View Full Version : Air Attack on German Transportation

Carl Schwamberger
11-26-2009, 12:30 PM
I'm curious about the use of Soviet military aviation to attack the German transportation system. That is attacks on bridges, railroads, transportation service buildings, automotive convoys and rail trains, ports, ships,... The very little I've read describes tactical air support and the long range air strike against Berlin & other German cities, but I lack any knowledge of this part. Can anyone point to books or other sources adressing this. A quick summary here of this would be most welcome.


11-26-2009, 04:23 PM
There was some, even in early war.

One of the most interesting longa range attacks were performed by the "Zveno combination"

Zveno-SPB saw limited but successful combat use during the Great Patriotic War (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Patriotic_War). In the opening stages, the Black Sea Fleet Air Force was tasked with destroying industrial targets in Nazi Germany (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_Germany)-allied Romania (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romania). The most important of these was the King Carol I Bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Carol_I_Bridge) over Danube (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danube) which carried the Ploieşti (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ploie%C5%9Fti)-Constanţa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constan%C5%A3a) oil pipeline (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipeline_transport). After several failed attempts to destroy the heavily protected bridge with conventional bombers, the task was given to the Zveno squadron. As a combat test, it was decided to first attack the Constanţa oil depot (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_depot). On 26 July (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/July_26) 1941 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1941), two Zveno-SPB aircraft performed a successful attack on the depot in broad daylight with no losses. The fighters disconnected 40 km (22 NM, 25 mi) from the target and returned to the home airfield under their own power.[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zveno_project#cite_note-ivanov-2)
The first of the two bridge raids took place on 10 August (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_10) 1941 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1941). For this mission, the I-16s were fitted with additional 95-liter (25 US gal) underwing fuel tanks for an additional 35 minutes of flight time.[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zveno_project#cite_note-ivanov-2) Of the three Zveno-SPBs, one had to turn back due to mechanical problems. The other two launched their fighters 15 km (8 NM, 9 mi) from the Romanian coastline. The fighters successfully dive-bombed from the altitude of 1800 m (5,900 ft) and returned home with no losses despite heavy anti-aircraft fire.[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zveno_project#cite_note-ivanov-2) The second raid took place on 13 August (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_13) 1941 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1941). This time, all three Zveno-SPBs reached the target. The six fighters scored five direct hits on the bridge and completely destroyed one of the spans (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Span_(architecture)).[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zveno_project#cite_note-ivanov-2) On the way back, the fighters strafed Romanian infantry near Sulina (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulina) and returned to Eupatoria with no losses. Following the successful sorties, two additional Zveno-SPB were brought to operational status, bringing the total to five. The main limiting factor was the lack of high-output Mikulin AM-34 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikulin_AM-34)FRN engines, as the other versions were not powerful enough to get the aircraft airborne.[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zveno_project#cite_note-ivanov-2) On 16 August (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_16) 1941 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1941), Admiral Kuznetsov (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Gerasimovich_Kuznetsov) asked Joseph Stalin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Stalin) for additional AM-34FRN-engined TB-3s from the Air Force so they could be converted to Zveno-SPB carriers, but the request was denied as the Air Force had suffered heavy losses in the opening days of the war.[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zveno_project#cite_note-ivanov-2) In the meantime, the five aircraft continued flying operational sorties, destroying a dry dock (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_dock) in Constanţa on 17 August (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_17) and a bridge across the Dnieper River (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dnieper_River) on 28 August (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_28), losing one I-16 in the process.[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zveno_project#cite_note-ivanov-2) During the repeat attack the next day, four Zveno-launched I-16s engaged several Messerschmitt Bf 109s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messerschmitt_Bf_109), shooting down two.[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zveno_project#cite_note-ivanov-2) Despite the high success rate, Zveno missions ended by 1942 due to high vulnerability of the obsolete TB-3s and I-16s in the face of enemy air superiority. It is estimated that Zveno-SPB flew at least 30 combat missions.[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zveno_project#cite_note-ivanov-2)


Carl Schwamberger
12-12-2009, 11:12 AM
Sorry I did not thank you for the response sooner. I posted this question several places & forgot to look here.

So it seems there were air attacks on transportation targets early in this war. At least a few. What about later in 1943 - 45. I find very little mention of this sort of attack by the Germans, who comment frequently on air strikes vs the combat formations in contact with the RKKA.