Aviation of World War II

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Nikolay Dudnik and LaGG-3

1918 - 2006

Nikolay Denisovich Dudnik, Senior Lieutenant

He fought from June 1941 to the end of 1945 as part of the 27th and 178th Fighter Aviation Regiments of the 6th Air Defense Fighter Aviation Corps, going from pilot to squadron commander.

After the war, he served in the troops of the Moscow Air Defense District, where his last post was - Deputy Chief of Staff. Major General.


In total, out of 426 sorties, I flew six to attack aircraft, and only on I-16. In total, I shot down three enemy planes personally and three in the group. Sometimes we covered the I-153, which flew to attack aircraft, but more often we accompanied especially important aircraft. We did not know who was flying in them. When escorting them, they never had to fight. Basically, in 1941, we were assigned tasks to cover troops or strategic objects.

You are asking how I feel about the I-16? For me, this was the fighter that I learned to fly and therefore owned it well. Of course, I fought in a later series fighter with powerful weapons and an engine, but in terms of aerobatic characteristics it did not differ. The fact that I knew how to fly it saved me.

We covered a couple of ground troops. My wingman was Lieutenant Ivaschenko. We arrived at the "point", took 3500 - 4000 meters, and suddenly I noticed a group of at least ten German fighters. Knowing that we were covering the troops, they used the tactics of "combing" the areas at that time. Your mother! What to do?! It is impossible to leave - the speed of the I-16 is less than that of the Messerschmitt, it is impossible to climb to the vertical - they will be shot down. No exit. I started spinning with them. I'm like? He will go into the tail, I see that now the fire will open, I remove the gas, it slips, I shoot. Didn't hit, of course, here, while you aim, the next one will cut you down. Ivaschenko is not in the air, I think they probably shot down. But I decided to poke around with them while I have strength. Thank God, my physical fitness was good. As a result, they turned around and left in the direction of Mozhaisk. Running out of fuel. I dived, pressed against the Nara River and lowered home. I crossed the railway bridge, and there is our airfield. I land on the move - the airfield was completely rolled up. He sat down and took the steering wheel to the parking lot. I got out and went to the dugout of the KP. I saw the regiment commander standing and Ivashchenko, my wingman, swearing: "Angelica got into the fight and died himself." He, of course, did not think that I would stay alive in this mess. I approached: "Comrade commander, I ask you not to appoint Lieutenant Ivashchenko as a follower to me, but to give me Sergeant Vasily Sokolov." So, due to the fact that I was on the I-16, which surpassed the Messerschmitt in the horizontal maneuver, they could not shoot me down. If I were on the "instant" or "lavochkin", I would have been knocked down - "lagg" could not twist like that. On it, of course, you can go to the vertical, but against the German pilots of 1941, this would hardly help.

True, in the fall I had to change to LaGG-3. At first I didn't like flying on it, but then I got used to it. After all, how is it on it? He took off, retracted the landing gear, and then, before climbing to a height, he had to walk in a straight line at low level in order to gain speed. On the I-16 it was possible to go straight up, but not far - 6000 maximum, and then the engine "puff-puff" and no longer pulls. But in the war they flew 2000 - 4000. It was only the scouts who climbed high.


After LaGG-3 we moved to La-5. True, once I flew to the MiG-3. Our airfield near the village of Liptsy in the fall of 1941 was already under fire from German artillery. Therefore, we used it as a jump airfield, flying off at night near Kashira to the Krutyshki airfield. This, by the way, was one of the most hungry periods, since in Liptsy we all day ate only tea with breadcrumbs and sugar, which were in the dugout in large bags. In Krutyshki, a regiment was stationed on "flashes". The Messerschmitts came and began to storm the airfield. I was just at the airplane "moment". They would have damaged him anyway. I threw covers on the seat and flew out without a parachute. Will they be shot down on takeoff? You don’t think about it at such a moment. You think that they will kill you anyway, you have to try to do it yourself first. Nothing took off. I didn't know how to fly it, so I piloted it carefully so as not to fall into a tailspin. I didn't shoot down anyone, but I saved the plane, and with the joint efforts of the Germans we drove away.

When we moved to La-5, there was almost no war. We flew it at night. The pipes were glowing, but it didn't bother me much. In addition, I had experience in night flights on the I-16.

