Defending the Kremlin:

The First Generation of Soviet Strategic Air Defense Systems 1950-60

by Steven J. Zaloga

Lavochkinmissle.jpg (25016 bytes)
A. An example of the Lavochkin V-300 missile, currently preserved at the museum at Khodynka field in Moscow. (Author)


In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Soviet Union embarked on one of the most sophisticated and expensive weapons development programs of the early Cold War years, second only to its nuclear weapons program. Faced by the threat of US and British strategic bomber forces, Stalin ordered the creation of a network of radar-directed air defense missiles to protect the capital of Moscow from massed air attack. The Moscow system was followed in 1955 by a second program to defend Leningrad. Both systems were quickly rendered obsolete by the rapid developments in strategic offensive weapons in the late 1950s. An enduring legacy of the program is the ring road network around Moscow, built at considerable expense to support this missile system.



System Requirement

At the conclusion of World War 2, the Soviet Union began a program to exploit captured German military technology. Particular interest was shown in advanced radar and anti-aircraft missile technology, due to Stalinís concern about the offensive power of American and British strategic bomber forces, and the recent advent of the atomic bomb. In 1948, Stalin ordered the initiation of a program to use advanced technology to defend Moscow against bomber attack. Stalinís approach was not to rely solely on the new and untried missiles. A US Army study from 1958 concluded that Moscow had the densest anti-aircraft gun defenses of any location, heavier even than the densest concentrations in Germany in 1945. This was largely the outcome of the 1948 program which modernized the defensive network with a new generation of artillery, enhanced with fire control and proximity fuzes. In addition, there was an extensive program to develop advanced interceptor aircraft. In spite of these conservative back-ups, Stalin insisted that special attention be paid to missile weapons, as anti-aircraft artillery and fighter aircraft had done little in 1944-45 to blunt Allied bomber attacks against Germany.

Exploitation of the German air defense missile technology was centered at NII-88 (Scientific Research Institute-88) in Kaliningrad in the Moscow suburbs. After some preliminary examination of the many types of German missiles, the Special Committee on Reactive Technology of the Council of Ministers selected two types: the Schmetterling and the Wasserfall. Germany had planned to deploy 1,300 Schmetterling and 870 Wasserfall air defense batteries starting in the fall of 1945 to defend against Allied air attacks, in the hopes that this novel technology would succeed where fighter aircraft and anti-aircraft guns had failed. Stalin was interested in deploying a similar defensive shield around Moscow.

The R-101 was the name for the Soviet Wasserfall derivative and was developed by a team led by Ye. V. Sinilishchikov at NII-88. The R-105 was the Soviet derivative of the Henschel Hs-117 Schmetterling, and was developed by the TsKB-5 team headed by S. Yu. Rashkov at NII-88. Trials of both types of missiles began in 1948. The R-105/Schmetterling was the first to be rejected, as its configuration limited its effectiveness against jet bombers. The R-101 had the most influence on future Soviet missile design. But neither missile system proved particularly effective, and the Soviet program suffered from the same problems as the original German effort: excessive attention to missile design and insufficient attention to the more critical technological hurdles of the associated radar and fire control system. In concert with these attempts, other Soviet design bureaus, strengthened with impressed German engineers, examined key new technologies. In particular, NII-885 in Monino developed a semi-active radar seeker for air defense missiles, using Lend-Lease SCR-584 radars for illumination.

The start of the Korean war in the summer of 1950 heightened tensions between the USA and USSR, and the need for a modern air defense system took on added importance in Stalinís eyes. In August 1950, Stalin ordered the formation of the 3rd Main Directorate of the Council of Ministers, headed by Col. Gen. V. M. Ryabikov, to speed up work on strategic defense. This followed the organization of the 1st Main Directorate in 1945 for nuclear weapons development and the 2nd Main Directorate, for strategic offensive weapons. As in the case of the two other directorates, the new priority afforded to strategic defense brought the program under the control of secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria. His son, Sergey Beria, was one of the heads of SB-1, a large KGB design bureau in Moscow specializing in the exploitation and elaboration of advanced German electronics technology. Beria had graduated from the Moscow Aviation Institute with a thesis on air defense missiles, and had prepared a proposal for such as system as early as 1948. Through Beriaís political connections, the SB-1 was given the task of developing a missile-based defense system for Moscow in August 1950. The system was codenamed Berkut (Golden Eagle), coming from the names of Beria and the bureauís director, Gen. Maj. P. Kuksenko. The decision to select SB-1 to manage the program was fortuitous for two reasons. The most complex element of air defense missile systems is the radar and fire control; this was the specialty of SB-1 and they were one of the best equipped design bureaus to handle the requirements. Secondly, Beriaís political connections enabled him to push the program past entrenched bureaucracies and to eliminate competition.

