Soviet/Russian Air Force Organization

(Updated 25 March 2014)

Red Air Force Reorganization 1938 – 1941

Notes: Planned in 1938 and begun in April 1939. The reorganization was in preparation for planned expansion and to bring it more in line with the Red Army’s organizational structure.

The air brigade was abolished and replaced with the new air regiment (aviatsionny polk), and the new aviation regiments would be organized as follows:

Bomber Regiment: 5 x Squadrons (12 a/c each squadron, 60 a/c total)
Fighter Regiment: 4 x Squadrons (15 a/c each, 60 a/c total)
Shturmovik Regiment: 4 x Squadrons (15 a/c each, 60 a/c total)

At squadron level, the squadrons were to be composed of the three-aircraft zven 'ya, ignoring recommendations from Soviet commanders in the Spanish Civil war that the four-fighter zveno with two pairs (pary) be adopted instead.

Bomber regiments were sub-categorised as either a fast bomber (skorostnoi bombardirovochny), dive bomber (pikiruyushchi bombardirovochny), light bomber (lyogkobombardirovochny), close-support bomber (blizhnebombardirovochny), long-range bomber (dal'nebombardirovichny) or heavy bomber (tyazhyolo-bombardirovochny).

At higher levels, the new Air Division (aviatsionnoya diviziya) was formed from between four and six air regiments.

“Pure” Air Divisions composed entirely of a single type (fighter/bomber/etc) were assigned to military district air forces, while “Composite” (smeshannaya) air divisions consisting of a mixture of fighter and bomber regiments were directly attached to each ground army as part of the new Army Air Forces (armeiskaya aviatsiya).

Elsewhere, the special purpose air armies (aviatsionnye armii osobovo naznacheniya) which were subordinated to the Commissariat for Defence were abolished in 1940. Supreme Command did retain control over several tactical air corps, including the Long Range Bomber Arm.

By June 1941, the Red Air Force was still heavily understrength, with Luftwaffe analysts concluding that the average fighter/shturmovik regiment had 48 aircraft, while bomber and reconnaissance regiments had 36 aircraft.

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.

Air Basing Region Plan (1941)

Each military district was to be divided into a number of air basing regions (Raiony aviatsionnovo bazirovaniya) containing one air base for each division and servicing and maintenance battalions for each air regiment. The divisional air base was to consist of a fleet of seventy vehicles to make it fully mobile and able to transport spares, workshop equipment, meteorological and signals apparatus, fuel and rations.

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.

Soviet Bomber Organization 1940-1942

Following reorganizations of the VVS in 1940, Supreme Command's Long-Range Bomber Arm [DBA-GK] (dal'nebombardirovochnaya aviatsiya Glavnovo Komandovaniya) was organized into five corps, each of two divisions deployed to the rear of the western military districts and two “independent” divisions retained for special operations.

In August 1941, the DBA-GK corps were dissolved and the remaining bomber regiments placed at the disposal of the front air commanders, who employed them in attacks against German strongpoints.

During the winter of 1941-42, the survivors of the DBA-GK were reformed into three divisions, two of which were subordinate to the VVS CINC, with GKO retaining direct control over just a single division – the 3rd Special Long Range Air Division. This division became the nucleus of the new Long Range Air Arm [ADD] (Aviatsiya dal'nevo deistviya) created in March 1942.

By the summer of 1943, the Germans had identified at least seventeen ADD divisions, with each ADD regiment organized as thus:

ADD Regiment (45 aircraft)
      Command Echelon
      3 x Squadrons (15 aircraft each)

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.

1942 Fighter Regiments

Formation Leaders (2 x Pe-2)
3 x Squadrons (sometimes 4 squadrons in Guards Fighter Regiments) (10 a/c per squadron).

Notes: Introduced with conversions to new types of combat aircraft during the summer of 1942. Modeled somewhat on the lines of a Luftwaffe Gruppe. Each squadron was now made up of of two zvenos of four machines each plus an extra para consisting of the squadron leader and his Number Two. Each zveno contained two paras, which were made up of a lead pilot [Number One (vedushchi)] and his covering pilot [Number Two (vedomy)]. Luftwaffe intelligence of the era estimated that the total personnel of the new fighter regiments was around 200~, of which 34 were pilots, 130 were fitters and mechanics, and 36 engaged in miscellaneous support duties.

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.

1942 Bomber Regiments

3 x Squadrons (9 a/c per squadron).

Notes: Introduced with conversions to new types of combat aircraft during the summer of 1942. Retained the three-aircraft zveno with three zven'ya forming a squadron — commonly called 'a nine' (devyatka) — to give an overall strength of twenty-seven bombers with three to five other machines in reserve. Regiments with the Pe-2 had about 100 aircrew, but those with the larger Il-4 and B-25s had 200~ aircrew and 300~ ground crew.

