Sunday, July 26, 2015

Soviet Amphibious Warfare

The projection of sea-based ground forces onto land. Amphibious warfare was more widely conducted in World War II than in any previous conflict and on a greater scale than ever before or since.

Involving all aspects of naval and military operations— from mine warfare to air and ground combat—amphibious operations are the most complex and risky of all military endeavors. The basic principles had been established in World War I and the postwar period, but the lessons were largely ignored by most military leaders except those in the Soviet Union, the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), and Germany’s Landungspionieren (Landing Pioneers). The Royal Navy concluded that the British Gallipoli operation had demonstrated a successful amphibious assault was impossible in modern war.

Soviet landings and most Allied commando raids were tactical-level operations against limited objectives, although some had a strategic impact (capturing German codes, radars, and so on).

Amphibious operations also fall into four types: raids, assaults, evacuations, and administrative (noncombat) landings. The first of these is the most dangerous since it generally occurs in an area of enemy superiority and involves elements of both an assault and an evacuation. An administrative landing is the safest, being conducted in a benign environment with no enemy ground, air, or naval forces present. Assaults and evacuations face varying levels of risk, depending on the defender’s strength and support.

The phases of amphibious operations evolved as the war progressed. In 1939 the German army was the only service to recognize the need to rehearse landings and procedures for a specific landing. By 1943, every major military leader realized the necessity to practice for a specific landing. Then, as today, amphibious operations were broken down into five phases: (1) planning, (2) embarkation, (3) rehearsal, (4) movement to the objective area, and (5) the assault. Soviet doctrine added a sixth phase, the landing of the follow-on army forces.

The Soviet Union had a specialized amphibious force of naval infantry at war’s start, but they lacked equipment and training. They were expected to land on the beach using ships’ boats or other improvised transport. Soviet doctrine called for naval infantry to conduct amphibious raids and support the army’s landing by seizing and holding the beachhead while conventional forces disembarked behind them. Although this approach economized on the number of troops requiring specialized amphibious assault training, it proved costly in combat, as any delays in the follow-on landing left the naval infantry dangerously exposed to counterattack. As a result, Soviet naval infantry suffered heavy casualties in their amphibious assaults but one can argue they led the Allied way in these operations. On 23 September 1941, the Soviet Black Sea Fleet conducted the Allies’ first amphibious assault, when Captain Sergei Gorshkov landed a naval infantry regiment against the coastal flanks of the Romanian army besieging Odessa. The action eliminated the Romanian threat to the city’s harbor. In fact, amphibious raids and assaults figured prominently in Soviet naval operations along Germany’s Black and Arctic Sea flanks, with the Soviets conducting more than 150 amphibious raids and assaults during the war.

amphibious operations were critical to the Allied war effort. They enabled the Soviets to threaten the Axis powers’ extreme flanks throughout the Eastern Campaign. Thus the Soviets were able to divert Axis forces away from the front and facilitate Soviet offensive efforts in the war’s final two years.

References Achkasov, V. I., and N. B. Pavlovich. Soviet Naval Operations in the Great Patriotic War. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1981. Ruge, Friedrich. The Soviets as Naval Opponents, 1941–1945. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1979.

Yakovlev Yak 15

Russia’s first Jet fighter
The closing stages of the Second I World War saw as radical a change in fighter development as that brought about a decade earlier by the appearance of the first fighter monoplanes with retractable undercarriages; the turbojet began to supplant the piston engine for fighter propulsion. Both the Luftwaffe and the RAF had introduced the jet fighter operationally, and the USAAF was preparing to do so, but the Soviet Union had failed to evolve an acceptable turbojet and, with the Third Reich rapidly crumbling in front of the victorious Russian forces, it had become a matter of the utmost importance that the Soviet Union compete, at least ostensibly, in all fields of technical development. The Soviet air forces had to have a jet fighter for prestige purposes!

Copied from Germans
Fortunately for the Russians, their forces had acquired a number of German BMW 003A and Junkers Jumo 004A turbojets by the beginning of 1945, and these were hurriedly shipped back to Russian experimental establishments for examination. A crash programme was immediately initiated to expedite the development of jet fighters, and prepara- tions were made to mass produce copies of the German engines, a task in which the Russians were much assisted by Czech technicians who succeeded in passing valuable data on production techniques to Russian agents. Work on adapting the turbojets to Soviet manufacturing standards had reached an advanced stage some time before Germany's final collapse, and the subsequent capture of factories building the BMW and Jumo engines expedited the Russian programme. Captured German technicians were hastily transported to the Russian plants where production of the turbojets had started, the BMW 003 under the designation RD-20 and the Jumo 004 under the designation RD-I0 " (the prefix “RD " signifying Reaktivnyi Dvigatel or Reaction Motor), and Russian designers were already at work evolving suitable airframes.