The rival missile programs at NII-88 were largely shut down in 1950, apparently through Beriaís intervention. This was not the last time that Sergey Beria used his fatherís influence to shut down rivals; in 1952 he managed to close three other missile design bureaus which challenged his monopoly in the design of anti-ship cruise missiles. Another barrier was also eliminated in December 1951 when Marshal N. D. Yakovlev was arrested. Yakovlev headed the GAU (Main Artillery Administration) which supervised the early army missile programs. Yakovlev was notoriously conservative on the matter of missile weapons, and had also acted as a roadblock to the deployment of early ballistic missiles.



Designing the Berkut

The Berkut strategic air defense system was intended to defend Moscow against an attack by 1,000 bombers. This requirement was based, no doubt, on the scale of raids launched by Britain and the United States against key German cities in 1943-45. The requirement reveals Stalinís lack of sophistication in military technology. With the advent of the atomic bomb, massed raids were a thing of the past since a small number of nuclear-armed bombers could accomplish the same task. Nevertheless, this remained the technical requirement for the Berkut system even after Stalinís death. The technical requirements document called for the development of a fire control system that could target up to 20 enemy bombers flying at speeds up to 1,200 km/h at a range of 35km and an altitude of 3 to 25 km.

Work on the Berkut system was divided between a number of design bureaus. SB-1 was primarily involved in the development of the B-200 fire control radar as well as the command and control elements of the system. To develop the command guidance system, SB-1 was supported by NII-108, whose head, A. A. Raspletin, would later lead most Soviet strategic SAM programs. The A-100 long-range target acquisition radar was developed under chief designer L. V. Leonov of NII-244. V. P. Barminís Transport Machine Building design bureau developed the launcher system for the missile, as well as the associated launch and servicing structures. The Institute for Precision Mechanics and Computing Technology of the Academy of Sciences was in charge of developing the BESM computer used in the fire control system.

The OKB-301 headed by Semyon Lavochkin was entrusted with the development of the associated V-300 missile. Lavochkin was primarily known for his design of fighter aircraft such as the wartime La-5 and La-7. He was personally ordered by Stalin to head the missile design due to the high priority afforded the program and his reputation as the most adventurous of the current generation of aviation designers. The electronic aspects of the V-300 missile program was handled at the bureau by Georgiy Babakin, who was transferred from NII-88 in 1950 along with some other R-101/Wasserfall engineers after these earlier air defense missile programs there were shut down.

The Berkut system made extensive use of captured German technology, but was a generation beyond the earlier R-101 program. The fire control system was based on the German Strassurg-Kehl system developed for the Wasserfall, and was developed with the aid of German scientists forcibly recruited after the war. The B-200 radar tracked both the target and the missile, and sent guidance commands to the missile. It was far more sophisticated than any wartime German design and not merely a copy of a German wartime design. The missile was fitted with a proximity fuze for the terminal phase of the intercept and the system did not have a command detonation function.

The prototype of the B-200 fire control radar was completed in October 1951 but did not meet specifications. An alternative design had been prepared in parallel by a team of German engineers. The definitive B-200 radar was a compromise design between the Soviet and Russian teams. A second prototype of the B-200 radar incorporating the design changes was erected at Zhukovskiy in June 1952 and underwent trials from 24 June to 20 September 1952. The initial tests of the guidance system were conducted using guidance systems mounted on aircraft rather than missiles.

There was considerable debate between the German and Soviet teams regarding the ideal approach to guidance and missile design, particularly whether to incorporate expensive guidance components on the missiles themselves such as a semi-active radar seeker, or to rely on a less sophisticated and less expensive approach, such as the use of command guidance. In addition, there was debate over whether a single stage or two-stage configuration of the missile was more desirable. These debates led to the design of two parallel missiles for the Berkut system, the Lavochkin V-300, and an alternative design undertaken by SB-1 itself called the 32-B. The 32-B design effort was headed by D. L. Tomasevich, a former aircraft designer.

