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Old 14th January 2007, 09:32
Carl-Fredrik Geust Carl-Fredrik Geust is offline
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Carl-Fredrik Geust
Hurricanes in USSR

As I noticed that my friend Mirek Wawrynski made a reference to my book "Red Stars Vol.4 - Lend-lease aircraft in Russia" (10 Jan 2007, in the long thread above) I here enclose my (updated and corrected) Hurricane text section (additional comments and corrections are welcome),
Carl

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Hawker Hurricane

RAF 151 Wing (commanded by Wing-Commander H.N.G.Ramsbotton-Isherwood), consisting of two Hurricane-equipped squadrons, 81 and 134 Sqns (led by Sqn Ldr Tony Rook and Sqn Ldr Tony Miller respectively), was dispatched to Russia by sea in mid-August 1941 as Force Benedict, with a total of 40 Hurricane Mk.IIB fighters. 24 Hurricanes were loaded aboard the escort carrier HMS Argus, from which they took off to Vayenga 7 September. Meanwhile convoy PQ 0 (Operation Dervish) had arrived in Arkhangelsk 31 August with 16 Hurricanes in crates, which were assembled at the AF base in Keg-Ostrov from where the aircraft departed to Vayenga between 12 and 16 September. As the Northern Fleet AF had only 48 obsolete Soviet fighters (I-153, I-16 and I-15bis) at its disposal at that moment, the arrival of the Hurricanes provided an eagerly needed and significant reinforcement of the defence of Murmansk and the naval bases in the region.

151 Wing used a unique identification systems in Russia, adopted to satisfy both own and Russian needs: the second letter of the RAF squadron letters (FL for 81 Sqn and GY for 134 Sqn) was replaced by an individual letter (e.g. "L" -> "N") and a sequential number was added ("55"). These tactical numbers of 134 Sqn A Flight were in the 20's, 134 Sqn B Flight in the 30's, 81 Sqn A Flight in the 40's and 81 Sqn B Flight in the 50's correspondingly. The Flight Commanders got the full numbers: eg. S/Ldr Rook's was 50 and S/Ldr Miller's was 20.

RAF 151 Wing in Vayenga, September 1941 (aircraft/pilot allocation as on first flight)
81 Squadron (from HMS Argus)
134 Squadron (from HMS Argus)
Flight
Serial
Tactical code
Pilot
Flight
Serial
Tactical code
Pilot
A
BD792
F_-50 (later FR-44)
S/Ldr Rook
A
Z5205
G_-20
S/Ldr Miller
A
Z5228

F/O McGregor
A
Z5206

F/Lt Berg
A
Z4017
FU-56
Sgt Waud
A
BD823

Sgt Campbell
A
Z5209

P/O Walker
A
Z4013

P/O Sheldon
A
Z4018
FH-41
F/Sgt Haw
A
Z5134

Sgt Gould
A
Z5157

P/O Ramsay
A
Z5159
GV-33 (ex GO-25)
P/O Elkington
B
Z5122

P/O Bush
A
BD699

Sgt Clarke
B
Z5207

Sgt Anson
A
Z5253
GA-25
P/O Furneaux
B
Z3746
FA-40
Sgt Smith, KIA 12.9.1941
B
Z3763
GY-30 (later -60?)
F/Lt Ross
B
Z4006
FV-54
P/O Edminston
B
Z5120

Sgt Barnes
B
Z5227
FE-53
Sgt Reed
B
Z3978

P/O Cameron
B
Z3977
FN-55
Sgt Rigby
B
Z5210

Sgt McCann
81 Squadron (from Keg-Ostrov)
134 Squadron (from Keg-Ostrov)
A
Z3768
FK-49
Sgt Crewe
A
Z5236
GO-31
Sgt Kirvan
A
BD822

Sgt Bishop
A
Z5123

Sgt Keil
A
BD824
FA-47
Sgt Mulroy
B
BD825
GH-27, crashed 27.9.1941
P/O Wollaston
A
Z5208
FA-48
Sgt Carter
B
Z5226

Sgt Fry
B
BD818

P/O Holmes
B
Z4012
GU-35
Sgt Knapton
B
BD697

F/Lt Rook
B
Z5303
GC-26 (or GG-26?)
Sgt Douglas
B
Z5252

Sgt Sims
B
BD790
GP-36
Sgt Griffiths
B
Z5211

Sgt Griffiths
(the fate of one Hurricane of PQ-0 is unclear)


151 Wing performed its first operational sortie from Vayenga 12 September claiming three Bf 109Es and one Hs 126 damaged over Petsamo for the loss of Sgt N.Smith in Z3746.

