Interview of FSMTC of Russia Deputy Director S.V.Tsygantsev

Cooperation for the sake of the Victory

The Great Patriotic War was won through efforts of the whole country and each person individually. Undoubtedly, that the Red Army through efforts of the person "with a gun" in fronts of the Great Patriotic War was a decisive force in destroyal of the German military machine.

Prompt and comprehensive supplies of necessary arms to the troops, especially during the first, most tragic period of military operations, became the main task of the USSR leadership to be successfully completed through the military-technical cooperation (MTC) with foreign countries.

However, today, only few experts and historians know about the role and value of MTC in the defeat of the fascist army. At the request of the Editorial Board of the Internet portal "Weapons of Russia", this issue which still remains little known to a wide range of readers, was commented by Sergey V. Tsygantsev, Deputy Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation with foreign countries.

Sergey Vasilievich, the military-technical cooperation played a considerable role in supplying the Red Army with necessary arms, especially in the first, most difficult war period. With what countries and in which areas was it maintained during that period?

During the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet Union maintained a consistent and focused military-technical cooperation, basically, with the allied states, such as the USA, the UK, and Canada, and at the final stage of military operations and after their end – with Albania, Australia, Bulgaria, Iran, Hungary, India, China, Mongolia, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and other countries. The priority was to acquire military vehicles and weapons, and strategic raw materials.

At the same time, within the MTC framework, we exchanged with allies military-technical information, captured military vehicles and arms and experience of their destruction during the operations, new versions of combat devices. The allies were assisted in conduct of their combat operations.

At the final stage of the war, military vehicles were delivered under reparation terms from Hungary and Germany, Soviet combat ships and support vessels were repaired in Finland, and military vehicles and arms were exported to Eastern European countries.

What was the organizational structure of the military-technical cooperation in the USSR during that period?

MTC between the allies was maintained under a variety of documents and agreements. The first intergovernmental agreements for mutual aid in combating a fascist Germany were agreements between the USSR and the UK "On joint actions in war against Germany" and "Goods turnover, credit and clearing” concluded in July – August, 1941. In the end of September 1941, in Moscow, high-ranking officials of the USSR, the UK and the USA held a meeting and resolved to start supplies of the military vehicles, arms and strategic raw materials to the Soviet Union since autumn of 1941.

The first (Moscow) Protocol on allied deliveries provided for delivery of military vehicles and arms from 1 October to 30 June 1942 to be followed by signing the second (Washington) dated 10 November 1942, the third (London) dated 19 October 1943, and the fourth (Ottawa) dated 17 April 1945 Protocols for deliveries of military vehicles, arms and strategic raw materials by allies to the USSR under relevant terms.

On 7 November 1941, the USA legislature included the USSR within the lend lease framework, the law adopted in the USA on 11 March 1941 to render assistance to the UK and other countries which were at war with Germany. The Soviet-American agreement on lend lease deliveries was signed in the summer of 1942.

Earlier, deliveries were carried out under the 1937 Soviet-American Trade Agreement (extended in August 1941), the Credit Agreement as of November 1941 and the Agreement between the USSR and the USA Governments on principles applicable to mutual aid during the war against an aggressor dated 11 June 1942. Subsequently, important documents to continue MTC were Resolutions of the Teheran (1943), Yalta and Potsdam (1945) Conferences of the Leaders of the allied states.

Provisions of the underlying documents were supplemented with specific resolutions of meetings of military sections of the said conferences and those developed by representatives of military missions of allies in Moscow, Washington and London. The first British and American military vehicles arrived in the USSR in September – December 1941, during the heaviest combat operations of the Soviet Union. Since October 1943, Canada started deliveries of military vehicles.

The Engineer Department, and since 27 April 1942, the Engineer Administration of the USSR Foreign Trade People's Commissariat were in charge of the military-technical cooperation.

The Engineer Administration of the USSR Foreign Trade People's Commissariat (200 employees) included a number of operations sections, such as aviation, tank, artillery and ammunition, communication, sea orders, economic and accounting, and HR and accounts department. Authorized employees of the Engineer Administration of the USSR Foreign Trade People's Commissariat were positioned in ports of Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, Molotovsk, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Magadan, Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Nakhodka, Vladivostok, Baku and Odessa.

