Soviet Naval Aviation


Soviet Naval Aviation (AV-MF, for Авиация военно-морского флота in Russian, or Aviatsiya voyenno-morskogo flota, literally "aviation of the military maritime fleet") was the naval aviation arm of the Soviet Navy.[1][2]

Historical Air Forces of Russia

Russian Empire

Emperor's Military Air Fleet (1909–1917)

Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic

Workers and Peasants Red Air Fleet (1918–1991)

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
 Commonwealth of Independent States

Military Air Forces of the USSR (1918–1992)

Aviation of the Military Maritime Fleet (1918–1992)

Anti-Air Defence Troops (1948–1992)

Strategic Rocket Forces (1959–1992)

Russian Federation

Military Air Forces of the Russian Federation (1991–present)

Aviation of the Military Maritime Fleet (1991–present)

Strategic Rocket Forces (1991–present)


The first naval aviation units in Russia were formed in 1912–1914 as a part of the Baltic Fleet and the Black Sea Fleet. During World War I, the hydroplane units were used in the Black Sea for conducting aircraft reconnaissance, bombing and firing at coastal and port installations and enemy ships, and destroying submarines and enemy aircraft on the airfields.

Civil War and Interwar PeriodEdit

The regular Soviet naval aviation units were created in 1918. They participated in the Russian Civil War, cooperating with the ships and the army during the combats at Petrograd, on the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the Volga, the Kama River, Northern Dvina and on the Lake Onega. The newborn Soviet Naval Air Force consisted of only 76 obsolete hydroplanes. Scanty and technically imperfect, it was mostly used for resupplying the ships and the army.

In the second half of the 1920s, the Naval Aviation order of battle began to grow. It received new reconnaissance hydroplanes, bombers, and fighters. In the mid-1930s, the Soviets created the Naval Air Force in the Baltic Fleet, the Black Sea Fleet and the Soviet Pacific Fleet. The importance of naval aviation had grown significantly by 1938–1940, to become one of the main components of the Soviet Navy. By this time, the Soviets had created formations and units of the torpedo and bomb aviation. At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, all of the fleets (except for the Pacific Fleet) had a total of 1,445 aircraft.

Second World WarEdit

The Morskaya Aviatsiya (Naval Aviation) was the Soviet Navy's air service during World War II. Such air units provided air support to the Voyenno-Morskoy Flot SSSR (Soviet Navy) in the theaters of operations in the Barents, Baltic and Black Seas and also to the Soviet Naval Detachment in the Sea of Okhotsk.

Russian Navy Aviation managed all land, shore and vessel-based (tender seaplanes and catapult vessels) hydroplanes and aircraft, as well as flying boats. The air units also conducted land operations in support of the Red Army during landings and disembarkations and served in special wartime operations. Naval Aviation provided some air cover to Allied convoys bringing equipment to Soviet forces from North Sea to the Barents Sea and via the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Okhotsk.

In particular, Naval Aviation was deployed in defense of Odessa (June–October 1941), in operations in the Crimea and the Black Sea and carried out successful air strikes in the last stages of the conflict on the European and Pacific Fronts.

During the war, Naval Aviation delivered an immense blow to the enemy in terms of sunken ships and crews—two and a half times more than any other unit of the Soviet Navy. Seventeen naval aviation units were honored with the title of the Soviet Guards, while 241 men were awarded with the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union (including five pilots twice).

Aviation divisions of the Red NavyEdit

  • 1st Guards Fighter Aviation Division VVS VMF
  • 2nd Torpedo Rananskaya Red Banner Aviation Division in the name of N.A. Ostryakova VVS VMF
  • 3rd Bombardment Aviation Division VVS VMF
  • 4th Bombardment Aviation Division VVS VMF
  • 5th Torpedo Aviation Division VVS VMF
  • 6th Bombardment Aviation Division VVS VMF
  • 7th Bombardment Aviation Division VVS VMF
  • 8th Torpedo Gatchinskaya Red Banner Aviation Division VVS VMF
  • 9th Assault Ropshinskaya Red Banner, Order of Ushakov Aviation Division VVS VMF
  • 10th Seysinskaya Red Banner Aviation Division of Dive Bombers VVS VMF
  • 11th Assault Novorossiysk Twice Red Banner Aviation Division VVS VMF
  • 12th Assault Aviation Division VVS VMF
  • 13th Aviation Division of Dive Bombers VVS VMF
  • 14th Mixed Aviation Division VVS VMF
  • 15th Mixed Aviation Division VVS VMF
  • 16th Mixed Aviation Division VVS VMF [ru] - 1 May 1961 became 143rd Maritime Rocket Aviation Division.[3]

Cold WarEdit

To attack surface ships at long ranges, the Soviet Navy was unique in deploying large numbers of bombers in a maritime role for use by Naval Aviation. The Kiev class of Soviet aircraft carriers was deployed in the late 1970s and carried up to 30 aircraft including Yak-38 VTOL fighters. The next class of Soviet aircraft carriers, named the Admiral Kuznetsov class, supported more conventional aircraft such as the Su-33 "Flanker-D" and the MiG-29 "Fulcrum". Land-based aircraft such as the Tupolev Tu-16 "Badger" and Tu-22M "Backfire" bombers were deployed with high-speed anti-ship missiles. Previously believed to be interceptors of NATO supply convoys traveling the sea lines of communication across the North Atlantic Ocean between Europe and North America, the primary role of these aircraft was to protect the Soviet mainland from attacks by U.S. carrier task forces.[4]

The last commander of Soviet Naval Aviation, Colonel-General Viktor Pavlovich Potapov, was appointed in 1988. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russian Naval Aviation was established as the force's main successor.[5]


Soviet Naval Aviation in 1990:[6]

Ship based aircraftEdit

Shore based aircraftEdit

Other aircraftEdit

Obsolete aircraftEdit

Shore based aircraftEdit


Weapons and equipmentEdit

Air-to-air missilesEdit

Air-to-surface missilesEdit


  1. ^ "Aviation Elements Northern Fleet". Retrieved 2019-02-05.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-28. Retrieved 2012-12-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "143rd Maritime Missile Aviation Division". Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  4. ^ Tokarev, Maksim (2014). "Kamikazes: The Soviet Legacy". Naval War College Review. 67 (1): 9.
  5. ^ Генералы и адмиралы ВолоГодчины (PDF) (in Russian). Vologda: АУ ВО «Вологодский областной информационный центр». 2020. p. 176. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  6. ^ "Naval Air Force".

External linksEdit

  • - Naval aviation divisions
  • Naval aviation order of battle
  • Norman Polmar, Guide to the Soviet Navy (Fifth Edition), United States Naval Institute, Naval Institute Press, 1991, ISBN 0870212419, 9780870212413 (Chapter 8)