The V-300 missile used a liquid-fuel rocket engine developed by the Isayev design team at NII-88 derived from their earlier efforts to copy the Wasserfall engine for the R-101. Reliance on German technology was necessary due to the compressed development schedule insisted upon by Stalin. The 32-B was a more advanced design, using a solid-fuel rocket booster to increase its maximum altitude. However, design of the 32-B did not begin until the summer of 1951, nearly a year after the V-300, and so its development lagged behind the V-300. The 32-B missile was never a viable alternative to the V-300 simply due to its slow start. However, it would form the basis for the successor system to the Berkut, the S-75 Dvina.

The first test launches of the V-300 missile took place on 25 June 1951, less than a year since the program had been started. During a year of missile trails at the state proving ground at Kapustin Yar, a total of about 50 V-300 missiles were fired. These trials missile were all assembled at the Lavochkin bureauís associated State Aviation Plant No. 301 (GAZ-301) in Khimki. Early test launches were mainly concerned with aerodynamic and subcomponent testing, as the B-200 radar did not arrive at Kapustin Yar until late 1952. From September 1952 to May 1953, there were a further 81 test launches as the designers began to integrate the missile and its fire control system. The first full system test was conducted on 25 May 1953 when a Tu-4 heavy bomber (the Soviet copy of the American B-29 Superfortress) was shot down at an altitude of 7 km by a V-300 missile. Development work on the initial version of the Berkut system was completed in June 1953. The definitive production versions of missiles were tested in 1954, including a simultaneous engagement of twenty targets.

There was considerable turmoil in the upper ranks of the leadership of the Berkut program in the spring of 1953 following Stalinís death on 2 March 1953 and the subsequent struggle for power in the Kremlin. Lavrentiy Beriaís arrest in June 1953 led to the ouster of his son from the SB-1 design bureau. The bureau was taken out of secret police control, and renamed as KB-1 of the Ministry of Agricultural Machinery. Chief designer A. A. Raspletin from NII-108 was transferred to KB-1 to head the Berkut program, now renamed as S-25 to erase the memory of Beria.



Deploying the S-25

The success of the S-25/Berkut systemís development led to state authorization to begin series production and deployment. One of the most expensive elements of the deployment was the creation of the launch bases and the associated road network for the Berkut. It was decided to create two concentric rings of Berkut missile regiments around Moscow, the initial ring at a radius 85-90 km from Red Square to attrite any incoming bomber formation, and the inner ring at a radius of 45-50 km to deal with any bombers leaking through the initial ring. Two ring roads were designed to provide ready access to the launch areas, and these became the basis for these well known features in the contemporary Moscow landscape. US intelligence at the time estimated that the creation of the ring roads and launch sites around Moscow in 1953-55 consumed the equivalent of an entire yearís production of concrete, giving some idea of the scale and priority of this program.

The construction program began in earnest in the summer of 1953 under the control of Glavspetstroi, and took five years to complete, through 1958. There were a total of 22 regiments located around the inner ring road, and 34 around the outer ring road for a total of 56 launch sites. Each launch site consisted of four distinct sections, a launch area, the guidance radar area, the administrative/housing/technical support area, and an electrical power transformer station. The launcher area was the largest and most distinctive area, covering some 360 acres, usually in forested regions around the city. Each launch area had a distinct herringbone appearance from its ten double rows of service roads, supporting a total of 60 missile launch pads per site. The launcher system itself was quite simple, consisting of a semi-trailer for transporting and erecting the missile, and a simple launch pad reminiscent of the German design used with the V-2 ballistic missile. About a mile from the launch area was the bunkered command center, located on about 50 acres of land and near the Moscow ring road. On the side of the bunker facing the launcher area was a pair of B-200 radar antennas, one providing azimuth coverage and one providing elevation coverage. The bunker contained the main BESM analog fire control computer, as well as twenty guidance consoles. Each regimental site was manned by about 30 officers and 450 enlisted men.

The configuration of the site enabled the regiment to engage up to 20 targets simultaneously. It would appear that in the initial version, each regiment could only control 20 V-300 missiles against 20 targets. Later system improvements brought the S-25 up to its original requirements, which allowed each of the 20 targets to be attacked simultaneously by up to three missiles, thereby considerably increasing the system kill probability.

