Somıd Sardar Xan

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Somıd Rostam-ulı Sardar Xan
Title: Commander-in-Chief, Turkestani Air Force
 Term in office: 1934–1941
 Predecessor: Ernur Süleymen-ulı Sardar
 Successor: Tomajan Naqıb-ulı Sardar
Title: Xan of Qoqand
 Term in office: 1941–1965
 Predecessor: İmän Yunus Xan
 Successor: SUCCESSOR
 Date: 18- Hazan, At jıl 1894
(18th October 1894)
 Place: Qoqand, Turkestan
 Date: 10- Kärgüyük, Yılan jıl 1965
(10th September 1965
 Place: Qoqand, Turkestan
Profession: Military officer
Relgious Affiliation: Zoroastrianism

Somıd Sardar Xan was the Turkestani general who is popularly credited with the creation of the Turkestani Air Force.

Born on 18- Hazan (18th October), At jıl 1894 as Somıd Rostam-ulı Sultan, he was a descendent of Kärim Xan of Qoqand. During the attempted Russian invasion of Turkestan in Qoı jıl 1931, he was a 37-year-old Beğ (=Lieutenant-Colonel) in Firuz Sardar's army. He distinguished himself in that conflict and was offered the Heart of Iron medal, but he refused to accept it, saying that others who were now dead had more claim to decorations and awards than he.

One of the factors during the battle that heavily favoured the Russian forces was the imbalance of air power between the two sides. General Shilkov's forces had only one smaller airship, but Turkestan had no air forces at all, and it was not until the third day that Chinese fighter aeroplanes could be redeployed to Muynaq. This let the Russian airship Voronezh bombard the Turkestanis basically at will. The Turkestani troops hated the "flying sausage" and hated more that they could not respond to its bombardments in kind. Aides to Somıd Beğ at the time recall him swearing that "When Turkestan gets its own version of that accursed flying sausage, I will personally take charge of the first one and ram it up that Russian commander's fat white arse!"

While this story is probably apocryphal, Somıd Beğ almost got his wish to command the first Turkestani airship. In Tüyü jıl 1932 Turkestani reckoning (1933 Gregorian), two years after the invasion was repulsed, Turkestan took delivery of the Chinese airships Long Shan and Long Xu, which were to form the core of a new Turkestani Air Force, and Somıd, now promoted to Mıņbaşı (=Colonel), was to command the second one. The two airships were renamed on entering Turkestani service, partly as a matter of national pride and partly to disguise their origins. Long Shan was given the name Aydahar ("Dragon") and placed under the command of Ernur Süleymen-ulı Mıņbaşı, while Somıd Mıņbaşı's Long Xu was renamed Abyılan ("Great Serpent"). Aydahar and Abyılan were already over 8 years old by the time Turkestan took possession of them, and were considered a little primitive compared with the most modern contemporary zeppelins, but they constituted the first air power that the State of Turkestan had ever had, and caused quite a number of re-evaluations of existing strategy and planning based on the new capabilities.

Ernur and Somıd worked together to develop a Turkestani doctrine of air warfare, making an effort to integrate the new capacity with existing strategic frameworks despite more than occasional frustration at the hands of battle planners without a conception of what an airship was.

In Qaban jıl 1934, Ernur was killed when the staff car he was riding in was involved in a motor accident. He was posthumously promoted to Sardar (=General), as the first commander-in-chief of the Turkestani Air Force, and the captaincy of Aydahar was given to the Qazaq Serik Dosjan-ulı Qolbaşı. Command of the First Air Squadron, though, passed to Somıd Sardar-Beğ. It was in this period that the distinct Turkestani style of air warfare came into being, perhaps borrowing unconsciously from the ancient light-cavalry style of warfare that had been practised on the steppes for time immemorial.

This style of warfare – heavy on the use of fighter aeroplanes with the long-range cannon-armed airships used mostly for command-and-control – was first battle-tested against Russian air power in the Sino-Russian War of 1934-1938. Turkestan's role in that conflict was only a peripheral one, and it did not enter the war at all until 1937, but its fighter-heavy air warfare style proved adept at handling either ground-based targets, low-flying airships or other fighters. The aeroplanes of the time, however, did not have the operational ceiling to engage airships at high altitude. The first true anti-airship fighters would be introduced in the following years in the "Thunderstorm War" between Russia and Lithuania in 1939-1940.

Somıd Sardar (promoted again by the end of the war) lost a leg in Turkestan's last action in the Sino-Russian War, and was forced to retire from active duty in his Air Force. In Yılan jıl 1941, however, the Aq Süyük of his home city elected him as Xan of Qoqand after the death of İmän Yunus Xan (1927-1941). Somıd Sardar Xan served in that capacity until his own death in 1963, even into the Snorist period after the Xanates lost a lot of their power.

On his death, the Government of National Unity honoured him with a state funeral, one of the only state funerals bestowed on a non-Party member during that era, and by far the largest. Rumours at the time (and since) suggested that the EBÜK regime had had something to do with his death; it is probable that the scale of Somıd Sardar Xan's funeral was a bid for some kind of public absolution by the Snorist regime. In all fairness, even with the unreliable nature of documentation from the EBÜK period, which were often full of politically-expedient falsehoods or doctored after the fact, it seems likely that Somıd's death was in fact due to natural causes. The evidence is not cut-and-dried, but given some of the prominent Qurultaı-era figures who were executed openly by that regime on flimsy charges, it is improbable that they would have gone to the extent they did over someone they regarded as a traitor.

There is a statue of Somıd Sardar Xan in the city square that bears his name in Qoqand, and another one outside the Air Force section of Combined Military Headquarters in Yası.

Preceded by:
İmän Yunus Xan

Qoqand Xanate.PNG
Xan of Qoqand

Succeeded by:


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