151 Wing claimed 11 Bf 109 and 3 Ju 88 shot down during its short stay in northern Russia, with only one total loss. However, according to German records Luftwaffe lost only three Bf 109 and three Ju 88 to 151 Wing Hurricanes.

The last sortie of 81 Sqn was flown 8 October, and handover of the Hurricanes to the Air Force of the Northern Fleet (VVS SF) started five days later. By 22 October the remaining 36 Hurricanes had been transferred to the Soviets. One of the spare Hurricanes, Z5252 was already 25 September symbolically handed over to Maj.Gen. A.A.Kuznetsov, C.O. VVS SF.




Luftwaffe losses to RAF 151 Wing in Northern Russia
Date
Type
W.Nr.
Tactical no
Unit
Crew
Comments
12.9.1941
Hs 126
3461

1.(H)/32

Litsa, 30 % damage by fighter
12.9.1941
Bf 109 E-7
1075
yellow 6
1./JG 77
Lt. E. von der Lühe KIA
10 km E Litsa
12.9.1941
Bf 109 E-7
4078

I/JG 77

10 km E Litsa
17.9.1941
Bf 109 E-3
4004
red 6
1./JG 77
Fw J.Stiglmair MIA
Litsa
17.9.1941
Bf 109 E-3
6124

14./JG 77
Oblt. E.Wintergest
Bereslavl, 20 % damage by fighter
6.10.1941
Ju 88 A-5
088.0292
4D+_L
I/KG 30
BF Uffz W.Sellge injured
Air combat, W/O after landing in Petsamo
6.10.1941
Ju 88 A-5
088.0626
4D+LL
3./KG 30
Lt. H.Servos, Uffz H.Kamme, Fw A.Mau and Ogfr E.Funke KIA
Air combat, Ura Guba
6.10.1941
Ju 88 A-5
088.4155
4D+KL
3./KG 30
Uffz R.Habermann, Gefr H.Kratz, Gefr K.Wetzleberger, Ogfr B.Zimmerhackl KIA
Air combat, Ura Guba
(2 Germans POW?)


Meanwhile evaluation of Hurricane Mk.II Z2899 (the very first Hurricane handed over to the Soviets) had already commenced on 22 September 1941 at NII VVS (Soviet Air Force Research Institute) with Col. K.A.Gruzdev as responsible test pilot.

14 October 1941 78 IAP (commanded by B.F.Safonov) was formed to receive the 36 serviceable 151 Wing Hurricanes. In March 1942 the Hurricanes with pilots were transferred from 78 IAP to Safonov's old regiment (which meanwhile, 18 January 1942 had been elevated to Guards status as 2 GSAP). 2 GSAP, now commanded by Safonov received gradually more Hurricanes and P-40s (both Tomahawk and Kittyhawk) from arriving convoys.

RAF 151st Wing had performed a total of 365 missions during its stay at Vayenga. Wing-Commander Ramsbotton-Isherwood, Squadron Leaders Rook and Miller, and Flt Sgt Haw were awarded the Order of Lenin 28 November 1941. The engineering officer Flt Lt Gittins was later awarded the Order of the Red Star. Four Soviet pilots (B.F.Safonov, Capt. A.A.Kovalenko, Escadrille C.O. 2 GIAP, A.N.Kukharenko, Deputy C.O. 78 IAP, and I.Tumanov, C.O. 2 GSAP) were reciprocally awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross 19 March 1942.

5 July 1942 RAF formed a six-squadron 153 Wing (under the same command as 151 Wing) for intended dispatch to Russia. However two weeks later this order was cancelled, apparently because of the big losses of convoy PQ17.

