with Vladimir Mikhailovich Mukhmediarov,
pilot of 14th GvIAP
Interview by Oleg Korytov and Konstantin Chirkin ©
Redactors: Igor Zhidov, Ilya Grinberg ©
Special thanks: Svetlana Spiridonova
Vladimir Mukhmediarov visits 14 GvIAP at 2005
Vladimir Mikhailovich Mukhmediarov, was born in Moscow
in 1923. There I lived with my parents and there I went
to school. My parents were simple labourers. Family was
large, there were five children – four sons and a
The school I was studying in was supervised by «Pravda»
publishing house. From there I went to pioneer camps.
Approximately at the age of 16 I entered aeroclub…
you apply yourself, or were you sent by a directive?
I did it
my self. When I finished aeroclub, I was younger then 18
years old, and because of this I was not accepted to a
military flight school. Later, from winter 1940, I
started flying in Zheleznodorozhniy aeroclub.
What’s your education status?
school and flight school. I finished the seventh grade.
I finished evening high school later, in the army. I had
junior officers education and I had to have high school
did you study in aeroclub?
a program in aeroclub. Theory at first, then flight
practice. We flew Po-2 with instructor, take
offs-landings. Then maneuvers in the zone. Loops, all
kinds of combat turns, zooms. That’s with instructor.
Then instructor would allow solitary flight. A bag of
sand would be placed in the rear cabin in order not to
change weight balance…
many flights did you make before your first solo flight?
fifteen with instructor. In the second aeroclub I flew
solo on the sixth flight already.
In the beginning of 1941, in February, perhaps,
instructors from Chernigov military flight school came.
They examined how everyone was flying, and the best were
listed as candidates.
After that my file was sent from the Voenkomat to the
flight school. I came to Chernigov flight school in the
beginning of April.
I passed medical commission, but at vesting commission
— You are not 18 years old yet. You should go home.
— I will be eighteen in the end of April.
— Fine, we will accept you.
And they allowed me to pass. I studied from 1941 until
1943. When the War broke out, we begun studying with
increased speed, by a shortened program…
At first we studied on I-15bis and I-16. There also were
I-5, but we did not fly them, only taxied and trained
holding direction on take offs and landings. The fabric
from the wings was torn away, so that no one would take
off. It was done because we had no twin control I-15Bis.
did you find out about the war?
We started walking with rifles and gas masks. Airplanes
were dragged away from the airfield to the forest. At
first we knew nothing. Then we noticed an airplane at an
altitude of about 1500 meters. We couldn’t see if it was
ours or enemy airplane. Then something fell out of it.
— Are they dropping leaflets?
Suddenly those “leaflets” started wining… For increased
effect on moral Germans made whistles it the bomb
stabilizers. In order to make more noise. Bombs fell to
the taxiway. Three men were killed, ten men were
approximately did it happen?
It was in
June. Just as war begun, in it’s first days… Their
reconnaissance airplanes flew over Chernigov even before
the war. I remember how I-16 took off to intercept one,
but couldn’t catch up. Junkers flew away – it had good
Shortly after, we were evacuated to Rostov, where we
were based at turf airfields. One squadron was at
Mechotinskaya, another in Yegorlykskaya. And our
squadron at station “Verblyud”, that’s Zelenograd…
you evacuated with your planes?
planes. Planes were at flat carts, we were in cargo
carts, where beads were made…
many other schools airplanes were taken to the frontline
units. Was that so in your case?
always were with our planes. Near Rostov we flew a
little bit, but when Germans got close again we had to
evacuate for the second time. This time to Central Asia.
Many schools were sent there. Some were sent to Baku,
from there further to Central Asia. We were taking the
long way: via Saratov and Stalingrad. We were going at
winter 1941–1942 and it took a long time. Via Kazakhstan
and Tashkent we came to Kyzyl-Arvat, that’s Turkmenia.
No other schools were nearby.
Main squadron stayed in Kyzyl-Arvat and so was all
school staff. Other squadrons were spread out in the
field bases. We flew a lot. We were trained faster by
shortened program. There was a shortage in trained
I finished the flight school in 1943. Instead of
supposed four years of training in took two years.
Training was weak. Only piloting, in general. At first
I-16. UTI-4. I almost completed full program. In 1942 we
received Yaks. They were built in Saratov. I finished
Yak-1 training program, again take off-landing, and zone
attitude towards I-15 and I-16?
speed to catch the enemy, nor to escape...
was your attitude towards Yaks?
course, Yak was much more powerful then I-15 or I-16. It
could be felt even on take off…
Which plane was easier to master? What advantages I-15
and I-16 had? What about Yak-1?
a difficult airplane. It was very strict on landing, and
in the air it could always spin out of control, when one
was performing aerobatics. This spin was not a maneuver,
it was rather wide.
Germans were afraid to fly them. Before the war there
was some agreement and our pilots tried out
Messershmitts, while Germans were offered to try out
I-16. They flew, and considered it to be very tricky.
Everybody said that it easily came out of spins.
it came out easy. But sometimes it was delayed. It would
enter dive, and then it would come out…
Yak was easier on take offs and landings then I-16. Yak
was landing before its wings got critical angle of
attack. I-16 landed at critical angle of attack. If one
would pull the stick just a bit more, it would fall to
you came to the flight school, what kind of uniform did
uniform… Like a soldiers uniform, only insignia and
emblems indicated that we were cadets. Oh, yes, and the
you were fed?
you moved to Rostov how you were fed there?
excellently, but also sufficiently. Flight crews have to
be fed well, or they will loose conscience in the air.
We were fed poorly in Central Asia.
there entertainment in the school: concerts, movies?
Chernigov there was a Palace of Culture, we went there
to see movies. But it was on rare occasions.
you know that our bombers dropped their load on Berlin
cadets woke up early, gathered near radio and listened
to the news broadcast. Then, in August 1941 it was
announced that Il-4s bombed Berlin. It was a
well-accepted news. They bomb us, why we can’t bomb
Il-4 is more of a crow, than a plane. But they made it,
and bombed Berlin. Then Germans captured Estonia, and no
our aircraft could reach it.
you change uniforms in Central Asia? For example, did
you get panama hat?
were not even available during the war. They appeared
after the war.
