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The Formerly Classified WWII Agreement Is Celebrated In A Fairbanks Memorial


In Fairbanks, Alaska you will find a most peculiar sight. There is a statue of two WWII aviators an American and a Russian standing side-by-side. Mounted behind them is the one thing that brought them together at the top-of-the world, an aircraft propeller.

6,500 Miles Across the Wilderness

The Alaska Siberia Lend Lease Airway was a top-secret project that involved an unprecedented level of cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union. Stretching 6,500 miles long, the ALSIB Airway was and operated across 12 time zones above the wilderness of North America & Siberia. The 7th Ferrying Squadron was tasked with the top-secret ferry mission. The movement of warplanes was done in stages. First the ferry pilots would accept aircraft from factories across the U.S. (Seattle, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Kansas City & Buffalo) and then deliver them to the staging point in Great Falls, Montana. The second stage was flying each delivery North on the ALSIB across Canada to Fairbanks.

Fairbanks, Alaska was the exchange location. The exchange was conducted at Ladd Field – now Fort Wainright. In Fairbanks the U.S.S.R. pilots would inspect the aircraft and continue the third stage of the journey across Siberia to Krasyonarsk. From there the aircraft were handed over to combat units and employed on the Eastern front against Hitler’s army.

Successful War Materiel Deliveries

alaskamemoria
Photo by Joe Vaeth

The ALSIB operation was very successful. ALSIB Airway pilots were responsible for delivering over 8,000 warplanes including the Bell P-39 Aircobra, Bell P-63 Kingcobra, North American B-25 Mitchell, North American AT-6 Texan, Douglas C-47 Skytrain, Douglas A-20 Havoc & Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. Due to extreme weather conditions and mechanical failures 133 aircraft were lost over North America and 44 over Siberia During the campaign.

This monument is dedicated to the aviators from both the U.S. Army Air Force and the U.S.S.R. that operated the Alaska Siberia Lend Lease Airway from 1942-1945. The operation was commissioned by President Roosevelt as authorized by Congress in the Lend-Lease Act of 1941, “To promote the defense of the United States.” The ALSIB was sustained through the cooperative efforts of American and Russian aviators from the following units:

U.S. Army Air Force Air Transport Command
U.S. Army Air Force 7th Ferrying Squadron
Women Air Force Service Pilots – WASP
U.S.S.R. Air Force

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Written by Joe Vaeth

Joe Vaeth

Joe Vaeth is a life-long fan of all things aviation. Currently an airline pilot, his background includes over 10 years of flying C-130s for the U.S. Air Force and glider flying along the front range of the Colorado Rockies. He resides in Washington State with his wife and three children and has recently taken up cider brewing. He also enjoys, bike riding, kite flying & aerial photography.