In addition to the 56 regimental launch sites, six missile assembly areas were constructed to support the S-25 force at Golitsyno, Beliye Stolby, Klimovskiy, Istra, Stepanova and Marfino around the inner ring road. The S-25 sites were supported by a significant number of PVO-Strany radar sites which provided early warning and initial target cueing. The A-100 surveillance radar was developed by NII-224 specifically for this task, but other early warning radars could also be used in this network. The deployment of the S-25 system coincided with a major growth in the Soviet air defense radar network, with radar production more than quadrupling between 1950 and 1955.

Western intelligence began spotting the first signs of the S-25 system in 1953 as the scale of construction and their proximity to Moscow made them difficult to miss. Western intelligence agencies were able to collect a great deal of detail about the system from German engineers who were allowed to return from the Soviet Union after Stalinís death. The V-300 missile was designated as SA-1 by US intelligence, and the system received the NATO codename Guild. The B-200 fire control radar was codenamed Yo-Yo due to its unusual configuration, and the A-100 long range surveillance radar was codenamed as Gage.

Series production of the S-25 system began in 1954. The V-300 missile was manufactured at State Aviation Plant No. 82 in Tushino which was producing about 100 missiles a month by 1956. By 1959, a total of about 32,000 V-300 missiles had been manufactured. To put this in some perspective, this was over twenty times the scale of production of ballistic missiles at the time. Production of the B-200/Yo-Yo radar was undertaken at Radar Plant No. 304 in Kuntsevo, and the BESM computer was manufactured at the Accounting and Analytic Machinery Plant in Penza. The series manufacture of this very advanced system proved to be a source of enduring frustration to the designers and their military customers.

In preparation for the deployment of the S-25 system, in August 1954 the PVO (air defense forces) in the Moscow region were reorganized into a special PVO District under the command of Gen. Col. P. F. Batitskiy. This district coordinated the four main elements of the defense forces: anti-aircraft artillery, interceptor aviation, missiles, and early warning radars, each with their own command staffs. The initial PVO missile force commander was Gen. Lt. P. A. Dolgopolov. In the summer of 1955, a Separate Special Purpose Army was created to man the S-25, commanded by Gen. Col. K. Kazakov. This army was declared operational in August 1957.



S-25 System Effectiveness

The development and construction of the S-25 system was a remarkable accomplishment in view of the relative lack of sophistication of Soviet military electronics at the end of the World War 2. The S-25 system was roughly comparable to the US Armyís Nike-Ajax system both in time frame and scale. The US produced about 16,000 missiles to the 32,000 produced by the USSR, and deployed about 40 battalions compared to 58 regiments in the USSR. The first Nike Ajax battalion became operational near Washington, DC in December 1953, a few years before the Moscow PVO district. The larger scale of production and deployment of the S-25 was based in part on its less sophisticated guidance system which required that each target be engaged by three missiles to reach an acceptable level of kill probability. The technical parameters of both systems were similar, both using command guidance, and both having effective ranges of about 40-45 km. The V-300 was three times heavier than its American counterpart, in part due to a larger warhead, but in large measure due to the use of a less efficient single stage configuration rather than the two-stage configuration of the Nike Ajax. In both cases, the systems were quickly superseded by a more sophisticated alternative, the Nike Hercules in the USA and the S-75 Dvina (SA-2 Guideline) in the USSR.

Like many pioneer missile weapons, the shortcomings of the S-25 network were evident even as the system was being deployed. Khrushchev nicknamed the S-25 as the "moskovskiy chastokol" (Moscow Palisades), unknowingly pinpointing its central problem. The system layout was ill-conceived, being spaced equally around the periphery of Moscow. This meant that at the most likely points of bomber attack, the north and west, the thin layer of defenses could be overwhelmed during an attack, or the defenses breached by preliminary attacks prior to the main bomber waves. Although the S-25 was never used in combat, there is little reason to believe that it was well hardened against electronic countermeasures (ECM). While the RAF and USAF had built up a considerable tactical skill in ECM in World War 2 and Korea, Soviet ECM and ECCM was in its infancy. This would have made the system vulnerable to jamming and other ECM techniques. The selection of a fixed site configuration constrained future growth and system improvement. The large command bunkers were configured specifically for the unusual B-200 antenna, and limited the azimuth coverage possible with the system. The system could only engage subsonic targets up to 1,000 km/h (620 mph) even though supersonic bombers were beginning to appear on the scene. Finally, by the mid-1950s, both the US and Soviet Union were developing stand-off missiles such as the American AGM-28A Hound Dog and the Soviet K-20 (AS-3 Kangaroo). These posed a threat since they were much smaller radar targets than a bomber, and enabled the bomber the fire the missile from outside the lethal envelope of the S-25. The shortcomings of the S-25, as well as its high cost, led to rejection of the idea of extending the system to Leningrad. The S-25 network remained in service for another two decades, though its effectiveness continued to decline. It was finally replaced by the S-300P (SA-10 Grumble) system in the 1980s.



