Josef “Sepp” Allerberger was the second most successful sniper of the German Wehrmacht and one of the few private soldiers to be honoured with the award of the Knight’s Cross. An Austrian conscript, after qualifying as a machine gunner he was drafted to the southern sector of the Russian Front in July 1942. Wounded at Voroshilovsk, he experimented with a Russian sniper-rifle while convalescing and so impressed his superiors with his proficiency that he was returned to the front on his regiment’s only sniper specialist. In this sometimes harrowing memoir, Allerberger provides an excellent introduction to the commitment in fieldcraft, discipline and routine required of the sniper, a man apart. There was no place for chivalry on the Russian Front. Away from the film cameras, no prisoner survived long after surrendering. Russian snipers had used the illegal explosive bullet since 1941, and Hitler eventually authorised its issue in 1944. The result was a battlefield of horror. Allerberger was a cold-blooded killer, but few will find a place in their hearts for the soldiers of the Red Army against whom he fought.
'Spy in the Sky’ matters have long been a source of interest and fascination for aircraft enthusiasts, historians and modelers and none more so than the elusive and secretive Soviet types of the Cold War era. Yefim Gordon presents us here with a range of such types, presenting a collection of photographs, profiles and line drawings together with supplementary text detailing the history of each craft, encompassing the various developmental milestones, successes and pitfalls experienced along the way.
The Soviet Union’s two dedicated spy plane types, the Yakovlev Yak-25RV ‘Mandrake’ (the Soviet equivalent of the Lockheed U-2) and the MiG-25R ‘Foxbat’ are profiled, supplemented by details garnered from a host of original sources.
Continue reading “Soviet Spyplanes of the Cold War (FlightCraft)”
Starting life in 1927, with Aleksandr Sergeyevich Yakovlev's first aircraft, the AIR-1, the OKB produced aircraft such as the Yak-4 light bomber, the Yak-6 light transport and the Yak-1 fighter. The latter paving the way for the highly successful Yak-3 and Yak-9. Post-war the Yak-15, -17 and -23 were fighters with a distinctive 'pod-and-boom' layout, the Yak-25 was first in a line of twin-jet tactical aircraft while the Yak-18 trainer, Yak-24 tandem-rotor helicopter, Yak-38 VTOL and Yak-40/42 airliners added variety.
Early in the 20th century, shortly after military aviation came on the scene, Imperialist Russia started using aircraft to support the operations of the Russian Navy. Rapid development of naval aviation continued after the October Revolution of 1917 and Soviet naval airmen flying fighters and torpedo-bombers made a significant contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War.
Yet the heyday of Soviet Naval Aviation (or AVMF) was in the post-war years. While in the late 1940s the AVMF relied largely on indigenous and American propeller-driven aircraft that had survived the fray, in the 1950s the naval airmen began mastering jets. The AVMF units started re-equipping with Il’yushin IL-28 Beagle twinjet bombers and were the sole operator of the Tupolev Tu-14 Bosun torpedo-bomber.
Continue reading “Soviet Naval Aviation 1946-1991”
The MiG-31 started life as an advanced derivative of the famous MiG-25P interceptor, becoming the first Soviet fourth-generation combat aircraft. First flown in 1975, it differed from its progenitor primarily in having a crew of two (pilot and weapons systems operator), a highly capable passive phased-array radar – a world first – and new R-33 long-range missiles as its primary armament. The maximum speed was an impressive Mach 2.82, the cruising speed being Mach 2.35. The type entered service in 1981; more than 500 copies were built between 1981 and 1994. The powerful radar and other avionics allowed the MiG-31 to operate as a ‘mini-AWACS’ scanning the airspace and guiding other interceptors to their targets; a flight of three such aircraft in line abreast formation could cover a strip 800 km (500 miles) wide. To this day the MiG-31 remains one of the key air defense assets of the Russian Air Force.
The book describes the MiG-31’s developmental history, including upgrade programs, and features a full and comprehensive survey of the various MiG-31 model-making kits currently available on the market.