Tripple 7, unit of US fliers, fighting in Russia during WW2

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by seesul, Apr 21, 2008.

  1. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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    I got this e-mail from an American friend of mine today.
    Have you ever heard about it?:shock:
    The article is too long, so I had to divide it in 2 parts:

    So here is the part # 1:

    In the summer of 1941, when President Roosevelt signed off for a volunteer group of American fighter pilots to fight the Japanese in China. But with unfailed secrecy, the President had also authorized a second American Volunteer Group . . to ' head for ' Russia.
    The Central Aircraft Manufacturing Corp (CAMCO) was used as a front for the second AVG group about to fly their fighters from Las Vegas, Nevada to Russia. Each would receive $500 for each Nazi aircraft they could bring down.
    FDR's secrecy was shattered, when a reporter working in Rangoon for Time, reported P-40s and American fighter pilots arriving in Burma, presumably for combat.
    Although there was no mention of the Russia-bound AVGs . . Time magazine's breaking the news of his strategic, secret move greatly worried
    the President. And he feared an international diplomatic backlash and/or an investigation from Congress. In an effort to confuse the press and our enemies abroad, he continued to maintain the American Volunteer Group operation in Russia as a top secret project. And the fighter pilots preparing for their trip to Russia were given a set of false orders assigning them to March Air Base in Riverside, California . . half a world away from there purposeful destination.
    The decades of secrecy surrounding the American Volunteer Group in Russia, rendered historians mere fragments of information. Aviation historian Everett Long, noted : " The Triple 7's . . unlike the Flying Tigers . . had so little written about them over the past fifty years it appears as if the squadron never even existed."
    In August 1941, Army Air Corps Colonel Jason Williams signed a contract with CAMCO to lead the new group. Williams and CAMCO executives then visited bases throughout the U.S. to recruit pilots. Finding volunteers was not difficult considering the mission's importance and monetary bonus.
    In September 1941, the eager volunteers began training in their Warhawks and Airacobras at a military airstrip near the small gambling town of Las Vegas. Following the War Department's careful plan of deception, these pilots were assigned to the 77th Pursuit Squadron of the 7th Air Force.
    A young pilot in the squadron quickly realized the irony of 77 plus 7 and he reminded Col. Williams of the slot machines they had seen in town. He also reminded him that ' seven ' was a lucky number, then showed him his crude sketch of Red, White and Blue 7's for an insignia. Colonel Williams ordered
    the insignia to be painted on each aircraft.
    In November 1941, the unit began the long journey to the Soviet Union as the squadron flew north from Nevada to Canada, then to Ladd Field near Nome.
    Their route would later be come well-known as ' The Air Bridge.' And thousands of U.S. Lend-Lease aircraft would follow the 77th's path.
    The pilots of the 77th, flew into Siberia. During the first dangerous flight beyond the Bering Strait, two of the aircraft developed mechanical problems and they crashed in Siberia. Neither pilot was seen again.
    For the next 3 1/2 years, the Triple 7 fought in every major battle on the Germans' Eastern Front.
    The AVG spent most of their combat time in P-40's and P-39's. But later in the war, the Triple 7's were given surplus USAAF P-47's and P-51's that were ferried up from Italy.
    Untitled 109 Interestingly, the AVG never adopted the much improved Bell P-63 KingCobra fighter that the Soviets loved so much.
    Their American-built fighters did well for them. As a side benefit, they were able to lay their hands on a few Soviet-built fighters to fly and to fight.
    As the only American unit operating within the Soviet, our War Department
    used the espionage opportunity to inspect the design, materials, and workman-ship of Soviet fighters. The Triple 7's leaders were then able to convince several corrupt Soviet commanders to swap surplus or damaged Russian fighters in exchange for whatever it required in cases of expensive liquor, or actual bribes in U.S. dollars.
    After interpreting the Soviet aircraft operating manuals, the skilled grease monkeys of the 77th were able to repair the Russian fighters, then fly them
    on their combat missions. And by the end of 1943, the AVG had several types of Russian fighters in operation.
    Beginning in early 1943, Soviet-built . .
    - Lavochkin [ nickname : varnished guaranteed coffin ]
    - Yak [ nickname : Rata-rat ]
    - Ilyushins [ nickname : flying infantryman ]
    were all used in combat sorties by the 77th pilots.
    After they had arrived in Russia, the 77th AVG was posted to an airfield
    on Moscow's outskirts, where they practiced aerial intercepts. Once they were deemed combat-ready by Soviet commanders, the AVG began Air Defense patrols in skies above Moscow.
    The Triple 7's achieved their first aerial victory against the Germans, just prior to Pearl Harbor, by shooting down a German Ju-88 reconnaissance aircraft near Moscow. After several months defending the city, the 77th was ordered to help defend Stalingrad.
    Without the loss of even pilots or aircraft, the Triple 7 had scored 27 aerial victories against the Germans. Although most of their kills had been against
    ' reccy ' aircraft or stray bombers, it was a good learning experience.
    The German advance on Stalingrad was swift and deadly. And the Russian Air Force was forced to move east to the Volga to just to survive. The 77th
    was also pulled back. In the intense air action that followed, the Triple 7's pilots battled against many of the Luftwaffe's greatest aces.
    Their BF-109F and G models were far superior to the P-39 and P-40 and
    they exacted a heavy toll from the AVG. Also, not in their best interest, the
    newly manufactured Focke-Wulf 190's began sorties.
     