Alternatives for Leningrad

By 1954, the shape of the USAF Strategic Air Command was becoming clearer to Soviet planners. Particularly worrisome was the appearance of new supersonic aircraft such as the B-58 Hustler, and stand-off cruise missiles. As a result, a second strategic air defense missile program was initiated, the S-75 Dvina. Management of the program was under A. A. Raspletin at KB-1, but the missile was assigned to a new design bureau, OKB-2 MAP under Petr Grushin. The system was designed to be transportable, and not to require large fixed sites like the S-25. The missile was based on the failed 32-B from the Berkut program, and the new RSN-75 radar was designed to take advantage of recent advances in radar technology. The system was intended to be inexpensive enough to form the basis of a national air defense system that could be deployed around all major bases and industrial centers. The system requirements insisted that the missile be able to engage targets up to 1,500 km/h, and to be able to destroy up to 5 targets in ten minutes, at intervals of 1.5-2 minutes, with each target being engaged by 2-3 missiles.

The S-75 program was not universally supported. P. D. Kalmykov, the head of the GKRE responsible for the development and production of the key radars and fire control components of the system, wanted a more advanced design with a semi-active radar seeker and a multiple-target engagement capability. The PVO Strany (National Air Defense Force) did not share this view and its primary requirements were for a system that would be more versatile than the S-25 and able to deal with the many reconnaissance overflights near the Soviet border. In addition, the PVO Strany was in the midst of a massive education program to prepare troops and officers to employ the highly sophisticated new S-25 system, and was reluctant to support yet another generation of technology that would be difficult to assimilate. The PVO Strany viewpoint was shared by the chairman of the Council of Ministers, V. A. Malyshev, who won the support of Minister of Defense Georgiy Zhukov to accelerate the S-75 program, over the objections of minister Kalmykov.

While this work was underway, a third strategic air defense system was proposed to defend Leningrad. This was intended to be a much more capable system than the S-25, and was promoted by P. D. Kalmykov as a high-tech alternative to the more modest S-75. In March and December 1955, there were two Council of Ministers decrees authorizing the start of work on the Leningrad system. Initially, two competitive designs were involved, with KB-1 offering the S-50, and Lavochkin offering the Dal (Distance). The KB-1ís S-50 proposal was the less ambitious, and basically consisted of repackaging the S-25 system to make it more mobile by placing its main components on railroad cars.

The Lavochkin proposal was far more adventurous and promised performance well beyond the new S-75 missile system. The Dal would be able to engage targets with supersonic speeds up to 3,000km/h such as cruise missiles, and at altitudes up to 30km. In addition, the system was to be even more resistant to saturation attacks than the S-75, namely the ability to engage ten targets simultaneously with ten missiles. With KB-1 already heavily committed to the S-75 program, the Council of Ministers authorized Lavochkin to proceed with the Dal program for Leningrad. Lavochkinís OKB-301 had absorbed many more electrical engineers since working on the S-25, and its primary partner in the program was the NII-244 GKRE radar design bureau which had designed the A-100 radar for the S-25 Berkut system.

The missile for the Dal was designated as Obiekt 400 or La-400. The preliminary April 1956 design of the La-400 missile was a single stage configuration like the V-300 missile of the S-25 system. However, by the time of the draft project in August 1956, it had been reconfigured as a two-stage design using a PRD-70 solid rocket booster developed by OKB-81, followed by a R01-154 liquid-fuel rocket sustainer developed by S. Kosbergís OKB-154 in Voronezh. Indeed, the La-400 missile resembled an enlarged version of the V-750 missile being developed at the same time for the rival S-75 Dvina. The most significant advance in the Dal missile design was the incorporation of the first semi-active radar guidance seeker on a Soviet SAM, the Zenit system developed by NII-17 GKRE.