In the summer of 1942, the raids continued. The Germans mainly flew to Yaroslavl and Gorky. At the same time, they passed our airfield. In June, they raised us on alarm. The squadron commanders Grigoriev and Tikunov took off, and I followed. How did I learn to fly at night? Myself. It took off at dusk and landed at night, there were landing searchlights at the airfield. If you fly well during the day, then you will sit down at night, well, once Grigoriev stuck into the ground. Himself intact, and the plane to smithereens, but this is rare ... So. The night was bright, I noticed a group from the exhaust pipes. He gazed at the light, and he leaves to the left. I pressed myself - and behind him. They, it turns out, noticed our airfield, and some of the planes decided to bomb it. I didn't see where I was, but I could see it from the ground. I opened fire when I came very close. Arrows - for me. In general, I was poking around with this bomber until the shells ran out. The fuel is running low, I go to the airfield, and from it a red rocket is forbidden to land. Where will I go when there is no fuel? The rocket, while it flies to the ground, illuminates it well, but they were launched often, so I went over them. Push, sat down, stopped. They came running to me: “Where are you sitting! The airfield was bombed! " The regiment commander came up: "Don't touch the plane until morning." In the morning I looked - the whole airfield was in craters! How did I miss them ?! It's just happiness ...


I received the Order of the Red Banner when I had three planes. My squadron commander and the leader was Hero of the Soviet Union Grigoriev. He often recorded our group victories as personal ones. I felt that he wanted to be a Hero. But after the war I became a division commander, got a general, and he drank himself and gave oak. In the war, I did not chase the number of shot down. I needed to complete the combat mission as expected and nothing else. The awards did not interest me - there was such a mess, so many pilots died, but will I chase after awards? I didn’t feel fear, although maybe I just don’t remember how much time had passed. But what I remember exactly is that we asked for flights. Of course, the losses were great, and we lived in one day. There was no confidence that you would live. There was a desire to be alive. At first they treated the losses painfully, but then they got used to it ... Of those with whom I began to fight, by the 41st year, 10 - 12 people remained in the regiment. Moreover, until the 42nd year, replenishment in the regiment did not come - there were more pilots than aircraft. Have I been knocked down? Yes, once on LaGG-3. I missed the attack. The Messerschmitt hit the engine, smashed the oil-radiator, I was doused with hot oil, but I still landed the plane at the Barybino airfield near Tula.

I flew and shot well, I was respected, I did not drink. I drank 100 grams only once before the flight, and the Messerschmitt almost knocked me down. Flights closed late. Before the war, I never drank vodka in my life. I myself am from the Crimea, so no one drank vodka there, except for fishermen. Everyone drank either wine or beer. So, while we were brought to the village where we lived, while we went to dinner, it was too late to drink. In the morning I woke up with a bad head. I don't understand anything. The reaction is not the same. I had to fly, and there was an air battle. Miraculously survived. After that I gave the vodka to our commissars. They were elderly, and that was all they were doing.

The meetings with German fighters ended at the beginning of 1943, and the last time I fought an air battle with a reconnaissance officer was probably at the end of 1943 - early 1944. The scouts were very difficult to shoot down. If he noticed you, he immediately dived, and at the exit he released the air brakes, and the pursuing fighter crashed into the ground. There were such cases.

In 1944, I tried to join the front-line aviation in order to avenge my family, shot by the Germans in Kerch. But they refused me, and gave me five days to go to Kerch to find out the fate of my relatives. My sister was a scout who was left with a radio station in the city, but the Germans spotted her. They took the whole family and all the neighbors. They interrogated her for a month, persuaded to go over to the side of the Germans, but she refused, after which they were all shot ...

- Were there any signs?

- Some started a war in a tunic and never washed it to the end. It is dirty, it shines all over, and they walk in it like that. Some didn’t shave before flying. And I had no superstitions.

- Did you cover the cockpit canopy?

- The I-16 had open cabins. On the LaGG-3, the cockpit was closed, but they flew with a slightly open one, since the lantern fogged up. That's horrible! The war was over - my cheekbones were black from constant frostbite. There were mole masks, but they blew under them.

- What can you say about radio equipment?

- There was radio on the I-16, but it did not work. There was a very fine tuning that easily got lost. Moreover, there were no stations at the airfield. Things got better at Lavochkin.

- Who is more difficult to shoot down?

- Bomber. His speed is high, and if the pilot is experienced, and they were almost all experienced, then it was very difficult to shoot him down.

- What was considered a combat mission?

- Departure on alarm to intercept enemy aircraft. It happened that the attack.

- When did you start flying in pairs?

- We started flying in pairs in the 41st year. It was not a change in tactics that influenced here, but a shortage of aircraft. Only at the beginning of 1942 did they switch to a tactical unit of steam.

- In the winter of 1941, they say, the tension of battles subsided and the Germans practically did not fly. This is true?

- The intensity of the battles did not subside in our country. Since we were covering the railway bridge across the Oka, on which the Germans constantly threw their bomber aircraft. Mostly Ju-87s. If they managed to disable the railway junction and the bridge, then Tulu would be surrendered. We were told that if they hurt him in front of you, he would be shot. Many died there in winter. Maximov with his plane left right under the ice. There were many Germans, but we were few ... But we defended the bridge.


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