  2. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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    and here is the part # 2:

    But as the Soviet Army began to eject the German Army from Stalingrad
    and started encircling the German 6th Army, During this change in the course
    of the battle, the 77th pounced upon the Germans resupply effort. Air supply transports of all sizes fell victim to the 77ths' Cobras and Warhawks as they assisted in crushing the Germans re-supply moves . . then they frustrated the Germans in their attempt to rescue their officers.
    The Triple 7's also flew to protect the Soviet's IL-2 Sturmovik fighter bombers. The American pilots were fascinated by these tough and deadly ground attack aircraft. And they were amazed at the level of destruction the
    IL-2's wrought on the battle field. Not a single German tank or truck was
    safe while Sturmoviks were in the area.
    On the other hand, the Sturmoviks were prime targets for the German aces . . but the Germans would have shot down even more Sturmoviks, if the 77th had not shot many dozens of German fighters ' off their rear-ends.'
    By the time the German Sixth Army surrendered to the Russians in early
    1943, the 77th had destroyed an impressive 78 German aircraft. The AVG
    earned a favorable reputation for their aggressiveness and air combat skills.
    But it cost the 77th not less than 13 pilots and 21 aircraft. Life was cheap.
    Due to the tight control of news proceeding from Stalin's hand, the 77's exploits were largely unknown. Only intercepted radio messages that had
    been transmitted in English and scuttlebutt, had hinted at the AVG's existence.
    After Stalingrad's successful defense, the 77th was given an R R. Once away from the front, the Triple 7's repaired its worn down birds, replenished their aircraft with updated versions, and integrated fresh pilots from CAMCO. Of course, they also familiarized themselves with new Soviet fighter aircraft on the base. But their holiday quickly ended, when the Germans attacked Kursk.
    The battle for Kursk is known primarily for its tank battles, but the air-to-air battles above Kurst were also fierce. Although the German soldiers and tanks were outnumbered, the Generals brought in huge airpower to help destroy the Russian armor. And hordes of Ju-87 ' Stuka ' dive bombers and Henshell Hs-129 ' Tank Crackers ' with their carbon-tungsten projectiles, swooped down to pummel the Russian tanks.
    The 77th was brought in to interdict the slower Stukas and big-gunned, twin-engined Henshell tank killers. The lumbering German attack planes were no match for the American's skill, in combination with the maneuverability and
    fire power of their Bell and Curtiss built fighters.
    During the battle of Kursk, the Germans' FockeWulfe -190 came into its own and it scored very well against the Soviet IL-2's. The 77th had also been tasked with protecting Sturmoviks enroute to their target areas. They found the 190's were very difficult to kill. On the other hand, by the end of the battle, the AVG did shoot down 51 German aircraft with the loss of 12 of their own aircraft and the lives of 8 AVG pilots.
    The Russian counter-offensive started underway, in the first months of ' 44. And the 77th was ordered to the Crimean Peninsula were the Russians were attempting to drive the Germans into the Black Sea. The AVG escorted Russian bombers and torpedo-laden Sturmoviks tasked to destroy the German shipping. When free to attack ' targets of opportunity,' the AVG helped ravage German shipping.
    Aided by large numbers of lend lease aircraft flown in from America, the Russian aircraft now outnumbered those of the Luftwaffe. And occasionally,
    the updated Soviet fighter air combat results would exceed the performance of the long dominant German fighter aircraft/pilots.
    On the Crimea peninsula and over the Black Sea, the 77th knocked down