Development of the Dal fell behind the parallel S-75 Dvina. The S-75 was accepted for service on 28 November 1957, a year before the first La-400 missile even left the plant for flight trials. The S-75 program had been accelerated due to the appearance of the CIAís U-2 spy aircraft over the Soviet Union. The U-2 was first detected by an A-100 radar of the S-25 system near Moscow in 1956, and again by a P-30 surveillance radar by the Turkestan Air Defense Corps. At first, the Soviet PVO refused to believe that such an aircraft existed. After a number of other incidents, the PVO-Strany was forced to admit it existed, and Khrushchev insisted that the aircraft be stopped. As a result, the S-75 was rushed into service. It was deployed around Moscow, Leningrad, and Baku starting in the spring of 1958.

While the S-75 was fast becoming the basis for the Soviet Unionís missile air defense, the Dal system was faltering in its test program. The system was still in trials at the new Sary-Shagan PVO test range in the summer of 1960 and the Presidium of the Central Committee officially reprimanded Lavochkin over its slow pace. Other missile system designers regarded the reprimand as unfair, as the problems lie primarily with the fire control systems and other equipment being developed by the design bureaus of Kalmykovís GKRE. Lavochkinís La-400 missile had been successful in aerodynamic tests, but the fire control problems accentuated the problem of entrusting missile system design to the aviation ministry rather than the electronics ministry. Lavochkin was under great pressure at the time, not only over the reprimands for the Dal, but over the even more expensive and flawed Burya strategic cruise missile program. He died of a heart attack on 9 June 1960, his health ruined by the stress of the two failed programs.

Kalmykov tried to sustain the program by switching control to chief designer V. P. Shishov. Khrushchev was very unhappy with the progress of the program and its heavy costs. Construction of the first three launcher sites had already begun near Leningrad, and as in the case of the Moscow S-25 system, it necessitated the reconstruction of much of the road net near Leningrad, adding to the expense. The northern site was located between Zelenogorsk and Michurinskoye; the eastern site within the Leningrad ring road near Rakhya; and the western site to the north of Begunitsy. The sites typically had five launch regiments, each with five bunkered launch complexes each. At the same time, the S-75 was being deployed in significant numbers around Leningrad offering some measure of air defense coverage. The deciding factor was the growing shift in emphasis in strategic offense. By 1960, both the US and Soviet Union were involved in a race to field intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). While strategic bombers remained the main nuclear strike force in the early 1960s, there was the expectation that within a few years, the burden would shift to ICBMs. Under such circumstances, the deployment of the Dal system would be a complete waste. The PVO-Strany finally recommended that the Dal program be canceled, and that its place be taken by a new long-range SAM system under development by Raspletinís KB-1 and Grushinís OKB-2, the S-200 Angara (SA-5 Gammon).

After all of the expense, the Dal programís only contribution to Soviet defense was as a source of disinformation. Khrushchev decided to parade the missile during the 1963 Red Square military extravaganzas, and to identify it as an anti-ballistic missile system. It was dubbed "Griffon" by NATO, and sometimes misidentified as the SA-5. The Dal had no such ABM capability, though it is often misunderstood as such in many Western accounts to this day. The US intelligence community was confused by the construction similar to the Dal system near Tallin and Cherepovets, sometimes referred to as the Tallinn line. There was some supposition that it was intended to defend Leningrad against SLBM attack from the North Sea, but of course, its development had started long before the US Navy had even begun the Polaris SLBM design.

The saga of Moscowís S-25 Berkut and Leningradís Dal systems is illustrative of the difficulties in the development of defensive systems in a period of rapid technological change in offensive systems. In both cases, the offensive technology outstripped the defensive technology even before series production had begun. Both systems were designed to defeat existing threats, and failed to anticipate the shape of likely future threats. Similar problems would beset later Soviet strategic defense systems in the 1960s, including the anti-aircraft S-200 Angara system, and the A-35 anti-missile system.


(This article appeared originally in the Journal of Slavic Military Studies.)



yoyoradar.jpg (24477 bytes)

An example of one of the antennas of the B-200 (Yo-Yo) radar used in the S-25 Berkut system. Two of these antennas were used in each radar sight, fixed perpendicularly to one another. This example is preserved at the museum at Khodynka field in Moscow. (Author)

Webeditor's note: The footnotes below were referenced by numbers in the text of the original publication. Because of HTML limitations, these numbers are absent here.


Soviet efforts in German anti-aircraft missile technology was initially centered in Institute Berlin, which was transferred to the USSR in October 1946 along with the German engineers. "Soviet AA Guided Missile Research at Buro 11", Intelligence Review, No. 135, 23 September 1948, pp 56-57.


