Aviation of World War II

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Alexander Shvaryov and La-5

1914 - 2006

Aleksander Efimovich Shvaryov, Guard Major

Squadron commander, senior navigator of the fighter aviation division; commander of the 111th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment of the same division of the Reserve of the Supreme Command.

Guard Major Alexander Shvaryov took part in the historic Victory Parade on Red Square in Moscow on June 24, 1945.


In general, the most difficult thing is to accompany. The group leader is in charge of his fighters and the group he is covering. And you also have to look so that you don't go to the next world yourself. I have more than 450 sorties. 120 air battles. They ask me: why did you knock down so little? During the whole war I had only 12 personally shot down planes (I shot down 9 planes while flying a Yak-1) and 2 in a group. How else? Not only did he mainly conduct defensive battles, not allowing enemy fighters to approach the escorted, he also watched, organized, commanded. There was no time for a personal account, but when they were knocked down in a group, I didn’t take it for myself.


- What do you think was the most difficult German plane to shoot down?

- It is easier to shoot down a fighter, but it is very difficult to approach it, for this you need to perform a whole cascade of maneuvers. The bomber is more difficult to shoot down, especially the Heinkel-111. This is some kind of horror! It happened when we were sitting at the airfield near Gelendzhik. Now there is a recreation area. We sit on airplanes (I have already flown a La-5), we are on duty. From the command post they give a rocket, and we take off. We intercepted the trio of 111s when they started bombing. I approached one on the right side, gave a turn, the right engine caught fire. And here I made a mistake, for which I later scolded myself for a long time. I decided, not knowing that the Heinkel had a shooter defending the lower hemisphere, to dive under it and go to the left. I took a slight belittlement, and when I crossed over, the shooter moved at me. If I were on the yak, I would have been killed immediately, otherwise he interrupted the oil system. I was immediately doused with hot oil, I can't see anything. The wingman says to me: “Commander, you are on fire! Turn left. " I turned around. He shouts: "Jump!" With difficulty fell out of the plane. I go down, I look at the sea of ​​lambs of waves. Thumped. The chill is terrible. Well, at least we were wearing life jackets. To be honest, I gave up on myself, but still decided to flounder to the last. We must pay tribute to the sailors. We were not afraid to go out on a boat to save me in a storm that was at least 4 points. At some point, I was thrown on a wave, and I saw the boat. There was at least some hope. They came up, but the wave carries me away. Then one hefty sailor, holding on to the rail with his left hand, grabbed me by the collar with his right and threw me like a kitten right on the deck. By that time I managed to stay in the water for 15 - 20 minutes and was already numb. The doctor undressed me, immediately sent me to the hold, there I took a hot shower, they swaddled me and gave me a glass of alcohol. By the way, after this bathing I didn't even get sick. But as you can see, the 111th, with its powerful onboard armament and the ability to shoot in almost all directions, is a very difficult aircraft to shoot down.

- What would you say, comparing the training level of our pilots and German pilots?

- The Germans, of course, had more experience, and better preparation. This was especially felt at the beginning of the war. When they pinched us, we became more collected and began to fight back, and here the Germans became very careful. They attacked us only when they saw that they were in a better position. By the end of the war, the German aces were kicked out and, as they say, "burdocks" began to come across. Their maneuver is not the same, and the shooting is not the same. Here we started hitting them great, our planes were replenished quickly, and the more trained pilots began to arrive.

— How were the victories counted?

- This is a very difficult question. I told you that, no matter how much I shot down, there was almost never an opportunity to see to the end whether the enemy fell or not. It was necessary to look after those who remained in the air so that you would not be shot down, or those whom you were covering. I was just reporting that I was shooting. And he shot it down or not - this is already the slaves say, they knew better. From their words, you say exactly where the enemy fell. A man is sent there. And if someone from the infantrymen gives confirmation, then the plane is credited to you.


- Were the pilots superstitious?

- There were some. For example, we didn’t shave in the morning, but I was not superstitious, although I shaved in the evening, it was just more convenient for me. For example, many were afraid of the 13th. I myself did not believe and said: "Stop doing nonsense!" On the contrary, if someone refused to fly on the 13th, I agreed. And, as a rule, everything went well that day. We had an assistant regiment commander, Katsin, who flew with the dog Tuzik. Angry dog. God forbid touching the tablet that Katsin himself left.

— And if you compare the planes on which you flew, which one is better? What can you say about each one?

- I flew first on the "flashes", then got on the "yak", then on the La-5 and La-7. And it's hard for me to say which plane is better, because each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Let's say the "moment" is a great plane, starting at an altitude of 4000 and above, and at lower altitudes it is, as they say, a cow. Here is its first drawback, and its second drawback is weapons. Armament failure was almost a constant occurrence. And the third. Our scopes were useless. Therefore, we have already beaten for sure. Right back to back. Imagine, you are flying, and you have to calculate for one quarter of this radius, or two quarters, or three quarters. And we have already spat on everything, we approach, when we already see all the signs, then we shoot. They beat me for sure. Right back to back.

"Yak" is a light, maneuverable aircraft. They can be turned literally as you want. How many times have I turned out of such positions in which they should have knocked me down, but got out ... In 41 we flew on skis, then their maneuverability dropped significantly.

La-5 is also maneuverable, it was not inferior even to the Focke-Wulf-190, it also had a radial engine. What is the advantage? The star has always protected against frontal attacks. That is, the La-5 has good screening and front armor. Air cooled engine, double row star. And you go to the Heinkels without fear. True, the view, especially forward, on the La-5 is worse than on the yak, but they have adapted to maneuver.

If we compare weapons, then there were different options. But most of the yaks were equipped with a 20-mm cannon. And La-5 has a 20-mm cannon and two machine guns. This was, in principle, enough. Although there were already two guns on the La-7. I was the first to receive the top ten La-7 at the Gorky Automobile Plant and surpassed it to Rzeszow. For us it was a masterpiece, not an airplane. I also had to fly on a La-5FN with a forced engine. Nice car too. When we trained, they hung bombs under it. And when I flew to Krakow, also with bombs. And that's all. And so we flew like fighters.


- Did it happen that when a pilot's score was close to 15, a group would start working for him to be awarded the title of Hero?

- It happened. Not that the group worked specifically for him. And he flies in a group, knocks down a group of a fascist. And everyone says, they say, come on, we will give him, let him introduce him to the Hero. This is a fighting friendship. And then he gives it to someone else. Everything was voluntary. We agreed among ourselves, usually the authorities did not even know. Then there were never any grievances on this basis.

- When the war ended, did you continue to dream about it?

- She still dreams. Understand? Setting goals, battles, friends, and those that died then and those that are only now dying.


  • I fought in a fighter / Artem Drabkin /