In Central Asia we did not get high boots, just low
boots with wrappings. There was some accident somewhere
and a conclusion was made that a wrapping jammed
controls. It was decided that it is unsafe to get inside
a plane in wrappings. There was one pair of high boots
for all squadron, when it was a time to fly we would get
them on and fly.
Mostly we were fed by rice. There was also a “shrapnel”
as we called barley. Meat was lamb and camel. Food was
in short supply. Sometimes, when flights were long, we
received a second breakfast - sandwiches…
In Kyzyl-Arvat we lived in barracks made of clay, we
built them our selves. The roofs were made of hay…
At the Kodzh airfield we lived in summer tents, that’s
near Kara-Kum desert, railway station Kodzh. There was
one water well within 18 kilometers. Then it became
cold, and we installed winter double-layer tents. We
made heaters with a long pipe, almost around entire tent
so that the exhaust was already cold. That’s how we
you have at least a visiting mobile movie service?
movies perhaps couple of times there. But I remember an
actress Shulzhenko. For the first time I saw her
performance there. It was a «Concert to the Front», I
think that was how it was called.
the area of Kyzyl-Arvat there were no airfields…
there were 10-15 kilometers in length. There, in
Turkmenia, nothing was growing. It was flat cracked
earth spreading for dozens of kilometers. To the right
from us were mountains, there was Iran…
Where there salt mines?
there to get some firewood for our kitchen. Early in the
morning, before sunrize, we went to sands to find
vegetation for the kitchen. Then we were flying because
it was too hot to go to the desert during day time –
very hot, up to 40 degrees (Celcium) in the shadow.
There was one well. Depth – fifteen meters. Water – very
cold. Then we, starting from about eight o’clock, begun
flying, and flew until eleven. After that all movement
stopped. It was a period of day when no one was able to
Airplanes were semi-dug into the sand. We were afraid of
the strong winds, which were called “afghanets”.
On Yaks training program was very brief: takeoff –
landing, zone. And a bit of formation flight training.
not fly route training, and we did not train to shoot
neither in the air, nor on the ground. I believe, never
before such training existed.
During training time, how many flights did you make?
got to the front? A few. They are listed in my logbook.
Here: U-2, 57 hours flown. UTI-4 – 24,5…
I finished the school in March 1943. Our group
graduated. My friend I and were sent to Saratov, to the
ZAP. I went there for three days, once again through
Kazakhstan. Airfield was in Bagai-Baranovka. There we
were supposed to be trained in ZAP… But mostly we were
fooling around there, because there were no airplanes.
Then we were sent to Leningrad Front.
which rank did you finish the school?
did you receive Lieutenant rank?
received Lieutenant rank when I already was in 14th
Regiment. After the war ended, I think.
pilots were chosen to be sent to Leningrad?
no choosing. Pilots were sent where there was shortage
of them. In September 1943 I was sent to the
headquarters, there I received a directive… I went
through Moscow, then Kobona, from Kobona we crossed
Ladoga Lake on a ship to Maryin Nos, and finally to
Finlandskii railway station. In the Air Army
Headquarters, located at Dvortsovaya Square I was
directed to Volkhov.
I crossed Ladoga on another ship to Kobona. Then
hitchhiked a truck from Kobona to the Plekhanovo
airfield. There were two regiments stationed there: the
159th Regiment under command of Pokryshev (equipped with
Lavochkins), and the 196th Regiment equipped with
Airacobras. It was commanded by HSU Andrei Chirkov.
I was assigned to the ranks of the 196th regiment. I
started conversion training on Cobra. It had a front
wheel, it’s landing was a bit unusual… But first I flew
a Kittyhawk, in order to get used to the instrument
panel. It was not common in our aviation: feet, miles…
we had to recalculate constantly in our minds. Landing
characteristics were very close to Yak, and the only
purpose of these flights was to get used to instrument
End of 1943. Airfield Plekhanovo. Behind pilots a
A-20Gcan be seen
would you compare Yak with Kittyhawk?
crap in comparison with Yak… In terms of flying
qualities Yak was better. But Hawk was well equipped,
excellent radio, good view from the cabin. I made
several flights in it. Then I flew in a dual-control
fighter. Pilot-instructor was an Estonian. For some
reason he couldn’t get to the fighting readiness, and
his task was to train young pilots on a dual-control
control Kittyhawk? Was it a field modification?
know the details, but if I remember correctly, they were
rebuilt by our engineers. And when engine hours were
exhausted, they installed our M-105 engine.
After several flights on a double-seat fighter,
instructor transferred me to the Cobra.
I familiarized myself with Airacobra, performed
simulated take-off and stopped, just to feel it on take
off. Then I took off, everything was fine. When you
land, you shouldn’t pull the stick all the way, and it
will get on the nose wheel all by it self. Visibility
was good; engine was behind the pilots seat. I believe
that Alison was a great engine, I remember it to this
day, but airframe was way too heavy. Armament: 37
millimeter cannon shooting through spinner, two
sincronized large caliber machine guns firing through
the propeller, and four Colt-Brownings in the wings.
When one pressed the trigger, it was a firework…
There are rumors that Cobras was prone to spins?
already coming to this.
All our planes weighted around 3 metric tons. Yak
weighted a bit less. Lavochkin weighted a bit more.
Cobra had a take off weight of 6 metric tons. (Take-off
weight of P-39 Airacobra was about 3.5 tons – I.G.)
A lot of armament, a lot of ammunition, a lot of fuel.
Heavy airplane. We were stationed with Lavochkins, but
especially for Cobras there was an extended runway.
