (Voyenno-vozdushnyye sily or VVS) rank amongst the least-chronicled facets of human being War II. In the at an early stage 1980s, Von Hardesty, curator the the Aeronautics department of the Smithsonian Institution"s air and room neurosoup.orgum, wrote Red Phoenix, a groundbreaking account the the VVS native 1941 come 1945. Hardesty has actually teamed up with Ilya Grinberg, a professor in the room of technology at the State college of new York university at Buffalo, to substantially revise this standard narrative, i beg your pardon necessarily attracted from uncritical and ultra-patriotic Soviet memoirs. In Red Phoenix Rising: The culture Air force in people War II (University that Kansas Press, 2012), Hardesty and also Grinberg have actually taken benefit of declassified Russian archival material made obtainable over the past three decades to provide a an extensive and riveting account the the VVS"s epic confrontation through the Luftwaffe and Wehrmacht. Us publish Hardesty"s rundown of the book, "Out that the Blue," in addition to an interview that an elderly editor Donald A. Yerxa performed with Grinberg in July 2012.

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The Russo-German war (1941-1945) started with an awesome display screen of wait power. ~ above the morning of June 22, 1941, in the predawn darkness, Luftwaffe bombers struck forward air bases that the Soviet Air pressure (Voyenno-voz-dushnyye sily—VVS). The very scripted arrangement for invasion, codenamed operation Barbarossa, target the VVS together the an initial victim of the war. The preemptive raids lugged fiery devastation come the exposed and also ill-prepared Soviet wait defenses. Vast numbers of aircraft were destroyed in place. A couple of Soviet plane did acquire airborne, only to be promptly shot under by marauding German fighters. Estimates vary, but one Russian archival source suggests that by the 2nd day the VVS may have lost as numerous as 3,922 aircraft, through the downing of just seventy-eight German planes. This brutal attrition would persist transparent the summer months with the final tally of Soviet accident edging toward 10,000 planes. The early salvos the the war transformed the VVS waiting bases right into graveyards of melted out and also damaged aircraft. In the annals of waiting warfare, there was no criterion for together devastation. The resulting picture of ruin and also humiliation became fixed in western perceptions that the Soviet waiting Force.

If, however, we carry ourselves front in time, to may 1945, us encounter another image the the Soviet waiting Force. This portrait is equally vivid and dramatic, yet at odds v the especially wreckage and also paralysis wrought by procedure Barbarossa. The Soviet Union introduced the long-awaited attack on Berlin. The battle-seasoned VVS, now organized into highly mobile waiting armies, deployed over 7,500 work aircraft. Soviet fighters brushed up the critical remnants that the Luftwaffe native the skies. And, an ext important, the Soviet waiting juggernaut the fighters, bombers, and ground-attack aircraft flew countless sorties in direct air support for the advancing Red Army. Together the war drew to a close, the VVS boasted an list of 20,000 aircraft, the largest tactical air pressure in the world. Currently for the first time, the VVS exerted unchallenged air



s-premacy over the huge periphery of Soviet-controlled territory from Berlin to the much East.

These 2 snapshots the the Soviet air Force, be separated by virtually four years, evoke a spicy contrast, one not straightforward to mediate or explain. The very first image native 1941 is acquainted to us; the second, less so, because that many facility reasons. Also Western account of people War II dealing narrowly with the template of waiting power room prone to overlook this forgotten episode. For Russians, the air war in the eastern has stayed a meaningful part of a bigger national epic, the good Patriotic War. Because that the VVS, the battle years to be a time of great fluidity and also challenge, a context for among the most remarkable armed forces reversals in history.

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There is a lost human dimension to the story as well. Few are...


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