Soviet Air Armies 1942-43

As Barbarossa commenced, the Soviet Airforce was organised with an air division per RKKA ground army, which proved too inflexible for the effective deployment of air support. The reorganisation that took place in May to November 1942* after the catastrophic losses of the initial inavasion was to give an air army to each front, with a more or less equal number of aircraft grouped into reserve air armies (PVO Strany).

The excellent “The Soviet Air Force Since 1918” by Alexander Boyd (1977), is one of the few books that I have come across that makes any attempt to mesh the ground and air war on the Soviet side in any meaningful way. He gives , on p.153 a useful diagram for October 1943; it shows the dispositions of the 13 air armies supporting the fronts as follow:

Karelian Front ⇒ 7th Air Army (Formed Aug 42)

Leningrad Front ⇒ 13th Air Army (Nov 42)

  • 275th Fighter Aviation Division
  • 276th Bomber Aviation Division
  • 277th Assault Aviation Division

Volkov Front ⇒ 14th Air Army (Jun 42)

2nd Baltic Front ⇒ 15th Air Army ()

1st Baltic Front ⇒ 3rd Air Army (May 42 Kalinin Front)

  • 209th, 210th Fighter Aviation Divisions
  • 211th, 212nd Mixed Aviation Divisions
  • 684th, 695th Lighter Bomber Aviation Regiments
  • 195th, 708th, 881st, 882nd, 883rd, 884th, 885th, and 887th Mixed Aviation Regiments
  • 3rd Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron

Western Front ⇒ 1st Air Army (May 42)

  • 201st Fighter Aviation Division
  • 202nd Fighter Aviation Division
  • 203rd Fighter Aviation Division
  • 234th Fighter Aviation Division
  • 235th Fighter Aviation Division
  • 204th Bomber Aviation Division
  • 213th Night Bomber Aviation Division
  • 215th Mixed Aviation Division
  • 214th Assault Aviation Division
  • 224th Assault Aviation Division
  • 231st Assault Aviation Division
  • 232nd Assault Aviation Division
  • 233rd Assault Aviation Division
  • (Mar 43) Régiment de Chasse Normandie-Niemen – Yak-3

Yak-3 Normandie-Niemen2

Bryansk Front ⇒ 6th Air Army (Jun 42 NW Front)

Belorussian Front ⇒ 16th Air Army (Aug 42 Stalingrad Front)

  • 220th Fighter Division
  • 228 Attack Aircraft Division
  • 228th and 291st Assault Aviation Divisions
  • 2 independent aviation regiments

1st Ukranian Front ⇒ 2nd Air Army (May 42 Bryansk Front)

  • 205th, 206th,[4] 207th Fighter Air Divisions
  • 208th Night Bomber Air Division
  • 223rd Air Division
  • 225th, 226th, 227th Air Assault Division
  • Two independent air regiments.[1]

2nd Ukranian Front ⇒ 5th Air Army (Jun 42 N.Caucasus Front ) Fought at Kursk

  • 7th Combined Aviation Corps
  • 8th Combined Aviation Corps
  • 3rd Fighter Aviation Corps
  • 7th Fighter Aviation Corps

3rd Ukranian Front ⇒ 17th Air Army (Oct 42 SW Front)

  • 3 Mixed Air Corps (207, 290 Divisions?)
  • 7?, 9? fighter divisions (202?,235? Divs and 305?, 303?, 295? Divs)
  • Ground-attack division
  • Bomber division
  • Night bomber division -Po-2?

4th Ukranian Front ⇒ 8th Air Army (Jun 42 SW Front)

Independent Maritime Army ⇒ 4th Air Army (May 42 Southern Front) included 2 regiments of Spitfires in 1943

  • 216th Fighter Division or 216th Mixed Aviation Division
  • 217th Fighter Division
  • 229th Fighter Division
  • 230th Storm Division
  • 219th Bomber Division
  • 218th Night Bomber Division
  • 588th Light Night Bomber (Night Witches) Regiment (From June 42) – the first all-women air unit – Po-2


I have shown formation dates and original fronts in (brackets) with further information from the Wikki sub pages, where available.



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Rubbish Overscaled Munchkins

Warhammered Sherman

My opinions and rants on overscaling are well known, so when YesThatPhil sent me an amusing picture of a Warhammered™* Sherman tank, I couldn’t resist trumping it with an even rubbisher example. To be fair, the model that Phil identified was built as an ironic comment on the current products being peddled in the fantasy market; mine seems to be a serious example of the genre. One can only admire the modelling and painting skills that went into producing it.