Because it required longer runway for a take-off. (Required
runway for P-39 was about 500 meters from a grass field
and less from a concrete, La-5 required runway 450
meters long with a take off distance 550 meters – IG)
By the way, division commander Matveyev once came to us:
— What’s this plane like? I’m going to try it out.
He tried to take off not on the runway, intended for
Cobras, but on the one used by Lavochkins. We saw that
he was rolling on the strip and rolling. The strip was
almost over. I thought, that was it, he will crash. But
he managed to lift off, wings were shaking, but he did
take off. Gained some altitude. Landed normally, taxied
to the parking area, spitted to the ground and went away
without speaking to anybody.
I once was going in a commuter train to Pushkin with
him, to the museum of the 275th Division, and asked him:
— How did it happen that you almost crashed in a Cobra?
— You never warned me that I had to extend flaps before
Chirkov didn’t tell him, he thought that division
commander would know it himself. He was a subordinate
and it is not a subordinate’s business to tell his
superior what to do…
Cobra easily entered any kind of spins. Both into simple
and into flat spins. It also had bad landing
characteristics due to the fact that it was tail-heavy.
(This is very unusual comment as most accounts praise
Airacobra for its excellent landing characteristics due
to tricycle landing gear – IG). There were two of
us, who came to train on Cobras, we already mastered
take offs and landings. Then they told me:
— Now go to the zone for aerobatics. And look after your
tail, Germans are close by, they can shoot you down…
So I flew, sharp turns first, then half-loop down…
What’s going on? Earth is so close now? But I was flying
at 3 000 meters. In a half-loop I lost 1 500 meters, Yak
would loose 600 meters. What a heavy airplane, I
I gained 3 000 again… Zooms, combat turns, half loops,
barrel rolls… Then I flew in formation with my friend,
with whom we came from the flight school – Sergeant
Vladimir Pavlov. He flew very well, he was an excellent
pilot. But he did not make it to combat-ready status,
got killed in a Cobra.
It happened before my eyes: their pair flew from Volkhov
to the airfield at an altitude of approximately 2 000
meters. Leader begun diving, dove, dove, then he pulled
out very sharply. His aircraft lifted its nose and then
begun falling like a leaf. Chirkov shouted over radio:
— Bail out!
We heard no reply.
— Bail out!
— Bail out!
Airplane fell into the bushes…
Pavlov Vladimir Ilyich born 1922, Sergeant of the 196th
IAP. Was killed in P-39 accident on 2 February 1944.
Burried in Plekhanovo).
He wanted to fight so much… We buried him at Plekhanovo…
Engineers for a long time were investigating the cause
of the crash, their conclusion was that stabilizer mount
broke on high G maneuver. Aircraft exited the dive with
extremely high G load, pilot lost conscience, further on
it was uncontrolled fall…
There were a lot of accidents and catastrophes on
People who flew and fought on Cobras have polar opinions
about this plane. What is your opinion?
not good for fighting.
is, you did not like it?
like it. But I read a book called “I fought on Cobra”
recently – a lot of other pilots liked it.
But there were too many non-combat related losses on
Which fuel did you use? American?
have worked on American B-100, which we did not have. On
our B-89 engine lost power, and airplane couldn’t give
all it was built for. I never flew it fuelled with
B-100, and I never fought on Cobra. I only mastered it.
As I completed training I was transferred to the 14th
GvIAP equipped with Yaks.
Airfield Plekhanovo, 1943. Squadron commander Bashkirov
performs a master class on dogfight tactics
you already were combat ready on Cobras, why were you
regiment did nothing at a time. Some pilots left to
Novosibirsk to bring new airplanes, which came from
Alaska. Those pilots that remained at Plekhanovo were
doing nothing. Meanwhile, the 14th regiment suffered
severe losses, and I was sent there.
I started combat missions on Yak-7TD — it was called
“Tyazhelyj Duboviy” (heavy and oak-like – Oak-like is
idiomatic expression characterizing such features as
being slow and clumsy I.G.). It had four wing fuel tanks
and was built for escorting bombers to large distances.
I finished the war on Yak-9U with M-107 engine. Its
engine life was 50 hours only. There also were a lot of
accidents with this airplane. At high power connecting
rods would break. We lost one pilot after the war.
Engine on his airplane stalled over Ezel. He decided to
belly land, Yak’s nose was long, and he couldn’t see
anything directly in front of him, so he hit a large
stone. Pilot’s head was smashed against gunsight.
I also had to belly land it. When I was thrown around
the cockpit I grabbed gunsight trying to hold on…
April 1945. Mukhmediarov by the side of his Yak-9U
were you transferred to the 14th Regiment?
end of 1943 I think. In April 1944 near Gdov, at the
airfield Chernevo regiment commander HSU Svitenko tested
me and allowed to combat. We then flew to Narva, Tartu.
Then fighting near Narva ended. In the beginning of
summer 1944, we went to Karelian Isthmus. In the fights
over it our regiment was completely torn to pieces.
Not only our regiment suffered losses, but the entire
Division too. Serov Vladimir also perished then. (HSU
(posthumorously) Senior Leitenant of the 159th IAP was
killed in action on 26 June 1944).
We covered the 943rd ShAP over Karelia. Twice HSU
Georgii Parshin served there. We fought alongside with
him all the time.
We were based at the airfield Maisniemi. It was a large,
grass airstrip. On one side sturmovicks were parked, on
the other – our fighters. Every day there were fierce
fights… We lost a lot of men. When we entered the
battle, there were 55 planes in the regiment. When we
finished fighting, hardly a squadron – 10 airplanes were
airworthy. All others were lost. We suffered losses
everyday… there was too much work to be done…
There is a museum of our Division in Pushkin. I was
going there on a train with a General, former commander
of our Division. I asked him:
— I’m sorry, General, but why did we suffer so many
losses over Karelia?
Former Division commander answered:
— We did all the dirty work. That’s why we lost so many.
That’s his words. Major losses were suffered by the
159th, 14th, 196th regiments and the 29th Guards
Regiment. The 191st regiment was equipped with
Kittyhawks, so they flew rarely.