    45 Axis aircraft while protecting the Russian fighter bombers and sank many German gunboats . . even a German destroyer. On the other hand, the AVG
    lost 7 pilots and 11 aircraft.
    A few months later, and Italy came under the control of the Allies and began their attack on Normandy. The Russians quickly thrust into Poland . . and the race to Berlin began.
    The AVG was ordered to the Hungarian frontier. Once there, where they switched to surplus Jugs and Mustangs ferried up, after their missions to destroy Polesti's oil fields in Romania had hugely reduced production.
    The Red Star was quickly painted on the AVG's new birds. It's ironic that Soviet commanders rejected available Jugs and Mustangs, as unfit for wide spread service by Russians. Instead, they increased factory orders for their beloved KingCobras.
    The 77th then faced off with Fascist Hungarian 109's and 190's and Romanian IAR-80 [ 190 Replica's.] The Fascist pilots aggressively engaged in dog fights over their homeland, but could not overcome the AVG's experience.
    The AVG soon downed 48 Hungarian and Romanian aircraft, with the loss of only 4 aircraft and 3 pilots. In addition, the 77th also escorted B-24's and B-17's if their missions tracked over Hungary, Austria, or Southeastern Germany.
    As the Allies closed in on Berlin in early ' 45, the Triple 7's were moved inside Germany's borders. But there they encountered the Me-262 jet fighter. It was so quick, it was very difficult to shoot down. As a successful ploy, so the AVG waited for them to run low on fuel . . then attacked them as they made their landings to re-fuel.
    As Berlin fell to the Red Army, the Triple 7's began thinking of their return home. The war's last few months allowed another 54 AVG victories with the loss of 7 [ 6 of the 7 losses were credited to Germany's new jet fighters.]
    Then, shortly after Berlin fell, the 77th was ordered back to Moscow. On the other hand, rumors had been spreading that some Allied POW's liberated by the Soviets, were being shipped to Russia. The rumors alarmed Colonel Williams and he asked Command H.Q. for permission to ' quit the scene.'
    Distrustful of the Russians, General Eisenhower personally ordered Colonel Williams to : " . . get the hell out of Dodge ! " The AVG loaded all maintenance personnel on their C-47s, then flew 54 of their planes to safety.
    The Soviet leadership was livid. Stalin was so angry that he ordered all records of the AVG's accomplishments destroyed and/or suppressed. The KGB sought out the Russians who had become too friendly with the AVG. And for their failure to prevent the surprise AVG deployment, they were shot.
    The legacy of the Triple 7's had been lost during the Cold War. But in the early 1990's old Soviet archives were opened to release historical documents.
    The records proved that many AVG pilots had earned the prestigious Hero
    of the Soviet Union medal. But Stalin ordered the Americans' medals to be withheld and should, instead, had then issued to brave communist pilots.
    As a gesture of good will, in 2001, Vladimir Putin surprised the newly elected President G.W. Bush with the long forgotten medals. And he then asked the President to please direct them to the surviving pilots of the AVG, or to their widows or grand-children.
    Until quite recently, many of the Triple 7 pilots' family members were unaware their fathers or grandfathers had ever been to Russia, let alone fought against the Germans to help them out.
    The combat record of the Triple 7's is very impressive, indeed. In 39 months
    of combat, pilots of the 77th racked up 293 confirmed air combat kills, while destroying many hundreds of German tanks and vehicles.
    The brutal combat over the vast Russian and Ukrainian landscape had taken its toll on the steady, courageous AVG . . roughly ONE-THIRD of its fighter pilots didn't make it back home.