Rubbish Orky Tank


*That’s my coinage,  not Games Workshop™’s !

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On the Workbench – Scratchbuilt searchlight

Searchlight - Unpainted

Sometimes a project starts with a rummage through the bits box; this was one such. Having transcribed the ALAMEIN orbat, I needed something to represent 27th (London Electrical Engineers) Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery.

German 60cm Searchlight

The core was a German ROCO searchlight/radar body, with extra gubbins added to make it look more British.

Searchlight German 60cm

British Searchlight 150cm.

Its not every day that a regiment has engineers and artillery in its title. I well remember a demonstration at Chatham of the TA searchlight troop, as a young Sapper subaltern, back in the late ’70s. Credit went to the Troop Commander for being able to keep a straight face when shouting the command “Expose!” in front of the assembled audience. Very illuminating that was!

Undercoated 150cm Searchlight

The model is pretty generic as I want to be able to use it for various nationalities, so it has no figures on the stand and will probably appear at 8th Army HQ or an airstrip as extra clutter.


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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, Modelling, Western Desert, WWII

On the Workbench – Mini Monty

25mm Matchbox Monty

Rather than just grumble about the way that 15mm has morphed into chibi 20mm, I decided to demonstrate my case by turning a beautifully sculpted 1/72 scale (25mm) Monty into a 15mm Fat Controller. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you … Mini Monty.

15mm Monty

It took a mere 4 razor saw cuts to remove 10mm from the figure’s chest, abdomen, femur and legs. the worst of it is, he looks pretty good next to the flames of war fellow on his left in the picture below.

Chibi Monty

I’ve been watching too much Game of Thrones recently; bring more *i*s and wine!

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On the Workbench – Digging In


My dug-in positions to date have been built up from the table. These latest positions will be low lying, suitable for the desert. As can be seen, they are simply made from cork. Cut out circles or squares with a sharp craft knife, then line with a row of small squares that are cut out roughly with scissors.

All that remains is the applicalion of texture and colour to taste. The web is full of ernest tutorials for the perfect shade of Klatchian Salt Marsh desert. The main trick is to stick a heavy weight on the piece to prevent the cork from bending as the PVA glue dries.

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On the Workbench – Ground Crews

As aircraft fly in to the NQM boxes, they need ground crew to keep them in the air. My last purchase of Skytrex Italians left me with a fair number of spare figures, even after building a couple of infantry divisions. I could find very little by way of original pictures of Italian or Soviet ground support equipment- generator trailers and the like – so it left me a free hand to improvise with the central part of an Airfix 8.8cm Flak bogie in 20mm scale. A couple of spare wheels glued on was all it took.

Soviet Ground Crews with generator trailers

The Italians fared better with a couple of bicycles and some 1/300th scale signal bodies doubling as generators.

Italian Ground Crew

Finally, a couple of figures chopped off at the legs provided a dug-in security detachment.

Italian Airfield Security Detachments

Here they are with slightly more than an undercoat on them.

Signals Truck Painted

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On the Workbench – Signals/Command Truck

Scratchbuilt Signal Truck

Signals Truck - Side View

This conversion is another “Truck from Trash” that may have plumbed new depths in trashiness. The original toy could be seen gracing BOX 024, as one of three massively oversized models pretending to be heavy trucks. It once had a G.I. Joe missile on the back or some other such nonsense, but has done years of service as a slightly-better-than-card 3D marker.

Signal Truck Front View

The captured Granit command van next to it gives an idea of scale, which from the side is not too bad. What lets 20mm scale trucks down is always the width and height, so out came the X-Acto razor saw to remove a 5mm fillet from the centreline. Thin card covered the gap, and boxwood carved to shape provided the cabin on the back. I went for the look of a truck that had been pressed into service with a civilian railway hut put onto the flatbed on the back. I should have reduced the height of the cab to complete the illusion; it looked good enough without doing this though. Sometimes one just has to know when to stop. The picture below shows the width difference between the original shocker and its filleted cousin..

Signals Truck Painted

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Storm from the Northwest – Days 6 to 9

Six months of real time have elapsed since day five of this battle and its resumption on day six. To recreate a long narrow thrust along a railway line in hilly, forested country, the operation is now being prosecuted along the length of my pasting table, again with the lateral scale massively compressed. YesthatPhil took most of the photos for this battle as his camera skills exceed mine by a considerable margin.

