Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Kapitan Sergei Ivanovich Donchenko

1912 – 17 July 1941

Sergei Donchenko was born in 1912.

He graduated from flight school in Stalingrad in 1935.

As a leitenant, he served as a volunteer in China in 1939, flying Polikarpov I-16s.

At 13:50 on 20 February, the Air Defence Command at Sian notified the 1st Air District Command that 30 Japanese aircraft (Mitsubishi Ki-21s and Fiat BR.20s) were heading towards Lanzhou in the Kansu province in Northwest China.
Nine I-15bis from 17th PS were scrambled first to intercept the Japanese aircraft and was later joined by two more. Later Russian volunteers were scrambled at 14:05 with seven I-15bis and one I-16. At 14:10 four I-15bis from the 15th PS, one I-16 and one Curtiss Hawk took off from the Siku field.
The first formation of nine Japanese aircraft attacked the Lanzhou airfield from north-west at 14:50. The second formation of twelve aircraft attacked from west at 15:15 together with a third formation of nine aircraft.
Captain Shen Tse-Liu, commander of the 17th PS, shot down the lead aircraft of a squadron of nine Japanese aircraft. His vice-commander Ma Kwok-Lim shot down the second aircraft of the third flight. Kuo Yao-Nan downed one Japanese aircraft. They were soon joined by the I-15bis flown by Russians and the 15th PS led by Lee Teh-Piao and Chang Tang-Tien. Shen later shot down another aircraft from the third Japanese formation.
Six of the Russian pilots taking part in this combat was Petr Abramov (I-16), kapitan Nikolai Gavrilov (I-16), Mikhail Naydenko (Polikarpov I-15bis or I-16), Vladimir Vasilievich Zolotarev (Polikarpov I-15bis or I-16), leitenant Donchenko (I-16) and leitenant Andrei Petrunin (I-15bis), who all six are credited with nine shared enemy bombers over Lanzhou during the day. This indicate that the Russian volunteers received credits for all the shot down aircraft and that no individual claims were recorded.
Abramov was to become an ace during the Great Patriotic War when he claimed five victories (and a total of 25 shared) before being killed in air combat on 11 September 1941. Naydenko also became an ace during the Great Patriotic War when he claimed seven victories. Zolotarev claimed two victories during the Soviet-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940.
On this day, the bombs fell on the city and not the airbase and totally nine of the bombers were claimed destroyed by the returning Chinese pilots. One of the Soviet volunteers was wounded during the combat. The Air Defence Command at Sian observed only 21 Japanese aircraft retreating to the east after the battle.
It seems that the Japanese bombers were from the 12th, 60th and 98th Kokutais.

On 23 February, a group of a reported 57 Japanese bombers targeted Lanzhou, but only the first group of twenty bombers arrived over the city. Attacking them along the route, fighters shot down six bombers and instead of pursuing the remainder, waited along the route for the next group. However, the other groups attacked a secondary target instead.
Chinese pilots from the 17th PS claimed victories over Lanzhou during the day.
Soviet volunteers also took part in this combat. Three of the pilots were Petr Abramov (I-16), Mikhail Naydenko (Polikarpov I-15bis or I-16) and leitenant Donchenko (I-16), who all according to Russian sources are credited with six shared enemy bombers over Lanzhou on this day.
It seems that the Japanese bombers were from the 12th, 60th and 98th Kokutais.

During his time in China, he flew 12 combat missions and took part in two air combats, claiming 15 shared victories.

When returning from China he was posted to 38 IAP, which was equipped with Polikarpov I-153s.

With this unit kapitan Donchenko took part in the Soviet-Finnish Winter War from December 1939 until March 1940, flying I-153s.

On 22 February 1941, he was decorated with the Order of the Red Banner.

When Germany attacked the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, he was still in 38 IAP, flying I-153s.

On 17 July, his I-153 was hit by AA fire and he crashed to his death.

At the time of his death, Donchenko was credited with 2 biplane victories.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1939                
  20/02/39 14:50- 1/? Enemy bomber Shared destroyed I-16   Lanzhou  
  20/02/39 14:50- 1/? Enemy bomber Shared destroyed I-16   Lanzhou  
  20/02/39 14:50- 1/? Enemy bomber Shared destroyed I-16   Lanzhou  
  20/02/39 14:50- 1/? Enemy bomber Shared destroyed I-16   Lanzhou  
  20/02/39 14:50- 1/? Enemy bomber Shared destroyed I-16   Lanzhou  
  20/02/39 14:50- 1/? Enemy bomber Shared destroyed I-16   Lanzhou  
  20/02/39 14:50- 1/? Enemy bomber Shared destroyed I-16   Lanzhou  
  20/02/39 14:50- 1/? Enemy bomber Shared destroyed I-16   Lanzhou  
  20/02/39 14:50- 1/? Enemy bomber Shared destroyed I-16   Lanzhou  
  23/02/39   1/? Enemy bomber Shared destroyed I-16   Lanzhou  
  23/02/39   1/? Enemy bomber Shared destroyed I-16   Lanzhou  
  23/02/39   1/? Enemy bomber Shared destroyed I-16   Lanzhou  
  23/02/39   1/? Enemy bomber Shared destroyed I-16   Lanzhou  
  23/02/39   1/? Enemy bomber Shared destroyed I-16   Lanzhou  
  23/02/39   1/? Enemy bomber Shared destroyed I-16   Lanzhou  
  1941                
1 30/06/41   1 He 111 Destroyed I-153     38 IAP
  10/07/41   1/? Ju 88 Shared destroyed I-153     38 IAP
  12/07/41   1/? Bf 109 Shared destroyed I-153     38 IAP
2 14/07/41   1 Bf 109 Destroyed I-153     38 IAP

Biplane victories: 2 and 2 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 2 and 17 shared destroyed.

Sources:
All aces of Stalin 1936-1953 – Mikhail Bykov, 2014
Soviet Fighter Pilots 1936-1953 - Mikhail Bykov




Last modified 31 October 2019