Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Naval Major Vasilii Semenovich Adonkin HSU

7 April 1918 - 17 March 1944

Adonkin was born on 7 April 1918 in Khokhlovo in the Belgorodsk region.

He joined the army in 1937, attending the Eysk Military/Naval Air School, from where he graduated in 1941.

As a Mladshii Leitenant he was posted to the 72 SmAP-SF (Composite Air Regement) of the Air Force of the North Fleet.

He was in action from the start of the Great Patriotic War over the Polar region. His unit was at the time equipped with a mix of Polikarpov I-15bis, I-153s and MiG-3s.

On 29 June, he claimed a Ju 88 and three more shared while flying in an Polikarpov I-153.

On 17 January 1942, the 72 SmAP-SF became a guard’s unit and renamed to 2 GIAP-SF.

In March 1942, he was promoted to Kapitan and transferred to 78 IAP-SF, which was equipped with I-16s.

In June 1942, Kapitan Adonkin he was posted as deputy eskadrilia commander to 27 IAP-SF also with I-16s.

On the morning of 2 June 1942, the Luftwaffe struck twice at Murmansk and its port. The Northern Fleet Air Force scrambled 30 fighters at 11:20 to repel the first raid, which comprised nine Ju 87s escorted by four Bf 109s and a similar number of Bf 110s. Several jetties were seriously damaged as well as the railway line to the port. A submarine, which was under repair in the shipyard, was also damaged by a bomb. The Hurricanes were joined by a eskadrilia of I-l6s from 27 IAP-SF under the command of Kapitan Adonkin. The Polikarpov pilots engaged the Bf 109s and Kapitan Adonkin claimed one of them (credited as a probable). This gave their compatriots in the Hurricanes an opportunity to attack the enemy bombers without interference. Starshii Leitenant Alexei Dizhevskii, who was leading six Hurricanes, subsequently reported:

“We were patrolling over Mishukov Cape airfield when we encountered eight or nine Ju 87s at 1125 hrs at an altitude of 3500 m. They were flying out of the cloud and out of the sun on a bombing mission. I called on my group to close up and we attacked head-on and from below as a group. Having prevented the enemy aircraft from diving on their targets, they lost altitude and attempted to turn for home. This was a mistake, as their manoeuvring allowed us to get in behind them and continue the pursuit.
I attacked two Ju 87s, the first from behind and below. I fired two bursts into its engine and the Stuka started to smoke. Dropping onto its port wing, the aircraft went down vertically in flames. I then attacked a second Ju 87. I caught up with it and attacked from below and behind from a distance of 30-20 m. After I had used up all my ammunition, I watched as the Ju 87’s engine cowlings broke loose and the engine started to smoke heavily. The aircraft disappeared in a steep dive east of Lake Pyayve-Yavr. I was not able to pursue the dive-bombers any further because of an Me 110, which I engaged in combat. Following this battle I landed safely at my home airfield. My aircraft was undamaged.”
In all, the pilots of 78 IAP-SF claimed to have destroyed ten enemy aircraft during the raid. This total was comprised of six Ju 87s, three Bf 109s and a single Bf 110. The following pilots from 78th IAP were amongst those who claimed to have destroyed a Ju 87: Starshii Leitenant Dizhevskii (who was promoted to Kapitan after this combat), Starshii Leitenant Petr Sgibnev (1./78 IAP-SF), Leitenant E. M. Dilanian, Starshii Leitenant Petr Kolomiets, Leitenant N. I. Nikolaiev and Serzhant Alexei Pilipenko. Starshii Leitenant Vasilii Doroshin claimed a Bf 109. This earned him a second Order of the Red Banner. The Soviet fighters from 78 IAP-SF suffered no losses.
German sources state that 3./StG 5 lost only two Ju 87Rs (WNrs. 5485 and 5545) and had three crewmen killed (Oberleutnant Karl Pauls, Unteroffizier Jakob Holtmaier and Leutnant Karl Rapp). Air gunner Obergefreiter Werner Somann survived being shot down and was taken prisoner. Under interrogation, he made the following observation:
“It has become more difficult to get away from the enemy fighters recently, in as much as now the Russian pilots are starting to get as close as 7-10 m from the bombers, which previously didn't happen.”
It was not such a successful day for the pilots of 2 GIAP-SF, however. Seven Hurricanes, led by Aleksey Kovalenko, were sent aloft to counter the second raid on Murmansk’s port, but they suffered heavy losses. Three Hurricanes (BH328, Z5052 and Z5252) were shot down and Guards Serzhant A. V. Vanyukhin was killed. Only a solitary Bf 109 was claimed by Guards Leitenant Pavel Markov (Hurricane Z5252) in return, although this was not confirmed.

In April 1943, he was posted back to 78 IAP-SF, which had re-equipped with Hawker Hurricanes, to command 2./78 IAP-SF.