Airfield Chernevo near Gdov, 1944. Pilots from 2nd
Squadron. Vasiliy Glinkin, Vasiliy Derevyankin
(Perished), Boris Haidin (Perished), Maxim Glazunov,
Makar Golovin, Nikolai Zelenov (Perished), Gordeev
you fly escort missions only?
the General said, we did all the dirty work there. When
ground fighting begun, I escorted Tu-2 bombers,
reconnaissance Pe-2 were escorted by a pair. We also
flew close air support…
Wasn’t Pe-2 faster then you?
couldn’t overrun us. It could outdive us. We were
returning from a reconnaissance flight.
— Well, — he said, — goodbye!
Pushed the stick — and went down… We couldn’t catch up,
he easily escaped in a dive.
there cases when Yaks wing skin was torn in flight?
about such cases in the flight school, but not in the
In my opinion, and I participated in 25 fights, best
fighter of WWII was Me-109G2.
Our planes were called Russfaner by Germans. Yaks were
built out of wood. Only when Yak-3 appeared we got an
upper hand over Messer. Otherwise Germans were always
higher then we were because of more powerful engine. And
if they were higher, they were faster.
Could they be above you only because you were given
precise tasks with predefined altitudes?
too, but we always were at the limit. Even if you banked
too much airplane would loose altitude. They would come
in higher then we could fly, and hit us out of there.
you came to the 14th Regiment, how you were met?
HSU Svitenko was the Regiment commander.
— Well, let me test you in the air in a dual-control
He tested me, and made a note in my logbook – «Flights
to the combat missions allowed».
are a Tatar by nationality. Were there cases of racial
were one of the youngest pilots in the regiment?
of young pilots. I’ll describe my first combat mission.
Squadron commander HSU Zelenov and flight commander
Vasiliy Derevyankin took two of us, to show where was
We were stationed near Gdov, airfield Chernevo. We took
— Look here, there is one airfield, there is another
one. Now we are going to the front line, to Narva.
We gained 3 000 meters, and went to Narva. We saw
explosions on the ground… Most important for youngster
is to keep on the tail of the leader…
was your leader?
Derevyankin. (Leitenant Derevyankin Vasiliy
Dmitrievich was shot down in aerial combat in Vussami
area on 10 October 1944).
Second youngster was Gordeev, his leader was Zelenov.
We were going back at an altitude of 3000 meters.
Suddenly, a radio message came from the ground:
— Go to Gdov! Gdov is being bombed!
— I’ve got two young ones in the flight.
— I order to go to Gdov!
There were a lot of planes over Gdov, Ju-87s, FW-190s…
The city was burning. I remember how Vasiliy was
shooting… Then I noticed a pair of Fokkers on my tail. I
begun tight turn, they followed me, but Yak had a much
tighter turn radius… We were chasing each others tails
over Chudskoye Lake. I almost caught enemy wingman, but
his leader saw it, turned over wing and they escaped.
I noticed the direction they went to, and decided that I
should fly in opposite direction. You know, I simply
forgot to look at the compass. I flew from the middle of
the lake, it seemed that aircraft was not moving at all.
Then I noticed a Yak ahead. I flew after him, while he
tried to outrun me. It was known that Germans flew Yaks
and shot our unsuspecting pilots down.
Anyway, I caught him and made formation. So he led me to
Chernevo airfield. We landed, taxied to the full stop. I
— Where is Gordeev?
— He’s over there, in a forest.
It turned out that he was shot down, all cooling liquid
had vaporized, so he tried to return to the airfield. He
was trying to land his plane, when an engine stalled
over pine forest… aircraft suddenly lost altitude,
caught pine trees tops and fell to the Ground. But
Gordeev stayed alive!
That was my first mission at the front. Then everything
seemed as usual…
Zelenov once was court martialled for loosing 6 Pe-2s on
escort mission. Do you know what happened exactly?
know nothing about it. I know that he was sent to our
14th Regiment as a penalty.
Pilots used to say about our regiment that it was a
penal regiment. If somebody did something wrong, he was
sent to the 14th GvIAP for “rehab”… There were different
pilots. Some of the Heroes wanted to stay alive too
you heard anything about penal squadrons or regiments?
nothing close to infantry. There were no true penal
units in aviation. If a pilot did something extra
serious, he would be sent to infantry to a penal unit.
can you say about Zelenov?
He flew a
lot of missions, but he became too cautious in the end
of the war. What I heard about him and felt it myself:
he wasn’t too keen on entering a fight, and he didn’t
care about his wingmen… wingman is a shield of the
leader, he covers the leader. Any shield is the first to
receive a strike. Zelenov lost many of his wingmen.
flew your first mission with Zelenov. Who was your next
with many different pilots… But mostly with Maxim
Glasunov. After the war he worked at LII (Flight
research institute) – test-flew new Yak-25 in Saratov.
He was a good pilot. I flew a lot with him. I flew a lot
with other pilots too. If somebody would loose their
wingman, I would be appointed to his pair.
In 1944 we experienced heavy losses. Regiment commander
should take off and check, what was wrong, why losses
were mounting… But regiment commander did not fly. It’s
not good, people keep dying. He was a HSU, but he must
have decided for himself that he had flown too much,
enough is enough. Maybe he was right – they got their
share of fighting.
In 1944 our flight of six had escorted Marshall Govorov
to Moscow. We took off from airfield in Karelia. He was
flying on board of Li-2, and we escorted him to Moscow.
He went there to receive his Marshal’s Star. He received
his star, we spent a night in Moscow, and then we
escorted him back.
were still flying Yak-7TD?
