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All drawings © o5m6 2016. All rights reserved.
No publication in any form without the author's written permission.

Last Updated: January 28, 2016

Landing supplies and evacuating civilians at the Osinovez docks

Note two cargo holds in front of cabin and 12.7mm DShK AA gun at the bow

The naval equivalent of the famous "Dorogu Zhizni" (Road of Life)

Comrade Tender

Sailors of the Ladoga flotilla!
From your work to a great extent
depends the success of the fighting
on the Leningrad Front and the Baltic Sea.
All efforts to ensure a continuous flow
of goods and their safety !

6-inch standard magnetic compass GTU-5

15 - 25-ton self-propelled barge and landing craft Ladoga Tender

Soon after the start of the Leningrad siege, the heads of the city's defense, Andrei Zhdanov and Alexey Kuznetsov recognized the need of constructing a new series of barges for transporting supplies and persons over the only remaining escape route, the Lake Ladoga.
The design was supposed to be robust, seaworthy, sufficiently motorized as well as easy and fast to built.
The result was a 43-feet (14.3m), 25-ton scow driven by a ZIS-5 truck engine giving a speed of 5-6 knots.
The shallow draft and steel armed keel enabled it to land on almost every kind of shore.
Up to 50 civilians or fully equipped soldiers could be transported under deck on either the short track between Osinovets and Kobona (2.5h) or the long track between Osinovez and Novaya Ladoga (10h).
Though starving almost to death, the shipbuilders in "Petrozavod" and other shipyards succeeded to built no less than 118 barges between may and August 1942 of which a certain amount were the 15-ton short version with only one cargo hold.

Though in 1942 the heroic "tenderistov" accomplished some 10,000 trips while transporting 150,000 tons of urgently needed supplies to the besieged town, the journeys were very dangerous and far from comfortable for the crew and passengers.
Enemy aircrafts were everywhere and constantly attacking the small ships which, initially unarmed, soon received 12.7mm DShK heavy machine guns for self-defense.
These and the ability to literally turn on the point and thus escaping the air attacks led to the astonishing fact that from the 118 barges in service none (!) was sunk albeit many seriously damaged..
Neither rough spring and autumn seas nor hopeless overloading stopped the evecuation of several thousand inhabitants per day, spreading an enormous popularity among the people of Leningrad who often insisted of being transport in nothing else than those "unsinkables".
As a major improvement, a faceted shape of armour was added to the steering place giving the sailors at least some kind of protection against the aerial thrust.

But it wasn't only at the Leningrad front that the "Ladoga Tender" excelled.
From early 1943 on, they played a significant role at all major and minor landing operations, be it in the Baltic Sea (Vyborg) , the Black Sea (Myskhako - "Malaya Zemlya" - Small Land, Kerch-Eltigen and Odessa) or during the large river and lake crossings (Dnepr, Vistula, Lake Peipus).
The "Ladoga Tender" became a legend and more than once earned his nickname "Comrade Tender".

Protected by Bronekaters during Kerch/Eltigen landing operation, November 1943

Note opening on rear armour for rudder steering rod

15-ton Short Version

Landing the Willys MB / Ford GPW jeep (left) and the 45mm AT gun (right)

Note single cargo hold and armour protection around steering place

Lake Peipus, August 1944, Ladoga Tenders as Ferry

To the right : rare S-40 Bronekater with M-8-24 Rocket Launcher

Ferrying two SU-76M SPG to the western Lake Peipus shore, August 1944

Malaya Zemlya, April 17, 1943 - Saving Colonel Brezhnev

Future "General Secretary of the USSR" Leonid Brezhnev as Political Commisar in 1942 (both photos: to the right)

On the night of April 17, 1943 Leonid Brezhnev was a colonel in the 18th Army's Political Department and on board of the cutter Riza heading from Gelendzik to the "Small Land" south of Novorossisk.
The cutter, towing two Ladoga tenders packed with marines, was part of a landing unit supposed to support the heavily threatened comrades in the Myskhako bridgehead.
As the bridgehead was a severe danger for the German strategic Caucasus position, Hitler himself had ordered "Operation Neptun" to clear it off at all costs and to reopen the entry to Novorossisk.

They had almost reached the shore when hell broke out in the form of German bombers, torpedo boats and heavy artillery fire.
Riza was soon hit and Brezhnev thrown overboard deep into the cold sea.
But he was lucky as the crew of Ladoga Tender No.9, having cut the rope to Riza, spotted him and pulled him aboard.
What the crew couldn't know at that moment was that they just had saved the life of the future General Secretary of the USSR.

(Later) famous No.9 loaded onto the standard 4-axle 50-ton Flatcar heading for the Black Sea

All drawings © o5m6 2016. All rights reserved.
No publication in any form without the author's written permission.

Last Updated: January 28, 2016

Ships Overview