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Old 26th March 2015, 14:24
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Japanese reports on new Soviet weapons in 1939?

The Nomonhan / Khalkin Gol "Incident" (practically undeclared war) saw Soviets using some of new planes and weapons in air combat.

To my knowledge it was during the air combats of Khalkin Gol when the first "air-to-air" missile or better said its direct predecessor unguided air-to-air rocket was tested. This RS-82 rocket was a success according to Soviet sources, but how did Japanese note this new weapon and did they confirm some of their losses being due to the use of RS-82 rockets?

As far as I know, the new biplane fighter I-153 was tested in Khalkin Gol. Again according to some Soviet sources it was an successfull experiment. According to Soviet sources I-153 pilots used successfully a decoy tactic letting their undercarriages be down like they were I-15 bis, which Japanese knew to be clearly inferior to their Ki-27. Before the combat I-153´s retracted their undercarriage thus and gained speed for the incoming combat, which turned to be successfull for Soviets as overconfident Japanese had been waiting to have relatively easy fight against inferior I-15 bis.

However in some Soviet comments it has been said that Khalkin Gol experience still showed that the manouverability of even most advanced biplane (I-153) could not match the speed of monoplane (Ki-27). Has anyone knowlegde which might have been the real results between Soviet I-153´s and Japanese Ki-27´s - and did Japanese make a report or some evaluation of new biplane fighter I-153?
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Old 26th March 2015, 15:26
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Alfred.MONZAT Alfred.MONZAT is online now
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Re: Japanese reports on new Soviet weapons in 1939?

Just a note : The first air-to-air rockets ever used were the Le Prieur rockets during the Battle of Verdun

Regards

Alfred
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Old 26th March 2015, 16:46
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: Japanese reports on new Soviet weapons in 1939?

True - air-to-air rockets were used in WW1 against observation balloons. So lets be more precise: the Soviet RS-82 rockets were the first air-to-air rockets (or unguided missiles) to be used against enemy aircraft. Wiki based on Soviet aviation historian Mikhail Maslov:

"...the earliest known use by the Soviet Air Force of aircraft-launched unguided anti-aircraft rockets in combat against heavier-than-air aircraft took place in August 1939, during the Battle of Khalkhin Gol. A group of Polikarpov I-16 fighters under command of Captain N. Zvonarev were using RS-82 rockets against Japanese aircraft, shooting down 16 fighters and 3 bombers in total..."

Of the very first encounter of RS-82 I have read that two Japanese planes were reportedly shot down in air combat, but these losses are not confirmed by Japanese sources. IIRC, the Japanese mistakenly reported of this first encounter that they were attacked by flak instead of rockets. They did see some rather mysterious explosions but could not see the cause of them. Did Japanese actually at any point of Khalkin Gol conflict realize that the enemy was using air-to-air rockets?

Anyway Soviets considered the first combat tests of RS-82 as promising. But perhaps that was based on too optimistic combat reports of Soviet pilots, and RS-82 was a controversial weapon - rocket equipped fighters were slow and clumsy and the possibility for successful hits was low.

Of the other later encounters I do not know if any of the Soviet claims with RS-82 have been confirmed by Japanese combat reports. The Japanese at that time flew in disciplined and very tight formations, which were quite ideal targets for rocket attacks so I would not be surprised that some Japanese planes were destroyed or damaged by Soviet rocket attacks.
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