One of the design teams allocated one or two of the precious captured Jumo 004 turbojets was that of Alexander S. Yakovlev, whose piston-engined fighters had been responsible, perhaps more than those of any other individual designer, for turning the tide of the air war over the Soviet Union. No fewer than 30,000 of Yakovlev's piston-engined fighters had been manufactured by the Russian aircraft industry during the war years, and in order to expedite the development of an interim jet fighter, he decided to use major components from his last wartime fighter design to see widespread service, the Yak-3. Although designed in parallel with the better-known Yak-9, the Yak-3 had not been introduced until 1944. Intended specifically for low-altitude combat and army co-operation, it had a smaller wing span than that of the Yak-9, and pilots who flew both the earlier versions of the Spitfire and the Yak-3 claimed the Russian fighter to be lighter on the ailerons, smoother to fly, and superior in speed and initial climb rate.

The new jet fighter, which received the designation Yak-15, employed the wings, undercarriage and tail assembly of the Yak-3, these components being married to anew, all-metal fuselage. The Jumo 0048 turbojet, rated at 1,980 lb.s.t., was mounted below the wing main spar, being fed via a small, circular intake in the nose and exhausting beneath the rear fuselage, which was protected from the jet stream 'by a convex steel " bath." Although rather crude and displaying ample evidence of its hasty design, the Yak-15's small size and light construction compensated to some extent for the low output of the turbojet, resulting in a performance that compared reasonably well with those of contemporary West- ern jet fighters. The first prototype Yak-15 was flown for the first time on April 24, 1946, and was presumably powered by one of the captured German engines, but production machines which were being delivered to units of the IA-PVO early in 1947, employed the Russian adaptation of the Jumo engine, the RD-10, and on August 3, 1947, during the annual air display at Tushino, the fighter was revealed to the public for the first time, a trio of Yak-15s giving an aerobatic display.

The Yak-15 was evidently considered as little more than an interim type by the Russians, suited only to providing the Air Forces with some jet experience and useful in building up a nucleus of trained jet pilots while more advanced designs were being investigated. The Yak-15 was reputedly extremely manoeuvrable, but the tail wheel resulted in a rather lengthy take-off run and the pilot's view from the aft-positioned cockpit was extremely limited, particularly during take-off and landing. Armament comprised two 23-mm. Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 cannon installed in the upper decking of the forward fuselage, and performance included an approximate maximum speed of 495 m.p.h. at 9,840 ft., a cruising speed of 404 m.p.h., and a range of the order of 460 miles. Overall dimensions included a span and length of 31 ft. 6 in. and 28 ft. respectively.

The impracticability of the tailwheel undercarriage resulted in the design of a nosewheel undercarriage for the fighter at an early stage in its development, the variant embodying this modification receiving the designation Yak-17. A comparatively small number of Yak-15 fighters had been delivered to the Soviet Air Forces when, early in 1948, it was supplanted on the production line by the Yak-17. The main undercarriage member attachment points were moved from the front to the rear spar, which was suitably reinforced, and a semi-retractable nosewheel was introduced. When retracted, this nosewheel was only partly enclosed, the air intake duct leaving insufficient space for a housing large enough to accommodate the whole wheel, but it served as a convenient bumper in the event of a" wheels-up " landing, and drag was reduced by a small fairing attached to the nosewheel leg. Simultaneously with the introduction of the nosewheel undercarriage, Alexander Yakovlev took the opportunity to install the improved RD-10A turbojet, rated at 2,200 Ib.s.t., and to redesign and enlarge the vertical tail surfaces, the curved fin-and-rudder assembly which, until that time, had characterised all Yakovlev fighters.

The performance of the Yak-17 was slightly higher than that of its predecessor, maximum speed being 510 m.p.h. at 9,840 ft., and a tandem two-seat version, the Yak-17UTI, was evolved as Russia's first two-seat jet conversion trainer. A second cockpit for the pupil was mounted ahead of the standard cockpit in place of the forward fuel tank, and the Yak-17UTI remained a standard conversion trainer with the Soviet Air Forces until the appearance of the two-seat MiG-15UTI. One Yak-17UTI was supplied to the Polish Aero Club and, bearing the civil registration SP-GLM, was used for several years to provide Polish reserve pilots with jet experience.