Since 1942 in Washington, the USSR Government Procurement Commission started its activities, covering negotiations with the American partners and execution of contracts on delivery of American military vehicles and arms to the Soviet Union. The military vehicles were accepted and shipped in ports under supervision of officials of the USSR Government Procurement Commission in ports of the USA and Canada West and East coasts.

Soviet military representatives were seconded to plants of Nord American (Kansas City), Bell (Buffalo), Douglas (Los Angeles and Tulsa). During the same period, the Soviet air base, which employees assisted in ferrying US military aircraft to the USSR over the well-known Alsib route, was set up in Fairbanks (Alaska) in August - September 1942.

Deliveries of military vehicles and arms from the UK and Canada were supported by employees of the Engineer Administration of the USSR Foreign Trade People's Commissariat and the Staff of the Trade Counselor of the USSR Embassy, respectively.

To support deliveries of the British and American military vehicles from South, in Iran, since January 1942, besides employees of the USSR Embassy and the Trade mission, employees of the Associations Iransovneft, Iransovtrans of the Soviet Transport Administration and the Staff of the authorized representative of the USSR Foreign Trade People’s Commissariat were appointed to supervise key Iran-Iraq ports and bases where military cargoes arrived for subsequent shipping to the Soviet Union.

Aircraft arriving at Abadan were assembled by specialists of the USSR Aviation Industry People’s Commissariat.

Sergey Vasilievich, orders for what military vehicles necessary for the Red Army were implemented through the military-technical cooperation and lend lease deliveries, wasn’t it "a one-way traffic street"?

As a historic fact, it should be underlined that thanks to dedicated efforts of employees of the Engineer Administration of the USSR Foreign Trade People's Commissariat, the military vehicles, arms and strategic raw materials shipped to the USSR worth of RUB tens of billions contributed a lot to the victory of the Soviet people over a fascist Germany.

Among vehicles and arms delivered to the USSR, there were aircraft, tanks, ships, armored vehicles (not produced at that time at all in the Soviet Union), different caliber and purpose guns, cars, steam locomotives, radio stations, radars, radio direction finders, hydroacoustic equipment, aviation engines.

Deliveries of anti-aircraft installations, radio stations, radars, radio direction finders, hydroacoustic equipment allowed to raise effectiveness and performance of our gunners, pilots, seamen, reconnaissance troopers, and improve quality of troops control, in whole.

Famous "Katyushas" (due to shortage of domestic vehicles) were mounted on US Studebakers. British (Hurricane МКII) and American (P-39 Airacobra, Р-63 Kingcobra) fighters won good reputation with the Soviet ace pilots, and American Sherman tanks (taking into account their combat and operational qualities) supplemented shortage of the Soviet T-34 tanks on the fronts.

In the summer of 1943, the British Churchill tanks took part in the Kursk Battle, and the 1 Mechanized Corps as part of the 2nd Guards Tank Army fully equipped with Valentine and Sherman tanks participated in the Vistula-Oder Offensive. The last batch of Sherman tanks arrived in the summer of 1945 and participated as part of the 9th Guards Mechanized Corps of 6th Guards Tank Army in the defeat of the Japanese Kwantung Army.

Delivery of import gunpowder and high octane gasoline was of a special importance as domestic industry did not meet requirements of the front in that materiel at that time. It is necessary to point out that MTC between the USSR, the UK and the USA was not "a one-way traffic street".

Our allies also gained benefits from the cooperation with us. So, to render assistance in refueling, replenishment of ammunition load and rest of crews of the bombing aircraft of the USA and the UK at making air strikes on facilities in Germany, special airfields (bases) were set up in Mirgorod and Piriatin within the USSR (today’s Ukraine).

Specialists of the US firm Bell assisted by Soviet flight and maintenance personnel studied operating experience of their aircraft (Р-39, Р-63) in combat conditions of the Soviet-German front. The Soviet test pilots and aviation engineers were seconded to the US aviation factories to help American specialists to improve air vehicles made by them.

