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Humanitarian sciences in Siberia

2015 year, number 2

SOVIET ACE PILOTS IN THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR OF 1941-1945

M.V. Shilovskiy
Institute of History of SB RAS, 8 Nikolaev St., Novosibirsk, 630090
Keywords: Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, fighter pilot, ace, air supremacy, government awards, military ranks, Red Army Air Forces, fighter wing, number of aircraft downed individually and collectively (in the group)

Abstract

The article presents data on 1,114 fighter pilots of the Soviet Air Forces compiled and systematized in the reference book «Aces of the Great Patriotic War» by M.Yu. Bykov. The paper «The Most Successful Ace Pilots in 1941-1945” (2007) analyzes the elite group of ace pilots in terms of their age, military ranks, time of their participation in combat operations, a number of downed Nazi aircrafts, government awards. The author defines types of Soviet fighters as well as aircrafts supplied under Lend-Lease by the allies on the anti-Hitler coalition. All ace pilots mentioned in the reference book were born in the early XX century and during the war were younger than 40 years old. Their contribution to the air space conquest was 23,974 (individually) and 3,315 (collectively) shot down enemy planes, in total 27,289 combat vehicles (24.5 each), or 48% of the number of downed hostile aircrafts at the Soviet-German front. 579 of 1,114 aces were honored the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, while 58 of them (every tenth) were awarded posthumously. Irretrievable losses in the group under study totaled 243 men (29%) or about one third. At the beginning of the war the Soviet pilots flew I-15bis, I-16, I-153, MiG-3, LaGG-3 fighters. Since the summer of 1942 they had been replaced by Yak (Yak-1, -7, -9, -3) and La-5, 7 modifications. Domestic production provided the material basis for conquering air superiority by the Soviet Air Force. Only a small part (2%) of fighters used by the Soviet aces in the aircraft fleet was supplied under Lend-Lease.