Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Naval Major Aleksandr Gerasimovich Baturin HSU

Aleksandr Baturin was born in Poltavka in the Aktyubinsk area on 21 July 1915.

He learned to fly at the Orenburg aeroclub and entered military service with the VMF in 1938. He completed his training at Yeysk military flying school two years later.

He was posted to the 71 IAP-KBF (Baltic Sea Fleet Air Force) flying Polikarpov I-153s.
The 71 IAP-KBF was operating over the Gulf of Finland during this period and he started to fly combat missions in the beginning of the Great Patriotic War.

On 21 August 1941, Lagsberg airfield in the Tallinn area was raided and four I-153s from 71 IAP-KBF were scrambled. They intercepted 20 Ju 88s and their escorting fighters and in the ensuing combat, Baturin claimed one Ju 88.

On 21 September, six I-153 from the 71 IAP-KBF conducted a reconnaissance of roads in the area Sablino-Yam-Izhora. They were attacked by six Bf 109s. In a frontal attack, Baturin personally shot down the fighter leading the German formation. The remaining German retired and the reconnaissance was completed.

Between 17:55-18:15 on 27 September 1941, five I-15bis and eleven I-153s (led by Boris Mikhailov) from 71 IAP-KBF and six I-16s (led by Alexander I. Agureev) from 104 IAE fought in the Kronstadt area with three groups of Ju 88s and Ju 87s (a total of 35 aircraft was counted) escorted by four Bf 109s.
At 17:55, Petrov of the 104 IAE made two attacks on two Ju 87s while Mishin from the same unit attacked a Ju 88, which left smoking and losing height towards Oranienbaum. Agureev at the same time attacked a Ju 87 and claimed it shot down.
Between 18:00-18:15, Baturin of the 71 IAP-KBF alone attacked a Ju 87 from behind. After the attack, the aircraft flew smoking towards Peterhof and observations posts, which saw it crash near Peterhof, later confirmed it.
At 18:05, Leytenant Yury Spitsyn of the 71 IAP-KBF claimed a Ju 87 at an altitude of 1000 m near Peterhof.

In a subsequent combat, shell splinter injured his right eye. In a letter to his family, dated 17 February 1942, he wrote:

"In general I'm okay, apart for my sore eye and the splinters in the bridge of my nose. I have to fly in tinted glasses. It's hard to cope, but I have to fight. So despite only having an eye-and-a-half I've already shot down five of the vultures. Well, we must win the war first and then I'll take care of my eye."

He continued to score on a regular basis and by mid-1942 had developed into one of the unit’s more noted fighter pilots. He had the rare distinction of scoring a victory with a salvo of RS-82 rockets, mounted on racks attached to the lower wing of his I-153.

Late in the day on 3 April 1942, luutnantti Veikko Sauru’s five Fokkers from 2/LLv 30 was attacked by a dozen Chaikas on a mission to Seiskari area. The Finns claimed two enemy fighters as reported by kersantti Otto Karme:

“At 16:05, altitude 500 m. Our five-plane formation led by luutnantti Sauru headed west towards Seiskari. A six-plane enemy formation flew towards our detachment (another six-plane formation, which I did not observe at that moment was flying higher). The observed enemy aircraft were I-153s. We attacked straight on coming from slightly below. I observed the burst I fired hit the engine of the I-153, but I could not tell the impact. Right after I pulled a steep right-hand curve and simultaneously saw on my left side a burning plane in dive. I could not follow up any longer as I observed four other I-153s coming towards me. One of these flew a bit higher than the others. I gained altitude and then the I-153 above the others made a slight curve to the right and got in a firing position straight from the side. I continued firing and got all the time in a better position somewhat from behind and aside and also slightly underneath. I saw my bursts hit all the time the enemy aircraft and then saw a puff of smoke and then the plane fell in a dive seemingly out of control. When this shooting took place we were inside the layers of the clouds. I could not follow the aircraft down to the deck. My own plane FRw-130 suffered no damage.”
Karme was credited with one shot down and one probable (claimed without witness) I-153s. Vänrikki Tauno Saalasti (FRw-123) claimed a damaged I-153 in the same area. No Finnish aircraft were lost.
It seems that they had been in combat with the 71 IAP-KBF. The ORB of the KBF mentions that at 16:05, six Chaikas led by Kapitan Konstantin Solovev met four Fokkers. The encounter began with attacks in opposite directions and turned into a curve battle where Starshiy Leytenant Baturin’s pair sent one Fokker down 11km east Seiskari, without losses.

