WWII Ferry Routes
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Green markerPrimary field
Blue markerAuxiliary field
Red markerEmergency field
Yellow markerAircraft manufacturer

Lend-Lease

The American Lend-Lease program supplied the Soviet Union with a huge amount of armaments and supplies. In addition to the aircraft listed in the table below, it included about:

The number of aircraft is disputed. Here's one breakdown that seems like a reasonable estimate, but some estimates are twice this amount:

2,618Bell P-39 Airacobra fighters
2,397Bell P-63 KingCobra fighters
1,363Douglas A-20 Havoc attack aircraft
732North American B-25 Mitchell medium bombers
710Douglas C-47 Skytrain transports
54AT-6 Texan trainers
48Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighters
30Catalina PBY amphibian patrol aircraft
3Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighters
1Curtiss C-46 Commando transport

Because of the threat of German U-boat attack, most of the airplanes supplied to the Soviet Union were flown there by ferry pilots using the route called ALSIB, which stands for Alaska-Siberia. About 47 percent of other materiel was transported to the Soviet Union via West Coast U.S. ports to Eastern Siberian ports and the relative safety of the Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea. Japanese submarine doctrine focused on sinking military ships, not merchant ships like the Nazi subs in the Atlantic.

There were numerous ferry routes. There was a northern route that involved crossing Greenland. There was a mid-Atlantic route that used the Canary Islands for refueling. There was a more southerly Atlantic route that crossed the Atlantic at its narrowest point between Brazil and Africa, using Ascension Island as a refueling point if necessary.

There was a ferry route that spanned the Aleutian Islands but this was not used to supply aircraft to the Soviet Union. It was used to supply the U.S. campaign against the Japanese Kuril Islands that was waged out of Attu Island.

In the Pacific, a variety of ferry routes were used depending on which islands the Japanese held at the time. Near the end of the war, ferry routes across the Atlantic hooked up with the ferry routes across the Pacific via Pakistan, India, and China. Thus, the ferry system circumnavigated the Earth.

ALSIB (Alaska-Siberia) route

The Alaska-Siberia route crossed between the North American mainland and the Soviet Union at its narrowest point—the Bering Strait. Of the 8,058 Land-Lease aircraft that were delivered to the Soviet Union from American factories, 74 were lost in the U.S. and 58 went down in Canada and Alaska. There were 42 fatal plane crashes in Siberia.

Women

Women ferry pilots

Women ferry pilots flew planes from the point of manufacture to a military airfield where they would either be used or flown to overseas locations via one of the ferry routes.

Women ferry pilots flew within the mainland United States only. They did not ferry aircraft to Alaska or other countries.

Sources

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