Saturday, October 4, 2014

The East German Air Force in 1981

Over the past week, I've started putting a bit of thought (and research) into what East German aircraft I'll need for my LANDJUT 1981 campaign. 

The East German Air Force (Luftstreitkräfte or "LSK") was formed in 1956 and dissolved in 1990 with the reunification of East and West Germany. During the LSK's lifetime, its main focus was defending East German airspace against penetration by NATO aircraft. A ground strike capability was considered of secondary importance and mostly left up to their fleet of Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters.

Because I'm focusing on a ground campaign, my only interest is in ground attack aircraft. Interceptors generally dealt only with inbound enemy strategic bombers and air superiority aircraft. Low-altitude, heavily-laden ground attack aircraft flew slowly enough that high-speed interceptors had a bit of difficulty in effectively dealing with them. 

In March 1981, what fixed-wing aircraft would the LSK use to attack NATO ground forces? The East Germans didn't begin receiving Soviet-built Su-17 (export models were known as Su-20 or Su-22) Fitter C attack aircraft until December 1984:
Prior to that, a hodge-podge of aircraft were pressed into service. There were a considerable number of outdated MiG-17 Frescos, relegated to the role of fighter bomber:
But these were being retired as quickly as they could be replaced with more modern aircraft. The bulk of LSK attack aircraft were several squadrons worth of the more modern versions of the MiG-21 Fishbed:

The LSK also had a number of Aero L-39 Albatross advanced trainers that could also serve in a light strike role:

Without doubt, the most capable fighter bombers in the East German Air Force were their new MiG-23 Floggers, which they began receiving from the Soviets in mid to late 1980:
By the Spring of 1981, probably no more than a squadron (and most likely less) would have been in the LSK's inventory. 

The East German Air Force did have a lot more aircraft types than just these that I've touched on, but the majority were interceptors and so I've skipped over them. 

Luckily, between Oddzial Osmy and Tumbling Dice, I'll have no problem making up some aircraft stands for my East Germans (except for the Aero Albatross, which no one makes in 1/600). I'll order some of the above aircraft and begin getting the necessary paints. I will get some Su-17's, as the Soviets and Poles were using them in time for the beginning of my campaign.

I also need to expand my West German aircraft and start some Danish ones, but that's for a future post. More next time!

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