Warplanes to Siberia: Recreating an Untold Story of WWII



Add this to World War II’s seemingly infinite supply of untold stories: Warplanes to Siberia will retrace the historic Alaska to Siberia route used to deliver American planes to the Soviet war effort through President Franklin Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease program. Wait, what?


The Cold War obscured one of the key facts about World War II: the Soviets were able to hold off the Nazi invasion in no small part because of the U.S. war materiel. American factories produced planes and weapons that were shipped to Russia and provided the firepower the Soviet government couldn’t produce on its own.

Jeff Geer discovered the story of how American aircraft were delivered to Russia and started the Bravo 369 Flight Foundation  to pay tribute to the men and women who contributed to this war effort. His organization attracted the attention of Russia aircraft corporation Rusavia and gaming company Wargaming (creators of WW2 online games World of Tanks, World of Warplanes and World of Warships), who combined to fund a commemorative recreation of the original flight path.

AT-6 Texan (3)

Starting next week in Great Falls, Montana, Two DC-3 and one T-6G Texan aircraft (piloted by Geer) will retrace the delivery route, recreating the original route that American pilots took to Fairbanks, where they handed off planes to Soviet pilots who continued on to Siberia. The DC-3s will continue across the Bering Strait and work their way to Krasnoyarsk, the original delivery point, after an 18-day journey. The planes will continue on to Moscow for the MAKS-2015 air show.

This year, Russia is going all-out to commemorate the 70th anniversary of victory in what they call the Great Patriotic War and the private sponsors of this effort have timed the arrival of these planes in Moscow to give a high-profile reminder of what Russian and American cooperation accomplished during World War II.

You can follow the effort at the ALSIB.org website.

WGN_Photos_Warplanes_to_Siberia_Image_03_Bell P-63 Kingcobra

P-63 Kingcobras

There were over 8,000 planes delivered to the Soviet Union via this route, mostly Bell P-39 Aircobra fighters (over 2600) and the successor Bell P-63 Kingcobra fighters (almost 2400), a design that was created in part with feedback from Soviet pilots who were flying the P-63. There were 177 fatal crashes during the program and the planes had to stop for refueling at remote airstrips located in some of the most treacherous areas of the United States, Canada and Siberia. The story also includes America’s female pilots, WACS who were responsible for flying planes from the factories to Great Falls before they began their journey to Siberia.

Check out the full flight schedule below:
· July 17th AT-6: KBLI (Bellingham) to KGEG (Spokane) to KGTF (Great Falls)
· July 17 arrival of all planes to Great Falls
· July 18-19 Event in Great Falls, press-conference
· July 20 (KGTF) Great Falls to CYYC (Calgary)
· July 21 CYYC to CEX3 (Edmonton) – media event at Reynolds Air Museum
· July 22 CEX3 to CYDQ (Dawson Creek)
· July 23 CYDQ to CYYE (Fort Nelson)
· July 24 CYYE to CYXY (WhiteHorse) –Lend Lease Hangar
· July 25 CYXY to PAOR to PFTO to PAFA (Fairbanks)
· July 26 Event in Fairbanks
· July 27 PAFA to PAGA to PAOM (Nome) – media event
· July 28 Nome to Diomede, then AT-6 turns back at border.
· July 29 Leaving Anadyr, arrival in Magadan, press-event
· July 30 Leaving Magadan, arrival in Yakutsk
· July 31 Press-event in Yakutsk at airfield
· August 8 Public event in Yakutsk (event at historical monument)
· August 2 Leaving Yakutsk, arrival in Bratsk with press-event in airfield
· August 3 Leaving Bratsk, arrival in Krasnoyarsk with press-conference at airfield
· August 4 Public event (at historical monument)
· August 5-12 Planes in Krasnoyarsk
· August 13-19 planes fly from Krasnoyarsk to Moscow
· August 25-30 MAKs airshow, Moscow
· September Donate Planes to Central Armed Forces Museum

  • PCH2323

    Great to learn about the history between The USA & Russia. I use to date a girl from Russia…she was great.

  • Muttling

    We like to thump our chests a LOT, it’s like we saved the Russians in WWII. The truth is that they saved us. Yes, we gave them planes and support……but they had the best tanks and monster numbers of troops.

    The Russians deserve a GREAT deal of credit for the defeat of Germany and part of the credit for the defeat of Japan.

    • Dave J

      Whoa partner, re-read your history. They entered the action against Japan AFTER we had beat Japan down to the “no threat” level.

  • Leon Suchorski

    You are right in a way, Muttling. We delivered the goods, and STALIN delivered the armies and air corps. For them it was a choice of who was going to kill them, the Germans, or Stalin. They were told to succeed or die trying, it was their choice. At least with Stalin’s way, they had a chance of staying alive. And as to the defeat of Japan? Russia was bound by treaty, to join the fight against Japan, or risk losing their bargaining power after the war. They were bound to join the fight three days after the surrender of Germany. They knew from their spies, when we were dropping the bombs on Japan that ended the war, So it was just a matter of putting up a show of force against Japan. Japan knew that it had more to lose to a fight with Russia, so it surrendered to the Allies aboard the Missouri.

  • Joe

    In 1966-67 I was stationed at Eilson AFB. There was a hanger there that everyone called the Russian hangar. I checked it out and learned that in fact it was built to store airplanes bound for Russia. Russian pilots stayed in a barracks on the base then known as mile 27 post. It was 27 miles outside of Fairbanks and I don’t know if the Russian pilots ever went into town.

  • LCDR_Kent

    While mother Russia bled & died the most, it was Stalin that caused a lot of it himself. He purged the army of its generals before the war, trusted Hitler not to invade Russia & did not believe it after he did. Also Stalin did not Jews either.

    • Joe

      Stalin made Hitler look like an amateur when it came to murder. Before Stalin’s pact with Hitler he had already killed 11 million Ukrainians and one million Russians, including all of his best generals. This is history that is not taught in American high schools. He made his pact with Hitler, invaded Poland with Hitler and after the conquest of Poland was attacked by Hitler. He was an evil man who became an ally of the west only after showing what an evil man he was.

  • Gerrit

    The russian pilots used the old church across from the News Miner if I recall right, also some were qustrtered inwhat iss now the funeral home ner there

  • Tom in N.J.

    I believe the female pilots who transported new aircraft were WASPs not WACs. As a little kid I had a playmate who’s mother was a WASP…

    • Joe

      You’re right Tom. Female pilots were members of the Women’s AirForce Service Pilots, WASPs. There were a total of 1000 of them and all had to be pilots before enlisting. They ferried airplanes from the states to combat groups overseas.

      • Richard

        during WW2 there was an Army Air Corps, Air Force had yet to become the forth branch of Armed Forces; hence “WASP” Women’s Army Service Pilots..

  • Jimmy Mac in Calif

    Your wrong JOE. The WASP gals never flew any thing overseas. Only flew within the USA.