Lend-Lease was originally established in 1941 as a strategy to allow the United States to provide material assistance to Great Britain while preserving its official neutrality. In June 1941, Germany suddenly attacked the Soviet Union destroying thousands of warplanes in the first week. In October 1941, the U.S. formally extended Lend-Lease aid to the Soviets in an agreement known as the First Protocol. Aircraft were either crated and shipped by sea across the North Atlantic or flown via an air-sea link from Miami to South America, Africa and Iran. By the summer of 1942 and the implementation of the Second Protocol, the two sides agreed to a plan for the Alaska-Siberia (ALSIB) Lend-Lease route.
American Pilots ferried the planes to Great Falls, Montana and then with Canadian cooperation they brought the aircraft along the Northwest Staging Route through western Canada and into interior Alaska. Once at Ladd, Soviet pilots flew them to Galena, Nome and then on the Siberian Portion of the route westward to the front line.
Aircraft deliveries over ALSIB Lend-Lease route began in September 1942 and were officially concluded in September 1945.
The Air Transport Command (ATC) was responsible for the operational details of the ALSIB Lend-Lease route on the North American side. The 7th Ferry Group, a separate command within ATC, provided the pilots who flew the aircraft to Ladd. On the other side, a Soviet military detachment and representatives of the Soviet Purchasing Commission oversaw the transfers. At the peak of operations there were reported to be as many as 300 Russians stationed at Ladd.