The ALSIB Air Route
In 2021, the RGS expedition explored the airfields of the Alaska–Siberia Air Route (ALSIB). The specialists of the Center for Contemporary History studied the condition of 11 airfields of the Great Patriotic War in the Far East and Siberia.
ALSIB is an air corridor that was connecting the USSR and the USA during the Great Patriotic War. Under the Lend-Lease Act, the Western Allies supplied the Soviet country with fighters and bombers, for which a year-round air route was necessary. Despite the inaccessibility of the areas where the airfields were built, the runways were prepared in just five to eight months. Since 1942, the Soviet pilots had transported 8094 aircraft to the front along the ALSIB route.
During the expedition, archival data was collected for each airfield, they were photographed and filmed, and the crash sites of the detected aircraft were mapped. The memory of the pilots who died while transporting the winged machines has been immortalized.
The helicopter pilots of the Russian Aerospace Forces, servicemen of the Eastern and Central Military Districts, the Pacific Fleet, and the 21st Central Research Institute of Military Vehicles of the Russian Ministry of Defense provided assistance to the search specialists.
On July 27, the RGS began an expedition to explore the airfields of the Alaska–Siberia air route (ALSIB). It is assumed that the group, which includes specialists from the Center for Contemporary History and the Expeditionary Center of the Russian Ministry of Defence, will study the condition of about a dozen airfields in the Far East and Siberia.
How to build an airfield in a swamp in a month and a half, why American Studebaker trucks have two different numbers, and who is buried under an obelisk made of aircraft parts – all this was investigated by the expeditionary group of the Russian Geographical Society and specialists from the Ministry of Defense. At the abandoned airfields, the search specialists found a lot of interesting things.
The ALSIB expedition discoveries continue. Among the found wartime artifacts, there are quite unexpected ones: a garage roof made of American fuel barrels, mixed wreckage of aircraft from different years, and an American grader that is still in use.
The members of the expedition discovered student notebooks with military orders, got acquainted with the former workers of the ALSIB airfields, and unearthed a pine cone from the 1940s. They talked about how to take aerial photos in strong winds, for what purposes old airfield buildings are now used, and why it is difficult to find a crashed plane, even if you know where it is.