Yak-7TD — this same heavy-oak-like…
On Yak-7TD and Yak-7T there was a 37mm cannon and two
large caliber machine guns. That was their basic
Aviation plant in Novosibirsk at first built Yak-1s (Yak-1
was built only in Saratov and not in Novosibirsk – IG),
then they begun building Yak-7. Some of them were
equipped with 37 mm cannons. Yak-9s also came with 37 mm
cannons, for example Yak-9U with a VK-107 engine.
there any visual difference to tell that this Yak was
equipped with 37 mm cannon?
almost identical in appearance, but you could tell it:
in a Yak-9U there was a radiator on the belly behind
pilots seat. Yak-7 had a beard – oil radiator under the
stopped when Germans were chasing you over Chudskoye
I was chasing them.
chased them. What happened after that fight?
were liberating Estonia…
anything interesting happen there?
were based at Chernevo airfield on 14 May 1944, squadron
commander Ivan Baranov had made a head-on ram.
This is how it happened. Ju-88, covered by Fw-190s came
to bomb our airfield. There were about 25 Junkers
bombers and 12 FW-190.
Only one flight managed to take off when bombs begun
falling, and fighting ensued. We, those who did not take
off, were looking from the ground. Focke-Wulf was going
down in a shallow dive. Our Ivan Baranov was gaining
altitude. They were shooting at each other, no one
willing to turn away. They collided head-on at an
altitude of 100-150 meters…
It was horrible. There was a huge explosion! Our Yak
burned out almost completely. The nose part of
Focke-Wulf was totally destroyed and he fell into the
forest just outside of the airfield boundaries (According
to German records Uffz. Heinz Buschan of 6.II.JG54
flying Fw190A-5/F3 was killed on 14.05.44 while
colliding with Yak-9. Had previouselly claimed only one
Il-2 as shot down on 28.04.1944).
often did Germans attack head-on?
depended on many factors. Some times it happened in a
fight. We came in at almost 0, firing at each other, but
somebody would turn away – no one wanted to die. It was
much better to cut enemy’s tail in terms of rams…
do you know about pilot Bibin head on ram.
Georgiy Bibin. I do not know when he carried out this
ram. He came to our regiment when the war ended, we were
stationed at Hapsala in Estonia. He told us how it
At the last moment he pulled the stick. Usually it is
bad, because then you open the belly of an airplane, and
it becomes a good target. Because of this usually you
try to push the stick forward, just not to let the enemy
see your belly…
He told us:
— I pulled the stick just a little bit, then there was a
noise, engine begun shaking. Then it stalled…
He used to be an instructor pilot, very good pilot.
Airfield was close to the front line, so he managed to
glide from an altitude of 6 000 meters. He landed
normally, technicians found bits and pieces of a German
fighter in a water radiator… I do not know where he
fought. Some where in Ukraine… For head-on ram he was
awarded an Order of Red Banner. Georgiy had passed away
were your thoughts about ramming?
highly risky business, you may die yourself, but your
enemy may survive. If you are in a dogfight against
fighters, there is no true reason for ramming. If you
are attacking a bomber, then you may come from below
behind and cut his tail by propeller. Without tail
control he will fall. If you have no ammo but this bird
has to be shot down, you may ram him. But you should do
it carefully, to stay alive yourself…
many missions did you fly per day?
Karelia: five, six, even seven. We took off at sunrise
and landed at sunset.
much time technicians required to prepare airplane for
worked fast. I did not note, but about twenty minutes,
refueled, reloaded, and it was ready.
Marchenko, Ivanov, Kazadaev, Demichev, Taran
pilots satisfied by technicians work?
there cases when they did not do everything right?
would be a case for court martial. With an outcome in a
penal unit. No, everything was fine… By the end of the
war, in winter, they all had frostbitten fingers…
your logbook there are notes: «Me-109 shot down, FW-190
shot up». What is the difference between Shot down and
down – it means that there was a confirmation from
ground forces. If I know where and when it fell, a
representative officer from our regiment would go there
and collect confirmation from the ground troops in this
area. Then everything was clear…
there a need to attach wrecks to a report, or was a
report itself enough?
document was brought to the regiment… About “shot up”:
it happened like this. We flew escort for Sturmoviks. I
noticed that a 190 flew past me.
I fired at him from all guns. There was a thick black
smoke. No flames, just smoke. “Humpbacks” saw it all.
But it did not fall right here, it went in a shallow
descent with a trail of smoke. We went on at our target,
so no one could say what happened to it…
Because of this it was recorded as “shot up”?
you payed for a messer that you shot down?
fighter cost 1 000 roubles, a bomber was 1 500. I also
received a payment for 50 accomplished missions.
many mission did you fly?
I flew 85
was considered a combat mission?
mission was when you had a mission to accomplish, even
if there was no fight. Dogfights were accounted for
you paid for Focke-Wulf?
did you shot «109» down?
It was a
very bad weather. Cloud cover was at approximately 600
meters. We were flying close air support over the front
line near Vyborg. There were four of us.
Messers also came in a flight of four. They flew in and
out of clouds. Germans were cunning, they were looking
for convenient position. When he saw that he could kill
you without any risk, be sure that he will do so.
Then I saw – one got out of cloud and is heading almost
straight at me. Right into my gunsight! I just pressed
triggers and fired all my guns at him... I even thought
that we are going to collide. But everything was quiet.
Then somebody said over radio:
— Look, Your Messer is going straight down in flames.
That’s how I shot it down.
1944 there shouldn’t have been Germans on “109”s in
Karelia. Most likely those were Finns?
Germans. At spring 1944 we fought at Narva. At summer we
commenced fighting to liberate Karelian isthmus. Here we
met those same Germans we fought near Narva. Those same
Germans on those same Fokkers and Messers. They flew
over the Gulf of Finland to the bases in Finland.
you meet Finns in combat?
they did not have Messers. They had Brewsters and some
other Fokkers, not 190s. They were no match to our
At first, when we only begun fighting for Karelia, we
saw them, then, quite soon, they stopped flying
completely. They were very slow, like our planes at the
beginning of the war.
Brewster was quite close to Yak-1.
was much better.
