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-
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
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
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.