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Air in the Great Patriotic War.
4 March 2014 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

I'm not sure why it's sub-titled "MIG Force" because it's a very cursory description of the development of air power in the Soviet Union during World War II, which, in Russian, is known as The Great Patriotic War.

Russia began the war, after the Germans invaded in 1941, with a lot of obsolete airplanes that were quickly disposed of by the experienced pilots and superior technology of the Luftwaffe. The Germans advanced on three broad fronts, a regular Blitzkrieg, but they were to find out what Rommel found out in Africa and Patton found out in France. Rapid advances are just fine until your supply lines are stretched too thin, and then everything grinds to a halt.

The emphasis here is on the Russian attack airplane called the Sturmovik. The Nazi troops were supposed to have nicknamed it "Black Death" or some such nonsense. I can believe that Russian pilots called it "the Hunchback." The airplane itself was far from perfect. It was slow, uncomfortable, lacked elegance in its appearance, and early versions were vulnerable from behind. But like most Russian machines, it was simple, tough, and easy to maintain. And it was perfectly suited for the job with which it was tasked, strafing, low-level bombing, and tank busting. It bristled with powerful weapons. And the ventral surfaces of the cockpit and engines were made of steel armor. It wasn't armor plate. The parts themselves were made of thick steel. It was, in effect, a flying bathtub.

The political comments are few, and I suppose that's a good thing because they're mostly irrelevant. But it's ironic that Stalin began the war stupid and ended it clever. If an airplane designer, no matter how important, displeased Stalin, the designer went to jail. Two or three of the best aviation engineers in Russia worked from their jail.

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