During the Battle of Moscow winter 1942 Hurricanes equipped also e.g. 1 GIAP and 157 IAP on the Kalinin Front. In spring-early summer 1942 considerable numbers of Hurricanes were delivered to the Karelian Front, where Hurricanes amounted to over half of the fighters on 1 July 1942 (133 Hurricanes of a total of 244 fighters).

Simultaneously (early spring 1942) a program for rearmament of Hurricanes with Soviet cannons and guns had been initiated, as calibre and fire power of the original British armament (up to twelve 7.62 mm Browning machine-guns) was considered too weak.

Two alternative replacements of four Browning machine-guns were proposed by the gun designer B.G.Shpital'nyj together with specialists of Zavod No.115 (co-located with Yakovlev's OKB) in Moscow:
1) four 20 mm ShVAK cannons, two 7.62 mm ShKAS machine-guns and six racks for RS-82 rockets, or
2) two 20 mm ShVAK cannons, two 12.7 mm UBK machine guns and six racks for RS-82 rockets.

After evaluation by NII VVS from 28 December 1941 to 3 January 1942 the first alternative was adopted.

Even before official conclusion 30 SAM of VVS SF replaced four Browning machine-guns with two 12.7 mm UBT and two 50 kg bombs as proposed by Boris Safonov in VVS SF. Armoured pilot seat backs were also installed.

The armament modifications were mainly made at Zavod No.81 in Monino, Zavod No. 89 in Gorkiy and in workshops of 6 IAK in Podlipki, but also in several frontal units (eg. VVS SF). A total of some 1.200 Hurricanes were re-equipped with Soviet armament.

Because of lack of spares for the Merlin Mk.XX engines installation of Soviet M-82A, M-88 or M-105 engines was studied, but this proposal was not adopted.

In spring 1942 VVS SF was in urgent need of light bombers, and 120 Hurricanes were modified to carry two under-wing mounted 100 kg bombs.

Because of the relatively big number of Hurricanes in VVS SF special two-seater training Hurricanes were considered necessary, and 10 aircraft were modified with a second cockpit and double command. In order to save weight eight of the twelve machine guns, the armoured seat back of the pilot etc. were dismounted. A number of two-seaters were also used without double command for courier purposes, and one two-seater was further modified as "ambulance" aircraft and used by 10 AE VVS SF.

Several two-seater Hurricanes were also used at the Glider Aviation School of Red Army Paratroop Forces (VAPSh VDV KA) in Saratov for towing Antonov A-7 and G-11 transport gliders, and a number of operational sorties were also performed.

Other Soviet Hurricane modifications included a tactical recce version with an AFA-I camera in rear fuselage (used eg. by 118 RAP SF and 3 GIAP KBF), experimental fixed and retractable ski-undercarriages etc.

In summer 1942 it became evident that Hurricanes were no match for Bf 109 "Filips", and the Hurricanes were gradually transferred to PVO-regiments in the Soviet rear. At least 26 GIAP (of 7 IAK, later 2 GIAK) of the PVO Army in Leningrad used Hurricanes as night fighters until spring 1944.

In autumn 1943 and early 1944 some 45 Hurricane Mk.IID and 30 Mk.IV intended for ground-fighting (equipped with 40 mm cannons) were delivered. Evaluation and conversion training showed clearly that cannon-equipped Hurricanes were inferior to Il-2s already in major production, and were thus not used for frontal sorties. On 1 July 1943 there were already 495 Hurricanes in PVO-regiments and 1 June 1944 the PVO-Hurricanes numbered 711.

One spectacular incident took place deep in the Soviet rear, when four Hurricanes of 1./933 IAP (of 144 IAD; piloted by st.lt. P.G.Dergachev, ml.lt. G.N.Sevastyanov, ml.lt. P.N.Grachev and ml.lt. N.A.Lopusov) strafed a Ju 290 A-9 (W.Nr. 110185, A3+CB) of 1./KG 200, which had landed in the Kalmykian steppes at night 22-23 May 1944. This aircraft had taken off from Zilistea in Romania, carrying some thirty Kalmykian “freedom fighters”, with the task to assist the resistance movement in Kalmykia, recently recaptured after the German occupation (Unternehmen Salzsee).

