The Red Air Force was not an independent service and was controlled by the Red Army and the Red Navy. By 1936 Soviet factories were producing about 3,500 aircraft a year. The most important of these were the fighters Polikarpov Po-2 and the Polikarpov I-16 and the bombers Tupolev TB-3 and the Tupolev SB-2. By 1941 the Red Air Force possessed a total of 18,000 aircraft and employed 20,000 pilots and a further 180,000 personnel.
The Red Navy Airforce suffered badly at the hands of the Luftwaffe during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Most naval aviation was destroyed during the first weeks of the invasion and in 1942 the surviving aircraft were transferred to fight with the Red Army Airforce.