Naval Aviation

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Naval Aviation


one of the basic and most maneuver-able forces in the navy; organized to carry out combat missions on the seas and in the ocean military theater both independently and in liaison with other navy forces, frontline tactical aviation, long-range strategic aviation, and the fighter aviation of the Antiaircraft Defense Forces of the Country. In some cases, naval aviation can be drawn into support of ground forces acting along shore lines or in coastal areas. It can also be used to effect airborne landings in coastal areas.

Organizationally, naval aviation consists of detachments of seaborne missile-carrier aviation, antisubmarine aviation, and other types of aviation. Naval aviation is incorporated into the navy in most foreign countries.

In prerevolutionary Russia, the first aviation detachments working in liaison with the fleet were formed in 1912–14 as part of the Baltic Sea fleet and Black Sea fleet. During World War I, detachments of seaplanes based on transports were used on the Black Sea to carry out military reconnaissance in support of squadron ships, to bomb and strafe shore and port targets and enemy ships, to sink enemy submarines, and to destroy enemy aircraft on airfields.

Regular units of Soviet naval aviation were set up in 1918 and took part in the Civil War, acting in liaison with ships and ground troops in the battles of Petrograd, on the Baltic Sea, on the Black Sea, on the Volga, on the Kama, on the Northern Dvina, and on Lake Onega. The naval aviation fleet included only 76 seaplanes, all of them obsolete. The sparse and technically inferior naval aviation of the Civil War period was used primarily for logistics support to ships and troops. During the late 1920’s, Soviet naval aviation was enlarged with new seaplanes, such as scouters, bombers, and fighters; and in the mid-1930’s, air force units serving the Baltic Sea fleet, Black Sea fleet, and Pacific Ocean fleet were set up. Naval aviation grew significantly by 1938–40, when it became one of the main components of the USSR navy. Units of various sizes of mine-laying and torpedo aviation had been set up by that time. Soviet naval aviation had greatly increased quantitatively and qualitatively by the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War; its fighting capabilities were much more impressive; and the fleet on hand consisted of 1,445 airplanes (not counting the Pacific Ocean forces).

During the Great Patriotic War, Soviet naval aviation inflicted severe losses on the enemy, sending many thousands of tons of enemy shipping to the bottom (inflicting damage over twice as great as that inflicted by all the other naval forces combined). In the course of the war, 17 fleet aviation detachments were transformed into Guards air units, 241 persons were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, and five pilots were twice awarded the title. During the postwar years, naval aviation continued to undergo improvements, and the fleet now boasts modern jet missile-carrier airplanes and antisubmarine and reconnaissance airplanes capable of carrying out military missions over remote regions of the seas and oceans.


Shuginin, A. M. “Boevoi put’ morskoi aviatsii.” In Morskoi sbor-nik, 1966, nos. 8, 9, 12.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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