Projects Comrades in arms

Comrades in arms

In 2020 the Center for Contemporary History started the archive project “Comrades in Arms”
This is an open source project aimed at a comprehensive study of documents from the funds of the Central Research Institute of the Russian Federation, the Russian Navy, as well as foreign archives, to create the first open public Catalog of information in Russia to obtain information about the fate of each plane produced at the factories of Western countries-allies of the USSR in the anti-Hitler coalition (USA, Canada, Great Britain) and supplied to the USSR during World War II under various international agreements.

Deliveries of aicraft equipment to the USSR during the Second World War were part of the general large-scale program of assistance to the Allies of the anti-Hitler coalition. In total, more than 14 thousand Americans and more than 4 thousand British/Canadian aircraft were sent to the USSR. In total, 18 different types of aircraft were officially delivered (without taking into account those that got into the USSR after accidents or otherwise), and six types of aircraft arrived in quantities of thousands, in some cases making up most of the production of these models. In addition to the actual aircraft, various aircraft equipment and components were supplied (radio equipment, radio compasses, photo and film equipment for aerial reconnaissance, etc.). Along with the aircraft, spare aircraft engines for them were also received – about 5,700 sets in total. About 170 thousand tons of aluminum alloys, significant volumes of thin brass tubes for the manufacture of radiators, more than 1,600 machine tools, as well as other equipment were sent to the needs of the Soviet aviation industry by various routes.

These supplies made a significant contribution to the overall victory of the Allies over the countries of the “Axis” (Hitler’s coalition). This was especially important during the period of a radical turning point in the struggle of the Soviet people against the Nazi invaders. The participation of these aircraft in the battles on the Soviet-German front had a significant impact on the variety of tactical methods of conducting combat operations in the air, as well as on the development of production technologies in the domestic aircraft industry, which ultimately contributed to the final and unconditional Victory over fascism.

What kind of planes were they? What modifications came out of the factory workshops? How many of them were produced and which of them were sent to the USSR? Were they outdated aircraft from warehouses or the latest models of equipment used by the aviators of the allied countries? How did the service and combat fate of these vehicles and their crews develop? How are they taken into account in archival documents? Where did they fly? Whose hands held the steering wheel? And whose “Homeland sky” were they defending?

The ultimate goal of this project is to get answers to these and many other questions of specialists and amateurs of archival search, as well as help to establish the fate of specific aircrafts and their crews in the event of the discovery of wreckage with identification numbers during search operations on the fields of past battles or in the rear areas.

During the implementation of the project, hundreds of thousands of pages from Russian archives gathered over more than 20 years are being processed, various “Databases” of foreign and domestic archival researchers systematized. Starting with the documents of the archive of the Central Military Academy of the Russian Federation in terms of collecting and systematizing data, searching for information about the fate of Red Army Air Force pilots, and analyzing the experience of numerous search operations at the sites of aviation accidents during the Great Patriotic War, the specialists of the Center for Contemporary History began to apply an integrated approach, tracing the path of combat vehicles from the manufacturer to the last day of their service, processing huge arrays of information received, sometimes scattered, multilingual and unsuitable for digital processing and cataloging.

The result of the work will be a public, open source, replenished Catalog of data on registration (accounting), as well as factory numbers of individual aircrafts and their engines, linked to the aviation connections of a particular country of the Anti-Hitler Coalition Ally and indicating the names of the crews reflected in the documents on flight accidents.

The Center for Contemporary History is engaged in activities in the field of historical research. We are not engaged in politics and “discussing statistical squeezes with far-reaching conclusions” about the realities of that period of our common history. The purpose of the project is to establish the fate of the participants of the Second World War within the framework of the Project topic and to introduce into scientific circulation information available for a free acquaintance (or purchase) in foreign and domestic archives.


Stages of project development

January 2021:

A catalog of serial number data for the Bell R-63 Kingcobra aircraft has been prepared. This is the fourth of foreign-made aircraft delivered to the USSR. The catalog includes cards with 4753 serial numbers, of which more than 3300 were produced (two-thirds of them were in the USSR). The fate of the aircraft delivered to the USSR today in most cases remains unknown – this is the least known of the delivered vehicles.
The preparation of Catalogs for Aerocobra Bell P-39 aircraft (the leader of deliveries and the most famous foreign winged machine) and Douglas A-20 Chaos / DB-7 Boston (the leader of deliveries among bombers), whose wreckage is often found on the battlefields of the Great Patriotic War, has begun.
Project’s development includes the preparation of Catalogs for Curtiss-Wright P-40 Tomahawk and Kittyhawk aircraft, Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire, Douglas C-47, North American B-25 Mitchell.
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