Zil-157 truck

Zil-157 Soviet command truck


The Soviet Union was a pretty forward thinking place in regard to tanks and SP guns, but woefully backward in the area of trucks and transportation in general. When they received the first series of US trucks under Lend Lease in 1942, they were amazed at both the sophistication of American trucks and their reliability and ruggedness. Their own standard medium truck, the ZIS-5, was a 4 x 2 design with brakes only on the rear wheels and noted for only limited off-road capability. The GMC CCKW and Studebaker US6 with their 6 x 6 configurations and reliable drivelines and brakes were a shock.

After the war, the Soviet truck industry built its own version of the two American trucks as the ZIS-151. This truck remained in production from 1948 to 1957 (changing names from ZIS - "Stalin" Factory - to ZIL - "Likhachev" Factory - after 1953) when the ZIL-157 took its place. This truck was an improved version, with its main distinction being the large, single tires in place of the smaller, narrower ones that were paired on the rear drive axles of the ZIL-151. These also had adjustable tire pressure to both overcome flats as well as increase flotation in soft terrain. Later, an automatic control was provided that did this automatically. The ZIL-157 was in production from 1958 to 1961; the improved K model from 1961 to 1964, various other improved models later taking its place. The last variant, the ZIL-157KD, was in production from 1976 to 1982. Most of these were export models (the USSR having changed over to the ZIL-131 in the meantime.)

The ZIL-157 was basically a 3 metric ton cargo truck meaning it had a cross-country cargo rating of 3,000 kilograms or about 6,615 lbs. On paved roads this could surge to as much as 7,500 kilograms plus a trailer, but for the most part the vehicle was not strained that heavily. It had a crew of two and could carry a normal load of 12-16 soldiers in the rear cargo body thanks to folding seats. The vehicle was provided with a self-recovery winch.

Numerous variants were built, the most common being the so-called "BBV" (Box Body Vehicle) versions and the ZIL-157V model tractor for use with a semi trailer. 

Cab seating: 1 + 1
Configuration: 6 x 6
(empty, with winch) 5,800 kg
(loaded, with winch) 8,450 kg
Max load:
(road) 4,500 kg
(cross-country) 2,500 kg
Towed load:
(dirt road) 3,600 kg
(cross-country) 2,500 kg
(roads) 3,600 kg
Load area: 3.57 x 2.09 m
Length: (with winch) 6.922 m
Width: 2.315 m
(cab) 2.36 m
(tarpaulin) 2.915 m
(load area) 1.388 m
Wheelbase: 3.655 m + 1.12 m
Angle of approach/departure: 33º/43º
Max speed: (road) 65 km/h
Range: 460 km
Fuel capacity: 150 litres
Engine: ZIL-157K 5.55 litre 6-cylinder water-cooled petrol developing
109 hp at 2,800 rpm
Turning radius: 11.2 m
(front) longitudinal semi-elliptical springs with hydraulic
double-acting shock-absorbers
(rear) bogie with semi-elliptical springs
Tyres: 12.00 x 18
(main) air
(parking) mechanical
Electrical system: 12 V
Batteries: 2 x ST-84

The ZIL-157 (6 x 6) truck replaced the ZIL-151 (6 x 6) truck in production from 1958, and in 1961 the improved ZIL-157K entered production, to be replaced in 1966 by the more powerful ZIL-131 (6 x 6) 3,500 kg truck. In appearance the ZIL-157 is very similar to the ZIL-151 but has a slightly different cab (also fitted to late production ZIL-151s), and single instead of dual rear wheels.
The layout of the vehicle is conventional, with the engine at the front, two-door fully enclosed cab in the centre, and the cargo area at the rear, which consists of a wooden platform with sides, bench seats down each side which can be folded up when the vehicle I carrying cargo, and a drop tailgate. If required, the vehicle can be fitted with bows and a tarpaulin cover. Standard equipment includes a cab heater, an engine preheater and many vehicles also have a winch.

ZIL-157V and ZIL-157KV: tractor trucks for towing semi-trailers (for example carrying SA-2, FROG-3, FROG-4 or FROG-5 missiles)
ZIL-157KG: with shielded electrical system
ZIL-157KE: temperate climate export model of ZIL-157K
ZIL-157KYu: tropical climate export model of ZIL-157K
ZIL-157GT: tropical climate export model of ZIL-157K with shielded
electrical system
ZIL-157KYe: ZIL-157K chassis for special bodies
ZIL-157KYel: ZIL-157KYe chassis with high-output generator
ZIL-157KYeG: ZIL-157KG chassis with shielded electrical system
ZIL-157YeGT: ZIL-157KYeG chassis, tropical climate export model
ZIL-157KYeGT: ZIL-157KYeG chassis, tropical climate export model (chassis has features of the ZIL-157KYu)
ZIL-157YeT: ZIL-157KYe chassis, tropical climate export model (chassis contains features of ZIL-157KYu) 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The incredible MiG-25…

With its extensive borders - territorial, maritime and arctic - the Soviet Union had always needed to pay particular attention to its air defence. In the late 1950s a new lightweight turbojet, the R15-300, offered the potential to develop a fundamentally new type of interceptor. The Mikoyan-Gurevich (MiG) design bureau took up the challenge and the project was designated E-155. 