Between 18:00 and 19:10 on the same day, kapteeni Kullervo Lahtela’s eight Curtiss of 1/LLv 32 flew a reconnaissance mission to the Gulf of Finland and engaged around a dozen Chaikas in the Seiskari area. Five I-153s were claimed by Lahtela (CU-556), vänrikki Juho Nyholm (CU-564), luutnantti Esko Ruotsila (CU-558), kersantti Niilo Erkinheimo (CU-551) and lentomestari Viljo Ikonen (CU-568). Kersantti Eero Visuri (CU-572) was shot down and killed in the combat.
The Chronicle of KBF reports:

“At 18:24 began at 500 metres a combat lasting 15 minutes between Starshiy Leytenants Baturin’s eight I-153s from 71 IAP and twelve Fokkers. After the attack of the Soviets the enemy tried to get in the clouds. The separated (obviously less experienced pilots) planes aimed to form into pairs and swarms after which they returned to the battle just under the clouds. The more experienced pilots attacked straight from the clouds. To avoid the surprise attacks the Soviet pilots manoeuvred 200-250 metres below the clouds. Three aircraft were shot down in the vicinity of Seiskari and one aircraft broke off towards Koivisto. After the combat the enemy broke off to the north. No own losses.”
The Soviet pilots reported that one Fokker fell burning on the ice 4km south-east of Seiskari, the second crashed 10km south-east of the island, the third crashed in villages 3km north-east of the island while the fourth was last seen flying smoking and losing height towards Björkö. After the combat, the remaining Finnish aircraft flew north.

On the evening of 4 April 1942 more than one hundred aircraft from KG1, KG4, StG2 and JG54 joined together in a single concentration to attack Soviet ships on the Neva River in Leningrad in a mission code named ”Eisstoss” (Ice Thrust).
VVS-KBF scrambled 3 and 4 GIAPs and 71 IAP, while Leningrad PVO scrambled 26 IAP against the raid. The Soviet fighters were however intercepted by the escorting Bf 109s at a lower altitude and suffered heavily without being able to deal the raiders any losses.
During the drawn out air combat, JG54 claimed twenty Soviet fighters shot down – including the 2000th victory by JG54, claimed by Oberfeldwebel Rudolf Klemm (totally 42 victories). One of the shot down and killed pilots were Leytenant Mikhail Maksimov, who was shot down over Seiskor Island in the Gulf of Finland.
The Soviets reported 18 German aircraft shot down including four by Baturin, but this is totally unsupported with Luftwaffe loss statistics, according to which not a single German aircraft was lost over Leningrad on this date.
The German raid was however a failure when the Soviet ships only suffered minor damages.

Between 00:30-01:15 on 3 June 1942, four I-153s from the 71 IAP-KBF were up against He 111s raiding Kronstadt.
At 01:10, Kapitan Konstantin Solovev and Starshiy Leytenant Baturin claimed one He 111 from a distance of 500-600m at an altitude of 800m. The burning bomber crashed into Lake Kopenskoe. They also claimed a second shared He 111, which they attacked and shot down near Shepelev lighthouse.
Mayor V. S. Koreshkov and Kapitan Ivan Gorbachev claimed a shared He 111 at an altitude of 1000-800 m and from a distance of 100m, which crashed near Inoniemi. They also shot down a second He 111, which fell at Tyvola.