Lend-lease fighter conversion training was mainly performed in various ZAPs (Reserve Aviation Regiments), of which the first was 27 ZAP in Kadnikov (Keg Ostrov) in the Arkhangelsk-Vologda region. 16 May 1942 6 ZAB (Reserve Aviation Brigade), comprising of 14 and 22 ZAP, was formed in Ivanovo, which become the main conversion training centre.

In the Ural Military District Hurricane conversion training was provided by 17 ZAP.

The first Soviet Hurricane downed by Finnish AF was BD761 piloted by st.lt. N.F.Repnikov, 152 IAP who crashed mid-air with Sgt. T.Tomminen, LeLv 28 in Morane-Saulnier MS.406 MS-329 at Karhumäki (Medvezhegorsk), Eastern Karelia on 4 December 1941, killing both pilots. For his “taran-victory” Repnikov was posthumously awarded the HSU 22.2.1943.

Several Hurricanes of the Karelian Front Air Forces were shot down by Finnish Air Force in 1942-
1943. Four force-landed Hurricanes (Z2585, Z3577, BM959 and BE559) were considered repairable, but ultimately only Z2585 (of 152 IAP, force-landed at Tuoppajärvi in early February 1942) was restored to flying condition in Finland. This aircraft became HC-452 in Finnish Air Force, and performed its first flight in Finnish colors on 13 October 1943.

Hurricane deliveries to USSR:
According to Russian archives the total number of Hurricanes received in USSR was 3082, including following subtypes: Mk.IIA (210), Mk.IIB (15), Mk.IIC (786), Mk.IID (45), Mk.IV (30), Mk.X (40+340+149), Mk.XI (150), Mk.XII (248), Mk.XIIA (and 39 Mk.Is modified to Mk.IIA status).

Hurricane deliveries to USSR, serial ranges:
P5195 (Mk.X), Z2310...5480 (Mk.IIA, IIB and IIC), V6881 (Sea Hurricane), AE958...977 (Mk.X), AF945...AG344 (Mk.X), AG665...684 (Mk.IIB, Mk.X), AM271...369 (Mk.X), AP517...879 (Mk.IIB), BD697...959 (Mk.IIB and IIC), BE162...711 (MkIIB and IIC), BG674...BH360 (Mk.IIB), BM932...959 (Mk.IIB and IIC), BN105_481 (Mk.IIB and IIC), BP268...657 (Mk.IIB and IIC), BV165 (Mk.I to IIA conversion), BW835...984 (Sea Hurricane, Mk.X, Mk.XI), BX102...124 (Mk.IIB to IIC conversions, Mk.X), DR339...391 (MkI to IIA conversions), HL549...994 (Mk.IIB and IIC), HV279...880 (Mk.IIB and IIC), HW117...879 (Mk.IIB, IIC and IID), JS219...468 (Mk.IIB to IIC conversions, Mk.XII), KW113...777 (Mk.IIC and IID), KX125...888 (Mk.IIC, IID and IV), KZ234...858 (Mk.IIC and IID), LB991 (Mk.IIC), LD205 (Mk.IIC), LE529 (Mk.IIC), LF223...596 (Mk.IIC and IV), PJ660...872 (Mk.IIB to IIC conversions, Mk.XII), PS 444...790 (Mk IID).

