ViazMa Airborne Operation of 1942
Viaz’Ma Airborne Operation of 1942
an operation carried out between January 18 and June 24 during the 1941-42 Battle of Moscow. The purpose of the operation was to assist the troops of the Kalinin and Western fronts in en-circling and routing the enemy’s Viaz’ma-Rzhev-Iukhnov grouping. In the beginning of January 1942, Soviet troops deeply enveloped the main forces of the German Army Group Center from the north and southeast. Striving to avoid encirclement of its central grouping, the fascist German command devoted special attention to the stubborn defense of the Viaz’ma and lukhnov centers of resistance, and the Soviet forces were unable to take them in haste. General Headquarters decided to carry out the Viaz’ma airborne operation. The landing was carried out in three stages. On January 18-22 the 201st Airborne Brigade and the 250th Rifle Regiment were landed in the Zhelan’e region; between January 27 and February 1, the 8th Airborne Brigade was landed in the Ozerechnia region; and on February 18-24 the mam forces of the 4th Airborne Corps (9th and 214th Air-borne Brigades) were landed in the Zhelan’e region. These forces totaled more than 10,000 men, 320 infantry mortars, 541 machine guns, and 300 antitank rifles. The landing was made under difficult conditions (active counteraction by enemy aviation, heavy frost, and deep snow). On February 1-7 the 8th Brigade paralyzed the operation of the Smolensk-Viaz’ma railroad and highway and on February 7 linked up with units of the llth Cavalry Corps of the Kalinin Front. However, their numerous attempts to capture Viaz’ma during March were not successful. On March 30, at the order of General Headquarters, the 8th Brigade reached Ugra Station and linked up with the main forces of the 4th Corps. The troops that had landed in the Zhelan’e region successfully assisted in the capture of the city of Iukhnov (March 7). However, the troops of the Kalinin and Western fronts were unable to develop an offensive because of strong resistance by the fascist German troops, which had received major reinforcements. The Soviet troops passed to the defensive, and the landing forces continued to operate in the enemy’s rear. Together with the 1st Guards Cavalry Corps, they were able to capture a significant area to the south of the city of Viaz’ma; they held it until May 25, holding down up to five enemy divisions. On the night of May 25 units of the 4th Airborne Corps broke through the encirclement and began a raid against the enemy’s service troops. In June, together with units of the 1st Guards Cavalry Corps, they began to move out of the enemy’s rear and on June 24 they were united with forces of the Tenth Army to the north of the city of Kirov (Kaluga Oblast). In the space of six months the paratroopers had covered more than 600 km, liberated about 200 populated areas, and destroyed up to 15,000 enemy soldiers and officers and a great deal of matériel.
IA. P. SAMOILENKO