    Sources : 777 AVG records eventually released by the Russians, photographs,
    and oral history [ abridged ]
     
  3. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    :shock: Had NOO idea...!
     
  4. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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  5. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    I got an e-mail a few days ago about the same unit. I had no idea.
     
  6. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    I'm not casting stones at anyone for passing that along, but...isn't it pretty obviously made up, as for a sim-game of something? or am I the one not getting the joke :D In 1941 they were designated as part of the 7th AF?...there weren't any numbered AF's until 1942, the 7th was what was formerly the Hawaiian AF from Feb '42.

    Joe
     
  7. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting.

    But the statement on the IAR 80:
    is untrue, it was not related to the Fw 190.
     
  8. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    I'm suspicious..

    The flying tigers were disbanded and incorporated into the AAC after the US joined the war effort... why not these guys??

    Only Jason "Burnin Williams made any kills?

    I think it's made up..

    .

    .
     
  9. Micdrow

    Micdrow “Archive”
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    Same here, I dont ever remeber hearing anything about it. There are some documents on the History of the 7th Airforce here that I have posted but have not read yet.

    http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/technical/7th-airforce-documents-11089.html
     
  10. claidemore

    claidemore Member

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    pure B.S.

    First, all AVG pilots were 'assimilated' back into regular US units once the US got into the war, doubtful they would have left an entire force in Russia.

    Second, the Soviets had no shortage of pilots, they were short of planes, so there would have been no need for American pilots.

    They would not have sent a force so far from home with two types of fighters, logistical nightmare.

    There are records of the first shipments of P40's to the Soviets, and they don't line up with this story.

    The first P39s came from Britain, not from some mysterious AVG group. There are records of those shipments as well.

    The fronts where the fictional AVG unit supposedly operated all line up with the fronts available in a popular online sim, as do their planes. Coincidence?

    Like Sherlock Holmes always said, eliminate the improbable and impossible, and what remains is the truth.
     
  11. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    I'm with you Claide. It doesn't seem possible that this group would act as a firebrigade all along the battleline. The Eastern front was huge!

    It must be a sim bio.
     
  12. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Is there any information to coraborate it? Like the thing about the Medals being sent to the US in 2001?
     
  13. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Oh, wait... Look at the home page for that posted website ( 777 AVG Unit History )

    77th FS 7th AF A.V.G. U.S.S.R. Il-2 Forgotten Battles...


    And this satement kind of exposes it:
    But why say that stuff about the Medals in 2001???
     
  14. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    The only American pilots that would of been remotely welcomed by the Soviets during WW2 were those who fought in the Spanish Civil War-and the best one of the lot, Frank Tinker put a bullet in his head in 1939.
     
  15. Karl Sitts

    Karl Sitts Member

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    Seesul, Great history lession! BTW, myR/CStyrofoam ME262 with two fanjets was made in The Czech Republic! -Karl
     
  16. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    .
     

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  17. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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    Hello Karl,
    2 years ago I met the owner of the Styrokit company. Guess yor model was produced by them...
     
  18. Krabat42

    Krabat42 Member

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    If some old chap would have told this story, everybody would have belived it. Makes you think... :confused:
     
  19. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    A minor point but the AVG in the CBI actually fought independently until July, 1942, when they were taken over by the AAF. They did not get into action until shortly after Dec. 7, 1941.
     
  20. fly boy

    fly boy Member

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    i knew that in ww2 the ussr had p-40s but i didn't know this
     
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