Could you have told by flying signature was it a Finn or
a German in the air? Finns had Messers at their
their markings: white circle and fashist swastika
inside. But we never saw them. We met Germans with black
crosses, yellow wingtips, yellow spinner, a bit of the
tail was also yellow. Our Yaks had white spinner and
was done to easily recognize friend or foe. At large
distance silhouettes were similar…
was the meaning of camouflage if these yellow bits were
no so big. Yellow parts at the wingtips were about 10-15
centimeters in width, and yellow spinner. It had almost
no effect on the camouflage.
camouflage work at all?
course. It worked against ground. Which one was better:
ours or German? I can’t really say.
Germans had Gray-Dark gray camouflage by the end of war?
had Green-Dark green. (By the end of the war Soviet
fighter planes had grey – dark grey camouflage and green
– black camo was standard prior mid-1943 – IG).
Camouflage was needed to hide against earth. If you look
upwards you will see airplane in any camouflage. It does
lot of our pilots believed that ammo load was not enough
enough for a usual dogfight. There were 30 rounds for 37
mm cannon. Can’t say about machine guns.
which altitudes did you usually fly?
air patrol at 5 000 meters usually. At this altitude we
could fly and fight. Above it M-105 engine lost power
you use oxygen mask at 5 000 meters?
yet. No one used them. We took a mouthpiece, sucked it
and that was all. Oxygen mask did not allow for a good
situational awareness. Situational awareness is
everything… If I saw the enemy, I already had 50%
chances to win the fight… You have to twist head all the
you fly with open or closed canopy?
closed. If you open it, you will lose a bit of speed…
Some flew with open. For example Dubovik, Deputy
Regiment commander. When we flew close air support, we
often saw that his canopy was almost always open. It was
not completely transparent, so the view was a bit
there an armored glass?
glass was in the front. Behind us was an armored metal
plate, about shoulder high, and the rest was armored
glass, for viewing of what was happening behind. Our
first Yaks were produced with full metal armored
headrest. Then it was decided that glass was needed. But
the view at long distances was still bad – armored glass
was sandwich-like, so visibility was distorted.
there a rear view mirror?
them on Spitfires, not on Yaks.
flew against Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs, other
pilots also recall that Messer was a better fighter.
it would be more correct to compare Focke-Wulf with
Lavochkins. They both have air cooled engine.
our pilots always recall that Messerschmitts were much
better then Fokkers. They say that Focke-Wulf was
nothing but rather average fighter… Germans, on the
other hand consider Messerschmits as an obsolete
improved it all the time.
it was getting heavier with every modification and lost
it’s handling characteristics.
Messerschmitt was much more maneuverable. If it, for
example, went upwards, it would escape. Focke-Wulf was
heavy. It even had a turn radius larger then Messer.
The only serious advantage Fokker had over Messer was
the amount of guns. That is, if it hit – it’s a kill.
Messer had only three guns. But… If you are at the tail
and shoot from 200 meter, there is no need in so many
guns. Cobras had 7 guns, and that was thought to be too
much. Our pilots asked to remove the wing guns…
broke the Karelian defense line, captured Vyborg…
went to liberate Estonia. To the airfield Krikovo near
Kingisepp. We were stationed there with Humpbacks, from
there we flew to Narva. Then there was airfield
Smuravievo. From there we also flew to Tartu and Narva.
Then we were based near Hapsala – airfield Ungru. Quite
commonly we were based with sturmoviks. It was very
convenient to be based alongside, we always had a chance
to listen to complaints, to decide how we are going to
interact in the next mission. We took off and landed
together, there was no need to wait for each other.
Tactically it was very convenient. When we came back we
met the sturmovik pilots in the canteen.
there complaints that fighters abandoned the sturmoviks
escorted sturmoviks all the time, and there were no
complaints. How can I leave them, if we live together,
and even eat together? Abandon sturmoviks? For that you
would be court martialled.
you must have heard about such cases… Zelenov was sent
could happen. It was war. We could have shot down many
planes, Germans could shoot down many of our planes.
This is war and how situation will turn – who knows?
you seen how sturmoviks were shot down?
single one fell before my eyes. I was returning to the
base with serious battle damage and a humpback was also
returning with damage. I formed up with him, and we
were you shot up?
flying with twice HSU Parshin. He flew the lead of a
nine sturmovik formation. Our four fighters were
escorting them. When they were flying back they usually
flew at tree top level, so they would be protected from
below. We flew a bit above and behind. This time we flew
right over Oerlicon position. That’s small caliber AA
guns. We got in such a melee! It was like in the mid of
a firework, they shot at us, and there was nowhere to
maneuver. Tracers everywhere… They got me. My plane
turned on its back and I half-rolled back, and saw a
hole in the wing. They tried to finish me off…
large was the hole?
went through it myself. Almost all of the center of the
wing was knocked out. It was a little bit to the side
from the fuel tank. If they would have hit it, my plane
would have blown up…
Aircraft flew sideways… They tried to shoot me down, but
they did not hit me…
I came back, taxied to the parking space. I came to the
earth through the hole in the wing. Well, I thought, it
seems I’ll have some rest from fighting. In the morning
I came to the airfield – my plane is waiting for me
fully repaired. Technicians worked all night. I couldn’t
even find where the hole was! As if nothing happened.
showed us a detonator from a shell or from a
hit me, this time at the beginning of fighting for
Karelia. We flew escort for sturmoviks. They did their
job and we were returning. Sturmoviks over tree tops, I
was flying behind and above. Everything was quiet,
nothing looked like trouble... Then, suddenly, fireballs
appeared at the side of my cockpit. I automatically gave
foot in… When I looked around, there was no one... Well,
I missed them. Fokkers attacked me from the sun. I got
relaxed, and they caught me off guard…
Engine was working, airplane flies, but there was severe
smell of fuel…
They damaged the stabilizer, fuselage and wing. I
noticed that a hole was close to the flaps.
I thought that if I will extend damaged flaps, I could
roll over, and have no time to recover…
So I extended them at an altitude of 600 meters.
