In the summer of 2020, an American team will fly the historic Alaska-Sibera (ALSIB) air route to pay tribute to American and Allied war veterans.
Cameras will follow the epic journey to create a documentary film series on the historic flight, according to officials with the Bravo 369 Foundation.
Pilots from both the United States and Russia are preparing to fly ALSIB in World War II aircraft “to honor the brave men and women of the United States, Canada, Russia, and our other Allied nations as part of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II,” foundation officials said.
“We selected this route to draw attention to this little-known aspect of World War II history,” said Jeff Geer, president and chairman of the BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation. “Few people know that the United States and the former Soviet Union were once Allies. In fact, even fewer know that between 1942 and 1945 nearly 8,000 military aircraft were flown from the United States to Russia using the ALSIB air route. This program played a pivotal role in the war, yet its full and comprehensive story remains to be told.”
Aircraft delivered to Russia during World War II included:
- Bell P-39 Airacobra: 2,618
- Bell P-63 Kingcobra: 2,397
- Curtiss C-46 Commando: 1
- Curtiss P-40 Warhawk: 48
- Douglas A-20 Boston/Havoc: 1,363
- Douglas C-47 Skytrain: 710
- North American AT-6 Texan: 54
- North American B-25 Mitchell: 732
- Republic P-47 Thunderbolt: 3
In 2015, BRAVO 369 teamed with Russian flight partner, RUSAVIA, to fly the extremely challenging 6,000-mile air route stretching from Great Falls, Montana, through western Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska, and then across Siberia to Krasnoyarsk, Russia.
The ALSIB route was created under the Lend-Lease Act, which was enacted by the United States Congress in March 1941 just before the United States entered World War II. Under Lend-Lease, American factories, just emerging from the Great Depression, were rapidly converted to industrial powerhouses creating an “Arsenal of Democracy” to fight the Axis powers and overtake the highly advanced military technologies of both Germany and Japan.
During the “The Great Patriotic War,” as it is known in Russia, Lend-Lease and the ALSIB program was a vital link in helping the Soviets defeat the Nazis who had invaded the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941.
From July through August 2020, BRAVO 369 will undertake this historic flight, known as ALSIB 2020, beginning in Great Falls, Montana — the original staging base for ALSIB operations — travel through Canada and Alaska, and then into Russia.
“Although our team flew the route in 2015, we plan to fly it again not only to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, but also to create a documentary film series telling the complete story of the Lend-Lease program, American-Soviet allied cooperation during the war, and the great importance that the ALSIB air route played in defeating the Nazis,” Geer said.
“Even though the geopolitical landscape is much different than it was 75 years ago, citizen diplomacy and projects like this are embraced by both the people and governments of our countries,” he continued. “Perhaps examples such as this can lead to improved diplomatic relations.”
On Aug. 9, 2019, The BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation revealed that the Russian Geographical Society has joined the efforts to make the commemorative flight a reality.
“The Russian Geographical Society pays great attention to the subject of Lend-Lease,” said Nikolay Kasimov, first vice president of the Russian Geographical Society.
He added that RSG members recently discovered on the Yamal Peninsula a C-47 Douglas aircraft, one of the few remaining aircraft delivered to the USSR under the Lend-Lease program.
“Now we are restoring the aircraft,” he added.
“ALSIB 2020 promises to be a landmark event as this is the last major commemoration that will be attended by our remaining veterans who served in the war,” Geer said. “It is a worthy undertaking; a noble cause that will help bring together the people of Russia and the United States by reminding us all of the shared sacrifice and cooperation in World War II.”
The documentary film series “Warplanes to Siberia – Code Name ASLIB” is expected to begin production in late 2019 with release expected in late 2021.