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.

Air Basing Region (RAB)

Notes: Each RAB served an air corps or the equivalent number of air divisions with maintenance facilities and contained from six to eight airfield servicing battalions (BAO), with one BAO for each one or two air regiments.

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.

Soviet Special Purpose Bombardment Organizations

In early July 1941; a special unit was formed to “bomb Berlin at all cost”. It consisted of two Il-4 (DB-3F) squadrons from the Baltic Fleet’s 1st Mine & Torpedo Bomber Division and two Il-4 (DB-3F) squadrons from the 81st Long-Range Bomber Division. In August 1941, the force was boosted in it’s suicidal raids by the 332nd Special Purpose Heavy Bomber Regiment, whose Pe-8s (TB-7) had been re-engined with M-30B diesels for longer range.

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.

Army Composite Air Division (1940) (original drawing)

Army HQ
      HQ Composite Air Division
            Fighter Regiment (45 x I-16)
            Fighter Regiment (45 x I-153)
            Fast Bomber Regiment (36 x SB)
            Fast Bomber Regiment (36 x SB)
            Light Bomber Regiment (45 x R-5)

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.

Close Support Bomber Regiments (August 1941 Reformation)

2 x Bomber Squadrons (10 a/c each)
1 x Fighter Squadron (10 a/c each)

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.

Shturmovik Regiment (Late 1941) (original drawing)

Regimental HQ
      1 x Formation Leader Zveno (3 x Su-2)
      2 x Shturmovik Squadrons (20 x Il-2)
      1 x Fighter Squadron (6 x I-16 and 4 x LaGG-3)

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.

Shturmovik Squadron (Late 1941) (original drawing)

Squadron HQ
      1 x Zveno (3 x Il-2)
      1 x Zveno (3 x Il-2)
      1 x Zveno (3 x Il-2)
      1 x Reserve Il-2

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.

Reconnaissance Regiment (May 1942~)

1 x Pe-2 Squadron
1 x MiG-3 Squadron

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.

Late War Reconnaissance Regiment

5 to 6 squadrons (each with a different type of aircraft)

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.

Air Army (circa 1943) (original drawing)

Air Army HQ

Sub Divisional Units Attached to Air Army HQ
      1 x GVF Transport Regiment
      1 x Reconnaisance Regiment
      1 x Special Liason Squadron
      1 x Communications Regiment
      1 x Artillery Spotting Regiment
      1 x Recovery & Ambulance Squadron
      1 x Training Regiment

Normal Subordinates
      1 x Night Bomber Division with 5 Regiments (135 x LNB)
      1 x Fighter Division with 3 Regiments (90 x Yak-7B)
      1 x Shturmovik Division with 3 Regiments (90 x Il-2)

Subordinates via GKO Reserve Allocation
      1 x Shturmovik Division with 2 Regiments (60 x Il-2)
      1 x Fighter Corps
            1 x Fighter Division with 3 Regiments (100 x Yak-9)
            1 x Fighter Division with 2 Regiments (60 x La-5)
      1 x Bomber Corps
            1 x Bomber Division with 3 Regiments (80 x Pe-2)
            1 x Bomber Division with 2 Regiments (45 x Pe-2)

Total Combat Strength (23 Regiments, 660 a/c)
      8 x Fighter Regiments (250 a/c)
      5 x Bomber Regiments (125 a/c)
      5 x Shturmovik Regiments (150 a/c)
      5 x Night Bomber Regiments (135 a/c)

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.

Cold War Air Army (1950s – 1960s)

Air Army HQ
      2 x Fighter Corps
      1 x Bomber Corps (reduced to a division by 1950)
      1 x Shturmovik Corps (Phased out with Il-10 exit from service, duties assumed by fighter-bombers)

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.

Cold War Tactical Air Force (FA) Fighter Division (Original Drawing)

Divisional HQ
      1 x Fighter Regiment (31 x MiG-23, 4 x MiG-23U)
      1 x Fighter Regiment (36 x Su-17)
      1 x Fighter Regiment (36 x Su-17)
      1 x Transport Squadron (1 x An-12, 1 x An-26, 2 x Mi-8, 2 x An-2)

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.

Cold War Tactical Air Force (FA) MiG-23 Fighter Regiment (Original Drawing)

Regimental HQ
      
1 x Fighter Squadron (12 x MiG-23)
      1 x Fighter Squadron (12 x MiG-23)
      1 x Fighter Squadron (8 x MiG-23, 4 x MiG-23U)
      1 x Communications Flight (2 x Mi-4, 1 x Aero-45)

References:
The Soviet Air Force Since 1918 by Alexander Boyd.