Soviet Volunteer Group
The Soviet Volunteer Group was the ostensibly volunteer Soviet Air Forces to support the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...
during the Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...
between 1937 and 1941. After the Marco Polo Bridge Incident
Marco Polo Bridge Incident
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident was a battle between the Republic of China's National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army, often used as the marker for the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War .The eleven-arch granite bridge, Lugouqiao, is an architecturally significant structure,...
, the Sino-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact was signed and large Soviet support was given to China by the Soviet Union, including the volunteer squadrons. China paid for the support in the form of raw materials.
Creation and withdrawalIn October 1937, some 450 Soviet pilots and technicians assembled at Alma Ata in the USSR to bring 155 fighter aircraft, 62 bombers, and 8 trainers into China. By 1941, the Soviet-built aircraft sent to China would amount to 885, including two-engine and four-engine bombers, though the latter were never used in combat. Of the aircraft supplied, half were turned over to the Chinese Air Force and half were flown and maintained by personnel from the USSR. The Soviet air units were stationed at bases near the cities of Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...
Hankou was one of the three cities whose merging formed modern-day Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei province, China. It stands north of the Han and Yangtze Rivers where the Han falls into the Yangtze...
, and Chongqing
Chongqing is a major city in Southwest China and one of the five national central cities of China. Administratively, it is one of the PRC's four direct-controlled municipalities , and the only such municipality in inland China.The municipality was created on 14 March 1997, succeeding the...
, and at Lanzhou
Lanzhou is the capital and largest city of Gansu Province in Northwest China. A prefecture-level city, it is a key regional transportation hub, allowing areas further west to maintain railroad connections to the eastern half of the country....
in China's northwest at the terminus of the Russian supply route. The Russian commander is identified in most histories as a General Asanov. By the time of their withdrawal, the group's casualties amounted to 227 pilots killed in action.
The Soviet squadrons were withdrawn after the Non-aggression pact
Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact
The , more extensively known as was a pact between the Empire of Japan and the Soviet Union signed on April 13, 1941, two years after the brief Soviet-Japanese Border War .- Background and history :...
between the Soviet Union and Japan in 1941. As a result, the Chinese turned to the United States, which authorized the creation of the American Volunteer Group
American Volunteer Group
The American Volunteer Groups were volunteer air units organized by the United States government to aid the Nationalist government of China against Japan in the Second Sino-Japanese War...
The 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force in 1941–1942, famously nicknamed the Flying Tigers, was composed of pilots from the United States Army , Navy , and Marine Corps , recruited under presidential sanction and commanded by Claire Lee Chennault. The ground crew and headquarters...
There are several monuments to the Soviet aviators in China, including one in Jiefang Gongyuan (Liberation Park) in Wuhan
Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province, People's Republic of China, and is the most populous city in Central China. It lies at the east of the Jianghan Plain, and the intersection of the middle reaches of the Yangtze and Han rivers...
, which was built in 1956.