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The Invasion of Russia (June 1941 - December 1941)

The Invasion of Russia (June 1941 - December 1941)

Operation Barbarossa (German: Unternehmen Barbarossa) was the code name for Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on June 22nd, 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a 2,900 km (1,800 mile) front. It was the largest military offensive in history. In addition to the large number of troops, it also involved 600,000 motor vehicles and 750,000 horses. Planning for Operation Barbarossa started on December 18th, 1940; the secret preparations and the military operation itself lasted almost a year, from spring to winter 1941.

Barbarossa's operational goal was the rapid conquest of the European part of the Soviet Union west of a line connecting the cities of Arkhangelsk and Astrakhan, often called the A-A line (see the translation of Hitler's directive for details). At its end in January 1942, the Red Army had repelled the Wehrmacht's strongest blow. Adolf Hitler had not achieved the expected victory, but the Soviet Union's situation remained dire. Tactically, the Germans had won some resounding victories and occupied some of the most important economic areas of the country, mainly in Ukraine. Despite these successes, the Germans were pushed back from Moscow and could never mount an offensive simultaneously along the entire strategic Soviet-German front again.

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German Messerschmitt Bf 110E Fighter - 4. Staffel, Zerostoregeschwader 1, 1941-42 German Messerschmitt Bf 110E Fighter - 4. Staffel, Zerostoregeschwader 1, 1941-42 (1:72 Scale)

The Messerschmitt Bf 110 was an aircraft of very mixed fortunes. It has often been criticized for its failure during the Battle of Britain, while its successes in other fields have been largely ignored.

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German Messerschmitt Bf 109F-2 Fighter - Werner Molders, Jagdgeschwader 51, Russia, 1941 German Messerschmitt Bf 109F-2 Fighter - Werner Molders, Jagdgeschwader 51, Russia, 1941 (1:48 Scale)

Designed to replace the popular Bf 109E "Emil" fighter, the Bf 109F "Franz" was viewed at first with some skepticism by its wary pilots. Powered by a Daimler-Benz DB 600 piston engine and equipped with all sorts of forward firing machine guns and cannons, the Bf 109F nevertheless became a lethal killing machine in its own right, especially when it was handled by a skilled airman.

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German Messerschmitt Bf-109G6 Fighter - Werner Molders, Jagdgeschwader 51, Eastern Front, 1941 German Messerschmitt Bf-109G6 Fighter - Werner Molders, Jagdgeschwader 51, Eastern Front, 1941 (1:48 Scale)

Numerically the most abundant fighter produced by either side during WWII, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 formed the backbone of the Jagdwaffe on both the eastern and western fronts, as well as in the Mediterranean and North Africa. Of the eight distinct sub-types within the huge Bf 109 family, the most populous was the G-model, of which over 30,000 were built between 1941-45.

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German Junkers Ju 87B Stuka Dive-Bomber - Stab II/ Stukageschwader 1, Eastern Front, 1941 German Junkers Ju 87B Stuka Dive-Bomber - Stab II/ Stukageschwader 1, Eastern Front, 1941 (1:48 Scale)

During the early to mid-stages of the Second World War, the Stuka (short for "sturzkampfflugzeug" or dive-bomber) struck terror in the hearts and minds of soldiers and civilians alike. The Stuka was a rugged machine, designed to swoop down and destroy its target using 500-lb bombs or tear into them using 37mm flak guns mounted underneath the wings.

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