Powered by a combination of jet and rocket engines, the machine aircraft promised dazzling performance. It could intercept targets flying at 2,500mph (4,000km/h) at 18-30 miles (30- 50km) high more than 100 miles away. Armament was to include K-9 air-to-air missiles (AAMs), with plans to replace them with the more advanced K-155s. 

By 1960 this hypersonic dream was abandoned and efforts were concentrated on the S-155 weapon system, comprising a rethought E-155P interceptor, armed with two K-9 all-aspect AAMs and Kh-155 rockets.

The E-155`s tactical radius enabled its use beyond the intercept distance of the short-range surfaceto- air missile defence barrage. It was planned to utilise K-90 (or Smerch-A) on-board radar, which had a target detection range sufficient to perform a successful missile attack. 

Initial sketches of the E-155 were in line with the technology of the late 1950s, including a delta wing, side-mounted inverted-scoop air intakes, single fin and skid undercarriage. This did not last long - in 1960 the designers proposed a new configuration with a trapezoid wing of 40-degree sweep at the leading edge and two vertical fins. 

This was the beginning of the MiG-25 dynasty. The pace was rapid: the threat of the North American B-70 Valkyrie bomber had to be addressed. NATO meanwhile allocated the reporting name Foxbat to the programme. MiG set up an experimental design bureau, OKB-155, to tackle the project. One of the most significant challenges facing it was to overcome the `temperature barrier' - intensive heating of the airframe. After thorough analysis it was decided to use stainless steel as the main structural material. 

The thin-profile, high-mounted and medium-sweep wing combined with high fuel efficiency enabled the interceptor to conduct longduration flights with externally-mounted missiles at airspeeds of up 1,615mph up to 15 miles high and to sustain loadings of up to 4.3g. 

Also proposed was a high-flying tactical reconnaissance version, dubbed E-155R, which was to be built first. It would be fitted with optical, infrared and topographic mapping cameras and electronic reconnaissance equipment. To increase the range of the E-155R, 263-gallon (1,200 litre) fixed fuel tanks were mounted on the wingtips.

In May 1968 the Gorky factory completed the E-155R4. In production this was designated MiG-25R in October 1969. 

The Middle East `Six-Day War' in 1967 alerted the Kremlin to the need for a high-performance fighter-bomber and the decision was taken to expand the Foxbat's capabilities. The first reconnaissance/bombers, MiG-25RBs, could only carry up to 4,400lb (2,000kg) of ordnance on fuselage-mounted hardpoints. But with the development of wing-mounted bomb carriers, the payload doubled. 

In 1970 the Air Force Scientific Research Institute began testing a MiG-25RB equipped with the Peleng navigation system. During the trials A G Fastovets dropped two bombs automatically for the first time, while flying at 1,553mph for the first time. Production of the 'RB continued until 1972.
The MiG-25RB could only carry out basic electronic reconnaissance, until the improved Kub-3 (and later Kub-3M) gear was installed, enabling real-time location and analysis of radio emissions and data transfer to a command post. This configuration was designated MiG-25RBK and the type was built in 1971. It was followed by the MiG-25RBS equipped with Sablya sideways-looking radar. 

Other improvements included introduction of the SAU-155R automatic flight control system. The reconnaissance version employed the Siren-1F (and later 2F and 3F) airborne jamming system for self-protection. 

The final version was the -25BM, armed with four Kh-58 antiradiation missiles, intended to `Wild Weasel' could also carry up to 1,100lb of bombs. MiG-25BMs were in series production from 1982 till 1985. 

Service entry for the MiG-25R began in 1969 and the first unit to master the new type was the 10th Detached Reconnaissance Air Regiment. The following year, regiment pilots were already carrying out bombing in automatic mode with MiG-25RBs. If their bombing suppress enemy radars. This Soviet error during did not exceed 2,600ft (800m) pilots received an `excellent' rating; a `satisfactory' mark was given for a 7,800ft error. Later, 'RBs were fitted with the improved Peleng-2 navigation system and the standard was reduced to 1,300ft and 3,900ft respectively. 

