Description: Prior to the Belgorod-Kharkiv offensive operation the Soviet aviation had the advantage over German fighters to the 507:150 ratio and strike-fighters 430:50. German aviation outnumbers by the ratio of 4 to one the Soviet bombers and by the ratio of 2 to the aerial reconnoiterer. The 2nd and 5th Soviet air armies were opposed by 4th air assets of the Wehrmacht whose effectives grew rapidly from the second half of August 1943 due to the deployment of the air groups of the 6th air fleet. Organization of Soviet air armies at that time was based on rigid centralization, when it was required to carry out a massive raid in the direction of the main attack of ground forces, and decentralization, where there was a need for operational cooperation with ground units during the offensive. The Soviet command tried to increase the effectiveness of fighter aviation by increasing the number of aircraft and by separating it in height. However, due to poor formation of flying and steam units, large groups of aircraft during enemy attacks, often straying together, became vulnerable to the enemy fighter aircraft. During 1943 the Third Reich lost its supremacy in the air on the Eastern Front. Quantitative advantages of Soviet aviation Luftwaffe tried to compensate for the qualitative training of its pilots and more intensive use of aircraft. The Luftwaffe pilots avoided collisions with large groups of Soviet fighters. Their tactics were based on sudden rapid attacks and the same rapid withdrawal from the battle. Paradoxically, but the Soviet aviation suffered most from the actions of small groups of Nazi fighters. As a result of imperfect training and tactical flaws, the "Stalin Falcons" experienced unjustifiably large losses from the sudden concentrated air strikes of the Wehrmacht. The article describes the features of combat use of Soviet and German air units during the Belgorod-Kharkiv offensive operation (August, 3-23, 1943), which received the code name "Commander Rumyantsev". The study of historical sources made it possible to reveal the composition of forces, tactics of application and the influence of aviation on the overall course of the operation as a whole.
Keywords: air operation, Belgorod-Kharkiv offensive combat, Kharkiv liberation, the Second World War