The Period 22nd June to 5th August 1941

The so called ‘border battles’ in late June and early July became a series of disasters for the Red Army and VVS. The first disaster occurred on the first day of the invasion when the Luftwaffe hit most of the VVS airfields in the western part of the Western Military Districts. By midnight on 22nd June the Soviet losses had risen to 1 811 aircraft with 1 489 destroyed on the ground.(2) This figure arguably represents the largest single blow ever delivered in a surprise attack against a branch of an armed service in a single day; even surpassing the damage inflicted on the US Navy at Pearl Harbour. After only nine days of war (to 30th June) the Luftwaffe records show VVS losses had risen to at least 4 614 aircraft with 1 438 destroyed in the air and 3 176 on the ground.(3) Luftwaffe losses in the corresponding period amounted to 330 aircraft as total losses. Thus the Luftwaffe had effectively gained air superiority in the first week of the invasion.

(2) H. Boog, et al, (German Research Institute for Military history at Potsdam), Germany and the Second World War, Volume IV: The Attack on the Soviet Union. Oxford University Press, New York, 1996. Also, A. Boyd, The Soviet Air Force Since 1918, Macdonald and Jane’s (Publishers) Ltd, London, 1977.
(3) H. Boog, et al, (German Research Institute for Military history at Potsdam), Germany and the Second World War, Volume IV: The Attack on the Soviet Union. Oxford University Press, New York, 1996. These figures are Luftwaffe claims, but they appear to be conservative. Even the Soviet’s ‘History of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union’ admits to loosing at least 1 200 aircraft on the first day of war.