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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 Junkers Ju-87B-2 Stuka Dive-Bomber - 3./Sturzkampfgeschwader 2 "Immelmann", Battle of Moscow, December 1941 German Junkers Ju-87B-2 Stuka Dive-Bomber - 3./Sturzkampfgeschwader 2 "Immelmann", Battle of Moscow, December 1941 (1:72 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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German Messerschmitt Bf 110E Fighter - 4. Staffel, Zerostoregeschwader 1, Eastern Front, 1941-42 German Messerschmitt Bf 110E Fighter - 4. Staffel, Zerostoregeschwader 1, Eastern Front, 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. Despite not living up to the Luftwaffe's expectations it did manage to serve Germany throughout the Second World War in the long-range escort fighter, fighter-bomber, reconnaissance, ground attack and night fighter roles.

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German Junkers Ju 88A-5 Medium-Bomber - F1+AS, 8./Kampfgeschwader 76, Orscha, Russia, December 1941 German Junkers Ju 88A-5 Medium-Bomber - F1+AS, 8./Kampfgeschwader 76, Orscha, Russia, December 1941 (1:72 Scale)

The Luftwaffe's Junkers Ju 88 was a twin-engine, multi-role aircraft. Among the most versatile planes of the war, it was used as a bomber, close-support aircraft, nightfighter, torpedo bomber and reconnaissance aircraft.

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German Heinkel He-111H-6 Medium Bomber - W. Nr. 4500, A1+FN, Lt. Erich Horn, 5./Kampfgeschwader 53 "Legion Condor", Yukhnov, West of Moscow, January 21st, 1942 German Heinkel He-111H-6 Medium Bomber - W. Nr. 4500, A1+FN, Lt. Erich Horn, 5./Kampfgeschwader 53 "Legion Condor", Yukhnov, West of Moscow, January 21st, 1942 (1:72 Scale)

When World War I ended, the German Air Force was disbanded under the Treaty of Versailles, which required the German government to abandon all military aviation by October 1st, 1919.

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