The Foxbat's combat debut was in Egypt in 1971. Under the command of Colonel Aleksander Bezhevets, the 63rd Detached Air Unit was formed that year. It was overseen by General G Baevskiy and the Mikoyan Design Bureau was represented by deputy chief designer L Shengelaya. 

In the autumn, four Antonov An-22 Cock and 56 An-12 Cub transports carried four dismantled MiG-25Rs directly from the factory at Gorky to Cairo West airfield. After assembly the Foxbats, which did not carry any insignia, were flown by MiG test pilot V G Gordienko. 

Aleksander Bezhevets recalls: "Reconnaissance flights were carried out in pairs with a 30-second interval [between them]. Initially it was planned to keep one-minute intervals but this was reduced to improve the already low chance of our planes [being] intercepted. 

"In 1971/1972 the pilots carried out 13 combat missions. In one mission, myself and Uvarov flew at a distance of just 18 miles from Tel Aviv, while the allowed distance was 25. Permission for such flights was given by Chief Military Advisor Okunev." 

Israeli attempts to intercept MiG- 25Rs with Mirage IIIs and F-4E Phantoms, or to shoot them down with surface-to-air Hawk missiles, were unsuccessful. 

Iraq became the first foreign customer for the MiG-25R in 1985, these were upgraded to MiG-25RB status, facilitating the carriage of up to eight FAB-500T-M62 bombs. 

MiG-25RB combat experience in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the northern Caucasus proved the unique capabilities of this reconnaissance/ bomber variant, and in 1981 India acquired six 'RBs and two MiG- 25RU trainers. Other operators included Algeria, Bulgaria, Libya and Syria. The Soviet Air Force used the type for reconnaissance during its Afghan war and in Chechnya. 

Developed in parallel with recce version, the E-155P interceptor prototype made its first flight on September 9, 1964 in Fedotov's hands. Conforming to the original specification, the E-155P could carry only two AAMs, but for the E-155P3 the armament was increased to four K-40 missiles. Six E-155Ps were built and, under the designation MiG-25P, the type entered service in 1972. 

Four interceptor prototypes were demonstrated at the Domodedovo air parade on July 9, 1967. They had severe airspeed limitations - and ignoring these parameters had dire consequences. Test pilot I I Lesnikov died on October 30, 1967 when the E-155P1 crashed. It had been banked at transonic speed and the wing failed. Pilots at OKB-155 worked hard to cure the problem but it was not finally resolved until 1971. 

The MiG-25P entered service in April 1970 with the Soviet Air Defence Forces at Sevasleyka and Pravdinsk. Its operational debut led to considerable speculation about its performance and potential, but the guesswork all stopped on September 6, 1976 when V I Belenko took off from Chuguevka airfield near Vladivostok and landed at Hakodate airport in Japan in a highprofile defection. The aircraft was quickly inspected by an American engineering team and then returned to the Soviets. 

With its air defence secrets undermined, the Soviet leadership reacted rapidly. A decree improving the MiG-25's combat capabilities, issued in November 1976, led to three MiG-25PD interceptors being fitted with modified armament (R-40TD and RD, and R-60 missiles) before the end of August 1977, with flight testing beginning three months later.

In addition, the Smerch-A2 radar was replaced with a Sapfir-25, which had a different emission frequency, improved jamming protection and better targeting capabilities including, for the first time, at low level. It was housed within a much longer nose section. Modified R15BD-300 turbojets completed the transformation to MiG-25PD. NATO called this the Foxbat-E and its effectiveness was significantly higher than that of its predecessors; earlier MiG-25Ps were eventually converted into this standard. 

The MiG-25P's baptism of fire came on February 13, 1981 when Syrian Foxbats took off to intercept Israeli reconnaissance RF-4Es which had entered Lebanese airspace. It turned out the Phantoms were acting as bait as they quickly turned on their jamming, descended and retreated back to Israel. The Syrian MiG- 25Ps were then waylaid by a pair of F-15A Eagles which had approached from low level - one of which fired two AIM-7P Sparrow AAMs, one hitting a Foxbat. 

Other countries that operated the MiG-25P in combat were Iraq during the Gulf War and Azerbaijan in action against Armenia. From 1967 until 1984 a total of 1,112 MiG-25s of all versions were built, 38 of which were exported. In 1983 the Soviets started to phase in the much-improved MiG-31 Foxhound which clearly exhibited its MiG-25 lineage.