Russian military air fleet 1917-1922.

Moderators: Messalina, Tandorini

Russian military air fleet 1917-1922.

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 12 jan 2009, 21:38


Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate on 15 March 1917 (new style) and the Provisional Government took over. The Russian Military Air Fleet remained intact, aircraft markings remained as before. However, all symbols of the Romanov's were removed from airmen's badges. Grand Duke Aleksandr Mikhailovich (a Romanov) was forced to resign as commander of the Air Fleet. The Air Fleet continued combat operations until 7 November 1917 (new style) (25 October 1917 old style) when the Bolsheviks seized power.

During the course of the war Russian factories produced between 6,700 and 6,900 aircraft, not all of which were accepted by the Air Fleet. Russia had imported about 1,150 aircraft from France, another 250 from Britain. in November 1917 the Russian Military Air Fleet (such as it was) had about 1,500 aircraft, and 35,000 officers and men; 91 aviation detachments, four bomber units, the Baltic Sea Air Division, the Black Sea Air Division, 87 balloon units, seven Air Parks, as well as various commands, plus 16 aviation schools.

The Air Fleet was demobilized during the chaotic period between November 1917 and March 1918. a few units became Polonized, some Ukrainized, about 33 units became Bolshevik, while some units simply disbanded on their own, with their airmen later forming anti-Bolshevik units in North Russia, South Russia and Siberia. The Workers' and Peasants' Red Military Air Fleet was created on 28 January 1918 (new style).

The Bolsheviks managed to take control over several air units, but not many pilots followed them. Often openly anti-Bolshevik pilots were forced to fly in Red units, because their families were kept as hostages. I know about several examples, including some Poles.

One Polish pilot, former Imperial Russian officer Gilewicz organised defection of the whole unit from Reds to Poles. He failed to take all the aircraft, but the personnel escaped to the Poles on foot and Gilewicz himself took a Nieuport, and his friend Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter. Another Pole, Abakanowicz, escaped from Reds in another Nieuport.

I remember the story of another Polish pilot forced to fly in a Red unit, and who was even appointed commander of the squadron. During Polish 1920 offensive he led the evacuation of his squadron so ‘effectively’ that the Polish forces took the whole squadron loaded on the train in Vilnius railway station.

All the above stories happened in 1919-20 period.

There is interesting story from the Russian Revolution. After the February revolution nations ruled previously by Tsar were allowed to create independent military units. The Poles were first to took that opportunity, and soon formed the Polish Corps (joined by Polish units who escaped from Austrian-Hungarian Armyl). They also had an air detachment, which also attracted non-Polish pilots, as it was some kind of oasis of order in chaos of revolution. Temporarily, they even had Ilya Muromets four-engined bomber, because of the ethnic-Latvian pilot Bashko, commander of the former Imperial Russian heavy bomber squadron had decided to join Poles.

Unfortunately Germans surrounded the Polish Corps (there was no war between Poles and Germany at that time) and demanded its disarmament. Several aircraft and crews escaped (including the big Ilya Muromets) and several were captured by the Germans.

There were many defections of airmen from the Red Air Fleet during 1918 - 1920. One such instance involved Podporuchik Piotr P. Abakanowicz of the Red 13th FAO (fighter) who flew his Nieuport 24bis to the Polish 14th Eskadra at Zodin. His aircraft was damaged on landing. He was the former C.O. of the 1st Polish Corps AO and had been captured and forced into Red service in 1918.

In late April 1920 the Polish Aviation Order of Battle on the Lithuanian-Belorus Front (which included the Vilna region) was the 1st Wing with 8th Eskadra serving 7th Army; 4th Wing with 1st, 4th, 11th and 18th Eskadras with 1st Army; and 7th Wing with 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 19th Eskadras with 4th Army. The Reds had 14 aviaotryads (about 60 aircraft) opposing them.

Ryszard Bartel was Plutonowy (corporal) and pilot with the 16th Eskadra. The 16th Eskadra was originally the French ESC.BR.39 which arrived in Warsaw in May 1919. It was equipped with 15 Breguet 14A2s. In late May it moved to Lublin for service on the Ukrainian Front, but was soon withdrawn for political reasons. in September 1919 the unit was Polonized and in April 1920 became the 16th Eskadra. in mid-June at Zviahel it ceased operations for lack of aircraft. The personnel went to Luck, then Lublin, Brest-Litovsk and finally to Warsaw. In early August 1920 the unit returned to action at Warsaw rearmed with six Breguet 14A2s. After the defeat of the Red armies at Warsaw they stayed there until late August when they moved to Bialystok, where they stayed until early October. Then to Lida in mid-October and to Vilna after the cease fire with Reds of 19 October. The 16th Eskadra carried out its last battle flight on the Lithuanian Front on 23 December 1920. They remained at Vilna from January until March 1921. From late August until late December 1920 there was considerable fighting between Polish and Lithuanian forces, and of course a number of air actions.

Poruchik (later Shtabs Kapitan) Anatoliy Emerikovich Mrochkovskiy served as a military pilot in the XIth KAO (recon unit) and Ist FAO (fighter unit). He was credited with five victories on enemy aircraft while serving in the Russian Military Air Fleet. He received the Gold Sword of the Order of St. George for his courage.

He later served in the Polish Air Force. With the 19th Eskadra based at Zhodzin, flying a Spad XIII, he scored a victory on a Soviet aircraft near Borisov on 6 May 1920.
NEC JACTANTIA NEC METU ("zonder woorden, zonder vrees")

Avatar:De Siciliaanse vlag,oorspronkelijk uit 1282,de triskelion (trinacria) in het midden,is van oorsprong een oud Keltisch zonnesymbool.

Avatar gebruiker
Berichten: 2759
Geregistreerd: 30 mei 2008, 23:18

Keer terug naar Luchtmacht:Algemeen.

Wie is er online

Gebruikers op dit forum: Geen geregistreerde gebruikers. en 1 gast