Lt.Col. Anatoliy Dokuchayev, "Rasskazyvaem vprevye: Gordaya tayna<Almaza>", Krasnaya Zvezda, 12 September 1992, p. 5.


This program led to the deployment of the 57mm S-60, 100mm KS-12 and 130mm KS-19 radar-directed anti-aircraft guns.


SKRT-SM (Spetsialniy Komitet po Raketnoy Tekhnike pri Sovete Ministrov SSSR). This committee, headed by G. M. Malenkov, D.F. Ustinov, and I. G. Zubovich was formed on 12 May 1946 to manage the early Soviet missile programs. Its two initial programs were the development and testing of Soviet derivatives of the V-2 ballistic missile and Wasserfall air defense missile. Yu. P. Semenov (senior ed.), Raketno-kosmicheskaya korporatsiya "Energiya" imeni S. P. Koroleva, (Moscow: Energia, 1996), pp 12-17.


For further details of these early and unsuccessful Soviet SAM programs, see: Steven Zaloga, Soviet Air Defense Missiles: Design, Development and Tactics, (Coulsdon, UK: Janeís Information Group, 1989), pp. 26-30. There is some evidence that a few R-101 missiles were deployed to Korea and used in combat for operational trials.


Jerzy Gruszczynski, "Od Wassserfall do S-400: Rosyjskie przeciwlotniczne zestawy rakietowe obrony powietrznej", Skrydlata Polska, 2/95, p. 46.


Col. Gen. Yu. V. Votintsev, "Unknown Troops of the Vanished Superpower", Voenno-Istorichesskiy Zhurnal, No. 8, 1993 (JPRS-UMA-94-035, 24 August 1994, p. 38). Ryabikovís rank stems from his position in the KGB; his main technical assistant was A. N. Shchukin, a member of the Academy of Sciences and later a prominent leader in the Soviet electronics industry. The 3rd Main Directorate was abolished in the spring of 1955 after completion of the Berkut program.


SB-1 was formally called Spetsburo-1 NKVD SSSR and was formed on 8 September 1947. It was later renamed KB-1 when it was transferred from secret police control. KB-1 is the forerunner of the later NPO Almaz which headed the design of all major Soviet strategic SAM systems including the contemporary S-300P (SA-10 Grumble). The term KGB is used in this article as a convenient catch-all for the Soviet secret police which underwent several organizational and name changes in the period in question.


Boris E. Chertok, Rakety I lyudi, (Moscow: Mashinostroenie, 1994), p. 273.


The ostensible reason for Yakovlevís arrest was his failures in managing the development of anti-aircraft artillery systems due to the technical failures of the new S-60 57mm anti-aircraft gun in Korea. A recent study suggests that the closing of the SAM bureaus at NII-88 and Yakovlevís removal may have been connected. There was pressure from the S. P. Korolev at NII-88 to shift the emphasis and funding from air defense missiles to ballistic missiles. In addition, Korolev was interested in having Yakovlev removed due to his stubbornness in permitting the series production of the early R-1A ballistic missile, the Soviet V-2 copy. It is doubtful that Korolev had the influence on his own to accomplish either of these actions, but they may provided additional justification for Lavrentiy Beriaís actions. Andrew Aldrin, Innovation, the Scientists and the State: Programmatic Innovation and the Creation of the Soviet Space Program, (Doctoral Dissertation in Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles) pp. 267-272. Ironically, Yakovlev would return to haunt the S-25 program, as after Stalinís death, he was released from prison and assigned to the commission overseeing the acceptance trials of the Berkut missile system.


Voitinsev, op. cit. p. 39.


Lt. Col. I. Safronov, "Ot<Berkuta> do nashikh dney: Otechestvennye raketye sistemy", Voennye Znaniya, No. 5, 1994, p. 18.


This missile received a variety of designations. It was originally called the R-113 and then the V-300 by the SB-1. Inside the Lavochkin design bureau the initial version was called izdeliye (item) 205, while the GRAU called it 5V7. As the missile continued to evolve, it received yet another set of designations: V-301, V-301A and V-303 by KB-1, izd. 217 and izd. 218 by Lavochkin; and 5V17 and 5V18 by the GRAU. For the sake of simplicity, it is referred to here as the V-300.


