The Alaska-Siberia Connection

The World War II Air Route

978-0-89096-711-9 Cloth
6 x 9. 200 pp. 16 b&w photos., 2 maps.
Pub Date: 07/01/1996
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Early in World War II, two hundred years after Vitus Bering made the first Siberian connection with Alaska, Russians once again returned to Alaska as part of the U.S.–Soviet Lend-Lease program to ferry American-made aircraft to Siberia.

American Lend-Lease generosity helped to join Russia and America in a wartime alliance against Germany. However, Russia, suspicious of American sincerity, delayed the establishment of an Alaska–Siberia delivery route (known throughout the war as ALSIB) to the German war front. Instead, other routes via the North Atlantic and the Persian Gulf were employed for the delivery of urgently needed aircraft in 1941–42.

Eventually, recognizing that an ALSIB route would allow the delivery of American-made aircraft in days, not weeks or months the Russians agreed to the ALSIB route in late 1942.

The ALSIB route became the fastest and most productive means of moving combat aircraft to the Russian–German front. Additionally, although it was primitive and dangerous, it established a direct and time-saving artery between Moscow and Washington, and it was heavily used by diplomats, politicians, and countless military officials, both Soviet and American.

Declassified official U.S. military records and selected Russian sources, as well as reminiscences from former American liaison officers who were stationed at ALSIB posts in Alaska between 1943 and 1945, serve as the basis for this intriguing story.

Otis Hays's The Alaska-Siberia Connection: The World War II Air Route, presents the untold story of how the Soviets and Americans worked together to deliver fighting aircraft where they could be used effectively, shared always dangerous and sometimes deadly subarctic flying hazards, surmounted most of the language and cultural barriers they faced, and staunchly refused to allow mutual mistrust to overcome their efforts.

Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series

Published by Texas A&M University Press