Red Phoenix Rising

The Soviet Air Force in World War II

Von Hardesty and Ilya Grinberg

Choice Outstanding Academic Title

A groundbreaking account of the Soviet Air Force in World War II, the original version of this book, Red Phoenix, was hailed by the Washington Post as both "brilliant" and "monumental." That version has now been completely overhauled in the wake of an avalanche of declassified Russian archival sources, combat documents, and statistical information made available in the past three decades. The result, Red Phoenix Rising, is nothing less than definitive.

“Although Red Phenix Rising retains the basic structure of the original, it is substantially longer and more lavishly illustrated. Its text has been fleshed out with more narrative vignettes and case-studies. Most important, Hardesty and his new co-author, Ilya Grinbert, have enlisted the aid of numerous Russian researchers, thereby incorporating a massive wealth of new facts and findings, all drawn form key archives.

—Slavonic and East European Review

“An important addition to the World War II historiography, Red Phoenix Rising helps scholars and laymen better understand the nature of the war in the East, the Soviet order of battle, and the progression of the campaigns.

—H-Net Reviews
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The saga of the Soviet air force, one of the least chronicled aspects of the war, marked a transition from near annihilation in 1941 to the world's largest operational-tactical air force four years later. Von Hardesty and Ilya Grinberg reveal the dynamic changes in tactics and operational art that allowed the VVS to bring about that remarkable transformation. Drawing upon a wider array of primary sources, well beyond the uncritical and ultra-patriotic Soviet memoirs underpinning the original version, this volume corrects, updates, and amplifies its predecessor. In the process, it challenges many "official" accounts and revises misconceptions promoted by scholars who relied heavily on German sources, thus enlarging our understanding of the brutal campaigns fought on the Eastern Front.

The authors describe the air campaigns as they unfolded, with full chapters devoted to the monumental victories at Moscow, Stalingrad, and Kursk. By combining the deeply affecting human drama of pilots, relentlessly confronted by lethal threats in the air and on the ground, with a rich technical understanding of complex military machines, they have produced a fast-paced, riveting look at the air war on the Eastern Front as it has never been seen before. They also address dilemmas faced by the Soviet Air Force in the immediate postwar era as it moved to adopt the new technology of long-range bombers, jet propulsion and nuclear arms.

Drawing heavily upon individual accounts down to the unit level, Hardesty and Grinberg greatly enhance our understanding of their story's human dimension, while the book's more than 100 photos, many never before seen in the West, vividly portray the high stakes and hardware of this dramatic tale. In sum, this is the definitive one-volume account of a vital but still underserved dimension of the war—surpassing its predecessor so decisively that no fan of that earlier work can afford to miss it.

About the Author

Von Hardesty is Curator of the Aeronautics Division at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. Ilya Grinberg is a professor in the Department of Technology at the State University of New York College at Buffalo.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series