On 19 June 1943, he was leading eight fighters to escort Il-2s, becoming engaged with some 30 Bf 109s and Fw190s over the Varanger Fjord, during which his formation claimed four shot down without losses to themselves.

A short time later six Hurricanes with Adonkin in the lead were off to escort a formation of I-16s tasked with strafing Luostori airfield. In the target area Luftwaffe resistance appeared in the form of 10 Bf 109s and Fw190s, but these fared badly, the Hurricanes claiming five Bf 109s without loss while the I-16s shot up two aircraft on the ground.

From October 1943, he served as deputy commander for flight training and air combat before being posted as deputy commander of 255 IAP-SF, which was equipped with Airacobras.

Adonkin rose to squadron leader and in 1944 was given command of the Airacobra equipped 255 IAP-SF.

On 22 January 1944, he was decorated with the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin.

Shortly after the award of the HSU, he was promoted to Major.

On 17 March, he was killed in action over the Finnish island of Eckerö.
It seems that he was killed by fighters from JG 5, which claimed 11 Airacobras in the Murmansk area during the day.

Adonkin was also decorated with the Order of the Red Banner (thrice; 14 July 1941, 2 June 1942 and 7 July 1943), the Order of the Patriotic War 1st and 2nd Class and the Order of the Red Star.

At the time of his death, Adonkin was credited with 1 biplane victory and a total of 16. These victories were claimed on more than 500 sorties and around 50 combats.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 29/06/41   1 Ju 88 Destroyed I-153   Vaenga airfield 72 smAP-SF
  29/06/41   1/5 Ju 88 Shared destroyed I-153   Vaenga airfield 72 smAP-SF
  29/06/41   1/5 Ju 88 Shared destroyed I-153   Vaenga airfield 72 smAP-SF
  29/06/41   1/5 Ju 88 Shared destroyed I-153   Vaenga airfield 72 smAP-SF
  21/07/41   1/2 Bf 109 Shared destroyed I-153     72 smAP-SF
  25/07/41   1/3 Ju 88 Shared destroyed I-153     72 smAP-SF
  13/08/41   1/3 Bf 109 Shared destroyed I-153     72 smAP-SF
  15/08/41   1/5 Bf 110 Shared destroyed MiG-3   Murmansk 72 smAP-SF
2 09/09/41   1 Hs 126 Destroyed MiG-3     72 smAP-SF
  06/10/41   1/8 Ju 88 Shared destroyed MiG-3     72 smAP-SF
3 09/05/42   1 Ju 87 Destroyed I-16     78 IAP-SF
4 12/05/42   1 Bf 110 Destroyed I-16     78 IAP-SF
5 14/05/42   1 Bf 109 Destroyed I-16     78 IAP-SF
6 01/06/42   1 Bf 109 Destroyed I-16   W Kola 27 IAP-SF
  02/06/42 11:25 1 Bf 109 Probably destroyed I-16   Murmansk area 27 IAP-SF
7 03/07/42   1 Ju 87 Destroyed I-16   W Murmansk 27 IAP-SF
8 12/08/42   1 Bf 109 Destroyed I-16     27 IAP-SF
9 02/06/43   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Hurricane   Kibergnes port 2./78 IAP-SF
10 12/06/43   1 Bf 110 Destroyed Hurricane   Kibergnes 2./78 IAP-SF
11 12/06/43   1 Bf 109 (a) Destroyed Hurricane   Ekkeri 2./78 IAP-SF
12 19/06/43   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Hurricane   Varanger Fjord 2./78 IAP-SF
13 04/07/43   1 Bf 110 Destroyed Hurricane     2./78 IAP-SF
14 22/08/43   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Hurricane     2./78 IAP-SF
15 20/01/44   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Airacobra     255 IAP-SF
16 05/03/44   1 Bf 109 Destroyed Airacobra   Ekkeri 255 IAP-SF

Biplane victories: 1 and 6 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 16 and 8 shared destroyed, 1 probably destroyed.
(a) Probably from 7./JG 5.

All aces of Stalin 1936–1953 – Mikhail Bykov, 2014
Russian Fighter Aces of 1914-1953 years
Soviet Aces 1936-1953
Soviet Hurricane Aces of World War 2 – Yuriy Rybin, 2012 Osprey Publishing Limited, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84908-741-1
Soviet Lend-Lease Fighter Aces of World War 2 - George Mellinger, 2006 Osprey Publishing Limited, Oxford, ISBN 1-84603-041-2
Stalin's Eagles - Hans D. Seidl, 1998 Schiffer Publishing, ISBN 0-7643-0476-3
Stalin's Falcons - Tomas Polak and Christhoper Shores, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-01-2
Suomen Ilmavoimat part VI – 1944 – Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, 2008, ISBN 978-952-99743-5-1
Additional information kindly provided by Ondrej Repka and Mirek Wawrzynski

Last modified 09 March 2018