Imprisoned on trumped-up charges of membership an an “anti-Soviet” group within Andrei Tupolev's design bureau, Vladimir Petlyakov's punishment was to design a high-altitude fighter aircraft in 1938. Since the Soviet High Command later decided that the high-altitude threat was not as great as first feared, Petlyakov's aircraft was instead developed as a dive bomber. Series production was begun in February 1941, just in time to allow the Pe-2 to be available to meet Germany's invading forces. Constantly improved during the subsequent years of combat, the Pe-2 emerged as the finest frontal attack bomber on the Eastern front, and as such it is no surprise that the most successful regiments earned the elite “Guards” designation.
96 pages, softcover. This book is another of Osprey's very successful Osprey Combat Aircraft series. Filled with photographs, drawings and colour profiles, it is sufficient to give a capsule profile of the aircraft and units which flew it.
The Authors are Dmitry Khazanov and Aleksander Medved. It still delights this former Cold-Warrior that books on Russian history written by Russians are now routinely published in the West.
The book is divided into 6 chapters plus an appendix.
- Chapter 1. Pe-2 Development
- Chapter 2. Guards Bomber Regiments
- Chapter 3. Guards Bomber Air Divisions
- Chapter 4. Guards Bomber Air Corps
- Chapter 5. Guards Reconnaissance Air Regiments
- Chapter 6. Guards Bomber Regiments of Naval Air Forces
Chapter 1 Pe-2 Development
Chapter 1 spends 7 pages on a brief history of the Peshka's development, first as a high altitude fighter, then dive bomber and finally the modifications needed for frontal reconnaissance. 7 photographs accompany the text.
Chapter 2 Guards Bomber Regiments
Chapter 2 is devoted to individual Guards regiments which flew the Pe-2. Units featured are the 4th GvBAP, 8th, 10th, 34th, 35th, 46th, 96th and 114th. Each unit receives 2 or 3 pages of text and a few accompanying photos, just enough for a capsule history of the regiment's major activities. 13 photos showcase these regiments' story
Chapter 3 Guards Bomber Air Divisions
Chapter 3 deals with Air Divisions rather than individual regiments. 3rd GvBAD, and 6th are each given 6 pages of text and 14 accompanying photos to tell their story.
Chapter 4 Guards Bomber Air Corps
In the summer of 1942, the Soviet High Command decided to form reserve Aviation Armies; two of fighters and one of bombers. Putting this idea into practise revealed great difficulties in assembling, supplying and manoeuvring large numbers of aircraft in the existing infrastructure of available airfields. As a result, the bomber aviation army was split into two Air Corps: 2nd GvBAK and 1st. The 1st was distinguished by including the first all-female Pe-2 regiment in Soviet service. 12 photographs illustrate this chapter.
Chapter 5. Guards Reconnaissance Air Regiments
The Pe-2 was easily adapted to perform photographic reconnaissance tasks and it was used in this capacity beginning in October of 1941. Reconnaissance regiments were formed flying Tu-2 and Pe-2 aircraft. Reconnaissance regiments to earn Guards status were the 48th and 98th GvRAP which flew strategic reconnaissance taskings. In contrast, independent reconnaissance air squadrons developed to perform local reconnaissance and target confirmation sorties. The value of these squadrons was recognized when they were officially designated Guards regiments in their own right. These were the 99th, 164th and 193rd GvORAP. 13 photos accompany this chapter.
Chapter 6 Guards Bomber Regiments of Naval Air Forces
Soviet Naval air forces, lacking aviation ships to fly from, were generally indistinguishable from the rest of the Soviet air force. Most of the action described took place in the Baltics, against the Finns and later the Germans. Only two Naval regiments were awarded Guards status, the 12th and 34th GvBAP. 10 photos accompany the text.
The appendix lists all of the units discussed, their original designations and their new designations once Guards status was conferred upon them. Captions for the colour plates follow, then 3 view drawings of early and late production Pe-2s close out the book.
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