with Alexey Sergeevich Shmonov,
pilot of 408 BAP
Special thanks to Svetlana Spiridonova
Edited by Igor Zhidov, Ilya Grinberg and Oleg Korytov
Sergeevich Shmonov, was born in 1923, in a town of
Skopin of Ryazan Oblast. My father was a foreman of an
assembly section of mining equipment factory, while
mother was a housewife.
I received secondary education, and graduated from the
high school right before the war broke out. When I
studied at tenth grade instructors came from Skopin
aeroclub to our school and talked to us. I got
interested, and begun studying there.
Our aeroclub was attached to Bataisk aviation school,
and that’s why at summer 1941 I was sent there through
(Military commission responsible for draft and record
keeping of draftees, enlisted personnel, and officers).
rebasing, I got to Kirovobad flight school.
Which planes did you fly in aero club?
U-2’s only. Later it was renamed Po-2.
did you study in the school?
Everything that pilot had to know. At one time there was
an idea to use us as paratroopers at Caucasus, situation
there was very difficult, so we were trained
accordingly: we studied ground troops tactics, and we
had an extensive parachute training. But later these
plans were abandoned…
Which planes we had in the school? At first there was
R-5. Then I made several flights in Pe-2. After that I
started to fly an American Boston.
For the whole duration of my military service I flew
Po-2, R-5, Pe-2, Boston, Tu-2, Il-28, Tu-16.
During war years I fought on Bostons only. For those
days it was well equipped and it had nice handling
pilots, just graduated from Kirovobad Flight School
there accidents or catastrophes while you trained?
trained everything was normal. Neither me, nor anybody
else from my course had catastrophes, and I can’t recall
any accidents either…
were the living conditions in the school and later at
During the war? What kind of living conditions we could
get during war…
All kinds of buildings were turned into barracks, even
dugouts, when we flew from the dirt strips.
were you fed?
front - well. We were fed in a stationary canteen, where
breakfast, dinner and supper were served. There were
waitresses, who were serving in BAO. Both food and
service were good.
you receive any training in ZAP?
was in ZAP. After I finished flight school in 1944 I was
sent straight to the newly formed 408 BAP. At that time
it was in Kostroma, being reformed from 765 NBAP,
• 12.06.42 - 30.06.42 (765 NBAP)
• 19.08.42 - 25.12.42 (765 NBAP)
• 09.07.43 - 15.10.43 (765 NBAP)
• 08.12.44 - 09.05.45 (408 BAP)
Regiment was formed in Petrovsk as a 765th NBAP. It was
armed with Po-2s. By an order from 14.04.44 reformed
into 408th day bomber air regiment. For for dignity,
skills and honor shown in combat near town Allenstein on
22.01.45 regiment was presented a name Order of Combat
Red Banner, Allenstein 408 bomber air regiment)
flew Po-2. Flight crews were training to fly Bostons
After Kostroma — Belorussia, then Poland… But I do not
remember airfield names now.
— Who was your commander?
commander was Vladimir Ivanovich Solnyshkin, if I
I was assigned to the third squadron, under command of
Senior Lieutenant Tarasov.
was in your crew?
consisted of four men. I remember my navigator – Mikhail
Tebenkov. I can’t recall radio operator or gunner names,
since they changed often.
you remember commissar (political officer)
or osobist (special department officer)?
I do not
recall them. Besides, I never talked to special
department officer. I was a simple pilot and had nothing
to discuss with him. Commissar often came to us and
talked to crew members… He was a good man.
the moment of your appearance in the regiment was there
anybody who had previous combat experience?
course, there were those who fought on Po-2. According
to them there were no big losses while flying Po-2.
guns were installed: American or Soviet?
Guns were Soviet-made.
Before airplanes reached combat units, they went through
PARMs (Field Repare Units).
There could be quite significant changes applied, for
example bomb hangers were not compatible with our bombs.
And not only hangers were changed, but even navigators
cabin was made in the nose. A-20G was made as a ground
attack plane, so there was no front cockpit for
navigator, it was replaced by gun mounts. They were
rebuilt by our technicians back – that is, guns were
removed and navigator cockpit was placed back (A
standart A-20G had no place for navigator, which was
required by Soviet bomber crews. To counter this
problem, a field modification was made with a
designation A-20DO. It meant that guns from the nose
would be removed and a navigators cockpit would be
placed instead. Other changes meant that defense
armament would be changed to Soviet MGs, bomb hangers
were also changed to Soviet ones).
kinds of missions did you regiment fly?
regiment was not used for precision bombing, more like
semi-strategic. We bombed railway junctions, naval
bases. Especially in Poland or Konigsberg.
