Green Hearts Umbrella

On February 11, 1943, with the help of Soviet

aviation units, the Soviet 55th Army of

Leningrad Front continued its offensive as

a part of the “Polar Star” operation against

German Army Group Nord. So the fighters

of JG 54 created an “umbrella” over the

German ground units to prevent raids by

groups of Soviet ground attack aircraft. The

following description covers only one hour of

fighting over the front.

One of the Shturmovik groups consisted of

four Il-2s of 57. ShAP KBF led by St. Lt. V.

Soldatov escorted by Kpt. A. Baturin’s five

I-153s 71. IAP KBF approached the frontline

around 11:35 and was reportedly intercepted

by more than 10 Fw 190 and Bf 109 fighters.

Soviet biplanes were tied in air combat and

set up a defensive circle, but despite all the

combat instructions demanding Il-2 leaders to

keep with their fighter escort, the Shturmovik

group continued its way along the route

Popovka–Nikolskoye seeking for targets. As

a result, all were lost.

They were attacked by several 2./JG 54

Fw 190s. Apparently the Shturmoviks, most

of which were one-seaters without gunners,

decided to split and try to reach Soviet lines

in two pairs. Those two who turned right were

attacked by Oblt. H. Götz (claims at 11:33 and

11:40) and Fw. H-J. Kroshinski (11:35), while the

left pair was shot down by Lt. A. Mack (11:38)

and Fw. Otto Kittel (11:42). It is supposed the

first aircraft downed was a wingman’s oneseater with board number 41 piloted by young

Sgt. Pavel Myakinkiy. The others were one-

April 2023

seaters No. 33 and No. 39 of deputy squadron

commander Soldatov (credited with some

15 combat sorties) and Stn. A. Litvinov

(2 sorties) and two-seater No. 35.

As it was discovered after the war, Myakinkiy

managed to survive the crash-landing and

made his way to the frontline. In the forest

he met another Soviet pilot with a broken leg.

By night they plodded to Pustyn’ka railway

station and Pavel tried to find a rest in the

house of locals. Unfortunately, the house he

knocked to was occupied by German station

guards and he was killed by a hand-grenade

in the following skirmish. His wounded friend

was found in a haystack nearby and beaten

to death with rifle butts. Locals found Pavel’s

documents as well as pilot’s wife letter

addressed to “Mikhail” and buried the aviators.

Then JG 54 attacked another group of four

Il-2s of 57. ShAP KBF led by Ml. Lt. P. Morozov

escorted by three Yak-7s, one Yak-1 of Maj. G.

Romanov and four I-16 of Lt. A. Lomakin of 21.

IAP KBF. The Shturmoviks arrived on the battle

scene at 11:45 and had time to make their first

strafing attack against targets in Nikolskoye.

On their second run they were reportedly

attacked by two Fw 190s and eight Bf 109s

coming from the side and at first glance

Soviet pilots thought those were also Soviet

aircraft. But they were obviously 1./JG 54’s

Fw 190s of Lt. H. Adameit and Uffz. R. Raupach

accompanied by 4./JG 54’s Bf 109s. The Yaks

were involved in battle with the Bf 109s

resulting in two apparently unsubstantiated

claims, while Germans claimed “LaGG-3”. Yaks

Text: Andrey Dikov

Illustration: Marek Ryś

later joined the surviving Il-2 group north of

Neva river, without losses and escorted them

safely to Grazhdanka airfield. Before that

the Fw 190s had managed to make several

attacks, damaging two Shturmoviks and

claiming three.

A Group of two Il-2s of 943. ShAP led by Maj.

Mikhail Vasilyev escorted by two Yak-1s of

14. GIAP and two P-40s of 196. IAP led by St.Lt.

A. Slipchenko had failed to fulfil its task and

returned to base. Behind the enemy lines near

Zakhozhye the wingman rammed his leader

and Vasilyev went missing. Most probably,

this is the unknown pilot with a broken leg

killed together with Myakinkiy. On the way

back home the Shturmovik fighter escort

was attacked at 11:50 by lone Messerschmitt

without result.

As result of the day the Luftwaffe fighters

claimed 19 Soviet aircraft shot down on

Leningrad front, including 8 Il-2, 4 P-40,

a P-39, 4 LaGG-3, one MiG-3 and one La-5.

Two Fw 190 and one Bf 109 were shot down by

fighters, one Ju 87 and one Bf 110 by ground

fire. On the other hand, Soviet 13th Air Army

and subordinated navy units lost 4 Il-2, 1 La-5,

1 P-40 and 1 MiG-3 shot down in air combats,

one more MiG-3 made a forced landing on

airfield and 2 Il-2 were damaged. One Il-2 was

lost due to aerial collision and another one shot

by Flak. Meanwhile the Soviet pilots claimed

16 German aircraft shot down, including 6

Fw 190, 5 Bf 109, 4 Ju 87, a Ju 88 plus a Ju 87

and one Bf 109 claimed by AA units.

INFO Eduard