Soviet Air Forces VVS

The Soviet Air Forces on the Eastern Front

A Luftwaffe Fw 189 Uhu (Owl) searches in vain for VVS orbats. Converted P-38 by the Author

If the Luftwaffe on the Eastern front is slippery to pin down, then the Soviet air forces make it look a model of clarity! A combination of limited and conflicting sources, massive early losses and constant replacements and attrition mean that this orbat is an approximation at best.

Summer 1941 saw a huge proportion of the Soviet air assets destroyed close to the border, with both Soviet and Luftwaffe orbats reduced to 20-33% of their initial strengths in 1941.

The Author’s storage box for the VVS is a faithful reproduction of the Soviet state of organisation days into the Axis invasion

It was normal for Soviet regiments to be operating at 1/3, or squadron strength. Depending on the scenario, you could either field the correct number of regiments at one strength point each (s1), or amalgamate them to 1/3 of the correct number of regiments.

See this link for a breakdown of  forces :

For 1940 – 41 Boyd (1977) gives the following for the Western Military District :

3rd Air Army

9th Composite Air Division (fighters, bombers and Shturmovik regiments)

4th Air Army10th Composite Air Division

(fighters, bombers and Shturmovik regiments)

10th Air Army

11th Composite Air Division (fighters, bombers and Shturmovik regiments)

III GKO Air Corps

42nd Bomber Division

52nd Bomber Division

61st  Fighter Division

Directly allocated as required to air armies from MD HQ:

12th Bomber Division

13th Bomber Division

43rd Fighter Division

59th Fighter Division

60th Fighter Division

By 1943 the Soviets distinguished between Air Armies directly supporting the Army Fronts, the Air DefenceForces (PVO) and Long Range Air Arm (ADD), which comprised ADD bombers, GVF transport and special GKO transports and was as I understand it part of the VVS.

The air armies were allocated as follow :

KARELIAN FRONT              (7th Air Army)             Gen Sokolov

LENINGRAD FRONT            (13th Air Army)           Gen Rybal’chenko

VOLKHOV FRONT               (14th Air Army)           Gen Zhuravlev

2ND BALTIC FRONT (15th Air Army)           Gen Payatikhin

1ST BALTIC FRONT              (3rd Air Army)             Gen Gromov

WESTERN FRONT                (1st Air Army)             Gen Khudyakov

BRYANSK FRONT               (16th Air Army)           Gen Kondratyuk

1ST UKRANIAN FRONT       (2nd Air Army)            Gen Rudenko

2ND UKRANIAN FRONT       (5th Air Army)             Gen Smirnov

3RD UKRANIAN FRONT       (17th Air Army)           Gen Krasovski

4TH UKRANIAN FRONT       (8th Air Army)             Gen Khryukin


When compiling lists like these, you have to watch out for generals who move between armies, rather like the boy who always appeared at each end of those long school photos by running along the back.

Sources :

Boyd, A. (1977) The Soviet Air Force since 1918. London, Macdonald and Jane’s.


Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Air Forces, Wargames, WWII

2 responses to “Soviet Air Forces VVS

  1. That’s all very well, but where is your list of toys? Loving the Fw189 – a converted P-38?

    Liked by 1 person

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