Everything was normal, so I landed safely... Landed,
taxied to the parking.
The detonator was near the fuel tank. Technician found
it later and gave it to me as a present.
We were going to sleep that night. I took off my high
boots – they were just issued to me, brand new. Small
shell fragments pierced my wraps so it reminded laces.
My foot was fine, not even a scratch! I looked
attentivley and found small holes in the boot. I was
still wearing it after this.
did you see when you missed the attack?
fireballs flew past cockpit side. And four smoke trails
is, tracers helped enemy to aim and at the same time it
warned you about attack. If you did not notice it they
could have performed second run on you?
usually attacked only once. From about 400 meters. It is
almost impossible to hit anything from larger distances.
From closer distance it is also dangerous – what if
enemy plane would start to disintegrate. But I never
actually saw how planes disintegrate; they usually went
down on fire.
Yaks armament of 37mm cannon and two machine guns
only first three-four shells would hit a target, then
you saw nothing.
what distance would you train your weapons?
you have armor-piercing rounds?
was armed as following: armor-piercing, high-explosive,
high-explosive-incendiary, and tracer. Tracer always, so
you could correct your aim… Same as for American planes.
lot in a fight depends on luck… According to this: did
you have any superstitions?
I had no
about your regiment? May be pilots did not shave or get
photographed before taking off?
Everything was a lot simpler — there was no staff
photographer. You could make a photo when there was
nothing to do. About shaving – nothing special…
But there was something... Yes! There was no number “13”
plane! “12”, and right after it “14”…
there slogans or paintings on the fuselage sides?
were people who liked to paint. But it was done usually
after the war. There was no time to do it at the front.
I remember, when I flew Cobra there was an order of
Alexander Nevskii drawn on its door.
you see any “nose art” on enemy planes?
I saw a
heart pierced by an arrow with blood drops on a Messer.
And a word KAPUT. I saw it after the war on a trophy
plane at the airfield near Saratov. (Description matches
you know anything about German aces?
Geschwader commander was Hauptmann Fillipp. He was an
ace, and Germans treasured him a lot…
you fight in Estonia for a long time?
liberated Estonia we transferred to an airfield near
Hapsala. I made my last sortie to island Ezel from
there. The island was almost completely liberated, but
there was a small appendix occupied by Germans. We
escorted sturmoviks there. We could see Libava from
there, and ships in the port. I wanted to take a look at
the port, as long as sturmoviks were doing their job,
and everything was calm. I turned towards those ships.
Well, I was fired upon from all weapons! I immideatley
rolled over and dove away. They decided that I was going
to attack the ships, and their AAA opened fire from all
There all our fighting was over. We were sitting in
Hapsala and tried to intercept enemy reconnaissance
there a lot of reconnaissance planes?
overflew us maybe 2 times. No one really even tried to
intercept, since they were too far, too high and too
fast. There was no sense in chasing them.
you fire at ground targets?
flew to strafe, our task was to cover sturmoviks. But if
everything was clear… I chose targets at will. I once
saw a house and strafed it with 37 mm cannon. I clearly
saw how my tracers disappeared in the roof…
There was one case.
We went to escort sturmoviks to the frontline. They
strafed more or less normally. And then some wise guy
from the ground radioed that everything was quiet in the
air and we should descend and take part in strafing.
There were a lot of sturmoviks, and then we dove… It was
a mess — about 40 airplanes overall. Two our fighters
collided. Gordeev and Klepikov. There were so many
planes in the air, that we had to look after each other
trying to avoid collision. They both died. (According
to TsAMO on 28 June1944 airplanes of Junior Leitenant
Klepikov Aleksey Ivanovich and Sergeant Gordeev Sergey
Petrovich collided in midair over the target in Vyborg
you end the war in Estonia?
war ended in Estonia. Later I was sent here to protect
Leningrad sky in Spitfires. I was transferred in it in
Studying construction of Spitfire. Squadron engineer,
Katin, Mukhmediarov, Artemyev, Airplanes technician
it became clear that Leningrad will not fall?
lived through blockade, a Road of Life appeared. Then
they captured a piece of territory and arranged train
But everything was still blocked. Starvation. Pilots
were also poorly fed. But they have to be fed well, or
they will loose conscience in the air…
Technicians did not get enough food. I used to take
extra piece of bread for my technician; I knew that they
were in bad condition.
When we fought in Karelia, it was almost normal.
Blockade was lifted. We had rice, technicians had barley
I was fed up with rice and asked:
— Give me «technical» millet.
were at the Volkhov Front, how you were fed there?
I'll tell you one more story. When we were in the
Volkhov area, at Plekhanovo airfield, all of a sudden
Division on Li-2 commanded by Grizodubova arrived. Li-2
was an excellent night bomber. They were conducting
raids on Tallin and Helsinki. Usually they were flying
at night. We came to the canteen in the morning and they
all are sitting there. We have no room to eat. Than we
saw one of their crews are almost crying, they were
drunk. We asked what happened.
They flew to Helsinki. They took 4 bombs externally
under the belly and small bombs inside the fuselage. So
they reached the target and their navigator issued a
command to drop bombs. They opened a door and started to
drop small bombs. At this time Messershmitt 110 got on
their tail, turned his lights on and started to attack.
Of course, the pilot of Li-2 initiated evasive maneuver.
And mechanic with bombs and without a parachute fell in
the open door. Parachute was bulky and interfered with
operations when dropping bombs, so when they dropped
them they took the chute off.
So they where were grieving about their mechanic.
do you think about our and German strike aircraft, which
sturmoviks were more effective. We used to say: they
worked so much, that they got a hump. Sturmovik pilots
were very serious people. But they suffered a lot of
losses. Ju-87 was a close support bomber, but it was not
even a close match for Il-2.
opinion of bomber aviation?
was more effective. Their most common bomber was Ju-88.