Already in the end of 1941, new Soviet tanks "T-34" and "КV" were transferred to American specialists for tests in the conditions of the use of high technologies. At the same time, allies supplied to the USSR new American tanks M5, М24 Chaffee, М26 Pershing and SAU М18, and the British tank Cromwell for tests in real combat conditions.

Considerable aid for landing of the allied armies in Normandy attributed to information and models of new captured artillery and mine throwers of the Wehrmacht which at the request of the British military command, the Soviet Leadership passed to the allies. Models of a German 45-36 ABA high-altitude torpedoes, a 130-mm remote grenade, an acoustic torpedo from German U-250 submarine sunk in 1944, etc. were delivered to Washington and London.

At the final stage of the Great Patriotic War and immediately afterwards, the Engineer Administration of the USSR Foreign Trade People's Commissariat delivered military vehicles and arms for needs of armies of Albania, Bulgaria, Mongolia, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia.

It is known that there is no such thing as anonymous victories. On the eve of the significant date who from those who brought a considerable contribution to MTC with the allies during the Great Patriotic War, should be remembered, in your opinion?

In difficult war years, the slogan "All for the Front, all for Victory" turned from the call of the Leadership into a way of life of most of our people. Each person at their workplace within the scope of their duties did utmost for that call. To the full extent, it relates to the people involved in the military-technical cooperation to fully and promptly provide supplies to the army.

The book “Military-technical cooperation with foreign states” published in 2003 and devoted to veterans of this heavy duty mission tells a lot about employees the Engineer Administration of the USSR Foreign Trade People's Commissariat.

As said earlier, the military-technical cooperation with the foreign states was maintained by the Engineer Administration of the USSR Foreign Trade People's Commissariat headed by the Major General of engineering forces I.F. Semichastny, Deputy People’s Foreign Trade Commissar A.I. Mikoyan.

Colonel Y.V. Sorokin, active participant of the Civil War, was I.F. Semichastny’s Deputy.

The USSR Government Procurement Commission in the USA was headed by Major General V.I. Beliaev, and since December 1943, - Lieutenant General of the Air Forces L.G. Rudenko. 1 rank Captains M.A. Pitersky and I.M. Sendik were heads of the Government Procurement Commission.

The Colonel, subsequently the Hero of Soviet Union, Major General of the Air Forces M.G. Machin was the first chief of the Soviet air base in Fairbanks (Alaska), and since summer of 1944 succeeded by Major General of the Air Forces I.A. Obrazkov (earlier, the Soviet representative at the American aircraft assembly base in the Iranian city of Abadan).

Aircraft were ferried by pilots of the 1st Red Banner Ferrying Aircraft Division headed by a glorified polar ace pilot, the Hero of Soviet Union Colonel I.P. Mazuruk, and since June 1944 - Colonel A.G. Melnikov.

Deliveries of arms, combat materiel and sea equipment from the UK were supervised by the Engineer Administration of the USSR Trade Mission headed by the 1 rank Captain Engineer Soloviev. In Canada, the Staff of the Trade Counselor of the USSR Embassy was headed by I.I. Krotov.

In Iran, the Staff of the authorized representative of the Foreign Trade People’s Commissariat was headed by Colonel Engineer I.S. Kormilitsyn, the USSR Trade Mission – V.P. Migunov. From November 1943, Iransovtrans was headed by the authorized representative of the Foreign Trade People’s Commissariat Major Engineer L.I. Zorin (after war – Deputy Minister of the USSR Foreign Trade), including his Deputies Lieutenant Colonels Engineers M.F. Lengnik and M.A. Sergejchik, and employees of Iransovtrans Lieutenant Colonels Drozdov, V.A.Bezugly, Captains A.I. Yastrebov, J.A. Panichev, V.E. Ivashov.

The Soviet Transport Administration was headed by Major General I.V. Kargin and his Deputy 1 rank Captain Engineer D.V. Shinkov. It will take a good deal of time to make an exhaustive list of employees of the Engineer Administration of the USSR Foreign Trade People's Commissariat who contributed a lot to the Victory of our people in their fight against fascism. The main thing is that their names and endeavors are not forgotten.

Moscow, 7 May 2010, WEAPONS of RUSSIA, Anatoly Sokolov

Date of publication: 10.08.2010




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