N.G. Babakin, et. al, G. N. Babakin: Zhizn I deyatelnost, (Moscow: Adamant, 1996), pp. 25-26.


Soviet Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, Department of the Army Intelligence Research Report A-566, 20 July 1958, p. 3. This report is by far the most detailed technical examination of the missile available.


Pascal LíEbrellec, "La Naissance de la Defense Antiaerienne Sovietique", in Líhistoire du Complexe Militaro Industriel de líex-Union Sovietique, Special number of the journal Enjeux Atlantiques, No. 12, February 1996, pp. 39-40.


The unusual 32-B designation stemmed from the fact that it was designed by Otdel No. 32 (Department 32) of SB-1.


Ministerstva selkokhozyaystvennogo mashinostroeniya: the cover name in the immediate post-war years for the munitions industry, and after Stalinís death as Glavspetsmash. By the mid-1950s after Stalinís death, the bureau was redesignated as KB-1 Vtorogo Glavnogo upravleniya Sovmina (Design Bureau-1 of the Second Chief Directorate of the Council of Ministers). It was subsequently subordinated to the GKRE and then to Minradioprom during the post-Khrushchev reforms.


Nikolai Simonov, Voenno-promyshlenniy kompleks SSSR v 1920-1950e gody, (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 1996), pp. 257-263.


Guided Missile Production in the USSR, Department of the Army Intelligence Research Product A-2651 (15 May 1959).


Grigoriy Kisunko, Sekretnaya Zona, (Moscow: Sovremenik, 1996), pp. 257-260.


A. U. Konstantinov, et. al, Ordena Lenina Moskovskiy Okrug PVO, (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1981), pp. 191-192.


Development of a stand-off missiles for bombers began in March 1955, specifically to circumvent US air defenses such as the Nike Ajax.


Steven Zaloga, "Grumble, Guardian of the Sky", Janeís Intelligence Review, Vol. 9 No. 3 March 1997, pp. 113-144.


Development of the missile for this system was authorized on 20 November 1953 by a Council of Ministerís decree, but the system was not authorized until 1954. Mikhail Rebrov, "Gonka za mirazha, ili Kuda vedet íraketniy sledí", Krasnaya Zvezda, 5 March 1994.


Experimental Design Bureau-2 of the Ministry of Aviation Production. Grushin had been Lavochkinís assistant on the V-300 missile, but the majority of the staff for the new bureau came from Department No. 32 of KB-1 which had been developing the 32-B missile as a rival to the V-300 for the Berkut system. This bureau subsequently became the center for Soviet strategic SAM development including the later S-125 (SA-3); S-200 (SA-5) and S-300P (SA-10). It is currently called MKB Fakel and is located in the Khimki suburb of Moscow.


The GKRE (State Committee for Radio Electronics) was the ministerial organization which replaced the Ministry of Radio Production (Minradioprom) in the late 1950s during one of Khrushchevís attempts at military-industrial reform.


Kisunko, op.cit, p. 288.


V. Korovin and A. Fomichev, "Rakety dlya zashchity severnoy stolitsy", Avia Panorama, Nov. Dec. 1996, pp. 66-67.


Indeed, a MiG-19 pilot from the Separate Turkmenstan Air Defense Corps who came within 3,000m of the U-2 was transferred from his regiment for adamantly insisting he had seen an aircraft at 20,000 m. Gen. Col. Yu. V. Votintsev, "Unknown Troops of the Vanished Superpower", Voenno-Istoricheskiy Zhurnal, No. 9, 1993 (trans. JPRS-UMA-94-036, 31 August 1994, p. 6). Votintsev states that the first time the U-2 was tracked by radar was in August 1957. This is probably incorrect, as the first two overflights of the U-2 over Russia in the summer of 1956 were observed by Soviet aircraft and radars, and led to a July 1956 protest by the Soviet government.


"Bakuís Surface-to-Air Missile Sites", ONI Review, September 1959, pp. 396-399.


Grigoriy Kisunko, Sekretnaya Zona, (Moscow: Sovremenik, 1996), pp. 402-503.


There were over 35 S-75 Dvina regiments (each with six missile launchers) surrounding the city at the time.


The SA-5 Gammon is fact the S-200 Angara missile which replaced the Dal.


Soviet Strategic Attack Forces, National Intelligence Estimate 11-8-68, (Central Intelligence Agency: 23 June 1969) pp 15-16. These two other sites were probably the initial sites for the S-200 Angara.

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