Blood Red Skies, Products, Profiles

Blood Red Skies: Early War Soviet Aircraft

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We’re heading back to the opening stages of Operation Barbarossa for a look at some early war Soviet aircraft for Blood Red Skies!

Warlord Resin

These aircraft are manufactured in the new, ultra-detailed, Warlord Resin! and come with all the cards and advantage flight stands that you need to field them in your games of Blood Red Skies


Things looked decidedly bleak for the Soviet Airforce in the summer of 1941. The Great Purge had stripped away most of their officers – 91% of major formation leaders had been in their position for six months or less. Vast numbers of conscripts were being drafted in and pressed into service as pilots. The number of flights for pilot qualification had been reduced to just seven.

However, it was the largest air force in the world, with 9,576 frontline aircraft. These frontline formations were a really mixed bag – skewed in favour of medium bombers and strike aircraft, with a relative lack of modern fighters in comparison to the RAF or Luftwaffe.

A persistent myth surrounding the early days of the Soviet Airforce was that their aircraft were obsolete – this was far from the case. Aircraft like the Yak-1 and I-16 could go toe-to-toe with early models of Bf109, while the IL2 Sturmovik proved to be a very capable ground-attack aircraft.

Blood Red Skies is the perfect game for recreating these early war aerial duels – Soviet squadron commanders will find out if quantity truly has a quality all of its own!

Polikarpov I-16

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Vital Statistics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 6.13m
  • Wingspan: 9m
  • Max Speed: 525kph
  • Range: 700km
  • Armament: 2x 7.62mm ShKAS MGs, 2x 20mm ShVAK cannons.

In-game, you’ll find these little wasps to be incredibly useful – field a swarm of low-cost, agile fighters with a low minimum move which will allow you to out turn faster-moving aircraft and set up the perfect attack! A small squadron of these could support a group Yak-1s or Mig-3s, acting as a second line to swoop down on anything that should slip through after the first engagement.

Ace: Lev ‘Sokol’ Shestakov

Shestakov graduated from military college in 1936 and immediately applied for service in Spain, joining a Republican fighter squadron, where he claimed eight solo victories and 31 shared victories in 90 sorties in his I-16.

At the start of Operation Barbarossa, Shestakov found himself on the Odessa front, where his regiment mauled the German and Romanian opposition, scoring 96 victories between all the pilots.

Towards the end of the war, Shestakov converted over to the LaGG-3 which he flew until his death in 1944 – reportedly fighting his own private war with Stuka Ace Hans-Erich Rudel.

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Yakolev Yak 1b

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Vital Statistics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 8.5m
  • Wingspan: 10m
  • Max Speed: 592kph
  • Range: 700km
  • Armament: 1x 12.7mm Berezin UBS MG, 1x 20mm ShVAK cannon

In Blood Red Skies, a squadron of Yak-1bs is more than a match for any equivalent German fighter squadron. Like other Soviet aircraft, they have high agility and low firepower – so you might struggle to tangle with late-war fighters like the Focke-Wulf 190s, but will fare well against the earlier marks of Bf109.

Ace: Vladimir Pavlovich Pokrovsky

Pokrovsky began flying I-16s in the Northern Fleet’s 72nd Mixed Aviation Squadron, flying over the Murmansk Front during the early period of the war. Like many pilots, he switched aircraft many times, from Hurricanes to Kittyhawks, Airacobras and Yak-1bs.



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Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3

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Vital Statistics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 8.25m
  • Wingspan: 10.2m
  • Max Speed: 640kph
  • Range: 700km
  • Armament: 1x 12.7mm Berezin UBS MG, 2x 7.62mm ShKAS MGs

While the MiG-3 has the Sluggish trait, it is a serviceable frontline fighter with decent mobility conferred by the Great Dive trait, with an agility and firepower score equal to that of the early war Bf109’s it’s most likely to come into contact with. A squadron of these could easily support Yak-1s or I-16s without too much trouble.

Ace: Alexandr Pokryshkin

Pokryshkin was a three-time recipient of the Hero of the Soviet Union decoration during wartime – for his exceptional air combat record of 53 solo kills and 6 shared ones (though these tallies are disputed nowadays).

He was airborne on the first day of Operation Barbarossa, shooting down a Bf109 after being jumped on a recon mission, and would continue flying for the duration of the war, inventing new air combat tactics and stoking the USSR’s propaganda mill.


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The Soviet Air Force in Blood Red Skies

The Soviet air force was the largest in the World in Summer 1941. Expand your collection with these great sets.

Dogfighting in the Blood Red Skies

Packed with everything you need to play this fast-paced air combat game, the Blood Red Skies starter set does what it says on the tin. Plus once started you’ll have the extra rules to introduce the play cards that really bring your fighter aircraft to life, allowing you to fly them just as they would have been by the Ace’s of WW2!

Blood Red Skies Starter Set

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Tom Mecredy
Tom spends most of his time buying books and painting miniatures. He enjoys putting animals on the bases of his miniatures and half-finishing side projects. Some say that he lives in a tower on top of some windswept northern hill with his wife and cow-patterned cat, Spaghetti.