It was a tactical bomber.
fighters shoot down their own aircraft?
that Germans were flying our Yaks and I know that ours
were flying Messers. I learned about it after I
attempted to fly next to our Yak over Chudskoe Lake in
order for him to lead me home. And he was scared of me.
Cases that one of us in our own regiment will shoot down
somebody of our own – no, that did not happen.
strafing by fighters require formal orders in writing?
was done on our own initiative. We helped. Sturmoviks
are strafing, all is calm in the air. And then what?
Would I bring my ammunition home? Why did I fly?
Well, you look and there is no enemy. When you go for
strafing and here they are, falling on you...
will fight, what else can you do?
if you have no ammo, if you expanded all in strafing?
it’s a risk because it is war. Otherwise I will bring
all my ammunition back home. I'd better expand it on the
ground targets. I can see them.
did you learned that the war is over?
after new Yaks to Kharkov. We were loaded in Li-2. We
came there, and suddenly somebody announced:
— The war has ended!
Everybody opened fire…
ended fighting in Estonia. It was the end of 1944. Did
you feel bad that people are still fighting and you are
sitting in the rear, that you were not going to storm
It was no
difference, somebody was fighting, but not everybody
could be there.
you fly after new planes often?
others flew. Ivan Sclyarenko flew to Moscow. He told us
that planes were at the Central airfield, right in the
town, next to the Dinamo stadium. There, in the canteen
he saw how Pokryshkin and Kozhedub were shouting at each
other. Kozhedub said:
— All aircraft that I shot down are on the ground, you
can count them with no problem. All yours – in the
water. Go find them!
I later flew airplanes to Kharkov, we brought planes
from there when the war was over.
Right after the war ended there were a lot of accidents
and catastrophes. A lot of planes were destroyed, famous
HSUs were killed…
training for a flights in complex weather conditions
then. A lot of pilots got killed in such flights. Second
wave begun when we started utilizing jet planes. At that
time I already flew a transport plane and had to bring
coffins to their home towns. Those days it was common to
bring perished pilots to their relatives.
A lot of pilots got killed in MiG-15 — engines stalled,
spin characteristics were bad… My former wingman got
killed in a spin in MiG-15…
1947 you received Spitfires. What can you say about it?
airplane. There were different versions. There were
removable wingtips. If you need to go to a higher
altitude a wingtip could be added, it would add about
1.5 m to wing span. We flew mostly with these wingtips –
high altitude variant. And if you need to fly for
manevering, then the wingtips were removed.
Then wings would look like cut.
Boris Boiko and Muhmediarov
kind of fuel was used?
Merlin 66, but we flew on our fuel, and it did not give
best results. The seat belts were of great construction…
If you sit normally, they would follow you, but if you
moved sharply they would hold you in place. Like in
you use seat belts when you flew Yaks?
waist belts. I did not use shoulder belts because they
limited movement. Of course the risk in case of belly
landing increased, but we never thought about it. Most
important was that you had to see everything.
Where was the visibility better: in Yak or in Spitfire?
Spitfires were painted?
you use drop tanks on Spitfire?
about armament in the wings being further from the
center line? Was it a problem?
Spitfire IXs had either 4 cannons or 2 cannons and 4
machineguns. I flew and fired at the cone target. (Spitfire
LF.IXE had 2 cannons and 2 .50 machine guns – IG)
pilots recall that they had a problem with propeller
pitch regulator when they flew Yak…
an automatic propeller pitch regulator. If I remember
correctly ARV-41 or 44…
could do it both manually and automatically.
Spitfire had rather narrow wheel base. Did you encounter
problems during take-off or landing at side wind?
at strong side wind direction of take-off and landing
would change, otherwise one can brake an airplane.
flew Spitfires. What was next?
special squadron was formed to train antiaircraft
gunners. I was flying at the range as a target.
they really shoot at you?
Firing was organized as follows. They aimed at me but
the barrels of their guns were turned sideways 45
degrees. Therefore, explosions were on the side. But the
quality of aiming could be judged based on the location
of these explosions. They would ask: « How do you see an
explosion?» I reply: « Saw explosions at my altitude,
all is normal». I flew a lot because as one unit will
complete their shooting another one will start it over
Once I flew to the range and was flying over it again
and again. I got bored, and decided to descend rapidly.
I turned and went in a dive. I had some nasal
congestion. My ears were hurt during the dive. I was
swallowing and shouting to clear them up as usual, but
it did not help. My ears started to bleed. I ended up in
a hospital. I spent almost a month there. My ear failed.
I lost hearing on that ear completely. On medical exam
they told me:
- You hear nothing, what kind of a fighter are you?
I went to Moscow, to specialized hospital. There I was
transferred to transport aviation. I was flying as ship
commander on Li-2 and later on Il-14. There were various
special assignments. I was flying all over the country.
I even delivered C-47 to Krasnovodsk. They brought all
obsolete airplanes there, put them on autopilot and shot
at them air-to air missiles from fighters.
Where you offended that you, a fighter pilot, became a
to be offended at? At myself, at my own health? And I
enjoyed transport aviation. A fighter pilot is like a
circus performer. They turn around, all this aerobatics
and that is all. I liked transport aviation. You engage
autopilot and go. I flew at various weather. I liked to
fly in clouds and between them. It was interesting. Down
there it was totally dark but as you get to the
altitude, here is the sun and you fly and enjoy all this
In the Far East I flew over Kuril islands, Kamchataka,
Sakhalin, and Chukotka..
Which of the transport planes did you like the most?
Il-14. It was not afraid of side winds. It had a
tricycle gear and at take-off you practically do not
feel wind. With Li-2 it was like a sale and wind
influenced it trying to spin you. Il-14 had more
powerful engines. It’s a pity I did not have a chance to
fly turboprops. I was decomissioned for health reasons.
did you do later?
completed my service in Khabarovsk, came here to
Leningrad and became an apprentice for repair of photo
and camera equipment. I liked it, and I still like to
tweak cameras and lenses.
be retired, but there are pilots who will not let enemy
through! Just try!