Kuban’s Red Stars

I’ve already written up some details about the new aircraft joining the lineup for the Luftwaffe so now its time to explore what we’re getting for the VVS. For the first time the lineup includes a good variety of Lend Lease aircraft – those are aircraft leased to the Soviet Union by the United States and Great Britain under a special wartime deal.

Note: This article will be updated when new information becomes available.

VVS aircraft

Yak-7B (fighter)

yak7b

The Yak-7 design traces its lineage back to the same I-26 protoype that spawned the Yak-1 fighter. The third and fourth prototypes were modified as the UTI-26 and were designed initially as trainers – a second cockpit and reinforced air frame and landing gear were designed for rough handling from new pilots. Found to be an excellent platform in its own right, the Yak-7 was born as a fighter and served from the end of 1941 until late in the war.

Standard armament for the Yak-7B was twin Berezin UBS 12.7mm machine guns and a single ShVAK 20mm firing through the propeller hub.

Most Yak-7A and B versions retained the lengthened canopy leftover from the trainer version, however, late series Yak-7B production gained a bubble canopy, enhanced range, and the removal of one UBS machine gun on the right side. We are not getting the bubble canopy version.

The Yak-7 was equally fast to contemporary Yak-1 versions and was easier to handle, however, it did weigh slightly more and for that reason, turn, climb and acceleration were slightly affected.

Theater Use

Depending on the Yak-7 version, we may be able to use this aircraft in many scenarios from Kuban and Stalingrad. As it will likely have the upgraded VK105PF engine, it is unlikely to be suitable for Moscow.

Sources

P-39L-1 (fighter)

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The P-39 was an innovative American fighter designed in the late 1930s and first flight tested in 1938, over 9,000 of these fighters were manufactured by Bell Airacraft in the United States. Rejected by the British and American forces for Western Europe, the P-39 saw service in the Pacific, North Africa and extensively with the VVS on the Eastern Front.

The aircraft has a mid-mounted engine, tricycle landing gear, a unique car door opening for the pilot, and was designed to fit a large 37mm M4 cannon.

The P-39 was typically equipped with the following weapons:

  • One 37mm M4 cannon
  • Two .50cal M2 heavy machine guns in the nose
  • Four .30cal light machine guns on the wings

In Russian service, some times weapons were removed although this mostly pertains to the later versions of P-39 that came with .50cal gunpods.

Well suited for use as a tactical fighter on the Eastern Front, the P-39 was competitive at low altitudes with the Bf109 and FW190. Able to out turn both German fighters, the P-39 was competitive but not superior in climb and top speed.

The L-1 version came with a V-1710-63 1,325 hp engine, provisions for rockets carried under the wings and revised aerodynamics.

Theater Use

Given available maps, the P-39L-1 is ideal for use only with the Kuban map. It was not part of the Stalingrad battle or earlier engagements on maps we currently have.

Sources

IL-2 Model 1943 (UBT) (attacker)

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The iconic IL-2 Sturmovik returns for Battle of Kursk with the Model 1943 version.

Known informally as the IL-2M in some places, this version has straight wings, 23mm VYa cannons fitted as standard, and a dedicated rear gunner station with a UBT 12.7mm machine gun. Some versions of the IL-2 Model 1943 had a full glass canopy while others removed part of the canopy giving the gunner a freer range of motion.

This version also had the reflector gunsight removed in favour of a canopy sight. This version was also powered by the upgraded AM-38F engine making 1,700 hp.

Theater Use

Useful to us in the Battle of Kuban area, this version represents the ongoing upgrades to the IL-2 series from the Model 1941, 1942 and 1943 that the current IL-2 series has represented.

Sources

A-20B (bomber)

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The A-20 Boston/Havoc was designed as a light attack bomber for the US Army Air Force, however, the USAAC was uninterested in the aircraft. A French Purchasing commission kept developing going with an order for the early version of the bomber.

World events would see the French order go to the British and the modified A-20B initially meant for the US Army go mostly to the Russians. In fact, the Soviet Air Force saw more use of the A-20 than the American one did.

Relatively fast, with decent range, and excellent handling – the A-20 was considered easy to fly and could be thrown around like a fighter according to some of its pilots. The A-20B had four .30cal machine guns in nose cheeks. Some Russian versions were retrofitted with a UBT 12.7mm heavy machine gun turret replacing the standard .30cal gunner station.

Sources

Spitfire Vb (Collector Plane) (fighter)

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The Spitfire needs no introduction – A classic British fighter of WWII it saw limited but key use by the VVS in the Kuban region during the spring and summer of 1943. Its first appearance caused some shock to the German pilots at the time such was the reputation of the aircraft.

The Spitfire gave reasonable service to a small number of Russian squadrons though it was not well suited to the conditions. Rough airfields and serviceability was an issue as was the lower altitude of combat.  The Spitfire V’s engine was best suited for higher altitudes though some were fitted with the Merlin 45 (vs the 46) which developed power at lower altitudes.

Pilots enjoyed the excellent maneuverability and light controls although they less appreciated the fighters weapons arrangement. Contrary to the majority of other fighters in service, the Spitfire had its cannons and machine guns mounted on the wings outside of the propeller arc.

Sources

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