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Eastern Order of Battle

Leningrad Military District
10th Independent Air Defence Army
on January 1, 1968

The Soviet Northern Fleet's headquarters and main bases are located in Murmansk region and Arkhangelsk region. The Fleet operated a lot of ballistic missile-carrying cruisers and submarines. That's why the reconnaissance forces of NATO continuously watched this area during the Cold War, it would have been a primary target in the Third World War. The 21st Air Defence Corps defended the Murmansk region. They had many tasks during the Cold War because NATO reconnaissance airplanes arrived very often. In 1960 an unfortunate event happened.

After Powers U-2 shootdown two months later, on 1st June 1960, a Boeing ERB-47H Stratojet ELINT aircraft of the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing started from England to the Murmansk region. After heading northward over international water for a while the aircraft turned east, flying over the Barents Sea past Norway and towards Soviet shores, approximately 80 km (50 miles) from the Kola Peninsula. When the Stratojet crossed the northern border of the USSR off Murmansk, a MiG-19 ‘Farmer’ of the 174th Guard Fighter Air Regiment on QRA duty piloted by Capt. Vasiliy A. Polyakov scrambled from Murmansk to intercept the intruder. According to the American crew’s reports, the MiG initially shadowed the ERB-47 Stratojet at a distance, flying a parallel course, then crossed the Stratojet’s track about three miles behind it, took position about 12 m (40 ft) off the bomber’s right-wing and rocked its wing as a ‘follow me’ signals. As the spyplane ignored the signal and started a turn to the left as planned, flying at 9,140 m (30,000 ft) and 786 km/h (488 mph), Polyakov received the order to fire. His first burst of cannon fire raked the port wing, Nos. 1-3 engines and fuselage. As Capt Olmstead (co-pilot/gunner) returned fire, the ERB-47 Stratojet flicked into a spin from which the pilots were able to recover; but then Polyakov finished off the target with a second salvo. At 1803 hrs Moscow time the uncontrollable Stratojet plunged into the Barents Sea, killing four of the six crew; the pilots and the navigator ejected but the Maj. Palm (captain/pilot) apparently died of exposure in the frigid water. Olmstead (co-pilot/gunner) and McKone (navigator) picked up by a Soviet fishing vessel more than six hours later, being taken into custody when the ship docked. *

Kulyapin pilot was awarded the Order of the Red Banner, the mechanic engineer V. Denisenko was awarded the Badge of Honor, the A. Kotlyarov air controller was awarded the Red Star award.

USSR Yak-25M Flashlight over Murmansk region in 1966

The Soviet 174th Guard Fighter Air Regiment PVO moved to Monchegorsk airport with Yak-25M ‘Flashlight’ and MiG-19 ‘Farmer’ interceptors in 1962. These two Yakovlev Yak-25 flew over Murmansk region in 1966. Meanwhile the first new Yak-28P ‘Firebar’ arrived to Monchegorsk airport in 1965.

Soviet Yak-28P Fireball at Monchegorsk in 1968. Photo: Alexandra Puskina collection

The Soviet 174th Guard Fighter Air Regiment PVO's pilots in front of their Yak-28P 'Fireball' in 1968. They patrolled a lot over the cold Barents Sea and intercepted the reconnaissance forces of NATO, shoot down more American balloons and waited for the American bombers on Quick Reaction Alert duty. Photo: Alexandra Puskina collection

On May 20th, 1966, the 67th independent air squadron was formed at the Monchegorsk airport Murmansk region with two Tupolev Tu-126 ‘Moss’ which was an airborne early warning and control aircraft with the Liana radar complex. This early warning squadron got commands directly from the 10th independent Air defense Army.

In the same year, on November 10th, the unit was relocated to the city of Shavli in the Baltic region because the weather of the north airport was too bad. The new Tu-126 ‘Moss’ type was a huge capacity increase in the sixties of the 10th independent Air defense Army in the northern region.

This early Soviet AWACS type’s detection range to be 100 km (62 miles) for aircraft the size of the MiG-17 ‘Fresco’ fighter, 200 km (124 miles) for aircraft the size of the IL-28 ‘Beagle’ tactical bomber and 300 km (186 miles) for aircraft size of the Myasishchev M-4 ‘Bison’ strategic bomber. The look-down detection range was limited to only 20 km (12.4 miles.)

USSR Su-9 Fishpot-A

The first Su-9 ‘Fishpot-A’ high speed interceptor arrived to 941st regiment in 1959.

Soviet Tupolev Tu-126 Moss’ AVACS

Soviet Tupolev Tu-126 ‘Moss’ was an airborne early warning and control aircraft type.


USSR 21st Air Defense Corps, Severomorsk USSR 4th Air Defense Division, Belushya Guba
10th Independent Air Defence Army map in 1968
Soviet 5th Air Defense Division, Petrozavodsk Soviet 5th Air Defense Division, PetrozavodskSoviet 23rd Air Defense Division, Arkhangelsk

The 5th Air Defense Division defended Leningrad city from the north-east. In 1964 they received two squadrons of high capacity Yak-28P ‘Firebar’, which replaced the older MiG-17 ‘Fresco’. The new Yak-28P type did a Quick Reaction Alert task in 1965 at Besovets airport.

The 23rd Air Defense Division defended the Soviet Northern Fleet's bases in the Arkhangelsk region and defended Moscow from the north. The division received new Yak-28P ‘Firebar’ interceptor in 1964 and later received newest very long-range Tu-128 ‘Fiddler’ air defence fighter type in 1966. The 518th Fighter Air Regiment PVO was the first combat Tu-128 interceptor unit at the Soviet Air Defense force. The Tu-128 ‘Fiddler’ type used the large 'AA-5 Ash’ air to air missile.

USSR Yak-25M

The 524th Fighter Air Regiment PVO' lost more Yak-25M fighter when the pilot used the radar system during driving the aircraft. They all hit the ground because the RP-6 „Sokol” radar system did not contain an altitude warning device. They replaced the Yak-25M type to new Yak-28P in 1964 at the 524th regiment.

Soviet Tu-128

The 518th Fighter Air Regiment PVO's some Tu-128 ‘Fiddler’ interceptor aircraft participated in the Domodedovo airshow in 1966.


The 431st regiment with MiG-19 interceptor in the winter of 1967


Alexey Petrovich Maresyev visited the Besovets airport in 1967


The older MiG-19 and MiG-17 interceptors were supplemented with the longer-range Yak-28P and Tu-128 air defence fighters. Left picture: 431th Fighter Air Regiment PVO’s MiG-19PM ‘Farmer-E’ armed with older RS-2U ‘AA-1 Alkali’ missile at the Afrikanda airport. Right picture: 265th Fighter Air Regiment PVO’s MiG-17 ‘Fresco-A’ during maintenance with VK-1A non-afterburning engine in the late sixties.

You might be interested in:

Leningrad Military District - Soviet Tactical Air Force

Soviet 76th Tactical Air Army in 1968


* Text source: Soviet Air Defence Aviation 1945-1991. Yefim Gordon, Dmitriy Komissarov. Hikoki Publications,