The Key Rail JunctionLink to the map

Day six of the offensive began with 4th Tank Corps continuing the attack west along the line of the railway to VELIKIE LUKIE. The  Soviet infantry in the line regrouped and paused as 1st Guards Rifle Division passed through the forward positions and assembled for an assault. Heavy artillery support began to pound VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK.

vyshny volochyok 1942

From the contemporary aerial photographs, note the relatively open nature of the suburbs and railway sidings even today, apart from the town centre.

Vyshny region today

Army Level Artillery Close Up to the Front Line

4th Tank Corps continued to press west, with 16th Motor Rifle Corps following on, poised to support either 1GR or 4Tk.

4TK Corps Advance

The regrouped Silesians of 8th Infantry Division in VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK braced themselves for a renewed infantry assault as 1st Guards Rifle Division shook out into attack formation, supported by Katyushas, Sturmoviks and KV-1s. Apparently the latter were more plentiful in the north.

1GDs Assault

Historically, 8th Inf were a good unit with a distinguished reputation. They suffered heavy casualties in the initial campaign and were returned to France to convert to a Jäger division; their model counterparts fared no less well. Despite spirited counterattacks that caused delays of a day, they were pushed out of the city with heavy losses by 1GR, reinforced by 16MR when the first assault showed signs of losing momentum.

KV1 of 16 MR Breaks in

Ideally, you would really like something heavier than 3.7cm anti-tank against KV-1s. Yes, those are Soviets behind the dug-in anti-tank position. No, those are not party balloons, they are pin markers*.

Meanwhile, 4Tk were stopping for nothing and no-one. They met the advanced positions of a defended belt and attacked it straight from the line of march … with not unexpected results. Plenty more light armour was available if it was needed. 4Tk‘s T-70s discovered the defending minefields in the traditional way. This is why the Desantny prefer to ride on the T-34s if anyone gives them a choice.

4TK Assault From Line of March

Some distance into difficult country astride the railway, 269 Infantry Division‘s main defensive line provided the defence in depth for the front.

269INF Reserve Defence

Katyushas and infantry deployed as the armour fought on down the railway. More Sturmoviks appeared overhead; “… wo ist die Luftwaffe?” The heavy and medium dice below are all falling on the German infantry!

4Tk Corps Hit Back

When all seemed lost, 8th Panzer Division appeared in a counter attack. The bulk of the division was strung across the frozen countryside, but enough appeared to persuade the Soviets that there would be no more progress on this axis of advance before further reinforcements arrived.

8PZ Div Counterattack

*Thanks to Jaap Boender for pointing out on Facebook that the pins look like party balloons.


Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Eastern Front, Land Battles, Soviet Army, Wehrmacht, WWII

On the Workbench – 3.7cm Pak 36s


These two Pak 36s surfaced from one of the bits boxes last night. They came with a Command Decision Sdkfz 251 pack, if I remember correctly. That just left me with wheels and a trail to find. A Soviet 85mm AA gun from Flames of War provided the wheels, and aluminium tube with scrap balsa did the rest.

As I need Soviet 45mm guns more than German 36s at the moment, I painted them green prior to sticking Soviet crews on the bases. They will probably join the Tank Corps as captured 3.7cm Pak 36s, as they are a little undersized for 1937 (53-K) sorokopyatka” (forty fivers). The PSC offerings, of which there are 5 in a pack, are noticeably larger but come with the cut-down vehicle shield.

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Filed under Artillery, Modelling, Soviet Army

PSC Fallschirmjägers Announced

PSC FallschirmJaegers

I had been looking forward to the release of the Plastic Soldier Company Fallschirmjägers, and particularly their heavy weapons, so it is  disappointing to see that they have continued the 15mm trend set by Flames of War to produce stumpy figures with no abdomens. These figures have been “Warhammered” to scale a 20mm figure down to i5mm size.

*Sigh* Folk will love them; sales will boom and it is the sensible commercial choice, but my choice of true-scale figure packs is limited to the original two that PSC brought out. On the bright side, if I paint the faces green, they will be perfect for Orkschirmjäger ’45K™. Moving swiftly on …

It goes without saying that every time I get pompous about unrealistic, pumped-up sculpting, the net proves me wrong!

Fat para 2

Above: Realistic sculpt.

Fat Fallschirmjaeger

… The life model class that it was taken from.

The mystery of why the Luftwaffe felt obliged to develop the Me-323 Gigant transporter is solved at last; it was nothing to do with airlifting tanks at all.


Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, German Airforce, Infantry, Modelling, Off Topic, WWII