During the night of 5 June, pilots from the 71 IAP-KBF made seven sorties against a reported 35 He 111s and Ju 88s that were attacking the southern forts of Kronstadt.
Four of the bombers were claimed by the Soviet pilots when Ivan Serbin claimed one shared bomber with Petr Biskup and a second with Alexander Alekseev. Starshiy Leytenant Baturin and Kapitan Ivan Gorbachev claimed one He 111 each.

Squadron Leader Kapitan Baturin was decorated with the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union on 23 October 1942 after his ninth personal victory after 81 engagements, 421 sorties of which 67 were reconnaissance and 75 ground-attack as of June 1942. At the same time the 71 IAP-KBF was retitled to the 10 GIAP-KBF.

On 4 April 1944 he was almost finished off by German fighters when Baturin and his wingman Mikhail Machabeli, became involved in a dogfight with 16 Fw190s. Baturin claimed two of them and Machabeli a third, but the latter was then shot down and became a prisoner. Baturin was badly hit in his face but his fighter still flew. He dove away and was able to stagger back to his own airfield.

Baturin was also decorated with the Orders of Lenin, the Red Banner (thrice) and the Order of the Patriotic War 1st Class.

Soviet records are lacking in unanimity with regard to his final tally, one source suggesting a combined of total 38 personal victories and fractional credits. Most probably Baturin ended the war with at least 9 biplane victories and a total of 18 and 12 shared destroyed. These victories were claimed on 543 sorties and 84 combats.

Baturin wound up his military career as a Mayor in 1948.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1941                
1 21/08/41   1 Ju 88 Destroyed I-153   Lagsberg airfield area 71 IAP-KBF
2 21/09/41   1 Bf 109 Destroyed I-153   Sablino-Yam-Izhora 71 IAP-KBF
3 27/09/41 18:00-18:15 1 Ju 87 Destroyed I-153   near Peterhof 71 IAP-KBF
  1942                
  03/04/42 16:05 ½ Fokker D.XXI (a) Shared destroyed I-153   11km E Seiskari 71 IAP-KBF
4 04/04/42 evening 1 Enemy aircraft (b) Destroyed I-153   Leningrad area 71 IAP-KBF
5 04/04/42 evening 1 Enemy aircraft (b) Destroyed I-153   Leningrad area 71 IAP-KBF
6 04/04/42 evening 1 Enemy aircraft (b) Destroyed I-153   Leningrad area 71 IAP-KBF
7 04/04/42 evening 1 Enemy aircraft (b) Destroyed I-153   Leningrad area 71 IAP-KBF
  03/06/42 01:10 1/2 He 111 Shared destroyed I-153   Lake Kopenskoe 71 IAP-KBF
  03/06/42 01:10- 1/2 He 111 Shared destroyed I-153   near Shepelev lighthouse 71 IAP-KBF
8 05/06/42 night 1 He 111 Destroyed I-153   Kronstadt area 71 IAP-KBF
  1944                
? 04/04/44   1 Fw190 Destroyed        
? 04/04/44   1 Fw190 Destroyed        

Biplane victories: 9 and 3 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 18 and 12 shared destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with Fokker D.XXIs from 2/LLv 30, which claimed one and one probable I-153 without losses. 71 IAP-KBF claimed one Fokker without losses.
(b) The Soviets reported 18 German aircraft shot down, but this is totally unsupported with Luftwaffe loss statistics, according to which not a single German aircraft was lost over Leningrad on this date.

Sources:
Airmen of World
Black Cross/Red Star Volume II - Christer Bergström and Andrey Mikhailov, 2001 Pacifica Military History, ISBN 0-935553-51-7
Polikarpov I-15. I-16 and I-153 Aces - Mikhail Maslov, 2010 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-981-2
Soviet Aces of World War 2 - Hugh Morgan, 1998
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 IV – 1942 – Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman, 2007, ISBN 978-952-99743-2-0




Last modified 15 December 2013