Identified Soviet Hurricane operators (a total of 29 fighter regiments were equipped with Hurricanes in 1941-42):
VVS SF: 2 GIAP (ex 72 SAP, Vayenga, Dec 1941–summer 1942), 78 IAP (Nov 1941-), 27 IAP (Vayenga, winter 1943-), 118 ORAP, 10 AE, 30 AE, 3 UAP, 9 UTAP (spring 1942-), 3 AG: 11 UAE (summer 1942-), OMAG: 13 AP (autumn 1942)
VVS BVF: 53 AP, 54 AP
VVS KBF: 3 GIAP (ex 5 IAP, Kronstadt, Lavansaari, June-Oct 1942)
PVO:
- 1 VIA (Moscow, spring 1943-);
- 6 IAK (Moscow, Nov 1941-): 67 IAP (Feb 1942-), 429 IAP (Feb 1942-), 488 IAP (1942-);
- 7 IAK (Leningrad): 26 GIAP (night fighter regiment; ex 26 IAP, Pushkino, Gorskaya; autumn 1942-spring 1944), 191 IAP (1942);
- 8 IAK (Baku, summer 1942-);
- 9 IAK (Voronezh, spring 1943-; Kiev late autumn 1943-);
- 10 IAK (Rostov, spring 1943-; Dnepropetrovsk, late autumn 1943-; Lvov, late 1944-);
- 36 IAD (Gomel, spring 1944-; Lyublino, late 1944-);
- 2 GIAD (ex-102 IAD, Stalingrad, autumn 1942-; Ploesti, late 1944-): 515 IAP (autumn 1942-), 628 IAP (summer 1942-);
- 104 IAD (Arkhangelsk region, spring 1942-): 348 IAP (Yagodnik, April 1942-), 729 IAP (Obozerskaya, Barakitsa, Vas’kovo), 730 IAP (Kegostrov);
- 106 IAD (Bologoye, autumn 1942-, Velikiye Luki late autumn 1943-): 246 IAP (Mk. IID, Jan-Aug 1944), 441 IAP (Bobrujsk);
- 122 IAD (Murmansk): 767 IAP (Ushmana, spring 1942-), 768 IAP and 769 IAP (Boyarskaya, spring 1942-);
- 124 IAD (Vypolzovo, spring 1944-);
- 126 IAD (Vienna, spring 1945-);
- 141 IAD (Zhitomir, spring 1944-);
- 148 IAD (Tsherepovets, Aug 1942-; Korosten, spring 1944): 933 IAP (Kalmykia, 1943-), 964 IAP (Tikhvin, 1943-1944);
- 298 IAD (Tbilisi, autumn 1942-);
- 310 IAD (Valujki; spring 1943-);

Karelian Front (VVS 14.A, VVS 19.A, VVS 26.A, VVS 32.A, 7 VA): 19 GIAP (Shongui, spring-summer 1942), 20 GIAP (Murmashi, spring-summer 1942), 152 IAP (Segezha, Dec 1941-1943), 195 IAP (Montshozero summer 1943 ?), 197 IAP (Murmashi, spring 1942–1944), 435 IAP (Beloye more -Kirovsk, spring 1942–summer 1944), 609 IAP (Afrikanda, Sekehe, Dec 1941–spring 1943), 760 IAP (Boyarskya, Dec 1941–summer 1943), 835 IAP (Kirovsk, spring-autumn 1942), 837 IAP (Montshegorsk, spring 1942-), 839 IAP (Kond Guba winter 1944?), 841 IAP (Segezha, autumn 1942-), 858 IShAP (Peski, summer 1944-), 17 GShAP (ex 65 ShAP, Poduzhemye spring 1942–Nov 1942), 80 BAP (Kolezhma, 1942-1943?), 9 UTAP (Onega 1942)
Leningrad Front: 12 OKAE (1942), 50 OKAE
Kalinin Front: 1 GIAP (ex 29 IAP, Jan 1942-); 256 IAD: 157 IAP (Jan 1942-)
Other sectors:
- 6 VA, 239 IAD: 485 IAP (1942)
- 16 VA, 215 IAD: 246 IAP (Mk.IID, Jan-Aug 1944)
- 246 IAP was based in Adji-Kabul for conversion training with Hurricanes (II D and IV) from January 1944. This regiment was attached to 16 VA in July 1944, still using Hurricane II Ds until September 1944. No frontal missions were however performed with the ageing Hurricanes.
- 235 IAD (summer 1942): 46 IAP, 180 IAP, 436 IAP
- 235 IAD was attached to 8 VA. In addition to the mentioned three regiments (46, 180, and 436 IAP) also 191 IAP was briefly equipped with Hurricanes. The division was practically annihilated in late summer 1942 (“Operation Blau”).
- 201 IAD: 179 IAP (late 1941-summer 1943)
- 438 IAP, 814 IAP (1942), 13 OKAE (1942), VAPSh VDV KA (Glider Aviation School of Red Army Paratroop Forces, Saratov), Kachinskaya Krasnoznamennaya Aviatsionnaya shkola im. tov. Myasnikova (1942-)
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