Which formations were used?
squadron, we flew in formation of nine planes. At first
I was a right wingman for the leader, then I became the
most right wingman. On April 28th 1945 I was shot down
by fighters from this position.
many times you were shot down?
was shot down once, I had to make a forced landing on a
belly. Second time I managed to bring damaged aircraft
to the home base. But it was only damaged plane, not
shot down. So, I was shot down only once.
exactly you were shot down?
accomplished our mission and were returning home, when
German fighters attacked us. We simply missed that
attack – lost situational awareness. Fighters approached
from the rear and fired at us. In the gunners cabin
radio operator was killed, the gunner was wounded. One
engine was damaged, and control cables were torn… So I
had to make a belly landing.
did you return?
in the field controlled by our Cavalry Corps. A Po-2
came after me and brought me to the base…
was made to the plane?
blown up… Ammo and guns were dismantled, bombs were gone
over the target. Cavalry men took something, ammunition,
or, maybe they also took machine guns…
was a major threat for you, fighters or AAA?
of course. AAA was also a threat, but fighters were a
lot more dangerous.
was your standard flight altitude?
altitudes usually were from two to four and a half
thousand meters. It depended on the type of a target
that we were going to bomb. Before bombing run we
descended a bit.
was the farthest target you flew against?
targets were within 300 kilometers. Usually we flew at
the speed of 450 km\h. Not in the straight line, so
average flight lasted for about 2 hours.
many missions you flew per day?
then 2 flights per day. About six hours of flight time
in the air.
could be called a combat mission?
mission could be called if one accomplished his task —
for example dropped bombs on the target.
If you came back with bombs, it was not accounted as a
combat mission. Or if you did not reach assigned target.
bomb load was chosen? What kind of bombs did you use?
differ significantly, depending on target. Against
personnel – small fragmentation bombs, against railway
station — large caliber high explosive bombs or
you use nose machine guns to strafe targets?
were 2 machine guns. No, we did not use them.
can you say about effectiveness of you strikes?
Effectiveness was good, I think… especially good strike
we made against shipping in Gdansk. We got positive
reviews about our strikes (from ground troops).
you remember any of your killed comrades?
remember Anatolii Baluev, Lev Tyshler… Our regiment
suffered a lot of losses in Poland. They also perished
(According to OBD Memorial: Baluev Anatoliy
Afanasievich, pilot, Junior Leitenant, born in 1922, did
not return from combat sortie on 16 April 1945.
Tyshler Lev Khatsielovich, flight navigator, Leytenat,
born in 1916 was killed during combat sortie on 27 April
there a fighter cover?
was. There were not so many fighters to cover us. We
usually had 2 pairs to cover us. They went above us and
to the sides. As German fighters appeared, our escorts
begun flying in “scissors ” above us.
you get under bombing your self?
1941. In October Germans bombed our airfield… When I was
at the front we were never bombed.
there cases when our troops were hit by mistake?
As far as
I know not in our regiment or division.
Would the new pilots, who just came to the regiment, be
sent straight into battle, or would they be trained in
preferred to train them. First missions they flew
against easy targets, then, as everybody else…
there losses due to technical problems?
one crew due to the technical problem. Engine failed,
pilot was unable to fly normally and went into spin…
there acts of cowardice?
other units, may be?
heard in bomber aviation… There is no way you can show
cowardice, we all fly in a formation. If you brake away
– you may as well consider yourself shot down.
you know any cases when gunners shot down enemy
them down. A gunner from my crew shot one down…
there HSUs in the regiment?
effectiveness of the strike was documented?
(photocontrol), if possible… There were airplanes
equipped with cameras, which made pictures. There could
be confirmation from the local population.
Which characteristics of the planes pilots considered
being most important?
characteristics? Most important was handling ability.
Ease of handling. Stability in handling. And not to have
a tendency to spin…
how long planes lasted? A month, two, or a year?
plane had a life time limit, but I have no idea what was
the exact number. We did not change them till the end of
the war. If an airplane was lost, then we got a
replacement, of course.
there any difference how Germans accomplished similar
tasks? Better or worse?
aviation was relatively similar.
would you describe enemy pilots?
both young and very experienced pilots… How to describe…
There were better and worse. Same as we were.
did bomber tactics change during the war time?
changed as new planes with new capabilities appeared.
More sophisticated planes appeared. Depending on the
equipment of the plane the tactics of the bombers have
changed. Boston was a powerful plane, and, for example,
could carry twice as much bomb load as Pe-2, but
couldn’t execute dive bombing.
What did not change was the formation – we kept flying
you meet allies in the air or on the ground?
you receive food or flight gear from allies?
school, when we were in the Transcaucasia area there was
some food supply from Lend-Lease supplies. At the front
everything was ours.
Where and how did you meet Victory Day?
I met it
in Germany. We were stationed at the field airstrip east
of Oder River.
It was announced that the war is over. Everybody
cheered, we started to celebrate… Then we were held in
combat readiness for three days, because some garrisons
of the islands in the North Sea refused to capitulate.
Finally they also quit…
many missions did you fly?
three combat missions. My total time in the air for the
duration of military service exceeded five thousand
Which awards did you receive and for which
Lenin, two Combat Red Banners, Patriotic War 1st and 2nd
Degree, and two Red Stars — seven Orders, and about
twenty medals. Oh, yes, one foreign Order - Egyptian.
Awards for combat, for testing of new equipment, and for
accomplishing special mission in Egypt.
crews in Egipt. 1969
did you do after the war ended?
war ended I kept serving in the air force and continued
flying until 1972. I reached a rank of Colonel and
position of regiment commander. From this post I
I served in Poland, then Western Ukraine. I was in Egypt
twice. First time we participated in combat in 1962,
that’s when I got awarded. Second time it was in 1969.